RSS Feed

Scripture reading, then History #105

Posted on

And the Lord verily spake unto all the gathered heathen that the agony of one man’s spinal trauma was like that of a woman issuing forth a child, whereupon GOF gingerly raised his scrawniness from the sick bed upon which he was stricken and exhalted “Hallelulah Lord, and both events resulted from fleeting moments of reckless folly” whereupon the Lord quizzically looked down upon GOF and He was mightily displeased at the disrespectful and unauthorised interjection.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *



Vasco Da Gama

The following is an interview I conducted on board Da Gama’s square-sailed boat in Cochin Harbour, India, in 1524, at which time I was  an immature cadet travel writer with the Terra Australis Tribune.


Unfortunately the original transcript has deteriorated, not only because it is 487 years old, but also as a result of an unplanned
dunking in salt water for two hours very soon after the interview
was completed.

One or two inaccuracies may therefore have occurred in this transcription. On the other hand, the paragraph about me spending 150 days sharing a boat with ‘half-naked dusky wenches’ is a blatant lie, but nevertheless a thoroughly enjoyable piece of cerebral confectionery for such an old man as myself.


GOF; G’day Mr Da Gama.

Vasco; Bom dia GOF, como esta?

GOF; Eu nao falo Portugues. Is there any possibility that we could
conduct this interview in English?.

Vasco; GOF, let’s get one thing straight right from the start. I am the
Master Mariner of Portugal. This is MY caravel we’re sitting
on. You are some nondescript pipsqueak journalist feeding
off the magnificent achievements of heroes like me.
I’ll damned well talk any language I like, and if you have any
difficulty understanding that concept you can take a
uni-directional stroll along that plank over the side there.
Now do we have agreement, you little runt of a reporter?

GOF; OK Yessir Your Honor Captain Mr Gama Sir.

Captain, could you please give me a brief outline of the
history of Portugese maritime exploration.

Vasco; Certainly GOF.  My pleasure. I’m beginning to like your style
of grovelling and subordination.

There was one major overland trade route between
Asia and Europe, along which Portugal ran a great
profiteering racket…..sorry…..I mean fair trading program
until Turkey threw a spanner into the works.

Leave the ‘profiteering’ reference out of your notes
GOF…..or you know what’s going to happen to you.
Think  P. L. A. N. K.

The goddamned Turks unexpectedly invaded Constantinople
and installed a boom gate with flashing lights
and armed border guards to stop Christians and Europeans
from travelling East any more.

GOF; Couldn’t you have used some back roads to bypass the
road block?

Vasco; We tried that, but we could never outrun the CHIPS.

GOF; What are CHIPS?

Vasco; Oh, that is the Camel Highway Patrol in Turkey GOF.
A very deceptive name which fooled all the itinerant traders
because the cops didn’t actually use camels for highway law

GOF; What did they use then Vasco?

Vasco;   They had a team of racing pursuit donkeys with enlarged
sand-gripping hooves, ears aerodynamically slicked back,
and modified extra-wide nostrils.
These hotted-up donkeys were fuelled with a high-octane
mixture of barley fermented with date-palm sugar. Every time
they took off from a standing start there would be a flash of
blue flame shooting out of their rectums.

Anyway GOF I am digressing. With the Arabs turning the
whole trade route between Asia and Europe into a
schmozzle, King Manuel of Portugal gave me the job 20
years ago of finding a sea route AROUND Africa to India.

Vasco’s trade route Portugal to India

GOF; Why hadn’t anyone done this before?

Vasco; Prince Henry, who had failed Grade 2 Geography as a
youngster had dispatched 30 ships last century with the
command “Go south. Go south.”
They all ended up bumping into icebergs near Antarctica
and were never heard of again.
What he should have ordered was;
“Go south, then turn left, then left again.”

GOF; Why not build a Suez Canal instead?

Vasco; What’s a Suez Canal GOF?

GOF; It’s a sort of big ditch Vasco….don’t worry I’m just winding
you up.  I was simply exercising my gift of clairvoyancy.

Vasco; GOF, may I take this opportunity to remind you one final time

GOF; OK, sorry. Were you made to feel welcome the very first time
you arrived on the shores of India?

Vasco; Not exactly in an “open arms” sense GOF.  No.

A lot of derogatory and hurtful comments were made about
our traditional apparel, and the natives poked fun at our
woolen breeches, doublets and helmets.

Then the King of Calicut on the Malabar Coast actually made
some totally inappropriate suggestions about where we
should stow the gifts of cloth, cheap coral jewellery and six
wash basins that we brought as fair exchange for ten million
escudos worth of pepper, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and

Eventually, when I got him drunk enough on a few bottles of
1504 vintage Turkish Barley and Date Wine, he agreed that
Portugal could set up some Trading Posts in India.

GOF: They have wineries in Turkey?

Vasco; Apparently GOF. I never did discover where or how this vino
is made.  The Turks themselves refuse to drink it….in fact
they call it “donkey piss“.  We never could understand that,
even though the wine is perhaps a little horsey on the nose
and lacking any delicate piquancy or fruitiness on the palate.

GOF; So why have you returned to India now, 20 years after that
initial contact voyage?

Vasco; The managers of our Trading Company are skimming off
profits and putting them into Swiss personal bank accounts.
The King thought I’d be the right man to sort out the thieving
little bastards in exchange for a luxurious villa at Lisbon
Lakes Retirement Village.

GOF; How are you planning to discipline them Vasco?

Vasco; I am not at liberty to reveal very much GOF, but there
might just possibly be a plank involved.

GOF; Thank you for the interview, and congratulations on recently
being awarded the esteemed title “Admiral of India” by
your King Manuel 1 in recognition of the seafaring route you
discovered.  I was just admiring the backlit framed certificate
on the wall of your cabin.

No doubt all the Indian folk are as impressed with your title
as the Portugese people will be when Ranjit Singh from the
Punjab sails into Lisbon harbour one day and announces
himself to be the “Admiral of Portugal”.



P.S.   I was eventually rescued by a passing dhow full of
voluptuous and comely wenches who sailed
slightly out of their way to drop me off back in Sydney

Vasco Da Gama died at Cochin, India, just a month after this
interview in 1524 at the age of approximately 55.

History does not record if a plank was involved.

(More tutorials in GOF’s History Series may be found via the “History Tutorials” tab at top of page, although for the life of me I have no idea why you would want to punish your intelligence any more.)

Edit December 2011;  Brand new “Interview with King Henry VIII” may be found HERE.

About GOF

"Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it, depends upon what you put into it." (Tom Lehrer)

42 responses »

  1. *rubs hands together*
    Oh boy, oh boy oh boy!

    *goes back up to top of post to read* 😉

  2. Just a slight correction to your otherwise excellent revision of the historical record, GOF. His name wasn’t actually “Vasco de Gama”. His full name was “Vasectomy Pyjamas”. Apparently his mother named him that because she wrongly believed Mr Pyjama’s story that he had had the old snip, snip op. Vasco changed his name for obvious reasons. Apparently Mr Pyjamas was quite a lad and came by the name because of his habit of turning up for dinner invitations wearing nothing but pyjamas and a lascivious leer, apparently to the delight of the mistress of the house, but not the master for obvious reasons. Young Vasco thought he would try the same trick when he was invited to dinner with the King and Queen. And that is why he was “invited” to seek his fame and fortune as far away from Portugal as possible. Such are the quirks of history.

  3. Just to add to the story which explains your unfortunate encounter with the plank, GOF. The King’s parting words were “You must be as thick as a plank to think that I don’t know what you’re up to”. And that is why the sight of a plank always sent poor Vasco into fits of apoplexy. You were just unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the right time, an unfortunate affliction many of us share with you as we journey through this life.

    • LMAO.
      You two are quite a pair!

    • Thank you so much Snowy for collaboratively sharing your vast wealth of historical knowledge. Until your timely contribution I was quite unaware of Vasco’s “apoplexy” and “lascivious leer”, which must have been quite troubling and disabling given that Ritalin was not being widely dispensed at the time.

      I used his shortened name “Vasco” throughout because the word “Vasectomy” sends me into spasms of spine tingling unease every time I hear the word.

      My unfortunate plank experience was simply the acceptable price I paid for the dhow journey back to the Opera House. Every cloud has a dusky wench lining.

      Again I salute your contribution to the collective knowledge of mankind.

      • Pleased to be of assistance, GOF. Your dedication to academic excellence is a model that the rest of us can only vainly hope to aspire to, and we can but wistfully daydream of your exploits with dusky wench linings. You are indeed a man of substance that the world has yet to discover. Their loss….and Elle’s.

        • My stories simply act as a humble catalyst to facilitate the flow of knowledge and truth Snowy. (I note that FD seems to have some minor concern about the “knowledge and truth” part) 🙂

        • Oh good grief. I hope they put the pair of you into the same institution – it will save me on travel. 😯

          • Didn’t GOF tell you, Inga? We’re moving in with you shortly. He’s bagged sleeping in the new car, so I suppose I’ll have to sleep on the woodheap. I was a bit doubtful about the arrangement at first, but he says you have been stocking up the whisky cellar in anticipation, so I said I’d go and we could collaborate on the new G.O.F history text book he’s writing. I believe he has advance orders from a Ms McPherson. Or so he tells me, and I’ve never known him to bend the truth yet.

            • Lol!
              Inga, you could start another reality show. Two crazy men. Oh, wait, I meant sitcom.

            • I think we should just take over the house Snowy……Inga’s been taught to respect her elders….even very closely related ones with dubious mental stability. There’s not enough space for our companion Mr Walker in the car or woodshed.
              We can then collaborate to write our best-selling “SNOF’s History of the World”

              • Sounds good to me, GOF, except I think we should move the whisky stash and us into the house, and Inga into the car. Or woodshed if she prefers. It’s not as if we want to wear out our welcome. Someone asked what about our wives. I made some excuse. We wouldn’t want to broadcast that it was their idea, would we.

                • This is what the politicians would call a “WIN WIN SITUATION” Snowy.

                  Inga is going to be so thrilled when she comes home from work this afternoon to find out that we’ve selflessly organised the rest of her life for her.
                  She must feel so blessed to have both of us working in her best interests.

                  • Yes, I expect she’ll be so overwhelmed she’ll go all teary, GOF. The young do tend to be so emotional at times. So do I for that matter. I’m tempted to resume my old habit of chewing tobacco again. Do you know if she has spittoons in every room? I used to aim pretty well, but I dare say practice will make perfect again.

                    • Don’t worry about the spittoons Snowy…..she’s got a couple of cats that will go around and clean up any accidental mess we make while we are honing our forgotten skills.

                    • Thanks GOF. All systems go, then. See you this afternoon. I can’t wait to see the look on Inga’s face when we rock up.

                    • I think you two have had quite enough play time today.

                      Though I daresay there would be some perks to having you both living here – I could fix you above my front door like a matching pair of gargoyles to scare away sales people.

                    • I get the distinct feeling that’s an invitation not to come, GOF. I’ve had a few of those in my time. Never did figure out why…

  4. Lol!!

    I got interrupted by dinnertime in the middle of my history lesson, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment at all!

    I would love to see a picture of these racing pursuit donkeys with blue flame shooting out of their rectums. What a visual!

    I am going to have to do some more studying on Mr. de Gama!

    • Thank you Lauri for reading this dubious composition and I hope it did not interfere too much with your digestion. I tried to reply earlier but WP was having a hissy fit at the time and refused to post it.

      Seems like Snowy is the fountainhead of all Vasco knowledge. 🙂

  5. [scratches head] Y’know, I just don’t remember this part from my early European history course in college. The Portuguese did make some headway in Japan, but I think the Brits won out in India before the Indians realized they could run the country just fine without the stiff-upper-lip sahibs.

    My mother also claims the British Army introduced curry to Japan, but it is insufferable stuff compared to real Indian curry. Spicy meat gravy all over rice just isn’t the same.

    • Thanks HG. I need to do more reading on Western influences in Japan… date I have only discovered stories about trade between Europe and China.

  6. How are you with reality?

  7. Wow!

    I studied literature in college rather than history. Obviously I missed a lot. 😯

    • Thank you for visiting AuntieBellum.

      Could I modestly suggest that you perhaps didn’t miss much at all?

      The only thing I studied at college (agricultural) for 3 years was digging fence post holes and shovelling various types of animal manure, for which I was awarded A plusses. 🙂

  8. Didn’t he end up rounding the Cape Horn after being blown waaaaay off course to the west by a storm, then cut east and happened to be far south enough to make it? If one sticks too close to the shore, they’ll never get past the trade winds, or something like that?

    • I’m happy to take your word for this kimmy….probably like many explorers there were elements of “accidental discovery”….he certainly did have some deviations along the way including landing on the East coast of Africa then forcibly taking on board any local sailor who might have known the way from Africa across to India.

      It’s all fascinating stuff….thanks for contributing.

  9. Vasco did well to discover the all important route and to escape the pirates. It sounds as though this guy would attract all sorts of unwanted attention… know.

    If I’m ever at a wine tasting I’m going to use your “little horsey on the nose” line.

    And cerebreal confectionary. Someone just has to open a cupcake bakery with that name. Really.

    • I guess we all owe a debt of gratitude to all the early explorers although many of them were rascals.

      Please let me know how your “horsey on the nose” comment goes down at some high-falutin’ wine tasting…….or perhaps when Sarah Palin next invites you to a revenue-raising banquet. 🙂

  10. I think those donkeys should be drug tested for whatever the cyclists are on. They weren’t wearing Lycra by any chance?

    Glad the back has given you the chance to extend my education even further and sincerely trust it wasn’t as painful as childbirth. (I think Liz nearly broke my hand when Andrew was born. Tough gig for the guys I reckon.)

    • Ahhh Peter, Peter, Peter……Lycra wasn’t invented in 1524…..all they had was silk pantyhose.

      Like you, I’ve had very little success whenever I’ve tried to suggest that any male affliction was “as painful as childbirth”.

  11. Gram always said, “Start, fart, stumble and fall.” Good things those donkeys had extra-wide hooves to keep their balance.

  12. Dear publisher of The Bucket
    Compliments to your good initiative. I am the main author of a book, which will soon be published “Indian Ways of Silk”. We need an ilustration of a caravelle and ask the permission to use your illustration of Vasco da Gama’s caravelle.
    Yours truely
    Ole Zethner, Kongevej 4, 4450 Jyderup, Denmark


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: