THROWBACK THURSDAY: ‘Mermeritus: A new disease and case studies’

01 September 2016

As we edge ever closer to the 20th anniversary celebrations on 15 October in London, we will be sharing memories from the last twenty years of the Clipper Race.

Crew diaries are a race highlight for the followers and reminder for the crew themselves of all they experienced when they finally return home. Over the course of eleven months, the authors can become very creative with the content when they’ve had enough chat about sail changes and mother duty. Even the Skippers get involved occasionally like this year's Unicef Skipper Martin Clough, who boasted of fresh eggs for breakfast in the mornings laid by Korma and Masala, the imaginary chickens on board.

Scrolling back through the archives, there are many entertaining musings to share which will bring back smiles for those on board at the time and hopefully encourage a laugh for crew on other boats or other races as they recall similar events or incidents.

During the second ever Clipper Race, on 19 June 1999, Mermerus crew member Tim Mitchell’s blog was entitled ‘Mermeritus: A new disease and case studies’.

Here is a shortened version of the original as published by Mermerus Skipper Barney Sollars in a compilation of diaries he printed in a memoir about the team’s circumnavigation.


PATHOPHYSIOLOGY: Inflammation of the Mermer, an organ commonly found dangling from buttocks and occasionally feet and hands, causing rapid loss of sanity and major personality disturbance.

AETIOLOGY: This interesting and highly significant disease strikes at people from all backgrounds and social classes. Its aetiology can be tracked to when a substantial amount of money is parted with by the patients and paid to an omni-present company in Olney.

CAUSE: Not found as yet. Some suggest a prion like a particle similar to BSE in cows. Transferred to patients by eating corned beef as a child; hence the intense hatred of said substance in the later stages of the disease.

CLINICAL FEATURES: See case studies below.

TREATMENT: None known as yet. Major tranquilisers have been tried but to no avail. Patients still get flashbacks and end up shouting and screaming in a top security health care facility, although one or two are believed to be at large in the community at present.

PROGNOSIS: Very poor. Patients will never be the same again.

CASE STUDIES: In no particular order.
Patient #1, known as Greg for anonymity’s sake. Once a very sane businessman, now bleeps like R2D2 in very incongruous moments. Hallucinates regularly, e.g. in respect of whales, dolphins, Thermopylae etc when it is obvious to all that they are not present. Also turning slowly into a Mexican honcho version of a teletubby for some unknown reason. Believe his DNA is mutating.

Patient #2 & #3, known under the pseudonyms Paul and Kenny. Must be dealt with together as both exhibit the same symptoms, namely, sadism. This manifests itself in innumerable bruises on the author and lack of any sleep for days on end when they take it in turns to wake me every 15-20 minutes.

Patient #6, Jim (not real name). A new patient whom I have witnessed after many days of sea-sickness to get up in the blackness of the Indian Ocean night and announce to his fellow sufferers he is just off to find his car as he knew he “left it here somewhere”.

Patient #10, known to all as Grandad but suggest this is not his real name. I doubt very much whether this gentleman has ever been sane in his life. Therefore all observations must be clarified with previous medical practitioners.

Patient #11, who we will call Dave. Suffers from an excessive belief that he can fix computer problems, a theory which is blatantly at odds with the behaviour of Patient #12 (see below). Also exhibits compulsive obsessive disorder in tattooing the world’s population with the Mermerus logo.

Patient #12, sometimes mistakenly believes himself to be Skipper, demi-god, and person generally responsible for everything that goes on. We’ll call him Barney (clearly not a real name). This gentleman has been afflicted with the disease more than most. Sleep deprivation and leading the rest of the subjects has clearly taken its toll. Regularly he can be seen talking to electronic instruments, breaking the PC (thus allowing Patient #11 to continue his self-deception), laughing inanely at Kenny’s jokes and carrying electric drills around as a comfort blanket and enforcer.

As for myself, I am quite plainly sane and cannot contract the illness as I’m half alien anyway.

Tim Mitchell


If you have a favourite crew diary or images from your race and think they are worth sharing with the Clipper Race community then send it through for the attention of the Communications Team at [email protected].

Our 20th anniversary ball is taking place at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on Saturday 15 October, so come along and celebrate with us. Click here for more information on tickets and what is happening on the evening.

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