King City (3)

Comments from the forum - 2

Something of an Inconvenience

The photo of the King City leaving Durban May 1966 triggered the following anecdote in my mind.

I was the Mate on her on that particular voyage, whilst Oliver Lindsay was Master and Trevor Griffiths was Chief. The ship was on time charter to British & Commonwealth (Clan Line) and chartered for one round voyage UK/Continent to South and East African ports, with options to sub-charter to British India for a round trip East Africa to India and back.

The story I am about to regale you with, began at the beginning of the time charter to B&C. We loaded around the UK, mainly Liverpool and Glasgow and finished off in the West India Docks in London. As those of you old enough to remember the primitive arrangements for toilet use in the enclosed London Dock system, the mate (me) was given a key to the dockside toilets because we were not allowed to use the onboard kharzis. The toilets provided were located about half a mile from our gangway and there was no provision for the wives on board. I sent Ken Milburn, the 2nd Mate, off with key to find and inspect the toilet block. He came back and said that I should go and look myself. I did and they were gross. Dirty, excretia all over the floor; there was no lighting, and all in all, I wouldn't let my dog use them. I reported same to Captain Lindsay, and he said we would use our own and say nothing. This was OK as far as the crew's toilets amidships and aft were concerned, but the dear old Chief Eng's toilet emptied through a shipside storm valve into the dock on the port (offshore) side.

One morning, I was confronted at my cabin door by a very irate London stevedore waving a wet stained coat at me and wanting to know "how could I explain the "excrement" on the sleeve". Apparently Trevor had had his usual morning evacuation of his bowels and this had poured out of the offshore side scupper where, unfortunately, there were now cargo barges tied up alongside. I probably wasn't too sympathetic, because the docker cleared off and came back with a PLA cop. OK, says I, you have raised the ante, I will call the Old Man. Captain Lindsay turned up, and a major row developed with the PLA cop who was obviously completely out of his depth: he went off and came back with his Inspector. Not to be outdone, Captain Lindsay sent Ken Milburn to the dockside phone and told him to call Poplar Town Hall and get a Port Health officer down to the ship. This was really getting good! Port Health arrived, and I took him to the offensive dockside toilets. He took one look and went spare! Back we came to the ship, and our new found ally, the Port Health geezer, told the cops that the toilets were a major health hazard, not only to the poor old mariners, but probably to the general East London population as a whole. The PLA then turned up and as all this argy bargy was going on, on the deck abreast the amidships No.3 hatchway, I espied, out of the corner of my eye, Jim Webster, our London Office boarding agent, whose head was just appearing above the gunwale bar as he came up the accommodation ladder. He saw what was going on and did a smart about turn, and was on his way back down the gangway and clearing off, when I shouted to him that we needed him to join the happy band!!

It all got sorted out. Portable chemical toilets were provided by the PLA and again, upon our return, two months later. The docker with the “soiled” coat sleeve got ten bob towards cleaning costs and the PLA cops cleared off pretty sharpish. I must say that Captain Ollie played a master card by calling in the Port Health. Happy days. Bryan Boyer. Posted on forum 01 January 2012.

Bryan's moving tale brought to mind my own first trip--I joined the B.I.'s "Sangola" in London in the Royal Albert Docks. Warnings about use of heads were issued.
One morning the air was turned blue by some master of Cockney invective. Looking over the side we observed an irate bargee dancing,cursing and waving at a large "missile" which had scored a direct hit on his hatch cover.
The mate stuck his head over the bridge wing , yelled something in Hindi and "The Spooner" appeared. This had obviously happened before.
The Spooner arrived carrying a long bamboo pole with an old , suitably bashed out and trimmed , frying pan attached. A twist and a flick and the missile was fetched back aboard.
The Spooner dropped himself down a ladder with a bucket and all traces were removed--all over in five minutes. Never did find out what happened to the offending object.
Great what we get around to discussing. Pete Turnbull. Posted on forum 01 January 2012.

King City. Page [1] [2] [3] [4]
Memories from RSL staff. Page No. [1] [2] [3]