Friday, 10 April 2009


Well this isn't quite what I intended to blog about today, but the presence of LV18 at the Ha'penny Pier in Harwich cannot pass by without a mention.

In a past life, LV18 was a manned Trinity House lightvessel. More recently she's been a film star - starring in The Boat that Rocked. At the moment legends such as Emperor Rosko, Keith Skues, Johnnie Walker and Tony Blackburn are broadcasting aboard as Pirate BBC Essex. This all coincides with an exhibition of Pirate radio memorabilia over the Easter Weekend on the Ha-penny Pier.

I have a great and lasting fondness for pirate radio. I used to listen to Radio Caroline in bed with my transistor radio tucked under my pillow and the single ear-piece jammed into one ear. Bliss.

My most vivid memory of pirate radio is of a night in May 1971. I had just turned 14 and was in bed listening to Radio North Sea International. Around 11 o'clock they began to broadcast a mayday message, giving out their position and describing the fire which had taken hold of the Mebo II after a bomb had been thrown on board.

All the time they were playing the Radio North Sea call tune Man of Action in the background. The combination of the music and the mayday messages was powerful and I can't listen to that music to this day without remembering that night.

My parents weren't exactly delighted to be woken up by me demanding that they DO something (because for some reason I was afraid that I was the only person listening). My dad's calm reassurances that the mayday would be heard and attended to did nothing to console me. I was distraught. Go back to bed and turn the radio off now they said . . . of course I didn't. I sat up listening to the whole thing and in my memory it seemed to go on all night, but I believe the ship was abandoned about an hour after the first mayday call.

I still get goosebumps when I think about it and will I be visiting the exhibition this weekend? You Bet!

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