They say that going on a cruise broadens the mind – who are they? I hear you ask - well I don’t rightly know; I suppose it’s the people who say these things. Anyway. A cruise was decided upon. But where to go? What ship? Will I need a Mae West? Will I see Mermaids or be bullied by defecating Swedish seagulls? So it was decided. A Mediterranean cruise. Foreign sunny climes. Foreign food. Foreign people. But hang on a minute; if I’m in a foreign land then surely stands to reason - I’d be the foreigner. Well wouldn’t I? See the wisdom of my reasoning? So having packed all that was to be packed in a couple of suitcases, a couple of shoulder bags and a container of my favourite Jam Roly-Poly. Well you never know about these far-off lands, they may not have Jam Roly-Poly; May have their own version of Jam Roly-Poly. Jam Roly-Poly Spaghetti or Jam Roly-Poly noodles. Never take chances that’s my motto.
So we flew from Newcastle Airport – here I must say something. What’s with these money grabbing leeches who run these airports? Damn it man; they even charge if you want to drop somebody off! Some have barriers that lift only when you drop a in a pound coin. What about an IOU? Hey you creeps, do you accept IOU’s? Some; may allow 3 seconds free but woe betide you if you go over. Smirking jobsworths pounce on you; grinning sneaky creeps either checking time and car numbers on their monitors or hide behind a cloud of Halitosis, ready to pounce; “Excuse me Sir did you know you have to pay to drop someone off here?” “But I was only a minute; I had to drop off my sick auntie; she’s going to the US for treatment and her wheel chair proved a bit difficult.” “Sorry Sir, the laws the law pay up now if not the penalty will be double, not only that but we’ll send the heavies round to confiscate all your furniture, the TV set, your wife’s jewelry and your dog’s false teeth.” What’s wrong with this country – truly Rip off Britain! And so we went through the airport check-ins. Once upon a time one could whizz through airport check-ins; show your passport containing a crisp tenner and a cheery bloke with dirty finger nails would wave you through and wish you a happy flight. NOW! it’s a flipping obstacle course! You take off most of your clothes and put them in a large tray along with your coins, keys; anything metal including one’s vibrator (No I don’t use them, but a middle aged priest in Spain asked me get him one. I swear it’s true!) And not content with having you strip almost naked; the men have to remove belts. For crying out aloud what do they think we’re going to do? Once through the check-ins – use our belts to hang ourselves rather than fly Ryan Air? Oh’ I don’t know though. You listening Mr. Bleary O’Leary? Now I need my belt to keep my pants up. There I am, belt in one hand and in the other, the top of me bleedin’ pants! But I got through unscathed and my dignity intact, But I ponder one thing - isn’t this a tad bit sexist. If we blokes have to remove our belts what about the women? Well? Isn’t that something to ponder over? So I propose a compromise – women have to remove the elastic from their knickers! Now that’s Men’s Liberation!
So ladies, knicker elastic in one hand and the other under the skirts holding up your unmentionables (no good I’ve mentioned them already).
Just had a thought – can you imagine Queen Victoria going through check-ins – removes her knicker elastic and forgets to hold on to her ..you know? She’s standing there elastic in one hand and her drawers around her ankles. She looks around and very haughtily “We are not amused!”
We flew out to Palma Majorca to meet up with our ship; actually to give it its proper name – it’s ‘Palma de Mallorca.’ But you have to say it in a Spanish accent. Go on try. Palma – enunciate enunciate. Look, tell you what; ladies try saying it while you’re holding your maracas And you fellas – say it with feeling as you stroke your castanets. See easy peasy. Any way our ship – ‘Spirit of the Sea.’ Laid on by those good people from Thomson. We get off the plane at Majorca and board a coach that will deliver us to the good ship ‘Spirit of the Sea.’ We’d only gone a few yards when some irritating horse’s-backside tells us that the actor Michael Douglas has a villa here. “Really?” asks a George Clooney fan. “Yes it’s in the hills up there.” our show-off replies pointing in the direction of some blue-green hills in the far distance. After many yawns from the rest, we take in the town sights. “We’ve been here once before haven’t we Marjory; remember it was after the cruise we had in the Caribbean?” Continues the irritating horse’s-backside. “Yes dear, it was just before our cruise to the Far East; I remember now,” replies a blue-rinsed Mrs. horse’s-backside. These irritating show-offs went on and on - Dear Lord above, grant us plebs a wish; please please when these pains in the derriere go on their next cruise, please make it to the Antarctica and may the bloke be chased up and down a melting ice-berg by a bunch of cross-eyed homosexual Penguins and her; force-fed rancid seaweed by a very old Hindu Polar Bear. Amen.
I’ll skip to the ship.
We settled into our cabin. As I’d never been on a cruise before; I thought our cabin being just above sea-level; passing Dolphins would blow us kisses as we sailed by, but all we saw were a couple of dead sea-horses and a label from a bottle of cream soda. Later in the day I examined our cabin for any holes. One cannot be too careful. I didn’t want to go to sleep and some cheeky octopus shoves a tentacle through a hole to tickle me fancy. Now I’m much the same as any bloke; I don’t mind having me fancy tickled; but I draw the line if it’s an octopus – I do have standards. I mean they have suckers on their tentacles – doesn’t bear thinking about. I had a couple of sleepless nights owing to my fear of the waves making the ship sway; this made me concerned about the bed rolling across the cabin. Reminded me of a time way back when; I was staying in a down market bedsit in Attercliffe (a suburb of Sheffield), this place wasn’t so much ‘cheap and cheerful’ but more like ‘cheap and nasty, take it or leave it'; well I was young, I was broke and I was saving up for a new T Shirt. The room had a whiff of stale beer and Uganda baked beans. The bed was an old fashioned type with a metal frame and springs. It also had wheels on the legs. These made the bed move a little every time I broke wind in my sleep. All night my stomach rumbled like a demented peculator. I had a very restless night and awoke in the morning to find the bed wedged in between the wardrobe and the coffee table. That’s the last time I ever ate curried sprouts for supper. But I digress. Actually I like a bit of digressing. They can’t touch you for it and as long as no one’s harmed it can be a lot of fun.
Cut a long story short.
Back to the ship. The crew were pleasant; mostly from Malaya and the Philippines. They had this thing they did with towels; when passengers returned to their cabins; towels in the shape of fish and animals would be on the beds. Nice touch. Food was good. Plenty of it and enough variety and tastes to please any palate even a Texas Senator on hunger strike. One thing about a cruise – leave your diet sheet at home and bring along plenty of liver salts. You can gorge yourself silly and still the food never stops coming. Billy Bunter would think he’d died and gone to foody comestible heaven. There was a bar (if you like that sort of thing) plenty of the ‘falling down water’ Entertainment – quite good. Dance lessons, quizzes and singers and comedy. One thing I found puzzling – at meal times you could drink all the tea and coffee you or your char lady fancied but come the evening and you’re sitting watching shows; you had to pay for tea or coffee. I’ll fool ‘em next time. At evening meals I’ll fill a thermos- flask and take it with me to the cabaret room; that’ll learn ‘em; Neh Neh Neh Neh Neh.
We stopped at various ports. Inc - Ajaccio, Livorno (from where some of us went on day excursions. Some went to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower; the blue-rinsed memsahib thought she was going on a day trip to a pizza making factory. We went to Florence. Nice place Florence. Lots of statues; a few naughty ones. Lots of African entrepreneurs selling fake Rolex’s, Jimmys' Choo Choos and Gucci Mucci stuff. The gelato was very good; gelato; that’s ice cream to you common folk. I particularly took a liking to Florentines. Mouth watering Italian ‘biscuits’ much much better than the ‘best buys’ at our local supermarket. Then we went to Toulon and Barcelona. Toulon was pretty much closed. Save for a market. Not much there apart from a lot of Arabs buying fruit and veg and some shady characters reeking of soggy onions and trying to sell you roasted almonds and something for the week-end - no good for me; I usually go to bed with me socks on. Then it was on to Barcelona. Ah’ Barcelona. What can I say about this fair city? Except - it’s in Spain. We went to a few restaurants. Nice food and drink. Mind you this one place was full of noisy foreigners speaking in tongues.
Until I found out they were a family from Glasgow.
Then it was back to Palma and our flight back to Good Ol’ Blighty.
And yes at the airport they were there; the creep brigade! Drop off/pick up charges. Why do we in this beautiful country put up with this? We’re being fleeced left right and centre!
But I do have a complaint about the cruise (and you know me-never one to complain) I expected that we’d be piped aboard – but nothing, zilch; not even a few notes from the Captain’s horn. Another thing; I had hoped to sit by a camp fire on the upper-deck; roast marshmallows and have a jolly old sing-along; you know, songs like – ‘Westering Home And A Song In The Air.’ or even ‘What Shall We Do With the Drunken Matelot?’ Nothing! Not even the Navigator doing a jig to the tune of ‘I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.’
But I recommend this cruise holiday.
Well Dear Reader that’s it I guess.
Have a good one and don’t forget to put the bins out before you go to bed.
'Man at large'