At dinner last night, one of our new companions ordered the Mincemeat and orange strudel with Cornish clotted cream. I thought the whole thing sounded somewhat dubious and it turns out I was right. The resulting product was best described by its nervous-looking recipient as “an anomaly” which was an interesting description. I think it was the most polite thing he could think of to say! He was particularly perturbed by the astonishing elasticity of the mincemeat within and the puzzling flakiness of the surround, which was finally pronounced as “too dry”. The clotted cream, however, went down well, which presumably was all that was needed to help poor David clean his plate, despite his evident reservations!
News comment time: the bomb in Marrakesh killed one Brit. Turns out, he wrote for the Jewish Chronicle. His name was Peter Moss. Two Canadians, two Israelis, one Dutchman, six French and two Moroccans, so far. How does it help? This is what I don’t understand. I don’t know who you are or what you think you want, but how does blowing up people help your cause? Will it make the French more disposed towards helping you? I doubt it. Will it make the Moroccan elite more disposed towards you? Hardly. You’ve blown up ordinary Moroccans as well. Will that dispose the ordinary Moroccan people to your way of thinking? You don’t believe that any more than I do. So why kill anyone at all? It doesn’t work. It never works. I genuinely don’t see the point. Even your suicide bomber had doubts, which is why you blew him/her up remotely, so he/she couldn’t back out. The whole concept is alien to me and to most normal, logically-thinking people. In fact, if anyone believes for one second that killing even one person can make the world a better place, I suggest you read Making History by Stephen Fry, which is about the possible repercussions of removing Hitler from history. It’s a short, light read, with a very powerful message. Killing people doesn’t work. Stop it.
The heat on deck today is nothing short of fierce. At 7am this morning it was 81 degrees in the shade. Heaven only knows what it is now. The humidity is staggering, even at sea with a breeze blowing, and the sun is beating down like a hammer. I have been out in it for precisely three minutes, and I’m not sure how much longer I can stand it. Although, if I continue to watch the radars rotating in their hypnotic circles much longer, I’m liable to doze off and burn myself to a crisp.
Heat this fierce is not just about burning or tanning, however. It drains your energy, your will, your ability to move. Even the most minor of effort becomes enormous. Just reaching for a drink or adjusting a towel is a debilitatingly exhausting activity, which leaves you drained and gasping and collapsed where you land. I’m sure it’s only the pint of diet coke an hour I’m drinking that’s keeping me even vaguely upright. The obvious antidote is, of course, to dive in the pool, but there is precious little shade in there either and everyone in the water is carefully staying within what shadows there are, hats on heads, leaving large swathes of water undisturbed but for the ripples they send over from their sheltered corners at the shallow end. I’m also reliably informed that the pool is the temperature of a hot bath, which rather defeats the purpose, in my opinion.
We have spent the afternoon downstairs in the cool of the Spinnaker Bar, which, after I’d made them turn off the music, which sounded, even to me, like some woman was having her teeth removed without anaesthetic, was a lovely place to relax in the cool. There is nowhere on this ship that you can escape music except in your own cabin, and then only if you don’t turn on the tv, which has several channels playing background music, alongside Angels and Demons, A Few Good Men, Legally Blonde and four channels of some wedding or other. This ship is surprisingly noisy, in fact. Good music, bad music (mostly bad), instrumental muzak, pianos that play themselves, jukeboxes, even humming waiters. And that’s just the music. Never mind the technicians sanding and banging on fixing broken stuff or the food trolleys that rattle so loudly that there are probably dead deaf people on nearby landmasses being woken by them. The Spinnaker is often deserted, however, which means that you can ask them to turn off the music and they can’t use other customers as an excuse, because there aren’t any!
Just as we got settled with drinks and silence and cool air, two of our friends went past. One was off to a lecture, but the other came to join us. Her name is Enid and she is an absolute joy to spend time with. We chatted quite happily for about two hours, comparing war stories of being invalided off of cruises, the best tours to take in certain ports and our respective plans for next year. Which amounted, it turns out, to very little.
P&O should actually be a little worried by this. No one we have spoken to has anything booked for next year, except Merle and she’s booked her next ten or so months, but then she only goes home for new visas and passports and spends most of the rest of the time back to backing different ships and companies and sailing the oceans. Just as I would if I had the money! But everyone else is pretty much planless for next year. The recession may yet bite the cruise industry, albeit belatedly, on the proverbial behind, because people book cruises a year or two or at least eighteen months ahead, and now these are running out, people are realising how little money they have left to play with, as a result of two years of earning no interest whatsoever on their money, and they are balking at making further plans until the future looks a bit brighter. I think the Bank of England will have to raise interest rates soon, or the British cruise industry could find itself in real trouble.
Don’t look at the radar. Don’t look at the radar. Good grief, it’s like Hypno-toad. You can’t not look. I’m not sure how much longer I can stay awake at this rate. I’ve now retreated into the shade, but I can still see them turning round and round and round and round and…