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About the Author
He studied horticulture at Writtle Agricultural College and Southend College of Technology (both in Essex) and also at Blackfriars College, London.
An abstemious non-smoker, whimsical, slightly eccentric, of strong nationalistic views though not unduly patriotic, a fair fraction of his life had been spent living in a semi-bohemian existence, particularly in recent years, during which he has travelled extensively throughout Ireland, with a bike, a tent, a sleeping bag and a few odds and ends. As an expert cyclist and camper, he has cycled, padded and camped extensively within every county in Ireland and in parts of Britain also.
His extensive travels and experiences have contributed in no small measure to the enhancement of his education, to instill in him a more profound understanding of his fellowmen and a finer appreciation of his native land.
He and his second wife now live in Glin, Co. Limerick, whilst his son, step-daughter and two grandsons are resident in England.
So this is yet another book about the sea. Well, it is about my seafaring days actually, which were quite chequered, to say the least. Yes, many many books have been written about the sea and seafaring, by men of the Merchant Navy, the Royal Navy, even fishers and lone voyagers, but I think that in comparison, this literary effort of mine, feeble though it may be, is, nonetheless, worthy of inclusion amongst them.
Such men as Ken Hardman and Godfrey Winn have written very vividly about life before the mast in the Merchant Navy and the Royal Navy respectively and with quite some measure of depth, clarity and originality, though not with the depth and revelation with which I have written, at least as far as I am concerned anyway.
For one thing I have endeavoured to quash the myths within which seamen and seafaring have been enveloped for so long, so therefore, I do think that there are few stones regarding life at sea that I have left unturned within this literary effort of mine. Yes, I have endeavoured to portray what life at sea (in whichever navy) was really and truly like; at least the way I found it to be.
Quite a lot of what I have written may be controversial but I have merely written about what I experienced first hand, what I saw with my own two eyes, what I suspected, what I read and heard, though admittedly I did not believe half of what I heard and I did not always believe what I read either. Despite my limitations, I was usually able to decipher between fact and fiction or lies and truth.
Very well, I am aware that the text herein is peppered by crudeness and vulgarity but the slang and crude terms expressed throughout, were not invented by me. Such were components (and still are, of course) of a idiom in everyday usage, long before I ever donned a naval uniform. I have written in the language that the sailor spoke, and indeed, still speaks for that matter. I decided to write in the ‘slanguage’ and idiom of the seafarer because, I believe that such would make for better, more lively, more colourful, more interesting and more entertaining reading.
I well remember reading once in an editorial in one of the best-known British daily tabloids, that slang is the language of ignorance and prejudice. Yes, admittedly that may be true, at least to some extent. Seafarers of either navy were, for the most part, an ignorant and poorly-educated lot, who used a lot of slang and foul language. Indeed, a fair measure of ignorance and prejudice could even be found amongst the gold-braided and brass-buttoned brigade. Those were racist and snobbish, for one thing.
As for myself, I have never been afflicted by prejudice and I trust that I never will be, whilst I do not class myself as ignorant. I think that unenlightened would be a more correct term in my case and that I will admit to. Mind you and believe it or not (as I have mentioned within the text) I and plenty of others besides, did not use so much crude or foul language during our seafaring days, as we were capable of expressing ourselves in more refined or euphemistic terms. Anyhow, seafaring slang and jargon is no worse than that peculiar to any other walk of life preponderated by the male gender. Crude though it may be, it is at least more meaningful than those of the drug and pop scenes.
Yes, I admit that the text herein may be bawdy but as far as I am concerned, it is neither foul nor obscene. It is more earthy and colourful than anything else. I have certainly not overdone the crudeness and vulgarity. The sailors’ language was (and still is) for the most part, unprintable, and that I have avoided and omitted herein.
I have also written about my travels in Ireland, when I cycled and camped therein, but without one crude word in the text regarding same. So why the contrast regarding my travels and doings at sea? Well, the answer is a simple and obvious one: writing about travelling through Ireland and writing about life at sea are two vastly different themes.
Yes, I iterate that I thought that by using seafaring slang and nautical terms, would make for better and more entertaining reading, so therefore, I entreat the reader to bear with me in this regard.
My Errant Ways
Thomas J Culhane
Tom Culhane was born at the now defunct Bedford Row Hospital, Limerick City in 1934, son of a farmer and a man who remained a bachelor until the age of 46. He was brought up at Mount Pleasant in the parish of Robertstown, a rural area lying between the small towns of Askeaton and Foynes, receiving his education at local primary, secondary and technical schools. Most of his working life has been spent as a seaman and a gardener, with intermittent spells as a factory hand.