The Boat, The Culture and the Girls

Now that I am back in London with constant Wi Fi I have been able to investigate the real Kurd Maverick further. It turns out that he is a DJ rather than a crooner, although he has occasionally turned his hand (if that is an acceptable use of language) to singing. He is German, of Kurdish origin, and his first name (which like his second he has adopted as a nom de guerre) refers to his ancestry rather than his enthusiasm for dairy products, about which all the sites that I have found are silent. His appearance, to judge by Google Images, is much less fierce than on the posters in Montenegro. Indeed he looks personally quite engaging. The music however sounds a bit nothing to me. He has a site on Myspace (bless!) to promote it. I imagine him habitually hunched over a mixing desk, digitally determining the precise place for one of his little plinking sounds.

John Lennon sang of rock & roll music (and on Rock and Roll Music):

It’s got a back beat, you can’t lose it.

That was then and this is now.

Kurd Maverick (who is a sturdy fellow but not sturdy enough to be imagined in two entirely different roles in addition to his real life, where perhaps he is relaxing in the late autumn sunlight in his dacha outside Hamburg, consuming coffee accompanied by a creamy Kurdish delicacy that brings back to him reminiscences of his youth…


Kurd Maverick trimmed the sails, anticipating the coming storm. One of the girls – he had taken to calling them his Valkyrie – had gone below. The other was in the bow striking The Culture. She was doing so without the enthusiasm that he required, because she was also anticipating the coming storm and was feeling unwell. When he had finished with the sails, he thought, he would give it a bit of a thump himself.

The sky was getting dark, the rain clouds were still darker and the swell was becoming ominous. The Mediterranean was now long past. They had shot the Straits of Messina, handling the strong tidal currents without difficulty, and sailed up the west coast of Italy. The idea had been to bring The Culture ashore in some cove in south-west France and transport it by road to the Channel. That however had not been possible. No sooner were they ashore than some apparatchik with a dark suit and a mayoral chain around his neck had descended on them and demanded in the name of the French Republic the destruction of The Culture. Kurd Maverick had been inclined to suspect one of the Valkyrie of tipping the authorities off, but had learnt, when they had escaped back to the yacht (his internet connection at sea being fortunately independent of oxen), that that the French Coastguard authority was equipped not only with radar but with a long-distance facility to detect dairy products, such was the importance in French culture of maintaining the purity of le fromage français.

As he was to tell me much later, he wasn’t even able to claim EU origin for it, Montenegro’s application for membership being stalled on the thorny issue of eliminating unwanted Moslems.

They had slipped through the Straits of Gibraltar at night, avoiding the searchlights both of the British – so as not to forewarn the agents of the Milk Marketing Board against their eventual arrival – and of the Moroccans, just in case. Portugal they had given a wide berth and they were now addressing themselves to the Bay of Biscay.

It was all, as again he was to tell me later, much more than he had bargained for on that blistering morning on the Mosquito Coast, with the heat haze on the hills and the dead flat deep blue of the sea; the sexual promise of the two Valkyrie, magnificent in their costumes if possibly not entirely ship-shape.

As to the Valkyrie, Kurd Maverick’s Mediterranean memories were all that he could have desired; the future promised less. Retching from one could be heard below and the other, in the bow, had abandoned The Culture and slipped down the steps to the cabins, apparently with similar intent.

Absent-mindedly Kurd Maverick took up the abandoned Culture-thumper and administered a few good ones. If it were as bad as the wind and the still-increasing swell threatened, The Culture would have to fend for itself for an hour or two. He struck the remaining sails and put out the sheet anchor. They were some way out to sea. Land, or at any rate lights, could not be seen, but the wind was strong and westerly. The open sea brought dangers enough without being driven onto an unknown shore.

A wave or two broke over the deck. Kurd Maverick took up a bucket. Of course the bilge was operating as it should but he eased his apprehension by helping it, dumping seawater whence it came. As he did so he scanned the horizon. The black of the sea could still just be distinguished from the lesser dark of the sky – but not for long. It would be a night to remember.

The great wave came from nowhere. He saw it moments before it struck, towering over them in the almost-darkness.

His first thought was coherent:

Why did I never take The Culture below?

It was still standing proud in the bow.

His second was more visceral, as the wave broke over his head.

Aaargh! he told me later that he screamed.

Of course, emotion being recollected in tranquillity, he was helping me out. In that moment of crisis he reverted to his native Kurdish. He shouted no such thing as ‘Aaargh!’. Out there in the ocean, alone and threatened by a sea such as he had never seen, expecting that he would die instantly, he reverted to the language of his childhood.

But I can’t help you with the actual word, so for the time being ‘Aaargh!’ will do.

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6 thoughts on “The Boat, The Culture and the Girls

  1. Just to correct one thing – John Lennon DID sing ‘Rock ‘n Roll Music’ with the Beatles – and they did it very well but their’s was only a ‘version’ and a cover – the original was by the inimitable Chuck Berry of Duck Walk fame originally and in ‘holes drilled in Ladies Lavatory walls for observation purposes’ recently (and to keep the comment current!)…..

    • alablague says:

      Dumbing down, I’m afraid. I was aware of that. Indeed Beatles for Sale has rather more covers than is good for it, but I thought it best not to confuse the young among my followers, to many of whom the great Chuck Berry is recalled as the proprietor of a ding-a-ling – if that. And as you say, not a role model by the standards of today in terms of his interpersonal relationships. I saw the great man once. It was at Heathrow during a baggage handler’s strike and he was wrestling manfully with his own luggage. I’ve rarely seen a man so furious.

      • I was involved with him, briefly, when I was hired to do the ‘Press’ at a Cambridge Folk festival at which he was topping the bill. Please don’t ask why an elderly, negro, Rock ‘n Roller was topping the bill at a “folk” festival – I really have no idea – it was just a job!
        Berry always insisted on being paid in CASH and his ‘terms’ were that it had to be trousered, 100%, before he performed. On this occasion he was handed two ‘sacks’ obviously derived from the on site box office takings and sat there, alone, carefull counting the mixture of coins and assorted notes.
        Disaster!, it was £ 2.50 SHORT! and he point blank refused to go on until the deficiency was remedied.
        What a character – tight as one of JS’s conquests!

  2. alablague says:

    That reminds me of when I was a student helping to organise a gig. We had a number of bands but two big ones. One was Chicken Shack and the other had better be nameless. While the second band was playing its set we got a call from Chicken Shack to say that they were broken down on the M1 and wouldn’t be with us for hours, if ever. We needed to persuade the first band to do a second set. Otherwise the all-important 10 o’clock slot would come and there would be silence. We took the singer to one side.

    Fine, he said. £200 (over two thousand in today’s money). In cash. In advance. And the manager is not to know, because he’s not getting his 10%.

    The manager was sitting across the room, looking very perky.

    We had an hour to get the cash and enough dope that the manager would no longer realise or care what was happening.

    A background in the Boy Scouts was not wasted. The second set was a triumph, particularly The Weaver’s Answer.

  3. alablague says:

    Thanks for the clip. What a man! What a band!

    No, I’ve forgotten the manager.

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