My name is Helen Jones and I’m a doctor employed by the British Antarctic Survey. For the next nine months I’ll be working on board the James Clark Ross as she performs scientific research in the Southern Ocean and supplies the British research bases of Antarctica.
I’ve started this blog in the hopes of entertaining and giving people a chance to see some pretty pictures. I might even throw some science in occasionally!
Friday, 9 June 2017
It all seems a bit fishy...
I was Queen Neptune on Tuesday. No, I’m not suffering from
delusions of grandeur after standing in the equatorial sun for too long; it
actually happened! We held a Crossing the Line Ceremony for those amongst us
who had not yet crossed the equator in a nautical fashion. The “deities”,
Neptune and his wife, were invited aboard by the Captain. The trustworthy
shellbacks meanwhile (1. I am not making this up, 2. They are people who have
crossed the line before) rounded up the scabby pollywogs and brought them to
the court of Neptune, that they might be judged for their crimes against the
God of the Sea and then permitted to enter his court. Food waste was poured all
over them and they had to kiss a fish, before being permitted to call
I was asked to be Queen Neptune on the grounds of being one
of the only women on board who had crossed the line previously. I felt
curiously disadvantaged as a woman playing a woman! The motorman who was in the
role before me had borrowed a bra and rigged it up so that it squirted kahlua
and milk on the kneeling supplicants. I’m not sure that actually possessing the
correct XX chromosomes can ever live up to the ability to lactate kahlua on
I did my best though.I made myself a chiton from a bedsheet. I would just like to get some
crafting brownie points here by saying I went bold and sewed it freestyle.
That’s right people, no pattern and no pins. Just pedal to the floor and keep
your fingers crossed. And then of course, be prepared to wear the monstrosity
that you made... Regrettably, after donning this garment I looked less “awesome
majesty” and more “naptime...by Lenor” so I decided that the Queen of the Sea
should have scales on her face. And that, children, is what social mobility is
all about. You start off as a pollywog, work hard and in nine months, you too
can have a scaly face!
From left to right; the barber, Neptune, myself and the Doctor
King Neptune and myself sitting in state
The pollywogs did wonderfully well. I may have slipped them
a few condoms for use as water balloons (Daily Tides Headline: Queen Thetis in
Shock Double Agent Exposure!!!) and both myself and Neptune were attacked with
squeezy mustard by a pollywog who had concealed the bottles under his top
whilst his offences were being read out. With a cry of “No surrender!” he leapt
forth, whipping the squeezy bottles from under his shirt and firing the
contents at King Neptune and myself. Even now, this tragic and disturbed youth
is being keel hauled (He isn’t really; we ate him. Burp.).
And now, having crossed the equator into the Northern
Hemisphere, the long journey home begins. I’m due to get off the ship in Cape
Verde and then I fly home to Heathrow. My long suffering other half has
promised to meet me with a suitcase full of clothes (my stuff from the ship is
starting to look pretty tired) so that we can have a bit of a jaunt around the
UK visiting our families! This was a little disconcerting. We arranged what he
should pack over the phone. Apparently I have “industrial carpet shoes” which I
hope translates as “your adorable half boots by Irregular Choice in herringbone
fabric”. But nevertheless I shall have different things to wear, which will be
So what happens after that? Well, hopefully next week I’ll
provide you with a post on the joys of Cape Verde, then I have a top secret
post, and then I’m rejoining the ship in Southampton! Yessir, for those who
didn’t know, I was offered a little extension to my trip. The JCR is heading
North for the Arctic and I’ve got my chance to go and see some polar bears. So
keep reading patiently because I’m not going quiet just yet...