Monday, 28 January 2013
Ships that pass in the night.
Thirty five years later I was working on the upper Thames, towing a large pontoon into position in preparation for the annual Great River Race. I dropped alongside a passenger boat lying on the pier and got chatting to the skipper. It turned out that we had both worked the east coast trading barges and in the course of our conversation I asked if he had ever met a bloke called Jim Penn. He hesitated for a moment before replying,"I'm Jim Penn". After all those years there was no way that we would have recognised each other. Jim had continued his adventures, had become a respected marine artist and although retired was driving passenger boats on odd days just to keep his hand in. We didn't talk for long; the tide waits for no man and we both had to go about our business. We had a couple of lengthy phone conversations and talked about meeting up some time, but we never got round to it. A couple of years later I learnt that Jim had died. Truly ships that passed in the night.