Confessions: Wrong Man Overboard

Twenty years ago, when Simon was a whippersnapper presenter on BBC Radio 1, he received thousands of letters from listeners confessing their darkest secrets and worst misdemeanours, begging for his forgiveness. Every day, Father Mayo read out a confession - and then he'd decide whether to grant forgiveness or not.

Now Confessions is back on BBC Radio 2 Drivetime. Read a Confession below, then Send Simon Your Confession


Dear Simon & the Collective,

I'm writing to ask forgiveness for a close friend who for many years was a cruise ship doctor on a number of summer seasons.

As you may know many elderly passengers take cruises and it's a fact of life, although thankfully quite rare, that one or two don't make it to the end of their trip. For this reason most modern cruise ships have on board some sort of facility to cater for such an event.

More over some passengers, suspecting the worst, leave instructions at the outset of their journey detailing steps that should be taken if they pass on during their trip. One such possible request is for a burial at sea, a quite legal procedure, in which the captain is qualified to oversee proceedings.

On this particular occasion an elderly gentleman who had a long association with the sea and all things maritime sadly passed on during the voyage having left just such a request for a burial at sea.

Being a fairly uncommon procedure for the crew and my friend, everyone concerned was keen to make sure that the imminent interment to the depths was carried out without a hitch, and so it was decided that a small party should be assembled prior to the actual ceremony, with all the equipment needed to carry out the final request, by way of a practise run.

So with just the doctor and a couple of deck hands present, the body, carefully stitched into a canvas bag, was sombrely carried, with all due respect up to the deck and placed carefully on the sliding ramp that was to be used. After the procession had reached its end and the body was safely in place the mechanism was carefully checked to ensure that all was ready to launch the deceased on his final journey when the time came.

It was at this point that the ship ran unexpectedly into a rather heavy swell.

The party immediately decided that they better remove the body from the ramp in case of an early departure, but just as they started the process, the ship lurched quite violently to one side, and to their horror one of the vital safety catches (which being unfamiliar with the equipment the assembled few had neglected to lock properly into place) clicked loudly and the canvas bag slid quickly and gracefully away and over the side of the ship. With no one else there to see what had happened and the arrival of the Captain and others mourners imminent… A quick decision had to be made... So the most junior rating was sent down to the kitchen for two 50 kg bags of potatoes which were quickly sewn into another canvas body bag which was placed back on the ramp (this time with the safety catch secured correctly) just in time. The service was carried out with dignity and respect and to the best knowledge of all present the gentleman was sent on his way with neither the Captain nor the mourners any the wiser that they'd just said goodbye to 100kgs of King Edwards..! Do you think all these years later forgiveness can be granted? After all the final wish of the elderly gentleman was granted albeit slightly prematurely? Jim

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