Paul woke in his cabin after a hilarious dream in which Gracie had been thrown off the ‘Brittania’ due to her revealing outfits. Hordes of disgruntled pensioners cheered her as she was made to walk the plank in a minuscule yellow bikini.
She wasn’t at all bothered.
She walked with dignity giving a stylish finger to the jeering crowd. Paul imagined the dream had something to do with the reception he’d received the previous day in Bridgetown. But wasn’t sure – he was no Carl Jung. He made a note to ask Tina when they met for breakfast, as she had an esoteric bent and would no doubt be able to divine the meaning of his vision.
One thing he was sure of, that despite the ship not sailing until the evening, he would not be parting company with her. He had no yearning to be a landlubber in such a disenchanting place. He thought instead he may head down to the docks and sit among the crew, who were always utterly charming, and take advantage of the free WiFi and their good nature.
There was, after all, always fun to be had perched on a barrel surrounded by a bunch of friendly dockers!
The day went groggily by!
Day 8. At Sea.
The ship sailed south at a knat’s knot towards the island of Bonaire. Nobody had heard of the island – it wasn’t the usual place one would book with Thomas Cook when contemplating a tropical trip to the Caribbean.
It was situated fifty miles off the coast of Venezuela – Far enough away, Paul was relieved to discover, to escape the madness that was presently unfolding in that beautiful country.
Caracas was crackers it seemed.
To him, what with Presidents, Lump, Putrid, and Maduro in power, the world was becoming a crazier place than normal. He was quite glad they were all at sea. Land was growing less appealing by the day.
Onboard Britannia events were much calmer. The decks were full of happy, sated passengers – some a little over-sated.
Paul had always considered buffets to be weapons of mass digestion!
But there was always room for a torpedo roll or two during afternoon tea or Elevenses. Two quite unessential eating dates he never made at home.
At sea however one seemed to be ravenous most of the time.
He was glad he wasn’t on a world cruise or he could possibly return looking like Shelley Winters in ‘The Poseidon Adventure’.
And as for Andrew!
The day was a series of short breaks between meals. Both laborious and delicious. Punctured only by the odd cocktail and a very odd Cajun Salmon and feta sandwich.
Later, after Paul had retired to his cabin to quietly explode, Andrew had served him up another surprising dish. He had brought one of the West End’s most famous musical directors into their cabin at 1am that morning. Paul was draped across the bed in his birthday suit when the said Maestro, who must for contractual reasons remain nameless, burst through the door. The last time Paul had seen the man was when he’d been wearing a catsuit in the musical ‘Cats’!
The conductor had many a hit musical under his baton, and whilst on a short break had made his way westwards for a brief interval in the West Indies. It was quite a coincidence.
The three show boys hit the balcony, ‘Evita’ style, and gave a captured audience a litany of showbiz anecdotes. They regaled each other with theatrical tales concerning many a mutual friend. It was quite over top and hilarious. Mr Johnny Walker Red Label conducted the evening, and was responsible for many an encore.
The cast didn’t take their final curtain call until four in the morning.
What a swell party it was! The room had seen quite a service!
Andrew, however, did not come off well in the reviews the following day. It was lucky the boat was at sea, as he was in exactly the same condition. Paul had warned him not to invite Mr Walker to the cabin but he’d not listened. Johnny had disappeared into the scotch mist by the morrow – without even a tatty-bye, leaving behind an empty bottle, a banging headache and an aching regret in his place.
Surprisingly Paul felt remarkably perky considering the previous evening’s performance. He even felt he had a matinée in him.
He met the girls for Mango Margaritas at the ‘Serenity Pool’.
Or the quiet zone!
It was a little less so as Paul introduced his family to the famous musical director. More theatricality ensued and a matinée of the same show that had seen Andrew panned earlier that day began again – much to the chagrin of two snobby passengers who obviously didn’t share their love of musical theatre.
Some people just can’t take their Cole Porter Paul thought.
The tropical heat wave continued as Paul got complete plastered whilst precariously perched on a bar stool heading for Bonaire.
He felt no guilt – he was on holiday after all.
And on the high seas – anything goes!
He looked and struggled to interpret his Tintin watch. Through his myopia he couldn’t determine whether it was two forty-five or ten past eight. Everything looked like a Tintin past a Snowy to him. But he knew it was academic. Whatever the hour, it was surely time to eat again – wasn’t it ?
He made his way aft to search for Andrew amongst the scones and Bream.