"Yo ho ho and a bottle of
rum," Mungo sang as he put the finishing touches on the room. It was
Friday night again and Mungo had a great evening planned for the bairns.
Tonight was going to be Ďpirate nightí. Heíd called all the mums and dads
and asked them to send the bairns in pirate costumes. He was already
wearing his black eye-patch. "Arrrgh, matey," he snarled at Ginger, who
wasnít sure what was going on. "Me thinks yeíd better get put in the
bedroom tonight, girl." He picked the cat up and took her into the
bedroom, shutting the door as he left.
DING DONG! Mungo opened the
door. "Argh! Itís Captain Long John Gregor and his companion, Capín wee
Hamish. Come in lads."
"Wow, Mr. McGee. I love
your costume!" Gregor said. Both he and wee Hamish wore bands around their
heads, had the grubby-face look and wore eye-patches too. "Wow! Look at
the room!" Mungo had brought an old chest through from the storage room
and filled it with everything gold and silver he could find in his house.
Heíd bought some fake gold coins and baubles from the shop and put them in
there too. Heíd been lucky enough to find 2 old plastic skulls from the
joke shop in the village and a pirate flag, the Jolly Roger, which he
draped across his living room wall. Other pirate trinkets, such as swords,
wooden legs, rubber rats and tankards of rum, were scattered about. In the
background, soft pirate music was playing. "This is cool!"
DING DONG! "Hello, wee
Fiona and Gavin. You really look like pirates. Come in and join the
others." Before he could shut the door, Andy and Morag came running up.
"Look at the bunch of you. Weíve got a real pirate crew here. Scalawags!
Seadogs! Great!" Mungo said. "Tonight weíre going to have snacks in the
kitchen. Iíve got fish and chips with vinegar and catsup, for those who
like to dip their chips in it. Letís eat first and then Iíll tell a
They moved into the
kitchen. What a feast. Mungo had cod and haddock and halibut, battered and
deep-fried to perfection. Chips were piled high in a large bowl. Bottles
of vinegar and catsup sat in the middle of the table, along with lemon
wedges and salt. "This looks good," said Andy. He was hungry. They each
sat at the table and filled their plates with the food. Mungo had also
cooked a pot of peas and had some sliced bread with butter and jam. "This
is a feast!" Andy said with a mouthful of chips.
"This is good, Mr. McGee,"
Gregor added. The others were too busy eating.
"Maybe weíll just talk
while you eat. The fish comes from the sea. Pirates couldnít really catch
fish when they were out in their ships, could they? They ate a lot of
dried out sea biscuits. When they landed on an island or the coast of some
strange land, theyíd have to replenish their supplies of water and fruit.
A lot of pirates got sick from not eating right while they were at sea."
"Iíll bet they didnít have
fish and chips like this," wee Hamish giggled.
"These chips are good.
Theyíre just the way I like them," Morag said.
Gavin poured catsup all
over his food. He saw Mungo staring at the plate. "I like catsup on my
food," he smiled.
"Looks like you like a
little food with your catsup," Mungo laughed.
"I donít like catsup with
my fish and chips," Morag said.
"Me neither," added wee
Fiona. "I like my fish plain. I donít even like vinegar."
"I like vinegar on my
fish," Morag chimed in.
"Pirates didnít eat such
luxuries while they were at sea. Iím sure you all noticed the flag on the
wall when you came in, didnít you?" Mungo asked.
"I saw it, Mr. McGee. Itís
called the Jolly Roger, isnít it?" Gregor said.
"Itís called the skull and
crossbones too, right, Mr. McGee?" Andy asked.
"Youíre both right. Itís
also called the Black Jack too. The real pirates that plundered the ships
off the coast of Scotland long ago didnít call it that though. Only people
who wrote stories about pirates called it those names. In fact, the
pirates didnít even use a flag that looked like that. Only in the movies
will you see such things."
"What? Real pirates didnít
use the Jolly Roger?" Gavin said, surprised.
"No. If they flew a flag
like that, then everyone would know they were pirates. Pirates were
tricky. They flew flags of several different countries to fool the
unsuspecting ships. Most pirates didnít wear eye patches either, nor did
they dress like we are dressed. The people who make movies, to give
pirates a more Ďglamorousí look, have done all this. They actually dressed
like every other seaman in those days," Mungo explained.
"Were their pirates in
Scotland?" asked Andy.
"There were pirates who
attacked the ships off the coast of Scotland. Many of their ships were
sunk because they crashed into the rocks along the shore. They say there
is a lot of gold lying in the waters off the coast of Scotland," Mungo
"Did pirates have parrots
on their shoulders?" wee Hamish asked. "I saw a movie and the Captain had
a parrot on his. It squawked and he fed it food."
"No, wee Hamish. Pirates
were too busy for that. It is too cold up here in Scotland to have
parrots. They would have died or the men would have eaten it when they
"Oh no. Donít let them eat
the parrot," whined wee Fiona.
"That was a long time ago,
wee Fiona," chided Gavin.
"Gavin, you look scary in
your pirate costume," Morag said. "I mean, you wonít make us walk the
plank will you," she smiled.
Gavin shook his head and
took another bite of fish.
"Pirates would attack ships
in the Atlantic Ocean and would steal their gold and jewels or any other
cargo they were carrying, even their food and water. They didnít come up
to northern Scotland too often, as the waters were just too rough. Do any
of you know a famous pirate?" Mungo asked.
"Long John Silver," said
Gregor. "He was in the book, Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson."
"Very good, Gregor. How did
you know that?" Mungo asked.
"My dad reads it to me.
Robert Louis Stevenson is Scottish. His family built a lot of lighthouses
all over Scotland," Gregor said, proud that he knew this information.
"Iím impressed. You are
right. He was Scottish and his family did build a lot of lighthouses, many
of them are still standing. Not only did the pirate ships crash into the
rocks and sink, but many of the other ships, merchant and navy ships
included, did too. There needed to be some lighthouses built to warn the
"Iíve been to a lighthouse
before," Gavin said. It stood on top of a cliff and we climbed up to the
top. You could see for miles in every direction."
"Thatís right, Gavin. The
pirates were happy too. Lighthouses stopped them from crashing into the
rocks. Now, does anyone else know a pirate?" Mungo asked.
"Blackbeard?" asked Andy.
"Was there one named that?"
"Oh, yes there was. He was
ruthless," Mungo said.
"What does ruthless mean?"
asked wee Fiona.
"It means he did a lot of
bad things. Most pirates didnít just steal, but they killed too and
captured ships. They made people walk the plank and they did a lot worse
than that too. Letís just be glad there are no more pirates like that
today," Mungo said. He looked at the bairns, who were finishing up their
fish and chips. "Do you want a sweet?" he asked them.
"Oh yes, Mr. McGee," said
Gregor. "What kind?"
"Iíve got some double
chocolaty fudge ripple ice cream in the freezer. Does anyone want some?"
he asked, smiling.
"I do," they all screamed
"Very well. Why donít you
all go into the living room and look at the treasure chest and Iíll bring
it through to you there," Mungo suggested. Each of the bairns put their
dishes into the sink and went into the living room. A while later Mungo
came through with the ice cream. There wasnít one drop left in any of the
bowls when they finally finished.
DING DONG! "Mum and Dad are
here now," wee Fiona said. "Thank you, Mr. McGee," she said, hugging him
tightly. "I had fun and I learned a lot about pirates."
Each child said thank you.
"Och, wait a minute. I forgot," Mungo said. He ran into the bedroom and
came back with little bags for each child.
"Whatís in here?" asked
"Look and see," Mungo said.
They opened their bags and
found gold coin chocolates. "Pirateís gold chocolates. How wonderful,"
Morag said. "Thank you, Mr. McGee."
The bairns left. Mungo sat
in his chair looking at the Jolly Roger. He slipped his eye patch off and
put it on the table. "Time to go and clean up the kitchen, girl," he said
to Ginger, who had followed him out of the bedroom. She ignored him and
curled up in a ball on the couch. He laughed, petted her and went into the
kitchen to Ďclean the galleyí. "Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum. Argh!