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Oops! Women's Institute dresses as pirates for talk by former hostage

May 3, 2013 at 1:20 AM

PARKHAM, England, May 3 (UPI) -- A retired merchant seaman giving a talk at the Parkham Women's Institute in southwest England was surprised when the audience showed up in pirate costumes.

But Capt. Colin Darch said he was not frightened or offended by a roomful of middle-aged and elderly women wearing eye patches and pirate hats, The Daily Telegraph reported.

"They seemed to be a little embarrassed but it didn't offend me in the slightest," he said. "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."

Apparently the Parkham group in North Devon likes to have a lighter touch for their meetings and competitions. They had been told the speaker was talking about piracy and not that he had had a personal experience with it.

Stephanie George, the treasurer, was the one who suggested pirate costumes. But the day before the meeting, she learned Darch, who lives in nearby Appledore, had spent almost seven weeks as a hostage when she saw his book in the bookshop where she works.

George described Darch as a "good sport" and said his talk kept everyone quiet for 90 minutes.

Then he judged the costumes before he left.

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