February 21st to 28th


He departed a “Seedee Boy,” as they call the stokers; he returned the full blooded Sultan of Zanzibar— His Highness Sayyid Burgash, with a bottle in each hand. Then he sat on the fore-hatch grating eating salt fish and onions, and singing songs of a far country.


This is from The Limitations of Pambé Serang, in Life’s Handicap.

Nureed is a big Zanzibari stoker, reckless and overbearing when drunk. Pambé Serang is a Malay, an unforgiving people; he is a skilled seaman and a proud man. Nurkeed, comes on board drunk, puddles his fingers into Pambé’s food, stabs him, and insults him grossly.

Next morning Nurkeed knows he has wronged someone, but cannot recall who it is, and  makes his escape. The Serang pursues his quarry from ship to ship, but does not see him again until he is lying ill in a London sick-room. From his bed Pambé hears Nurkeed’s voice, and calls to him. When the stoker bends over him, Pambé knifes him to the heart.


But the shameful thing of all was the food. I raxed me a meal fra’ galley-shelves an’ pantries an’ lazareetes an’ cubby holes that I would not ha’ gied to the mate of a Cardiff Coaler; an ye ken we say a Cardiff mate will eat clinkers to save waste.


This is from “Bread upon the Waters“, in The Day’s Work

McPhee,  A experienced Chief Engineer, has been dismissed by the new young mean-minded management of his company for refusing to compromise on safety.

They have sent a merchant ship, the Grotkau, to sea with a crack in the popellor shaft. McPhee know’s of this, and follows in another ship, waiting for the disaster that is bound to come. The shaft breaks  off and the crew abandon the crippled vessel.

Here McPhee has got himself on board at peril of his life, to save the Grotkau for salvage, which he knows will cost the owners dear. He is finding that their mean-ness also extends to the food on board.

…that had brought me to the doors of a lunatic asylum and I had no desire to help him through further experiences. He was a man to whom unpleasantnesses arrived as did dinners to ordinary people.


This is from “The Return of Imray“, in Life’s Handicap.

The narrator has been staying in a bungalow rented by his friend Strickland, of the police.  They – and Stricklsnd’s great dog – are troubled at night by what seems to be a restless spirit trying to claim their attention . Here the narrator feels he cannot stand the atmosphere any longer, and decides to move out to the Club next day. Stricklamd asks him to stay, but he was still reluctant.

Later that evening the mystery is a mystery no more.  They find a body hidden in the rafters, with its throat cut. The previous owner of the Bungalow had been murdered by his servant.  roof.