There’s one on every trip. You know the type. The sort of people who book into a hotel room, put white gloves on and then go round looking for dust just so they can write a shitty review on TripAdvisor.
I once met one in St Lucia who wrote three letters after every holiday – one each to the tour company, the hotel and the airline. He reckoned it wad usually good for £100 off each of them. Well frankly life’s too short isn’t it?
On this trip we got a couple who’s pure reason d’être is to find fault. They’re relentless and have been at of all week. This particular night we’re in the bar after lunch and they’re moaning at the cruise director. The room isn’t being cleaned quickly enough, or to a high enough standard. There’s some dirt on the bathroom tiles. The drawers don’t fit properly (despite the fact the ship’s just had a 20 million quid refit) and – the best one I’ve ever heard – the gap under the bathroom door is too big! FFS!
The CD points out that if these things are not reported to the reception or the hotel manager then they can hardly be expected to address their concerns, but apparently if the ship is being run properly then it should not be necessary to report these things!
Apparently he will be writing a two page letter of complaint which I am confident will be treated with the contempt that it richly deserves!
Then they start about the itinerary and the ‘unacceptable deviations’. I can remain silent no longer. “Flexibility is the key to cruises such as this!” I point out. “Well I won’t be using this company again” he bellows.
“Pleased to hear it,” I reply. “At least I won’t be subjected to your incessant petty bitching!”
We’ve not spoken again since, but I seem to have made a friend of the cruise director…
Dinner is always a bit of a lottery on a ship with open seating. One is never quite sure what one will end up with.
This particular evening we were landed with what on the face of it might have been considered a sweet little old lady. Shame she wasn’t really…
We exchange names. Strangely, she insists on calling me Ron although it’s not actually my name. She asks where I live and proceeds to ask whereabouts in Scotland that is even though I live in the east of England. Oh dear! This going to a good night.
It would seem that our little old lady is a bit of a nosey old biddy. We have acquired the quizmaster, the queen of the never ending interrogation. It’s like being on Mastermind and still getting points even when you get all the answers wrong!
But at least I’ve worked out the problem. Seems the old dear is as deaf as a post, so I might as well have a bit of fun. “What do you do for as living?” “Actually I work for the CIA” “How fascinating!” she replies. “Have you been doing that for long?” “Yes. Actually I was one of the team that assassinated President Kennedy.” “Oh that must have been so much fun!” “Absolutely, I really love killing people. It’s very rewarding in many ways.” “And have you been to Africa before?” “Yes. In fact I was involved in a black ops team that murdered Gaddhafi and I done lots of freelance killings for President Assad. I’m very much in demand in Syria at the moment…”
So after an evening of the most outrageous bullshit we finally retire. “It’s been most enjoyable killing time with you” says she, leaving me wondering whether the turn of phrase means the artful old bugger is not quite so deaf after all…
There’s nothing quite like a jolly waiter to enhance your enjoyment at meal time. We’ve had a good few over the years and as well tend to sail quite often with the same company, we’ve gotten to know a lot of them well.
The food’s rather good as a rule. We place our order. “Excellent choice” comes the rejoinder. In fact it turns out none of us is capable of making any choice that is anything less than excellent. This goes on for several days at every meal. Time for some fun!
“Tonight I would like the most excellent starter, the excellent soup followed by some excellent lamb and excellent roasted potatoes!” His stride is not broken : “Excellent choice!” he booms.
Well, I’m not that easily defeated. The chef says he’s open to special dietary requirements so next evening I request rat burger in a stale bun topped with seagull droppings. “Brown or black rat?” he enquires. “Oh definitely the brown” I reply and guess what? “Excellent choice, sir!”
Oh well. There’s only one thing for it. “And another large glass of your excellent sauvignon please…”
Naturally one tends to indulge oneself with a nicer class of cruise ship. None of those 3,000 berth monstrosities pour moi! And one meets a so much nicer class of people…
So there we are, sat in the lounge at our berth in Nassau (where else?) when up comes Mr Ironed and Pressed. We’ve seen him a few times over the past week. Never the same outfit twice, never a crease in his trousers or shirt, his hair immaculately combed and glued into place. I’m sure this is the sharp dressed man that ZZ Top had in mind when they wrote that song. Not, of course, that he’d ever have heard of it being a classical music and opera fan himself.
Now my good lady is a bit of a stickler when it comes to ironing. I’ll never understand why she irons my socks and underpants. It seems so unnecessary. But I’ll bet Mrs Ironed and Pressed does his too. And his pyjamas. It must be a hell of a chore being so perfect all the time!
Ironically, we don’t see his wife that often. I suspect she’s in their cabin chained to the ironing board?
She’s also the scruffiest bugger I’ve seen for a long time. Oh dear…!
It’s dinner time – that time when you never quite know who you’re fellow diners will be until they turn up or, indeed, what fascinating topics of conversation they will bring to the table. Tonight we are blessed with the presence of a rather short stout lady in a tweed skirt. She has short hair and wears glasses, so she must be intelligent! The physicist has arrived…
She seems rather detached. Possibly from reality. We try to engage her in conversation but she is clearly on a different plane of existence. She says nothing for about 20 minutes and then launches – for no apparent reason – into a monologue about the CERN Large Hadron Collider. Refusing to be beaten, I ask her what it does and she responds with another monologue about particle physics. Wow, she really is clever!
“Shame about the ferret then” I throw into the mix recalling the recent breakdown of said collider due to the cables being gnawed through by said creature. I am immediately put in my place. “Actually it was a weasel” she replies and launches into another diatribe about the maintenance schedule and the complexities of the machine. This is truly fascinating stuff – although I am forced to nudge my better half who has just snored lightly having fallen asleep from the sheer boredom of it all. She never was one for technology.
“Well that was really interesting” I offer, lying through my teeth. “You know an awful lot about your subject. Have you been working on the project for long?” “Oh no” she replies, “I don’t work for CERN!”
“So what do you do then?” I ask. “I’m a teacher” she replies. “Physics?” I ask. Clearly a science teacher at ‘A’ level at least.
“No” says she. “I teach English at Primary School.”
Clearly a wasted talent…