Dear Sailor

We once had lunch with the Captain of the Wightlink catamaran service from Portsmouth harbour to Ryde on his day off. He was a very pleasant fellow whom we met ''Down At The Docks'' before boarding, and he was very passionate about his job. Indeed, nothing could ''Stop That Man'' enthusing about it, and after ''One Drink Too Many'' detailing, quite without prompting, the specifics of his not insubstantial salary.

Well knowing, therefore, that a sailor's income is quite high, and unless you are quite deliberately avoiding ''pushing the boat out'', your offer of the two of us (for reasons unknown) getting together over a single glass of champagne, as opposed to a half bottle or even a glass each, is confusing.

Although the frugal singular flute sparkling beverage offer does seem to suggest that you may be struggling to make ends meet (as also evidenced by two of your members only seeming to be able to afford one piano between them), you do clearly state that ''you have the money'' befitting of such lucratively paid mariners.

Assuming that ''Nothing Has Changed'' in the generous remuneration of seafarers, the only possible conclusions to be drawn are sadly that you are either unable to manage your financial affairs properly or, as my father used to say of a senior work colleague who would always coincidentally disappear to the gents whenever it was his round, have ''deep pockets but short arms''.

As regards either scenario, I am a little affronted by your inaccurate disclosure that I have the figure full of delights, and your presumptuous designs upon it. I will have you know, Sailor, that I only retain a sufficient modest balance in my Santander 1-2-3 account to cover bills and sundries, and that any disposable funds that I do ever have left over are to be enjoyed by close family and friends in preference to nautical Nickelodeon specialists.

In any event, I am afraid that I would object to drinking out of the same glass as your good selves, simply because I was once asked on the terraces by my friend Tony Beasley to sip his oxtail Cup-a-Soup because he thought it tasted funny, when, unbeknownst to me, he was going down with a bug.

If you are genuinely ''Out Of Money'' shipmates, may I recommend that you try and scrape together at least one extra glass and add a touch of Tesco Value lemonade to a bottle of Blue Nun, and perhaps adopt a less misleading monicker more befitting of your reduced circumstances, such as, perhaps 'Canoeist' or 'Pedalo Steerer'.

I remain

Yours sincerely




Derek Philpott



Reply from Grant Serpell received 25/4/2015

Dear Mr. Philpott

Your reputation has gone before you for many more years than you can possibly imagine.

Prior to what my doughty maritime colleagues and I considered a measured and reasonable invitation to your good self to join us for an evening of jovial banter that would involve a degree of ethanolic consumption, we were distressed to


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