Friday, March 14, 2014


Today was our fourth “At Sea” day, and I somehow managed to ratchet down my activities still further. My greatest achievement for the day was to cut my own hair. This is not something I usually do – normally I have a boisterous Italian named Mario who does it for me – but with my usual arrangements some 18,000kms away, I had to resort to my own devices.

The result is lacking in its usual panache, but it looks better than it did, and certainly better than it would in a couple of weeks without any intervention.

Other than that I read a book, made some concessions to personal hygiene, arranged for my deck’s long suffering steward to do my laundry (at a hefty premium, but there’s only so many clothes I can scrub and rinse in my tiny bathroom sink) and battled the eurobogans in the daily buffet grind.

Speaking of my fellow passengers, I’ve noticed there’s been a polarisation in their number as the cruise has worn on. The awful ones (like the German who charged to the front of the embarkation queue and then chastised me, in both German and French, for not allowing her to jump in front of me) are still a blight on the reputations of their respective races, but I’ve started to notice more nice ones. They smile and say good morning (or buongiorno, or bonjour, or whatever) if you pass them in the corridor, they respect the authority of the queue, and they hold doors open for others. My theory is that they are horrified by the behaviour of their countrymen and are adopting a more polite and considerate manner to compensate… and to distance themselves from them. I know for myself that I’m being a lot more polite to strangers than usual. Although admittedly much of that is sarcastic, which probably doesn’t count.

But some people are so taxing that politeness doesn’t work. At the theatre this evening, an appalling Italian couple sat down next to me and the wife proceeded to discuss the operatic arias being performed with all the volume of the greatly aged, highly stupid and somewhat hammered. At one point I snapped, “Signora, shhhh!”, but she was talking at the time and didn’t hear me over the sound of her own yammering. Soon after, I just stood up and moved to another seat. And then, even halfway around the theatre, I could still hear her chatting away whenever the soprano paused to take a breath.

She was awful to the point of being grotesque. Seriously, it was if someone had liquored up an elderly sow with apricot brandy slammers, slipped it into a floral print frock and one of Dolly Parton’s wigs from her unfortunate 80s perm era, given it a deaf and doughy husband and then set it loose on an ocean liner.


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