Sailing to Purgatory
The final scene in this true adventure shocked the author, too.

‘The reader will be enthralled as Paul, former Fleet Street journalist turned professional yachtmaster, takes us along on his ‘swallowing the anchor’ voyage, his retirement from the sea.

'This self-confessed newish ancient mariner … has spent almost a lifetime sailing solo, as both an ocean going competitive yachtsman, as a DoT Commercial Yachtmaster, and during his circumnavigation to become a singlehanded Cape Horner ... Sailing to Purgatory has all the roller coaster elements of a heart stopping adventure — drama on the high seas, observing life ... undersea volcanoes, a love interest, and waves high enough to scare the pants off most of us.’ - Brenda Vowden, journalist, avid reader

Home from the outside ... St Helenans,
'Saints', round their South Atlantic
island in Midshipman,
en route for Stockholm.

Enterprising forebears ... The house Paul's father designed, and the car his paternal grandfather designed and built.

Running repairs ... crewman Declan checks rig fittings on the superyacht, Midshipman, which Paul sailed from the Cape to Sweden.

Sail power ... Gavin's Howe's beautiful yacht in the Mediterranean.

Rescue in the Southern Ocean ... Yachting World's international edition this month features Paul and Captain Fantastic in its Great Seamanship series.

Pat and Gerry Adamson, two wonderful supporters get Spirit of Pentax ready for her circumnavigation.

Home sweet home ... St Helena islanders, after a voyage round their island home on the superyacht, Midshipman.

Baptism of a Cape Horner ... Lady Chichester names Spirit of Pentax in a ceremony at Brighton Marina.

Homeward Bound 2 is prepared for her attempt on the longest open boat record.

Tri trials ... testing Paul's entry in the singlehanded race across the Atlantic are great friends Ron Pell, Jerry Freeman plus a keen helper.

Cover up ... Bob Abrahams works on cover ideas for Sailing to Purgatory.

Stocking up for 18 months ... Last minute farewells before Spirit of Pentax and Paul left on the long route to become Cape Horners.

Death of a racer ... Baltic Wind flounders after running into a container in the South Atlantic. Paul and a lady shipmate spent eight worrying days in a liferaft.

Might there be a reason why all of a sudden we are thrust into the centre of a controversy on the ancient boy treats girl phenomenon, which this time takes us behind the scenes of the multi-million dollar world of glamour and glitz.

All through the past week we learned that a fellow who seemingly had the talent to recognise shapes the world sought, and had the oomph to realise the girls' dreams for them, also desired those aspiring starlets for himself.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
A brand new human ... An illustration of normal head-first presentation by the obstetrician William Smellie from about 1792. Thanks to Wikipedia for this illustration by By William Smellie - Plate 14, from A Set of Anatomical Tables with Explanations., Public Domain.

Naturally we readers and viewers weren't told what the poor innocents won from the oldest routine in the world.

Maybe these starlet hopefuls were left starving by the wayside, babe in arms, shame stamped upon their foreheads. However, it just might be that they were launched into a celluloid showbiz world, winning astonishing fame and rather a lot of money.

As a journalist for many years, I know we're unlikely to discover what really lies behind these headlines, what motivated the story and its follow-on stories to dominate world news.

A passion palava smoke screen

However, as I suggested in the previous blog, I'm certainly up to guessing why this was sprung on us internationally.

It's more than likely that the passion palava was a smokescreen for a far more inconsiderate and long-term failure by my gender, to divert attention from its inattention to the result of successful loving.

I'm airing a feeling I have about giving birth. Attend one, and I believe that any human who hasn't witnessed it before will be astonished that we cling to such an archaic form of torture.

Can you name even one medical procedure that has changed so little since the days of Eve?

Take the now simple, once agonising, aspects of life. I remember how dentistry even sixty years ago was torture. Men need dentistry, and men found the answer. Now even the worst procedures in the dental chair are just about a doddle. It's certainly so if your dentist is even half as caring as the expert I see, Mr Joe Narcisi.

Take medical matters - inoculations, injections, blood tests. They're almost a pleasure these days.

No longer creatures of the wild

In fact, any medical or surgical procedure involving my gender, is far better than humane. Why then has the suffering side of giving birth changed so little? Why not make Caesarian births natural births? Surely nothing could be less natural than making modern mothers-to-be mimic what other mammals endure. We haven't been creatures of the wild for a very long time.

As if anyone needs reminding: men don't give birth. We still expect women to endure the process as Eve did. Could it be simply that men have been shrewd enough to get women to see the culmination of loving as a, well, honour? Doubtlessly it is an honour, but it doesn't have to be such a tortured sort of honouring.

Rather than admit this major fault, the gender smokescreens self-denigration about our wicked nature. If men had to give birth, the birth procedure would change hugely - and so might our bursts of peripatetic passion.

The obstacle? Money

If the alternative might have been good enough for Caesar's mother, (give or take, that is) variations to be invented could be the way for our mothers. The obstacle? The price. We couldn't get away with just a midwife. We'd have to have an anaesthetist as well, and an operating theatre, and all those big bills.

If only my mother were still present to add to this. She brought me into the world to the accompaniment of air-raid sirens, and bombs and anti-aircraft fire. During the war, men decided that expectant mothers evacuated from bombed out areas should board in homes with other pregnant mums. Give them some basic notes, and let them act as midwives. What economy!

Of course, it was no fun for fathers to be sent off to war. But if men were the ones bearing the babies, I suspect a considerable number of hospitals would have been built in war-ravaged Britain.

Thanks very much for reading about this serious grievance, and for visiting the blogs for my adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory.

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