Archive for January, 2009
Between a pile of grandma’s crocheted doilies and boxes full of stamps and postcards, a book caught my eye at the local fleamarket. “Jack” by some “Franz Hoffmann”. Never heard of, but…
you can’t expect me to walk past an old children’s book with a cover showing people getting eaten by sharks!
Plus there were a ship and an uniform.
When I opened the book, I realised to my greatest surprise that, while announcing the adventures of “Jack, der tapfere Midshipman” (“Jack, the brave Midshipman”), it actually was a German translation of Captain Frederick Marryat’s “Midshipman Easy”! (You remember Marryat? The Royal Navy Ghostbuster?) So that‘s how you came to fame back in the 19th century, folks – by doing a (pretty bad) translation and slap your own name on it!
21 authors have donated stories to the “I DO!” anthology in support of Lambda Legal Fund, which will receive all profits from the anthology. Printing and distribution costs have been kindly donated by MLR Press.
The story Emma Collingwood has contributed is called “Semi-detached”. Set in modern London, it features the characters from her upcoming book “The Purser, the Surgeon, the Captain and his Lieutenant” – you will not see this story anywhere else!
Is gay marriage a matter of equality, commitment or home improvement? Thomas comes to the conclusion that it’s all about knocking down walls.
The anthology also contains a great tale by Alex Beecroft. From historical to modern – there’s something for everybody.
Or visit the
for more information. For now, “I Do!” is available as e-book; from 21 January on, the print edition should be up for sale as well. Just the Valentine’s Gift you’ve been looking for, eh?
Please feel free to link, forward, spread and herald to whoever and wherever you feel it makes sense. All profits go to Lambda, the authors are not keeping anything for ourselves.
Using naval slang in Age of Sail writing is tricky business: on the one hand, it makes our writing sound more “authentic”, on the other hand, too much of it and the story will read as if it had been written by a git who wants to show off. Like salt in the kitchen, I try to use slang sparsely and not to spoil the soup, or rather, the book, for the reader.
However, if I use slang, I want to use it correctly, and I found this little book to be quite helpful:
NOT ENOUGH ROOM TO SWING A CAT
Naval Slang And Its Everyday Usage
by Martin Robson
A Conway Maritime Book
with 70 illustrations by Mark Myers
Cloth bound, no jacket
That the “cat out of the bag” doesn’t refer to the liberation of some unfortunate feline but rather to the unpleasant prospect of a flogging is probably no big news for you. But if you thought that “The Black Day” was connected with the bank crash in the 1920ies, you got it wrong. Just like me, by the way. In fact, the darkest day in naval history was 31 July 1970 – that’s when the Royal Navy stopped the issue of rum. Well, we should have guessed that, shouldn’t we!
Whether you decide to send your heroes into “deep water” or make them “know the ropes”; if you hope they can “break the ice” with that one special person and hopefully not end up “between the devil and the deep blue sea”, then you’ll find out very soon into the book that everything you know you’ve learned from Startrek the navy. Every term is explained, often with examples from song lyrics or movie lines (don’t let the words “Pretty Woman” scare you off, though – after all, that was a case of not “sailing under true colours”!) and some expressions even come illustrated. While I’ve seen better illustrations, they serve their purpose and range from cute to humourous to bizarre (unless you don’t mind people with an albatross around their neck).
For writers, “Not Enough Room To Swing A Cat” is a valuable resource, and helps avoiding the pitfalls of anachronysms. But it’s also recommended reading material for everybody with an interest in the origin of our language. It’s fascinating and fun, ranging from decent to downright rude, and will give you a very colourful insight into the daily lives of sailors.
A short word of warning: under “Poking Charlie”, you’ll find terms which are derogatory, insulting, racist and mysoginist. I don’t mind that they are included; there’s no point in airbrushing history or reality. However, the author expresses his hopes that “they will provide a flavour of the colourful language of the lower deck” and adds that “some are not for the faint hearted or easily offended – you have been warned!”
Well, Mr. Robson, I’m not easily offended, but I feel that a man who refers to a woman a “cum dumpster” needs to have his nuts kicked so hard that they’ll replace his tonsils. For a future edition, I suggest to re-name the chapter “Terms Used By Dick-Ruled Bastards From The Planet Of Dork”.