In possibly the funniest story of the year so far, members of The Woman’s Institute dressed up as pirates, while unbeknown to them, the speaker on the day was none other than Colin Darch - a retired sea captain who was held hostage, savagely beaten and held at gunpoint for 47 days by pirates in the Indian Ocean. Whoops.
A WI member wrote an official notice about the talk saying: “Embarrassingly, the WI all dressed up as pirates for the event, not realising that Captain Darch was going to be talking about his experience of being held hostage by Somali pirates rather than piracy in general.” Once the mistake had been recognized and laughed about, the talk to go on, and by all accounts, Colin’s tale is riveting. Stephanie George, spokeswoman for 21-member Parkham WI in Devon, said: “We didn’t know much about him but the notes said he was Captain Darch and he was talking about piracy. I thought he was from a local fundraising group who dress up as pirates to raise money for charity. Naturally everyone was aghast when we realised our mistake.”
But a mistake it was, and Mr Darch was more than happy to laugh it off. He said: “They seemed to be a little embarrassed but it didn’t offend me in the slightest. It’s been five years now and sometimes I have to remind myself just how terrifying and frightening it was. In any event, the ladies didn’t look the slightest bit like Somali pirates - more like the Pirates of Penzance.