Pages 06 – 07 / 1942

Page 06 / Left
Account of shark hunting (with dynamite).
Continued from Page 05

fringes where the surf breaks against the coral reefs. The sea is as calm as a mill pond, and on looking over the side we can see shoals of rainbow coloured fish, pink and white coral sand disturbed by our anchor. The sea is so clear and shallow that we are able to see giant anemones on the sea bed, huge blobs of many colors.

We shall not have long to wait for the sharks to appear. We’ll be glad when they do come, the ‘Old Man’ is entering his second bottle of gin, and tends to be a bit garrulous. Idly we look around us, when suddenly a triangular fin breaks surface about fifty yards ahead of us. Our prey is waiting, and final orders and curses ring out on all sides. Bread and other odds and ends of food are thrown over-board – anything to attract sharks. A Kanaka deck hand stands on the stern, (Sharks never approach a ship from the bows) with a skinny dead suckling pig in his arms. Inside the pig is a charge of dynamite and connected to it a wire which runs to a switch on deck. As soon as the shark gets near enough, the boy drops the pig overboard, the wire unwinding as he does so. It strikes the sea with a splash, and there is a rush of water, and a grayish belly, two wicked eyes and a double row of needle sharp teeth as the fish turns over to seize the pig. The shark then plunges below the surface with the pig well tucked away. Then the ‘Old Man’ touches the switch, and there is a crash, sharks innards and dirt fly about in all directions, and soon the shark comes to the surface, belly up, dead as a doornail. Meanwhile, hoards of other sharks rush up attracted by the smell of blood and so we have to get our capture on deck in the shortest possible time before it get torn to pieces and devoured.

The only decent boat is put over the side, and four of us swarm down the line into it – two of us to beat the water with oars – yelling at the same time, to keep the sharks away; the other two fix some tackle onto the tail and jaws of the dead shark, so that it can be hauled aboard. The worst part of the whole affair now commences. The fish has to be stripped – it’s skin will be dried for shagreen, and also it makes useful rasps. I have seen a man’s skin taken off from shoulder to elbow with one stroke of a shark skin glove. The fins will be salted (the Chinese love ‘em) the liver yields a valuable oil, some of the bigger bones are used as charms and necklaces. The rest of the fish is cut into large chunks; some for use in the galley, it being very tasty, and the biggest pieces will be packed with charges and used against the other unwary sharks. These now swarm around the ship in their dozens, the scent of blood and offal having bought them.

So the slaughter goes on, sometimes for days at a time, until the whole ship stinks of rotting sharks, and the only thought is can we get into fresh air again? But there is profit in it, great profit and we drop our cargo at Naureva. There will be whisky and gin for the ‘Old Man’ and various amusements for the other white members of the crew; because all hold a share in the ship and we have done very well this trip, all except Nansen the mate, who lost two fingers thinking sharks don’t bite after they are dead.”

Page 07 / Right
Short essay on cricket and the Old Trafford Ground.

“Jack Hobbs thinks – and I think he ought to know – that conditions on the Old Trafford ground are the best in the world for the players; and the Old Trafford crowd is the best before which to perform – the most good humored and sporting, the most expert in criticism and appreciation of the finer points of the game.

Good humored it certainly is. It seldom gets beyond fairly mild barracking. In a certain Test Trial, D.R. Jardine was at his stickiest (two and a quarter hours batting for 29 runs) yet the patient watchers endured him almost in silence for a long time, though probably their thoughts were interesting. Eventually one stalwart decided that flesh and blood has their limit; and gave tongue, “COOM in, Jardine; For God’s sake;” he urged, in a voice of brass, and finding this of no avail, he then appealed to the Captain of the fielding side. “Fetch in the fire brigade;” he bellowed. “Though’t niver put ‘im out.” He continued to talk loudly to Jardine as one strong man to another, until a policeman removed him without fuss or malice. Later on, however, his voice was again uplifted from another quarter of the ground beseeching D.R., who at the time was blocking six balls out of six to “be caaa’reful.”

All English county crowds are sportsmanlike, and Lancashire men have no monopoly of this outstanding virtue. Nevertheless, speaking as a southerner who has lived for many years in the North, I should say that the Manchester crowd is at least as impartial as any other even at a Roses’ battle. It is said that a Yorkshire crowd can appreciate a Lancashire batsman as soon as he is out – and certainly a disaster to the White Roses’ plunges every cricket loving Tyke (i.e every Tyke) into profound gloom. The followers of the Red Rose are just as keen to see their team on top – but there is no feeling of infallibility as regards the modern Lancashire XI. They are quote [sp] capable of a decisive victory over Middlesex at Lord’s, followed by disaster against Somerset at Weston-Super-Mare. The days of Ernest and Dick Tyldesley or McDonald and Makepeace passed and were followed by a lean period, until such men as Eddie Paynter, young Oldfield and Phillipson introduced new blood. First and foremost, therefore the Old Trafford crowd come to see a good display – which side gives it is a lesser point, though if it happens to be Lancashire, ‘“EE, that’s champion!”

Southerners fresh from the Canterbury Cricket Festival complain that they can’t lie on the grass to watch the game – at least not as a rule, though I have seen it done when the boundary was shortened to allow for a bigger crowd. They don’t seem to understand that the grass is the pitch – every square inch of it. Anyway, they can have a perfectly good bench to sit on, and a whitewashed iron rail in front of them to rest their arms on (or their forehead if they get a headache). No, there aren’t any trees to give you shade either, but so what? For that matter there are no elephants giving children rides at sixpence a time, nor coconut-shies nor roundabouts. If you really feel that shade is necessary, what is the matter with today’s ‘Manchester