Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Blackball Annie

Shanghaied by Arthur Catherall
The story opens on the dockside at Hull. The story ends as the Blackball Annie prepares to head for her home port again. Between those two points an epic adventure has been unfolded that defies all of the predicted conclusions. It is another story about growing to man's estate and it produces one of the best descriptions of a seachange that has been set on paper by a juvenile writer. At first you are led to believe that the hero of the tale is young Harold Jackson who has been betrayed by his own grandfather into a life of filthy and dangerous drudgery when he is shanghaied aboard the little trawler as it sets sail for the fishing grounds of Iceland.
There is little detail of the coast that is revealed as the Annie leaves the Humber and heads to the north.
"The water in the river was yellow with mud and sand. There were twin lines of dancing buoys to mark the fairway, but in an hour or so they would be in the open sea."

Harold contemplates drastic action.
"Then he walked to the starboard bulwark and stared moodily at the flat landscape of Lincolnshire. They had just passed the entrance to Immingham docks, and he wondered for a moment whether he dare dive overboard and make a swim for it. The distance, he decided, would be less than a mile."

His action in kicking off his shoes warns his captors and he turns his mind in another direction.
"The white buildings on Spurn Point suddenly reminded him that the trawler carried a wireless set."
He tries to send a message, little knowing that Mike Grogan, the skipper, has no intention of letting him go.

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