1 Apr 2016

And Then No Tin...

It seems that we’re about to say ta-ta to Tata and to tin making here then.

Way back when I was a sailor boy, one of man’s many boats was a little purpose built iron ore carrier. A miniature by todays size as she could only carry, loaded to her marks, two thousand tons of ore. We used to run either to Norway or Spain or up to Sept-Îles in Quebec come summer.

This made for interesting trips sailing with a freeboard of inches and the main deck was usually awash from leaving to arriving, praying the hatches had been well dogged down thus preventing water ingress as a cup-full would have been enough to signal game over. The thing was it was us apprentices that did the dogging and boy, did we do good dogging!  Another time, I’ll recount the time I was just two hands away from being lost overboard. I may well start the story, ‘It was a dark and stormy night...’ just for dramatic impact you understand.

As a point of interest, up in Sept-Îles, two thousand tons of iron ore was loaded in a scary two hours. Fifteen days plus beating our way across the pond, two hours alongside and fifteen days plus beating our way back. Joy.

We did one trip, for reasons we never learned, to Bombay where, just to put things in perspective, it took fifteen days to load.

Where did all the ore go? Yup, Port Talbot of course. A town I have fond memories of - one of which I can see in my minds eye as clearly as if it happened yesterday and not, wot, fifty years ago?

This incident occurred while a bunch of us boys from the boat were whooping it up down at the... can’t remember the pub name. Anyhoo, all of a sudden a few young local loons started to kick-off amongst themselves. An old boy, sitting by the fire, nursing a half, who was more interested in checking out the runners and riders for the next race on TV, looked over and shouted, “You lot! Take it outside!!” He noticed at this time that one of the fellows was unbuckling his belt. So? So, anyone of an age will remember that, back in the day, trouser belts with big buckles weren’t worn for their fashionable or decorative impact but were there for times of dire need when they made a scary fist wrapping or a fearsomely effective flailing weapon. The more weight and sharp and pointy bits the buckle had, the better.  The old guy, upon seeing this, looked the kid full-face and barked, “You! We don’t use belts here. No belts in P’Talbot!!”

The fellow dutifully buckled back up, tipped his head in deference to the old guy and the disagreement was dutifully taken outside. You old enough to remember those far off days when the young respected and responded to the words of their elders whatever the situation?

Good luck for the future Port Talbot.

Quote;  Plato.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”


Caratacus said...

Your words do indeed remind me of a time when the guidance of an Elder was taken to heart. There had been a contretemps outside the "Commercial Inn" in Brixham (as it was known in those days when pterodactyls vied with the gulls for nesting ledges in Freshwater Quarry) and your humble correspondent had been drawn into proceedings. My adversary had tumbled into a trench which had been excavated by the GPO some time previously - no more than three months before - and was struggling laboriously, and with language garnered from a lifetime of working on the Brixham trawlers, to extricate himself from the earth. I had reasoned quickly that a boot, judiciously placed to his jawbone with a bit of vim, would bring matters to a satisfactory conclusion when a restraining hand the size of a pitcher's glove was placed gently on my shoulder ... "Nay Lad, let 'im oop - thee'll be looking back on this one day an' wishing 'ee'd done it different". He was right too, but it was many years before I saw it ...

Mac said...

A nice story and so very typical of those times. Pretty much a form of ‘overseen’ chivalry.
On reflection, isn't it strange that the pterodactyls, beast that he was, became extinct and the gull, small beast that he is, proliferated? Probably something to do with the advent of smaller exterior window ledges and the dislike of the former for chips...
Those 'chivalrous' times are sadly way in the past; however, I certainly wouldn’t fall over backwards in amazement to learn the Post Office trench was still there awaiting the okay from H & E for the commencement of phase two.