Pirates versus ninjas – PIRATES FTW
Pirates vs. ninjas – week 1
Leaving aside their lesser rivals, the zombies, robots and monkeys (for the moment), Mookychick will spend the next fortnight answering the age-old and rather important question – pirates or ninjas? This week, Deborah Taylor (scourge of the seven seas and owner of a genuine hip flask filled with rum) will discuss the magnificent nature of one of the finest creatures known to man – the less-than-humble pirate.
3 Top character traits of pirates
Of all the things a pirate had, their intelligence was the most remarkable. OK, they may not have been clever or well read, but they had savvy. That special sort of smarts that allows you to take on a bigger, better armed ship, full or professional soldiers, armed with just a few bottles of rum and a determination for getting more gold.
Which brings us to their next greatest trait – their bravery. Which, when fighting in a well judged battle, they would never lose. They had no qualms in facing impossible odds and beating them. Possibly because they were too drunk to realise how dangerous a situation could be.
Their third top trait is more difficult to pin down. Is it their loyalty? Their social conscience, in setting free any slaves they found (on the whole)? No, for me, it’s their amazing capacity to just have a bloody good time. They found a life that gave them a freedom virtually unknown to anyone else in their class. And they celebrated this in song and rum and treasure.
Chosen king of the pirates
Although a lot of stories are told of the Pirate King, there never was one. Pirate ships were pretty democratic places, with the crew voting for their captain. There were indeed a number of famous pirates, especially during their hey-day at the end of the 17th Century, but there never has been a pirate king. No matter how many songs Gilbert and Sullivan write about them.
There have been a number of pirates that have shone brighter than others. Captain Morgan, one of the earliest of the celebrity pirates (a wonderful chap), who gave his name to a lovely rum. Then there’s Captain Kidd, who had a long and illustrious career, with an ignoble end. Captain Rackham, who sailed with Mary Read and Anne Bonney. But perhaps the best of the lot, in sheer chutzpah and out there madness, is Blackbeard, who would enter battle with lit cannon fuses in his hair.
The oceans. The wonderful oceans, ever chasing that horizon. Usually in the nice sunny places – they really did live in the Caribbean, and the port of Tortuga.
The pirate lived by a strict code, set by its ship’s captain. This set out how big a share each pirate would get from any plunder, what rations they would receive, and what compensation they would receive from any injuries they suffered in their adventures. The Captain would ensure that such rules would be fair; otherwise he would lose his position.
Pirates had the most wonderful array of outfits. They would wear the height of 17th Century fashion, plundered naturally. Long coats, loose shirts and trousers, to keep them cool in the sun. Bandanas would keep the hair out of their eyes whilst they fought; hats shielded them from the sun. Big boots were a must too. They would accessorise with belts to hold their swords and pistols and any other trappings they needed. In short, they looked cool.
A pirate would use anything that came to hand, especially anything that came to hand that gave them an easy way to win. The basic pirate arsenal consisted of a sword, usually a cutlass, and a pistol, usually a flintlock. They would also have various knives and pistols about their person. Their ships would be armed with cannons of varying sizes.
But the greatest weapon a pirate possessed was his ingenuity and his ability to improvise.
Lots of pirates had escaped from one country’s Navy or other, so had excellent skills in sailing. Even though most Pirate captains were atrocious sailors, they would make up for this by being excellent tacticians, able to out-think most enemies. They could brawl like a mad ape on a bad day, added to which were the large quantities of rum they would drink to help get through a fight. This drunkenness gave them a fearsome edge which many of their enemies lacked.
Pirates – a background
Since man first started transporting goods by ship, other men would come along and steal it from them. Caesar was kidnapped by pirates as a child. Pirates really didn’t hit their stride until the late 17th Century, when the British, Spanish and French empires ruled the waves. As each country fell into wars with each other, privateers were given letters of mark which allowed them to pillage the ships from another country’s enemy.
Pirating fell from fashion towards the middle of the 18th Century, mainly chased down by the early onset of globalisation instigated by the East India Corporation. As the industrial revolution came in and political revolutions swept the world, pirates just lost their place in the world. But pirates still exist today, most recently hitting the news by taking a cruise ship hostage.
Most likely to say
Contrary to popular myth, a pirate would probably have never even thought of saying Garr, or anything similar. This was an affectation created by the actor Robert Newton, when he played, for several years, Long John Silver.
Indeed a pirate was most likely to say “pass the rum”, which is an admirable sentiment.
Why I personally swear fealty to pirates
The pirate was all about making do with what you had and making your own rules in the world. They lived by the sword and drank plenty of rum. They had little idea of seafaring, fighting or indeed much. They had instead a love of the sea, and a strong desire to make their own way in the world. They were the punks of their time and no one, especially not a bunch of shadow-hugging, pyjama-wearing mutes, will ever take their place.