Caroline Newsletter

The sixth issue of the ‘Caroline Newsletter’.

‘News about us’ by the DJs aboard

In the sixth issue of the Caroline Newsletter, the disc jockeys gave an update on life aboard the radio ship.

NEWS ABOUT US                                                                                                                                  The DJs Aboard

We have all contributed something to this hotch-potch of news and events about our Pirate and we're relying on the Editor to untangle facts and sentiments so that this reads smoothly and intelligibly. We're on the ball with the spoken word but getting it down on paper .... over to you Editor!
Today is the 28th August which means that we've just finished our summer; and it hasn't been a very good summer at that, mostly dull and cloudy. But we've had a few really sunny days when we could lie out like basking seals, and the dull days we enlivened by sailing our inflatable dinghy. Somebody once so truly said that “there's no way to have so much fun as simply mucking about in boats” and we've all proved this for ourselves. Nobody more than Johan Visser, one of the Dutch DJs aboard. He's one of the nicest people and best sports you could ever hope to meet. But we're all guilty of taking advantage of his good nature. If he comes back from a sail in the dinghy, somebody is sure to tip a bucket of water over him as he climbs aboard (once it was a bag of flour). But he laughs as heartily as any of us. When we were last tendered it was a sunny day and we were all sunbathing. We'd been on short supplies waiting for the tender and the first thing we tackled was the ration of booze it brought us. Lying there in the sun we tried to make up for lost drinking time. Johann succeeded much more than any of us. He passed right out. We couldn't even prop him up. He was out for the count, as limp as a wet dishcloth. We had to carry him down to his cabin and tuck him up in his bunk. It was another eight hours before he staggered out on deck again, smiling as good-naturedly as ever, and not very much the worse for his over-indulgence.
Most of you will remember that we were off the air this summer for an entire weekend. What should we do while the engineers were busy with the transmitters? Well, Brian Martin had ideas about it. Putting on his best Captain Bligh manner he scathed us with words and whiplashed us around the ship. We all realised he had a point and turned to with enthusiasm. We'd become negligent and slipshod during the previous weeks and when Brian pointed this out we all became guiltily ashamed of it. So that weekend is memorable for the marathon spring-cleaning that took place. We rubbed and scrubbed, swept and polished, painted and varnished, and perspired cheerfully. And at the end of it all the paintwork gleamed, the brass gistened as though new and you could see your reflection in the floors we'd waxed. Our mess-room was a sight to behold and even Captain Brian “Bligh” Martin was satisfied. By this time it was eleven at night and we were all happily exhausted. We flaked out in messroom chairs and watched the midnight movie on TV. This turned out to be a breathing spell only however. The goodwill, the whistling, singing and happy chatting which had united us while we'd worked had provided an atmosphere of such joyous rapport that we didn't want to lose it. We had some drinks and then a sing-song; the jokes flew fast and funny, someone sang a solo, somebody danced the sailor's hornpipe, somebody .... it was dawn before we dropped into our bunks and slept soundly until the afternoon. And about the time we were turning out into the bright sun the engineers had finished working on the transmitters and we could go back to work again. All of you by now know how greatly improved our signal is due to this weekend's work.
We must give praise to Kees Burrell who is a heartily welcomed addition to our crew. He bears such an amazing resemblance to one of the Marx brothers that we call him “Harpo” to which he answers cheerfully. His sense of humour is also well to the fore and since he is the chef and an excellent cook he was able to give a new twist to a joke that was growing old. When poor Johann was getting a bucket of water upturned over him as he climbed aboard, an inspired Harpo rushed into the galley, emerged with a large bag of flour and upturned that over the soaking-wet Johan, who now became coated with a doughy glue. And twenty seconds later, Harpo was being chased around the deck by a light-hearted Johan who was scraping doughy-goo off himself and hurling it at the chef like snowballs ... We know this doesn't seem very funny when described in words but to see it live was side-splitting. We have our solemn moments aboard ... but we have our fun too.
On Saturday mornings we can always look forward to a sightseeing boat which sails out from Brightlingsea in Essex. Our good friends Albert Hood and John Moss organise these trips and know the ropes. Unhappily the MOA prohibits the boat from coming alongside and if anybody was to pass us so much as a postage stamp they would be breaking the law. But the crowd of passengers aboard know this and confine themselves to shouting requests and message to us and snapping us with their cameras. On some occasions we have put off in the dinghy and rowed over to a visiting craft to shake hands with passengers, which isn't breaking the law as far as we know. One of the questions we get asked most often is: “And which DJ are you?” - a question we prefer not to answer, or to answer incorrectly. Official spies who take our photographs might find it helpful for a future prosecution to have a name with which to tag the photos. Incidentally Albert and John have a modern cabin cruiser with all modern instruments of navigation, and safety gear. They should not be confused with other sightseeing boats that have got into difficulties at sea in the not too distant past. Albert Hood's name, address and telephone number can be referred to in Newsletter No.5, page 8.
We all give a hearty welcome aboard to Tom Hardy. Tom is already well known to Steve Gordon. Steve was on the peace ship in Israel when Tom came aboard there and Steve took Tom under his wing. Tom's programmes there were always excellent, says Steve, and we all of us believe that Tom is the best thing to hit Caroline this year.
There have also been some near-hits which weren't at all pleasant. A summer reckless madness seems to overwhelm the RAF. It's probably a great joke to the pilots. We don't believe ill-will is involved but perhaps they get a kick out of scaring the pants off us by buzzing and dive-bombing us. When they're around we walk the deck crouched low with our heads pulled in like turtles. When we are standing on the bridge at the stern of the ship we are prepared to swear that we can look down upon the planes as they fly over our deck!
We have recently acquired a new typewriter which explains why some of the recent newscasts and weather reports may have sounded a mixture of sense and gibberish. It is a French typewriter and has a French keyboard which is quite different to other makes. A touch-typist accustomed to a British-made typewriter will produce a sheet of typing that looks like a Japanese code-message. So for the first week or two, when urgent messages were hastily typed and handed to the DJ he found himself about to read incomprehensible and unpronounceable words. But it wasn't truly a handicap ... there's no limit to the average DJ's ability to talk reason into a microphone. Confronted by an unseen but extensive audience, inspiration comes to the DJ because he knows he must not fail his listeners.
On this 28th August, 1978, we have on board: English DJs Brian Martin, Roger Mathews (he recently scooped an exclusive Bob Seger concert for the station), Tom Hardy, Mark Lawrence (we all find his ability in the production studio completely mind-blowing - you simply can't SEE his hands moving), Stuart Russell (Stuart was a guest speaker at Zeezenders 20. ln a recent nation-wide poll of Holland he was voted DJ number 6), Martin Fisher, Mike Stevens (Mike's shows just get better and better. Did you catch his Dylan special - but who dubbed the Tony Blackburn jingle on his show opener?) and last but by no means least, our one and only Steve Gordon. Others heard occasionally on the air are our two transmitter engineers, Peter Chicago and James Kaye. Our thanks to them for helping out when there's a need. Sadly we've had to say goodbye to two close friends and very able announcers. James Ross and Ed Foster who have stayed loyal to the station through terrible times and good times. Ed Foster was one of the four to remain aboard when everyone else abandoned ship after it went aground, it will be remembered. We will very much miss James and Ed, and we wish them every success in the new careers they are now taking up. But we have some compensation for their loss in the return of Dutch DJ Marc Jacobs after a year's absence. Welcome home, Marc.
Please forgive this rotten typing (we've all had a go at this) and the jumbled-up ideas of all of us. But if the Editor can knock this into shape it will be a contribution from all of us aboard to all of Caroline readers and listeners. Love from us all.
Stevie Gordon                     Roger Mathews                     Stuart Russell
Tom Hardy                          Mike Stevens                        Martin Fisher
Mark Lawrence                   Peter Chicago                       James Kaye
with some help from the rest aboard.

Back to Radio Caroline in the Seventies, part nine.
There is an article from the first issue of the Caroline Newsletter here
and one from the second edition here.

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