Betwixt The Pacific Rim: Chapter 4
PART ONE: FIRST POST APRIL 2017
Dear dear Reader, for those champing at the Gigabyte for another piece of Rhenal Rhetoric Re Ones Return from the Other Side eventually back to Blighty, well it starts here.
It begins with the morning after the Gin and Tonic’ed and Newcastle Brown’d debut evening aboard the gleaming modern successor to the SS Butlitz, the Shiny Sailing Ship Emerald Princess, or the SSS Bejazzle, for short.
Already it’s good to find on this Pacific Cruise a large contingent from Japan, many no doubt here to see again ‘Pearl Harbor’, who’s such a fine singer with the Bejazzle’s House Band ‘Rumors’. They’ll both soon be doing a charity performance for the ‘Restoration of the Letter U in 21st Century English’ in the ‘Colors’ Bar.
I was asked to share a Supper table with the delightful and gorgeously old Carol and Terry, a Vancouver couple who share my love of Canadian singers Jane Siberry and Neil Young, and who are snubbing the organised excursions to “go find a bar on a beach” on these upcoming islands. My kinda people. Trump supporter and good sport (you’d have to be) Richard chatted with me about “Lousy Obamacare” over a Bourbon, (I had Grolsch) whilst the lovely constant traveller and cruise hippy Sue from San Francisco admitted her love for trains and very hot curries… definitely the Spices of Life these folk.
Meanwhile our Captain (formerly of the Warmington-on-Sea Home Guard) called ‘Martin’ today during his Wind Report (one hell of a Sound) informed us all of the origin of the phrase ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’. Forget the details. Sigh.
There’s an official daily LGBT Get-together at 6pm called “The LGBT Get-together” (not “Friends of Dorothy” as is on other vessels.) First one I’ve popped to briefly in the Adagio Bar had a fair number of said males of A Certain Age, and a Fiesta of Nuts. On the tables. (Including Cashews). More on this later, though the naming convention for the bars and restaurants is a shade optimistic. I’ve already eaten in “Da Vinci” and “Michelangelo” whilst “Botticelli” is out of bounds to me, and as for “Club Class”, well, honestly. Btw, I can sadly report that only the Gravad Lax was a picture.
Fashion and Fetish Enthusiasts alike will be delighted to know there’s a White Glove service available Each and Every Afternoon. No sense in getting your scones grimy, or drinking Hairy Earl Grey. Though what worries me the most at present is the clothing adopted by the Venezuelan President in a shock report on BBC World in my Stateroom. Why oh why has he gone for Debenhams 1991 instead of a much wiser Turn of the Century Top Man? Ludicrous.
It’s Formal Night tonight (The Australians will don their corks) so I’ll again go as Mother Superior. But I’m trying to kick the habit. Oh dear, out of wit, out of gin, best top up. Three Bells Ahoy, whale meat again. Pip pip.
Right! More soon
PART TWO: FIRST POST MAY 2017
Each and every day dear Reader, I travel the height and depth of the 138 decks of the SSS Bejazzle in an elevator, or, lift, as we Brits quaintly describe them. Can’t quite recall mentioning this, but, on a previous vessel, and indeed on this one too, the lifts are manufactured by “Schindler”. Yup, they’re Schindler’s Lifts. I’m not making this up you know.
Well. It had to happen. In Major Problems Of Our Time corner, I can report that on my first epic Aquatic Sojourn, certain meals were sent back unfinished because they were simply TOO beautiful rich fattening fulsome fabulous fancy and filling. Well now, on the Bejazzle, a main course was returned because it was extraordinarily awful in every way, concept, cooking, ingredients and appearance. The Calamari Steak with Steamed Potato and Prawn Vomitaise nearly a) broke my teeth b) burnt my tastebuds and c) reminded me how much I cherish Milk of Magnesia. Several days later, after not managing to munch more than a third of my main course, the adjacent amiable Americans asked “Was the turkey dry?”. I replied, “Definitely raised in the Sahara”. Fortunately, I left before they asked about the stuffing. I shall be exclusively serviced in my room, or buffet based, from now on. Oh, and the ice cream machine is out of order. Disgraceful.
We have arrived in Paradise, most definitely with a P. For Phenomenal. Pretty. Peautiful. Polynesia. Obviously Cocktails, Beaches and Fridge Magnets remain my prime cause for concern, though avoiding bus trips where local weaving techniques and coconut castration are demonstrated are severely high on the list too.
Excursionally, the Most Tedious Man in the World “53 varieties of fish Doug” keeps informing us on our Stateroom TV channel about the really “important things to watch out for” on these gorgeous islands, namely, that the main market was concreted over in 1964, or that 4 Wheel Drive trips to the numerous waterfalls can lead to disaster if you fall out of the vehicle. Thanks Doug, and by the way, he “counted 53 varieties of fish in Papeete Fish Market” on his last visit, and his father flew a seaplane over Tahiti in 1958.
Well, I must ready myself for my morning gym and pedicure in the Lotus Spa, so as we head northernwards towards the location of the TV Show Hawaii-5-0, I bid you all Dreams beyond your wildest, er, Dreams.
PART THREE: FIRST POST MAY 2017
“What can I do for you sir?” I was going to reply, give me a decent cup of tea, then I recalled people here receive 1 to 3 years in a high security penitentiary for pouring BOILING water onto tea leaves/bags**, so I simply said “Could you direct me to the nearest Hawaii-5-0 filming location please?”. “Wrong Island, smart ASS”. “But this IS Hawa - ” “Ha-wa-eeeee, dummy, is comprised of more than THIS island, SIR. THIS one,” he smugly gave me the 360 degree finger, “THIS one… is, THE BIG ISLAND, THIS IS (sharp intake of death) HILO”. For a moment, I thought he’d started talking about pastry, then realised that we weren’t in Honolulu, or any other kind of Lulu for that matter.
“Thank you for your elucidation, SIR” I retorted. “Lucy WHO?”. Oh you just have to walk away like a boneless dog at times, really.
The SSS Bejazzle Entertainment Crew clearly needed a top-up in ridiculous shirts after five long days at sea, so this western outpost of the USA seemed the obvious place to stop orf. I’d always hoped that the Tardis would land here and the episode be titled “Doctor Hula Hula and The Grass Skirts of Death”.
Mind you, last time I’ve seen this much black sand (volcanic, obis) was during that oil slick in Sheerness. Though good to see FINALLY, tall gorgeously attractive bar staff who say “comin’ right up” is indeed a joy. (There are two, actually).
Speaking of tea, which we nearly were earlier, whilst sawing through her scrambled eggs at breakfast a few days ago, a lively lovely American Lady of A Certain Age (N.B. At least 90), informed me that she’d purchased from Amazon, no less, and no more either, at least five tea-making devices called "The Ingenuitea” (whose spelling she helpfully inserted with her own finger into my Notes App, I believe it’s called, on my Cell Phone, as Americans seem to enjoy referring to ones mobile device as). These were for herself and as gifts, and I, dear Reader, must, apparently, order one for myself upon my return to the Land of the Teapot. It’s like a “real china one but with an added valve mechanism thing”. Oh. “Trust me” she added, “I’m a Twinings kinda gal”. OH. All Right Then.
Could I at this stage point out that The Catering Ingredient Sourcing department of the cruise company have got to seriously reconsider its policy of collecting its baked goods from skips located behind local Aldi and Lidl stores, as the sell-by dates in this category are largely justified. Recent baguettes could be classified as Weapon Grade under the Police Baton scale of toughness, while the British Army could reasonably restock its Heavy Shell ammunition supplies with Bejazzle Croissants.
Latest humorous addition to the intentionally witty onboard humour comes in the form of The Scottish One, a most amusing gentleman from the Glasgow region, whose pianism is glorious and whose quips include the following..”Jeez, the Medical Centre onboard is expensive. $450 it cost me. And that’s just for reading the magazines.” “I’m suffering from alcoholic constipation, I just can’t pass a pub”. “Andrew Lloyd Webber is to Music as King Herod was to Childcare.” “Had my allergies tested, found one of mine was Justin Bieber.” And finally, “my daughter took me to a music festival, and asked me what I’d like to see. I said ‘Ebola Virus?’ “. Triffic.
Finally, I should mention two of the Top Dick’s Smokers’ Corner, jovial brothers grim Wayne and Ken from Auckland, New Zillan. Both smoke ‘rolies’ and have each worked their way through packets of Ex-Wives and careers. ‘Wine’ tells me the illegal rum distillery might have been the last straw with his wife number two, whereas ‘Kin’ drinks only Bloody Marys to keep up with his 5-a-day and alimony settlements. Luckily, I never rode on any of Wayne’s Auckland Transport buses, though I admit to being baffled as to how Ken became New Zealand’s number one Live Sound engineer. Adele’s had that treat already apparently…..
Hello? Sorry, HELLO?
(** delete where appropriate/according to your social status)
PART FOUR: FIRST POST MAY 2017 Betwixt The Concluding Pacific Rim
"An unpleasant incident occurred in the buffet area today when a particularly hardy pork chop was thrown at the hot drinks counter…sadly the coffee was too weak to defend itself….” © The Scottish One, Crooners Bar, May 2017.
In this our Final Pacific Instalment Dear Patient and Privileged Reader, we’re Post-Polynesia, Post Hilo, Hawai'i and even Hugely Hula Hula in Honolulu on the island of Oah’u (a Hawai'ian Island, are you keeping up?). This island was so named because 50 Drunken Sailors from Somerset got lost in the English Channel and were blown wildly off course into the Pacific, screamed "Ooo-arr, Ooh” upon their arrival there, and thence became known as The Hawai'i 50, which led to the TV Series of the same name.
Well I must say, after the serene beauty of yer Taheeteeses, yer Bora Borases and yer Banjo Banjoses, the island capital Hono-Uke-Lele-Lulu is at first bit of a concrete dump. Towers of tedium, buildings of boredom actually interspersed with some rather wacky architecture, interspersed with yer Macy'ses, yer Bloomingbloomingdaleses, yer Cor Blimey'ses, interspersed with….McDonalds. With as much subtlety as Prince Philip in a China Shop, the Trump Hotel really is grand, really grand. And it’s really ugly, really ugly in a way that’s really great, really great. Fortunately the heavy duty beach bit with gorgeous bars, palm trees, surfers and sands is heavenly. Met Yanks Jeffrey (“with a J, do YOU play GOLF?”) and Brian (“I flew into Manchester once, it was great”), plus Michelle and Andrea from “up north, near and in Scotland”, who insisted on doing lots of cheek kissing. Speaking of which, I then kinda fell in love (again) with a very sweet dancer (from the ship) from Doncaster. If only we’d had more than an hour outside Duke’s Beach Bar….aaah well. Long Live Waikiki Beach I say.
Quoting The Scottish One: "Remember, the Early Bird may catch the worm, but the Second Mouse catches the cheese.”
Despite the allure of the on deck “Bean Toss Challenge” today (really), lecture 29 of “Gauguin for Beginners”, and “Make Lei while the Sun Shines" classes, I must say I’m more drawn to the 3pm Happy Hour in the Wheeltappers and Shunters Club “Buy One, get one for a dollar, plus a fun raffle ticket”. Why? Because I’ve grown rather fond of the Dirty Banana. Delicious. Also most happy to have made the acquaintance of the super sincerely smiling staffers, The Lovely Josh (of Magic and Hostess trolley duties, and chucklage at my jokes), The Sweetly Balded Matt (Ents Director, “mine’s any cocktail in blue please") and the inevitable Richard and Judy of the Future, Staggeringly Smiley Mikey and Steve. Oh and the girls too, too numerous to mention….not forgetting Rob the adorable aforementioned Doncastrian and pals super singer/dancer Matt & co….question is, do I buy Reflections, the DVD of The Trip for only $254.73 and relive every minute onboard??? Probably not.
Ship life has trundled on trundlessly, Ocean life has continued whalelessly, if a shade CHOPPILY, and finishing further major musical masterpieces under the filthy banana influence has remained my raison d’être on board the SSS Bejazzle. The aformentioned “Scottish One” has continued to amuse….(great musical gag: “Memories…….er (stops abruptly) …, no, it’s gone…”). New Zillanders “Kin and Wine” have taken to eating plural main buffet courses simultaneously to eke out value for money syndrome, or as Wine says “Hivvunt a bean winn I get beck, so I’m eatin’ for nixt year…”, and I’ve been to the gym twice. (Once to walk round it).
Quoting The Scottish One:“The Doctor asked me if I was regular, I said ‘Oh yes, every morning at five to ten.’ Unfortunately I get up at quarter to eleven…”
The Nuzillanders are superb actually. Former Fire Dept geezer Ken admitted to still having severe nightmares about the kids he’s had to cut out of car crashes. Horrific, sad and a fabulous man.
Relaxationally, the Porsche, now Lotus Spa has started offering deals on Yoga Classes. I pointed out to Debbie from the Wirral that a friend back home is a Yoga teacher. “What’s there to teach?” she said, sadly not adding “Doesn’t it thicken and go sour all by itself?”. Thick and sour, that just about covers half the passengers…actually that’s not true. Apart from Mr and Mrs Deeply Dull, the majority of my chattees have been delightful, engaging, and (shock and indeed, horror) even interesting! Jan and Joe from Portland Oregon have supplied me with enough musical references to drink Tanqueray dry with.
In case you were concerned, dear Reader, my spa pedicure with Rochelle went without incident (a feat in itself), though my cabin facial was less successful, as my Rhubarb and Gordon’s Scrub proved too tasty to resist….
As we approach the Californian Coast, I’ll be sorry to bid the Pacific a Parting Gesture.
Huge bye byes to forthcoming Magician Josh, star dancer/singers Matt and Rob and love to any bar staff who remembered my room Card Number.
Betwixt the Interim 5 will arrive when you least expect it. From The U.S. of A. I hope.
Fare thee all well. x