Magazine article New Internationalist

'The Arrgther Side of the Story'

Magazine article New Internationalist

'The Arrgther Side of the Story'

Article excerpt

While I was working on this issue of the magazine, I lost count of the number of people who asked if I'd heard the story about the Women's Institute's (WI) piracy gaff. Some members of this august British institution had dressed up in eye patches and sashes for one of their organized events, a talk from a sea captain, only to discover that he had suffered a traumatic hostage ordeal at the hands of Somali pirates.

This throwaway tale had gone viral. Sure, it had a bit of dramatic irony and quaintness about it - showing up the British weakness for dressing up, for example - but it's success was as much a reflection of the public's voracious appetite for any story to do with pirates.

Pirates' sinister glamour transfixes beyond the WI. The world will celebrate 'Talk like a pirate day' on 19 September; I once 'hijacked' New York's free ferry to Staten Island, with a load of anarchists and bottles of rum, on an excuse so spurious that it now escapes me.

Yet piracy is really no more than robbery at sea. …

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