Look, be reasonable. I can’t be expected to reproduce the whole damn book for you, page by page; but, equally, I know I can’t run the risk of missing out a single excellent John Hancock nor priceless example of character illustration. So, for your delectation, I will pause on occasion to offer up some of the choicest cuts. For our first diversionary outing, let’s meet those with rank. Only one really juicy name and we’ve already encountered him, so we’ll start with that; but the descriptions – well, I know I pluralised there, but…

Captain Kermit Burch

Kermit Burch came almost immediately, wearing only a pair of polka-dot shorts. I’m not above a bit of quote mining to fake a smutty moment. Oh no.

Admiral James Sandecker

…the flaming red hair with all trace of grey tinted away, the matching Vandyke beard, trimmed to a sharp point, the blue eyes that had to be flashing like neon signs from heartfelt satisfaction. I wonder if they make that little tic-tic noise every time he blinks.

Captain Malcolm Nevins (surprised it’s not “Ben”, actually)

Nevin’s ruddy features, usually humorous and pleated, excuse me? were set in concentration; his limpid “Transparent”? “Peaceful”? grey eyes squinting and uneasy. Er. Transparent then. I guess…

– and his ship, the Earl of Wattlesfield

After this day, she would be as famous as the Carpathia who the what now?, the ship that had rescued the Titanic survivors. Oh yeah. It got a big mention in that film with Di Caprio in, didn’t it. You know the one, what’s it called – “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?”

Captain Jock McDermott

A sandy-haired Scotsman do tell with a narrow beaklike nose and hazy green eyes, he had spent twenty years in oceangoing tugs. But for the jutting jaw, and eyes that seemed to focus like light beams that’s pretty poor right there, he might have passed for Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s bookkeeper. Not too sure it’s legit to use other characters from literature, particularly much better literature, to describe your own. Anyone have the slightest idea what Bob Cratchit does look like ? Blind and chinless, perhaps.

– and his ship, the tugboat Audacious

…like an overweight greyhound after the rabbit…

Captain Morris Baldwin

Captain Morris Baldwin was a man who walked a straight line and never deviated sounds like the recipe for a lifetime of bruised shins … His only home was the ship he served. If he had a wife, which he did not, or a home, which he found a waste of time, he would have been an oyster without a shell. Nope. To that I can think of nothing to say. This sentence thus receives the Dan Brown Award for Absolute Failure.

His face was a stern mask, red, ruddy and never cheerful. He gazed through beady dark walnut eyes under heavy lids that were set and grim. Only the magnificent silver mane gave him an air of sophisticated authority amongst the park-bench crowd. Who all call him “Captain Oyster”. And make him dance sea jigs for gin.

– and his vessel, the… [rolls] …Golden Marlin. FUCK IT.

Chief Warrant Officer Mack McKirdy and, I wonder, where exactly is the blue-eyed, ruddy, bearded-boyo that is First Mate Llewellyn “Taffie” Jones-the-Waves hiding himself then? (He’s Welsh, btw)

…a grey-haired, grizzled sea dog for pity’s sake with a beard like that of a sailor on an old clipper ship. He acknowledged Giordino’s presence with a curt nod and a wink of one blue eye and a yarr-hah-harrr and a song about rum and then they took turns rogering the ruddy cabin boy until he split down the middle. A sailor’s life for meeeeee.

Captain Jimmy Flett

He was short and burly, with a face turned ruddy from long years of a love affair with scotch whisky, but his blue eyes had somehow managed to remain clear and bright. HOW AMAZINGLY DISTINCTIVE OF HIM.

Sod this for a lark, they’re all exactly the fucking same. I’m going to bed.