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I suppose it's because I have so much time on my hands these days, that all these memories come flooding back to me.


I remember an incident that took place many years ago in Singapore while our ship was visiting there. We had this bloke in our mess who was always borrowing things - everyday things like toothpaste, soap shampoo, cigarettes and money! He never seemed to have any of these items when he required them, so he was well known throughout the ship as he would borrow from anybody. This fact never went unoticed, so everyone would be on their guard as soon as he showed up anywhere. For example he would turn up to watch the evening movie in the mess hall, with no cigarettes or any nutty (sweets) and would have no problems with asking who ever was close to him to borrow these things.

It was as if he had no conscience at all and, if anyone asked him to return of an item, he would always find a reason for not remembering ever borrowing it. This went on for some time and it was agreed between a few of us that we would teach him a lesson as soon as we got shore side again. It was not as if any of these items he borrowed were expensive, it was just the fact that he was always on the borrow. He never really understood why no one would go ashore with him, and even when cornered and told of his problem he would laugh it off as a joke!

Yet, as time goes by on long patrols at sea, everybody gets tense and the slightest thing could set someone off into a torrent of anger as tension builds up. It was the frequent calls to action stations, where we were closed up for hours on end, just to be stood down again, the lack of sleep and cold food. Little things could build up to enormous proportions if not nipped in the bud early, and he was indeed very lucky as we had to jump in and save him from being hit by another really annoyed ship mate.

So we hatched our plan to teach him a lesson as soon as we got along side in Singapore. The plan was for four of us to get a taxi into town making sure that he got into the middle of the back seat. As soon as the taxi reached our destination we were to all get out and run as quickly as possible, leaving him to pay the fare. Then, after that we were going to make him pay for the first round of drinks, even if he did not want to! All was going well. We asked him to join us and I must admit he was rather surprised at this, as no one would go with in the past due to his meaness. We all got into the taxi, making sure he sat in accordance with our plan, and got ready for our dash. The taxi pulled over to the side when asked to by the bloke in front, and we all made our dash! I was told later by the others that our plan had indeed worked, but unfortunately for me it had back fired.

As the taxi had pulled over to the side, I had failed to notice that the rear door on my side was right next to a monsoon storm drain! As I left the taxi in my haste I never saw the small wall on the top edge. It was quite a long drop down into the drain, with a concrete slope which must have broke my fall! Luckily the drain was empty apart from a small layer of sludge which was full of every creepy crawly that could bite you. The fact that I was in white shorts made my mistake even more painful, as all the exposed parts of my body, and even some that were not exposed, got bitten by all these insects and small rodents! By the time I had managed to climb back up this steep slope all my mates had gone but, luckily, another taxi full of my ship mates had just pulled up. So I managed to make my own way back to the ship and into the sick bay where I was injected for every known disease harmful to man. This alone was almost as painful as my original fall! The swelling was alarming to say the least as my legs and arms grew to twice their normal size. This made me look somewhat humourous to many of my so-called mates who started calling me 'popeye'! It also meant that I had to leave all the swollen parts of my body hanging over the edge of my hammock as they could not stand contact with anything. This also gave my mates some entertainment as someone would brush past causing me to cry out in pain.

In fact my little accident took all the attention from our original cause, although the outcome meant that our little borrower was cured of his meaness. Every time the story was told, my accident seemed to be the main talking point, leaving our original reason for the story on the side line. These days I always look before getting out of any vehicle, its just a habit now, leaving behind a painful memory.

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