Today is Talk Like a Pirate Day. I’m not good at it at all (yarrrr?) but I made up for it by reading a book about pirates. Pirates and scientists, to be precise.
In The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists by Gideon Defoe, the crew of a pirate ship meets Darwin on the Beagle. Darwin has trained a monkey, Mister Bobo, to behave like a perfect gentleman. The pirates accompany them to London where the evil Bishop of Oxford tries to discredit Darwin’s monkey only to assure a steady stream of visitors to the freak circus he bought. A circus where, suspiciously, it’s ladies’ night five nights a week… Dressed up as scientists dressed up as ladies, the pirates investigate the bishop’s circus and make sure Darwin and Mister Bobo get the attention they deserve.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Holding pens and rulers, and with white lab coats covering their piratical paraphernalia, the pirates followed Darwin into the Royal Society Gentlemen’s Club. There were several famous scientists present, some sitting around smoking, some engaged in animated discussion about the latest scientific topic, and some just watching the dancing girls. The smell of opium hung heavily in the air.”
My favourite part: the pirates borrow the scientists’ zeppelin. It’s several paragraphs of hilarious referrals to the Hindenburg Disaster. (“‘Be sure to check out the splendid smokers’ gallery’, he said. ‘You’ll find it affords tremendous views of the billowing bags of hydrogen gas. And help yourself to the chops which are cooking on the airship’s flaming barbecue.’“)
And yes, the book is full of anachronisms like that.