The Charltons Saga
Albert - The Old Seafarer
Home | Gosta Green Studio | Albert Higginbottom | The Children | The other Characters | Trevor'sVisit to Brum | Mediterranean Trip

Introducing Albert Higginbottom, family friend

A recent picture of Albert, age 61

Albert Higginbottom was born in the coastal town of Scarborough, Yorkshire in 1914, the youngest of five children.  His father, Thomas, had despaired of ever siring a son and was overjoyed when, at the fifth attempt, he was finally blessed with a boy.  As a merchant seaman, Thomas spent many months at a time away from home.  Even so, when back in his home port, he doted on his son and hoped that he would, one day, follow in his dads footsteps with a love of the sea.  Whilst on shoreleave, he would grasp every opportunity to instill his own passion in the lad, with visits to the quayside to watch the arrival and departure of ships from many lands; relating embroidered tales of his own worldly experiences. He should not have feared, for Albert recalls even now that his yearning for a life on the ocean waves began from a very early age when his father would regularly take him and his sisters on off-coast trips in a rowing boat to teach him to swim.  "That was the start of my seafaring urge" he related. "I had learned to swim by the age of four - but the girls always had difficulty getting out of tha black plastic bag."


Albert, age 6, already a sailor boy.
Helga, you can see her pussy too

His mother, Edith, coped well with the 5 kids, considering her husband's  extended absences but, after the third girl was born, she acquired a taste for rum. Encouraged, no doubt, by the plentiful supply of the stuff deposited in the cellar by her husband on every home visit, Ediths occasional tipple grew to be a regular habit, being frequently reduced to a drunken state .  It was during one of these binges that she fell and broke her arm.  Albert was still a babe in arms at the time and, with one arm in plaster, the only way she could lift him out of the bath was by grabbing one of his appendages.  This practice resulted in what turned out to be her legacy to Albert, for which he was eternally grateful - a very long schlong!  She died at the age of 38; the alcohol had finally taken it's toll.  Thomas was devastated; the loss of his wife saddened him but the loss of his stash of rum was unbearable.  This treachery by his wife affected Thomas to such a degree that he turned his back on his children and country, retiring to the West Indies where he married a teetotal ex-nun.


Albert was just 13 but, giving a false age, joined the Merchant Navy, spending the following 43 years steaming around the world, picking up and dropping off cargo at countless ports where he would fritter most of his pay on women and booze.  He was only fourteen when, at one of these stop-offs in Barcelona, he met Juanita, a beautiful Spanish flamenco dancer who first introduced him to pleasures of the flesh.  He was quick to appreciate her fetish for covering her naked man with paella before avariciously partaking of the meal -la-tum, sensuously licking the skin clean, particularly around the castanets!  This initiation served to awaken an insatiable sexual appetite within Albert which he strove to satisfy throughout his seafaring life.  Armed with his mothers gift, he was always in great demand and gained an enviable reputation in every country visited.  Not that it was all milk and honey; he went through some very traumatic experiences during WWII when merchant shipping was seconded by the government, being utilised for supplies to troops all over Europe.  Manoeuvring steamships through mine-ridden waters was a risky business and Albert was aboard two boats that were sunk during that period.  One of the pleasanter memories he has from the war is of Helga, a nymphomaniacal Krautlander who ran a brothel called The House of Whacks in the Port of Marseille.  Always dressed in full leather gear, her speciality was in bull-whipping her clients and branding their bare asses with a swastika.  This was a favourite venue for Krautland Generals and SS officers who had, by 1944, accepted that the battle was lost and defected to the warm climate of southern France.  Albert was besotted with Helga, becoming one of her best  customers on every visit to the port right up to 1952 when he caught a dose of gonorrhoea off one of her girls, Natasha, an import from Bognia-Herzswenuweenia.  Albert was pensioned off due to this illness but that did not preclude his romance with the sea or Helga.  The disease had left its mark with a series of knobbly humps along the length of his manhood which Albert believed was the reason his retirement fund included a lump sum of 10,000.  With this unexpected windfall he bought a well-equipped yacht off a Greek-Cypriot oil millionaire.  He stayed on in Marseille to operate a Mediterranean cruise service and also a shuttle for Helgas clients in Corsica and Tunisia.  Although a little unsightly, the knobbles served to enhance the pleasure received by his many partners.



The Pride 'o Brum

It was on one of the cruises that he met Truffles, a passenger from Birmingham.  Her real name was Florence, recently bereaved and ready to be swept off her feet in the warm, affluent atmosphere of the French Riviera.  Her husband, Fred, had died in unusual circumstances.  The couple enjoyed a full and varied love-life. During one of their fantasy sessions when Florence was wearing a strap-on dildo and lying on the bed, Fred, thumping his chest and giving a Tarzan-like cry, dived from the top of the wardrobe, was fatally impaled by the erect dildo.  There wasnt much life insurance but Florence had put away a few bob, gleaned from defrauding Times Furnishing, S&U and other businesses over the years.  She would order goods to be delivered on credit and, before payment was due, they would perform a 'moonlight flit', selling the goods for cash.  This occurred on many occasions and she came to be known as 'Scarper Flo'.  Now, she had spent her ill-gotten gains on this once-in-a-lifetime cruise, in the hope of meeting a wealthy tycoon and starting a new life.  Instead, she settled for Albert after pursuing most of the rich playboys only to find that their weenies didnt match the size of their wallets.   Albert wasn't rich but his cruise business had done very nicely and, to add cream to the jam, he was well blessed.  Ah, well.  Money isnt everything, is it?  They were married within three months.


Truffles (a nickname used by Albert because he said her nipples tasted of creamy chocolate) enjoyed her new life with Albert but it wasnt very long before she began to get homesick.  She so missed the smell of Ansells Brewery and HP sauce, the waft of horse manure on the street and waiting in bus queues for hours in icy cold wind and torrential, yet refreshing, rain.  Having got accustomed to the warm climate of the Mediterranean, her memory of home had dimmed somewhat, to the point of distorted reminiscence.  Albert, having been brought up in the fresh air of the Yorkshire coast and thereafter staying at coastal ports in other countries, had no perception of life in the grime and noise of an industrial inland city.  His wife's flowery description of Birmingham gave him the impression of quaintness and homeliness and he even changed the name of his yacht to Pride of Brum to make her feel at home.  With Truffles yearnings escalating during the following months, Albert eventually succumbed to her wishes in 1963.   They bade farewell to the sunshine and sailed back to England.   The yacht was moored on the Thames at a dock well known to Albert through his many visits whilst in the merchant navy.  He had experienced the delights of Soho and shopping in Bond Street several times but was always glad to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and back to the freedom of the open seas.  They arrived at Snow Hill station in the late afternoon and booked into the Grand Hotel just a few yards away in Colmore Row.

Daimler Conquest

They lived it up at the Grand Hotel, dining often with Sir Bernard and Lady Docker, who invited the couple to join them at many auspicious VIP events. Albert had known the Dockers for quite some time.  Their yacht Shemara, complete with a crew of thirty-five, had been a frequent visitor to the Riviera and the crew were regulars at The House of Whacks when in port.


Docker was an old Harrovian who made a fortune as a director of Anglo-Argentine Tramways, the Midland Bank and Thomas Cook & Sons. He was best known as the chairman of BSA/Daimler. He also involved himself in charitable work for various hospitals, and was knighted in 1939. 



Jeanne Stuart, Sir Bernard's first wife

In 1933 he had married his first wife, Jeanne Stuart, born Ivy Sweet, daughter of a copper-beater (which we have to assume was something to do with metalworkings and not pugilistic encounters with police officers), a stage and screen actress of some renown. She made many films between 1931 and 1939, including Mischief and Old Mother Riley Joins Up. The wedding was attended by many VIPs, notably the Duke of Atholl (was he gay?) and they honeymooned in South America. He gave her the 860-ton yacht Shemara as a wedding present. All that glitter and fanfare didnt mean much, for the marriage only lasted five months, when she was found to be having an illicit relationship with a well known West End actor. Bernard was no mug he divorced her and took back the yacht! Later, there was some suggestion that they may re-marry. Instead, Jeanne returned to the stage and was romantically linked with James Stewart and then Lord Caernavon. She toured Europe with Ensa early in 1944, otherwise spending long spells with Lord Caernarvon at Highclere, ostensibly to avoid the London bombings. After the war, she went to live in America, settling on Long Island. Nearby lived Baron Eugene de Rothschild. He was one of the Austrian branch of the Rothschild family, and had been the Duke of Windsor's host at Schloss Enzesfeld, in Austria, immediately after the Abdication. Baron Eugene had a difficult time during the war, seeing all his properties confiscated under the Nazis and having, with other members of his family, to pay a substantial ransom for the release of his brother Louis from imprisonment by the Gestapo in Vienna. In due course, he departed for the United States. Jeanne later married the Baron and, eventually, they moved to Monte Carlo to enjoy a serenely blissful life together.

Lady Norah Docker

Had Jeanne re-married Bernard, she would have saved him from the fate of marrying Norah Collins, his present wife. His marriage to Norah, a one-time dancer at the Cafe de Paris, gave the couple a certain flamboyant notoriety, as Norah presided over their extravagantly vulgar lifestyle with big cars, mink coats and Champagne (in not inconsiderable quantities), not to mention the yacht 'Shemara'.   In the early fifties, Norah spent quite a lot of his cash frivolously, like designing her own Daimler luxury cars; some had all the brightwork gold plated and one she had covered with 7000 gold stars!  There were a string of 'Docker Daimlers', having names such as the 'Silver Flash' in 1953, 'Stardust' in 1954 and the 'Zebra Golden Delicious' in 1955.  Oddly and seemingly out of character, Norah took up the pastime of marbles.  She championed the BSA girls marble team, shuttling them around the country in competitions with other works and social clubs.  She gave the game of marbles social cache!  Their flamboyant actions were a source of annoyance to many; having just been through a long period of deprivation themselves in the war, they did not take kindly to the Dockers' extravagancies, which were given a full airing in the press, describing their lifestyle as conspicuous consumption on a grand scale.  Her lavishness often surprised even her husband, who was occasionally heard to exclaim loudly "BLOODY NORAH!"  At last the board and the shareholders woke up to the fact that the Dockers were living a dream at their expense and they were forced out in 1956.

Albert and Flo were a reasonably happy couple until the money started to run out.  Truffles had got used to the highlife so was not too pleased when Albert announced that he had rented a flat in Moseley and suggested it was time for both of them to seek employment.  Albert, tired of city life, yearning for his first love; he was...erm....sea-sick, only really content at weekends when he caught the train down to the docks to maintain his boat.  Mooring fees had risen considerably so he had been busy for months, checking for marine opportunities at job agencies and in newspapers.  Just as he had given up hope of finding something suitable, an opportunity arose when he met a man in The Exchange, a pub in Stephenson Street near New Street station.  The man, who Albert only knew as Stringfellow, was a furtive character who spent most of his time travelling to and from London.  There was good reason for this, as Albert found out when he was propositioned.  


Stringfellow needed an accomplice; a man with a boat who would collect stocks of alcohol and cigarettes from Calais and deliver them back to a warehouse at the London Docks.  His previous partner-in-crime had been nabbed by the Thames Police and was now serving ten years at Her Majestys pleasure.  At first, Albert refused to be a party to the scam but, growing more restless and at a loss for legal opportunities of earning a living, he decided to give it a try.  Flo took some convincing but, as he explained, if she wanted to maintain a good standard of living, then this work paid a lot more than a 7 to 5 factory job.  She would just have to get used to his being away from home a lot. Several months went by with Albert, now content with his partial freedom to fulfil his sea-going lust, making many journeys across the channel.  Then, on one unexpected home-visit, he caught Flo in bed with Ernie the milkman.  Albert was furious, throwing them both out on the street and telling his wife not to return.  She begged him for forgiveness, reminding him that he had loved her enough to nickname her Truffles but he answered that by telling her that Truffles had more than one definition - it also meant a subterranean fungus and thats what she had become!   He filed for divorce. 


In 1968, the dockland warehouse was raided and Stringfellow was sent down for 20 years.  This did not deter Albert however and he continued the trafficking alone, developing other outlets for the goods.  His knowledge of the coast and marine authority movements held him in good stead for, to this day, Albert makes regular sojourns to France, Italy and many other places along  the Mediterranean coastline,  collecting and delivering various consignments of contraband goods.  Apart from a few narrow escapes, he has never been caught. 
One such adventure can be followed in 'The Mediterranean Trip'.

To be continued


The music is "The Ketchup Song" by Las Ketchup from Toroland