|Shoooo! Be off with you…|
The English abroad never cease to amaze me – and this trip was no exception!
Our ship comprised a majority of Norwegians, Swedes with a group of Dutch, and a sprinkling of Poles and Israelis. Even a charming Indian gentleman was with us – but that’s alright because they all speak English. So why is it aways the other English people who make me feel like crawling into the woodwork? Why am I always having to apologise for my fellow countrymen?
There was a charming English family with us whose two excellently behaved sons put the older members of our party to shame on occasions. There was a Welsh couple whose company we enjoyed. So far so good – but then we get what I refer to as the ‘Barbados Slave Owning Set’ or as my Welsh friend so beautifully put it ‘those of the Raj mentality’.
And of course, they travel in sets. In this case a set of four. I suspect this is a defense mechanism that enables them to actually have someone to talk at without having to engage with us riff-raff. Naturally they have the largest cabins, drink gin and tonic, insist on the same table at meal times and play bridge in the lounge after dinner. I mean, one simply does, doesn’t one?
Needless to say, they get right up my nose. And as one very pleasant Dutch lady remarked : “Ernly ze Breetish wud play breedge in ze Arctique” – I am inclined to agree!
One evening we were playing some music in the bar – quietly I might add. Needless to say, the gang of four were playing bridge – right under the loudspeaker! At this point a rather butch woman bearing a remarkable resemblance to Robin Williams in drag decided to give me a mouthful. I did politely point out that there were other opinions in the room contrary to hers – not, of course, that this mattered to her – and that perhaps directly under the loudspeaker was not the quietest place in the room. She told me she did not approve. “Never mind”, I replied.
Of course given such a response, she immediately sent her husband over to sort us out! Clearly I was supposed to be impressed by his gravitas and undoubted air of authority. “I didn’t pay all this money to listen to this rubbish…” he started. “Bloody well turn it off now or I will!” I was forced to explain to him that (a) the magic word ‘please’ works wonders, (b) that if he liked his fingers then it would be a nice idea to keep them away from the dial, and (c) I paid the same for the trip as he did! He was not best pleased.
But everything comes to he who waits. Guess who was sat next to him on a very early morning flight home? Regrettably, the volume control on my iPod was malfunctioning and he was unable to get a lot of sleep.
However, clearly valuing his fingers he didn’t try to take it from me, so perhaps he was not as stupid as I thought… even if he does live in Surrey!