Pirates are all the rage, and we get loads of requests for stories about walking the plank, swinging in the rigging, and mayhem on the high seas. And so Bertie has come up with a series of stories about a boy called Jack who meant to go to sailing school, but ended up at pirate school instead.
He was seven. And Jack had six sisters, but no brothers.
And they were really, really girly.
All day long, they'd play with their dolls.
And with their beauty salon.
And twirl around in their pink ballet tutus.
Jack thought it was really, really boring.
"How about a game of pirates?" Jack used to say every morning, when they didn't have to go to school.
And sometimes his sisters would agree.
But their idea of playing pirates was to sit all the rogues and ruffians and cut-throats around in a circle and serve cups of tea and slices of cake.
They didn't want to make people walk the plank. Or hunt for buried treasure. Or anything.
And Jack just got fed up, and went to play pirates by himself.
Then one day, they were all sitting at lunch when Jack's father asked him if he wanted to go to sailing school in the summer holidays.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," said Jack. "That sound GRRRRR-ate."
And so it was agreed. In the summer holidays, Jack would go off to sailing school for a few days.
"Just one thing, Jack," said his father. "Make sure you aren't captured by any pirates."
And all his sisters laughed.
"Because they might hold you to ransom for a million pounds," said his father.
"Oh, I wouldn't worry about that," said Jack. "The rascals and ruffians could never capture me. I'd just fight them off."
And he made a slashing motion with his hands, as if he was waving a cutlass through the air.
"See, like this," said Jack. "Boom, bam, biff…"
And all his sisters rolled their eyes.
"That's agreed then," said his father.
Jack was so excited, he could hardly wait for the school term to end.
All day long, he would sit at his desk in school, dreaming of how he was going to be out in the ocean waves. And wondering if there really were any pirates out there.
Not that he'd mind if there were.
He wasn't frightened of pirates.
Finally the big day arrived.
It was the start of the summer holidays.
Jack packed his bag very carefully. He had some clothes to wear, and some sandwiches to eat, plus some swimming trunks in case he fell into the water.
And a cutlass.
Because, after all, you never knew what kind of ruffians you were going to meet on the high seas.
Of course, it was only a toy, plastic cutlass.
But never mind, thought Jack. Maybe he could just scare then away by waving it around a bit.
He'd show them.
His mum put him on the train, and told him to be careful.
And as he watched the countryside go by, Jack couldn't wait to see the ocean.
Finally, he could see the waves crashing against the shore, and soon afterwards the train pulled up to the station.
He climbed off the train and looked up and down the platform.
And then he saw a man standing with a sign, which said. "Boys who want a life on the ocean waves, please step this way."
And so Jack walked towards him.
"Excuse me," he said.
It was at that point that he noticed a funny looking parrot sitting on the man's shoulder.
"Er, excuse me," said Jack.
"Yes, what is it?" said the man.
"Is this the right place for the sailing school?"
The man paused.
"Ahhhhaaaaa," squawked the parrot. "Sailing school……ahhhhhhaaaaaa."
"Shaddup, you stupid bird," growled the man.
Then he looked back at Jack.
"Sailing school, you could say that," he said. "Step this way young man."
And so Jack followed him towards the car, and they drove to the port. "Who's a silly boy, then," squawked the parrot, or at least he did until the man whacked him around the beak.
And then they climbed out of the car, and the man showed Jack the ship.
But it wasn't what jack was expecting.
It was more of a galleon than a yacht.
With huge sails, and rigging, and a crow's nest.
"I, er, I mean…" said Jack nervously.
But the man just pushed him up the stair, so hard that Jack went flying across the deck.
The next thing he knew, a very tall man was walking towards him. A man with a black cape, and a wooden leg.
He lent straight into Jack's face.
"Welcome to pirate school, young man," he boomed. "Where'll we'll teach you everything you need to know for a life of mayhem and treachery on the high seas. I hope you like excitement young man, because from now on, you're going to have plenty of it".
"Excitement is just what I like best !" said Jack. And then he felt just a tiny bit nervous.