For the last week or so I have been doing an occasional job transporting Russian sailors to and from the airport.
The lucky ones were going home on leave from coasters carrying cargo into Barrow docks. Most are nice enough guys, but only speak as much English as I do Russian, and so the conversation is a bit limited. The one universally known word among them is "smoke," I have never known a Russian who doesn't smoke and so when I turn into the first service station on route and say the magic word it always brings on a big smile and" OK da." The replacement sailors I take to join the ships always look a bit glum and when I picked up one who spoke a fair bit of English, I learnt why.
I like a lot of folk had the false notion that these seafarers had the life of riley, seeing the world and meeting a new girl in every port. But no apparently I couldn't have been more wrong, he told me that most sign up for a six month contract and when they join the rest of the small crew on the vessel, that's it for the full six months they just never leave the ship. All of these vessels are registered under flags of convenience and so the minimum wage and health and safety rules just don't apply to these poor guys.
Since it is the first time inland in the
for most of them I like to try and show them round our area if I get the chance. As well as many other local delights they get pointed out UK and our spectacular Furness Abbey. Dalton Wildlife Park
When I explained to the Russian sailor who spoke some English that the huge DDH shed was where nuclear submarines were built he pointed out that a few years back I would have been called a traitor and he would have been jailed as a spy.
On Friday night the Russian I collected from his ship was happy be going home but as it was 1: am and pitch black I wasn't able to point out our local landmarks. But as compensation I decided to drive him out of town by going past our local nightclubs and bars. As soon as we turned towards Barrow’s infamous Caza strip his mouth dropped open in amazement as he was confronted with the sight of hundreds of scantily clad young lasses. Two or three were lying on the pavement, legs akimbo and a few were happily vomiting the night away.
A bit further up the street police struggled to break up a fight and the back doors of the police van were flung open ready to transport that nights bed and breakfast guests.
The sailor could speak a little English and he asked if Barrow was a big city and what was the population. When I told him “maybe sixty thousand” he laughed and replied “da and maybe ten thousand drunks, yes”