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Da Prince

by James Sinclair

Photograph by Ruth Archer, Pixabay
Photograph by Ruth Archer, Pixabay

We open on a 5 star hotel room. Robbie a man in his early thirties, medium build, dressed in a brand new three piece Saville row suit and wearing a rolex watch on his wrist is sitting back in an expensive reclining chair. He cups a large brandy goblet in one one hand and has a lit full corona cigar in the other hand.

Weel, see’s du dis, sittin i da comfy chair, in dis posh suite itill Claridges Hotel. A dram o da finest braandy an sookin apo a muckle Cuban ceegar. Du could say, da cat’s got da cream. I could get used ta dis. Da boys aa hae dir ain rooms, some difference fae a smelly an damp bunk. Mind you, I bet we aa still stink o fish, nae quantity o scrubbin’ll get rid o dat. Da sweet smell o success ( beat) wir success.

He’ll be some nicht danicht (beat) I doubt dat. Da Fishin News awards, tap boat, highest earnin boat ageen fur da third year on da trot. No dat hit’s been aesy dis year, wir been seldom hame. Wir secret, yea, I doubt  dat wid be hit, we geng gaff in aa wadders. We’ll geng aff in wadder naebody idder wid. Dat frichtens a lock o fock, dir’s been twartree greenhorns ower da years come aff fur ee trip and niver geen ta sea more ( laughs at the memories ) Mind you, if you’re makkin da big money, da crew’ll bide wi you. Dey’ve aa biggit muckle new hooses, hae tap o da range cars an weemin wha ken foo ta spend da cash.

Hit goes tagidder, da boat dat maks da first laandin eftir coorse wadder maks da biggest gross. A’m sittin here, an Jenny an da bairns aa sittin at hame. Da peerie lass, Ruth, A’m barely seen her fae shὂ wis boarn, an dat’s her a year owld nixt week. I tink hit’s nixt week, is hit?

Me faider’ll be i da chair afore da fire, half wey trowe a bottle o rum, dat’s whit he does ivery Seterday. Me midder  leaves him at nine o clock an gengs ta bed afore he gets ower drunk, he aye spends da nicht i da chair. You wid tink he’d be prood o me an whit I’ve done, makkin a name fur mesel, name spoken aroond da Toon, da Prince, dat’s whit dey caa me. But naa, he aye fins something ta whinge aboot, I can niver be guid enoch fur him, owld bastard dat he is. I widna care, he spent aa his wirkin life on owld wrecks o boats dat barely scraeppit a livin. Hit’s nae winder dey caa him Macphail.

Weel, hit’s time ta geng. We’ll get da doorman ta hail wis a posh limousine. We micht as weel turn up in style. Hit’s time ta lap up some o dat respect dat’s on offer. An wis signin da contract fur a new boat danicht. Dat’ll shurly get wis da front page an da centre spread itill nixt week’s Fishing News!!

Robbie sitting on a plastic chair in a Hospital A & E department. He is dirty with dishevelled hair. A care-worn blanket is wrapped around his shoulders as he cups a mug of steaming tea in both shakky hands as he tries to extract as much warmth from the cup as he can.

Jesus! Jesus!  What da fuck hiv I done? ( beat ) What da fuck am I goin ta dὂ? ( beat ) Whit happened? Wan minute hit wis aa goin dat weel. Dan athin a half oor, hit’s aa geen, aathing. Da boat, da crew, da fish, aathing (beat) aathing. A’ll niver be able ta luek da wives ur da bairns i da face, niver! I wiss I’d geen doon w idem, I wiss I wis deed. Whit’s da point in onything ( beat ) onything onymair.

Eftir monts o strugglin ta mak a wage, da crew gettin twitchy an crabbit. Da pier side gossips sayin we’d lost wir touch. You wid see hit i dir een an da wey dey turned dir backs ta you ta hae a peerie gaff among demsels. Aabody winderin if dir wis annidder big landin left in wis.

Dan aff we guid on Tuesday, tinkin we wid get a couple o days aff da back o Foula afore da start o da winter gales. Da first twartree shots wir promisin, dan we got a muckle haul. Da wadder wis closing in though, I said we could mak fur hame ur bide wi da fish. Da boys, dey aa smelt da money, da towt o da market filt wi wir boxes. So we battened doon da hatches, lashed up onything dat micht shift an kept on fishin, da wadder getting waar an waar.

Dan at da hiecht o da gale, dir wis a muckle bang an aathin guid black,. Joost laek a roller coaster goin trowe a tunnel. Hit’s laek aathin is in slow motion. Willie, da engineer climded up i da wheelhouse, machtless, sayin a connectin rod had come oot da side o da engine an wrecvkit da water pump an dir wis nae wye ta get ta da sea cock ta stop da water. I grippit fur da VHF an switched ower ta da batteries. I transmitted wir mayday. Aathing speeded up dan, hit turned ta a blur. I heard da shouts o da boys, I mind wis wirkin wi da liferaft. Da Steadfast sinkin oot under wir feet, da monsterous waves an vaguely mind da helicopter winchman liftin me oot da raft.

I can see da owld man’s face, a peerie smeeg, sayin. “ Dir’s no muckle craa wi dee noo, dat’s dee croon slippit” (beat)  Owld bastard!!  (beat) Whit am I goin ta dὂ? Whit am I goin ta dὂ? Aabody says, du has ta tink o dee wife, tink o da bairns. I canna tink o naethin, I wiss I wis deed.

Dir waving me ower, Whit’s dat? Willie’s goin ta be fine, dat’s aye something, I suppose.

Robbie is sitting in a small untidy sitting room in a careworn chair beside an open fire. There are empty rum bottles lying all around. Robbie in dirty jeans and a holey jumper, his hair unkempt is bent double in the chair holding on to a dirty glass. There is a half empty rum bottle beside the chair. Robbie is Drunk!

Du picks dee time, doesna du? Naethin I could do wis iver guid enoch,  (beat) Macphail du owld bastard. Weel midder’ll hae some paece noo, shu deserves a medal, a sainthood mair laek! Jenny says shu’s comin ta da funeral, but shu’s no sittin wi me, da bairns are goin ta her midder. Bugger, bugger, I med a richt erse o yun. I couldna see whit I wis doin ta dem fur worryin aboot mesel. I hed a lot on me mind, hit wis a bad time fur me. So if I needed a dram ta get through, shu should a hed a bit mair sympathy fur me.

Dis is me noo, a mont affshore, dan a mont at hame. At laest A’m sober whin A’m at sea. A mont lyin at station waitin fur naethin ta happen, hoopfuly, If een o yun rig’s geed up, dey’d be damn all you could dὂ aboot hit. Wir dere fur lueks, mair as onything idder. Wir lyin no far fae da grunds, Da Deeps an dat trinkie dat’s teen mony a set o gaer, Da Shambles! Da boat wir on is an owld trawler. I tink if we joost pat up new set o blocks i da gallows an a smaa rockhopper trawl. We could hae twartree shotts and hit wid gee wis somteen ta dö, fur he’s a lang mont. Mind you, I widna gee dis crew a punt i da harbour, fur dey wid aa droon. A’m niver sailed wi siccan a crood o föls in aa me days. ( beat ) Naa, I tink we’ll joost laeve hit.

Dey come ta me i me draems, sometimes hit’s joost dir shouts an skirls an soonds o iron bucklin. Dan idder nichts, da crew A’ll be staandin aroond da bed, da waater dreepin fae dir hair an claes and dey aye aks da sam thing “ Whit ir we goin ta dö? “ An aa I can say is “ Go awey “  “ Go awey “ Dan dey joost staand an stare an say naethin, dat’s worse.

Robbie stands unsteadily and raises his glass

Weel, here’s ta dee, aa laek dee, gae few an dir aa deed. I canna say A’ll miss dee, fur dat wid be a lee. Dey’ll be nae mair, more steam Macphail!

Robbie drinks from his glass, he drinks down the liquor in one go and takes a wobble.


He falls head first into the fire.

A small fishing boat is tied to the end of the pier. Four young boys jump ashore. They’re pushing and laughing as they run up the pier. Robbie climbs onto the pier with care and sits down on a mooring bollard. He takes a bottle of water out his jacket pocket unscrews the cork and has a drink, wiping his hand across his face. He lifts off his hat and rubs a large burn scar on the side of his head and smiles.

Dir no a bad bunch, raelly. A’m seen waar, some o dem even mind me o me at yun age. Dey luek up ta me, dey say. “ Come on an tell wis stories fae da glory days.” Dey say. Dey tink A’m a richt character. Even dis blödy scar, dey tink I got hit on some epic fishin trip, (beat) if ony dey kent. Dey’ll be oot on da spree danicht, dat’s fur sure. Dat’s me, nearly three year fae I whet da drink, da day eftir da owld man’s funeral. Haand on haert, I canna say I’ve missed hit. Funny thing is A’m niver missed Macphail edder.

Dis is a peerie cracker o a job. I towt hit wid be shite, but du sees whit towt did. A chance ta geng aff ivery day an get da gaer ower da side. Hit’s aye an expectation whin da bag comes in ower da rail, dat niver goes. An dey pey me a wage ivrery mont whedder I catch onything ur no. I hae da knowledge, fur sure, A’m med ivery mistake dir is ta mak. We used ta tink trainin wis nonsense. Learn on da job, dat’s whit da owld eens said. Fishin nooadays is an exact science. Dir’s dat muckle different pieces o machinery an digital aids, hit’s a job figurin oot whit ony o dem does. Wan mistake can cost a fortune, ur a life. Nane ken better as me.

Me an Willie, we wir da ony twa ta mak hit aff da Steadfast an Willie has niver brokken braeth ta me fae syne. I dunna ken whedder he blames me fur hit aa, ur he joost canna bear ta spaek aboot hit ava. He niver did geng back ta sea, Someen’s said dat Willie has niver even been aff in a smaa boat, since. Jenny his’na hed bugger all da dö wi me. I doubt aa da faat dere, lies at my door. Shu married ageen, a Sooth fellow, dey seem blyde enoch wi whit da bairns say. I dö hae some kind o a relationship wi dem noo, wir getting dere, hit’s a wark in progress.

Dey still come ta me in me draems, da boys, no as aften as dey did. An whin dey aks whit dey sood dö? I say, joost hadd on a peerie while, A’ll be wi you shun enoch an dan dey’ll joost fade awey.

Dey caaed me da Prince eence, weel me croon fell aff an I ended up da coort jester. But A’m on da mend an A’m some kind o content.

Robbie pushes himself up off the bollard and walks slowly up the pier with the gait of an old man, old before his years.

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