Sea Day – Wednesday 16th March 2016

Did Ted Cruz just say he was going to abolish the IRS?! I know I’m discombobulated from lack of sleep and too many cold meds, but that doesn’t sound very sensible from a revenue-raising point of view.

Lunch: fruit, pasta, Sudoku, slap bang in the middle of the South China Sea. 24 in the shade. Much more manageable.

Dad and I had a chat about my latest OU essay. He questioned whether anything actually has intrinsic value, or if it is always dependent on an outside perspective. A diamond means one thing to a miner, another to a jeweller, and something else entirely to a drill bit maker. This, I pointed out, is instrumental value. But then, as he pointed out, when a diamond comes out of the ground, it is not beautiful until it is cut, so there is nothing intrinsically special about it. A Martian would probably not consider it special. But, I said, that is extrinsic value, not intrinsic. Does it not have rarity or beauty or some value unrelated to what we do with it? So we tried water. Does a drop of water not constitute something wonderful, in and of itself? The moulding of three atoms just so? With a triple point and such possibilities of form, let alone function? Or only because it can give life, or quench thirst or whatever? Does anything have intrinsic value at all? Dad thinks not. I’m not so sure, but I could not think of an example that I was satisfied with.

Walking back to the cabin for a siesta at about 3pm in a noticing frame of mind. You walk through the self-service canteen, with the chatting of the passengers and the murmurings of the crew, and the crashing of stainless steel trays and the clinking of cutlery and cups, to the lift lobby, which is located beneath The Hardest Working Air Con Unit In All Christendom – it makes the ceiling and the rather dodgy art on the walls visibly vibrate. Then you enter the bing bong of the lift (two for going down, which is the only option from here), and a nice lady or gent tells you very politely and in perfect Received Pronunciation that you have reached your deck – having travelled from Lido to Canada (which apparently is decidedly more wonderful than travelling from nine to six – who knew?!). Then you walk down a corridor that, at first glance, seems entirely silent. The absence of sound is so great, it fills your ears, as if you are under water. You are straining to hear, but there is nothing. And then your ears realise that the volume has dropped, and they adjust. And within a few feet, you find you can hear the constant quiet hum of the air con, which is rather reminiscent of a distant tube train that never stops arriving. And then you hear teacups and teaspoons colliding behind closed doors, and the chatter of a television turned up just a little bit too loud, and a bathroom door click shut as someone either enters or exits their en suite. And you realise that there is never, ever any silence on a cruise ship. You may be in the middle of a vast grey-blue ocean, with nothing but two frigate birds and a passing container ship to interrupt the view in any direction, but there is never silence. Sitting here in my cabin, typing this, I am still accompanied by the pulsating whisper of my cabin’s air con (which sounds as though its throat hurts as much as mine does – the word rasping springs to mind), the strange rattling Morse code-style squeak of the plastic wall cladding that does not fit quite snugly enough against the metal bulkhead beneath, and the chattering chime of the coat hangers in the wardrobe, still gallantly fighting for freedom against the magnetically-held wooden doors. And then I am hit by a massive sneezing fit, and the moment is broken. Or I am broken. Or the drugs have worn off. Or something. Time for that lie down I have been promising myself. I’ve been awake for, like, AGES, man.

After dinner, went to the cinema to see The Intern. Very enjoyable. Was a bit disappointed at the hideously Hollywood ending, but nothing’s perfect, I suppose.

Then went to the show – The Simon and Garfunkel Story. Extracts from the hit West End show, by the original cast. Absolutely superb. If you closed your eyes, you could have sworn it was the real two, themselves, singing to you. The Paul Simon was especially good. He even had his mannerisms and movements down, including the way he held his guitar. Absolutely superb. If you ever get a chance to see this show, anywhere in the world, please go. You’d be missing an absolute treat.

Then a goodbye drink with Christine – who won her cruise in a competition – before she flies home tomorrow, along with the 1139 others getting off. Will miss her loads. May have made a ‘proper’ friend there. That makes three – Single Michael and Paula are also in email contact with me. And very lovely they both are too (remembering they are reading this!) ;-). And Dale!

FRAUD UPDATE: Not fraud after all. Just a massive bit of incompetence on the part of a company that really ought to know better than to send out blank invoices without warning. Yes, I do wish to renew, actually, NOW I KNOW WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT. You fools.

Time for bed. Hong Kong tomorrow. Scratch that – it’s 2am! Hong Kong in less than five hours’ time! Oops.

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