Free Speech?

Folks – what do we make of this, then. For a moment I had to check the date, but given we’re way beyond April Fools’ day, I’ll take this on face value – for the moment. Here goes:

Laurence says:

The sensitive mariners aboard the Royal Navy’s HMS Ocean, presently moored on the River Thames at Greenwich, raised a security alert with the River Police on Saturday (12 May 2012} at about 6pm after they spotted a small motor boat named Bin Laden I, occupied by a man and 3 small children, passing nearby.

My boat, a 4 metre dinghy, which has been registered with that name for past 2 years, is one of the least threatening craft on the river. Nonetheless, on passing near HMS Ocean, the largest ship in the Royal Navy, length 200m, 22,000 tonnes, equipped with 8 military helicopters and armed with torpedoes and guns, we evidently alarmed the Ocean’s 500 naval officers and crew and triggered a security alert.

Presumably it was all hands to deck and an hour later, on returning to land in Greenwich, Metropolitan river police apprehended me in a dramatic dusk landing raid on the local yacht club premises. Police demanded to know why the boat was named after the Saudi terrorist. They recommended in the strongest terms that it be renamed for the Olympics so as not to cause any further security incidents. Even if we are not mistaken for terrorists, I was told, the present name is evidently provocative and might be seen as a protest, so cannot be permitted on the river during the Olympics (inconceivable that Londoners could have anything to protest about).

I am considering calling it “Free Speech”, but quite apart from fact that it is believed to be bad luck to rename a boat, I fear that the phrase itself may have altogether passed out of use in the UK.

So – there you have it. Just out of interest, Laurence, why is your craft called Bin Laden I?

15 Comments to “Free Speech?”

  1. Richard says:

    Maybe rename it Peter Sutcliffe 2? Moron.

  2. Andrew says:

    Also, by naming it Bin Laden I, it sounds as if you have already planned for its destruction and the subsequent launch of Bin Laden II.

  3. Dan says:

    The Daily Mail would love this. Which is why I think it’s whiffy. I shall forward this to them immediately in the hope that they publish it and it turns out to be a hoax.

  4. I’m glad you thought it smelled a bit odd too…

  5. Barbara says:

    Why would anybody give their boat such a horrible name?

  6. Kate says:

    Three children and a ‘responsible’ parent in a boat named after an international terrorist? I question the logic and reasoning behind giving it a name like that. (Dread to think what the children are called!)

    Why not rename the boat Adolf Hitler just for kicks? Seems like an attention-grabber to me.

  7. Franklin says:

    I”m afraid Laurence has just gotten the attention he apparently wanted.

    If this is a true story, it’s a tough call whether this should be a free speech issue.

    However, the RN and River Police are right to be alarmed by a boat with that name sailing close to HMS Ocean, given the USS Cole tragedy.

  8. PiratesPatch says:

    stupid or a liar or both

    If its just a joke, obviously not a bright lad

  9. Jim says:

    As an alternative name, please consider Burka-ley Hunt the First

  10. TGP says:

    ‘Laden-Bin’ would be a good name for one of those rubbish-collector barges that go up and down the Thames.

  11. Dan – the DM have indeed, just contacted me about this… ;-)

  12. RogerW says:

    Not wanting to hijack the post, but I was actually at Mortlake as a spectator at the Boat Race.
    And the thing that still gets me – in these times of supposed extra-high security in all major events in the lead-up to the Olympics – was how there was ever a chance for Trenton Oldfield to have got anywhere near as close to the university boats as he did.
    I mean, hey, there are certainly such things as waterproof explosives, and that could have been quite something, to have wiped out Oxford and Cambridge’s finest in one almighty bang.

    Obviously it can be a tough call between ‘reasonably harmless idiot’ and ‘deadly dangerous terrorist’ but I for one would have quite understood if a security officer had done anything necessary (up to and including shooting the guy) to neutralise any possible threat and stop him BEFORE he actually reached the boats.
    Actually – come to think of it – what better disguise for any real terrorist, than to have the words ‘Harmless Idiot’ written across your forehead?
    Again, it’s not hard to understand the ‘robust’ response towards Laurence.

  13. Mike says:

    Why would the Met wait until they returned to land when there’s an armed police launch on perminant station guarding the ship? And how would anyone on board HMSO see the name on a small runabout?
    The story sounds fishy to me too.

  14. Indeed – but why spend time making something like that up? If I was going to tell a whopper I’d want to make up something really funny, that didn’t make me look a bit daft…

  15. Laurence Godfrey says:

    You might want to buy Daily Mail tomorrow and also look here: ….