I was gonna do a post about waffles, but I decided against that as it would be three posts in a row about food, and people may start wondering what is going on. So I decided to tackle something equally as fun. Piracy. Specifically, would I make a good pirate? Now, some would argue that there’s no such thing as a ‘good’ pirate. Oh, lighten up. If I wanted to be a pirate, the old-fashioned type, then would I ‘fit’ into the ‘conventions’ we expect of those pirates? Or, would I be so out of depth that donning the pirate gear would make me look like the seventh member of The Village People? I wonder what they’re up to these days…
Well, let’s deal with some misconceptions, shall we? There was no such thing as walking the plank. No pirate buried treasure. Not all pirate ships flew the Jolly Roger flag, some had an image of an hourglass to symbolise the enemy’s time was running out. Most pirates were sailors who turned to the life of piracy because their lives were hell. They were beaten, threatened and abused daily as sailors, but not as pirates. And contrary to popular belief, most pirates were young, in their 20s or 30s.
Most of their loot was everyday items like food and clothes – they were outlaws, it’s how they survived. Most valuable stuff, such as gold, they spent right away on booze and, erm, you know, ‘women of the night’. On a lighter note, no pirate had a parrot or any pet. It would’ve been very messy. Pirates talked normally, and did not have a ‘pirate language’ or use ‘pirate words’. Basically, everything we know about pirates is bull. Which is why you shouldn’t believe what you see in the movies.
So what should we believe? Most pirate ships were organised and followed a pirate constitution. Peg legs and hooks were used but very rarely. Pirates did loot and drink copious amounts of booze. They pillaged, plundered, sang, dance and performed plays for entertainment. They only wore eye-patches during a raid, so as to keep one eye adjusted to the dark when they ventured below the deck. Pirates were often compensated for injuries. They practiced equality on some scale, too: they didn’t care where you were from or what you looked like, as long as you could do your job. 60% of Blackbeard’s crew were black. These ships were even democratic and used a voting system.
Pirates earned more money than an average man would earn in several lifetimes. They were magnets for women and some were taken aboard the ships. At least two that we know of became captains. The pirates were at the height of fashion. They did pick up many exotic fabrics so why not use them? They had nicknames so their family back home wouldn’t be harmed. They also had mighty weapons such as the cutlass, the belaying pin, the longsword and the cannon. It is also worth pointing out that they did pick up many tropical and, erm, venereal diseases. But they were truly free. They thumbed their noses up at society and lived by their own rules. They were the original anarchists.
Would I be good at any of that? Absolutely… not. The equality and pay are rather charming, but a life of crime is a bad life to live. I’m not a bad boy. And I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have a good nickname, either. Alan the Occurrence. Yeah, that’s not great…
But what about you, readers? Would you make a good pirate or would you be arrr-ful at it? Sorry.
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The Indelible Life of Me
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Hark Around the Words
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