William D Chalmers
William D Chalmers
William D Chalmers
The play you are about to read is a true story of a man who left the small weaving and mining town of Kilsyth, Stirlingshire, Scotland, late 1800s. All the incidents on board ship are comprehensible with the truth of what happened on the six week voyage from Tilbury, England, to its final destination Melbourne Bay Australia. The play has also been adapted for stage featuring the late Alastair D. Mathie, M.A., L.L.B.. written and directed by William. D. Chalmers.
William Chalmers writes: "The Diary of James Ramsay was produced as a one man stage play at Kilsyth Clock Theatre. The late Alistair Mathie, played the part of James Ramsay. I wrote the adaptation and directed the stage version, which had two one-off performances at Kilsyth, and Cumbernauld Theatre. It was pretty awkward on stage mainly due to improvising and crammed conditions, in particular the sound. This prompted me to adapt it for radio where I thought sound would be more stimulating and imaginary to the listener. I have never submitted the play to any radio company. With regards to the details a school pal Wallace Clelland emigrated to Australia, where he built up his business interests, now active in Kilsyth. An old lady knowing Wallace was a Scot from Kilsyth, gave him the diary and when he came back home he gave me it to read with the intention of adapting it for the stage, his late wife was involved in the Clock Theatre. When Wallace returned to Australia he gave the diary to Melbourne University Library. I did some detective work in the town as I was still gathering information for "Conversations". I spoke to a grand old lady Mrs Nimmo who told me that James Nimmo was kin to her husband. Mrs Nimmo, along with members of her family, attended the performance at Cumbernauld Theatre".
One Line Characters
The boy, The Steward, Porter, Voice, First Seaman, Second Seaman, Doorman, Native, British passenger, Passenger, English Passenger, Boatman & Mate, Captain, Second Mate, Man, First man ,Second man,
James Ramsay as an old man sitting on a bench in Williamstown, over looking
Melbourne Bay. Weather conditions overcast, visibility a few hundred yards
(Metres). James is fast asleep and snoring.
Fade up close to mike, James Ramsay snoring. Distant fog horn, seagulls nearby coming closer then fading. The snores become uneven, James smacks his lips and wakens up as passing seagulls come close to mike then fade out.
JAMES RAMSAY: (CLOSE TO MIKE, SIGHS HEAVILY)(COSMOPOLITAN ACCENT) Confounded scavengers.
FOG HORN SOUND. ALSO COMING CLOSE TO MIKE A ROWING BOAT, THEN FADES.
LITTLE AWAY IN LONG DRAWN OUT VOICE.
Ahoy there? I am looking for one James Ramsay,
FOG HORN SOUNDS IN THE NEAR DISTANCE.
JAMES RAMSAY: Is this some kind of joke, who the hell are you.
REVEREND: THE REVEREND LAUGHS THEN WENT ON TO SAY, Not at all my dear friend itís no joke, youíre James Ramsay from the small town of Kilsyth in Scotland, who sailed from Tilbury on November 10th 1887?
FOG HORN IN THE NEAR DISTANCE.
JAMES RAMSAY: What is it you want.
REVEREND: You James, youíre the one I want.
JAMES RAMSAY: OK the jokeís on me, now why donít you just go away.
REVEREND: Sorry James but I canít do that, this day is perhaps one of the most important in all your life. James my son, we have a long way to go, the quicker we get started the better.
DISTANCE FOG HORN, SEAGULLS NEAR BY, HOLD A FEW SECONDS THEN FADE INTO BACK
JAMES RAMSAY: Donít know why I feel like this but I get the impression youíre under some kind of orders.
REVEREND: Yes James I suppose there is some truth in what you say.
HORN IN THE NEAR DISTANCE HOLD A FEW SECONDS THEN FADE OUT.
JAMES RAMSAY: Look, if you have a problem why dont you tie up, there's plenty of room on the bench, Iím a good listener.
REVEREND: Sorry James we just donít have time.
FAR DISTANCE FOG HORN HOLD A FEW SECONDS THEN FADE OUT.
JAMES RAMSAY: Why donít you just shove off, mister, Iím not going anywhere.
REVEREND: Itís time James, we must be on our way, why donít you come over to the dock side, take a closer look.
FOG HORN IN THE DISTANCE. CLOSE TO MIKE JAMES STRUGGLING TO HIS FEET, FOOT STEPS AS HE WALKS TO THE EDGE OF THE WHARF, SOUND OF HIS WALKING STICK, NEAR BY SEAGULLS, FOG HORN IN FAR DISTANCE.
REVEREND: Look closely James.
SOUND OF JAMES MOVING HIS FEET INTO POSITION IN ORDER TO TAKE A CLOSER LOOK.
JAMES RAMSAY: If you would be kind enough to tell me what I am looking for, canít say I have ever set eyes on you.
THE REVEREND LAUGHED A LITTLE, THEN WENT ON TO SAY.
REVEREND: James my son I want you to cast your mind back to a ship called the S.S. Aroya.
FAR DISTANCE FOG HORN, HOLD FOR A FEW SECONDS THEN FADE OUT.
JAMES RAMSAY: SURPRISED, SOMEWHAT TAKEN ABACK. JAMES REPLIES. S.S. Aroya, I dont know what youíre up to, sir but I dont consider it funny, itís all so long ago and I just want to get on with whatís left of my life.
REVEREND: My dear friend I know itís all so strange to you but thereís no need to be afraid, Iíll be with you all the way. NEARBY FOG HORN, HOLD FOR A FEW SECONDS THEN FADE OUT. THEREíS A SPLASH AS SOMEONE FALLS INTO THE WATER BACK GROUND SEAGULLS.
JAMES RAMSAY: In the name of God, help me, I canít see.
REVEREND: Then why dont you open your eyes James.
JAMES THOUGHT HE MUST HAVE PASSED OUT, WHEN HE OPENED HIS EYES HE FOUND HIMSELF IN A SMALL ROW BOAT LOOKING DIRECTLY AT A COMPARATIVELY YOUNG LONG FACED MAN. BUT WAS UNSURE AS TO HOW HE GOT IN THE BOAT.
JAMES RAMSAY: Perhaps you can explain how I came to be in this boat. (THE REVEREND SMILES BUT SAYS NOTHING, JAMES FOR SOME ODD REASON FELT COMPARATIVELY SAFE BUT IT WAS NOT TO LAST.
HORN IN THE NEAR DISTANCE, HOLD FOR A FEW SECONDS. THEN THE SOUND OF A DROWNING
MAN COMING TO THE SURFACE. JAMES TRIES TO GRAB HIM BUT FALLS.
JAMES RAMSAY: JAMES BECAME EXTREMELY AGITATED AT THE SEEMINGLY INDIFFERENCE OF THE SO CALLED REVEREND. For Christ sake grab hold of him. JAMES DEMANDED BUT THERE WAS NO PHYSICAL REACTION FROM THIS STRANGE MYSTERIOUS MAN.
REVEREND: No need for alarm James the events that will happen today are outwith our control, all we have to do is go along with it, believe me itís much easier that way. Be still James Iíll explain to you. The man who fell in the water was you. JAMES IS EXTREMELY AGITATED.
JAMES RAMSAY: I want off this boat now, I would be obliged if you would row me to the ladder.
FOG HORN NEARBY THEN FADE INTO BACK GROUND, THEN FADE OUT.
James sit down please, I want you to look closely. THE
DROWNING MAN SURFACES FOR THE SECOND TIME.
JAMES RAMSAY: It cant be. JAMES WAS PHYSICALLY SHAKEN ESPECIALLY WHEN HE REALISED HIS CLOTHING WAS PERFECTLY DRY.
Yes James it is you, the next time you come up you will see the great
mystery that has held man's imagination captive since the beginning of time. The
mystery of life and death. FOG
HORN COMING CLOSE TO MIKE, THEN FADE INTO BACKGROUND.
Listen carefully James, I want you to look at me, yes James your hand
passed through my body. SEAGULLS NEAR BY AND FOG HORN IN THE NEAR
DISTANCE, CUT FOG HORN AFTER A FEW SECONDS, SEAGULLS IN THE BACK GROUND.
JAMES RAMSAY: Wait a minute, arenít you the Reverend Marshall Lang, from Glasgow, there's something different about you, just canít put my finger on it. JAMES QUIETLY COMING TO TERMS WITH HIS PREDICAMENT, FOR SOME UNEXPLAINED REASON WAS FINDING IT A LITTLE EASIER, IF IT WERE A DREAM ALL WOULD SOON BE BACK TO REALITY ?
SEAGULLS IN THE BACK GROUND, FOG HORN FAR DISTANCE.
REVEREND: I moved on some time ago James.
mean youíre dead. THERE
IS A MOMENT OF UNSURENESS AS JAMES WAITS.
FOG HORN FAR DISTANCE THEN FADE.
REVEREND: THE REVEREND SMILES ANALYSING HIS ANSWER BEFORE REPLYING. Yes James, dead. HE HESITATES. You see James, all that happens is that we move into another dimension, one gets used to it, must say it does have its advantages, hunger and clothes donít exist.
JAMES RAMSAY: What about me, JAMES SOMEWHAT ANXIOUSLY. Am I. THE REVEREND INTERRUPTS HIM.
REVEREND: Yes James the next time you surface, FOG HORN FAR DISTANCE THEN FADE OUT. but before that happens we must perform a few tasks.
JAMES RAMSAY: I just canít come to terms with what's happening.
REVEREND: James, take my hand. FOG HORN IN DISTANCE. JAMES HESITATES.
Go ahead James take my hand.
JAMES RAMSAY: If we donít have a body how can I hold you hand. (REVEREND EXPLAINS TO JAMES, THAT IN THE THIRD DIMENSION THERE IS NO NEED FOR Physical AWARENESS, IT'S MIND OVER MATTER, HE WENT ON TO EXPLAIN THAT MAN IN HIS PHYSICAL CONDITION HAS THE UNDEVELOPED ABILITY TO LEAVE THE BODY, BUT IN HIS OPINION IT IS BETTER AS IT IS. ONCE AGAIN HE PROMPTS JAMES TO TAKE HIS HAND.
REVEREND: Yes James, youíll have to get used to it, thereís no turning back. Now James, I want you to close your eyes. STORM COMING TOWARDS THE MIKE, HOLD THE MIGHT OF THE STORM CLOSE TO MIKE FOR TEN SECONDS, THEN FADE DOWN AND OUT. Now James cast your mind back to the day you left Scotland, can you remember leaving your home town. COMING CLOSE TO MIKE A STRONG WIND REACHING GALE FORCE THEN EBBING AND FADE OUT (HOLD FOR FIVE SECONDS THEN CUT. James, my boy before this night is out you will go on a long journey, I have been designated as your tutor. Look for me at the far corner of the square.
JAMES RAMSAY: Reverend I canít see, you must help me.
Open you eyes James, from here on you will refer to your diary, if you
need me just call. FADE
UP TO SIMULATE NOVEMBER DAY IN SCOTLAND, BIRDS SINGING CLOSE TO MIKE FOUR
SECONDS THEN FADE DOWN INTO BACK
JAMES RAMSAY: Fine sunny morning, went on board the Gipsy Queen at Craigmarloch on the Forth & Clyde Canal, a man by the name of Tony Capaldi entertains the passengers, the Kilsyth Hills tower above the old mining town, for a moment as the bridgeman is wheeling up the heavy wooden structure I could have jumped off and made my way back home to Kilsyth, those sprawling hills will forever be in my minds eye. A few hours later Iím on board a small coaster on my way to Tilbury. FADE OUT.
FADE UP JAMES RAMSAY WALKING ALONG A COBBLED STREET AT THE ENTRANCE TO TILBURY HARBOUR, FADE UP FOOTSTEPS MOVING NEARER TO MIKE THEN STOPPING. JAMES DEEP BREATH AS HE LAYS DOWN HIS HOLDALL. BACK GROUND SEAGULLS AND THE GENERAL BACK GROUND OF A BUSY DOCKYARD.
WHEEL BARROW COMING TOWARDS MIKE
JAMES RAMSAY: I say there lad can you show me the way to dock 47, Iíll make it worth your while.
THE BOY STOPS HIS BARROW. CLOSE TO MIKE THE BOY LOADING JAMES 's LUGGAGE ON HIS BARROW.
BOY: Follow me Governor, Iíll have you there in a jiffy.
CLOSE TO MIKE WHEEL BARROW MOVING OFF AND THE SOUND OF JAMES AND THE BOYS FOOTSTEPS FADING INTO THE DISTANCE.
FADE UP TO WHEELBARROW JAMES AND THE BOYS FOOTSTEPS COMING TOWARDS MIKE THEN STOPPING. SEAGULLS IN THE BACKGROUND. JAMES CLOSE TO MIKE TAKES IN A DEEP BREATH. DURING THIS TIME THE BOY IS BUSY UNLOADING JAMES'S LUGGAGE. JAMES LOOKING AT THE TIMBERS, OF THE S.S. AROYA AS THE CREW PREPARE HER FOR THE LONG DANGEROUS JOURNEY TO AUSTRALIA.
BOY: I say Mister about that penny.
JAMES HESITATES, HE IS SO ENGROSSED AT THE SIGHT OF SUCH A MAGNIFICENT SHIP.
JAMES RAMSAY: Yes my boy thereís the small matter of that penny. CLOSE TO MIKE JAMES OPENING HIS PURSE, SOUND OF CHANGE AS JAMES SEARCHES FOR THE NEW SHINY PENNY HE HAD AGREED TO PAY THE BOY. Here you are my boy take those three halfpennies, consider the odds a bonus.
BOY: Taí Governor, hope you have a safe journey. CLOSE TO MIKE JAMES TAKES A DEEP BREATH, AS THE BOY MOVES OFF WITH HIS WHEELBARROW FADING OUT INTO THE DISTANCE.
UP THE GENERAL BUSTLE OF A BUSY
SHIPPING PORT. ONE OF THE STEWARD CALLS FROM THE SHIP.
THE STEWARD: Coming aboard sir.
JAMES RAMSAY: (James hesitates for a few moments as he gazes on the beauty of the sturdily built vessel). Is your destination Williamstown near Melbourne?
THE STEWARD: Indeed it is Sir. What's the name. CLOSE TO MIKE RUSTLING OF PAPER DOCUMENTS AS THE STEWARD LOOKS FOR JAMES RAMSEY'S NAME.
JAMES RAMSAY: (James replied in his native Scots tongue). James Ramsay traveling from Kilsyth to Melburne.
THE STEWARD: Mr James Ramsay Steerage. Let me help you with your luggage sir.
A LITTLE AWAY FROM MIKE THE SOUND OF THE STEWARDS FOOTSTEPS HURRYING DOWN THE GANG PLANK. BOTH MEN WALKING UP THE GANG PLANK.
THE STEWARD: (The steward is a well groomed fellow, clean shaven with the gift of the gab that would have charmed the Queen.) Well Sir, what do you think of her?
JAMES LOOKS UP INTO THE RIGGING AND GOES ON TO SAY.
JAMES RAMSAY: Sheís the most beautiful ship Iíve ever seen, she must have been build in heaven.
THE STEWARD: Not at all Sir, sheís one of yours, built in Glasgow. Well Sir, this is your home for the next six weeks, I tell you Sir, if the winds are favourable we may save a day or so. FADE OUT TO COMMENTARY BY JAMES RAMSAY.
JAMES RAMSAY: 7a.m. Friday morning sailed from Tilbury, bright sun shine calm seas. Passed the chalk cliffs of Dover 4 p.m.. First breakfast on board ship, haddock stew and rice. 8 a.m. coffee. Felt sick turned in 10 p.m.. FADE OUT.
FADE UP PORTER
PORTER: Last call for breakfast, arriving Plymouth one hourís time. A LITTLE AWAY FROM MIKE PORTER EXITS UPSTAIRS FADE OUT.
FADE UP JAMES RAMSAY YAWNING CLOSE TO MIKE, BACKGROUND NOISE JAMES GETTING OUT OF HIS BUNK.
JAMES RAMSAY: My first day at sea, no comparison to sailing on the Gipsy Queen and the tranquility of the Forth and Clyde Canal but I am looking forward to seeing Australia.
BACK GROUND THE SHIP CUTTING THROUGH THE WATER. From Tilbury to Plymouth splendid weather, one of the old sea hands told me to enjoy the calm as we were expected in the Bay of Biscay around 8 p.m. Sunday 13th November. FADE UP STORM, HOLD FOR 5 SECONDS, THEN FADE INTO BACK GROUND. I went up on deck round about 6.30, torrential rain swept the decks clean, its as well for I along with other passengers was violently sick, God knows how none of us were blown overboard. the sickness continued I ate nothing as the ship rolled with the giant waves. I had read many books about the Bay of Biscay but one must experience it, the bow of the ship would plunge into the violence of the waves, as the sea powered cubic tons of water over her decks. Time after time she went down into the waves reappearing like the dolphins that accompany us in daylight. By the grace of God midday Sunday we had cleared the Bay of Biscay, distance from Plymouth 381 miles. Next day the sea had calmed a little, some passengers attempted to eat, the decks looked like they were covered with dead dogs. The time difference since leaving Glasgow at 12 a.m. is 15 minutes. by 4 p.m. That day we were passing Burling Rock just off the coast of Portugal, must say it puts me in mind of Strone Point on the Forth and Clyde Canal. The sea was calm but then some excitement took hold. The engine developed piston trouble, the cylinders had become fired. They were of the triple expansion type, four feet in diameter, the other two were eight feet. The triple twelve feet had a six foot stroke working pressure of 160 lbs, per square inch. FADE OUT
FADE UP STRONG WIND IN BACKGROUND. FADE UP FOOTSTEPS COMING TOWARDS JAMES RAMSAY THEN STOPPING.
REVEREND: Good morning to you James.
I need to speak with you. BOTH
MEN ASCENDING THE SMALL STAIRCASE TO THE UPPER DECK, CLOSE TO MIKE FOOTSTEPS ON
THE STAIRCASE, FIVE SECONDS, THEN FADE UP IN BACK GROUND THE SHIP CUTTING
THROUGH THE WATER.
REVEREND: James, I donít want you to be alarmed at whatís happening but please understand that this conversation cannot be heard by anyone other than you and I, nor can anyone see me, I am only visible to you. Remember James I am always at hand, all you need do is call me. You still have your diary James.
JAMES RAMSAY: Never without it, Reverend.
REVEREND: You wanted to ask me something.
JAMES RAMSAY: Itís my breathing... at times I find myself gasping for breath as though I were dying?
REVEREND: (The Reverend Marshall Lang diverted James request ) Look James ship on the starboard side, can you make out her name.
JAMES RAMSAY: Sheís one of the Anchor Line from Glasgow. JAMES HESITATES FOR A FEW SECONDS. Just canít make out her name but sheís definitely on her way to Glasgow. FADE UP HIGH WIND AND RAIN BATTERING THE SHIP.
JAMES RAMSAY: (COMMENTARY) The Reverend has gone to wherever he came form and the ship is being tossed about like a match stick. If thereís a God up there I hope he takes care of us. FADE OUT. THEN FADE UP TO WIND AND SEA IN THE BACKGROUND. The rain and darkness have settled, I have spent most of the night struggling with my predicament, I canít understand what's happening to me. Godís daylight is showing through the fading clouds and patches of sunlight mark the coast line of Spain, the Mediterranean has calmed, dolphins flank the ship with the protection of a naval escort, dont know why but I have great respect for those friendly creatures. Itís Wednesday 16th of November, not a lot to do on board so I took the opportunity to have a look round the ship. There are 937 passengers on board with 220 crew, the engineers are nearly all Scots men, very civil fellows most of them come from the Glasgow area. I tried to find out if any of them were on the square. Next day a terrible storm blows. FADE OUT.
FADE UP WIND TO GALE FORCE, THEN FADE TO BACKGROUND.
JAMES RAMSAY: The stormy west winds sweep through the ship, the sea lit by a silvery moon that gives one the illusion it is only a stones throw away and somehow seems to lessen the dangers of my immediate circumstances. I am at this moment in time standing in what I consider a secure place, as the giant waves dash against the dancing ship. The following morning we saw land. As we drew near the burning mountain Vesuvious, its great majestic height towering above everything around it. At its highest point fumes and smoke rose into the atmosphere. It was a really splendid sight, Naples nestling high on the hillside sloping gradually down towards the shore.
FADE OUT WIND. SEAGULLS IN BACKGROUND.
REVEREND: Enjoying it James?
JAMES RAMSAY: It looks just fine to me, (PAUSE) it is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever set eyes on.
BACKGROUND, ANCHOR BEING DROPPED.
REVEREND: Going ashore, James?
JAMES RAMSAY: ĎYes, along with five others, seems like this place holds fear for some, but not for me, Reverend.
REVEREND: Must be careful James, its not like back home.
JAMES RAMSAY: Reverend, Iím sure youíre aware of the towns of Kirkintilloch and Kilsyth.
REVEREND: Yes, yes, I know them James, hard working types, blood and guts, and all that.
JAMES RAMSAY: The God who protects you does likewise for me.
BACKGROUND. BOAT BEING SWUNG OVER INTO THE SEA. VOICE IN BACKGROUND CALLS OUT.
VOICE: All those going ashore, the longboat is on the port side.
FADE UP BOAT ROWING AWAY, FADE OUT, FOLLOWED BY FADE UP BOAT ALONGSIDE HARBOUR.
VOICE: I want you all back here by 5 p.m. Sailing time 6 p.m., If youíre not back on time I go without you.
CLOSE TO MIKE MEN WALKING AWAY INTO THE DISTANCE, FADE OUT. FADE UP JAMES RAMSAY AND THE GROUP OF MEN GRADUALLY COMING CLOSE TO MIKE AND STOPPING.
JAMES RAMSAY: (COMMENTARY) We engaged a guide who took us to the Royal Palace, such splendours I have never seen, its dancing hall is capable of accommodating 900 couples. Later we wandered through its principal streets. The thing that strikes me most is their buildings, some of which are nine storeys high, but worst of all is their narrow streets.
FADE UP GROUP OF FOOTSTEPS COMING TOWARDS THE MIKE THEN STOPPING.
JAMES RAMSAY: (COMMENTARY) Naples is certainly an exciting place, mind you, I am appalled but not surprised at the disease, in particular the dreadful cholera. As we moved into the lower slums. the filth was frightful, it makes me appreciate my beloved home land. However I took the opportunity to buy fresh fruit. Lemons were selling at one penny per dozen, grapes two pennies as were oranges and all other fruit. Its a bit like the fruit market in Candleriggs, Glasgow. The population of Naples is over 700,000, but I was extremely annoyed at not being able to understand the language. For by being beneficial in communicating it might well have offered some protection against the robbers. This place has brought on a bout of depression and it is pitiful to see men stoop so low. Even our guide attempted to swindle us. Fortunately one of our group had been there on a previous visit. FADE UP SOUND OF SHIPS CUTTING THROUGH THE WATER AND THE SOUND OF WOOD CREAKING AS THE WIND FILLS HER SAILS, FADE DOWN BACKGROUND. The following morning my mind calmed as did the sea. The experience of Naples had been somewhat disturbing. However I had thought at first sight how beautiful it was but quickly learned how superficial places can look. One wonders what might Sicily be like as we are sailing through the Straits of Messina.
FADE UP HIGH WIND, THE SEA BECOMING ROUGH, FADE DOWN, IN THE BACKGROUND THERE IS SOME EXCITEMENT AS ONE OF THE SEAMEN IS WASHED OFF HIS FORECASTLE. TWO OTHER SEAMEN GO TO HIS ASSISTANCE, A LITTLE AWAY.
FIRST SEAMAN: For Godís sake man, take hold of his legs.
SECOND SEAMAN: Is he dead?
FADE OUT TO COMMENTARY.
JAMES RAMSAY: (COMMENTARY) The poor fellow had broken his leg and badly cut his forehead. (FADE OUT) Next day being Sunday the Reverend Marshall Lang held a service. It was a splendid sight to stand on deck and watch the lightning flash along darkened sky. A few days later we were within sight of Port Said. That morning I was up early and rowed ashore. I had often imagined what kind of place this was. I must confess I was far from being correct. The town is built on a bed of sand. There is no soil for as far as one can see. The whole place is a fire hazard. Nearly all the houses are built of wood, a few are of a concrete substance material which is in abundance, gravel and sand. Some distance from the waterís edge I saw a group of builders at work. They were using a white freestone but as I look around, I thought the people of Naples were bad but in Port Said they are ten times worse.
FADE UP THE PATTER OF HUNDREDS OF MEN CARRYING COAL ON BOARD SHIP, FADE DOWN.
JAMES RAMSAY: (COMMENTARY) Its an amazing sight, over three hundred men carrying baskets of coal on board. I am told we are taking on 600 tons. Those poor hardworking souls receive one shilling per day, it is as they say body and soul.
FADE UP OF ONE OF THE MEN FALLING OVERBOARD.
JAMES RAMSAY: God, the poor fellow has no chance.
DISTANCE AWAY THE MAN OVERBOARD CALLS OUT IN PAIN THEN FADE OUT.
JAMES RAMSAY: (COMMENTARY) At least it was quick but those who are left are the living dead. God rest his soul. A few hours passed and the large coal vessels slowly moved away from us. As I watch those poor fellows covered in black coal dust, I felt humbled, for all their misery they waved us farewell. Of Port Said I am far from impressed. However the few other passengers who were with me decided to go their own way and I seized on the opportunity and ventured into the Mohammedan church.
FADE UP FOOTSTEPS WALKING UP THE STAIRS AND STOPPING. CONVERSATION WITH RAMSAY AND THE DOORMAN AT CHURCH ENTRANCE.
DOORMAN: (BROKEN ENGLISH) White man, take off shoes.
SCUFFLE AS RAMSAY TRIES TO PASS.
DOORMAN: White man, take off shoes.
(James was somewhat annoyed and was about to escalate a tricky situation into an international incident, when the Rev. Marshall Lang appeared.)
REVEREND: I would do as he says, James Ramsay.
JAMES RAMSAY: Youíve come back, I see.
REVEREND: Only when I am needed.
JAMES RAMSAY: (COMMENTARY) I took off my shoes without further ado. Those men meant business. Once inside I saw a dozen or so kneeling before a larger altar and near the entrance a few sat having their heads shaved. From there I went to an Arab school where to my disbelief, I saw over two hundred children being taught. I could not resist telling the master he was not keeping good order and when asked what I thought of it all, had it not been for decency, I would have put my fingers to my ear. I saluted such as he gave me when I entered, and took my leave. Next I went to the Mohammedans churchyard. It was a very interesting place. From there I went on to the English burial place which was by far more interesting, although I must admit a little sad to see all those names so far from home. Thankfully the beautiful tombstones are well looked after. As I made my way back to the longboat, I was fast becoming sick of the whole place and canít wait till I am in Williamstown. By nightfall we were at the entrance of the canal. Slowly we moved into position. A flare was sent up from the ship. FADE UP OF FLARE BEING FIRED THEN FADE OUT. A few moments later the lighthouse sent up an answering flare. We were signaled to stop at 7.30 pm. We put up for the night. The following morning 5 a.m., we were on our way through the Suez Canal. A few days passed. We are well into this famous run of water. As yet we have only stopped in order to let another ship past. The more I see and learn, the canal pays very well. The charge per ton is £ 8. The owners of this ship pay something like £ 5000. I am told this includes a return trip.
FADE UP THE REVEREND MARSHALL LANG HOLDING A SERVICE ON DECK.
REVEREND: Heavenly father, as we make our way to the new land of Australia, we trust in God, in that he will lead us from all lifeís temptation. (FADE TO BACKGROUND)
REVEREND: (IN SPIRIT) James, over here.
JAMES RAMSAY: Reverend, that was a mighty good service.
REVEREND: Yes, James, I was affected by the appalling situation of the inhabitants. There is no reason why man should assist nature in contributing to a beingís misery.
JAMES RAMSAY: In that I agree, for I have saw much hardship in my home town of Kilsyth, the harshness on the poor by draconian mine owners made me ashamed and to make matters worse I could not help those worse off than I.
REVEREND: You see James, I thought of home, all those ships from Glasgow. Why, it put one in mind of the Broomielaw. It was something of a comfort to find things so homely, but the greed of man only pays insult to God. What we see here James, is an extension of our own civilisation. It is far from being satisfactory.
FADE UP OF REVEREND LANG. FADE OUT THE CONVERSATION BETWEEN JAMES AND THE REVEREND.
REVEREND: We ask these things in Jesus name. (FADE OUT)
CLOSE TO MIKE
JAMES RAMSAY: (COMMENTARY) Next morning we learned that the delay had been caused by one of the Anchor Line becoming stuck across the canal. We weighed anchor at 6 a.m. Passed the troopship Euphrates from India. She had a great many soldiers on board who were homeward bound. They were a very happy bunch of fellows. It was evident there were many heroes among them. Thursday the 24th November, we arrived in Suez. We took on more coal, during which time I decided to go ashore. Unfortunately I omitted to take the train, instead I took one of the hundreds of donkeys. Unknown to me one had to work his passage and at times I lay on the sand exhausted. After all the effort, I found the town to be the most uninteresting stop we had made. A few hours later I was completely tired out. I decided to take the train back to the canal. I asked one of the darkies what his name was, to my surprise....
THE DARKIE: (BROKEN ENGLISH) My name Johnnie, me come from Glasgow, Scotch laddie. (LAUGHING, HOLD A FEW SECONDS THEN FADE OUT TO COMMENTARY)
JAMES RAMSAY: (COMMENTARY) He grinned at me in such a manner, I could see all his beautiful white teeth. This jovial fellow made my day. He was one of the most amazing characters I have come in contact with, once on the train. (FADE UP OF TRAIN, THEN LEVEL OFF TO BACKGROUND) Must say this is more like the thing.
REVEREND: Yes James, had I known what it was like I would have made the journey myself.
JAMES RAMSAY: Yes, I remember you did not venture off the ship, pity... One thing I must ask you Reverend, how does it feel to be a ghost.
REVEREND: In answer to your first point, I never left the ship simply because there was so many souls to be saved, you see James not every one made it, many died in the bush, others were robbed and murdered, as for being a ghost I must be honest I haven't had time to consider it, one thing James to get around.
JAMES RAMSAY: Can you go where you want.
REVEREND: The answer to that James, is yes and no?
JAMES RAMSAY: For example, if you wanted to visit Glasgow, or my old home town Kilsyth.
REVEREND: Would need permission.
JAMES RAMSAY: You mean.
REVEREND: Yes James, you must remember he has helpers.
JAMES RAMSAY: Are you one Reverend.
REVEREND: Never really thought of it like that.
JAMES RAMSAY: I suppose its a position for ministers and priests.
REVEREND: Absolutely not, I can tell you James there are few priests or ministers that sit in assembly with God, you see James religion is a way of man but he who believes in the purity of Christ, shall realise the great mysteries of life and death, it is they who will be the keepers of peace, called the angels of God.
JAMES RAMSAY: What will happen to me, I suppose I will be put out to grass.
REVEREND: That I cannot tell you but your time on earth has been better spent than mine, you have done much good work, a kind and generous nature is truly the work of God. James we must haste, there is little time left. ( FADE UP THE SMALL TRAIN PASSING OVER THE RAIL JOINTS, HOLD FOR A FEW SECONDS THEN FADE DOWN INTO BACKGROUND.)
JAMES RAMSAY: Reverend you mention God, (James points in the direction of the little jovial coloured man.) You see that little fellow over there.
(THE REVEREND ENQUIRES)
REVEREND: Which one?
JAMES RAMSAY: The small jovial looking chap.
REVEREND: Oh yes, very cheery looking chap, what about him, James?
JAMES RAMSAY: Wait heís coming towards us, shall I introduce you?
REVEREND: Remember James, he canít see me.
DARKIE: Me Johnnie, Scotch laddie, you smoke cigarette.
JAMES RAMSAY: Iím afraid not Johnnie, but please sit by me.
DARKIE: Scotch laddie, not allowed, white man only, bible say all men equal, Scotch laddie, have to go stop train.
REVEREND: In time the civilised world sees treachery and dissent from those far off places, just like the farmer reaps what he sows. For now I must be gone James. (The ghost figure of the Reverend disappears.)
THE JOHNNIE DARKIE LAUGHING, FADE OUT INTO THE DISTANCE AS DOES TRAIN.
JAMES RAMSAY: (COMMENTARY CLOSE TO MIKE) Later I walked round the dockyard. A group of about 30 men were fixing a large steel plate on one of the vessels. Most of the workforce were Europeans but I could not tarry as it was drawing near to embarking time. When I got back to the small boat the fun began, five other passengers were already there waiting, then it happened.
FADE UP CONVERSATION BETWEEN THE BOATMAN AND JAMES.
JAMES RAMSAY: Donít be daft man, you made the deal from the ship to shore, shore to the ship. Six pennies you asked for and six pennies you get. Now stand clear.
FADE UP OF MEN ROWING THE BOAT TOWARDS THE SHIP. A MOMENT LATER THE ARABS STORM INTO THE WATER AFTER THEM. A FEW MOMENTS OF THE SCUFFLE THEN ONE OF THE BRITISH PASSENGERS DRAWS HIS PISTOL AND FIRES A SHOT IN THE AIR.
BRITISH PASSENGER: Not another move or Iíll let you have it.
THE SOUND OF THE BOAT OARS AS IT HEADS TOWARDS THE SHIP, FADE UP CLOSE TO MIKE HOLD FOR A FEW SECONDS THEN FADE OUT.
JAMES RAMSAY: (COMMENTARY) At last the vessel sailed from Suez, time 2 a.m. I was up on deck. Its a lovely morning and the seamen are busy spreading canvas all over the deck. The sun is scorching hot. The Red Sea is no place for those who canít stand the heat. Saturday the 26th November, measles has broken out. Six cases are hospitalised. Late in the afternoon there was a pleasant shower of hail. By nightfall, it seemed everyone was making merry, dancing, concerts, boxing, everywhere someone was trying to amuse the company. By 11 p.m. there was a heavy shower of rain. When it passed the wind which followed was very hot. I am told rain is seldom seen in the Red Sea. Next morning I was up early and watched the entire crew gather for the Captainís muster. It was a splendid sight to see all stewards in their white shirts, blue jackets and white trousers. The firemen and stokers were dressed in their serges, then came the sailors in their blue jerseys followed by the engineers in their serges. Each department is led by their chiefs. After the inspection there is a service held by an English bishop who was one of the passengers. During the service none of the steerage passengers were allowed on deck. 3 p.m. The Reverend Dr Lang held a Scotch service, all were welcome, at 6 p.m. the Evangelists held theirs.
FADE OUT. FADE UP FRESH BREEZE.
JAMES RAMSAY: (COMMENTARY) We have entered the Straits of Babelmandab. By 12 a.m. we passed through the Tate of Tears, better known as Hellsgate. Nearby is the coral island of Tripoli. In proportion to Gibraltar, it is much narrower and the land on both sides looks barren in appearance.
FADE UP OF REVEREND LANGíS VOICE.
REVEREND: James, James....over here.
BACKGROUND THE CREAKING OF THE WOOD AND SAIL, FADE DOWN TO BACKGROUND.
JAMES RAMSAY: ( calls out ) Reverend Lang?
REVEREND: Yes James, I am here, how far have we sailed?
JAMES RAMSAY: By the time we reach Aden which is just over ninety miles away, we will have completed 4,826 miles.
REVEREND: James I must admit you have a head for figures. I am sure Melbourne welcomes the likes of you.
JAMES RAMSAY: And you too Reverend, for few preachers have the power of speech that will convince us mortals that God really does exist. (The Rev allows himself a quiet satisfactory smiles)
FADE UP OF FOG HORN THREE TIMES.
JAMES RAMSAY: (COMMENTARY) 6.30 p.m. We dropped anchor two miles off Aden. The fog horn signals the coaling station. Not very long afterwards a longboat manned with eight cars took off the captainís messenger. Eight p.m. Two coal barges came alongside.
FADE UP THE WATER SPLASHING AGAINST THE SHIP. ONE OF THE STEWARDS CALLS OUT.
STEWARD: The Ship will up anchor 10 a.m. tomorrow morning, weather will be fine tonight, the English Bishop wants you all to know there will be a harmony on board starting at seven thirty, all are welcome.
FADE UP JAMES RAMSAY COMMENTARY
JAMES RAMSAY: Next morning I was ashamed to be called a citizen of the British Empire. The behaviour of some passengers and crew was disgraceful.
FADE UP NOISE OF SMALL BOATS ALL ROUND THE SHIP.
JAMES RAMSAY: (COMMENTARY) As the natives come alongside with fresh fruit, they are lured nearby and scalded with boiling water. The treatment those poor fellows receive is unbelievable.
FADE UP OF ONE OF THE PASSENGERS. IN BACKGROUND THE SOUND OF THE SEA AND THE WAVES SPLASHING AGAINST THE SHIP.
PASSENGER: Over here, black man.
THE MAN: (BROKEN ENGLISH) You buy fruit, tobacco, no cheat white man.
PASSENGER: Come a little closer.
A LITTLE AWAY THE SCREAM OF THE NATIVE BEING SCALDED BY BOILING WATER, THE PASSENGER LAUGHING.
REVEREND: (Calls out his protest in his broad scots voice) In the name of Jesus, have mercy on those poor souls.
PASSENGER: Why donít you go back to Scotland and cultivate the cannibals who live there.
The greater the pain inflicted, the more delighted they were. It was
pitiful. The natives would lie down in the bottom of their boats and cry to the
white man to have mercy. A notice was posted on board that the ship would not
leave till 5.30 a.m. and if anyone wanted to go ashore, they could do so. For my
own part, I did not venture, being so ashamed at the way those little fellows
had been treated. In any case there was much excitement on board. Passengers
threw money into the water and the boys would dive and bring it to the top. Some
even dived below the vessel for as little as sixpence. They were aged from about
six to ten years. Their clothing is minimal, wearing only a piece of rag round
their middle. The boys come on board, climb half way up the rigging and dive
into the shark infested water, although I am told it is seldom that any are
injured by those sea monsters. FADE
OUT. FADE UP OF SHIP CUTTING THROUGH THE WATER, A FAIR WIND BLOWING.
At long last we are out of the dreadful Red Sea and are now in the Gulf of
Guardfui. Aden is said to be the last sight of land weíll see until King
George Sound. November the 30th, a fresh breeze blowing, difference of time
three hours, looks like we are in for an epidemic of measles. Eighteen cases are
in hospital. FADE
UP HIGH WIND BLOWING, HOLD A FEW SECONDS THEN FADE DOWN INTO BACKGROUND.
This is St. Andrewís Night, the patron saint of Scotland. A concert was
arranged to take place tonight but on account of the monsoon blowing, the
singers couldn't be heard. FADE
UP OF SINGING OF THE ROBERT BURNS SONG SCOTS WHAí HAE, FADE DOWN INTO
BACKGROUND. However, they are having a concert in the second
class saloon, but the third class passengers are not allowed in. I can tell you
there are few Scotch folks second class passengers. FADE
UP BURNS SONG A MANíS A MAN FUR Aí THAT. FADE DOWN INTO BACKGROUND.
Aye, Rabbie Burns, a manís a man, but brithers be is a long way off.
FADE UP, FADE OUT. FADE UP SHIP RIGGING GENTLY CREAKING IN THE WIND. THE
OCCASIONAL SEAGULL IN THE BACKGROUND. There is a fresh wind blowing. The
air is warm but very damp. The water is teeming with flying fish. They appear to
be only six inches long rising only a few inches out of the water. We are 9.21
degrees north of the Equator, difference in time three hours fifteen minutes.
The run for today is 382 miles, degrees 1.47 north of the Equator. The distance traveled
today is the greatest the Oraya has made in any previous trips to Australia.
FADE UP FRESH WIND BLOWING, FADE DOWN TO BACKGROUND.
JAMES RAMSAY: (COMMENTARY) Yesterday we broke the fastest run to date but today the record has gone yet again, 406 miles against 382. It has taken us 1.97 degrees south of the Equator and shot up the difference from Glasgow to five hours. FADE UP FRESH WIND BACKGROUND CREAKING OF RIGGING, HOLD A FEW SECONDS THEN FADE DOWN INTO BACKGROUND. The crew are busy setting up canvas along the side of the ship, hoping that it will help stop the voices carrying away during the Scotch concert. We have worked extremely hard arranging the form, details of which have been accepted by the Captain and the Reverend Lang.
FADE UP OF REV LANGíS OPENING ADDRESS. BACKGROUND WIND AND THE CREAKING OF THE RIGGING.
REV: Sisters and brothers, it is with the greatest of pleasure that I chair this meeting on this somewhat late St. Andrewís Night.
JAMES RAMSAY : (COMMENTARY) Reverend Lang went on to make a dreadful mistake, he remarked.
FADE UP REVEREND LANGíS SPEECH.
REV: One Scotsman is as good as six Englishmen or twelve Irishmen.
FADE UP A LITTLE CHEERING. GRADUALLY DROWNED OUT BY HISSING AT THE REVERENDíS REMARKS. FADE DOWN BACKGROUND ADVERSITY TO THE REV CARRYING ON HIS SPEECH.
REV: My fellow countrymen have held many noble positions throughout the world. Let none of you hang your heads in shame.
FADE DOWN THE REVíS VOICE TO COMMENTARY BY JAMES RAMSAY.
JAMES RAMSAY: (COMMENTARY) Those remarks you regretted, Rev?
REV: Perhaps I was a little carried away, I admit James, I was wrong.
FADE OUT COMMENTARY. FADE UP REV LANGíS SPEECH.
REV: Let me read the programme which is as follows.....Songs will be Scotland Yet, Macgregorís Gathering, The Auld Scotch Songs, The Cameron Men.
FADE OUT TO COMMENTARY.
JAMES RAMSAY : (COMMENTARY) It was a joyful evening, the violin and concertina were greatly appreciated by all on board, but the Reverendís remarks had cut deep, leaving an underlying feeling of anger among the other passengers.
FADE UP CLOSE TO MIKE OF REVíS CLOSING SPEECH.
REV: I would like to close the concert by thanking all who helped make it a successful evening. May God keep and guide you in the new land.
FADE UP HISSING BY THE ENGLISH AND IRISH PASSENGERS. ONE OF THE ENGLISH PASSENGERS.
ENGLISH PASSENGER: Iíve never seen the Scotsman yet who was as good as one Englishman.
FADE UP MORE HISSING THEN FADE DOWN.
IRISH PASSENGER: That goes for us Irish too.
FADE UP MORE HISSING, BACKGROUND THE REV CALLING FOR ORDER, WHICH HE GRADUALLY GETS.
REV: Gentlemen, please gentlemen.
THE HISSING STOPS.
REV: I meant no offence and hope you will accept my apologies.
FADE UP A FEW VOICES SINGING AULD LANG SYNE. BUILD UP TO GREAT VOLUME GRADUALLY FADE DOWN, TO HISSING AND BOOING, HOLD A FEW MOMENTS THEN FADE OUT.
REV: (CLOSE TO MIKE) If you will permit me to offer thanks to the singers.
FADE UP CHEERING AND SOME HAND CLAPPING, THEN FADE DOWN THEN OUT. A GENTLEMAN ON THE PLATFORM GETS UP TO OFFER A VOTE OF THANKS TO REV LANG.
GENTLEMAN: Gentlemen, let us give vent to a worthy chairman. The REV Lang.
FADE UP CHEERING AND HISSING, HOLD A FEW MOMENTS THEN FADE DOWN.
REV: The Queen!
FEW BEGIN TO SING BUT ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE, FIGHTING VERGING ON A RIOT THE
REPUBLICAN IRISH TOOK UMBRAGE, THE SCOTS CLOSED RANKS WITH THE ENGLISH. FADE UP
CLOSE TO MIKE FIGHTING HOLD THIS FOR FIVE SECONDS THEN FADE.
JAMES RAMSAY: (COMMENTARY) After fighting my way through the angry crowd at long last I got off the deck. having been challenged by a number of the other passengers.
(Next day I once again ran the gauntlet of hate, This time I could see the faces.)
ENGLISH PASSENGER: So you think youíre as good as me.
JAMES RAMSAY: (The last thing I wanted was scuffling on deck with my fellow passengers but if forced then that's what I would have to do.) Step aside sir, I have no fight with you or any other man.
ENGLISH PASSENGER: Stand your ground, Scotsman.
JAMES RAMSAY: My friend, I will say this to you only once, firstly I do not apologise for the Reverendís remarks, as your behaviour was deplorable to the little black children, and had you not thought the Reverendís remarks to be true, then you would have let it pass, now brother, I suggest you step aside. (Nearby a few scuffles take hold.)
FADE UP THE MEN SCUFFLING AS JAMES RAMSAY WALKS PAST HOLD FOR FIVE SECONDS, THEN FADE OUT.
JAMES RAMSAY: (COMMENTARY)(CLOSE TO MIKE) At last I am in my bunk but find sleep hard to come as the English are trying to aggravate the Scots folks into a quarrel. The whole affair has caused much bad feeling where perhaps there was no good feeling before. Unfortunately the Reverend Lang brought it to the surface. FADE OUT.
FADE UP HEAVY SWELL, SEA SPLASHING AGAINST THE SHIP.
JAMES RAMSAY: Tuesday 6th December, the run for today is 318 miles, degrees 9.25 south, the sun is beating down on us. This morning there is much discussion on the merits and demerits of last nightís concert. The Scots folk on board are calling the Reverend Lang for everything other than a gentleman. I feel a little sorry for him being brought under such mean ridicule, for a few proud Englishmen and an ignorant class of Irishmen. The whole matter was now coming to boiling point as a few of the English passengers keep niggling at the Scots, I came in for some stick but as a boy in Kilsyth, we learnt how to handle ourselves, names never bothered me nor did the back to the wall stuff.
FADE UP TO DINNER TABLE. PEOPLE EATING OUT OF BOWLS BACK GROUND THE GENERAL Clatter OF SPOONS AND THE USUAL HUMAN CHATTER.
ENGLISH PASSENGER: Do you Scots really think youíre as good as Englishmen (PAUSE) Well, have you lost your tongues?
THIS WAS FOLLOWED BY SILENCE, ALL THAT COULD BE HEARD WAS THE CREAKING OF THE SHIP AND THE SPLASHING OF SEA AGAINST THE SHIP. THE ENGLISH Gentleman WAS THE ONE THAT HAD CONFRONTED JAMES RAMSAY AFTER THE CONCERT, HE WAS DETERMINED TO HAVE HIS POUND OF FLESH.
FIRST ENGLISH PASSENGER: Lost your tongue Scots man?
RAMSAY GETS TO HIS FEET, GLARES OVER IN THE DIRECTION OF THE BIG ENGLISHMAN.
JAMES RAMSAY: You are that same loudmouth who confronted me last night, sir I suggest you keep a civil tongue, I remind you there are women and children present. Last night I stepped aside, if you wish you may take that as submission but if you insist then I demand a civilised settlement, where by I challenge you to a boxing match at your earliest convenience.
HOLD FOR FIVE SECONDS DURING WHICH TIME ONLY THE CREAKING OF THE SHIPS TIMBERS AND A CALM SEA SPLASHING AGAINST THE BOW. ONE OF THE OTHER ENGLISH PASSENGERS GOT TO HIS FEET.
SECOND ENGLISH PASSENGER: My dear brother I offer my apologies on behalf of a fellow Englishman, and give you assurance that this incident is terminated as from this moment. (he glared at the troublesome Englishman, then smiled in the direction of James, who acknowledged him.
FADE UP THE SEA COMING CLOSER TO MIKE, HOLD FOR THREE SECONDS THEN FADE OUT. FADE UP JAMES RAMSAY CLOSE TO MIKE, BACKGROUND SEA AND A LIGHT WIND BLOWING.
JAMES RAMSAY: (COMMENTARY) That evening the Captain had a notice posted. It was an attempt to defuse the situation. It read, ďAt 8 pm. a gentleman will entertain. He began with a recitation titled ďA Voyage to Australia on the good ship Dragon in the year of 1870.Ē Again the ugly side of man reappeared. The fellow had hardly got to the second verse when someone asked if he was a Scot. He immediately recited a poem on Auld Reekie, it was a masterpiece, everyone cheered. FADE UP BREEZE BLOWING, THE SHIP PLOUGHING THROUGH A ROUGH SEA. Itís raining now and I must admit it is the coldest Iíve felt since leaving Plymouth. The run today is 348 miles, time difference five hours 30 minutes, 12.51 degrees south. Reports from the hospital is that there are twelve cases of measles still with us but they are expected to be better before we reach Melbourne. As the day grows to darkness, I took some pleasure in the thought of a warm bunk. FADE UP STRONG BREEZE, SEA IN BACKGROUND A LITTLE ROUGH. Thursday 8th December, the ship is battling against a head wind. Sighted a sailing vessel, she was the first ship I had seen for a few days. The English and Irish held a concert on board, Chairman Doctor Jennings. In his opening remarks he hoped all the ill feeling on the ship had gone. The concert was rather like ours, they had few good singers. I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the Italians with their instruments. They were well worth listening to. Poor Reverend Lang, he is once again in the firing line. Some nasty things are being levelled against him. It is so bad that the poor fellow wrote a letter to the shipís committee requesting that anyone who had anything to say could approach him personally and he would explain anything they wished to know. For my part I have told one or two of them to go and see him, but they lack the manly courage. FADE UP STRONG BREEZE, GRADUALLY FADE DOWN INTO BACKGROUND. For the last half hour the engineers have been busy working on the engines. I can hear them chattering among themselves, as the vessel rolls like a piece of driftwood. Canít wait till I see Australia. I am told it is a beautiful place. When we arrive there the first thing Iíll do is have a bowl of porridge. For some reason I feel anxiety, dont know why.
FADE UP REVEREND LANGíS VOICE.
REV: James, let me help.
JAMES RAMSAY: Tis you, Reverend.
REV: Your anxiety is that of a drowning man. Remember James, your life is gradually draining away, at the very moment your body is about to surface for the third time, when that happens you will see Williamstown and the beautiful Melbourne Bay.
JAMES RAMSAY: Then what, Reverend Lang?
REV: I will be your guide, with me James I will lead you to the four corners of the universe, to a place my dear brother, of warmth, a place of beauty, tranquility, will be yours forever, among the favoured angels of God.
FADE UP HIGH WIND CLOSE TO MIKE WHISTLING THROUGH THE SHIP, HOLD THIS FOR THREE SECONDS THEN FADE OUT. FADE UP FRESH WIND BLOWING AS JAMES RAMSAY STARTS HIS COMMENTARY CLOSE TO MIKE.
JAMES RAMSAY: (COMMENTARY) The run for today is 336 miles, latitude 23.49 south, time difference from home six hours 3 minutes. Today two of the shipís firemen had a stand up fight. Must say it helped brighten up our fourth Saturday on board. The poor fellows lost a dayís pay for their labours.
FADE UP SCOTTISH VIOLIN MUSIC BACKGROUND, SCOTTISH DANCERS ENJOYING THEMSELVES. FADE DOWN INTO BACKGROUND. JAMES RAMSAY CARRIES ON WITH COMMENTARY.
JAMES RAMSAY: (COMMENTARY) The Scots folk are having their Saturday night get together, as usual those who want to join in are welcome. FADE TO BACKGROUND SCOTTISH MUSIC. The following morning it was extremely cold. Not since we left England have I felt the need for extra clothing. In the afternoon the Reverend Lang held a short service on the main deck and it was reported that another two cases of measles are in the shipís hospital. One of the women on board is said to be very ill. It is not expected that she will last out the voyage. I sincerely hope the great God of man looks favourably on her.
UP HIGH WIND, HOLD A FEW SECONDS THEN FADE DOWN INTO BACKGROUND.JAMES RAMSAY,
CONTINUING HIS COMMENTARY.
JAMES RAMSAY: (COMMENTARY) There is another case of measles on board. The sea is running high. FADE OUT WIND, CLOSE TO MIKE GROUP OF PEOPLE EATING AT THE DINING ROOM TABLE. This morning there are few in for breakfast, must say I canít blame them. The ship is rolling so much I can hardly find my mouth with the spoon. FADE UP ALL THE DISHES BEING ROLLED OFF THE TABLE, HOLD A FEW SECONDS THEN FADE OUT. CLOSE TO MIKE GALE BLOWING, THE SEA BREAKING AGAINST THE SHIP. The high seas are expected to be with us until we reach Adelaide. I have been offered the courtesy from the Chief Engineer to look over the engine rooms. I could hardly imagine the size of the fresh water tank. It holds one thousand six hundred tons, and when they run out there is ample supply all around us. FADE OUT GALE AND SEA BREAKING AGAINST SHIP, FADE UP ENGINES IN MOTION, PISTONS POUNDING AS THEY DRIVE THE SHIP, HOLD A MOMENT, THEN CUT BACK TO BACKGROUND. I am convinced the man who thought up this system must have been an extremely capable economist. The condensed water is filtered back into the tanks. CLOSE TO MIKE JAMES CLIMBING THE IRON STAIRS LEADING UP ONTO DECK, AS HE GRADUALLY ASCENDS FADE UP GALE FORCE WIND. There are very few people on deck as one risks being soaked through and for the first time I have noticed the ship taking in a considerable amount of water. FADE TO GALE FORCE WIND IN BACKGROUND (CLOSE TO MIKE) December 13th 1887, sea still very rough. It was as much as I could do last night to keep myself in my bunk. It is so cold many of the passengers are wearing their greatcoats. 11 am. all on board welcomed the sight of Cape Lewis on the west coast of Australia. The coastline is covered with trees running all the way up the sloping contours. I canít wait to set foot on my new homeland. We are expected to reach Albany about midnight, run for today 357 miles latitude 34.18 south, distance from Albany at midday 208 miles. The sea has calmed since we passed Cape Lewis but there is still a swell on. FADE UP ENGINES AT FULL SPEED, HOLD A FEW SECONDS THEN FADE INTO BACKGROUND. 11 pm. Engines slowed down in order to pass the Heads in daylight. FADE UP SLIGHT BREEZE, ENGINES TICKING OVER. Next morning I was on deck at 4 am. It is getting light, soon we will be passing the Heads. By 4.30 we were sailing slowly in King Georgeís Sound, 6 am. the anchor was dropped. FADE UP THE ANCHOR BEING DROPPED. A few minutes later the Royal Mail flag is flying from the top of the main mast.
FADE UP SMALL ROWING BOAT COMING ALONGSIDE. THE WATER IS SPLASHING AGAINST THE BOAT AS IT BOBS ABOUT IN THE SEA.
MAN ON THE BOAT: (SCOTS ACCENT) Ahoy there, is all well on board?
CAPTAIN: All is not well, we have measles on board.
BOATMAN: You will run up the yellow quarantine flag.
CAPTAIN: (AS AN ORDER) Hoist the quarantine.
A LITTLE AWAY THE FLAG BEING RUN UP THE FLAG POLE.
SECOND MATE: Run down Royal Mail Hoist.
FADE OUT GRADUALLY. THE FLAG BEING RUN DOWN.
BOATMAN: No one must leave the ship. Sir, I will have a doctor out to you at the earliest.
FADE UP ROWING BOAT MOVING AWAY.
JAMES RAMSAY: (COMMENTARY) Just what I had feared, that the measles would see the ship quarantined. But we were fortunate, the yellow flag was lowered, the doctor being satisfied that the state of the passengers and measles were of no risk to the mainland. FADE UP HEAVY RAIN. It is still very misty and as the ship is a mile off shore, we can see very little. I heard some of the passengers complaining that it is just like being at home. FADE OUT HEAVY RAIN. The rain has stopped now and we can see the land clearly. It is a very hilly place thickly covered with bush and trees. I find it refreshing to see the lovely green vegetation. It is now midday, thankfully it has got a little warmer. A notice was posted at 10 am. informing us that the ship would sail at 3 pm. There were a few who went ashore, of those who did many were first class passengers. However there is little to see as this part of the country is just being opened up. I feel no envy at those thirty passengers who have disembarked, especially from what I hear about the place from the ten passengers who have come aboard for Adelaide. The fare is five pounds. FADE UP WATER SPLASHING AGAINST THE SHIP. With 200 tons of coal on board, it was interesting to see the white man carrying it rather than the small dark tribe who are by far the best workers. Today the woman who has been ill, died. She is to be buried at sea. FADE UP ANCHOR BEING PULLED UP. ENGINES START AS THE SHIP MOVES AWAY. FADE OUT. The woman who died is to be buried today. I was told last night it would take place at 5.30 am. FADE UP CHOPPY SEA, WATER SPLASHING AGAINST THE SHIP. At 5.30 the chief mate arrived followed by the captain and the Rev Dr Lang who read the burial service.
FADE UP REV LANG FOLLOWED BY THE BODY BEING SLIPPED OVERBOARD.
REV: (FADE UP) In Jesus name. (FADE OUT)
FADE UP SHIP CUTTING THROUGH THE WATER, SEA FINE AND SMOOTH.
JAMES RAMSAY: (COMMENTARY) We are sailing through the Great Australian Bight. The sea is calm, more than I can say for the passengers who will disembark at Adelaide. It seems there has been much theft, it is so bad that there were vicious hand fights. Belongings were brought on deck. The accused had their boxes searched, closely surveyed by the accusing families. The squabbles are mainly confined to the rougher class of passenger. It seems winner takes all.
FADE UP CONCERT, A GROUP OF SINGER ON BOARD SHIP, SINGING THE TWENTY THIRD PSALM. HOLD THIS FOR A FEW MOMENTS THEN FADE OUT.
MAN (CLOSE TO MIKE): Fellow shipmates I call on Sir Patrick Jennings.
SIR PATRICK JENNINGS (CLOSE TO MIKE): Fellow countrymen, I realise the monotony of being on board ship for so long. However the end of our journey is drawing to a close. As I mentioned earlier, many of us will never meet again, but you my friends, are the fathers of a new nation which has flourished over the past ten years to become one of the most desirable habitations in the empire. Brothers and sisters, go forth and nourish this beautiful country for many generations yet unborn will look back to this day when their roots were finally planted on the fertile soil of Australia. May God bless you all.
FADE UP APPLAUSE AFTER SPEECH, FADE DOWN.
The Queen (THE
PASSENGERS SINGING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM)
FADE UP CLOSE TO MIKE NATIONAL ANTHEM, HOLD A FEW SECONDS, FADE UP HEAVY SWELL, SHIP BEING KNOCKED ABOUT, WAVES SPLASHING AGAINST THE SIDE OF THE SHIP.
JAMES RAMSAY: (COMMENTARY) Saturday 17th December, still running against head wind, came in sight of Kangaroo Island. We are 76 miles from Adelaide, run for today 363 miles, latitude 35.21 south. FADE UP ANCHOR BEING DROPPED, ROWING BOAT APPROACHING SHIP. We are anchored in sight of Port Adelaide in a stretch called Largs Bay. The doctor has just come on board under the yellow quarantine flag. I feel sorry for all those who wait to go ashore. Its a pitiful sight, women and children becoming more agitated as the dreaded yellow flag fluttered over us. FADE UP PASSENGERS CHEERING AS THE YELLOW FLAG IS LOWERED. The yellow flag is finally lowered to the great relief of the passengers. Soon the small steam launches came alongside taking the passengers to the mainland. FADE UP FOG HORN BLOWING A LITTLE AWAY FROM MIKE. There was only one hold up. All the third class passengers were ordered to go through a medical examination before being allowed ashore. FADE FOG HORNS TO BACKGROUND. The coastline along to Port Adelaide is very level, but as we approached Largs Bay it became a little hilly. Unfortunately we are not allowed off the ship. It is a little frustrating as we cannot see the town of Adelaide which lies about seven miles from the shore. Much of the land is covered in trees with very rich green vegetation. The ship sits a little higher as three hundred passengers have disembarked. FADE OUT FOG HORN. CLOSE TO MIKE HEAVY MACHINERY AS CARGO IS UNLOADED. It is a really busy night as cargo is unloaded not to mention three hundred passengers. FADE UP MACHINERY CONVEYOR BELTS LOADING COAL ONTO THE SHIP. The taking on of coal is much simpler here. It is brought out on small tugs which use conveyor belts to bring it aboard. FADE OUT MACHINERY. FADE UP VOICES IN THE FAR BACKGROUND, ECHOING ACROSS THE BAY. I have been on deck all night as sleep is virtually impossible. My reward is a beautiful sun rise at 4 a.m. The only thing not in harmony is the noise of merrymaking which echoes across the bay which is like a large sheet of glass. FADE UP ANCHOR BEING LIFTED. THE SHIPíS HORN SOUNDS A FEW TIMES AS THE SHIP STEAMS SLOWLY OUT OF THE BAY. 6 a.m. The cargo discharged by 7 a.m. We are running at full speed. My calculations were wrong, I had not expected to see another sun rise on board. FADE UP RINGING OF THE BELL FOR MEALS. FADE UP A LITTLE AWAY DINING DECK, PEOPLE EATING BOWLS OF IRISH STEW. I ventured to the dining deck with no other intention than to watch my fellow passengers devour their Irish Stew. I tried hard but could not resist. Some time later I went on deck, the stew having decided not to say put. FADE UP TO SHIP CUTTING THROUGH THE WATER AT SPEED. We are running along the southern coast in sight of land. The more I see of Australia the more impatient I become to be at my destination. The run today is 73 miles, latitude 35.54 south, time difference from Glasgow nine hours. Things are very quiet since midday, especially after a notice was posted showing the distance from Melbourne to be 430 miles. We should arrive tomorrow afternoon but I fear the ship has developed engine trouble. I did not bother to find out what was wrong and at this moment I feel rather like the small child who has been cheated as we will not be in Melbourne on time.
FADE UP THE REVEREND LANG.
REV: James, the time is near.
JAMES RAMSAY: I am aware Reverend, for I feel a terrible anxiety, my whole body trembles, the awareness of my destiny saddens me.
SOME TIME BEFORE THE SHIP REACHED ITS DESTINATION THE REV GAVE HIS LAST SERVICE ON BOARD.
FADE UP TO REVíS SERVICE ON BOARD SHIP.
REV: Heavenly father, as you commanded Gideon to select his army at the waterís edge, send us safely through our earthly path in the knowledge that Jesus Christ will be with us to protect us against all evil.
FADE OUT. FADE UP SHIP CUTTING THROUGH A STRONG BREEZE, THE SEA IS A LITTLE ROUGH.
JAMES RAMSAY : (COMMENTARY) All the passengers are astir at this early hour. Everyone seems a little anxious to reach our destination. However we are kept busy watching our kit for fear something goes missing. For myself everything I own is under lock and key. It is very noticeable, everyone is dressed in their best clothing. There are white shirts everywhere. Must say it makes a difference from the old togs one has been used to seeing over the past six weeks. Run for today 335 miles latitude 38.49 south, distance from Melbourne 92 miles. 3 p.m. We crossed what is called the Rip. At this point the water gives one the impression of being at boiling point. FADE UP SHIP CUTTING THROUGH THE CHOPPY WATER. We are in sight of Port Philip Heads. One side of the island is a luscious green paradise, the other is used as a quarantine station. CLOSE TO MIKE PISTOL BEING FIRED. We have been ordered to stop. The ship has once again hoisted the yellow flag. Tempers are becoming short. The doctor is on board carrying out examinations of all Melbourne passengers. It has been suggested that all who have measles are expected to be left on the island. There is much disagreement. Finally the doctor gives the all clear. The yellow flag is lowered and we are on our way. FLAG BEING LOWERED THEN FADE OUT. CLOSE TO MIKE SHIP AT FULL SPEED ENTERING MELBOURNE BAY. The ship is at full speed as we enter Melbourne Bay. By 6 p.m. we are nearing Williamstown. Everyone on board seems to be lining the deck in the hope they will see relatives on the quay. FADE UP FOG HORN GREETING THE PEOPLE WAITING ON THE QUAY. THE PASSENGERS GIVING A HEARTY CHEER, FOLLOWED BY CLAPPING AND CHEERING INSTANTANEOUSLY. (FADE OUT) At long last we are at our destination. FADE UP TRAIN ON ITS WAY TO MELBOURNE. I am sitting on the train running up to Melbourne. I must say it is beautiful looking over the bay but I feel so happy coupled with anxiety I canít really understand. FADE OUT.
FADE UP FOG HORN, THE WATER SPLASHING AGAINST THE JETTY. THE SOUND OF A ROWING BOAT COMING CLOSE TO MIKE, THE TWO BOATMEN NOTICE SOMETHING FLOATING IN THE WATER. ITíS THE BODY OF JAMES RAMSAY.
FIRST MAN: Some old geiser must have fallen overboard.
FADE UP FOG HORN AND SEAGULLS IN THE BACKGROUND, HOLD A FEW SECONDS THEN FADE OUT.
The above play ďThe Diary of James Ramsay ď is the Copyright of William Chalmers, Kilsyth Scotland