It was early in the spring of 1835 when me and my friend Arsecock were shanghai-ed. We had only had a few pints in The Admirals' Cockles in Plymouth, but there must have been something in the brew. When I woke up, I was sick, the whole world was rolling from side to side, and everything smelt of shit.
"Where am I?" I asked.
"Hahar! Ye've awoken," said a gruff bearded old man in a smart uniform and a silly hat, who I soon learned was Captain Geoff. "Ye'll be ready to start learning the ropes - literally. First Mate Bruce here will be teaching ye."
"But where..." it was too much for me.
"G'day, mate," said the First Mate. "You're on the Mucky Floater. She's a fine ship, mate. Transporting three hundred tonnes of the Queen's own excrement to the New World."
"Shit! Don't worry, mate, it's all below deck."
Captain Geoff quipped. "That's why they call it the poop deck."
Arsecock was still asleep but the Captain whipped him awake and we began to work. There was no hope of escape. We were miles from land and heading into the endless oceans.
The First Mate hadn't been lying. We were carrying huge quantities of excrement to the United States. For what purpose, I couldn't work out, but there we were due to pick up another load of shit to bring back to England.
After a few hours, I found myself starving. I asked the First Mate where I could find something to eat.
"We all eat in the mess, mate," he replied cheerily.
"What?" I said. "In the shit?"
"No, mate! That would be disgusting. The mess deck is just above the poop deck."
The ship was certainly confusing, and I had no previous knowledge of nautical matters. Soon I learned my bilge outlet from my seacock, and even learned not to find it funny.
One day, I asked the Captain. "Why are we carrying this shit to America then bringing more shit back? What is the difference? Surely it's all just shit?"
He chuckled and tweaked his moustache. "It's all for profit."
"But why? It doesn't make any sense."
"You don't understand the complexities of global capitalism, lad. Some day, ye will."
For weeks we sailed through the doldrums towards America. We learned how to man the futtocks and come about.
Arsecock seemed to be enjoying it. He had always been partial to sodomy, hence his nickname. I hoped to escape when we reached America, or maybe once we got back home.
After a long voyage, we landed at Jacksonville, and emptied our precious load from the bowels of the ship. Soon we were full of the local produce - which smelt fresher for a time - then we were on our way again.
While in the US, we heard rumour of some dangerous pirates who had been becoming braver in recent months. We took heed and kept hard astern as we began the journey home.
We were only a few days from the coast when we caught sight of a pirate. With the sign of a turd and cross-bones, it could be no other than Shitbeard the Pirate.
"Prepare the sewage cannons!" called the Captain. Men below decks loaded the iron guns with some of our cargo.
But the pirates had their own shit guns and soon the whole ship was covered in dung.
"It looks like a steamer," said the Captain, looking through his telescope. "And one not long crimped off the dock. The pirates must have captured it."
There was not much time before the ships met. We were boarded and everyone was rounded up.
Shitbeard himself came on board. He was an enormous man with an eyepatch and a brown flowing beard down to his huge belly. He was so covered in tattoos that even his eyepatch had a tattoo. He laughed deeply and said, "Ye'll all surrender to Shitbeard now!"
The Captain was made to walk the plank. Everyone else was ordered to follow him, unless they were willing to join the pirate's crew. For some reason nobody did, until me and Arsecock said we would be happy to join.
Shitbeard's ship was called the Bottom Trawler, and was much nicer than the Mucky Floater, although the crew were less pleasant. I had thought the sodomy was bad on the first ship, but on the pirate ship it seemed to never end. Arsecock loved it though, and he took all my sodomy rations for me, which was nice of him.
With the "treasure" we had captured from the Mucky Floater, the two ships sailed back to the Caribbean.
In a couple of weeks, we reached a sandy island that I don't know the name of. Shitbeard buried all the captured sludgy booty there and said we would come and reclaim it when we retired. I suggested that I'd like to retire now, but he wouldn't let me, unless I could tell him where all the shit in England came from.
"Well," I said. "There's a sewage pipe in Plymouth where it just pours into the sea."
"We's rich!" exclaimed Shitbeard and began doing a jig.
So we returned to England and I showed him the sewage pipe. He sailed his ship right under it and it began to fill up with dung. As it lowered heavy in the water, he called out, "Ye can go now lad, I've had enough of yer arse anyway."
That was the last that I or anyone else ever heard of Shitbeard the Pirate. Whether he retired or not I don't know. Arsecock stayed with him too.
Thankfully, now we have an undersea dung pipeline between Europe and North America, so there is no need for ships to make the risky crossing filled with their valuable cargo. And global capitalism is richer than ever for it.