Foul BottomsI’ll never forget whatisname

Quirkie’s* mate demonstrates his photographic memory.


'ere...I know you...In a previous lifetime, when we lived in New York, we enjoyed the delights of keeping a 25 foot sloop on Long Island Sound. As two of my crew were in nappies at the time, we always asked able bodied guests to join us for day sails to lend a hand.
I was working for an international hotel group and the financial controller was a witty engaging fellow but probably the world’s slowest moving and speaking Englishman. He spoke fluent Michael Caine cockney, about eight words at a time, then pause for a breath. Know wha’ I mean?
We had enjoyed a slow easy morning reach that allowed us the pleasures of nursing a beer and a chicken leg as we surveyed the passing scene. The FC diligently chewed each mouthful the required 24 times, so conversation was a little slow.
“This is my idea of sailing,” he said between bites.
He recalled that he had not been sailing since he had been invited aboard a yacht on the South Coast in UK as a race crew in 1971. The pace of all this did not suit our languid living FC.
“They got me all decked out in yellow oilies that smelt of boat and vomit.
“Then there was all this jumping about from one side to the other just when I got meself settled. Couldn’t get meself comfy. And of course, it was raining and blowing like hell.
“Tacking is it? And they have to do it? Glad we did not do that today. The best part of that sailing day was getting into the pub in the evening,” he said.
“It took a few beers to wipe all that salt off my lips before I could settle down and relax. There was a chap in posh sailing gear at the end of the bar with another group of sailors and I thought, hello, I know you.
Couldn't get meself comfy.“White haired, stocky, middle aged gent. Definitely a well-spoken Brit. Think I could place him? Not a hope. This really annoyed me.
“I had been living in the US for ten years so where do I know him from? Must have been somebody I had met there on the job. But where from? I just couldn’t pick him. Then he stood up and was about to leave. I could not let him go without finding out from where it was that I knew him.
“So I went over to him, told him my name and what I did and said, ‘’ere, I know you from somewhere, but I can’t place it. Weren’t you the financial controller of our Montreal hotel?’”
He smiled and shook his head. He looked bemused.
“Alright then, didn’t you used to go out with that dark haired bird who was our legal counsel in …?”
This is my idea of sailing...Another smiling shake of the head.
“Must have seen on the telly, then. Didn’t you play that bent copper in the BBC series where you was having it off with the mother and the daughter?”
He went on until he had exhausted everybody and every connection he could think of and the bloke just stood there grinning.
“Alright, alright, I know your face from somewhere. But I give up.”
He smiled broadly and stuck out his hand.
“Ted Heath. Prime Minister.”
[Ted Heath won the Sydney-Hobart race in 1969 aboard his yacht Morning Cloud. He captained Britain’s winning team for the Admiral’s Cup in 1971 – while Prime Minister – and also captained the team in the 1979 Fastnet race.

Foul Bottoms

*John Quirk has been writing about and illustrating the joys of messing about in boats for over half a century. He is the author / illustrator of Foul Bottoms, published by Adlard Coles and available from Boat Books in Crows Nest and from Amazon.