Francis Meyrick

A Blip on the Radar (Part 17) “Barking Mad; Moggy, Moggy, what you DO?? “

Posted on November 24, 2009

My buddy, Adona the Great!


A Blip on the Radar


Part 17: Barking Mad; “Moggy, Moggy, what you DO?? ”


Dogs can be funny.
Their territorial instinct extends to the most unlikely places. We’ve all walked up to somebody’s house, and found ourselves confronted with a protective canine. It might be a normally placid pet, but when a stranger approaches…
Bow-wow! F..k off! This is MY garden! I don’t know you! Go away! Master! There’s a strange man here…!!
Or you’ll be walking through a super market parking lot. Innocently, minding your own business. Your thoughts a thousand miles away, in some pleasant place, probably at five hundred feet in a Hughes 500, spotting tuna…
You swing by a parked car, with the windows maybe slid open a few inches. All of a sudden…
Bow-wow-wow! F..k off! This is MY car! I don’t know you! Go away! Master! There’s a strange man here…!!
We have a rescued Heinz 57 mutt at our house, which I like to pass off as an Australian Shepherd. In truth, that’s what the vet said. However, I suspect in Sinner’s genealogical line (that’s his name, by the way) there must have been some serious genetic upheaval. Maybe his Granny got gang banged by a mixed pack of Airdales, Whippets, and a Dachshund or two, because he sure as heck is not a pure bred. He’s also a bit deaf, and he doesn’t see too well. And his breath stinks.
And, boy!, can he fart. Putrid clouds of room emptying poison gas. Which he silently vents, with this strange, distant, dreamy faced expression. Supreme doggy happiness….
Brrrrffffttt!!!!……Prrrap!!…….Aaaaaahhhh…. that feels better now….
(screams, all fall down)
Apart from all that, he is a loyal, lovable little…. stinker.
Well, even Sinner will bark at me, when I’m more than ten yards away.
Bow-wow-wow! F..k off! This is MY house! I don’t know you! Master! Master! There’s a strange man here!
I then adress him , a little sternly:
Sinner! You daft mutt! It’s me! Pipe down!
And you sense his embarrassment.
Oops! (heh-heh) Sorry, Master! Thank f..k for that! I was getting ready to run like hell…err…. fight like crazy!

Small wonder then, that dogs in the Tuna fields are no different.
Thus it was that I set foot for the first time on a purse seiner. It was moored along the quay. Nobody seemed to be around. I entered the bridge, looking for the dude in charge, with the intention of introducing myself and discovering my cabin. I was instantly met by the captain of the moment.
Bow-wow! F..k off! This is MY bridge! I don’t know you! Master! Master! There’s a strange white git here!
A small little black and white Chee-chuu…. Chee-waa…. fukkit, a Chee-Chew-Wawa thing.
I tried to address him in a friendly fashion.
“Hi there, sailor! What’s YOUR name! “
Big mistake. Now he was really pissed. Soon he had worked himself into a first class hissy fit. A tiny, fluffy bundle of hair and gnashing teeth. Such a nice little doggie.
Little bastard…
Two sleepy crew members now put in an appearance. Eyeing me unsmilingly, one picked up the Chee-Chew thing, and the other peered suspicously in my face.
And the next thing, I had this giddy attack of daft humour. I can rarely resist it. It’s the one-liner. The poorly thought out wisecrack. The totally inappropriate joke. My life would be so much easier if I could finally learn to ‘button it’. But no, the amazing orifice beneath my nose insists on taking on a life and tiny mind all of its own.
I sniggered. I probably thought I’d lighten the mood.
Pointing at the Wawa thing, still yapping furiously at me, I said:
“Oh! Lunch? Tsuh-wann?? ”
And just for total clarity, I mimed putting Chee-Chewy into my mouth and chewing the heck out of Chewy.
It didn’t go down well. They looked at each other, and back at me. Horrified. I helped a lot, by bursting out laughing.
Now they knew they had a dangerous lunatic on their hands. The sailor holding Chee-Chewy backed off, his arms protectively wrapped around the ship’s mascot. The captain’s dog. The other dude, said, in a shocked tone:
“No! No eat! What you want? ”
I asked for the Captain. They went and fetched him, and the yappy thing struggled free and ran to him , breathlessly, tail wagging excitedly. Then, standing bravely behind his owner, he continued the vocal comment.
Bow-wow! F..k off! Master, master, that ugly monster wanted to EAT me… “
So I was off to a great start. Within a minute of landing on my new boat, I’d asked if I could eat the captain’s dog for lunch…

A few months later, things had calmed down a bit. Well, admittedly, I had accidentally shit blasted the second engineer right off his Asian squat hole. I describe that unhappy technical melt down in “Blip on the Radar 16 “. He still hadn’t forgiven me, and when we met, if I tried my sickeningly cheerful “Good morning! “, he would just stare, scowl, and flee. Probably was wondering what else I was capable of doing. But the crew and I got along pretty well already. A good few laughs. I’m mostly a chatty dude, if prone to ‘cultural mis-alignments’. and I was learning Chinese. I had quite a few hundred words already, and I was adding to my vocabulary almost daily. They had even forgiven me for trying to eat Chewy. Who was now my best buddy.
About a month out, they had diplomatically asked me ‘if we ate dogs’ where I came from. It had obviously been on their minds. I sensed this pity for me. The barbarian, forced to eat dogs. Poor fellow…

But apart from that, life was good. I had a good helicopter, with a freshly overhauled Allison C20B. We had a lot of guys flying around with C18 engines. Old, old military stuff. Old even then, in the mid nineties. Some were even grumbling that their machines had previously had updated C20B engines, which had been removed, and replaced by gutless -cheap- unreliable C18’s. The scuttelbut had it they could be bought for peanuts. Nobody in their right minds wanted them. They kind of belonged in museums. So I regarded myself as jolly lucky to be working for an employer who didn’t believe in cheap skating with pilots’ lives.
Yep, life was good. And on this particular day, I had received word that my bank account had been credited with $28,000 green backs, so now I was really happy. I was making $7,000 monthly as a pilot mechanic, in the mid nineties’. Today, more than ten years later, it seems that pay is DOWN to $4,600. Supply and demand. Too many desperate pilots. Strange….
Yes, it was a sunny day. I was in uproarious good humour. And we had left the fishing grounds for a refueling rendez vous with a tanker ship. So I didn’t have to fly. All I had to do was relax, goof off, practice Chinese, read, and look forward to tomorrow.
I watched as we neared the tanker ship. It’s just like pulling into a filling station. They don’t check your tire pressure, or wash your windscreen, but they do fill you up, and often there is an exchange of goodies.
I was amused to see there was a dog on the tanker. He was barking his head off.
Bow-wow! F..k off! This is MY piece of Ocean! Master, master, there’s a strange SHIP sneaking up on us! Bow-wow!!
He was kicking up a helluva shindig, and he wasn’t about to quit either. Old Chewy was at the rail beside me, kind of half wagging his tail, wondering perhaps what in heck that yappy thing over there actually was…

We pulled along side, and the slow, routine process of tying up and transferring diesel started.
I’d seen it all before, and I was quite familiar with the procedure. They spin-sling these lighter ropes across, then pull in heavier cables. Those cables get wrapped around winches, and the winches creak into gear. That draws the two ships together. Then more light ropes. Pulling in heavier ropes. Then they start to pull across the hoses, sometimes several.
It all takes time. And they have to be hooked up and connected below decks. There are quite a large number of crew involved. It’s an important business. For the pilot, it’s a change. You get to stroll around the deck, and watch the goings on.
Sometimes they use walkie-talkies. Sometimes they don’t. It’s such a well rehearsed sort of thing, it usually runs itself pretty well.
Luvvely day…
I was standing beside the bridge, when I was interrupted in my pleasant reverie by somebody whistling. One of those up-and-down undulating catch-his-attention whistles. When you’re trying to attract somebody’s… attention. I looked across to the tanker ship. There was this really friendly dude, waving.
Nice guy. Heck, I waved back.
Yeah man, it’s a lovely day, eh?
Big smiles. Him and me. Buddies already. Waving like crazy.
He gave me a cheerful ‘thumbs up’. I gave him one right back.
Heck, yeah.
The sun was beating down, the sea was almost flat calm, and the water was that translucent blue. A few porpoises were hanging around as well. Another great Pacific Ocean day…

A minute or two later, there seemed to be a commotion going on at the other end of our ship.
A lot of yelling. The loudspeakers were going off with perplexed, angry, confused Chinese voices.
People running. The captain came running out of the bridge, somebody yelled at him, and he bolted back inside, and got on the radio.
Hmmmm…. Strange…
I ambled back along the deck, hands in my pockets, to investigate. When I got to the middle working deck, there was a first class almighty right kerfuffle going on. Boy, they were mad! There were several sailors, covered in diesel. Including the second engineer. Soaked with the stuff. Just absolutely drenched. Peering down the hatch, I could see diesel everywhere, and even more really pissed off China men venting their frustrations. There was a right mess. Looked to me like somebody had really, really screwed up.
As an interested, compassionate, international observer, wholly detached of course, (nothing to do with me), I stood there, hands in pocket, trying to follow the Chinese. There was a lot of “Pooh how! ” Going on. It means “bad “. And also a lot of “saitee! ” Which also means “Very bad! ” Now they were yelling at the dude on the tanker. It was quite impressive. This gang of furiously, homicidally angry Chinese, venting freely at the tanker fellow. Holy smokes. It’s “Awesome ” how the Chinese can swear. It’s not just the words. Although I’m sure they involve your sexual orientation, your mother, your father, your life expectancy, the size of your pecker, your intelligence, and your chance of getting away alive… But it’s the way the Chinese accompany the words with body and facial movement. The face becomes a fluid, hate filled, tableau.
“I’m gonna KILL you, you son-of-a bitch! “
The body mimes stabbing you, stomping on you, and generally crushing your useless carcass into the ground.
Really impressive…
There were a number of words being repeated, and I was trying to remember them. I couldn’t wait to get back to my Chinese English dictionary. I would be asking the Radio Operator for help. I wondered what sentinpjin meant?
Now the friendly dude on the tanker ship was yelling back. He wasn’t friendly anymore. He had a microphone in his hand, and the loudspeakers were amplifying his indignation. Now there was a fluent flow coming from him. And all of a sudden, strangely, most unexpectedly…
he was pointing, gesticulating, jabbing an angry, accusing finger…
at me...


What was infinitely worse than the finger pointing, was that, all of a sudden, that angry, baying pack of rabid Oriental gentlemen swung the combined -intense- focus of their (diesel blurred) gaze – in a nano second – ninety degrees right…. focus: ME.
Aaaahhh…..errrrr……. oh my gosh….
Now I know how a small rabbit feels, confronted with a pack of very large, very hungry dogs. Especially when there’s nowhere to run.
The dull, distant sound of a penny dropping…
And another one…
Aaaahhh…..errrrr……. oh my gosh….
Me. Standing by the bridge. Wearing a white pilot’s shirt. With the straps for the epaulettes. Looks… official?
Like I know what I’m doing?
Me. Waving. Friendly.
Me. Giving back a ‘thumbs up’. Friendly. Trying to be nice.
Oh. Shit. Oh shit. Oh ,oh, oh….
Deck. Full of knives, fishing implements. Hammers, cleavers, grappling hooks.
VERY, very angry Chinese.

“Moggy, Moggy, what you DO?? ”
It was the captain. His voice up a full octave.
I sighed. We had been through this routine before.
I bowed my head.
I explained. Humbly. Honestly. Surrounded by maniacal Chinese crew men. I’m not sure if they were carrying hatchets.
They might have been.
I explained the whole thing to the captain. Then I looked at the assembled throng. And I kind of…
“Oops… Sorry…. ”

I have a lot of fond memories of the Chinese. And the Koreans. They were good to me.
Very human. They occasionally get a very bad, distrustful press here in the United States. But you know something?
Having worked with them, lived with them, and shared… tsuh-wann with them, I regard them as terrific, industrious, hard working people. They are just as human and feeling as you and me.
I know…
They even have a sense of wry humour.
Because they just looked at each other. The whole thing got explained. And they just shook their (diesel soaked) heads.
I was forgiven. Again.
Stupid Irishman…
I think they felt sorry for me. My penitent, profusely apologetic expression probably said it all.
What a dumb ass.

Barking mad…



Francis Meyrick

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Last edited by Francis Meyrick on April 12, 2014, 10:24 am

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