Partying like Pirates...

Sunday Herald - 27 August 2006
‘Ahoy there, I be wantin’ all you landlubbers to party like pirates … Arrrrrrrr!’
By Jenifer Johnston

He’s got more experience with parishioners than parrots and would rather see a winsome lass walk down the aisle than the plank but the Rev Robin Hill is a jolly Roger at heart – and the official chaplain to the global pirate movement.
The East Lothian Church of Scotland minister has been capivated by plans for International Talk Like A Pirate Day and is set to make next weekend a pirate-fest of games and events to celebrate the reopening of his Longniddry church following it’s six-month renovation.

Hill is hopeful that others will join in the fun – as are the organisers of the global pirate day, who are appealing for Scots to organise their own parties and events in time for the celebration on September 19.

“I think it will catch on, I’m sure we’re not going to be the only event in Scotland for very long,†he said.

“ I think that in this world of ours, where suffering and violence are rife it is a really good thing to be able to have a bit of fun at something silly when you get the chance.â€

Hill admitted his job as a minister jars slightly with the pirate ethos of theft and robbery: “It’s a bit tricky for me as I trained in law.

“Piracy is one of the most outlawed crimes in the world ,†he said. “ There is a dark side to it, it is bloodthirsty. But people are attracted to it because piracy has a certain romance and adventure about it.â€

Pirate-lovers from Australia, South Africa, the US and even Antarctica have announced plans for buccaneer bachelor contests and sponsored singalongs.

One of the founders of International Talk Like A Pirate Day, the “professional pirate†John Baur – aka Ol’ Chumbucket – is urging Scots to start organising their own events.

“It would be great if more Scots get behind this,†he said. “It’s not like running a marathon or anything – you just have to say ‘aarrr’ a lot. People all over the world are joining in with this and the more the merrier, frankly.â€

Baur added that since September 19 is a Tuesday, people who can’t party should “ just start slipping pirate language in at work: for example try answering the phone ‘ahoy there, we’re John Smith the lawyers, who can we scuttle for ye?’â€

Baur held the first Talk Like A Pirate Day in 1995 after a private joke with his friend Mark Summers, aka Cap’n Slappy, “got out of handâ€. They are now known across the US as “The Pirate Guysâ€, with Baur and his wife about to appear on an episode of the US version of Wife Swap … as a pirate couple.

In the US, academics and cultural commentators are now discussing pirate culture as a social movement. The rise in pirate-themed entertainment is attributed to the mid-1990s, before the release of the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies. The movement has spawned theme bars, bands, festivals and magazines and influenced fashion: a pirate-themed show has even opened in Las Vegas.

Pulitzer-winning writer Dave Barry, who helped spread the movement in the US, also urged Scots to organise pirate day events. He said: “This should be huge in Scotland, which produced many of history’s greatest pirates – Plaidbeard, Long John Haggis – the list goes on.â€

He added that the “beauty and joy†of Talk Like A Pirate Day was its simplicity. “No matter what anyone says to you, you always have an appropriate response … which is of course: ‘ARRRRRRRRRR.’â€

However, Professor Christine Geraghty from the department of theatre, film and television studies at Glasgow University said the post-movie pirate excitement is “more a fad than a social movementâ€.

“We’ve seen this before €“ Bonnie and Clyde for example led to a lot of angst about gangsters, and a fashion spin-off with pinstripe suits. But the pirate fixation sounds more of a fad than something that could become a movement.â€