Friday, July 11, 2008


This evening we were welcomed into the fellowship of honorary Newfoundlanders by a ceremony known as "screeching in." It involves various religious postures and distributions which could perhaps be considered a bit blasphemous if it weren't all fer the laughs, ya know.

To start with, ya gets in a semi-circle with yer shoes off, ya see, and den ya kneels down on da floor. Den da skipper, 'e serves up the goods to all assembled, while the first mate reads off some quotated bits to teach ya da symbolism der.

First ya has a
Purity peppermint nob, standin' for da sweetness o' da fraish air an' such. Den ya gets a chunk o' hard tack (also by Purity -- I t'ink we has a genuine sponsor tie-in deal goin') to remind yas of the hardships of life on da rock. (Do I detect a smatterin' o' "Why is this night different from every other night"? Ahoy-vay, matey.)

Den we moves on to a taste of fat pink bologna, which symbolizes.....well, ya got me.

Next we stands up and, after stumblin' half-arsed through the Newfoundland national anthem, we begins a one-by-one Catholic-style veneration-like ritual, where each initiate has to come forward and "kiss da cod" -- its fraish, an' gutted, and straight out o' de oice -- an' it looks at ya wid a sorta com'ithery expression, its nasty little wormy mustaches hangin' down and it eyes wide with curiosity. So we kisses da cod, der.

ly, we gets to da Prodestant portion o' da program, where buddy comes out wid little trays all covered with tiny glasses full of liquid, kinda low-church communion-like. But they was all filled with Screech, y'see, that fine old Newfoundland drink which is a kind of rum spiked with ethanol er somethin'. And ya takes yer shot glass, waits until everybody has one, and then ya knocks it back in one great whack.

My guess is that in the ordinary way of things, this last ritual would have continued until most of the assembly was proudly horizontal. But there were kids involved (who got nothin' but cranberry juice) so that was the end of it.

We gets our official certificates and a copy of the anthem, and was packed off to dinner.

Later this evening, skipper comes round by the house to give us a special prize: we got the promiscuous cod! -- head, tail, eyeballs, wormy things, and all -- to wrestle with for dinner tomorrow.

'Twas a fair evening. Yis, b'y.


The aforementioned "kids" who also got screeched-in were the crew of the Concordia, a tall ship that doubles as a school for high school students. This group was the summer session class, just four days into their sailing career. They arrived this morning. A taste of old times for this once busy harbour. A fine sight.