I was brought up watching classic movies and recall rainy Saturday mornings when football was off the agenda, being glued to a small television set watching Burt Lancaster and Nick Cravat sliding down sails and swashing buckles in glorious Technicolor (if you have never seen The Crimson Pirate, I suggest that you abandon whatever you are currently doing and remedy that immediately). And so when I was asked to write this blog on International Talk Like A Pirate Day my inner child (very shallowly buried in my psyche) roared to the surface with a mighty “Shiver me timbers!”
So what is International Talk Like A Pirate Day? For one thing it is not something that was instigated by bored, becalmed corsairs who had already guzzled their ration of grog and were looking for something constructive to do. In fact it was invented in 1995 by two Americans who, during a game of racquetball, started giving each other encouragement in the pirate vernacular and they soon realised that use of this particular form of singular slang made the game a more enjoyable experience. From this they decided that a new holiday was needed and Talk Like A Pirate Day was born. And so 19th September (the date of one of the founder’s ex wife’s birthday) was settled upon and over the years the event has grown to achieve international status.
So why should this have a resonance in Tenby? Two reasons really. First off, it is fun. Whilst piracy itself is far from being funny, talking like a pirate, especially in an exaggerated eye-rolling Robert Newton-esque way, is funny. Go on, try it. And the world needs more fun and stupidity to counteract the endless round robin of tubed-in misery. Secondly, Tenby and the coast around it have historic connections with pirates and piracy. You only need to visit Tenby Museum or go on one of Blue Badge Marion Davies’ walks to learn about the story of Black Barty and Tenby-born Leekie Porridge to realise that pirates operated outside the sun-kissed shores of the Caribbean. Caldey Island also has several associations with piracy. Welsh buccaneer Henry Morgan and privateer John Paul Jones are both rumoured to have used the island as a hideout. It is said that when Jones died in 1792 his body was pushed into the rocks on Caldey and the ghostly sound of digging can sometimes be heard on the beach there, as if a ghoulish pirate is searching for lost treasure. Indeed Caldey has Paul Jones Bay on the northeast of the island, named after this legendary pirate.
And if you do visit the museum (which all of you certainly should) there is the opportunity to dress up as a pirate whilst completing both of the pirate quizzes we offer. So avast, me hearties, and a yo ho ho! I look forward to welcoming you all with a loud Ahoy! on 19th September.
Children enjoying the pirate experience at Tenby Museum