Tuesday, September 28, 2010

There's still some tourists about then

I am calling for volunteers to participate in an experiment I have thought up.

Every year, in Norwich we have hundreds of visitors to the Broads who moor their hire cruisers at The Norwich Yacht Station beside Riverside Road. I have kept a rough head count and by my reckoning at least half of the visitors think what a jolly jape it would be to buy a Skull and Crossbones flag from one of the many cheapjack shops that infest, in particular, the Northern rivers and fly it from their boat.

Broads cruisers do not normally come with a flag pole and one witnesses great ingenuity in their construction; Broom and mop handles are most usually used though I did once see a Jolly Roger stapled to a wooden crutch which was in turn lashed to the stern of a boat. (I did briefly wonder who on earth brings a spare crutch or even a stapler on holiday with them.)

The Jolly Roger or skull and crossbones flag is a signal older than semaphore, or signal flags or Morse code. It means no quarter given or asked for. It means if you don't kill us we will kill you and steal anything movable. As Wikipedia puts it

"Historically, the flag was flown to frighten pirates' victims into surrendering without a fight, since it conveyed the message that the attackers were outlaws who would not consider themselves bound by the usual rules of engagement—and might, therefore, slaughter those they defeated (since captured pirates were usually hanged, they didn't have much to gain by asking quarter if defeated)"

Flying the Jolly Roger is therefore an out and out threat. If justice still runs its course throughout Britain one should be able to board any boat flying the Jolly Roger, slaughter its crew (they have signalled after all that they want no quarter) and claim their vessel and goods by right of salvage. My contention is that there is not a court in the land that would find the perpetrators of such action guilty of any crime given that the flyers of the flag had clearly signalled that they were first of all outside the law and secondly were prepared to do the same at the blink of an eye. Any action against them is self defence pure and simple

But I need a few volunteers to find out if my theory runs true.

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