Brian Easton the Illustrious Economist provided a hilarious introduction for the launch of The Notorious Captain Hayes at the wonderful Ekor Bookshop and Cafe.
Straightfaced, he claimed he was simply reading out an email from the Underworld.
For launch at Ekor Bookshop and Café, Wellington; 25 August 2016.
I have just received the following email. It is from William
Henry Hayes. The email address is ‘underworld’. I tried to reply but the
lines are clogged by politicians getting advice. It reads
Another buccaneer by the name of Voltaire – I havn’t been able to
find him, he seems to live in a different part of the resort – said ‘to
the living we owe respect, but to the dead we owe only the truth.’ What
he did not say was, how could you respect the truth when all that is
left are lies? No one ever gave me a chance to defend myself; they all
pretend they are honest and I am not.
Consider the tailor suing me for $US15,000 (in today’s prices) for my
clothing, and $US1200 for each member of my crew. Me, spend that amount
on my scurvy crew? Don’t be ridiculous. The silly old fraud is grossly
exaggerating; no wonder I refused to pay. The chandlers and other
suppliers were always overcharging; why should one pay for poor quality
The courts of the Pacific were all crooked so I avoided them. As for
claims I often sailed early to avoid courts and debts; had to – winds
and tides wait for no man. I was a good sailor – nobody says I wasn’t –
and I could be courageous as some reliable reports tell. Yet one of the
stories about me says I learned my seafaring skills in Cleveland, Ohio,
where I grew up; for heaven’s sake, it is 400 miles from the sea.
So how can your respect the truth, when all that it left is lies?
Joan Druett’s done a good job. She has had to report the falsehoods, but
she does so judiciously, and gives the alternate accounts – far fewer
but, if I say so myself, truer.
I am not surprised. She is a noted marine historian but I have to add
she is quite attracted to me – been chasing me for 15 years. Not bad
for a 180 year old, but a gentleman like me attracts the ladies. The
stories my critics tell about my liaisons are not fair on the women
Take my nickname. ‘Bully’. Nobody ever said it to my face; they
wouldn’t dare. It came from an old term for ‘a fine chap’ – as in ‘bully
for you’. Not that my detractors would admit that.
The truth was that I was an entrepreneur in the Wild West of the
Pacific. Some entrepreneurs have luck, I had less. The lucky get
knighthoods, and then defame the unlucky as notorious to hide the fact
that they got up to the same shady activities.
In truth I was much the same as other trader-captains of that time
and ocean. I’ve been made the scapegoat for their sins. The stories in
the book aren’t about me; they are about the Pacific in the
mid-nineteenth century. Taken that way the book makes a jolly good read.
So thankyou , Joan, for doing your best to rescue my reputation. You
wouldn’t like to visit me in my cabin, would you – as many ladies have
done in the past? I’m afraid it is a bit hotter than usual.
And for the rest of you, entrepreneurs move on. I have some stunning
high-return bonds in very secure enterprises for sale. If anyone has the
cash to invest, just contact me through my email.
Oh, and vote for Donald Trump.