Category Archives: 93 Men

93 Men in a Boat (70) – The Return of the Learned Professor

Just once in a while it is inevitable that one will come across people that you have cruised with before. Normally this is quite a pleasurable experience. Sometimes it is otherwise, but just every so often a nightmare will raise its ugly head.

Such is the case when we had the occasion to meet, once again, the Learned Professor of whom I have written previously (see number 63). Usually I would not revisit such a person in this series, but on this occasion I feel that I need to make an exception – because he’s got worse!

Not only has his enormous ego got bigger and his manners deteriorated, but he’s also learned to patronise and insult the other passengers, and has turned into the Front Seater. Every trip we went on, there he was elbowing his way to the front to get the best seat on the bus, the best view on the boat, the best table in the restaurant…

On his first evening out, he informed a fellow diner who had the temerity to disagree with him that he was “not prepared to enter into debate with someone so narrow minded” which was rather ironic as he is a Professor of History and his target had a degree in same.

Needless to say, he was not discouraged in the slightest. The other speaker was described as “a lightweight who did not belong here” and the guests collectively were apparently “intellectual pygmies“. Such arrogance seemed to know no bounds!

As the paragon of tact that you know me to be, I naturally held my tongue – until he elbowed his way to the front of the priority queue at the airport check-in to try and blag an upgrade. At this point I simply told him to piss off!

At this point the bloke in the queue behind me in the queue said to me “He’s a very important person, you know!” “Really?” I replied. “Yes,” said he, “but only in his own head!”

I gave him a cheery wave and a sweet smile as he walked through our cabin on the aircraft on his way back into steerage…

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93 Men in a Boat (69) – Mr. Phonie


It’s an occupational hazard on a cruise these days. You just can’t get away from people with mobile phones surgically attached to their hands, so it’s really refreshing to meet someone of, shall we say, more advanced years whose phone isn’t an appendage. In fact it turns out to be anything but!

He was actually a very pleasant chap, he just had this tendency to misplace things. Like his phone. The first couple of times it wasn’t a problem, but finally he lost it somewhere between the town and the ship which caused a bit of consternation – especially as it was a rather expensive iPhone. At least that’s where we think he lost it having arrived late for dinner after turning the cabin inside out.

Still, this was at least an improvement on his previous encounter of the telephonic type when he put it in his back pocket and then went so a swim. All attempts to revive said phone only seemed to result in it going ‘glug’

Anyhow he got away with it my offsetting his wife’s anger against her flushing his false teeth down the toilet the previous week…

93 Men in a Boat (68) – The Professional Whinger

whinger_2
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…

93 Men in a Boat [67] : The Quizmaster

p01lcgf2Dinner 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…

93 Men in a Boat [66] – The Jolly Waiter

happy-nerd1There’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…”