I would have made a bad Viking, you know. I think about that when I read anything about the Norse Sagas. Imagine spending all those weeks cooped up in a small open boat in the company of a load of blokes who aren’t tuned into the same radio station as you.
‘Not much of a day, is it mate?’
‘D’you think the sun’ll come out tomorrow?’
‘Fancy a game of stone, rock, scissors?’
‘OK. My Ingrid says she’ll make me an elk pie when we get back.’
‘D’you like elk pie?’
‘What about porridge?’
‘I love porridge, as long as it’s thick. I don’t even mind it being lumpy as long as it’s thick. My Ingrid makes great porridge. Sometimes it’s lumpy and sometimes it isn’t, but it’s always thick. She was quite a catch was my Ingrid. Did you ever meet her?’
‘Pity. Quite a catch she was, quite a catch. I’m on lookout duty in half an hour.’
‘There’s never very much to look out for though, is there?’
‘Bit of a waste of time, really.’
‘Yup. By the way, did you know that on my last cruise somebody got eaten by a sea serpent?’
‘Oh, so you were… like… having me on, then?’
‘Something like that.’
‘Oh, right. Be dark soon.’
‘I think I’ll sharpen my battle axe.’
‘Bye for now.’
Sigh… I wonder whether Venus is a morning star or an evening star at the moment.
You wouldn’t even have a quiet charthouse or some toilets to go to when you needed to have your own space, as I did frequently during my short spell in the navy (it’s how I managed the unlikely feat of entering New York harbour without seeing the Statue of Liberty. Not many people can say that.)
I do admire the Norse sagas though, even if I’ve never read any. All those hard, intrepid men following leaders with such evocative names as Eric the Red, Sweyn Forkbeard, Eric Bloodaxe, Ivar the Boneless, Kevin the Slightly Effeminate… Not forgetting the redoubtable Snori Snurlasson, of course, whose name I’ve probably misspelt but it doesn’t matter because he probably couldn’t write anyway.
And if I were a Viking now I would definitely have to retire because I’m becoming ever more intolerant of the cold. The thought of sitting in an open boat being tossed on the mountainous waves of the North Atlantic, drenched to the skin in freezing water and so salt-encrusted as to look like Lot’s wife with a beard, gives me the creeps. Maybe that’s why there’s no Jeffrey the Wimp mentioned anywhere (as far as I know.)