Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Pirate hunters - artistes - do it in saunas

I became interested in pirate hunters because of having researched and written about women pirates. (By the way, my book on them - Bold in her Breeches: Women Pirates Across the Ages - is still in print as a hardback. It's just that the paperback has now gone out of print).

Associated Press has just posted a fascinating article by Katherine Houreld about the pirate hunters now on the Swedish ship Carlskrona,at http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hDrcS1YqnperiOOFms1DzuOndyYAD9FUG0EO0.

Yes, there are women aboard: twenty per cent of the crew are women, and they live in non-segregated quarters. But the thing I love is the luxury in which they all live. In between sorties to find Somali pirates they enjoy saunas, massage, and four types of freshly baked bread each day, with wholegrains and syrup (see pic). And among the DVDs they watch is Pirates of the Caribbean. Of course!

On his blog Alexander Martin of La Jolla names this as his all-time favourite article on piracy. He's skipper of the US Force Platoon attached to a MEU that is just about to go pirate hunting to Africa. And he gives a really good picture of his reality.

As part of the Marine Expeditionary Force’s Force Reconnaissance Company he's one of 'a small band of sharply trained professionals who see their trade as an art form. They see their work as special, not themselves.

'The first thing that everyone should know about hunting pirates is that it is not as sexy as it sounds. ...we have been training to kill pirates for an entire year. Which is also not as sexy as it sounds. It's plain hard.'

See his witty blog War & Women (note that order of words) at http://warandwomen.blogspot.com/2010/05/pirate-chronicles-virtue-of-god-country.html

What appeals to me about all this? It's the contrast with silly myths about piracy.

It's not a sexy business for pirates, nor for their hunters.

And modern pirate hunters are not pompous aristocratic gents in frilly shirts and gold braid as in Errol Flynn movies. They're women (and men)workers with high-level skills, who sometimes get to enjoy a bit of pampering ...that feels ironic in the circumstances.

And the odds are that some of these piracy hunters - and the catering workers who suppor them - are LGBT people too, as they were in piracy's golden age 300 years ago. What an enjoyable contrast it all is to the macho and heterosexual myths.

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