OK not so much a dream as an idea that slowly formed as I was waking up this morning, you know how it is when you are half way between the sleeping and waking worlds, all kinds of things run through your mind. Well in this one I realised that we have the makings of a good basis for an Agatha Christie “Murder on the Oriana,” particularly in relation to our group of travelling companions. Names have been changed to spare their blushes….
First we have Royston, the bluff ex-Hong Kong copper shrouded in mystery with his Masonic connections, could he be trailing an absconding criminal or is he a villain? Royston is married to the beautiful Yuki, a Japanese lady with all the inscrutability of a Geisha who is fluent in English and Spanish and is learning Italian. Yuki is an accomplished artist and she and Royston live in Santander commuting frequently via Plymouth to their home in Cheltenham. Could they secretly be involved in people smuggling? Next we have Burt and Annette the Scottish wine loving couple who live on the outskirts of Edinburgh and who have an argumentative but loving relationship. What secrets are this couple hiding in their cabin? Annette is an ex-Headmistress and Burt (a Mason like Royston) a Mechanical Engineer who has befriended the Oriana’s Chief Engineer. Could they be plotting in some way to cripple the ship and make off with the contents of the ship’s wine cellar? Then there is Phillip, the intense, calculating Insurance Agent who paints beautiful watercolours and is married to Caroline, a sufferer from numerous food allergies, or is that just a distraction while she helps Phillip to go about his business of tracking down a fraudulent art insurance scam? What is the secret of the mysterious 6’6” anorexic lady who strides imperiously around the deck neither looking left nor right as she goes about her business? And the little old lady who does her knitting while sitting in an electric wheelchair by the side of the pool. Could she be the Miss Marple who solves the Murder on the Oriana, or is she about to die in the deep end of the swimming pool when someone tampers with her steering? Maybe the real mastermind is the heavily tanned pot bellied man who spends all day by the swimming pool on his mobile phone, or the elderly lecher who strolls each deck in turn looking for lonely ladies, or even the heavy smoking, brown umber burnt lady with bleached blonde short cropped hair who insists on sitting at the same table every day. What is the secret of the little man who shuffles like Hercule Poirot when he walks? Any one of them could be about to commit the perfect crime and then mysteriously disappear overboard in the middle of the night. Maybe a crime is about to be committed using a P & O tour as an alibi? But then to solve the secrets of this disparate group we need the help of the engineering trained but analytically flawed Sam who does his best to make sense of it all but has to be prodded in the right direction by his ever loving beautiful companion Hilary. This story must be continued……..
Before I lose myself in this self indulgent fantasy let me bring you back to the reality of last night. It had been a great day with the turtles, but a tiring one, so Hilary and I decided to have a reasonably early night. I went straight to the CyberStudy and blogged and came down shortly after 9.00pm. Hilary was reading in bed and I put my pyjamas on and did the same and within a few chapters sleep was beckoning so I took off my glasses and disaster….. A few of you know that one of the side frames of my glasses broke back last November. They were a pair that we had bought in the USA and Samantha kindly offered to get a new side leg for me. Well they couldn’t do that but as they were under guarantee EyeMart said that they would send a complete new frame to England so that I could put the lenses in them. To cut a long story short by the time we left in January they still hadn’t arrived, but as SuperGlue seemed to have temporarily fixed them I wasn’t over bothered. Well last night they fell apart again when the SuperGlue failed. One of EyeMart’s suggestions had been to switch over my prescription sunglass frames with the regular lenses so sitting by the edge of the bed – now wide awake and cursing – I took out my spectacle repair kit and started unscrewing. An hour later I was back to square one – except that one of the little screws is on the carpet somewhere – when I found that the two sets of frames and lenses are different. So it was a push in and Sellotape job overnight and through the morning. Today, to my surprise, we found that the little emporium downstairs sold SuperGlue and later this afternoon I effected another repair that will hopefully see my glasses fixed until we arrive home. Moral of the story; if you live in England buy your glasses in England or be prepared to do a “Jack Duckworth” until you can get back to the optician.
Cruising on a ship changes the way that you live, not just in the simple things like being waited on, having the beds made for you, a mint on the pillow each night, no cooking etc. but it changes your perception of time itself. We have a routine when at home that is more or less dominated by the days of the week and there are constant reminders of what day it is. It may be for example that it is Monday because that is when Hilary is at Red House, or it is Sunday because Antiques Roadshow is on TV. On board ship there is none of that because the day’s activities are decided by what is happening on the ship. Take for example Hilary’s model making; that goes on regardless of what the day of the week is and only changes if it is a Port Day, otherwise it doesn’t matter if it is a Tuesday or a Sunday. Consequently we lose track of time and have to look at the top of the daily newsletter of events to know which day of the week we are on. Personally I think that it is a great way to go through life, but then I always was a bumbler. Hopefully we have prepared Hayley with all the birthday and anniversary cards to send out while we are away so if any are missing blame it onto us for not being as prepared as we should have been. We still love you even if we have forgotten someone.
The crew are trying to prepare us for our landing in San Francisco and already the long arms of Homeland Security are reaching out to drag us in. A couple of days back we received the Customs form that must be filled in showing zero value for goods that we are not bringing in the mighty USA as we are in transit. This is stupid as surely they only need that form for those that are actually leaving the ship in San Francisco and are actually entering the USA and staying there. Why should US Customs care that someone bought a straw hat in Panama and is going to wear it on the aeroplane that is leaving from San Francisco airport to fly home? Bureaucracy and computers gone mad if you ask me, a little commonsense would go a long way President Obama. I can understand the intellectually challenged President Bush making such a rule but puleeeze! As everyone knows we are actually residents of the USA; after all we have permanent Green Cards issued to us back in 1980, but try explaining that to P & O Reception staff – who mainly come from Goa. “You must fill in the Green I94 form” “No we don’t we are residents of the USA,” “Well then you must fill in the White I95form,” “No we don’t we are residents of the USA,” “Well where is your Visa in your passport?” “We have Resident Alien Cards, we don’t need a separate visa,” “Let me talk to my supervisor,” “My supervisor says that you have to fill in the Green form,” “No we don’t we are residents of the USA, let me talk to your supervisor,” “Let me have both your cards and we will email our agents in San Francisco.” The saga continues.
OK so what has happened today? Not a lot really other than with Jimmy, Hilary’s model and she will tell you all about him, and if he dries in time we will post another picture of him tonight. I have sat in the Crow’s Nest most of today, I tried sitting outside but it is very windy (Northerly Force 7), finishing off my third novel of the trip. This one was Patricia Cornwell and turns out to be the 3rd of 3 novels that I brought with me all of which I have read previously, perhaps the next book I will try is the Barack Obama one that Sharon so kindly gave me for Christmas. That is the end of my first stint and I will turn you over to Hilary and will put my closing comments on after dinner – semi formal – tonight.
Tiz I. Well another lazy day at sea. We did not see any dolphins or flying fish and only five birds today. The wind is so strong but I have just seen on the CNN news that most of Europe is experiencing the same weather conditions. Jimmy, the model is just about finished and there are several things about him I would change if I was starting him now. However, he is what he is. Tomorrow he gets painted black and the day after that he is bronzed. We acquired an empty water bottle from the steward and Jimmy will be packed away in it until we get home. I’m looking forward to the next crafty project on the second leg of our trip – the teacher for that will come on board in San Francisco. I finished reading ‘The Camomile Lawn’ today, and tomorrow will start reading one of the books that Liz gave me. I found that the shop has finally got some conditioner so I bought some – at last, now my hair might settle down a bit. I have looked like a wild woman with the effects of the wind and sun on it. Roll on San Francisco and possibly getting a haircut. Sam, if I haven’t missed you, have a brilliant trip to China and give my love to that girl. Have a safe trip and lots of fun. Hold that thought about the summer – I love it. Julian, Dad and I are thinking about you and your course, when is the exam? We wish you every success with it all. Please pass our love onto the family and tell Kelly that I haven’t worn the blue dress yet but the evening is coming up soon when I will be wearing it and wearing the necklace and ring to show them off. Jess, does your comment mean that you expect to wait until 2051 before you go on a cruise like this one? Be more like G. Grandma go when you are young enough to climb the numerous staircases within the ship without pain! Well that’s it folks, it is time for me to go and try to fix the hair again before dinner.
A final word after dinner which Hilary found fascinating as she spent a long time talking to Richard about a small booklet concerning the Masons when she was going through Alfie’s stuff some years ago. This little green booklet belonged to Alf and Derrick’s dad and is associated with the Masons in Scotland. Richard said that he would help Hilary understand exactly what it was and maybe help her find a home for it. I expect that they will talk some more tomorrow night when we go to a Mason’s fund raiser for an hour before dinner. While Hilary was back in the cabin after dinner Peter and I went to see The X Files: I want to believe at the Chaplin Cinema. It was not my favourite film of all time, a few too many coincidences for me but it passed away an hour and a half – all the films shown have censored language and I am sure that extreme violence and sex is also cut out. Makes some of them a bit bland. That’s it. Night night.