‘Like Being in Prison with a Salary’: The Secret World of the Shipping Industry

Longreads

Rose George | Metropolitan Books | August 2013 | 17 minutes (4,213 words)

The following is the opening chapter of Rose George’s new book, Ninety Percent of Everything. Our thanks to the author for sharing it with the Longreads community.

* * *

Friday. No sensible sailor goes to sea on the day of the Crucifixion or the journey will be followed by ill-will and malice. So here I am on a Friday in June, looking up at a giant ship that will carry me from this southern English port of Felixstowe to Singapore, for five weeks and 9,288 nautical miles through the pillars of Hercules, pirate waters, and weather. I stop at the bottom of the ship’s gangway, waiting for an escort and stilled and awed by the immensity of this thing, much of her the color of a summer-day sky, so blue; her bottom is painted dull…

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