Newsletter – Books!

The Snowbow Newsletter - Books!

November 2021

Still we try to win the fight
To make our world all nice and bright.
But all we have to make it better
Is some cheer in this newsletter
 
But what news could we possible bring
To help you smile, laugh and sing?
Well, how about a special book
That’ll have you smiling as you look?
 
A book to take you back to the past
A book you hope will last and last
A book with stories you’ll enjoy
A book for every girl and boy
 
A book unlike any seen before
That’ll leave you laughing on the kitchen floor
A book that will bring lots of joy
Of happiness for every girl and boy

 

At long last I have managed to finish two books the likes of which you most probably have never read before, but early reports back from those who have already manged to get a copy say how different they are and importantly, how much they enjoyed reading them.  As one critic wrote: “Des has his own distinct and unique way of both writing and illustrating, all of which help to give every reader not only something most will want to read over and over again, but also books that are so much more personal to own.” These are limited to a very small print run and will not be available anywhere else in the world other than right here at Snowbow, just for you.

For all of you who have asked for a copy, here at last is the second edition of the first book now published in much larger print, making it so much easier to read… Yes, I’ve been asked many times to write my life story but I’ve always said “No!”, mainly because, as I’m sure is the case with most of us, I never considered my life story to be of sufficient interest to anyone other than the Taxman, the Old Bill, or the Mother-in-Law… A little while ago after a long, deep and thoughtful breath I decided to give it a try so I sat down with pen and paper at the ready, but my mind was a complete blank and not one single word managed to see the light of day.  Then after sitting staring vacantly at a brick wall for days on end I suddenly had a bright idea, almost as if some far and distant biblical voice came to me saying: “Des, don’t bother starting at Chapter One but instead move on and start at Chapter Two.” So that’s what I did and, would you believe it, for the words came rushing to me as if by magic and as they did I saw in my mind my whole life being played out in front of me, just as if I was there for real… So strange, but it worked and so now here is the first part of that story as a second edition, but still without a first chapter! Is this the first book ever to have been written without one?
 
                The first edition sold out in no time and many of you have asked why I had titled it “Jumping For Balloons” Well I did so because it reminded me of how so many of us go through life jumping for all opportunities that might just come our way, almost as if they come to us as if they were balloons, but like balloons you have to try to catch the right ones for although they might seem to be perfect, those opportunities can often be dangerous and as you catch them they just go “Pop!” and send you crashing back down to the ground. Others might seem to lift you to new heights that feel great, only for you to then discover you are now too high to be able to let go and are therefore trapped…But if our luck’s in and we manage to catch the right one then the most wonderful things can happen and, believe me, in my life I caught them all… the good, the bad and the ugly.
 
                How best can I describe this book to you without writing countless volumes to do so? Well a clue is in its sub-title as being “A Bio-Comedy Drama” which covers just about everything from dire disasters to wonderful love – and in my case love and disasters often came to me as one! But the most important thing was not to write just another biography for I wanted to try to share my life and experiences with you and yours, so my story would prompt your own – and what better way to do this than to let my words take you down memory lane, back to an age and time when life was so much better than it is today, an age long before the advent of computers and all that other high-tech stuff that has all but ruined our once so enjoyable world. This high-tech that has all but destroyed all the wonderful freedom we once had in a time when we talked to each other, danced, sang and laughed…when we could call the doctor and hear a voice say: “Hello, can I help you?” instead of some electronic algorithm that can only say over and over again what they’ve they been programmed to say and keep you hanging on the phone for hours…I hate it and would give anything to be able to wave a wand and travel back in time to those days before iPhones and laptops, the days when people all talked to each other. Yes that was an age when freedom of speech was truly free, when we could talk and say – and think – almost anything… an age when free speech, laughter and fun were in abundance.
 
                My book is full of all the things we once enjoyed so much and is written in a way that it will take you back to those Golden Years so you can all be reminded of your own wonderful experiences.   Yes, I will probably shock some of you from time to time as things were so different back then, especially when I tell how as a very young kid in WW2 I wandered all on my own for miles through the wailing of air-raid sirens as thousands of high explosive bombs rained down across our country.  Can you imagine how today’s “Wokes” and  “Snowflakes” would have coped back then when we faced on a daily basis things that were so much more dangerous and harder than anything we ever face today…World wars that lasted years, famines, diseases, very little food, no heating, no electric, no free health service, and never knowing what the next minute would bring and yet no one ever seemed to complain and just got on as normal with a smile and a laugh, all of which was so different from the seemingly endless moans and groans of today when so many people who have only ever experienced the good times, show their gratitude by preaching rubbish and wallowing in their own selfish baths of misery.
 
                I don’t want to go into too much detail for that’s all here in the book, but perhaps it’s summoned up beautifully by one reader who wrote to say how happy they were that they had their copy, and that if they ever felt a little bit down, now all they had to do was just pick up this book, open it to any page and read away and, in no time at all, they would be smiling and laughing once again… That’s why I have written this book… to help to bring happiness to you all.
 
                In its pages I cover so much, starting from those early years of WW2 and then continuing on through my school days, which like the whole of my life involved lots of Jumping For Balloons, although I did manage to catch some really dodgy ones. On my last day at senior school the Headmaster summoned me to his study.  As I stood there waiting for a few good old whacks of his favourite, swishing cane, he looked at me, pursed his lips and then turned and opened a large old leather bound book on his desk. He looked at it and then turned to me. “This is the school’s punishment book, Cox, and when I look through it I can’t help but notice that you have been punished more than any other boy that has ever been through this school!”  I didn’t know whether to smile or what, but as my eyes rested on the cane in his hand, I felt how those school days had only too often been extremely painful, but when you read some of the things I got up to, you will understand why…  This way of life stayed with me all the way through my life…nothing was simple, nothing was easy and as I left school and started work in a furniture factory. Well, what could possibly happen there to be worth writing about? – but you wait to discover what all those seemingly innocent girls did to me on my first day there!   After the furniture factory I went to a Sea Training School where I was sure that I would be happy from day one – but even Charles Dickens would have refused to write about that place which turned out to be a place bleaker than any of his stories as its strict discipline and starvation diet made it harsher than any prison in the land – or the world come to that.  And then on to my early days at sea, to my life as a pop singer, to becoming a desperate travelling salesman before catching a balloon that launched me into a career in films and TV when I even co-starred in what was the world’s funniest TV series at the time – the top rated “Candid Camera” –  and many other programmes and films… Even though I managed to catch a lot of different colourful balloons that filled my life with the most hair-raising ups and downs, most of which often ended in disastrous calamities, I still had a wonderful share of magical moments as well and, all in all, I promise that you will enjoy reading this book and when you get to the end of it I also promise you will feel so much happier than you did when you first picked it up… That’s why I have written this book!

The other book is fictional and a story for all the family to enjoy but, although fictional, it is based on five actual incidents and stories that happened to me for real. Each of the five stories that between them bridge over 200 years are different in so many ways from each other but in the end, regardless of which age they are set in, they strangely all come together as one.  Individually and collectively the stories are packed with adventure and excitement yet, at the same time, are full of deep imagination that will bring into your lives some wonderful characters in a story the like of which you will almost certainly never have ever come across before.

                I originally wrote this story as a screenplay for a feature film several years ago and at the time no fewer than nine film companies – including Disney – expressed an interest in acquiring the screen rights but, despite the fact that I was skint at the time, I decided to reject all the very tempting offers made to me and to try and find the time to write it as a book instead which would allow me to write the whole story and not just a detailed sketch of it as would be the case with a screenplay… Finding the time and the right frame of mind to write it took forever but now at last that time has come and here for you is the finished work – “Christmas Island”… No, it’s not about one of the two real Christmas Islands in our world for this one is not only a fictitious place but also a very beautiful and special one.

                Only a handful of people have managed to get copies so far but, much to my relief, have written to say how much they enjoyed reading it and described it as being a book full of colour, charm, magic, suspense, mystery and the supernatural all woven together in a feast of ups and downs, of tears and joy. As you read through so the main characters will become part of you and you will want them to succeed as they are kind, generous and very giving – so what harm could possibly befall them? But it did and it did so precisely because of their kind-heartedness for early on in the book they are confronted by what was perhaps the world’s greatest evil, an evil with such huge power that wants to destroy all goodness on Earth and replace it with darkness and death for ever more. So, inadvertently, our friendly characters find themselves – both as individuals and collectively – the only ones on Earth who can possibly stand up to and defeat those malignant powers. But, although hopelessly out-numbered by this fearsome power, they find themselves in a fight to try to save our world from eternal darkness.  It looks like an impossible task but this story is full of surprises and time and time again they live to fight another day… As the book draws to a close and the mighty powers of evil bring all their forces together in one massive act of destruction, so the good force tries for the last time to fight against the horrendous mass of evil, knowing that this would be their last chance to somehow defeat those callous wicked powers and save themselves and the rest of the world from the rule of darkness and the interminable greed and lust for hate that would then reign over the Earth forever.

                Throughout the book the odds are heavily on the side of the dark forces of evil and at the end these forces set about the final battle that materialises in one enormous explosion of hatred and evil… Can the good people escape the super powerful forces of evil or will we all be in their dark hold forever?… Well, one thing is certain, the book will hold you in its grip as it takes you through the winding, magical pathways of life, pathways that give us beauty, bravery, fear, great sadness, fun, laughter and clouds of tearful love and emotion, all mixed with endless surprises that will really surprise.  So do read it, because I hope so much that the whole family – from the very oldest to almost baby in the pram and if you are parents or even grandparents – will enjoy it and  that you will be able to read it to your children for many years to come – especially at Christmas time!

                Will it eventually be made into a film? –  well there is a good chance it will so if you get a copy then make sure you hang on to it, because it is one of a very small print-run so it could be very rare..

                The books cost £12.85p (a bargain these days) each plus p&p and you can order them from our website by clicking here……. or you can telephone us at on  00 44 (0) 1273 585391 and we will take your order over the phone… If you would like me to sign your book(s) then I would be delighted to do so…    Or Click here for link to book purchase site.

                Just a quick word about other books planned… I am halfway through the second volume of “Jumping for Balloons” which is a comprehensive look at life of a seafarer (me!) in the heyday of the British Merchant Navy but, as it’s about my experiences it will not be a normal look as so many other maritime books have been written to tell all this… No, for although mine will look at the factual and serious sides of life at sea, it will also try to capture the excitement, freedom and adventures seafarers enjoyed… I’ve titled this one: ”Carry On Sailor” and, just like one of those old “Carry On” films we all loved and enjoyed years ago this book will be packed with fun and laughter, for few people ever had as much fun and laughter as our sailors.  I will of course tell of so many crazy, ridiculous and almost unbelievable things that happened to me… Honestly, if you enjoy a good old laugh, of which there seems to be an acute shortage of in our today’s world, then this book will remind you what “funny” is and have you rolling around the floor, helpless with laughter, regardless of whether you were ever at sea or not… It should be ready just after Christmas, and as it will be another book that you will want to read over and over again, and hopefully give you a permanent supply of laughter that will help to make 2022 a very happy year.

                As I have also created getting on for two thousand cartoon strips (which have been published world-wide) which have taken laughter to the remotest places. True, funny comedy (not as shown on modern day TV) is international, multi-religious and inter- racial, so we will be putting them into book form as well… There’s “The Waterhole”, which here in the UK was published daily in “The Sun”, and a new strip, “Washed Up”,  about two guys who have been shipwrecked on the smallest desert island in the world, yet even having no food or water or any chance of ever escaping, they still manage to keep their sense of humour – which makes it even funnier.    Then there’s a book from my Children’s TV series “The Bubblies”, of which I produced 52 episodes for TV broadcast all over the world including here in the UK where it was on both ITV and on BBC Radio’s  “Children’s Hour”.

                There are many more…”Tugs”, “Poco the Panda”, “Captain Space Bin” – all so different from anything else and which, I am sure, most of you will love.  Actually, I have also been approached by film companies asking about the screen rights to these and, with “Tugs”,  they want to tell the whole story – chapter and verse – of how I initially created it as bedtime stories for my kids and how it all ended up being stolen and with me and the family including kids, getting death threats from people who stole it and then made it into a TV series. They want to show the years of me battling through the High Court to establish my copyright and the hardships we as a family suffered. So that should make a very original, dramatic and interesting film.  

                Once again these books will be published in limited runs to help make them personal and more collectible and, as they were all created for us, if you want them signed I will be only too pleased to do that just for you. Here’s a few samples of the cartoons… 

 

“The Waterhole” and “Washed Up”

 

“The Bubblies”

 

“Poco The Panda”

The strange character wearing just a long, long scarf wrapped around him is someone Poco bumps into whilst lost in the Himalayan mountains on his journey to find fame..  He is the Nowhere Man, because he doesn’t know where he comes from or where he’s going, but after seeing Poco’s amazing skills with a football, decides to become his manager.  Everywhere  they go on their long journey across the world to get to the UK is magical and in the story above the mountain is the Mountain-of-Next-Year’s-Birthday-Cakes, which was part of the wonderful thirty-minute pilot programme we made in Sweden,. The artwork was hand-drawn by some of Sweden’s top cartoonists including Ulf and Ingrid Sandberg and other great artists…The end result was wonderful!      

                I wish there was room to show you more characters I have developed but maybe we can include the artwork for the other creations in the next letter in which I will  tell you about a very special double album I have recorded, all based on me – live on stage – which will, with luck,  keep you laughing all the way through Christmas and well into the New Year.

Best wishes,

Des

Newsletter – Scouts of the World

The Snowbow Newsletter - Scouts of the World

 

November 2021

 

What’s the problem with our world
It never was this way
How well I remember days of old
When we could laugh and play
 
So now let me take you back in time
To those wonderful years
When all we needed for happiness
Was just a couple of beers
 
And maybe just a dance or two
Or a bit of meat and sprouts
Or even the thrills of a special night
Enjoying ourselves at the Scout

So many of us back then joined the Scouts, Guides, Brownies, and when very little, the Beavers and  Cubs, which were such an important part of many of our lives… Well in truth they were a godsend for there were few organisations other than perhaps a youth club where young people could go and associate with others, where to have fun, play sports, be educated in the ways of life and the world we lived in, and perhaps above all to learn to feel the pride associated in being part of something so special. It was as if we were playing a part in life that made us truly worthwhile, a lesson that would help us to negotiate the often complicated pathways of our lives.

The small local halls or even sheds where the various groups held their meetings were almost sacrosanct and when the time came to sew our very first achievement badges onto our uniforms the surge of pride we felt was one of those amazing moments in life, and with each additional badge, so our pride and confidence grew.    I cast my mind back and smile a thank you to all the wonderful mums and dads who used to give so much of their precious time to us rowdy kids, for without them we would have all missed so much… Mind you, it wasn’t all plain and happy sailing for I recall how on my very first evening at Scouts our Scout Master ordered me to put on the  kettle to make tea… Well this being my first scouting assignment made me more than a little nervous but nevertheless I boldly sort of marched off to the little wooden kitchen where I carefully filled up the king sized kettle, plonked it on the old stove and then left it to get up steam ready for making the tea… Yes, I had done it… I wondered if I would get my first proficiency badge for making the tea, especially on my very first day in the Scouts, but sadly that wasn’t to be for I was always a child with a drifting mind, as was the case on this memorable occasion and as I waited for the kettle to boil, so I sat on the steps outside the kitchen door, to rest and dozily day dream in the warmth of the evening sun… Then suddenly the scream of  “Fire, fire, fire! from our Scout Master brought me back into the real world as he came charging into the now flaming kitchen… Oh my god, I’d only been in the Scouts for an hour and somehow I’d managed to set fire to their precious old wooden hut already, and now the whole place was going up in flames…”Everyone out… out, out” Screamed the Scout Master,  “and someone run to the fire station and get a fire engine here quickly!”

 

 

Sadly I wasn’t awarded a proficiency badge for my tea making efforts, in fact I was in a state of innocent bewilderment… What would my old mum say when I got back home for she, wanting so much to be able to be proud of her little boy, would almost certainly ask me how my first time at Scouts went… “Well Mum, and it really wasn’t my fault, but I…I somehow managed to burn the Scout Hut down!”  “You Did What!”  Her face turned from white to red to purple and her eyes stood out in flabbergasted fury, and sadly the Scouts wouldn’t  allow me anywhere near them and me mum made doubly sure I wouldn’t be going anywhere else where I might do something that would launch her fury again,  not that there was anywhere else for me to go to.

I wish I could have played a more active and promising role during my time in the Scouts. So to try and make up for my gross incompetence I decided later in life that I should make amends even if to ease the lasting damage I did to my own badly injured conscience and mind.  I decided to write a screenplay telling the story of Scouting and of the extraordinary tenacity and mind of just one man  Lord Baden Powell, who managed to create the world’s biggest youth movement from just a handful of young boys he assembled to live rough in tents for many days on Brownsea Island in 1907, a small barren island situated in the outer reaches of Poole Harbour in Dorset.  He chose boys from all different backgrounds from the wealthiest to the poorest, and brought them together as one, foraging for food, cooking and doing all the things you need to do to survive in such a primitive camp. He had taken a huge chance and it could easily have all gone so badly wrong and ended in tears but it didn’t, in fact it was a huge success and gave birth to what would become the largest youth movement in the world, The Scouts, a movement that today has over 30 million members worldwide…

 It really is a remarkable story and after much hard work I managed to find the funding and situation that would allow me to have this so important story made into a major 70 minute TV documentary, ensuring that the unique story of Lord Baden Powell and his remarkable achievements will never be forgotten. As by way of my amends to all in Scouting, here now is that 70 min programme, so if you are or were ever involved with Scouting then now is your opportunity to see the whole story.

 

 

I couldn’t do all this on my own because to tell the whole story properly meant having to film all over the world, from the most southerly Scout camp in Australia to the most northerly one in the frozen Arctic…The Far East, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, America plus of course, here in the UK and now this unique story will live forever. If you click on the link here it will take you to the relevant DVD on our website.

This 70 min  programme has been made to the highest Broadcast standards and costs the same as our other DVDs – £18.95 including UK p&p.  To order a copy go to our website at:  www.snowbow.co.uk  and if you want a digital version we can send this to you via WeTransfer.

Finally, the praise for episode (Number 50) in our Great Liners TV series, has been fantastic and really makes our work worthwhile so if you want a great Christmas present then what better than this.  Here is a typical email we’ve  received:

Dear Des,    As a good Southampton boy now living in landlocked north Derbyshire, I just wanted to say many congrats on the 50th Great Liner DVD. I am the proud owner of numbers 1 to 49 in the series. My wife has bought me all of them over the past 13 years for Christmas and birthdays and number 50 is top of my Christmas 2021 wish list.   All the programmes are fascinating and have brightened many a dark winter’s night. I have a particular soft spot for the Union-Castle liners and of course anything to do with the mighty Southampton Dock’s.   I hope there will be many more to come and a sincere thank you for the hours of pleasure they have given me. Best wishes.   John Abbott… 

Thanks John…Oh, before I go…The Scouts managed to claim on their insurance and had a brand new hut built… Do you think they might just award me with a proficiency badge for doing that!   …………Many thanks,   Des.

Newsletter October 2021

The Snowbow Newsletter

October 2021 
 
Soon will the snow and icy wind blow
With nowhere to hide nowhere to go
But do not care about hardships and pain
For happiness awaits you down memory lane.
 

That little verse just sort of tumbled out of what’s left of my brain, as each year takes a little more of it away, but I’ll tell you what… I bet we’ve still got more left than a lot of people of today ever manage to accumulate, so come on, let’s forget all our woes and get back to having fun again…
 
Now the first great news is that Episode 50 in our so successful ‘Great Liners’ DVD series is now produced and ready for you to enjoy. Reaching number fifty is an achievement, believe me, and one you will really enjoy watching for it really is quite special, hence its title; ‘Something special for Everyone’, and boy, has it got that… It lasts for over 70 minutes and it’s non-stop action shows us  actual moving film of those wonderful Isle of Man ferries back in their 1950s heyday, followed by even rarer film taking us right out to sea on a North Sea Trawler in the early 1930s… Even I (Des) was surprised at the hardships those brave men and boys faced aboard those tiny trawlers as they battled the hostile elements every time they set sail but especially in the winter, when this film was shot… It will open the eyes of even the most hardened seafarers amongst you and is something that every man, woman and child in the country should watch, then never again will you see them coming on TV news, complaining that they are having such a hard time!

 

More film that I found equally as amazingly interesting is one that allows us to take you forward in time to the early days of WW2 and to London’s once mighty Royal Docks, where we find the Blue Funnel ship Calchas at her berth, being loaded with precious cargoes for Australia… It not only shows you how, even in the middle of the Blitz they just carried on as normal in the full knowledge that death could fall down upon them from the next German plane.  And the work was so much harder then, with everything being done by hand and loaded manually onto the Calchas and down into its exact positions in her holds, and in that pre computer age every little nut and bolt was recorded and logged using just pen and paper… I wonder what people today would do if suddenly finding themselves faced with a similar situation… They just wouldn’t be able to cope would they, and perhaps suicide wouldn’t be too wide off the mark!

When Calchas is fully loaded we watch her departure and as she sails so her wonderful crew know that although a heavily bombed London Docks was no picnic, the long voyage to Australia could be even more dangerous with the constant danger from U-boats and other German/Japanese war ships as they cross the wide open seas… Sadly, such danger found her and that was the last time we would ever see the Calchas and most of her crew… Being there with her makes her feel part of her and her passing really brings home just how hard and dangerous life was back then, but importantly, how people just got on and dealt with it, so that’s another film that all today’s moaners should see.    

Now to brighten your moods and bring back the smiles to your faces, we take you forward in time to the early 1960s, to join the beautiful Italian liner the Europa, but this time, although I know you will love this rare footage of this really lovely ship, the reason we have used it is to make you laugh!  Yes, to laugh, for those Italians had a unique way of off-loading their cargo and passengers in remote areas, in an unbelievable way  that is almost too funny for words… Forget Laurel and Hardy or Morecambe and Wise, this is unrehearsed and very real, yes, natural comedy at its best and another film today’s world should look at.

Now back to the 1950s and to Orient Line’s beautiful London offices where we book a passage on one of the most beautiful ocean liners ever to sail the seas of the world, Orient Line’s magnificent Orcades.  Once again it is a special film that almost everyone today today’s should watch because it is so wonderful to be able to experience how beautifully simplistic our world was back then, from the moment you enter those happy, helpful Orient Line offices to the moment you leave London on the boat train for Southampton, and that special moment when you see the very ship we are going to sail on, in person… Yes, there are no shopping malls, ice rinks, car racing, onboard surfing or west end style shows, but from first sight we fall in love with her stunning personal design for she really does look wonderful and everything about her is wonderful as well, her décor, crew, way of life, the happiness, the unselfish service and togetherness that sailed with you all the way as we cross the oceans to Australia… It is truly a wonderful experience and if only we had a ship like her today..

To end with, we become a touch serious as the next extremely rare film, sent to us by one of our dear Australian friends, shows us the most moving and thoughtfully solemn moments of that most handsome of ocean liners the Canberra, arriving in Sydney, Australia for the very last time… Built for the UK/Australian service, Sydney was her second home, so to witness the stillness of the early morning as she moves almost hesitantly across the harbour, knowing that she was now near the end of her days and that she would never return there ever again.   \in a way this beautiful film manages to capture the story of how our once great Merchant Nacy and shipping industry was at the same time facing its own unceremonious end.

As with all the film in this series this is the only one showing Canberra’s arrival that day and in such a way, as we escort her all the way to her berth where the crowds wait eagerly to welcome her and then a few days later, the same crowds are joined by the whole of Australia as they bid her farewell as she sets sail for home and the darkness of uncertainty.

It’s just as life for nearly all of us is; just so full of ups and downs as we develop the way to be able to deal with all the many changes that have made us what we are, and at the end of this programme do have a hanky to hand, for watery eyes and even tears of both sadness and happiness might find their way into the memories so many of us have of the wonderful world we all once knew so well.

Go on and treat yourself to some of the best TV you’ll every see and remember, we still have our special offer of three DVDs of your choice for the price of two, which is a massive saving. But making this amazing video series was never designed as a way for us to make money but much more important to ensure that the memories of what was the heyday of the UK and the Golden Age of Ocean Travel, will live forever and never be forgotten. Click here to order your copy of Episode 50 of the ‘Great Liners’ DVD series‘Something Special for Everyone’.

Go to our website at www.snowbow.co.uk or call us on 00 44 (0) 1273 585391 to order or request a free catalogue….

Thank you all for your greatly appreciate help and support, without which we would never have been able to make this so important video series.

Best wishes,

Des.  

Newsletter April 2021

Snowbow's April 2021 Newsletter

Welcome back to our newsletter. There is so much to write about including the fiftieth episode in our unique video series, The Great Liners… We still get asked time and time again how we ever came to produce this unique series.  Well, it all started way back in the early 1990s when, just like Uncle Albert in that great British TV comedy series, Fools and Horses, I would sometimes turn to our kids and say. “Well, when I was at sea, I…” But before I could even get started they would be out the door and gone. Then one day I thought how sad it would be if they never knew what I had done in life and, more importantly, how great our Merchant Navy and shipping industry was back in its heyday, and even more important, what a wonderful time all seafarers and everyone involved with our Merchant Navy had, not to mention the girls, so I won’t, but we did have a fantastic time.

In those days the ships of the then great British Merchant fleet sailed to every far corner of the world and it meant that going to sea as a young man (I was just sixteen) you could sail to places others could only but dream about… When I walked out of my school gates at fifteen years of age and straight into a factory, little could I imagine that in just over a year I would be sitting on a beach in beautiful Tahiti (It was really special back then) and watching a stunning young woman walking towards me, dressed in just a grass skirt and nothing else… Wow, they didn’t have anything like that down at our local old dance hall back home!

Yes it was so exciting and although you spent many days in the middle of vast oceans without sight of land for days and even weeks on end, every day was special, every day was different and every day was exciting.  Transiting the Suez or Panama Canals, steaming into the wonders of New York City, Cape Town, Sydney, Wellington Buenos Aires, Montreal, Rio, Stockholm, Hong Kong, Singapore, Fiji, some even went to Pitcairn Island, whereas the furthest people back home would go in those days was perhaps to spend two weeks in Blackpool or Margate… Yes, going away to sea was something really special, and when I left the sea I went into TV and films, which is how I learnt how to make TV programmes properly, and knowing I could do this helped me to make up my mind to try my best to make at least one video programme about shipping in its wonderful heyday.

Unfortunately, when most of the UK’s shipping companies shut shop in the early 1970s, before closing their doors for the last time, they just emptied their offices of everything of no apparent value or use, including beautiful posters and film, all considered to be of no further use. So my first major problem in making that first programme was trying to find the rare old film needed to make it. 

I knocked on the doors of all the old shipping companies but they just shook their heads and sent me on my way. But not being one to ever give up I extended the search across the world, desperate to find film before it disappeared for good. To cut a long story short, in the end I began to find short cuts of film bits here and there, but then as more and more people became aware of my search and intent, so they sent me clues as to where I might find more such film, sometimes even in far corners of the world and as a result of this seemingly endless search, today we can boast of not only producing forty nine ship programmes, but also to having the biggest maritime film and sound archive in the world, which means that we can all sleep at night in the knowledge that the story of our once great shipping industries and the great history of our Merchant Navy are now not only recorded forever but also on beautiful moving film, so you can just put any of these amazing DVDs on, and as the curator of one of the world’s top maritime museums said when watching them. “It’s just as if you’ve managed to travel back in time and you’re actually there for real, steaming into New York or London, Sydney, Cape Town, Bombay (Mumbai) Hong Kong and practically every notable port in the world…Amazing.

So this now brings us to episode 50, which really marks a very special moment for us.  There are times when I can’t believe we actually started this work let alone continued it all the way to the fiftieth episode and all without any help funding and without any personal financial gain. In fact it’s the opposite because we (Ulla and I)  have had to do other work to enable us to fund this important work. But you know something, we are rewarded and in a very special way because over the years we have received thousands of letters from people all over the world, writing to thank us for giving them back so many wonderful memories of what were for so many, the best years of their lives… Those letters come from heads of industry, political leaders and just the likes of you and I… We even had a lovely letter from the Queen Mum, who wrote to say what wonderful memories these programmes brought back to her, and yes, these letters actually meant so much more to us than say, making films and TV just as a way of making money, for its all worth so much more than that.

Now we have started work on producing Episode Fifty, and whereas we might be tempted to make it as a compilation showing the best of the whole series, we won’t, for we will give you what you really love and that is more very rare film that has never been made public before. When it’s ready, which should be within three  months, you will all once again be able to sit in your favourite chairs, pour a little drink or two and let yourselves sail gently away into a sunset of golden memories in what was the Golden Age of Ocean Travel… No Wokes, no Snowflakes, just a simple but so enjoyable way of living, far, far away from the maddening madness of today’s world.

Scouts of the World

So many of us were involved with the Scouts or Guides and many still are, so I wrote the script and concept for making a full feature documentary about this amazing story that started on the 1st Aug 1907, when Lord Baden-Powell, anxious to find a way of trying to bring peace and understanding to our world, took just twenty boys all from completely different backgrounds, some rich some without a penny, to set up camp on Brownsea Island. To his delight all those boys despite their very different lifestyles, all got on famously, but even Baden-Powell himself wouldn’t have guessed for one moment that this little, seemingly harmless camp would be a very special acorn, an acorn from which would grow the biggest youth movement in the whole world and yet, although there are books, there has never been a proper in depth video programme ever made to tell this amazing story, so as if I hadn’t sufficient work to do as it was, with the ship DVDs and our Maritime Memory cruises, Ulla and I decided the story should be told and so I wrote a screenplay and then armed with that, managed to get support from one of Hollywood’s major film companies. 

The production started to grow as more and more people became involved and because we wanted the film to show how Scouting grew globally, we had to film scouts all over the world in places such as India, Africa, the Far East, Australia, North America, and all over Europe… I even ended up in the coldest Arctic, filming the most remote scout camp in the world, whilst at the same time interviewing one of Scouting’s most enthusiastic supporters, the King of Sweden.

This unique film is now ready to release here in the UK, which we will do just as soon as Coronavirus allows us to do so, which hopefully will be very soon now, and then if you or any of your family were ever involved in Scouting, which must mean nearly all of us, then do please order a copy from us, either by telephone:  00 44 (0) 1273 585391 or from our website, just as you do when ordering one of our ship DVDs.  The film lasts for 70 minutes, and all being well, will also be available via downloads, and will cost just £12. 95p UK incl p&p, plus £2 extra if you happen to be elsewhere in the world.

It feels so good to have been able to make such an important programme, but it was very hard work I can tell you and there were many very funny moments as well, such as when Hollywood called me at four in the morning, yes I did say four o’clock, so they could discuss what to shoot next. I told them that the King of Sweden was a major supporter of the Scouts, but they told me that many Hollywood film companies had tried to do things with the King, but not even Warner Brothers managed to get him so we didn’t stand a chance. “So what we want Des is stuff full of excitement and danger.” They shouted excitedly down the line. “You know, like leaping out of aeroplanes like they did in The Sky Jacker or The Battle of Arnhem.”  Even half a sleep, I wasn’t going to start leaping out of aircraft, but then I made a mistake and told them that I would film the most northerly Scout Camp in the world, which was up by the North Pole. “Yeah, Des, that’s the thinking, and maybe you could get hundreds of them all skiing down the steepest mountains you can find.”  

Well, I did arrange to go to Sweden and to the world’s most northerly Scout Camp, and because they said we would never get the King of Sweden to agree to being filmed, I wanted to show them that just because you’re big and we’re quite small, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get things done, so I called the Swedish Palace’s Press Office and they immediately responded with a loud and clear. “Impossible.” but when I told them the story of the film and that all I wanted to do was to take a young English Boy Scout to Sweden to do the interview, so it would show the world that in Scouting everyone is equal regardless of their fame or background.. 

Suddenly they loved the idea and thankfully, so did the King and a few days later I left for Stockholm together with George, my son, who was a Scout and the one I knew I could rely on to talk confidently to the King. When we arrived in Sweden we were greeted by the King’s personal cameraman, who then drove us deep into the Swedish forests to where a special Boy Scouts Camp had been set up. As we stood there surrounded by so many scouts, suddenly everything started to happen as a fleet of large cars announced the arrival of the King.

He stood chatting to senior Scouts for a while and then he turned and in English asked. “So where is the Scout from England who is going to interview me?” I twinged less George should suddenly not be able to handle the importance of the moment, and then he stepped forward, bowed his head and said. “I am that boy scout your majesty.”  The King was taken aback but then took hold of George and led him down to the side of the lake, where they sat and talked and talked and talked… It was a major success and the King’s personal cameraman said after that he had never seen the King so happy in an interview.  

Then I took George back home and a few weeks later, as winter began its arrival, I flew to northern Sweden to visit the most northerly Scout camp in the world. It was absolutely freezing and my first thought was that perhaps the best thing to do would be to just film these Scouts tying knots and a few other Scouting things, and then hurried back home to warmer climes as quickly as possible, but the Swedish cameraman wasn’t having any of this. “Are you ready for the Arctic then.” Smiled the heavily climatised Swedish cameraman.  (I decided that as it would be so freezingly cold up in the Arctic, it would be wise to try to recruit a local man who understood filming in the freezing cold, but there aren’t too many of them up there at the North Pole, but I did manage to recruit one that operated out of Swedish Television’s small studios in Sweden’s most northerly large town. Kiruna.

I looked at his winter attire with envy as I tried to move my almost frozen jaw. “Yes, I think I’m ready although I have a problem so we won’t be able to do an actual ski scene.”  He looked disappointingly shocked. “Ya, we must… I have brought all my gear and it will look so good.” “I nodded. Yes, but the problem is you see, I’m directing and unfortunately…I can’t ski.!  His big Swedish arm locked itself tightly around my frozen frame. “That’s not a problem.” He smiled… “It’s not a problem… what do you mean, it’s not?”  He lifted his head so he stood even taller than the average Arctic giant. “No, because I will take you down the mountain on my shoulders, which will be good anyway because you can hold the camera and get the shots you want.”  I nearly died… “On your… your shoulders?” “Ya, ya, it’s no problem, I ski all the time and don’t worry, I will go very, very slowly, so there’s no danger.”

I was speechless and even more so when we stood on what seemed to me, to be the second highest mountain in the whole wide world, surrounded by all these nasty little Swedish Scouts, all eager to race like hell all the way down this seemingly endless mountainside.  With that the Swedish giant lifted me up and placed me on his shoulders, which then meant that as well as being in great danger, I was also much higher up than anyone else. He passed me the camera and said all you’ve got to do is press go and then capture the footage you want, and don’t worry, they’re only young kids so they won’t go too fast, but you will need to take your gloves off or else it will be difficult to control the camera.

It was one of those moments in life when you wish you were somewhere else, perhaps home at your mum’s just as she’s poured out the world’s hottest cup of steaming tea. “Right, well just shout go and then all the kids will come past us and we will join them as they ski to the bottom.” “The bottom.” Uttered my bottom lip, the only part of me still moving. “I’ll be quite happy to film them just skiing past and disappearing into the distance.” “No, no, he shouted, just hang on and everything will be fine, so go on, shout to them to start.” So I turned slowly and saw them all hunched over their skis and on their faces, wearing those determined looks, looks that on teenagers can often mean a sign of pending danger.

“Go” I shouted, and under my breath added. “Please help me God.” Then we were off. “Slowly, slowly.” I shouted to the cameraman… “We’ve got all day and also, the slower we go the better you’ll look and we can always speed it up when we edit the film later.”  It was a complete waste of breath as the little bastards came streaking past us at great speed and then, as if he were a wild husky giving chase, my nice, kind cameraman went into his own little world, completely forgetting his promise to go slow but instead deciding he had to catch all those speeding little brats and overtake them, determined to show them who was the fastest and the master of this snowy hell. mountain.

I remember little other than pointing the camera at all of them as they turned and twisted at great speed as we shot down and down the mountain side to somewhere even colder than an Arctic freezer.

“Great, great, great.” Smiled this stupid bloody Swedish cameraman, as he did a quick in-camera playback of some of the shots, “You must be very happy.”  Happy… If being as frozen as an ice-lolly was happiness then I was surely the happiest person in the whole world, but this ice lolly was colder than death itself and I promise, my big nose and once proud jaw were now frozen solid.

The shots were good and the cameraman was well pleased, even if he didn’t quite handle the camera. He looked up at the sky. “There’s enough light for us to do it once more and then it’ll be great.” “Once more.” I looked at this imbecile of a human being and said. “No, no, I think we have all we need, and right now I feel  it would be nice if we bought all these lovely young Scouts a nice hot drink.” He smiled. “Ya, quick, back on my shoulders and then we can all ski to a posh hotel a couple of miles away.”  “No, no, I’ll walk, the exercise will do me the world of good, and so I trudged through the ever colder cold and deepening snow, and after what seemed to be forever when we eventually arrived at this great hotel, it was closed for the winter! 

Perhaps the funniest part of this story is that some stupid editor somewhere went and cut all the skiing sequences out of the final cut, but I still managed to get some great footage up there in the Arctic, so from the tropics to the Arctic, this film covers it all and is well worth watching.

By the way, it was while up there filming that the name of our company, Snowbow, came to me.  It was dark for most of the time but just for a few brief seconds one day whilst filming in the middle of a snow storm, the sun managed somehow to get a few of its rays to shine through and as they did so they caught the falling snow and formed the most beautiful rainbow I had ever seen, its colours made even more prominent and stunning against the bright white background of endless snow, and of course, it couldn’t be a rainbow because it was snowing, so I called it a SNOWBOW! And that’s how our company name came to be.

Our Cruises

Some of you might remember that several years ago we decided to launch our very own cruise line, which came about because there were problems in the cruising business that were causing a lot of cruise lines problems, making it extremely difficult to operate.  Anyway, a wealthy Banker came to me and asked if I could come up with a completely new format for cruising, one that would be much less vulnerable to these problems and be able to operate anywhere in the world at almost any time, so I put what was left of my thinking-cap on (most having been lost in the Arctic) and looked at the problems.

After some thought I managed to come up with a whole new way of running a cruise line, a way in which we would be able to offer millions of specific people unique cruises designed especially for them, and so I worked together with some of the best technical people in the cruise business and the research we did showed that what I had identified was a gap in the market that had a passenger potential of  hundreds of millions of perfect pax, for they were youngish, wealthy, highly mobile and high spending, in other words, the sort of pax cruise lines would give their eyeteeth for. But on top of all this, what really appealed to the banks was how the operating costs for these cruises were so much less than operating traditional cruises… We had next to zero advertising, a great reduction in fuel costs, and were always able to use the itineraries we wanted without having to fight for berths with all the other cruise lines.

In short, what I had somehow managed to come with was a unique way of operating cruises that as well as appealing to many millions of ideal people, would also reduce working costs for the cruise line by a huge percentage… It was a Cruise operators dream.

The banks were prepared to put up all the money but one of the conditions was that I agreed to sign a contract that would tie me to the new company for at least ten years and this wasn’t really what I wanted, for I was already working hard producing our Great Liners programmes and our own Maritime Memory cruises for you, both of which were doing so well and growing in popularity, and we felt strongly that to stop or even  to slow down these two operations just wouldn’t have been right at the time.  They really gave so much happiness to so many of you, so reluctantly Ulla and I decided to put the whole of this new cruise line concept on hold for a few years and see how things went.  Well now, with all the problems Coronavirus has caused, especially with the cruise lines, that time has arrived and although we will continue to produce videos and operate Maritime Memory Cruises for you, as far as we can tell, the cruising world badly needs new and profitable ideas to enable them to operate efficiently if at all ,  so we’ve gone through all the old paper work and yes, the thinking behind it will if anything work even better now than it would have back then.

One way or another we will now move this forward as quickly as we can and see what our options are and how best to make it happen.  It might be that we could do it together with an already existing cruise line that fits the bill and is already geared up to go, which would really help our workload, but if there isn’t such a cruise line then we’ll just go it alone, but one way or another, it will happen.

I wish I could reveal all the relevant information about these unique cruises to you but unfortunately, as I know you will understand, it is all very confidential for the moment at least, but as soon as we’re in a position to do so then we will, so watch this space.

Des' Books

After so many, many years of trying to find precious moments to be able to sit down and write a book that I have so much wanted to write, Coronavirus has at least granted me this and now, complete with illustrations, this wonderful book, titled Christmas Island, is at long last ready to go off to the printer’s.

Don’t be misled by the book’s title because it’s not all about nuclear bombs going off and blowing our world into tiny pieces, although there are times when that might be welcomed, no, it’s a strange book and different from anything you might have read before. and it’s all based on real things that have happened to me in my life, and the book manages to weave all these stories together in such a way that relates them all and in the end they become as one.

It starts in Ireland in the year 1995, then takes you back in time to the year 1846, then forward to 1946 and after having travelled around the world through a myriad of magical encounters with the supernatural and wonderful miracles, it ends back in Ireland in the year 1995…How could all this be possible, well I did say it was different and it really is, and although it has lots of strange, magical supernatural happenings as well as sea stories and laughter that will make you joyful, and moments of emotion that will bring tears of happiness to your eyes and all in all it’s a book for all the family to enjoy and keep forever.

I am also more than halfway through finishing the follow-up to Part One of my autobiography, so the second Jumping For Balloons (Part 2) which I’ve titled ‘Carry On Sailor’ should be with us soon and for those of you that bought my last book, which sold out and will have a second print run, the size of the print will be much bigger than last time, which was a printer’s error and one I was unable to correct.

As the title ‘Carry On Sailor’ might suggest. this is all about my days at sea, which were very far from normal and hence this book will be a one off…  I have read many enjoyable  books written about lives at sea, but unlike them, as well as trying to capture the real experience of just what the life and times were like aboard a ship back in the 1950s/60s, I also wanted to tell the tales of the bizarre and so often hilarious things that just sort of happen whilst away at sea, stories that for a non-seafarer will be at times hard to believe, but as ex-seafarers know only too well, anything can happen at sea and in my case it most certainly did.

Somethings I am writing about will be  so difficult for today’s Wokes and Snowflakes to come to terms with, but life was so hard back then when even as young boys we just got on and dealt with whatever came our way, and if they should read about how hard it was at the Sea Training School I went to, where we slept naked in freezing, unheated huts in midwinter, with just ice cold stone floors, only ice cold water to wash in every morning at 0600 hrs, with just one dirty blanket and no mattress on just wire mesh, well they would find it so tough that I will post a warning for all sensitive people not to read it through fear they would have a breakdown, especially when taking into account our daily diet of fishes heads, tails and live cockroaches. But although it was far harder than being in any UK prison, it made us able to go through life and to face up to anything that happen to come our way.  

When at the age of just sixteen I left the old Vindicatrix Sea Training School, I found myself sailing from Liverpool on December 14th, mainly because our Captain refused to sail on Friday the 13th! Imagine a ship’s captain doing that today! Anyway, the biggest waves I had ever seen up until then were when holidaying in Bournemouth, when on a windy day my old mum looked at the sea and said. “Look at the size of them waves.”  In truth they were probably no more than three feet high, but to me back then, if my old mum said they were big waves then they were big waves, for like most kids, as far as I was concerned my mum knew everything and would have won TV’s Mastermind hands down… Imagine my shock then, when after leaving Liverpool, rounding the bottom of Ireland and heading out into winter’s Atlantic ocean, we sailed straight into the two worst storms I ever encountered in my entire sea-going career!  We were struck by two horrendous hurricanes one after the other and they didn’t bother to take any prisoners, and yes, the waves were slightly bigger than those on Bournemouth beach in fact, according to our Chief Officer, in the middle of about the 5th night at sea,  as if things weren’t already bad enough we were hit by a giant freak wave that he estimated to be at least a hundred feet high… Oh how I remember the noise as that giant wave crashed down onto our boat deck and funnel, tearing and buckling the ship’s heavy metal railings as if they were made of matchsticks.  I clung on to the sides of my bunk to save me being thrown out, but the noise was horrendous as we rose and dived and spun in a whirlpool of devastation as the huge wave tore lifeboats from their holdings… I had never imagined such a storm could have been possible, and as I threw up for about the hundredth time since sailing from Liverpool, I remember thinking… “Perhaps I should have been a Traffic Warden instead!”

Yet even after a night far worse than any spent in hell, I was still dragged out of my little bunkbed at 0600 hrs, given two buckets, one full of soapy water to scrub the decks and toilets with and the other to be sick in, and if that wasn’t bad enough, imagine how I felt when our Chief Officer stopped beside me as I sicked and scrubbed, to tell me how he thought I should say my prayers to God and thank him, for he really thought that when our ship had to face that giant, dark, rogue wave as it loomed up high above us before crashing down with such force that he thought we hadn’t a chance of surviving as our bow was forced down beneath the raging surface of the sea and all looked lost, taking all aboard with it.  But then after what seemed like a lifetime, it slowly began to rise again and we were saved.  All this was just what I wanted to know, and yet with no Mum or anyone for me to turn to, he turned and just strode off, leaving me in my so confused and lost state, to just get on and deal with it… I remember thinking that perhaps my wanting to go away to sea was a huge mistake and that I would have been better off being a Traffic Warden or something similar instead… Thank goodness that Sea School was so tough for without that training I honestly would never have coped.

I tell of how even crossing the equator for the first time, whereas on a ship today everyone has to wear Hi-Viz jackets, hard helmets, safety goggles and anything else that might cause you to be scratched or something equally as trivial whilst being held securely and gently splashed by a lifeguard we were drowned  in buckets of warm, sticky tar and then covered in so many feathers… Can you imagine the news headline.. Young boys on the cargo ship Hinakura were subjected to being drowned in hot buckets of tar and then covered in feathers, but no one cared and we all treated it as fun and just got on with it.

In the book I try to cover every aspect of life at sea back then including shore experiences, which I bet 99 out of every 100 ex-seafarers would never dare to discuss openly, but I like to live dangerously so in ‘Carry On Sailor’ I’m going to do just that, but I promise you, they are very funny stories and I know that if you read it then you’ll have a continuous flow of tears of laughter, and each story will trigger your own memories of those most wonderful days, which were for 99% of us, the best years of our lives.

Des' Records

My Internet Lover by Des Cox

I used to play guitar aboard ship and spent nearly all my time singing all the latest hits as I worked away aboard ship… you know, bits of Pat Boone, Everly Brothers, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Bill Haley, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis,  Gene Vincent, and of course, Elvis. When on the cargo passengers liners that would have much bigger crews, we’d often form our own little rock bands and pretend we were stars, and we even played in dance halls ashore when in ports and I’ll tell you, we were good and the girls loved us, but of course in those days they didn’t bung their knickers at the stage.  Actually, there were quite a lot of crew members who liked to entertain like this, such as Gareth Hunt, who went on to co-star in Upstairs Downstairs and the New Avengers and Tommy Steele who went on to have hit records and many great films.

On one such occasion I went to a dance in Wellington, New Zealand, to see the Platters performing.  They were massive back then and had so many huge hits, so I stood right down the front of the stage and although I thought I was singing to myself, to my amazement, after ending one song they looked down at me and said. “Hey, you’ve got a good voice, come up here and sing with us.”  My little knees began to tremble as they pulled me up on stage, and then with a “One, Two, Three, Four,” we started to sing one of their greatest ever hits,  The Great Pretender. Wow, that was amazing and I’ll tell you what, things like racism weren’t in our world back then, well certainly not aboard ship where we never thought about race, religion, sex gender diversity or anything like that, for as far as we were all concerned, we were all, regardless of whatever you were, just great friends and that’s all that mattered.

I mustn’t get carried away, but it’s true, and in all the time I was at sea, even though we had several hundred crew aboard our ships, I never saw any hostility anywhere equal to the hatred we see in our world today, and I firmly believe that this degree of hatred has come about because of all of todays so called do-gooders do far more harm than any form of goodness… If only they would give it a rest.

Now back to my record, so another time at sea when I was on my second voyage, which was on the little Cunard Cargo ship the Assyria, we’d arrived in Montreal and as I was the Cabin Boy, always scrubbing the decks and washing up all the greasy pots and pans, but as I scrubbed, so I sang and the song I was singing was that big hit of the time, Diana by Paul Anka. When I finished the song I heard the sound of clapping and turned around to see this big Canadian man standing there. “You’ve got a great voice, kid… I’d like you on my radio show tonight.”  It turned out that he was quite famous in Canada at the time and had his own pop radio show, and just happened to be on our ship because he was a ship lover.  Anyway, he wanted me to go on his show and sing Love Me Tender live.  I couldn’t believe it… me, a poor little cabin boy going on a top radio show to sing, so even though it was a Radio Show and no one would actually see me, I put on a clean shirt and jeans, and then went to the studios but as I approached all these dolly young Canadian girls started screaming; I turned to see who they were screaming at and to my horror, they were screaming at me. 

Now most sensible young men of the day would have made the most of this, but me, well although I loved singing and performing, the last thing I ever wanted was so called stardom, so I just turned around and headed back into town, where I stopped at a Coffee bar and listened to the show on the radio… Aren’t I daft and just think of all those dolly little birds!

Anyway, I did sing with a lot of people including Roy Orbison and the Beach Boys, and I had a recording contract in the early 1960s with EMI, but once again, although I really enjoyed singing, I hated all that stardom nonsense that nearly every performer craves for, so I got out of the contract and instead, went behind the camera to learn how to make television programmes and films, so you see, to now come out of my shell and start recording again at over two hundred years old, is perhaps a very strange thing to do.

What prompted me to do this was that I got so angry about all the doom and gloom that was constantly being churned out on the news, 24 hrs a day, e.g. “Good evening, this is the BBC evening news.  Many millions have tired of Coronavirus and many more millions will also die in fact it’s safe to say that no one will be left alive come the morning.”  Yes, a slight exaggeration I suppose, but all of you who lived during WW2 will remember how really bad things were, no food, no heating no electricity no nothing, other than the endless wailing of air-raid sirens, the ever threatening growl of Germans bombers flying overhead and the horror as they dropped a hundred thousand bombs a night on our factories, docks, airfield, cities and towns and yet there was always great optimism and as part of every news broadcast there was always reassuring words that really helped so much to keep us smiling and able to cope during even the hardest times.

So, tired of all this snowflake weakness and so on, I decided to write and record some songs that I thought might just bring a little happiness back into our lives, but I got a little carried away and actually recorded a complete double-album of songs, all original and written by me, and instead of being a Beatle or a Rolling Stone recording in the luxury of say Abbey Road, I was stuck in one of the world’s smallest flats with just a single microphone and a basic computer programme.  I had a nice guy who operated the computer programme because that’s difficult to do when you’re singing, and unbelievably, just as I do if entertaining aboard a cruise ship, I just totally ad-libbed the lot, actually making up the melodies and lyrics to the songs as I sang, which I’ve since been told by those in the know, has never been done before, but I didn’t care because all I had wanted to do was to at least do something that might just bring a little ray of happiness into the lives of everyone, that’s all, and nothing else mattered. 

When I’d finished I just put the double album away, thinking that no one would ever want to listen to my old rubbish, but then one day I thought to myself, no, you can’t just stick that album in a draw and forget it, but I  also knew that all the major record companies would not only consider me over the top age wise and also, even more shocking for me, start by rewriting all the lyrics and taking out any hint of a word that  might just cause some kind of offence to someone, so with no other options open to me, I went and put the first track on the internet and then like most things put on the internet, then forgot all about it, thinking I would never

hear about it ever again. So imagine my shock when about two weeks later I got a call from the States and a voice asked. “That record you released; do you know its in the European Top 100 Charts?” To say the very least, I was shocked, but immediately thought it was someone having a laugh.  “No, no I didn’t.” I replied… The voice on the other end of the phone continued. “Do you know where in those charts it is?” “I’m sorry, no I don’t.”  The voice continued again. “Well, it’s at number One!”  Well whether this was someone having a laugh at my expense or not, you could still have knocked me down with a feather. “Hold on, I’ll send you a copy of those charts by email, and sure enough within a matter of seconds there it was on my computer screen… ‘My Internet Lover’ by Des Cox, Number One.   I’ve heard and witnessed a lot of strange things in my life, but nowt as strange as this.

A few days later I had another call from America, this time to tell me that the record I had released was in the World Top 100 Charts. Again I told them I didn’t know about this, and then they really shocked me by telling me… “Well that’s at number one as well, so you’re number one in the world of Indie music.”  Talk about silence, I don’t think I have ever been quite so quiet.  I later discovered that unlike the national record charts where by the competition is between a few hundred records, the competition in the indie music charts is ridiculous with something like 40 million indie records released every month worldwide… I still can’t believe it but since then I’ve released two more, so three in total and they have all gone into the top ten of those same charts.

It is crazy and now they tell me that those records are being played on 250,000 radio stations around the world, but the one thing that makes me like this is the thought that if those record bring a smile or laugh to just one person every time they’re played then that really is a lot of people I have managed to bring just a little bit of happiness to, which is what I set out to do anyway.

If you would like to really help me even in just a simple way then please go to Google and just put in the search engine:  Des Cox YouTube and the video promos for these records will come up so you can watch and listen to them.  You will also find other tracks that our now American friends have released including folk, ballads and rock ‘n’ roll, all tracks from the same Double Album titled ‘A Little Ray of Happiness’ which the Americans listened to and told me… “Most albums usually have a couple of tracks that are worth listening to, but with your album every track is worthy of being a single release, so let us release them!” And so that’s what they’re doing. So please just put in Des Cox YouTube and help me in trying to bring some laughter and joy to people all over the world.   

The Double album ‘A Little Ray of Sunshine, which will cost just £12. 95 plus £2 pounds P&P will be on sale via our website just as soon as Coronavirus allows us to get it copied.  It will be available from our website www.snowbow.co.uk just as the ship DVDs are, and all being well also on downloads, and if you get a copy and want me to sign it then I would be totally honoured to do so.

The Bubblies

Finally, for this Newsletter at least, which must be amongst the longest ever written, our Children’s TV series, The Bubblies. which is all about some wonderful little characters that are so colourful, loveable and funny and at the end of every episode, which are stories in their own right, they perform a pop song especially for them, and one that tells of the story just featured.

I first started drawing these different characters when I was at sea working as writer in the ship’s bureau and when on long sea crossings, especially those taking us all the way across the vast Pacific or Indian Oceans, without stopping anywhere other than say Pitcairn Island, I noticed how passengers and even our own crew after many days at sea started to get restless, so I decided to try to bring smiles back into their lives and to do so by creating their own daily cartoon and placing copies on notice boards all around the ship.  They were simple but they worked, making people smile and even laugh, and so much happier.

Two of my very original cartoons that hung on the ship’s notice boards and were the very first Bubblies Characters

I won’t attempt to tell you the long, long story of how the Bubblies  ended up becoming a Children’s TV series that was broadcast in over 100 countries around the world, but as with so many things I do, it wasn’t without a lot hard work and pain, pain inflicted by all the nasty cheats that seem to come hand in hand with such a success… As a good friend once said. “Des, you’ll know when you’re successful because you’ll look up and see all the vultures circling above you.” And that’s so true and in this case the vultures, who were people I believed I could trust, stole absolutely everything, my copyright, creations, you name it and they stole it, removing my name and any mention of me from the credits and replaced them with their own.

I was totally gutted and in my autobiography I will tell you the whole story and will happily name and shame all those people responsible for perpetrating this terrible, full bloodied act of selfish plagiarism, and when I do expose them you will be surprised and shocked at who they were.

I had to fight these evil, devious people through the Highest Courts in the land all on my own, which was the most difficult of legal battles, for these people specialise in doing this sort of thing and because going to court, especially the High Court’s costs a fortune in legal fees, 99 out of every 100 creators just can’t afford to take them to court and in the end, just give up and walk away. But I wouldn’t, and no matter what they tried, which included death threats not only to me but my wife and kids as well, yet still I fought them on and on and on and in the end, much to their total horror The High Courts ruled in my favour.

Sadly, when they knew they were going to lose they quickly dispersed all the many millions they had made from both the sales of the Bubblies TV series and from the sale of all the relevant  merchandise e.g. Books, dolls, puzzles, balloons, games, costumes, wallpaper, you name it, and hid it all away in untraceable overseas Bank accounts and then when the Courts came down in my favour, just to make sure I would never ever be in a position to release this Children’s TV series ever again, they destroyed all the relevant film and copies, and everything to do with the series, making my beautiful Children’s series, a series no more.

I was totally destroyed but without the films etc., there was little I could do and so in the end, despite winning, I had to accept that all income I tried to claim had disappeared and the fact that anything to do with The Bubblies had been destroyed, never to be seen ever again. Oh how those nasty little cheats smirked in their repugnant  murkiness, for they were convinced that despite my success in the High Courts, they had won in the end…

Then one day, many, many years later, I got a very unexpected phone call. “Is that Des Cox?”  “Yes.” I replied. “Hmmm, the same Des Cox that created the Children’s TV series The Bubblies?”  “Yes, yes that’s me, but if you want to do something with The Bubblies then I’m afraid I can’t help you.” There was a slight pause and then the voice on the other end of the phone said. “Perhaps you can’t. but there’s a good chance that we can help you.” By then I was very confused. “Help me…Help me how?” “Well, we own one of the biggest film and video storage places in the country and amongst all the hundreds of films and videos we have stored here is a TV series titled…” Once again he paused… and then… “Titled, The Bubblies…”  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “You have the… the Bubblies… but, but…” “Yes, your Children’s TV series The Bubblies, and knowing how you have been treated and how hard you fought to get them back, we are so pleased we managed to keep it all safe.” “Well, well what have you got… is it models or artwork?”  “No, we have all the original negatives and prints in several languages and they’re all in perfect condition and ready to be broadcast again, but next time they will have your copyright notices back on them and they will be all yours once again.

I was more than speechless and I have to admit that all the years of suffering suddenly transformed into tears that found their way down my cheeks… I just couldn’t believe my ears, but it wasn’t a prank call for it turned out to be absolutely true.  Now after all the many years I am now in a position of being able to bring The Bubblies back and to launch them again but this time, instead of getting involved with broadcasters we’re going to put them on the same Des Cox YouTube website, and in several languages including English, French, Dutch and Swedish , so if you do go to that Des Cox YouTube site to see the records, you will also be able to see one of the Bubblies episodes there already and that one, just to make it even more interesting to all you ship lovers, was actually filmed aboard Union-Castle’s ‘Windsor Castle’ whilst on a voyage from Southampton to Cape Town… terrific!

One final little word, which actually involves YouTube again; it was brought to our attention recently that people are showing episodes from our series of The  Great Liners on YouTube totally for free, which really is yet another knife in the gut.  It’s bad enough doing all the work we do without profit, but o be subjected to even more plagiarism is soul destroying, forcing us to once again to fight to protect out copyright from people who having bought copies from us and then, despite our copyright warnings on the sleeves and in the actual programmes, just ignore them and go and stick them on YouTube so the whole world can watch them for free, without a thought for all the work and the huge costs Ulla and I have suffer as a result

Thankfully YouTube itself isn’t to blame because as far as they know in the beginning, the people committing these acts of plagiarism are the legal copyright owners, but almost as soon as we tell them that we are the rightful copyright holders, they started removing the offending episodes and will continue to do the same with all the others once we have given them the evidence they require, but this is all extra and costly work that we really don’t need. Thankfully, 99.9% of our customers are our friends and go out of their way to help us and of course, you are, at least as far as this sort of thing is concerned, as honest as can be, so thank you for all your so greatly treasured support, and if you should know or hear of anyone making copies of our DVDs or putting them on the internet in any form then do let us know and we will take action.

Oh dear, I never intended to write so much but there again, so many of you enjoy a good long read especially now in Lockdown, but I promise to try hard not to write quite so much in our next newsletter.

Thanking you all for your greatly appreciated support and help.

 

Best wishes,

Des and Ulla.

 

Happy New Year

Snowbow New Year Newsletter

Now the main part of this newsletter is a piece we had on the back of that great Maritime magazine, Sea Breezes, which we did specially to wish you all a Very Happy New Year, but as we are now well into the new year it may sound a little dated except we still wish you well, and with all the new vaccines coming on line then things are at last… looking good and we’re sure it will be a great year for us all.

The new piece on the back of Sea Breezes was specially designed to show you the enormous amount of work we have done over many years to bring you the greatest collection of rare maritime film in the world and yes, we have now produced 49 TV video documentaries showing you almost every ship that ever sailed during the 20th century, so if like us you are tired of today’s TV, then get some of these amazing DVDs for we promise, they will give you such wonderful maritime joy… If you love ships, nostalgia or both, then do yourselves a favour and watch these instead, because they are real moving films so you can see and enjoy shipping in all its magnificence … Then we’ll know that you are at last having a great new year…PS…I’ve had my jab!

Just a tiny sample of the thousands of ships and ports featured in  our remarkable, Award Winning series and remember, the content of every DVD is almost 100% rare, walking, talking film.  
If you would like to see the details of all the individual DVDs in this unique series then go to our website at:   www.snowbow.co.uk or just call us for a free brochure on  00 44 (0)1273 585391.

Enjoy our newsletter.

Newsletter December 2020

Snowbow Newsletter December 2020

Xmas card

Our Christmas Greeting in all its wonderment

Welcome again to this Newsletter for the runup to Christmas and the New Year and as always, there’s so much to tell you and I do wish we could just meet up and chat away as good old friends, just as we do when on one of our fabulous  Maritime Memory Cruises.  We were worried that when Fred Olsen Cruise Line sold the dear old Black Watch, that would spell the end of the line for Maritime Memory cruises, but then when those nice people there told us that they were buying two Holland America Liners to replace their two older ships, well, smiles returned to our faces and the reason why was because Holland America Line have been on to us for ages to sail with them, and so confident were they that they invited us on them and that invite extended to the two ships that Fred Olsen Cruise Lines have bought, the Amsterdam and the Rotterdam.  We were worried they would go for something far from our liking, but we can say in all confidence that these two ships were almost built for people like us and now with the Corona Virus Vaccine here at last, we should be able to once again enjoy being back at sea again.
Thanks.
Des.

They’re both just over 60,000 gt, carry approximately 1300 passengers, which isn’t much more than most of the ships we have sailed on in the past, and of course, the QE2 carried many more.   These new ships can also be a bit speedy when need be and quite capable of 25 knots, and the interiors are so beautifully furnished, so we’re confident that they will pass your high demands with flying colours, but for us, perhaps one of the most important things is that Fred Olsen Cruise Lines really want us to sail with them, which means so much to us especially because they take an interest in all of you as part of Maritime Memories and as individuals, and will go out of their way to make sure our unique maritime cruises are even better than ever.


Fred Olsen’s have given us two wonderful Med cruises for 2021, one in May and the other in September 2021 and then in 2022 an around South America, with an extra one for people who can’t sail all the way ‘round but would like to join prior to transiting the Panama Canal and the voyage back to the UK.
Here are the fantastic itineraries for the Med cruises, but the fares and offers shown here could well have changed a little, but fear not, we’ll get the best!

Borealis – Islands of the Mediterranean – cruise W2109

Departs Liverpool 4th May 2021 – 18 nights

Liverpool, Cadiz, Mahon (Menorca), Ajaccio (Corsica), Cagliari (Sardinia), Valetta (Malta), Palma (Mallorca), Cartagena (Spain), Oporto (For Leixoes, Oporto), Liverpool
Lead interior fares from £2,949 pp / ocean-view fares from £3,049 pp
Plus free £100 per person free on board spend credit & free tips.

https://www.fredolsencruises.com/site-search-results?searchType=site-ocean&q=w2109
 
 
Borealis – Amalfi Coast, Tuscany & the Italian Riviera – cruise W2121

Departs Liverpool 2nd September 2021 – 24 nights

Liverpool, Ceuta (Spanish Morocco, Spain), Milazzo (Sicily), Amalfi (Amalfi Coast Italy), Rome (from Civitavecchia, Italy), Sorrento (Amalfi Coast, Italy), Salerno (Campania, Italy), Olbia (Sardinia, Italy), Livorno (Tuscany, Italy), Portofino (Liguria, Italy), Genoa (Liguria, Italy), Toulon (France), Cartagena (Spain), Cadiz (Spain), Liverpool.
Lead interior fares from £3,149 pp / ocean-view rooms from £3,999 pp
Plus £150 per person free on board spend credit, & free tips.

https://www.fredolsencruises.com/site-search-results?searchType=site-ocean&q=w2121
 
 
Borealis – Latin America with The Chilean Fjords Voyage – cruise W2201

Departs Southampton 4th January 2022 – 79 nights

Southampton, Lisbon, Funchal (Madeira), Mindelo (Cape Verde), Salvador (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Ilhabela (Brazil), Montevideo (Uruguay), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Puerto Madryn (Argentina), Ushuaia (Argentina), Punta Arenas (Chile), Puerto Chacabuco (Chile), Robinson Crusoe Island (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Arica (Chile), Paracas (Peru), Callao (Peru), Puerto Limon (Costa Rica), Cartagena de Indias (Colombia), Cozumel (Mexico), Havana (Cuba), Nassau (The Bahamas), Hamilton (Bermuda), Ponda Delgada (Azores), La Coruna(Spain), Southampton
Interior fares from £8,299 pp / ocean-view rooms from £9,599 pp
Plus £300 – £600 per person free on board spend credit, (amount varies depending on room grade booked), plus free tips.

https://www.fredolsencruises.com/site-search-results?searchType=site-ocean&q=w2201
 
And just for any of you who can’t do the whole ‘round voyage’ we’ve arranged for the Borealis to call  in to Peru, so we can join her there for the Panama Canal and the voyage back to Southampton.
 
Borealis – Cultural Cities & Scenic Islands of the Americas – cruise W2204

Departs Callao (Peru) 22nd February 2022 – 30 nights (Fly from London Heathrow, return to Southampton)   

Callao (Peru), Puerto Limon (Costa Rica), Cartagena de Indias (Colombia), Cozumel (Mexico), Havana (Cuba), Nassau (The Bahamas), Hamilton (Bermuda), Ponta Delgada (Azores), La Coruna (Spain), Southampton
Interior fares from £4,299 pp / ocean-view rooms from £4,599 pp
Plus £200 per person free on board spend credit & free tips.

https://www.fredolsencruises.com/site-search-results?searchType=site-ocean&q=w2204
 
Fares may change as fares do, but what we will get is amongst the best deals on offer in the world of cruising and certainly the best value for money so:
 
To book call Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines friendly reservations team on
0800 0355 144 – Quote Maritime Memories group account code GRP0290 to book. (Open 9am – 5pm Mon to Fri). Please ask for late sitting dinner at 8.30pm each evening, to be part of the Maritime Memories group.
 
Please note that bookings for the Maritime Memories group cannot be made on line or through a Travel Agent… Call Des or Ulla at Maritime Memories/Snowbow for more details and help: 00 (0) 1273 585391.

Now let me tell you about the new DVDs, which we really have struggled to make during these difficult Corona days, but we got there in the end…
 
We have now managed to produce a staggering 49 of these Prize Winning productions, but one of the biggest problems we have had in the making of this series, that’s as well as searching and then restoring the rare old film, is actually finding film we haven’t used before, thereby making every episode completely different, and these two new programme are no exception, so here’s a brief glimpse of the treats in store for you.
 
Episode 48 starts with a nice little trip down the Thames in the 1930s, from Windsor to St Katherines Dock, where we take you on a cruise… yes, a cruise, but a cruise like no other for we’re not taking you on a floating entertainment centre with thousands of passengers, but to join Carron’s 1,000gt SS Forth and what a wonderful experience that is, for she really is a real ship… she creaks, she groans, she huffs and puffs and the only entertainment for her handful of passengers is to sit out on the open deck cargo hatches, so now with this rare film we can all sail on her & see for ourselves just what such a  voyage was like… I’ll tell you what, having seen this film I really wish we could have all sailed on her for real.
 
Next we travel to Southampton in the late 1960s to join Shaw Savill’s magnificent Northern Star as she sets sail for Australia and Freemantle with a ship mostly full of immigrants.

It’s the first time we have ever been able to follow a family of immigrants as they sail to a new life so far away, and when after several weeks we arrive in the great port of Freemantle, our rare film allows us to stay there for a while and enjoy so many great maritime experiences of so many famous ocean liners sailing in and out of that famous port in its heyday.
 
This is followed by more rare film that allows us to visit the great port of Rotterdam in the very early 1960s when it was full of ships of every shape and size. Our visit coincides with the news that the port had just overtaken New York in both numbers of ships and cargo handled, something the port celebrates during our visit.
 
Nearly all the WW2 Convoy film we ever see is the same old newsreel footage, but the rare convoy film seen in this episode is unique and never made public before. Film cameras weren’t allowed on convoys, but somehow this film was actually shot by a crew member, showing scenes from both Atlantic and Arctic convoys, so just enjoy this unique wartime footage.
 
To end the programme we stay with WW2 convoys, but this time we join that famous ocean liner the Queen of Bermuda, as with her decks crammed full of men, women and even children, liberated from the unbelievable horrors of Japanese prison camps…Now after the years of starvation and torture, the Queen of Bermuda sets sail from Columbo, to take them back home again… Their greeting in Southampton from all the ships in port makes this film worthwhile on its own, adding so much to this emotional welcome.
 
The rare films used in episode 49 includes: 
 
To start with we show you the exciting start of an early 1950s Cunard White Star film.  This film was thought to have been lost along with all the other official Cunard films, but after years of Ulla and I searching, we found and rescued it from the attic of an old building in Liverpool just before it was all torn down and demolished.
 
Restoration was difficult but after many weeks of work we did it, and the film, which is narrated by that once top BBC radio presenter Alastair Cook, tells the story of the birth of Cunard and as part of that story, shows rare footage of some of its most popular post-war ships. It’s amazing the lengths shipping companies went to, to always show their ships sailing on millpond seas.

But I’m afraid we step in here with even rarer film that perhaps neither Cunard nor Alastair Cook would want you to see, for this film, the likes of which we have never seen before, was actually shot by one of the Queen Elizabeth’s passengers during a horrendous Atlantic storm.  How this brave soul ever managed to stand up straight on the mighty ship’s top deck in such conditions is fantastic, so if you are one of the many Queen Elizabeth or Mary enthusiasts, then this is for you.  Then after the storm we see more film of her, showing the great Queen as never captured on film before.
 
Next we join Union-Castle’s liner the Durban Castle, as she leaves London for Cape Town. This is another 1950s film, and it gives us the rare chance to not only sail aboard that famous ocean liner but also to see many more Union-Castle ships we haven’t seen previously on film, as we also sail all the way around the East African coast. Plus… we also tell the scary, spooky story of the famous murder that took place aboard the Durban-Castle in cabin 126 on B Deck, in 1947. It almost put us off sailing ever again, and one things for sure, we will always make sure our cabin door is chained, bolted and locked… but it’s a great, true murder story!
 
If all that isn’t enough for you, guess what?   We take you on another cruise but not aboard Carron Line’s Forth again, but this time aboard one of the most beautiful maritime creations of them all… Orient Line/P&O’s wonderful Orsova, taking us from Southampton in it’s heyday on an early 1960s cruise to the Caribbean…

There’s rare film and even rarer film, and this is really rare, rare film taking us all the way on a truly magical cruise, in which we not only see and enjoy the Caribbean as it was back in those pre, mass tourist days, but also allows us the unique experience of being able to see and enjoy being aboard such a great ocean liner…
 
Finally, and as a special treat, we show you what could well be the rarest maritime film of all. Shot way back in 1899 at Pembroke Dock, it shows the then Duchess of Cornwall and York, christening the newly launched royal yacht the Victoria and Albert. It lasts for about 2 mins but it is so special and something that so many of you will enjoy. 
 
We are still doing our special offer whereby for every two DVDs you purchase you get a third one of your choice from The Great Liners series, for free, which makes a massive saving, and if you went silly and bought 2,000, then you’d get another 1,000 for free… Imagine that!

So next will be Episode 50 which even though I say so myself, is nothing short of amazing and has taken Ulla and I over 23 years to do.  In the beginning it was only going to be just the one episode and that took two and half years to make… The rare old film alone took 18 months to find, most of which had been stored deep below the streets of old London, in the darkest basement of an old office block, and then forgotten.  Restoration was a major undertaking, but we did it, but all we wanted to do was to make just one such programme that would serve as a ‘moving image record’ of the heyday of shipping to show today’s generation and generations to come how we could once happily boast of having the biggest Merchant Navy and Shipbuilding industries in the world.
 
The response we got from that first programme (The Great Liners of P&O and the Orient Line) from people all over the world was truly amazing and they all asked us to produce more and try to including ships they sailed on including Blue Funnel, Blue Star, Ben Line, Bowater’s, Bristol City Line, British India. Brocklebank, Cunard, Elder Dempster, Anchor Line, Avenue, Bank Line, Bibby Line, Booth Line, Brocklebank, Canadian Pacific, Clan Line, Wm Cory, Ellerman Lines, Federal Steam, Furness Lines, Fyffes, Glen Line, General Steam, Harrison Line, Henderson’s Houlder Bros, Hogarth’s. Hains, Head Line, Lamport & Holt, Manchester Liners, NZSCo, Palm Line, Port Line, Prince Line, Reardon Smith, Royal Mail Lines, Shaw Savill, Saint Line, Silver Line, Sugar Line, Union-Castle, Union S.S. NZ, Wilson Line, Shell, Esso, BP and so many, many more, plus footage of ship building, trials and all the ports in the world when they were crammed full of ships of every shape and size.
 
When I start to look at this list, even though it only gives you some of the shipping companies and their ships, featured, I realise I am only touching the edge of what we have managed to do and in doing so, have created what is now by far, the biggest maritime film and sound archive in the world, so whereas all this rare archive film would have been lost forever and never seen again, at the risk of repeating myself, we have at least managed to save it so that today’s and future generations will be able to view these unique programmes, and that the story of the heyday of shipping will now last forever.
 
Our reward is when the phone rings or an email pings in, telling us how much you have enjoyed watching the DVDs, which is so important to us, otherwise we just couldn’t continue to spend the rest of our lives beavering away without payment… We even had a lovely letter from the Queen Mum, who wrote to express us gratitude for the DVDs and for all the wonderful memories they brought back to her… PS. No, she didn’t stick a fiver in with it!
 
If you want to order DVDs then just go to our website at:   www.snowbow.co.uk and click on DVDs, which will then take you through to where all the current 49 are shown in detail… The price per DVD is £18.95p including UK postage and packing, £2 extra for mainland Europe and £4 extra for elsewhere in the world, and please, if you want them for Christmas, so you’ve got something special to watch, do order before the 18th December.
 
We would also ask you not to lend these DVDs out, because although we know you do it with the best of intentions, it would really help us if you encouraged others to buy their own instead. Unfortunately we have many incidences of people not only lending them out but actually copying and selling them, which we find so difficult to take.  One ex-Blue Funnel man actually had a whole container load copied in the Far East and then sold them for half the price we charge; well, he didn’t have to spend all the many months working to make them did he, so he could easily afford to.  We managed to stop him in the end, but when this happens then we really do seriously consider stopping, but thankfully, most are you are so honest and go out of your way to encourage and help us, so thank you for that, for we really need it. 
What will we do for episode 50?  Well it will be special that’s for sure, but we won’t alter the way we make these programmes because all you really want is to see the ships, and for those golden memories of those wonderful days to come rolling back for you to enjoy.

Now on. and next up is the programme we made titled ‘Scouts of the World’, a 65 min programme that for the very first time, tells the complete story of that fantastic movement and done so in the most informative and yet entertaining way so everyone can enjoy it.

To make it possible we filmed all over the world from top to bottom, from the sweltering heat of the tropics to the freezing cold of the Arctic, from some of Africa’s poorest outback, to scout camps literally all over the world and to the annual scout parade in the magnificence of Windsor Castle, but of course, of all the possible locations to film, perhaps none is more significant and worthy as that of Brownsea Island and that very first Scout Camp in 1907. Rare film allows us to go back in time to that so important moment when the Scouts founder, Robert Baden-Powell himself, took just a handful of enthusiastic boys, carefully ensuring they came from every background including the country’s poorest, to that camp, which was to give birth to the huge multi-million international Scout movement of today, a movement free of politics, religion or any other such differences of influence, a movement of without partiality or personal gain, a movement whose main purpose was to try to bring peace and understand to all

This 65 min programme will be ready soon, so if you are involved with scouting today or have ever had anything to do with it, or just want something to make you feel good about life and today’s world, then this really is the most comprehensive programme ever made about this amazing organisation, so watch this space.

Now we haven’t been in the business of reviewing books, but what with Lockdown and the so gloomy world we currently live in, where newscasters and journalists seem to do everything possible to come up with the most dispiriting, gloomy news, we thought it sensible to recommend a book called; All At Sea in the 1960s, by Philip Braithwaite.    It’s a modest publication but one that fills us full of memories for those once great seafaring days, and it will certainly evoke memories for so many of you.
 
A capsule in time opens up, literally and pictorially, drawing the reader into the reality of how it was for our maritime engineers and sets out to show their daily life with its ups and downs and trials and tribulations. The aspirations of the shipping companies and the new technologies are beginning to make inroads.. The magic of the Orient, the hazards of the seas, the elations and thrill of adventure and the unknown await….
 
Here’s a tiny sample:
 
After the main engines had been reassembled, engine trials were conducted, in the dock, various problems were ironed out and the ship was passed for sea worthiness and the short voyage to Glasgow would be on schedule, after we had had boat drill and inspection..
By 2000hrs we had ‘cast off’ and were ‘full away’ by 2200hrs.. I watched the last glimmer of daylight set over the Irish sea, by 2235hrs, before turning in for the night.

It’s an easy read and the photos taken by Phil are fantastic, so, especially if you happen to be an ex-ship’s engineer or are mechanically minded, then this will make you happy, so get your copy now.
 
The book is available through Amazon and other bookstores and directly from the publishers through Phillip’s website at: http://braithwaite.pageonpage.com    and costs £19. 59p.

And now from books to records… musical records, well almost musical because yes, I do mean recordings by me.  I bet you’re all muttering to yourselves; ‘He must be the oldest bloody pop star in the world, which is almost certainly true, but there’s a lesson here for it just goes to prove that regardless of age, anything is possible if you’re determined enough to do it.   This was something all ex-seafarers were taught during their sea-going careers, and I certainly was, for without my sea training I doubt I would have attempted this, but I did and I have done it.  I do apologise for calling myself a star, which I haven’t done to try and wind you all up, but it is a fact that my first two releases have gone further than anyone ever thought even imaginable and that includes me, for they both went into the top ten in both the European and World Top 100 Charts, and the first release even… wait for it… got to number One in both European and World Top 100 Charts!


I never for one little moment imagined the releases would do anything other than just disappear, never to be heard or seen of ever again, so what a shock I got when they called me from America to tell me that both releases were at the top of those charts.  What I think makes it all so more unbelievable is the fact that, or so the American’s informed me, around 40 million new recordings are released every month worldwide on the net, but we, We, We did it, and I say WE because I genuinely believe that most of you are egging me on. 


Now the Americans have stepped in and released four more singles as well; all tracks from the Double Album I recorded, called ‘A Little Ray of Happiness.’

These are the tracks released by the Americans and promo films (good ones) can be found on YouTube…  so just search click on the link below and it should take you to these recordings or copy and paste in onto Google Search.. 
 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCw-QADNRvINSh9bD62S5grQ 
 

“Now I kid you not..”  As Frankie Howerd would have said, but the reason that finally drove me into doing these recordings was because I was so sick and tired of all the media and other doom mongers and their endless diet of gloom, all designed to try to destroy any attempt by anyone to bring happiness and smiles back into our world. The double album titled ‘A Little Ray of Happiness’ is exactly what it says… a little ray of happiness breaking through the foggy doom and gloom, to reach out to us all and bring back our hopes and smiles.


Actually, what I’ve done on record is much the same as I do if entertaining on stage during our Maritime Memory Cruises… I never rehearse, I just go on stage and armed with one acoustic guitar, just do whatever happens to come into my head, but with a secret mission and intent; to create a happiness for everyone that comes to see me, so when they leave at the end of the show they will all feel so much happier than they did before they first came in.
I have another release due out the week after Christmas, and worryingly, the Americans have got themselves doubly excited about this one, but as long as it spreads happiness around the world, then I will also be happy, and I know that you will also be.   By the way the new record release is a song that I first performed way back in the 2007 financial collapse.  I was entertaining aboard the old Discovery, but although it was a full house, everyone there was so concerned about the financial collapse that they were in no mood to enjoy themselves, so I wondered what I could do to change things.  Then as I stood there, the sound of Elvis Presley singing ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight’ just appeared in my head, and then because of this, I said to the audience. “I’m tired of all the doom and gloom caused by this huge financial collapse, so I’ll tell you what… I’m going to make you laugh whether you like it or not and I’m going to do it by… by singing my own funny version of that great Elvis Presley hit, ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight’ although I must warn you that after this you might be even more upset, because as things stand, I have no words and will be adlibbing the whole thing, but who cares, so, 1,2,3, here goes…’Are you lonesome tonight…  Well, a couple of lines in and the audience started to smile, then goggle and then to laugh, a laughter that just grew and grew the further the song went… yes, it had worked and that once sad audience was laughing again.

 

So with today’s doom and gloom even more soul destroying then back in 2007/8. I decided to record this song and hope I could conjure up funny words again.  I managed to get two great musicians to play and do backing vocals, but as for the main vocal, which is me, once again it was all adlibbed. So it has an Elvis type arrangement but most important of all, it is very funny, well the Americans think so anyway, and are confident that they will get it played on over 250,000 radio stations around the world, plus get the video promo played all over the world as well including in Los Vegas!   So if each play brings about a few smiles and laughs, then at the end of the day, that will amount to one massive laugh!

Fingers crossed!

And now to end with before I go cross-eyed and get writer’s cramp, all the songs on the double album are done just as I am when performing on stage, all adlibbed and go from rock ‘n’ roll to ballads, country rock, folk and of course, lots of both stand-up comedy and comedy songs.  It lasts for just over two hours and my sole aim is to bring you happiness, and should you buy it and then not like it, well you can always do what my old Mum did with my early records… turn them into flower pots!
 
The main vocal track on ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight’ and several of the others, were actually secretly recorded by some of you during performances aboard ship, and thank goodness you did because as they were all adlibbed, I’d forgotten them so I was able to use those recordings, which means that if you listen to them you will hear those very first vocals, which I later added a guitar and piano too and a backing singer… So what you hear is, if you happened to have been on the cruise when I first performed these songs, is as they were when they first came out of my mouth, so the background laughter, which was also taken from those live recordings, could well be recordings of you, and you and you… But don’t come asking for royalties, because any royalties will be used to help Ulla and I pay the bills that will enable us to continue producing more Great Liner DVDs.   

And now to end this newsletter with a smile, here are a couple of my cartoon strips that I hope will make you smile, but you know something, the best and greatest smiles come when we are all together, so hopefully we will all be able to meet up soon… Can’t wait to get our vaccinations!

Merry Christmas and a really happy New Year

Newsletter October 2020

Snowbow/ Maritime Memories September 2020 News Letter

It’s always good when we can tell you that we will shortly complete production on two more DVDs in our Great Liners series. Just finding and restoring the film is difficult enough and can take several years alone, and we try so hard to make sure that the rare film we use hasn’t been made available to the public before, and when satisfied, we spend several months turning this beautiful old film into great video programmes.
 
Of course, it would help if you all had similar ship interests, but alas, those interests vary from the great transatlantic liners right down to coasters and tugs, so in our planning, and with a little luck, we try to make each programme in a way that will make their content of interest to us all.
 
In these new ones, as mentioned on our opening page, you will not only see the magnificent Queen Elizabeth battling through a severe storm, but because the film was shot aboard at the time, you will believe you are there for real.    The programmes will take you on the beautiful Queen of Bermuda as she sails in convoy at the end of WW2, bringing service personnel back home after spending the whole war out in the Far East, many in Japanese prisoner of war camps…. Actually, just their arrival back in Southampton is alone worth watching.

Queen Elizabeth, Queen of Bermuda, Arcadia & Durban Castle

You do a 1960s Med cruise on the majestic Arcadia, which is so different from modern day cruising and for our money, so much more enjoyable.  You join Union-Castle’s Durban-Castle in the 1950s for a voyage from London to Cape town, and then around the coast which gives us a wonderful opportunity to see other Union-Castle liners we haven’t been able to show you previously.

We go to Southampton to join what for me were some of the most beautiful ocean liners ever, those wonderful Orient Liners, this time to board the majestic Oronsay on a Caribbean Cruise.. Oh how wonderful to be able to sail on such a vessel and how wonderful to be able to go back in time to the 1960s Caribbean when everything was so less commercial and busy.
 
We take you back to Southampton when, it was the best place in the world to watch ships, and this time we join the revolutionary designed and very impressive Shaw Savill liner, the magnificent Northern Star as she sets sail for Australia and the Port of Freemantle, with a ship full of tourists and excited immigrants, who were sailing out to start a new life in a new world.  
 
When in Freemantle we give you another rare treat… we stay there and watch all the many great ships coming in and out of the port including Shaw Savill’s Arawa, and Chandris Line’s Australist… It’s not often we get the chance to see so many wonderful ships all in one port.

How about this for being something different… a cruise on one of the Carron Line ships from St Katherine’s Wharf in the heart of London, to Scotland.  To be honest, before we found this rarest of rare film, I knew precious little about Carron Line, but Carron were back then a massive company in Scotland that produced everything from cannonballs to domestic appliances, and to help shift all this produce around the world they had their own ships, ships that when sailing to and from Scotland, carried just a handful of very privileged passengers, and what a way to go to sea!  No ice rinks, rock climbing, shopping malls or even star studded cabaret, no, for all our passengers had was the freedom to sit on the ship’s cargo hatches and just enjoy being free and at sea, as going to sea should be.
 
It’s almost impossible to list everything on these new DVDs, but I will mention another rare moment, which is a visit to the Port of Rotterdam at the start of the 1960s, which again is full of ships of all shapes and sizes, and another great treat to enjoy.
 
One more treat I should mention is very rare film of WW2 Convoys, both Atlantic and Arctic, because again, it’s film never made public before.  As opposed to just looking at well-worn newsreel footage, we’re actually there on the ships… Heaven knows how one of our followers managed to get a cine camera aboard and film this but they did, and we’re so grateful to them for doing so.
 
So, that’s the new DVDs, plus lots more footage there just isn’t the time or room to include in this newsletter, but if you really like your ships or just good old nostalgia, we’re pretty sure you will enjoy these.

The Latest Maritime Memories News

MV Discovery with flags flying as she approaches the Azores

Now what’s happening with our Maritime Memory Cruises, so many of you ask, and quite right to, for when news came out that the Fred Olsen Line had taken the wonderful Black Watch out of service, we were so sad to say the least, for she was a ship so many of us have enjoyed. But not only that, we had invested so much time and money into the four cruises we had chosen and although Corona Virus isn’t the fault of anyone in this part of the world, it was a great loss.
 
In the first instance we were seriously considering stopping our Maritime Memory Cruises altogether until Fred Olsen Line told us the ship that would replace the Black Watch, and be there for us… They could have chosen any ship on the market, but the one they chose really brought a smile to my face, for it’s one I have always liked…Yes, it was Holland America Line’s really nice Rotterdam, now renamed the Borealis.

The 62,849 gross tons Borealis and Holland America Line’s Rotterdam and in the livery of the Fred Olsen Cruise Lines

Now back in my day, when I was a truly young and handsome sailor, (Lift Boy actually!)  I would have considered these ships to have been massive, but in today’s world of giant cruise ships, with less than 1300 passengers they’re really quite small.  She was built in 1997 and has a fair old turn of speed of 25 knots, and we know you will really enjoy sailing on her. 
 
Holland America Line did ask us if Maritime Memories would sail with them and I did look at those ships back then, but we had agreed to use the Discovery and although greatly tempted, especially with what they offered us at the time, we didn’t want to let Discovery down. 
 
I was impressed, with Holland America and their beautiful ships, which really had a great feel about them, both from a seafarer’s point of view and that of a passenger and we always had it in mind to go back to them.  Actually, we became very friendly with their Commodore, who was himself a collector of our DVDs and a great supporter, which reminds me that when we are all finally aboard and on our new cruises, I really have to remember to tell you the story of the time when in Wellington, New Zealand, and their senior pilot, Peter, took me onboard one of their Liners just prior to sailing, on the pretense that I was his new trainee pilot.   You won’t believe what happened when after clearing the quayside and having turned the ship towards the distant harbor heads, he and the Captain handed the responsibility for piloting over to me, and then left me on the bridge in charge as they went and hid so to see what would happen…
 
If this story doesn’t bring tears of laughter to your eyes then I’m afraid little in this world ever will, because it is a maritime tale like no other… Many of you will know that when I left the sea I went in to show business and was a co-star in the top rated TV series Candid Camera, and also heavily involved with the TV comedy series ‘Some Mothers do ave em, well if you put those two series together, it might give you some idea of what happened when I was let loose on that bridge with a very serious German 1st Mate and an equally serious Swedish 2nd… 

Taking on the Pilot role in the character of Frank Spencer, I asked where the wheel was (being used to those big helms on my old ships) and German Chief Officer tried to tell me that they no longer had a ship’s wheel. “I know you haven’t got no wheel, that’s why I’m looking for it.”
 
I looked out of the bridge window and could see rocks in the distance on our portside, and immediately pretended to panic.  In full Frank Spencer mode, got down on my knees as I looked for the wheel. “Those rocks could sink us… we must find the wheel.”   Then  asked where the brakes were, because if we haven’t got a wheel then we would have to rely on our brakes”!
 
As I looked beneath the bridge controls for the brakes, the German and Swede who hadn’t a clue this was all supposed to be a joke, started to get worried.  “We don’t have no wheel or brakes.” they cried.  I took on a more serious stance.  “Had we known this before sailing then we wouldn’t have let you sail without a wheel and brakes, why we could be up on those rocks and then what would happen.”
 
Meanwhile, the Captain and the real Pilot, hidden away around the corner where unseen, they could watch everything, were crying with laughter as the poor German and Swede just didn’t know how to handle this bizarre situation.  I can’t write everything that happened here as it would take a book to do so, although it will be part of my next book (Carry on Sailor) which is due out in a couple of months.  But it ended, and I know this will be hard for any of you to believe but it’s true, with me telling the German and Swede that I wanted to turn right, and that I wanted the German Chief Officer to stand out on the wing of the bridge with his arm out, to warn any traffic trying to overtake us that we were about to make a right turn… And so it went on, getting funnier and funnier, and even at the end, when as we started to approach the harbour heads, the Captain and real Pilot took over, still neither of the two senior officers knew that I wasn’t for real and whispered to the Captain that the trainee was crazy!
 
As we went to leave the bridge I turned to the two officers and said, with a smile. Oh by the way, your ship has been renamed.”  The German looked at me. “Renamed?”  “Yes, and now its called the… MV Candid Camera.”  But still the penny didn’t drop.
 
If you are on one of out future Maritime Memory cruises and would like to hear the full story, then remind me and I will tell it all. which on its own will make your whole cruise worthwhile. 
 
I’ve just had a call already from someone seriously doubting that I could ever have taken over as the Pilot of such an important ship, and I haven’t even finished writing it yet… There’s always someone isn’t there. so just to shut them up here’s a few photos taken on the day… Remember.. the camera can’t lie! 

Des with Peter the Pilot / Des as Pilot / Captain, Pilot, and me after the comedy fiasco
What a story and it could only happen at sea!

Anyway, a little more about the new ship, which really is so pleasantly pleasing… It’s luxurious in an unpretentious and comforting way, and without the hustle and bustle or the queues and crowds of most of the modern cruise ships, so for us, all will be so enjoyable, just as long as they don’t ask me to be their Pilot again!

Maritime Memories Future Group Cruises 2021, & 2022 With Fred Olsen Cruise Lines

New Ship Borealis – Islands of the Mediterranean – cruise S2109

Departs Liverpool 4th May 2021 – 18 nights
Liverpool, Cadiz, Mahon (Menorca), Ajaccio (Corsica), Cagliari (Sardinia), scenic cruising past Stromboli, Valetta (Malta), Palma (Mallorca), Cartagena (Spain), Oporto (For Leixoes, Oporto), Liverpool.

Lead interior fares from £2899 pp / Ocean-view fares from £3099 pp 

Free all inclusive drinks & tips – book by 31st October 2020 

https://www.fredolsencruises.com/site-search-results?searchType=site-ocean&q=s2109

New Ship – Borealis – Amalfi Coast, Tuscany & the Italian Riviera – cruise S2121

Departs Liverpool 2nd September 2021 – 24 nights
Liverpool, Ceuta (Spanish Morocco, Spain), scenic cruising past Stromboli, Milazzo (Sicily), Amalfi (Amalfi Coast Italy), Rome (from Civitavecchia, Italy), Sorrento (Amalfi Coast, Italy), Salerno (Campania, Italy), Olbia (Sardinia, Italy), Livorno (Tuscany, Italy), Portofino (Liguria, Italy), Genoa (Liguria, Italy), Toulon (France), Cartagena (Spain), Cadiz (Spain), Liverpool.

Lead interior group fares from £3609 pp / Ocean-view rooms from £3809 pp

https://www.fredolsencruises.com/site-search-results?searchType=site-ocean&q=s2121

Borealis

New Ship – Bolette – Cultural Cities & Scenic Islands of the Americas – fly/cruise cruise T2204

Departs Callao (Peru) 22nd February 2022 – 30 nights
(Fly from London Heathrow, return to Southampton), Callao (Peru), daytime transit of the fascinating Panama Canal, Puerto Limon (Costa Rica), Cartagena de Indias (Colombia), Belize City (Belize), Costa Maya (Mexico), Cozumel (Mexico), Nassau (Bahamas), Kings Wharf (Bermuda), Ponta Delgada (Azores), La Coruna (Spain), Southampton.

Interior group fares fly/cruise fares from £3919 pp
Ocean-view fly/cruise group fares from £4509 pp

https://www.fredolsencruises.com/cruise/cultural-cities-and-scenic-islands-of-the-americas-t2204

Flag ship 'Bolette'

New Ship Borealis – Latin America with The Chilean Fjords Voyage – cruise T2201

Departs Southampton 4th January 2022 – 79 nights
Southampton, Lisbon, Funchal (Madeira), Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Spain), Mindelo (Cape Verde), Salvador (Brazil), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Ilhabela (Brazil), Montevideo (Uruguay), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Puerto Madryn (Argentina), Ushuaia (Argentina), Punta Arenas (Chile), Puerto Chacabuco (Chile), Robinson Crusoe Island (Chile), Valparaiso (Chile), Arica (Chile), Paracas (Peru), Callao (Peru), daytime transit of the fascinating Panama Canal, Puerto Limon (Costa Rica), Cartagena de Indias (Colombia), Belize City (Belize), Costa Maya (Mexico), Cozumel (Mexico), Nassau (The Bahamas), Kings Wharf (Bermuda), Ponda Delgada (Azores), La Coruna(Spain), Southampton.

Interior fares from £8299 pp / Ocean-view rooms from £9199 pp

https://www.fredolsencruises.com/site-search-results?searchType=site-ocean&q=t2201

To book call Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines friendly reservations team on
0800 0355 144 – Quote Maritime Memories group account code GRP0290 to book, followed by the cruise code (Open 8.30am – 6pm Mon to Fri & 9am – 5pm Sat).

Please ask about additional Oceans Members Loyalty Club Discounts.

Please note that bookings for the Maritime Memories group cannot be made on line.

Please ask for late sitting dinner at 8.30pm each evening, to be part of the Maritime Memories group dining arrangements.

Now this is just a taster for the cruises we have arranged for you all the enjoy, and when we say enjoy, we mean it, with wonderful itineraries, a great ship, tremendous food and service and above all, lots  of fun and laughter with the best people in the world…and we mean…YOU!
 
If you think you would like to join us and would like more details then just call Ulla or Des on  00 44 1273 585391, or email des@snowbow.co.uk and we can get you started on an experience and holiday of a lifetime… So shake off all the endless doom and gloom and let’s all do something very, very special.
 
Finally, if you are still awake and with us, here is the latest news re Des’s record success, and we are really talking Success here.
 
What he’s managed to achieve is something that tells all of us that despite age, problems, and everything, we can still do so many things if we really want to, as he did when deciding to release records of some of his performances when aboard Maritime Memory Cruises.
 
His thinking and actions were prompted by all the doom and gloom we’re bombarded with daily and whereas he brought laughter to so many when doing a show, he had this urge to do something that would perhaps bring a little ray of happiness to people all over the world and see if we couldn’t somehow help to make this world a better place for us all to enjoy.
 
Then he remembered how so many people enjoyed his performances so much so that they had asked him to make copies of them, and so in what can only be best described as an almost unrivaled fit of madness, he decided that he would release one of his songs onto the internet and just see what happened.

My Internet Lover by Des Cox
The first release was titled 'My Internet Lover'

In all honesty he didn’t expect anything to happen, but at least he had released something, so imagine his surprise when a few weeks later he received a call from the States to tell him that his little old record had Got to number one in the European Top 100… and called again a few days after that to say it was also in the World Top 100 at …Number One!
 
The Americans then urged him to release another track and thankfully, he had somehow managed to record a double album of things taken from his stage performances including all types of songs including Rock, Ballads, Folk, Country, and lots of comedy recordings including stand-up jokes, impersonations, and all.  This double album lasted for over two hours so he had a lot of material to choose from, but how could he possibly repeat the success for the first release.
 
Then he remembered how, many moons ago , (2003 to be exact) he was invited to be a lecturer aboard the wonderful QE2 when she was the world’s premier ocean liner.  She was sailing from New York on her world cruise, but Des wasn’t able to join her until Hawaii a few weeks later.

The QE2 in her glorious heyday

When he boarded her, he did what lecturers do and went to see the Cruise Director to see what lecture spot he had… “Ah, well the problem is Des, all the other lecturers aboard have all grabbed the best spots and the only one left if the graveyard I’m afraid.”  “The Graveyard?”  He asked.  “Yes, 0900hrs I’m afraid, and you’ll only get a handful of people turning up for a lecture then”
 
“Oh that’s alright.”  Smiled Des. “If they don’t want to come, I don’t mind, but at least I’m there if they want me.”
 
Next morning at 0900 hrs Des went to the lecturer theatre and there were something like fifty people sitting there, which made him feel better, and so he started his lecture.  But, after about ten minutes he stopped, look at his audience and asked them. “Aren’t you bored with going to so many lectures?  Because here you are on this most wonderful ship in the world, and you’re supposed to be enjoying yourselves and having fun, so please wait there a moment and I’ll be back.”
 
With that he shot off to his cabin and returned a few moments later carrying a guitar. He looked at the audience. “I know, you’ve probably never seen a lecturer before with a guitar, but anyway, what I’m going to do is sing you a song, but not just any old song, no, I’m foolishly going to try and make up a song all about you.  I have no idea what will come out and if I do anything annoying then please remember I am ad-libbing so anything could happen… So here goes…”
 
With that, he started to ad-lib and sing: 
 

I wish it was my day again,
I wish it was my day again,
With bright eyes and smiles
Instead of dandruff and piles
I wish it was my day again…

 
Right from the very start his audience started to giggle and as he sang more so their giggles turned to laughter A laughter that grew and grew and when he had finished, they had tears of laughter in their eyes and stood up to ask for more… And so he continued to the end of the lecture spot and they loved it.
 
Overnight Des felt it wasn’t right not to do the lectures he had been booked to deliver, so next morning he returned to the lecture theatre at 0900 hoping that his fifty passengers would be there again, but to his amazement, there was a queue of passengers all through the ship, all trying to get in to have a laugh.
 
His fifty yesterday’s people, who actually included some well-known Hollywood celebrities, were already sitting there in the front and as Des took the stand, so they called out. “Go on Des, sing ‘em that song about the dandruff and piles!  And so that’s what he did and for the rest of that voyage his lecture spot, even though at 0900 hrs, became the ship’s comedy spot and people loved it.  And that first song he did he titled ‘In My Day’ and was the song that, despite still having the original lead vocal as recorded aboard the QE2, he decided to add a few finishing touches and to put it out as his second release.
 
Again he had no idea if it would ever see the light of day, for Americans who are well versed in music and the internet told him that globally there are literally millions of new recordings released on the internet every week, and the competition is horrendous. So it went on the net and amazingly it also took off and climbed to the top of the charts.
 
It seemed as though there was and still is a dire shortage of comedy and laughter in today’s world, and what Des really liked was the fact that the laughter he created wasn’t just on a small stage but actually reached out all over the world, with some 250,000 stations playing it, bringing ‘A Little Ray of Happiness’ to our world.

The second release titled 'In My Day'

And for all doubters, here’s a copy of part of those European and World Charts.

Charts

Now these people in America who specialise in promoting music on the internet and understand all those technical things that are so far above my head, asked to put out five tracks from this double album this time around.  “Are you sure?”  I asked.  “Yep.. we’ve listened carefully to the whole album and we believe that whereas on most albums there’s only couple of decent tracks and the rest just throwaways, every track on that album is both different and worthy of being a single…  So in My Day, together with four other songs which many of you who have been to see me on stage will probably know, are now on release and yes, I did ad-lib  them all as I did the whole double album.

So whatever your taste is, be that rock ‘n’ roll, folk, country-rock, ballads or comedy, there’s something here for all of you to enjoy, and if you’re are coming with us on the new cruises then all being well I’ll be able to take to the stage and do my thing, including stand-up and songs.
The double album itself will be for sale in the not too distant future, although many people have already ordered CDs and DVDs.  DVDs have the actual promo films on them and CDs, just the audio. So if you just can’t wait for your copy then do give us a call and we’ll see what we can do.
 
Also, if you want to lend a hand in helping to promote these records to help spread A Little Ray of Happiness around the world, then do forward this newsletter to all your friends and associates, which would really help us, and boy, do we need help!

TV Documentary

Scouts of the World DVD Sleeve

This unique documentary tells for the first time on film the amazing story of the Boy Scouts Movement, a movement started by Lord Baden-Powell way back in 1907 after he took just a handful of boys from all different backgrounds on an experimental camping adventure to Brownsea Island in England.  Despite the boys being all ages and from those very different backgrounds, the camp was a huge success and in January 1908 the Boy Scouts Movement began. 
From that first small camp so many years ago has grown the biggest youth movement in the world, a movement that today is truly international and has over 50 million members and continues to grow bigger by the day.  In order to be able to tell this remarkable story properly we also needed to go global so we would film Scouts all over the world including Australia, the Far East, across Africa, Europe, North America and even to Scandinavia and the Arctic Circle.
As well as all the live footage shot throughout the world we also gained exclusive access to rare archive film of those early days of Lord Baden-Powell himself and even that very first camp on Brownsea Island. The end result is a video programme that is both informative and extremely entertaining to watch.  This programme is unique and there’ll never be another film like it, but the story is so important and had to be told so that you and generations to come will be able to see just how one man managed to create a movement that has done such good for so many, all over the world, and we are proud to have been able to play our part in doing so.
The programme will be available to download and on DVD well in time for this coming Christmas, so for anyone who is a Scout or involved with it in any way or would just like to enjoy something really special to watch, then this is a must for you.
Further information on price and how to order will be given in our next newsletter, which will follow this one in a couple of weeks’ time.

Best wishes from all of us at

Snowbow.

Newsletter July 2020

Now us here at Snowbow/Maritime Memories do so much for you lot and guess what?   We have just been offered the greatest cruise deal ever offered for our next Fred Olsen Cruise.  Most of you won’t believe it, but it’s true, and we are the only people in the world to get such a deal, a deal that will save you fortunes; and don’t worry about not getting a cabin with a balcony, because although it will hardly cost you a penny, this deal guarantees every one of you will get 1st class accommodation with all round Sea Views, and if you don’t believe me, here below is an artist impression of exactly what it will be like, so come on, book now, now, now!

Okay, so maybe there’s a few things that perhaps might not be entirely to your liking, but that’s the same whatever cruise you go on, and, yes we do have to row hard to tow the Black Watch all around South America and the Med, but we’ll have a terrific time and think of the golden tan we’ll all get, and we’ll all enjoy having a singsong every evening with popular songs like… Yo heave ho,  Harry Belafonte’s Day-O, Rod Stewarts Sailing… It’s going to be a cruise and holiday of a lifetime and one we will never forget. Mind you, it might help if you packed a cushion and a bucket! But whatever you do, DON’T tell the other passengers how little we’ve paid or else they’ll go Bananas!  Oh that’s another song we can all enjoy singing, The Banana Boat Song… We’re so lucky and personally, we can’t wait to cast off.
No, no, it was a joke, a joke… Oh no, the phones are ringing already, hold on a moment…
 
Sorry about that, but I have to answer these calls, although I don’t know why because its nearly always someone dying to tear me apart, but that call was from this dear old couple up in Grimsby who not only want to book, but wanted to know if they could bring their own oars with ‘em!   You can’t win can you, so now we will have to go back to Fred Olsen Cruise Lines and ask if we could all go in a rowing boat for real, so we can tow their beautiful ship!
 
One of the reasons we (Ulla and I, Des) do what we do is because we really do enjoy being with you and because of this, we always go that extra mile, but alas, there won’t be a rowing boat because it really was just a joke… Thank goodness I didn’t include a German U-boat in the drawing, otherwise they’d all be ringing to book for that as well, and asking for outside cabins!
 
Oh dear, news just coming in that our cruise for October 2020 has had to be cancelled, which is not what we wanted to hear, although with Corona virus still very much with us, it was always very likely that this could happen… Yes, we’re gutted for we were so looking forward to being with you all again, but being ex-seafarers, we will keep going and if anything, work even harder to ensure that our 2021 and 2022 cruises are even better…

Truth is, cruises will start again soon and so our cruises will almost certainly go ahead as planned and Fred Olsen’s have worked so hard to give us really good itineraries, but the problem when you have a beautiful ship with great itineraries is that other people want to go on them as well, so there is a danger that if we don’t book early enough, then in the post corona rush we could lose out, and that would be so sad, especially after all the effort we have put into this, but it’s worth it, for not only would we be all together again, we would also be so welcomed by those nice people at Fred Olsen’s, which means so much to us and makes such a huge difference; So here we are, with the most perfect ship and the perfect people, so what more could we want! 

Our magnificent ship, the Black Watch

Now, as proof we won’t all be crammed in that rowing boat, here are some more images of the ship itself, just so you now know that this is one of the most beautiful ships currently as sea, with great public rooms and other accommodation including dining rooms, top food, swimming pools and wide open decks, where with about 800 passengers in total, we can enjoy so much wonderful time including those magical starry nights, so remember, this is a really nice and special ship and not a +*!# ~ y rowing boat! So please take note, and that includes the couple from Grimsby!

The beautiful Black Watch, and we promise, you will love it

Next year we have two great cruises taking us to some of the very best parts of the Med, which are often in those small out of the way places where the larger cruise ships fear to tread. This guarantees that we not only go to great places in style, but also without those endless queues of people, and also, as the first one of these sets sail on the 4th May 2021, it will also ensure that we get the best of summer sunshine… Oh, please take me there now… Fares start at £2,949 pp so do remember that there is now a rush to book, and fares can change depending on situations.. 
 
We sail to and from Liverpool again, which will remind me of my own days at sea, because I sailed from Liverpool on Friday the 13th December, and I’ve paid for it ever since!  Thank goodness we’re not sailing on that cargo ship as I did back then, which for my very first voyage as a 16 year old, took me out into the wilds of an Atlantic winter and straight into the arms of two horrendous storms, the like of which you would normally only ever experience by going to the cinema and watching a horror movie!… Did I ever tell you that story? Well, it all started when I … Oh well, perhaps you’ll give me the chance to do so when we’re on these cruises… It will make you laugh, although I can assure you, I wasn’t laughing at the time… “Pass the bucket please!”
 
Then on the 2nd September 2021 we leave Liverpool again for a 24 night cruise, with another of the best itineraries going, taking us to the Amalfi Coast and the Tuscany & Italian Riviera and it can’t get much better than that can it, also, not only can we get a great sun tan on the May the 4th one, we can top it up on this one, just to help us to face our own then coming winter. Fares start at £3,419, so get out in that back garden (if you’re lucky enough to have one) and dig that old safe up, you know, the one in which you’ve hidden away all your gold and diamonds, and remember, you can’t take it with you, so come with us instead!
 
Then, if all this isn’t enough, we have a voyage that most people would almost die for, and that departs from Southampton (Going upmarket here, which is an early indication of this being a very special cruise!) for a voyage all around South America.  This is  a 79 night cruise and its packed with the most wonderful ports of call, each one being a place that should be a must for us to try a visit in our lifetimes including the Panama Canal… Imagine, all that sunshine, colour, excitement, food and not to mention the drink, so I won’t, but one thing there will be plenty of and that is adventure and fun, and who knows… if you are in the running then perhaps even romance as well.   Fares on this one start at £8,299 pp and having done it once, I can tell you that its worth every penny… As the old song goes…’Memories are made of this’
 
For those like Ulla and I who still have to toil for a living and find getting away for so long is extremely difficult, then we covered that for you as well, because those nice people at Fred Olsen’s have arranged for their beautiful Black Watch to stop in Peru, so for all of you who like us would just love the opportunity to transit the PANAMA CANAL, we can now do so, for this will only be a 30 night cruise, leaving the UK on the 22nd Feb.
 
How exciting is that… A daylight transit of the Canal and then sailing all the way back to Southampton via so many great ports of call as we enjoy the happiness of sailing through the sunny, warm blue seas of the Caribbean and its beautiful islands, as well as all the other ports as we eventually sail across the Atlantic, giving us what so many of our crowd actually enjoy most of all… Days At Sea, days when our people can all get together for afternoon talks, films and fun, (I might even be allowed to tell you about sailing from Liverpool on Friday the 13th and the time that I…  Was that a no thanks, I heard!  Oh well, we have lots of other things including special parties in the evening and enjoyable, relaxing evenings together in the dining room, experiencing some of the best food at sea…. I wonder if it’s better than ‘wat we ‘ad at Sea Training Schools!
 
Fares for this one start at just £4,210 pp, which would be worth just to sail through the magnificent Panama Canal, and if you haven’t been through it before and would like a preview, then just get DVD episode 45 from our Great Liners video series, which will not only take you through the Canal on a previous Maritime Memories voyage we did, it will  also show you how it was built by digging away through thick, disease infected jungle for years and years, and when finished, rare film of some of the very first ships to visit and transit it, including one of Cunard’s most famous ocean liners, the magnificent Mauretania. 

Mauretania on early visit to Panama-----------Gatun Locks----------- The handsome Empress of Britain

If you have never done it then transiting the Panama Canal is a must, and an experience you will never forget.  I did it first when I was sixteen, and oh boy, the situations I got in… I even saved up food scraps to feed the mules that I was told pulled us through the locks… then on our arrival, when I hurried out on deck to feed them, that’s when I discovered that those mules were slightly different to the ones back home, for these were iron ones and instead of legs they had wheel and engines, so they could pull us through the locks… Silly me!

If you would like further information or a brochure then just call Ulla or Des on 00 44 (0)1273 585391 or if you would like to book, and do, do, do, then just call those very friendly Fred Olsen Cruise Lines people direct on 0800 9355 122 or on 01473 742424 and quote Maritime Memories and our group account Code, GRP0290.

Transiting the Panama Canal really is an amazing thing to do, and I must have done it over twenty times and never tired of it, and I can’t wait to tell you of some of the hilarious stories that resulted from those Golden Panama Days. and if you won’t let me tell you them whilst on one of our cruises, then I’ll do it now, so there!..    ‘Hmmm hmm… ‘I took the wife sightseeing down the backstreets of Panama City, which have hardly changed since my day, and I wanted to show her what it was like back then…  Then we actually came to an old bar where I had the odd tipple in when staying there overnight, and I told her that back then it was full of girls… She smiled and replied. “Well they were ugly back then so heaven knows what they look like now!    She knows how to land a punch does that one, and so sank another of my slightly embroidered memories. Oh well, right now I’m all but worn out, but still, because we miss you all so much, here is a little update on what else we’re doing here at Snowbow and Maritime Memories.
 
The song I recorded and released titled ‘My Internet Lover’ by Des Cox, is now enjoying its sixth week in the International Charts, which is amazing, and now I’m under pressure to release both a follow-up single, and my Double Album, a recorded work that lasts just over two hours and is based on actual live shows I have done both ashore and onboard our Maritime Memory Cruises, so if you want a couple of hours of fun, then it should be out in the not too distant future so do get a copy and here is the sleeve, with artwork done by that great Swedish artist, Ulf Sandberg.

What would help me is if, provided that you want to hear it of course and have a better understanding of the workings of the internet than I do, is to download a copy from CD Baby, Spotify, Apple, Amazon and iTunes, but if all that is too complicated then just open your computer and put into Google or whoever your server is:   Des Cox   My Internet Lover  and then it should come up, so I can perform it in your own home.  The only other alternative if you want to hear and see it performed is for me to sing it to you when we’re all on the ship together.  
 
The record has done so unbelievably well and actually getting to the prized number one positions in both the European top 100 Charts and the World top 100 Charts, which is amazing!   The latest news is that in a call from America the other day, they told me that they have listened to all the songs on the double album and believe them to be so good that they would now like to release every one of them as single records, which will certainly mean having to cope with a lot more pressure, so you can see, I do need all the help I can get to stay in those charts for as long as possible, so even if you don’t want to hear my old sea stories during our onboard get-togethers, you could at least just help by giving me the kiss of life.  I nearly said ‘Women Only’ then, but in today’s world you’re not allowed to say things like that are you, so, if you are a male and would like to give me the kiss of life, then would you mind awfully if you had a close shave first and a dab of the old aftershave after! 
  
Talking of romance, won’t it be fantastic to experience the joy and restfulness of being back at sea again, sailing gently along through those warm blue seas, and those starry lit ones at night…  The world might not be as nice as it was even just a few years ago, but there are still wonderful things we can enjoy and perhaps none better than simply being on deck at night and experiencing the romantic and mind calming beauty of being on a ship at night, and just letting your whole being bathe itself in that world where the silvery moon reaches out to touch you as it turns the night into a silvery wonderland of loving, magical glory… Then when the moon bids its farewell and takes its brightness behind the distant horizon, then we can take a deck chair or stand alone in the stillness of that so calming world, its silence only broken by the soothing sound of the passing ocean as the silvery night slowly darkens into one where a million stars watch over us as we sail on into the night and the beauty of the secret magical world we have found.

Sailing through a starry night, caught in the light of a silvery moon

And now to leave you with a little poem, well I say that, but I’ve got to write it yet, but in life almost everything is possible, so here goes.
 

I breath in deeply as the moon
Walks the night in her silvery shone
My mind is humbled in its glow
Still and silent in her magical show
 
My thoughts are strong within this way
As we sail into another day
A day when seas are warm and blue
Where dolphins play as dolphins do
 
Where distant places wait with glee
To welcome us from the homely sea
To take us by a loving hand
To show the wonders of their land
 
If only then that I could stay
To sail these seas in endless play
To be as one in harmony
Upon my ship upon the sea
 
How restful thoughts touch my head
As I lie to dream within my bed
To be as one all happy and wholesome
In the special magic of our Fred Olsen
 

                  © Des Cox 2020


All right, all right, I’m sorry but I was struggling for words to end me poem with,  and also, between you and me, I have to give all those people at Fred Olsen’s a plug because if I don’t then… then… well, they have been so helpful, and if I hadn’t mentioned them in me poem, then they would feel so unwanted and left out… I’ll tell you what, in the next newsletter I’ll write a poem about our rowing boat, which we might still end up in if enough of you don’t book… Imagine, Ulla and I having to row all those many thousands of miles around South America, and the problems trying to negotiate our way through those locks in the Panama Canal, with a giant Maersk container ship trying to squeeze us out, not to mention having to share the bucket!
 
Finally, please don’t over worry about Corona virus, because most of us have been through these type of situations before and somehow, as if by herself, Mother Nature always manages to win in the end and turn everything back to somewhere like normal…  That’s why Ulla and I have gone ahead with Fred Olsen Cruises in a firm belief that all will be normal soon, and therefore to make sure we have the right cruises for us all to enjoy and something important to be able to look forward to.    And should in the unlikely event the beautiful Black Watch wasn’t able to take us, then fear not because we have thought this through and promise, we will do these cruises and to that end, we have the old rowing boat up on blocks being repainted even as I write this, because it’s important to have something great to look forward to, otherwise the doom and gloom-mongers will have won and there’s no way we’re going to allow that to happen… are we!
 
Also, please remember that we now have 47 DVDs available that feature almost every ship ever built since the turn of the 20th Century including practically all the once great transatlantic liners, ordinary liners by the 100 and many, many more cargo liners as well.    There are conventional cargo ships by the thousand including oil tankers and bulk carriers, coasters, and even inland waterway boats.  There’s also so many ferries and super rare film of warships actually in convoys and major sea battles including the horrendous WW2 Arctic Convoys.   What else, oh, mustn’t forget the tugs, which we have by the 100s, as well as the world’s once great ports, showing them back in the days when they were the world’s travel hubs and crammed full of ships of every shape and size… And there’s more, including rare films of ships being built and launched, great maiden voyages and even our once numerous Sea Training Schools, so if you like ships or happy memories of days gone by then what better could you do to enjoy yourselves than to put on one of these DVDs, pour a drink or two, turn it on and then let yourselves gently drift away in time to an age that really was, so much nicer than almost anything we have in the world of today.

Here are just a small sample of all the DVDs we have from this Prize Winning production.

If you’ve never watched one of these DVDs before, and if you like ships, the sea and nostalgia, then you really are missing a treat, for they are the only DVDs like this in the whole world for several reasons; one that the films are so rare and exclusive to us here at Snowbow, and the other is that I, (Des) am in the unique position of  having been a seafarer so have first-hand experience of ships and the sea, and after leaving the sea I went into show business where amongst other things I learnt how to produce both Films and TV programmes, which when you put these experiences together enables me to be able to make these TV documentaries, but unlike other ship programmes you might see on TV, to do so with a unique knowledge of knowing how sea life works, its ups and downs and the reasons why seafarers and passengers got to love their ships and being at sea, especially in the Golden Age of Ocean Travel.
The price of these DVDs are still the same as they were when we produced the very first one on VHS video twenty-three years ago, when I (Des) set out to make just one video to show how life at sea was back in those halcyon days and also so my own kids would one day be able to see just what life was like for their dad. At the moment if I ever dared to come out with something like. “Well when I was at sea, we all…”  before I even started they’d… just like Del boy and Rodney in that classic TV comedy, ‘Fools and Horses’ leap up on their feet and disappear in a flash…Kids!

To make just one ship video documentary didn’t seem like too much of a challenge at the time, even if it did mean doing it virtually all on my own. “Yeah.” I told myself… “Let’s make a video documentary to show the world just what it was like to have gone away to sea in those Golden Maritime Days, but unfortunately it turned out to be anything but simple. In fact it turned out to be one of my greatest challenges I’ve faced in the whole of life.   To start with, despite going to the usual places like film libraries, there was precious little film that even showed a ship and what there was, was 95% Pathe news clips that lasted for a few second and for which the libraries wanted ridiculous amounts of money, so I was left to search in the hope of finding my own.
 
I decided that as at that time as P&O were by far the largest shipping company in the world, if I was going to make a film about ships and shipping companies then I had to try to make it with and about them.  So I started to make approaches to them but unfortunately every P&O office door I knocked on to ask if they had film was just closed quickly in my face, with angry voices shouting out things like… “We haven’t got any film… it was all destroyed years ago, so go away and don’t come back!”   But one thing all seafarers were taught when at sea was that no matter how bad the situation or how hard the task, you never ever give up, so I continued knocking on those P&O doors.
 
I also trod the streets of London as I did my research, searching for any clues that might lead me to any film anywhere with P&O ships on.  Then one day my research lead me to an underground cellar situated deep below one of London’s old cobbled streets, but unfortunately everything entrance to it was locked, leaving no way to get inside, so once again I had to knock on those doors, this time to seek permission to investigate, but again, every time I was told to go away and not to bother them ever again, so finally, in a moment of desperation, I plucked up courage and called the office of their chairman, Lord Sterling. 
 
My hands were shaking as I picked up the phone and dialed the number, for in all honesty I didn’t expect to get past the first ring before I was cut off, but somehow I managed to get through to Lord Sterling’s personal PA, Brenda, to whom I explained that I wanted to make a TV documentary about  the great liners of P&O, and believed that after searching for over a year, I might just have located a long lost cellar where some of the film of those great ships had been stored, probably to protect them from WW2 air-raids and so on, and having worn my shoes out walking the streets and knocking on just about every door of P&O many offices and been thrown out of them all, this was my last chance to succeed so I needed to ask Lord Sterling himself for permission to enter the lost cellar I had found.
 
Brenda was so nice and helpful and said she would mention it to Lord Sterling when she could, but that he was a very busy man and so that might take quite some time to do.  I thanked her and replaced the phone in the belief I would never hear back from them, but then just two hours later she called to say she had Lord Sterling on the phone for me. 
 
He told me that he had always been angry that such a great company had so few historical artifacts, as most had just been thrown away and destroyed over the years, but if I wanted to look at where I thought some might be, then I had his permission to do so, but only on the strict condition that if by some remote chance I actually manage to find some, I had to agree to him having personal content control of any documentary film might I might make that used it, and if he didn’t like what he saw, he would refuse permission for me to use it.  He also pointed out therefore that what I was doing was very risky, because and even if I found film I could easily end up with nothing, but I was in no position to refuse his terms, and so he gave me his permission…
 

The old wooden doors to the cellar creaked with age and tiredness as I opened them for what was probably the first time since WW2, and as they opened so the smell of olden days and damp came to greet me. Thankfully I had a dual torch with both low light and a powerful light, but I had been warned that the powerful light would only work for a few minutes before it used all its battery power up, so I entered the old doorway guided by just the low light, and inside found my way to steep concreted steps that led down into years of forgotten darkness.  As I started to slowly descend the concreted steps so the ancient stench of dark, damp emptiness rose to defend its solitude, and then finally I reached the secretive basement where the darkness was almost touchable.   I lifted the torch and in this eerie world let its beam reach out to light the old cellars secrets for the first time and as I did, so its brightness fell upon a grubby old pile of what appeared to be rubbish that had been covered in a blanked that was now heaped with dust and rat droppings.
 
I moved carefully forward and when I reached the rugged pile I took hold of the dirty, ragged old blanket and as it lifted in my hands so it revealed its secrets, for there, caught in the silent beam of my torch was a huge stack of old film cans all stacked up just as they had been left all those years ago.  I had to be quick before the torch light went, but what I saw made all my searching worthwhile for these weren’t just any only domestic film cans but professional 16mm and 35mm film cans as well as what looked to be dangerous Cellulose nitrate film that could catch fire and explode the moment you touched it, but I wasn’t troubled for all that mattered to me was that I had found film that, if I was lucky, could possibly be film of ships… Great big P&O passenger ships.
 

You can imagine the huge amount of happiness that swept over me as I ran the first of those films on an old film projector and as it’s old images flickered through the projectors gate, there on the screen came pictures of actual moving, steaming ships of old… The images were faded and tired as time hadn’t be overly kind to them, but what I saw brought tears to my eyes as great ships such as The Viceroy of India, the four famous Strath-boats and other famous old P&O liners going way back before the war, suddenly came into my life as they sailed across my cine screen.  I was staggered for what I had found a Maritime history goldmine.
 
I could easily write so much more, but time isn’t my friend at the moment, so I have to move on but will finish by saying that after carefully restoring all the film, some of which was in a terrible state, especially the highly dangerous cellulose nitrate film, and then researching it all before moving on to try to put it all together into a video documentary took forever and indeed, had we the finance then I would have employed experts to do most of it, but we hadn’t, in fact we were well and truly skint, so on we had to go, with me in this still early computerised days having to go to libraries and plough through endless reference books before I was able to write the scripts and music.  Back in those days if the BBC or ITV made a film like this then they would have at least 30 people working on it with a budget of close to a £100,000, but we had nothing, and still there was so much more to do including dealing with the sound, for although the film I had found was now looking really good, it was either filmed without sound or the sound tracks had been lost, which meant that somehow I had to try to recreate authentic sounding sounds, and to make sure they were to broadcast standards, which would have been a difficult task performed by experts at the BBC or ITV, whereas I had only myself to rely on. There were sound archives but they only had basic everyday sounds and were extremely expensive to deal with and so once again I had to search.   Here my days as a seafarer really helped for at least I knew and could remember exactly just what all the sounds in a busy port were and how they would fit together, and also I knew the sound of the ship’s whistles, from the tugs and coasters right up to the biggest ocean going passenger liners.
 
After long, long searches I somehow managed to find them, often going to places where there were docks and ships with my little tape recorder and recording them and if that didn’t work, the recreating them physically, but in the end when these sounds were added to the films the end results were staggering, in fact it made the whole port and dockyard scenes and being on the ships at sea, all seem so real that for a moment it felt as if I had stepped back in time for real, especially when the ships featured even sounded their very own personal whistles.   How did I manage to find the sounds of their whistles, well that’s another very long and interesting story that will have to wait for another day, or whilst on one of our cruises.  Next it was time to do the artwork and design for the video sleeves and boxes, which once again I had to do myself, but all in all, after two and half years work we had manage to achieve the almost impossible, for now, there all neatly boxed, was our video, The Great Liners of P&O and the Orient Line. (I had also found film of the magnificent Orient Liners in their original Orient Line colours and as they were now owned by P&O, I took the opportunity to widen the programmes interest and appeal by including them as well).
 
So all was done, especially me, but there was now perhaps the most important moment of all, for now was the time when I had no choice but to show it as agreed to Lord Sterling for his final approval or refusal.  
 

Ring, ring, ring… “Hello Mr Cox, it’s Brenda here from P&O, Lord Sterling’s PA…” My little heart missed several important beats as I breathed in deeply, as she then continued. “He’s seen the film and he absolutely loves it, so he told me to tell you to go ahead and furthermore, he will write to all the top people in P&O top management to tell them that they must offer you any assistance that you might need in the future and, would you mind if he kept the copy you so kindly gave him?”
 
Looking back today to that time and at the reasons why I was silly enough to have taken on that enormous task of making that first programme, I realised that although we could boast of having the biggest Merchant Navy in the world, there was hardly any record of that and if you stopped anyone in the street and asked them it they knew that, hardly any would have known for other than in the main shipping magazines, there was almost nothing in the line of books, let along videos about this great part of our Maritime History.  This really came home to me when I called into Foyles Charing Cross Road book store in search of books that might be able to help me when writing the script, but to my amazement, even in what then was the largest book store in the country, they only had one book about ships, titled The Last Blue Water Liners by American author, William H. Millar…   They only had one copy also, which I quickly grabbed, but oh how I wished I could have found a video of those wonderful maritime days and the great ships we once had, so this was another major factor in my decision to try to make such a programme if at all possible… so there would be at least be some kind if  ‘moving image record’ of those great maritime days.
 
This then is the basic story behind that very first programme and when it was released I discovered that thankfully there were thousands of people like me, all over the world, all longing to read and see those ships and ports, and anything to do with shipping of the past, and so it became popular all over the world.  Since that first episode, when I vowed to myself that I would never ever make another, I have somehow managed to create a staggering 47 episodes, all made to the highest broadcast standards and from the rarest of film that had I not searched for and found and restored, would have been lost forever and then no one other than those who were part of it, would know that we ever had the biggest shipping industry in the world… so you can see just why these unique programmes are so very special.
 
Each one takes about a year to make, although productions do overlap at times, which means we can, if we work for long and hard enough and if all goes to plan, can release two DVDs in a year.   Each episode has its own theme and relative stories, as well as having its own rare film, film that only in the most exceptional circumstances do we ever show short extracts from on another DVD.   Sound is also special for each episode, has specially composed and recorded incidental and background music, music which people enjoy so much they even ask for recorded copies and as for the sound effects, well many of our customers tell us that they often just pour a little drink, sit back and listen to the soundtrack, letting their minds drift back in time to the relevant age, so all in all, you can see why the work is so difficult and takes so long.   I just want to add that one of the reasons it is so difficult is because one programme might be put together using 100’s of short pieces of old 8mm film, all of which had to be restored, cleaned, and enhanced before going through them all and trying to put them together in a way that would make a complete picture, rather as you would put a jigsaw together, but a 100 times more difficult as these jigsaw pieces were moving ones and so that much harder to fit together.
 
The films came and to this day, still come from all over the world, but anyone who was at sea back then either as a crew member or a passenger, will know that few people had a cine camera in those days.  Unlike today’s iPhone or video cameras with which you can shoot forever and ever, those old 8mm or 9.5mm cine cameras could only take short reels of film that ran for about four minutes so they had to be conservative with its use, especially as film then cost a small fortune to buy and even more to process.  This resulted in the few people with cameras being extremely careful to make their films last, which they did by only filming in short bursts, so a typical 8mm film would consist of perhaps a wedding, christening, a day at the Zoo and even a funeral, plus if we’re lucky, a shot of a funnel or a lifeboat and if very lucky, somewhere say like Port Said, and then most of it would be out of focus and done with speedy pans they made everything a blur, but in the end, with almost endless tenacity, somehow those pictures and stories were made, and it’s wonderful when you watch these programmes that gone are all the weddings and zoos and if their place are whole programmes that instead of looking like hundreds of small pieces, instead look as if we had gone out with the vest best equipment available and shot the whole thing from end to end… We’ve even won awards!
 
You know, as I’m writing this I am shaking my head as I remind myself of all the work involved… How the hell did we manage to do all that, but we did, and although we never make a profit and still continue to work without pay, we still get great rewards in the form of thankyou phone calls and emails from people who have bought and watched the programmes and want to say how much happiness they have got from watching them… Those calls come from people of every race and background and from all over the world… Calls from ex-Cabin Boys or ex-Commodores, Ship owners and ex-passengers, dockside workers, shipbuilders. heads of industry and politicians and even… wait for it… wait for it… even from the Queen Mum who wrote a personal thankyou letter to express the pleasure she got from watching the programmes, especially the Maiden Voyage of the old Queen Mary, which had brought a tear to her eye.
 
I was only going to write a couple of sentences about this, but there’s no stopping me once I’m underway.  I just wanted to add that from time to time as we became more and more well-known, large companies did help, not with funding but by sending us old film that they had found in their offices, and they included; Tate and Lyle, (Sugar boats) Unilever (Palm Line) Port of London Authority, (London Docks) Harland and Wolff (Ship building) Cunard, Blue Funnel, Port Line, New Zealand and Federal Steamship Co, Union-Castle, British India, Donald Campbell (Collection including the United States) Royal Mail, Shaw Savill, Ellerman Lines, P&O Ferries, Isle of Man Ferries, Union Steamship Co, Ben Line, who gave us the most amazing film of their whole operation, and so it went on, BP, Esso, even rare film of our Sea Training Schools… the list is almost endless and we (Ulla and I) have had to restore the lot of it, but what was so helpful about getting film from them was that instead of always having to juggle hundreds of small pieces of film to come together, we now, from time to time had the wonderful luxury of being able to use whole reels of film, and furthermore, because it was shot professionally was all in focus, which made life so much easier, although we still had to restore it and research and …
 
The end result is that today we have the biggest maritime film and sound archive in the world, which includes almost every type of ship ever built, dating right back to the turn of the 20th century with ships such as White Star Lines Olympic, Cunard’s Mauretania, Lusitania and Aquitania and all the Cunard fleet, as with P&O and the Orient Line, Union-Castle, Clan Line, Blue Funnel, Port Line, NZSCo, Shaw Savill and so on,  so after the long ago descent into that damp and dark old London basement, today we have this unrivalled archive of rare maritime film, film that if you name the ship or the port you want to see, it’s almost certain that it will be there somewhere… and that even includes coasters, tugs and of course are once great Royal Navy
 
So why then, I think I hear you ask, do you do all this work without profit.  Well it is a costly business, especially studio costs when putting it all together, which have to be paid for in full.  We have made desperate approaches to the various heritage bodies, but would you believe, despite the fact that we could once boast of having the biggest and best Merchant Navy in the world, not one of them would fund us, turning our pleas away with words such as. ‘No one is interested in our maritime past.’  How shocking is that… So, we have to totally rely on the sale of these DVDs to fund the work we do, and when the funds run out so then we have to stop until we manage to sell more and can pay the outstanding bills which then allows us to get on with the next production and that’s important because we firmly believe that we must keep going for as long as we possibly can in making this amazing ‘moving image record’ of our maritime heyday, so both people of today and for generations to come can enjoy and see what a great shipping industry and navy we once had. If we don’t do this work then no one else will, and then all this amazing film that we have found and save would have been lost forever and then no one would ever have been able to see it. 
 
Now, thanks to this unique ‘moving image’ record, instead of the history and knowledge of our maritime history fading as we go, it will now live on forever, so not only can it be enjoyed by people of today, people in say five hundred years’ time will actually be able to watch these programmes in whatever amazing format is doing the rounds and see for themselves just what it was like to have been alive and part of those amazing maritime days.   Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like if someone back in the age of Columbus, Cook and Drake etc., had owned a camera and filmed their amazing adventures, so we could see them today… wouldn’t that be something, well now those future generations will be able to experience exactly what it was like to have sailed the globe in the 20th century.
 
I mustn’t go on writing this otherwise I’ll be here for days or even weeks, just telling you about the productions, and often we get so tired that I suddenly have a mini fit and declare. ‘No more programmes.’   For not only do we do all this work without pay, it can be so, so  tiring, but the end result is something so special, so please, do get some and watch them for yourself and see just how brilliant they are… Oh here’s some great news, because even young children are watching them now, so it’s not just the oldies, and those young children love them and write to say: “We wish we were alive in those days and could have gone away to sea like you did, for you seem to have had so much freedom and fun and it all seemed so much nicer than today.

Actually, believe it or not, we do these DVDs and cruises because we really care about you, especially at times such as now, with that dreaded Corona Virus hell bent on trying to kill us all, but we can deal with that and always remember, when you are really feeling down and fed-up, the darkest hour is just before dawn, and although we can’t offer much to help bring a glow of happiness to your dawn, we can at least offer these special cruises, and the DVDs that together have brought us all together as one.
 
Thank you for being you, and let’s all come together in the not too distant future and if you want further information on the cruises or a free DVD catalogue, or want to know if we have a specific ship on one of the DVDs, then give us a call (00 44 (0) 1273 585391.584470 and in the meantime, look after yourselves.

Sailing with Maritime Memories is so different from anything else in the world of cruising, it’s something that is just so special

The news about the October cruises has really hit us hard, for both Fred Olsen’s people and Ulla and I put so much into it, but as the French say:  “C’est la vie”  Not that we know what it means, but they say it anyway in fact when you think about it, they say a lot of strange things!  But that still doesn’t stop us from feeling down, but as ex-seafarers we will get over it and as taught at sea, we will work on until the job is done and to that end, we will do even more to try to make our 2021 and 2022 cruises the best in the world and with you lot there with us, then they will be.

Many Special Wishes,
 
Des and Ulla.

Newsletter Late June 2020

Snowbow/Maritime Memories Newsletter Happy Days Are Here Again

Oh how I wish those Happy Days were back again, but when looking back at the wonderful old shipping posters on the main part of this newsletter, nothing in today’s world could ever hope to equal the happiness we knew back then… Oh to suddenly find that we have somehow managed to  travel back in time, and are on our way down to the docks to join a great ship like the ones in those posters, a magnificent ship that would take us on a truly exciting voyage, just as in that famous old song; to faraway places with strange sounding names… Oh well, at least most of us experienced those magical days; days that we will never forget, but at least we still have each other and our Snowbow newsletters to hopefully bring us some joy and we now have a wonderful ocean liner that will allow us to experience again, just what it was like to go to sea, during the Golden Age of Ocean Travel… Hooray!  But more about that in a few moments.
So many of you have been ordering DVDs from our Award Winning video series, The Great Liners, and here’s some great news… We still have so much rare film to work on and restore, so you will be able to continue enjoying those amazing maritime scenes from the past, that’s of course as long as we’re able to fund the work, which without help from UK Heritage interest organisations (I don’t know why either!) makes it extremely difficult for just Ulla and I to do it all, but it is important work and if we don’t do it, then no one else will and then all this wonderful old film will be lost forever… But, what makes it all worthwhile is knowing the happiness these DVDs bring to so many people all over the world, and also, in doing this we are also ensuring that the history of our once great maritime past will never be forgotten.
Coming up in the not too distant future are some unbelievable old films including; a pre-war cruise aboard the Carron Lines ship the Forth, sailing from St Katherine’s in London to the Firth of Forth in the 1930s, so if you really want to experience a sea voyage slightly different to say one aboard the gigantic, all bells, whistles, entertainment, lights and sounds of today, then make sure you watch this DVD when it comes out, and see how they enjoyed themselves back in those pre-war days.
What else, well hopefully we can follow a family emigrating to Australia in the mid-1960s, travelling down from their little house up north, before arriving at the great port of Southampton, crammed full of great ships including Sahw Savill’s magnificent Northern Star for the then so exciting voyage through the wonders of the world all the way to their final destination, Freemantle.   If I’m not mistaken, when stopping at the Canary Islands we actually see the QE2 there whilst on her maiden voyage… another rarity.
In Freemantle we pause to look at more rare film sent to us by another of our treasured followers, showing so many ships arriving and sailing, as well as some great footage of old buses and steam trains, which I know many of you enjoy as well and, one of our American followers, who served his time at sea with  President Lines, actually filmed almost every voyage he did and what’s more, did so on a wonderful 16mm camera, and even more, what’s more, he has sent all his film to us, which is many boxes, all of which we are working to restore, so at long last we can show you just what it was like to have sailed aboard those great President Line ships.
All this wonderful film is, along with all the other rare footage we are currently working to restore, creates an almost never ending task but we must, whatever happens, make sure we do this work and do it well.  Other rare film we’re working on, all of which has never been made public before includes footage of oil tankers, coasters, tugs, famous transatlantic liners, ordinary passenger liners, cargo liners,  traditional cargo ships and even convoys including a big one returning from the Far East at the end of WW2, and you should see all the famous ocean liners in that convoy.  What else? Oh, and just to show that us ship lovers also appreciate the ships of the Royal Navy, we have found amazing coloured film shot aboard a British Aircraft Carrier in the Pacific during WW2, with spitfires taking off and landing on her decks… plus going through the Panama Canal on her.
Thank goodness we do have so much film to restore because there will come a day when we will have come to an end, but for now we can all look forward to seeing lots more amazing maritime footage and all we’ve got to do is to make sure we live long enough to do the work, and you lot, you will have to make sure that you all live long enough to watch them… Mind you, we are gathering more and more young people who are developing a very keen interest in the ships of yesteryear and at the same time, in the lives that all us ex-seafarers lived when we were part of the biggest Merchant Navy in the world. As one young person said to me the other day…”You really looked as though you were enjoying life back then, and you all had so much freedom!
Just an important word or two about our up and coming cruises we have so carefully chosen for you to enjoy; we’ve discovered that as Coronavirus seems to be coming to an end, people are now hurrying to book their cruises and it looks as though there is a bit of a rush on, especially for the ones we have selected to do, with the Med ones booking heavily, so if you want to come with us and have fun after all the rubbish we’ve had to put up with of late, then do book early, for there is nothing worse than calling us one day to say that you wanted to go but when you tried to book you were told that all accommodation was sold out!  Then there’s our October cruise, which is only a nine nighter, but that’s long enough for us to visit some great places and for us all to meet up and have a ball.
Latest on that record I released… In the last newsletter I told you that it had topped the European Top 100 Charts, which is no mean feat and had me swallowing tranquilisers by the bucket full, to try to keep me calm, but now… guess what… I went and topped the World’s Top 100 Indi Charts as well, which is even more amazing, and the very latest, hot off the press update came in a call from America last night, to tell me that I am also in the top five of every other chart, mind you, they didn’t quite say what charts, so knowing  my luck perhaps instead of hit record charts, what they were referring to was the World’s Most Wanted Man charts!         
Thank you all for being you and all the pleasure you bring to us that really helps to make our lives that much more enjoyable and in return, we hope that we have been able to bring a few smiles, wonderful memories, and fun into your lives as well.


Best wishes,


Des and Ulla.

Newsletter June 2020

Snowbow/Maritime Memories Newsletter

Now it has been a very busy time here at Snowbow/Maritime Memories, with so many things happening, so, here is a brief summary before we get on to the main purpose of this newsletter, which is to show you an article I wrote for Sea Breezes, but just before we get to this let me tell you about the illustrations above…. Now the artwok for these record sleeves capture me in caricature form by that great Swedish artist, Ulf Sandberg, and the reason for this is, well, apart from me prefering to look at myself as a cartoon rather than as I am in reality, is because so many of you asked if I would record some of the comedy and songs I do on stage when we’re on our special Maritime Memory Cruises… You know, when I have one of my turns and I don’t mean one of those ‘call the doctor’ turns, but turns when I clamber up on stage and try my best to entertain you….
 
As someone wrote to us to say the other day… Comedy in today’s world, especially on our TVs is totally without humour, and how we loved coming to your shows on the ship and leaving with tears of laughter streaming down our happy faces… Yes, it’s true that most comedy is without humour, whereas I’m told that what I do is funny, well except when people start chucking rotten veg and shooting bullets at the stage!  But at least I never swear and in truth, people do laugh and that’s what it’s all about, so I’ve been and recorded a double album based on those live stage performances and as with those performances, everything I have done has been ad libbed, and the end result is two hours of stand up jokes, impersonations and lots of original songs varying from  rock ‘n’ roll to country rock, ballads, folk  psychedelia… Yes, I’m serious, which is probably because of the strange effect some of you more wayward ones have on me when you’re sitting down the front puffing away on that wacky baccy stuff… Makes me go all peculiar it does
 
Oh, and there are lots of funny songs as well, and here’s the reason for the lovely artwork, I’ve actually released one of the tracks  as a single… I just couldn’t cope with trying to deal with a modern day Record Company, full of red tape, political correctness, and everything, so I just went ahead and released it myself.  Then after a couple of days I forgot all about it until the other day when I got the shock of my life, because… suddenly from out of nowhere it was being played all over the world and had…wait for it…wait for it… had made it into several global top charts and… and even made it to Number One in the European Top 100 Indi Charts! 
 
Isn’t that amazing, so if you go to our website and our new Music Page, you will be able to hear the record and see the promo film as well, and then, if you really, really like it then you might just put on a balaclava and go out in your back gardens in the middle of the night and, when you’re sure no one’s looking, you could dig up that old safe of yours and take a few bob so you can buy a copy!
 
And now back to Sea Breezes and the article wat I writ for them, which is all about Maritime Memories and gives away all your personal secrets, secrets that you thought you could trust us with, and ones that you never imagined would ever  become public!  

No don’t end it all, I’m only joking, but it was written in response to emails and phone calls from all over the world, asking so many questions about ships and the sea, and especially of the golden age of shipping and in particular, asking if I could I tell them what the main differences were between going away to sea back then and going away to sea as it is today.
 
Now I know that if we had this conversation when onboard one of our Maritime Memory cruises we’d still be discussing it a month later, but here now is that article in which I do my best to give a brief and hopefully clear understanding of just how huge those differences were and are.  Oh and by the way, something I believe to be very pleasing is the fact that most of the people asking these questions and especially this one are young teenagers!  Isn’t that good to know.
 
I hope you enjoy the article below, which will appear in Sea Breezes in all its glory soon, so get a copy for yourselves and if you want me to sign it then of course I will, but if you don’t like the article and want me to +”*%@¬*=O then I might decline the request!