Podcast #078: The Merchant Navy

A photo taken of a previously-taken picture, possibly a polaroid, in a faded 1970s way. The older picture is of the inside of an engine room type environment. A man in a dirty boiler suit, boots, and glasses, is crouching down between some large pieces of engineering on either side of him. He is holding a large spanner or wrench.

Welcome to Episode 078 of my “Travel Tales From Beyond The Brochure” podcast.

Well, this is an unusual episode in several ways, but the main one is the relative lack of personal updates and housekeeping. If you want to know what I’ve been up to this past month, now would be a great time to sign up to my monthly Newsletter, deets below!

Now, I’m aware I don’t talk about my background or my family much, save for the occasional regular subtweet to my my mother. But anyway. A couple of years after I was born, my mother re-married. And Gary, the chap she married, had an interesting job – he was a refrigeration engineer in the Merchant Navy. While he’s long since left that role (he had some twenty-five years since doing the same role for a large supermarket chain specialising in frozen foods), this was how I first knew him, and thus may have been a childhood influence on my travels.

And it occurred to me, after I’d done a few of my podcasts, that it would make an interesting episode – it’s travel-related, it’s a historic snapshot of a life that’s very different now, and above all, it’s not something I think many of you would necessarily know about. I certainly didn’t know a lot about it growing up, and as you’ll hear, there’s probably some reasons for that. So a couple of years ago I went to visit, took my laptop and microphone, and set about interviewing him all about his life and his adventures.

Note he has a strong accent and a slightly fluid way of speaking. This did not help the transcription.

Topics discussed include:

  • What is the Merchant Navy and why he joined
  • Seasickness and bad weather
  • What problems could occur en route
  • How big the ships he served on were, and how they were structured
  • What the working life was life, and who he served with
  • Food and drink on board
  • How he’d pass the time on long journeys
  • Shore leave and visiting off-brochure places
  • The Merchant Navy now

You can listen via the feed above, or via Spotify, or on your podcast app of choice. Let me know if it isn’t, by the way, and I’ll see what I can do. In addition, a PDF transcript of this episode is available.

As always, if you have anything to say about the topic, or indeed about my podcasting in general, leave a comment or let me know. I now have a newsletter you can subscribe to, containing extra content, and it’s where I’ll be mentioning future podcast episodes if you want to make your own contribution.

I also now have a Patreon! If you like what you hear, and want to access exclusive content (or just to show your appreciation), then head on over to my page and donate to me!

There are no contributions in this episode, although my mother is heard a few times during the conversation. They don’t have a website.

Share this post: