For four torturous hours every day Geath Deoff, former tormentor of all those good and proper on the peg-legged and salty seas, would stand in the salad aisle of his local supermarket and moan and wail whilst looking at lettuce.
He was not alone. Up and down the coast grizzled men of a certain age, their bodies messes of prosthetics draped all in mournful black, sobbed over salad. The modern world tried to accommodate them, providing tissues and offering counselling but these men were out of time and out of place, far away from the gory glory days of their piratical meanderings – fighting, stealing, drinking rum and occasionally putting on a pirate fun day to put something back into the community.
Whilst they were at sea the wives of these pirates would congregate on the cliffs and sorrowfully stare out to sea to their men, crunching their way through home-prepared salads transported in tupperware boxes. When the horizon stood empty they dressed in black and mourned the loss of their irresponsible and roguish but still loveable pirate husbands. When the pirates inevitably returned glut-fat, scurvied and missing appendages the wives were there, ready with warm towels to smother them in before driving them home for a good feed and wash.
But years of salad and worry had taken their toll on the wives and one by one they began to, ‘walk the plank’ as the pirates liked to say, leaving behind a trail of rum-soaked funerals and some very lonely ageing pirates. Now, staring into the iceberg lettuce, Geath Deoff could see his Elsie drowning as clearly as she had visualised him being swept under the waves.
Drained and dehydrated Geath Deoff would stumble home to a life of lonely despair, rum and, of course, scurvy. That damn scurvy. The phone would ring and for the next two hours Geath Deoff and his ex-first-mate, Smoo would bawl down the phone to one another in a cacophony of misery occasionally interspersed with sea shanties, which sounded a little like this: “Ohhhbwabwabwaohhh…what shall we do with the drunken sailor…ohhnnoooobwabwabwaohhhhh,” but for two hours.
One day, about an hour and three quarters into their crying session, Smoo broke the noise and fell silent. Geath Deoff, somewhat embarassed at crying alone on the phone stopped too and asked what was wrong.
“Arrrr, it’s no good. They wurran’t want us rememberin em like this. They wurran’t want us cryin into lettuce, we’re berrer’n tha.”
“And so what do you propose Smoo?” said Geath Deoff, in a voice that would probably surprise you with it’s eloquence.
“Arrrr, boss, cap’n, we needer do someing to bring joy to folks.”
“Hmmm,” Geath Deoff pondered. “Could this joyful venture maybe involve drinking rum and singing and… maybe a costume, I have been very much in the midst of an identity crisis since I stopped pirating and long to feel a part of a group once more, a group with a very clear identity so that we can create a similar dynamic to that which was so invigorating in our time as pirates.”
“Gimme a few days, boss, cap’n and I think I might be able to do someing, arr.”
A few days later a ‘crew’ of old pirates met in an abandoned community centre. Present along with Geath Deoff and Smoo were Russian Al, Trevor Thunderfoon, Mick ‘Fishpants’ Smith, Casserine ‘Eyebo’ Smytheley and Dr Allan Valuti-Parfait. Many of the pirates were surprised when Smoo stepped forward to take charge of proceedings but this was merely a measure of what a good captain Geath Deoff was in that he was happy to let his first mate take control of his own vessel.
Smoo busied around the group wearing a grin wider than any he had sported since the last pirate fun day, handing out new outfits to everyone along with bells and sticks. All thoughts of salad were forgotten in the next hour of vigorous exercise, after which they all sat down and drank some thoroughly deserved rum. After the rum they practised their new hobby some more, albeit with a little less coordination than before.
And thus began, with Smoo and Geath Deoff’s ragbag bunch of salad-haunted old seadogs, the old tradition of retired pirates taking up morris dancing, a tradition which continues to this day.