AS OUR SHIP materialised gracefully into the panorama of Bridgetown, Barbados, things were beginning to settle into some sort of cohesive pattern. I was getting a rough idea of how the ship ran, I had caught up on my sleep, and the Windy brain was back in control of the world. The names and routines of the lads around me were taking shape, all the deep-tanks we had cleaned were safely full of cargo, and I was beginning to feel a lot happier with life. The thought of our impending visits to Barbados and Jamaica helped considerably, and the words of the old sages who had been there before, as they held forth in the bar, had us all champing at the bit to get out there with the red paint.
‘Make the most of these ports,’ saged Cranners, the posh second officer from Surrey. ‘Most of the places you’ll visit on ships are not like this. Here you may taste the fine life and mix with the glitterati; excellent restaurants, haute cuisine and splendid company, in some of the world’s most glorious settings.’
‘What he means,’ interrupted Benny the Dog, ‘is that instead of getting rat-arsed and fighting in the port, here we can go up the road to dead flash joints, pretend to be rich and pick up some upper-class skirt. They don’t expect no yobbos ’ere, so we can get away with murder. Any plans, Jinx?’
The second engineer nodded slowly, his eyes afire with sinful designs. He was known as ‘Jinx’ because of his uncanny ability to secure the most attractive female companionship out of thin air, and had a highly agreeable habit of coaxing them back to the ship to meet his friends. It was said of Jinx that, were he to find himself wandering aimlessly across the middle of the Kalahari Desert, he would be stopped by a coach-load of nymphomaniac models at a loose end, asking if he could find them anything to do. His reputation preceded him as an organiser of ladies and mischief, so I was not surprised to find he was extremely well spoken and sported a dashing moustache under sparkling blue eyes.
‘Barbados,’ he said in a slow drawl, like that of a dastardly blackguard outlining his vile plans to a helpless maiden tied to a railway track, ‘is indeed ripe for the deflowering of its high society by uncouth sailors, but it is essential that we have a plan and stick to it, or the word will get round and we won’t get a look in. With a little well-placed effort in the early stages, we could be set up for a splendid time. Everybody in? Leave now if you are not prepared to stand by your mates, because my scheme involves a little... ‘dishonesty’. Any potential squealers should leave now, or expect to lose vital organs. All in? Gooooood. Here’s the plan...’
And with much twirling of moustaches, despicable laughter and rubbing of hands, Jinx outlined his devilry to his cackling cronies.
The following evening was warm and still. The moon was full, and the air was full of fragrant promise. Barbados was everything I imagined a paradise might be, and I was beside myself with excitement at the prospects ahead. As it turned out, I had every right to be.
At 9:30p.m., two pairs of eyes carefully followed the mate as he left the ship and headed into Bridgetown with the captain and the chief engineer.
‘Thank God for that,’ said a relieved NotNorman. ‘Let’s go to work!’
We nipped round and knocked on half-a-dozen doors, and five minutes later a troop of extremely smart young gentlemen in bow ties and suits gathered on the afterdeck where Cranners, who was on cargo watch, had been unloading rather more than he was supposed to unload.
‘This is the last one,’ he announced, intimating the whirring cargo-wires, taut under the weight of their heavy load. As they raised slowly upwards and drew together to a hook, their payload swung slowly into view, emerging from the hold like a submarine from the deep. ‘The other six are behind those containers.’
We peered out onto the quay and could see the dark hulks of the other six cars loitering like muggers in the shadows of the containers. ‘The keys are in them. Get them back by four in the morning or we are in the deep and unpleasant. OK?’
I was beside myself with excitement. The ship was carrying a cargo of Mini-Mokes, and part of Jinx’s plan was to unload one each and use them around the island at night. A Mini-Moke is like a small jeep with a Mini engine and frame. Ideal for Caribbean islands, sand-dunes and chicanery. They would be back in the hold before daybreak and nobody need be any the wiser. It was brilliant. We would majestically sweep up to one of the top night spots in seven brand new, identical cars, masquerading as ‘International playboys racing each other round the world on our yachts’. Top off a scheme like that with our suits and impeccable good looks, and what girl in her right mind could resist us?
We climbed into our chariots and started them up. I had neglected to mention that I hadn’t passed a test and could barely drive, but there was no way I was going to be a passenger with this sort of opportunity around, so while the others popped the clutch and snaked off expertly into the warm night air, I brought up the rear with a hop, a skip, a jump, a backfire, and the death knell of twisting gearbox echoing round the docks. I hoped I would get the hang of it before I had the girl of my dreams in the passenger seat. International playboys are usually racing drivers and pilots. It would be something of a passion-killer to have to attend hospital with whiplash injuries before any romance could get under way. After a while I was knocking along fairly well, and I had to admit that seven clean-cut young men flying through the night in their fashionably understated and identical machines cut an impressive swathe through the island’s wide-eyed populace.
By the time we swung in through the grand gateway of ‘Alexis’, Barbados’s premier restaurant and nightclub, we were certainly turning heads. Nobody was looking at the guy emerging from his Ferrari; they had seen all that before. The smoothie who had landed his helicopter on the lawn a couple of minutes before us might as well have been the bin-man for all the effect he was having now. Seven Mini-Mokes arriving in high speed formation through the trees of the long driveway, and sliding alongside one another with skids and roars, drew all the attention. We leapt out over the doors and all eyes were upon us as we horsed around, casually trying to give the impression that we did this sort of thing every night. We looked good. We were the rebels. The anti-fashion. The avant-garde. And, just as Jinx had predicted, everyone – including a large number of society’s juiciest young ladies – was impressed.
The doormen opened the double doors with bows and without question. We flung our jackets at the attractive hostesses and breezed into the restaurant like a troop of James Bonds. As we clicked our fingers for menus and dispatched waitresses for drinks we could hear the buzz going round. Who were we? Where were we from? What were we doing here?
The place was packed to the rafters with girls, and I was immediately in love. I wasn’t quite sure with whom, as yet, but my eyes met hers across a crowded room with about fifteen girls in as many seconds, and I wasn’t fussy. Like every other teenager on earth, I had, of course, had loads of sex. Unfortunately, most of it was with myself. Tonight, however, it was going to be a piece of cake to change all that. Just look around! It was simply a matter of mingling until I found out which lady would be the lucky recipient of tonight’s star prize. But my quest was halted by Jinx leaning across and speaking in a quiet but urgent undertone.
‘This is the critical time,’ he whispered. ‘Keep calm now, and we’re right in. Don’t talk to anybody. If we go to them we’ve blown it. Wait and see who comes to us.’
I did not see the logic in this. In fact, I could see no redeeming features to such a policy whatsoever. I wanted to strike while the iron was hot. To make hay while the sun shone. To love and be loved. These girls would certainly not remain available all night and I could see that I was not alone in feeling that Jinx had lost his grip. He should be urged to go to his bed and leave us youngsters to do what we do best. I furtively scanned the eyes of those around me, and found the general loathing was unanimous. In fact, it was becoming difficult to remember exactly what it was that we found to commend the man in the first place. The thing to do now was to talk to these fine young ladies who were so encouragingly maintaining eye contact for just that moment too long. Make them laugh. Be erudite, witty and cultured. Be the lunatic, the lover and the poet – and don’t mention sailors. I looked around hopefully for a new leader. A champion to lead the mutiny against Jinx, but I was stopped in my tracks by the approach of a tall brunette with Bambi eyes, scarily white teeth and an American accent. She could have stepped straight off the pages of Playboy.
‘Hey, guys,’ she purred in a deep southern accent, flicking her hair and posing as if she had reached the end of the catwalk. ‘Mah frayands and ah are in a little deeyasagreeyament, and we was a-wondrin’ if y’all could heyalp us owut heeya?’ I considered a comment about heyalping them owut of their payants, but, thankfully, she continued before I could. ‘Y’all British, riyut? Wale, Roxanne reckons y’all heeya for the surfin’ champeenships and ah reckon y’all moosicians working up the stoodio on the Poyint. Y’all a rock bayand, riyut?’
I hadn’t thought of either of these options. ‘International playboys racing each other round the world in our yachts’ seemed like the gravy to me, but these suggestions were match-winners. I knew the way to handle this one. We would be anything they would like us to be. Anything at all. Say, ‘Shucks, you found us out,’ and admit to being rock stars. Or surfers. Either would bring home the bacon. Jinx had been rescued by this turn-up, and we all turned expectantly to hear him redeem himself. He could simply tell them they were both right; that we were rock-star surfing champion Bee Gees. Anything! I willed him to answer along these lines, but I’m afraid he wasn’t up to it. He had gone to pieces.
‘Oh, we’re nothing special,’ he said, averting his eyes and fiddling bashfully with his drink. ‘We’re just here to clean out the drains. Barbados has awful sewerage problems you know.’
I was horrified. He had completely lost the plot now. I began looking for something to shove in his mouth to shut him up – the table included a vase of flowers which looked like it might fit him - but, amazingly, the girl did not spin on her heel and carry her spectacular body off to some men who knew what they were doing. Jinx was unbelievably lucky tonight. She patted him affectedly on the forearm and shrieked with laughter.
‘Come oooon! You can not expeyact me to bullieve thayat! You are havin’ me on! Say, do you mind if me and mah frayands join y’all? We’re a-gittin’ hayrassed bah those deyad-heyads over theyer and it would be mahty fine of you to lurk after us and git theyem offof our backs.’
She pouted pathetically.
‘Of course you may,’ said Jinx with chivalry. ‘Make some space there, lads, the ladies are going to join us.’ And with that, half-a-dozen stunning girls abandoned their Ferrari-driving, helicopter-piloting millionaires, and came curving deliciously over to sit with the sailors.
Half-an-hour later, I was deep in conversation with the most amazing-looking girl I had ever seen without staples in her face and stomach. I never once had to say that we were international playboys racing each other round the world on our yachts; firstly, because Roxanne was nineteen and talkative, and secondly, because I had come up with a brilliant idea. Inspired by Jinx’s good fortune, I didn’t crow about being a high-flyer; I blushed and insisted I was nothing special. And the more I talked myself down, the grander the belief in my pedigree became. She laughed aloud when I said we were escaped convicts and that our suits were really the property of the band, who could be found naked, bound and gagged in the ballroom downstairs. She wouldn’t have it when I said we were private detectives, hired to find Trinidad. It got to the point where I could say, ‘Listen. We’re a bunch of sailors off a merchant ship and we nicked the cars out of the cargo,’ and achieve nothing but the further cementation of the belief that we were making a film on the north beaches. My plan was working like a charm. If Jinx had been a bit slicker he could have claimed to have planned the whole thing from the very start.
Not even Cookie Short – the uncouth Mancunian engineering cadet – could spoil things. A quite superb hostess wafted up to him as a fantasy floats into a dream. She licked her lips, then spoke in husky tones, ‘While you await your main course, sir, perhaps you would enjoy whetting your appetite with a fondue on the terrace?’ Long fingers indicated the French windows that opened on to an impressive balcony overlooking the gardens.
‘You betcha!’ enthused Cookie, tongue hanging out. ‘Is that like doggy fashion?’
Even the weight of such evidence against us was laughed off. Our lack of finesse, our accents, and the battle the poor hostess was having to disentangle herself from a puckering Cookie – all counted for nothing. The incongruities simply seemed to confirm to onlookers that we were in fact British royal family. We could do no wrong.
During the course of the evening, most of the lads found female companionship of a class and demeanour way above that which humble sailors would usually expect even to meet, let alone grope. I feel sure several of the finest ladies of the cosmopolitan jet set were severely traumatised that night. I would think that even the most cynical gold-digger, having left a club on the arm of a supposed millionaire and arriving at 3:00 a.m. on the biggest yacht she had ever seen, would possibly adjudge that her ship had come in, so to speak. So as I watched three of these sweet young things heading off with their playboys to go back to the ‘yacht’, I could not help feeling they would be psychologically scarred for life when they awoke in the morning on a merchant ship, having been unceremoniously rogered by three cheapskates called Cookie Short, Crate, and Benny the Dog. It doesn’t bear thinking about.
Incidentally, I should mention that Cookie Short was not the man’s full nickname. I don’t want you running off with the idea that he had something irretrievably cool about him as the name might suggest. I know his nickname made him sound like a jazz musician, but it was actually his supreme readiness to make basic errors of judgement that led to his full title: ‘Cookie Short of the Full Biscuit’, or Cookie Short, for short, if you see what I mean.
Me? Ah. I was hoping we could move on to Jamaica rather than discuss my evening. I know I was doing pretty well at the last bulletin, and as I danced opposite the heavenly body of the hot-blooded Roxanne, futures in Windy Inc. looked set fair to rise. As the lights flashed and the pulsating music whipped us into a frenzy, she began to really let go. She had a freedom of self-expression, an energetic eroticism to her dancing and that air of carefree abandon that are such potent indications of excellent horizontal prospects. She was physically superb, lithe and fit. I was actually scared of her, and yet drawn irresistibly. I could not have walked away if my life had depended on it. I was spellbound. Her long hair flew hypnotically, her eyes were shut and her full lips were gently parted. I kept finding myself staring at her. It was as much as I could do to force myself to shut my mouth and keep dancing; but as the music beat on, and her tantalising motion bedazzled my feeble male brain, I found myself standing still with my eyes on stalks time and again. Just to kiss a vision like Roxanne, without even having to drug her first, would be the pinnacle of my life. Nothing else would ever live up to the importance of this night. And so far, if I could just control my dribbling, things were going precisely to plan.
Whenever you want a slow dance it never happens. They play upbeat, boogie-and-sweat numbers back-to-back all night. Ogling Roxanne as she writhed provocatively was all well and good but I could not excusably get my hands on her at this pace. As each song drew to its high-kicking finale, I implored the heavens to bequeath to me that soothing saxophone and gentle keyboard intro’ that are the green light to leap on top of the girl you’ve been so carefully shepherding about the dancefloor throughout all the fast ones.
Eventually, my patience was rewarded. Some old slush started up, and I leapt. We moved into an intense clinch, entwined like climbing plants. I felt her fingers on the back of my neck. This was it. My time had come. Every inch of me tingled and shivered. I had to keep cool. Don’t do anything stupid. Don’t come on too strong. I decided to skip the fancy stuff and just cling on. Incredibly, fate was on my side, and as the dance built to its powerful middle eight, her upturned face appeared longingly in front of mine.
I have no idea how long we remained locked in divine fusion, because, although my lips stuck to their post, my brain left the building through the roof like a firework display. After an aeon or two, Roxanne was first to come up panting for air. She licked her lips and her eyes were ablaze.
‘Shall we leave?’ she panted hungrily. I tried for the self-assured, ‘You wanna go? Sure.’ All cool and off-hand, but only a meek whimper emerged into the air. Leave? Together? Just us? This could only mean one thing! This monumentally beautiful girl wanted to be alone with me! She wanted ME! My stomach hit the ceiling, then dropped through the floor. This was My Night. This was IT.
I was convinced she was finding my style and sensual expertise irresistible, and couldn’t control herself a moment longer, but I guess, with hindsight, she was probably more keen to leave in order to stop me from humping her leg in public like some kind of demented spaniel. She led the way from the building, and I followed like a hydrogen balloon floating along behind her. If she hadn’t been holding my hand I’m sure I would have become lost amongst the chandeliers.
On the way across the grounds to the Mini-Moke we stopped for another desperate grapple. I was insane with passion, and she was matching me all the way. If the owner of the car upon whose bonnet we were performing our acrobatics had not returned, it might have been all over there and then, but we had to move on. We tried again against a tree before we got to the car, but Roxanne was unhappy with all the people watching from the balcony.
‘Not here,’ she purred. ‘I want this to be veeeery special. Let’s drive out to the beach.’
So with a hop, a skip, a jump and a hey nonny nonny, and leaving a trail of gearbox cogs in our wake, we headed off into the night towards the beach.
‘This is Sam Lord’s castle,’ she said as she led me through the grounds of a magnificent castle and down a narrow path lined with palm trees. ‘We can be alone down here.’
The path unfolded onto a moonlit tropical beach. The waves tumbled together like playful kittens all along the sandy white shoreline and the scintillating phosphorescence shimmered on their dancing crests as far as the eye could see. The palm trees leant out over the beach like dark old men looking for dropped money, the steel band played infectious, carnival rhythms and the happy sounds of the joyful revellers filled the night air as they danced on the beach and drank exotic cocktails around the open wooden bar. What? Joyful revellers? Steel band? I thought we were going to be alone?
‘Oh no!’ cried Roxanne as we took in the scene. ‘There’s a goddam party going on! Let’s try further along the beach. There’s a waterfall up there.’
I followed her doggedly. Anywhere. I didn’t care where. Just anywhere, and the sooner the better. If ninety per cent of my mind was not being ruled by my genitals, I feel sure I would have marvelled at the beauty of the scene, but the only available ten per cent was concerning itself with the basic motor functions engaged in tracking Roxanne, so I was merely frustrated that the scene of my greatest triumph was so overcrowded. Didn’t these people have homes to go to?
Further along the beach, we turned inland and walked up a track through the palm trees. The full moon lit our way as only a full moon can, and even my preoccupied grey cells could appreciate the exquisite setting of a tall, dignified waterfall, tumbling into a small lagoon. It was nothing short of breathtaking.
‘C’mon!’ Roxanne shouted, and ran towards the water, stripping off as she went. The picture of her naked form, reflected gently in the moonlight as she dived into the water, will remain with me until my dying day, but I had a more immediate problem. Girls are lucky. Their state of arousal is not immediately obvious to other swimmers. For men, things are different. Especially for shy young men who are too embarrassed to strip off. There was only one answer. I ran headlong for the lagoon and jumped in fully clothed. Her laughter was challenging and sexy, and I chased her energetically until I finally got hold of her. I wasn’t going to let her get away again. This was it. We kissed under the cascading waterfall. She tore at my suit, and I felt her naked body press urgently against mine. I was at the gates of frantic heaven once more, and this time, nothing could stop us from...
‘What did you say?’ I asked her.
‘I didn’t say anything, I think it...’
‘Last one in’s a banana. Wheee!’ About twenty of the revellers from the beach party were running towards us, stripping off as they ran.
‘I do NOT believe this!’ I said as my heart sank. ‘This island is like Piccadilly Circus!’ The romance faded like a burst balloon.
‘Let’s go back to my place,’ said Roxanne, rushing to cover up. ‘My folks will be asleep by now. We’ll have the whole place to ourselves.’
On the way to her father’s villa, Roxanne teased me the whole time. She wouldn’t let me stop driving and get hold of her, but she kept flashing her thighs and touching me, and whispering suggestive things in my ear. She was fascinated that I had maintained a steadfast erection for nearly two hours now, and she was determined to enjoy my frustration. In between teases, she asked sensible questions and tried to put me off, then started on me again, using her sexual expertise to prevent things from wilting. One of the questions she put to me was what I really did for a living. Even with the limited brainpower of a man with an erection, I could see that there was no point in lying. The truth was best. I wanted to see her again, so I might as well be honest – I just came right out with it. I was still explaining as quickly as I could when she lifted her shirt and asked me if I liked her stomach. She took my hand and brushed it over her flat, soft belly. Then she suddenly bent across my midriff and kissed me on the thigh before pulling away once more as I reached for her. Every time I tried to join in, she would back off, insist that I concentrate on driving, and then ask another question. By the time we pulled into her driveway, I was beside myself.
Her father was some sort of businessman, and, judging from the size of his Barbados retreat, I should say he was pretty successful. She opened a side door and I followed her, tip-toeing into an enormous kitchen, then on through a dining room lined with a thousand books. We didn’t make a sound. As she reached the door at the far end, she looked back at me with big, hungry eyes and I knew my greatest moment was once more beckoning. The moment when I would finally, at long last...
‘Oh! Hello Daddy!’
... meet Roxanne’s parents.
‘Hey, baby!’ came the cheery reply. ‘Come on in! We’re playing cards with the Robinsons here. Wanna try a hand?’
‘Er, no thanks, Pops. This is Windy Baboulene. He’s the – what did you just tell me you do for a living? – the British and Commonwealth Surfing Champion. He’s here for the tournament at the weekend.’
I sidled sheepishly into the room. I was not looking my best, still damp and in a bedraggled suit with no shirt, I looked like Charlie Chaplin would if they dug him up now, but what could I do? Apologise for having been skinny-dipping with their daughter? The Robinsons looked mildly alarmed, but Roxanne’s dad, after a lifetime of dealing with difficult businessmen, was equal to the challenge.
‘Ha, ha, ha! Good nickname for a surfer, eh? Windy! And British Champion, eh? That’s great! We’re all keen surfers here – you could give us some tips! Say, I thought the British Champion was Grahame someone... Grahame Park? That’s it! Grahame ‘Tube-runner’ Park. What’s happened to him?’
My mind blanked out. How the hell did I know what had happened to him? I’d never even heard of him.
‘Oh. Ah. My ol’ mate Grahame. Yes. Are you sure? Is he still the British Champion?’ The company nodded. They had read it just yesterday. He was still the reigning British Champion. ‘Because I am actually the, er... WELSH Champion. Roxanne had it a bit wrong there. Welsh Champion. That’s it. Out there every day on the river Avon doing my thing!’ With a grin and a wink I did a quick impression of how I imagined I spent my days out taming the three-inch swell of the river Avon. The assembly looked a little bemused, but once more Father showed his steel.
‘Well now, that’s great! Listen. If you’re staying the night you could give us a few tips in the morning. We only get the ten-footers over this side of the island, but they’re great for learning on. What do you say?’
I gulped. Only one idea came to mind, and it wasn’t one of my best. ‘What? Oh! Ha, ha! You thought I said Surfing Champion! Ha, ha! No, no, no! You misheard. I’m the Welsh Turfing Champion and one of Britain’s premier landscape gardeners. I can turf two acres of fallow spinney in under four hours using nothing more than –’ Roxanne came to my rescue.
‘Oh, very funny Windy. He’s so modest about his surfing. Anyway, sorry Pops, but we can’t stop. We just dropped in to get some dry things and now we’re off to a party. See ya!’ And with that she swept me from the room. Within seconds we were back in the car, Roxanne in tears of laughter.
‘Turfing Champion? Turfing Champion!’
‘Shut UP, Roxanne.’
‘Where NOW?’ I said, curtly. I was exasperated. Something had to give soon or I would do myself a mischief. Roxanne’s sexy laughter filled the car.
‘Mr Sausage never went down the whole way through!’ she giggled. ‘All that turfing stuff, and he stood to attention the whole damn time! Mrs Robinson couldn’t take her eyes off your groin! She believed you’re a surfer all right. She thinks you carry your surfboard down your pants! So how about we go back to your place, and go for a ride on your surfboard?’
‘Umm, OK,’ I said. ‘But you might not like it – my place, that is – not my, er... surfboard. I’m staying on a ship in the harbour.’ I crossed my fingers as the news sunk in.
‘So you really are a bunch of sailors? HA! That’s GREAT! HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!’
She was laughing fit to burst, but I didn’t feel humiliated. What was important was that she didn’t care that I was a sailor! She wasn’t after the glamour and prestige of a prize-winning Welsh turfer – she wanted me for myself! Nothing could stop us now. If I could get her back to the ship, they would be dragging me off her exhausted body in three days’ time so the ship could leave. I drove back out on to the open road with renewed belief. The rollercoaster was on the way up once more. Tonight seemed destined to be The Night, irrespective of what the world could throw at us.
She began to tease me again as we flew across the island towards the Global Wanderer, a ship now transformed in my mind from an atrocious old rustbucket to my sexual utopia. She whispered in my ear the details of what she was going to do to me once we were alone, then she took my hand and placed it under her short skirt. She invited my hand along her bronzed thigh and took a sharp intake of breath as my fingers touched her. She wasn’t wearing underwear. She threw back her head and thrust herself hard against my searching fingers. I could not believe this. She refused to let me stop the car, and kept saying, ‘Faster, FASTER!’ So I drove as best I could, but I wanted to look at her far more than I wanted to look at the road. The only light was that from the moon, and she looked gloriously erotic. I took a couple of bends at ten miles-an-hour in fourth gear, but – despite the complaints from the engine – she didn’t notice. As the car built back up to speed, she built up with it. Her pelvic thrusts became wilder and wilder and her moans became screams. The engine’s roar grew louder and louder, she was nearly there. The speed of the night air in her hair grew faster. She was nearly there. She squeezed the life out of my hand with her thighs and cried with pleasure. Nearly there. Nearly there. She bucked and squealed and bucked again, her rhythm getting stronger and more intense and closer and closer. Her back arched and she lifted herself completely off the seat. She cried through clenched teeth, ‘Yyyyyess! Yyyyyeesss! Nooooowaaahhhh!’ and her eyes rolled back. She froze as if she had been shot, went into the most phenomenal muscular spasm, and had a volcanic orgasm there and then in the car.
So did I.
The car went into a ditch.