One of the reasons I came to Liverpool was to visit the Maritime Museum. As you know, I love ships and come from a sea faring family. I used to watch the ships coming in and out of the Tyne, past South Shields and upto Newcastle. nothing was more exciting than when my father came home or spending a day in my Grandfather’s shipyard in Wallsend, Hawthorn Leslie.
However, time is the great thief… It steals away all that was great and leaves it as a distant memory with communities torn asunder. All that is left is just a song and a memory of all that was good, and of course, convenient forgetfulness of the bad times; the hunger, cold, and bitterness towards those who made their profits from good ordinary folk.
I was proud to be associated with the River… To have such a connection that has moulded me into the person I am today, a sailor, adventurer and a romantic. But what of my special friend… a Liverpool lad who lost his life at sea when only just into his twenties?
The MV Derbyshire was a huge bulk carrier bound for Kawasaki in Japan back in 1980. On board were more than forty souls all from the Liverpool area, including my friend Kevin, a newly promoted junior engineer officer (I shall not divulge his surname out of respect to his family, who are very private folk). Unfortunately the ship ran into an horrific typhoon storm off Japan and disappeared without trace, with the loss of all hands.
The facts as to why, how and ‘what on earth’? Can be investigated on line.
For me, however, this was a chance to spend a quiet but emotional moment in the museum near the exhibit; to remember a young man who made me laugh and was so alive, with his whole life ahead of him. The silence booms around me as I remember those special moments that bonds we people of the sea together. There’s no one around me as I sit quietly alone. I allow a tear and my heart wells at the painful beauty of it all.
Whether it be my father, Grandfather, or a friend now gone, but never forgotten, the sea is cruel and sparing in her mercy. When it’s your turn to go, it will be as it is… But oh what honesty… What purity.
It is so strange how one arrives in a place and is suddenly cast into a vortex of emotions and reminiscences… It has been such a long time since allowing myself a moment to dwell on the loss of a friend, so cruelly removed. I had refused to entertain it lest my heart would break, but now it is time… Because time is a great healer.
Kevin, you are missed, but never forgotten…