Paul had decided that on the next day at sea aboard the Britannia, instead of knocking back Mai Tais and massacring his epidermis neath nuclear fission, he would instead massacre his opponents in a few of the onboard competitions.
He threw the suggestion onto the deck and the rest of the family sort of agreed to the wager. Paul said he would look through the day’s programme when their ‘Horizon’ was delivered to the cabin and see what activities dawned upon him.
Andrew even came up with a name for the day’s activities.
Paul was well aware that it was the apostrophe which had prompted his partners inspirational title. It was clear to all that ‘Paul’s Camp’ could be either an association or a description. He was quite aware that it was the latter which the newly enrolled members of Paul’s Camp found more amusing.
Early on the morning of the inauguration of ‘Paul’s Camp’, Paul sat on his balcony devising the daily routine. Even writing his own quiz for cocktail hour.
He knew he was tragic at times.
But as he was up at 6.15am yet again, and so it passed the time until the sun made his lethargic entrance! Everything in the Caribbean seemed to be misted in a heat haze of lethargy. Except him! He never rose with the lark normally – well, not all of him! Yet at sea he couldn’t help it. His body clock was in a whole different time zone. Perhaps having to be on parade for three years during his time at naval school had scarred him for the voyage. Normally it was only his privates on parade pre-dawn these days.
When the hour was a little less rude he called his mother’s cabin and told her of his plans. She was more than up for the planned activities. She passed his itinerary onto the other members of ‘Paul’s Camp’.
But first there was breakfast.
They met on the smoking deck for some smoked haddock which hopefully was meant to taste that way, and made plans.
Tina and Bill had not yet surfaced. Paul had the sneaking suspicion they were having a change of heart, perhaps they were not to enrol in his association after all. He didn’t mind. The fewer members the more chance he had of winning.
He’d always been horribly competitive.
He’d been known to throw his toys violently from the pram if he didn’t win the chance to buy Park Lane or Mayfair. As a child he assumed he possessed the monopoly on winning! Later in life he had realised this was not the case. At times, he now knew, it was necessary to get the boot. He couldn’t always be the top hat!
Post brekkie the team made their way to deck 17 to participate in the ‘Silent Quiz’. This took the form, literally, of a piece of paper on which they were to fill in the answers. The theme of the day was ‘Cryptic Groups’. This was a little too cryptic for their group at such an hour until Andrew spotted the clue ‘Bible’s Beginnings’ and unsilently shouted ‘Genesis’.
The starboard side of the ship now knew how the quiz worked and began to complete their forms. Paul’s mother decided to scream out the next answer most succinctly, which enabled those on the port side of the vessel to make headway too.
Paul wondered if his camp had been a good idea, but it was up and running now and couldn’t be disbanded at the first hurdle.
The team jumped next onto the ‘Quoits Competition’. This was taking place further along deck, now minus Grace who had decided to leave the camp in order to sunbathe on the Serenity Deck. The ‘Silent Quiz’ had already dampened her enthusiasm, unsurprisingly seeing as most of the questions referred to music that had been in the hit parade before even Paul had been unthought of!
As the three remaining members approached the ‘Quoital’ arena and heard the screech of the lisping, plump adjudicator laying down the rules, Andrew immediately threw his hat out of the ring.
‘There’s no way I can listen to that fucking voice all morning’ he said,
‘I’ll see you both later.’
He left Paul and his mother amid a horribly keen and professional looking group of golden oldies who had arrived early to throw in some practice. Paul turned to his mother and they both decided they’d change events. Paul was certain that joining a serious group of hoop-tossing pensioners was neither he, nor his mother’s idea of fun.
Instead they made their way to the ‘Crystal Ballroom’ to participate in line dancing. Paul had danced with a line before so was fairly confident he wouldn’t make a fool of himself. His mother had trained in ballet during her formative years, so he imagined the bar would not be set too high for her either.
Andrew had decided he was too tired to line dance and retired to his cabin. ‘Paul’s Camp’ was now down to just two members.
Paul and his mother!
As Paul did the ‘push your tush’ amongst a gaggle of octogenarians he felt a rush of that particular sea-sickness known as hysteria. He didn’t care. He and his mum had too much fun, whooping and lassooing with the rest of the possessed on the dance floor.
They left on a sweaty high and made their way to the to the ‘Lido Deck’ and a well-earned cocktail. Well, Paul thought, they were on holiday, and had already worked off the calories.
After a light buffet lunch of cottage pie, Singapore noodles, fish fingers and a banana cheesecake, Paul aimed towards the ‘Adult Archery Competition’. He was now the last remaining official member of Paul’s camp, his mother having dropped by the quayside in order to hit the spa.
As he held his bow upside down and struggled attempting to load the arrow, he knew for sure that ‘Paul’s Camp’ was now only a description! He was shooting solo!
Two overweight friendly ladies, wearing terribly comfortable shoes, gave him advice on his archery technique. The taller of the two admitting she’d once instructed in the ancient art.
She didn’t hit the target once.
To Paul’s surprise he did. He was actually on target twice and finished joint second! He was thrilled, feeling a little less Maid Marion now and a touch less scarlet. His will had seen him through. He was a very merry man.
Later that night the ex-members of ‘Paul’s Camp’ rejoined him in ‘The Live Lounge’ for a tribute to Gary Barlow. Paul wasn’t that keen as he couldn’t stick the real Gary Barlow, let alone a cockney singer wide boy with very few high-notes attempting to replicate him.
It was, to him, very dull. Dry and vanilla, much like the real thing! He couldn’t muster even a little patience.
He looked towards Andrew and gave a nod towards the stage indicating he couldn’t take that any longer.
He was decamping earlier than the rest of his crew.
He felt no guilt, after all, he’d had a long day being the only surviving member of the team.
He retired to G deck to relight his fire!