Up Jib!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

You may or may not have noticed that apart from the Coal Tit patch tick bonanza, there has been little of note recently, or perhaps more accurately, little noted. It’s the familiar story unfortunately – a string of high tide situations when I’ve been out and about, bumped up with a shit load of rain and you have a recipe for a birdless patch.

Thankfully Mrs Thing recently gave me a two inch thick biography of Charles Darwin so I can yack on about that for a bit, and hope that some weather and birds and tides come together in the next day or so. Or this blog is going to turn into Counting Anecdotes or something.

So Darwin nearly didn’t get on board The Beagle because he had a lazy nose. He wasn’t even the first choice for the position. He wasn’t even the second choice. He was the third choice. Once he accepted the offer it turned out that FitzRoy had offered it to his mate instead! However, this offer was turned down and eventually Darwin was able to take the position for himself.

The next few pages had me in stitches. I never thought that this book was going to be a laugh riot, but the lead up to the sailing was a catalogue of delays and problems. And then once they eventually got going Darwin spent the first few days doing nothing but puking.

So they are off and sailing, The Channel, Atlantic, Biscay, Canaries, vomiting. The usual stuff. The Canary Islands (and Tenerife in particular) was the first scheduled stop. Now, before the offer for the Beagle came about, Darwin was trying to sort out an extended trip to Tenerife to survey the geology and the natural history. He had become fixated with the tropical vegetation that he had read about, the rocks, the mountain the wildlife – everything. I don’t think it unreasonable to state that he was in besotted with the place – he dreamed and yearned to go there but all his plans to get there had fallen apart. The fact that The Beagle was going there was a major bonus, and he was looking forward to it. A lot. So The Beagle arrived offshore and dropped anchor. They contacted the locals and were told that because there was some contagious disease in England, they were not allowed onshore for two weeks.

‘Bugger’ thought Darwin.  Probably.

‘Up jib’ said FitzRoy (that’s the naval equivalent of ‘Fire up the Quattro’).

‘Double bugger’ thought Darwin. 

And after all his longing to reach Tenerife all he saw was a distant view when at anchor. Darwin was not a lucky man.


Andrew said...

"This Thing of Darkness" by Harry Thompson is well worth a read if you're interested in the adventures of Darwin and Fitzroy. It's a novel based on the many diaries and travel logs, and is actually quite good and well written.

Mrs Thing said...

what happened to the gull picture what a fickle thing you are

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