At last! Here is the final conversation between The Postmodern Mariner and the eight Sea of Tea pirates! When I began this side-project back in October 2006 I never expected it to take more than three years to post all eight interviews! Anyway…
The eighth conversation is with the pirate of the southeastern zone, José Gasparilla, and this is how it goes:
PM: You belong to a highly specialised genre?
JG: Yes, the tale of the man who becomes separated from his shadow. Chamisso wrote a story with this theme. I believe that Anodos in George MacDonald’s Phantastes also loses his shadow; I can’t quite remember. And Lord Dunsany wrote a book that is one of the best treatments of this conceit.
PM: You allude to his third novel, The Charwoman’s Shadow?
JG: What I did was stronger than allude, in my opinion. I referred. But yes, that is the volume in question; a charming, magical read. Dunsany’s style kept improving with age and his increasing use of whimsical irony makes his later work more palatable to my taste than his early dreamland stuff. He also wrote a couple of oddly humorous short stories about pirates.
PM: Are you the man or the shadow?
JG: I really ought to keep you guessing until the end…
PM: Of all the captains on the Sea of Tea only two weren’t invented by the author called Hughes. We all know that Henry Morgan was a genuine historical figure, but what of you? Were you ever real?
JG: Not truly real, no. My first appearance was in a slim novel entitled There Were Two Pirates by James Branch Cabell. You may know the title of at least one other Cabell novel, Jurgen, which was banned for supposed obscenity and therefore became a bestseller. Cabell was a gloriously sophisticated writer with a style that was cynical, wise, inventive, absurd and funny: he was writing humorous fantasy even before serious fantasy had become a viable product.
PM: What are your memories of Spain?
JG: Nibbles with every glass of wine. Girls.
JG: With every girl. Nibbles too. And nibbles with every girl, nearly. Which meant more wine… I was often a little drunk. Most people believe that Spain was the main victim in the so-called ‘Golden Age’ of piracy, and that English, Welsh, French and Dutch captains preyed exclusively on our merchant fleet; but in fact we had pirates of our own. I am one of them, obviously, but there were a great many more. The potential rewards were simply too tempting to keep us at home.
JG: Bless you!
PM: Did the climate and culture of your second home, Florida, agree with you? Or was it too thundery?
JG: Almost everything agrees with me; there will always be trouble if it doesn’t! But I have no issue with storms, which is just as well: for the man who designed and built the Sea of Tea did so merely in order to create and witness a storm in a teacup.
PM: Would you prefer to sail on an ocean of coffee?
JG: An ocean of wine would be even better, for then the nibbles and the girls would be everywhere and I wouldn’t need to use force to obtain them. The wine would reflect the starlight most wondrously and the soft music of the guitars would lap my ears in the same way the claret wavelets lapped my hull, gently, like old tongues. I would be happy on the winey deeps; happier than I am here…
PM: Look there! The sun is rising!
JG: Which means it’s time for my bed. I’m nocturnal.
JG: Haven’t you guessed what I am yet?
PM: You are the shadow.
JG: Well done! What led you to that conclusion?
PM: The sunrise. You seem to be casting a man!