Notes from a cruise ship. (Coming Soon.)
I am getting out, yes after much thought I am doing it.
I have had enough of our dysfunctional society, a society that treats the victims of crime worse than the criminals. I have had enough of so called political correctness that no normal person can understand. Being English I find it hard when I am hated by the Scottish, the Welsh, the Irish. All Africans hate us, all Muslims hate us, and most Europeans hate us. Yet I find it strange that England is overflowing with Scots, Welsh, Irish, Africans, Muslims and Europeans with more always trying to get into our country.
I have had enough of bad manners, rudeness, and couldn’t care less attitude of many people. I am sick of obscenities on the street, on radio and particularly on television. I am sick of the constant attack on the religion of our country, and the constant retreat in the face of other religions. I am sick of the lack of discipline and punishment. I am sick of the slack way that we treat our terrible drug problem. I am sick of the way we cow- tow to Europe, and the disgusting waste and fraud carried out by the European parliament.
I am determined that this robbing government will not get a penny of my hard-earned money---so I am selling up and disposing of all my assets. I have in mind to cruise the world in luxury until my fiscals are depleted, then this country can look after me. I also intend to write about my travels and experiences. When I return I will convert the notes into a book and I know it will sell! Then with the proceeds I shall return to cruising for as long as possible. There will always be a free place for me in this land of plenty when I eventually require it.
Well I have found the ship -- ‘Ariadne’ a beautiful sixty thousand-ton lady. It is one of ten liners in the fleet of ‘Nicos Andronis’, a Greek shipping magnate. This is his latest craft and I have had a virtual tour around the vessel, it is just what I was looking for. I have negotiated a price (not cheap) but very fair I think. I will describe the ship in detail later. I will be travelling light and have arranged in advance to be supplied with the relevant clothes on board, on a hire basis, for any occasion, (and that’s a load of my mind). I just would not have known what clothed to take with me. This arrangement is apparently now quite common on lengthy cruises and does seem to make a lot of sense.
I have been assured I will be left alone when I require it, and can even dine alone if I choose to. I will be assigned a lady or gentleman, to look after me on board, and that is reassuring --- not having done this kind of thing before. I am a little nervous about the whole thing now---but I am looking forward to escaping the rat race. It is a strange feeling finding oneself with no worldly goods. I now only have the clothes I stand up in, (house, car and all possessions gone) and with only a rather large money draft that will be deposited in the ship’s bank for me to draw on as required. The ship will even supply a computer and any other associated devices I may require. I intend to write notes and keep you informed of my travels. I will let you know when I join the ship---It won’t be long now…
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Notes From A Cruise Ship. ‘One’.
You will remember that I paid a visit to the ‘Ariadne’ to have a look at the ship before booking my passage. The ship was magnificent. This was to be a long cruise, which would pick up and drop off passengers at points of convenience (for the passengers) that is. There was still plenty of cabins available, and I had picked one of the best. It was on the upper passenger deck, on the starboard side, that is the right hand side, and would offer me more sunlight. We would be travelling predominantly east to start with. And so we set sail from Southampton.
The cabin has a large lounge with radio, television, etc. A decent sized bedroom, which is most necessary for a long stay. A nice spacious bathroom, and a lovely picture window which opened on to my private balcony. This was to be cruising with style.
This bit is amazing---whilst walking round the ship trying to get to know where things are located I saw a face that looked familiar to me. When I approached the guy who was obviously a member of the crew, we recognised each other immediately. Graham Hurt had been a registrar at a general hospital where I frequently worked. I got to know Graham because we had both been runners, and had met whilst running round the hospital grounds at lunch times. He knew I was a medical engineer, and he approached me one day to ask for a little help with a physics exam that he was due to sit. His problem was with quantum noise in ‘Image Intensifier’ systems. I was able to help Graham, and he later told me that of the three questions in his exam there was one on Quantum physics that carried 60% of the marks. He passed with ease and became a consultant radiologist. Graham and I became good friends, went running together, joined the same running club, and ran many races together at all distances up to marathons. He told me that after twenty years hospital work, he applied for and got a position as medical officer on a cruise ship. He had only recently joined the Ariadne. This was a great start for me, knowing I had at least one friend on board ship.
I was not going by my real name on the ship and had to explain this straight away to Graham. I had chosen ‘Alex Stern’ as my on board name. There were a few reasons for this---the main one being I wanted to keep my identity under wraps, at least for the present time. The ship has a large computer suite, and it seems people are not slow to Google others names to check on backgrounds and status etc. It would not have been difficult for anybody to find out my life history from web-site, links etc. I didn’t want this at this stage. I would see how things progressed. Graham understood and promised me he wouldn’t slip up.
Our first port of call was to be Athens, we were picking up provisions there. Because of the wintry weather and the need to get to warmer climes quickly, the captain put his foot down and although it was a little rough we zoomed across the Bay of Biscay without any problems. The ship seemed to be well stabilised. We did a sharp left and virtually skidded round the corner into the Straight of Gibraltar and into the Med. I used this time to start writing the first notes of my intended book.
We passed by the bottom of Sardinia, and then eased between the gap of the George Cross Island of Malta and Sicily, then on to Athens. I decided that I would stay on board at Athens, I was hoping that I could meet up with some friends here at a later date, when the weather was better. We would in fact be cruising the Mediterranean later on during our world cruise, but in warmer temperatures.
If anyone read my poem about ‘Ariadne’ you will remember the etymology---So pure and very pleasing. This was how the ship turned out to be. The passengers are mostly knocking on a bit, mostly couples but there are quite a few single ladies, not all old either. I got the impression that they were mostly well heeled. I think I am the only single male on board. I was a little surprised therefore to find myself invited to the captain's table for dinner on the first night. This is regarded as quite an honour apparently. The idea seems to be that all the passengers get a chance to dine with the captain at some time. Maybe they took pity on me because I was a lone passenger, or maybe Graham had pulled some strings.
The captain name is Andreas Tictopolous; His parents were apparently in the diplomatic service. Andreas was born in England. He joined the Royal Navy and ended up as the captain of a destroyer. He used the name Andy Topol whilst in the navy, I think for convenience. After thirty years he left the Royal Navy and joined the cruise lines, and ended up as captain of the Ariadne. Andreas was always called Captain by everyone.
The conversation over dinner was quite stimulating. The captain always tries to be present for the evening meal; other officers rotate depending on duties. They all seem decent types. There is usually about five crew and six or seven passengers at the captains table. Dinner starts at seven and takes about three hours, all very leisurely. Conversations it seems are lubricated frequently by a nice assortment of drinks.
Our debate after dining resulted from someone mentioning the problems in Iraq. Looking around it was clear there was probably people of different religions present. Now I am always very careful about being drawn into such debates, but this proceeded quite well.
It was Graham who livened the debate up when he asked what we thought of Einstein famous equation. He suggested that if energy creates mass or matter as Einstein stated, and mass can create energy, where then did the energy come from that created the so-called big bang. This after dinner debate was superb. No attacks on religion, no profanities or blasphemies, no bad language. Just sensible discussion with consideration for other peoples views. Some one mentioned that Einstein’s theory went on to be the catalyst for the Atom bomb. Nuclear fission, and fusion being the result. Einstein apparently wrote to the American president to warn him of the possibility of Germany developing the Bomb first. This resulted was the creation of the A-bomb by the Americans and it being dropped on Japan. Einstein it seemed believed in God, and was appalled at what had been created with his formula.
First thing in the mornings I have been having an hour in the fitness room. I was delighted to find Graham there and he is clearly still a very fit guy. I did twenty minutes exercise with light-weights. Twenty minutes on the running machine, and twenty minutes on the cycling machine. This was followed by a nice shower and a massage by a lovely young lady, very civilised indeed. I took breakfast in my cabin, sometimes I had the ‘Monty’, sometimes just cereal and tea; I have been assigned a gentleman to look after my needs and see to my room.
We had taken on all the ‘Vittles’ necessary for now, and left Athens and headed for Port Sa-id and the Suez Canal. You may or may not know that Verdi wrote the opera ‘Aida’ to commemorate the opening of the Suez Canal. Aida is one of my favourite operas, and I always find the Grand March particularly moving---it stirs memories from my youth.
I remember with fondness ‘Children’s Day’ which was an annual event in my city. There used to be a hundred thousand people turn out for this event---all sat round the magnificent natural arena in our wonderful park. They were ferried from all parts of the city by tramcars. There were athletic events, various displays, and the Children’s parade with the chosen queen from all the city's schools in the lead. Later there was all the fun of the fair. The ‘Grand March’. from Aida was played during the parade round the arena by the children. That was where I first heard this wonderful music as a young child. (I have been warned about being nostalgic---but what the hell, how I remember those carefree-happy days of my youth).
And that is why I had a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye, as we gently eased into the Suez canal at Port Sa-id, with the wonderful march by Verdi floating over this beautiful boat…
PS. The above are only notes, because I was requested to keep you posted about my travels.
If you require the detailed version you will have to wait for the book;
That’s if I ever finish it---
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Notes from a cruise ship. Two.
It would appear that passengers on these kind of cruises are happy to brag about their personal wealth and circumstances, in fact they seem to try to outdo one-another. I--for obvious reasons, have been cautious about saying too much...
The one hundred and sixty seven kilometres of the Suez Canal lay ahead. We would head down to Ismailia, then through the bitter lakes, and so on to Suez.
The original Canal linked the Gulf of Suez to the Bitter Lakes, and then joined up to the river Nile. This route was used to get ships from the Mediterranean Sea to India. It was abandoned when the trade route to India round the bottom of Africa was discovered. In 1800 Napoleon’s engineers revived the idea of a shorter route to India via a Suez Canal. His engineers however calculated a difference in sea level between the Gulf of Suez and the Mediterranean of ten meters, and the idea was put on hold. (It is difficult to understand now how they calculated the sea levels to be different.) They were frightened of flooding large areas of land.
It was Ferdinand de Lesseps the former French consul in Cairo who was given the final attempt at building the canal. The construction started in 1857, it was completed in 1867 It was officially inaugurated in November 1869. Verdi’s Aida was premiered at the new Cairo opera house in 1870--one year late.
I remembered the terrible scenes at Port Sa-id in 1956 when Abdul Nasser nationalised the canal. Ships were sunk at all the approaches so there was no access to the canal. A 99-year agreement had been granted to De-Lesseps by the Egyptians. This was reneged by Nasser because the British French and American would not loan him the money to build the Aswan high dam. France Britain and Israel who all had a strong interest in Egypt invaded Egypt. International pressure stopped the action, but further wars with Israel and other problems meant that the canal was not fully operative until 1975, when it was officially reopened. It has been widened twice and fifty ships a day now use the canal.
Ariadne is quite a large ship (I got the weight wrong, she is it seems thirty thousand ton) but there never seems to be too many passengers. I suppose this is the benefit of paying top prices; indeed it seems there are as many crew members as passengers. I am gradually getting to know people though.
I have never been one for formal dressing up; I think only for weddings--with hired gear. I have to say however that I have been quite enjoying it. My guy Stavros is looking after my clothing department, and so far has not put a foot wrong---I have to say I look rather smart. Stavros told me that people have been trying to find out just who I am. His fellow stewards have apparently told him this. They have noticed my attire, and the fact I have frequently dined at the captain’s table.
It would appear that passengers on these kind of cruises are happy to brag about their personal wealth and circumstances, in fact they seem to try to outdo one-another. There seems to be an air of mystery surrounding me. I will leave it that way. What would these people think if they knew the truth, that in fact I was here only to use my money up cruising; just so the government won’t get it’s thieving hands on it: and that when my cruising is over I will be ---- well who knows?
Lady Darton is treated with the greatest respect by all. I have seen her a few times but not to speak to. I am sure she would have been at the captain’s table--but so far she had not appeared for dinner. I had heard that her family was very wealthy, and big property owners. But you know what people are for talking.
Graham has given me a tour round the medical quarters, and very impressive they are too. At one time only minor things would be done on cruise ships; anything serious was always evacuated to shore. Now it seems many things can be handled. Indeed the equipment is superb. Ariadne did have facilities for emergency helicopter landing if necessary.
Funny this--but, strange things have been happening. Graham called on me. It seems Lady Darton had fallen and she may have broken her leg. There was a surgical image intensifier installed in the medical quarters, and this was needed to diagnose the fracture. It seems the machine was not functioning! The engineering officer had been summonsed, but although he and his staff were qualified to handle any normal task on board, medical engineering was not one of them. Graham knew of course that medical engineering had been my work, and asked for my help. I will not go into detail here (that will be for the book) I of course agreed to help and found the fault and repaired it quite quickly.
Lady Darton who had been given a pain killing injection was in the room watching the proceedings but not speaking. I helped Graham position the equipment and we screened Lady Darton’s leg. She had a fracture of the tibea. Graham then took two radiographs; this is necessary to know how to proceed. The fracture was just below the knee. It was quite clean and Graham was sure he could sort it without any surgical intervention. I had done all I could do and left the medical quarters. Graham came to see me later to say all was okay, and to thank me.
The next morning whilst taking my morning walk round the deck I spotted Lady Darton in a wheelchair. (I should mention here that Graham’s wife Elena is working with him on the ship, she was a theatre sister in the hospital Graham worked in, and it was Elena who dealt with Lady Darton’s plaster cast) I said good morning, and asked how her leg was. She was surprisingly cheerful and I ended up pushing her round with me (all extra exercise). She had to keep her weight from the leg for a while hence the wheel chair. Graham had apparently told her that if it hadn’t been for me she would have had to be evacuated from the ship. She wanted to thank me, and told me she had been in touch with her husband about what had happened. I told her it was nothing--- and that I was glad to help, and would be happy to push her round the decks each day until her leg healed sufficiently to bear her weight.
I had been told that Lady Darton was a bit of an ogre. I have found her to be a lovely lady. She is quite a bit younger than I am, and also very attractive, she seemed happy to talk. She told me she insisted on her title being used on board, because a lot of the passengers were snobs, and she wanted to keep them in place; and also because her husband owned the ship. She was laughing when she said this, I too was laughing, but I think not for the same reason. She told me that I could drop the ‘Lady Darton’ and call her Lorna---but that I must be discreet.
She of course was calling me Alex.
About half an hour before dinner I had a call from the Captain, asking if I would call at his cabin. Stavros had been dispatched to take me there. Graham it seemed had spoken to the captain about the incident in the medical quarters. Again more details in my book (please remember these are just notes) in short the captain wanted to know if I would be willing to help if any further problems occurred with the medical electronic equipment. Being very specialised equipment it was always a concern on ships that had these facilities.
I had no objection, I knew the medical equipment would only be used in emergencies, and there was not likely to be many of them, nor was the equipment likely to fail again. The captain told me I would be recompensed, I told him to forget it. I laughed when he told me in future to call him Andreas, but that I must be discreet. He joined me in laughing when I told him that Lady Darton had said exactly the same words. He didn’t even know her first name---he did however know her husband owned the Ariadne.
We are not far from the Red Sea now, it is noticeably warmer and I have been sitting outside whilst catching up with my book. I am thoroughly enjoying my cruise.
More notes soon all being well.
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Notes from a cruise ship. Three.
We have passed out of the canal and so entered the Gulf of Suez and the Red Sea.
The Ariadne is the first cruise ship I have been on, but I cannot imagine anything better. It has a cinema where the latest films are shown. There is a small theatre where various acts perform. There is a ballroom where the orchestra play; this is the most popular place. I thought I had forgotten how to dance! The small orchestra is superb. There is a well-equipped library, a computer room and a sauna. One of the swimming pools is indoor and heated, the large one is open and towards the back of the boat. This pool area can be covered to accept any helicopter landings if required. People can eat and drink all day if they wish (I think some folks do) there is also of course the medical centre and the fitness area.
I enjoy the sauna---there are three sessions, Ladies, Gents, and mixed.
I always go in the mixed---the conversation is much better.
While I was pushing Lorna round the decks, she told me that her husband is hoping to drop in on a short visit during the next couple of days. He will come by helicopter. His name is Mathew Actually Darton. Yes ‘Actually,’ you read that right.
I knew an ‘Air Commodore Actually’ when in the Royal Airforce. Air Commodore is equal to Lieutenant General in the army, quite a substantive rank. When this guy visited Air Force establishments, his rank demanded the full works, Guard of honour with fixed bayonets, and full band. The guard was always warned that if spoken to, they should never answer ‘well actually’ there was always some plonker who did, and who found himself in deep water.
Lorna was going to introduce me to her husband and I had to be sure of not falling into the same trap. The more I thought it impossible---the more I imagined myself doing it.
We have sailed about one hundred and twenty miles down between the Egyptian Eastern desert and the Sinai desert after leaving Suez, and at the tip of the Sinai peninsula we sailed into the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba.
Lawrence, you will remember, intended to take Aqaba from the Turks by the landward side, no easy task. He managed to raise enough money to pay for his mercenary Arab army and did just that. It should be remembered though that the Turks after being softened up by British gunboats from the gulf, decided it would be prudent to leave the town having heard that 'Mr Lawrence' was on his way. Aqaba fell without a shot being fired from Lawrence. He then went on to do another epic desert journey crossing the Sinai to Cairo. No marked routes then of course like there is now.
I was staying in Taba on the Red Sea when the Iraqi conflict started. Taba is on Egypt's side of the gulf. Our hotel was exactly opposite the Jordan/Saudi border. The coming conflict was known about before my holiday. Many people had cancelled because of the proximity to Iraq. The offer was too good to refuse though. Two people all-inclusive five star hotel for the price of one. Security was tight in Egypt but once at the hotel it was okay. There were about thirty people there; the hotel could cater for five hundred. If you saw the film ‘The Shining’ you can imagine what it was like to be in a very large, nearly empty hotel. The attention and food was superb, the weather glorious, and the Red Sea magnificent. There were riots in Cairo, but we had no major problems at Taba, all guests had to stay within the hotel complex though.
We sailed on into the Red Sea proper and had about one thousand miles to cruise to get to the Gulf of Aden. This journey would be between Africa on our right and Asia on our left. Then into the Indian Ocean and on into the Arabian Sea.
Sir Mathew Actually Darton, arrived by helicopter as Lorna had stated. It seemed that all on board knew that the owner of the ship was arriving and there was an air of excitement. About two hours after arriving I was summonsed by Davros to Lady Darton’s suite. She was in one of the executive suites; it made my cabin look like a hutch. The captain was already there and it was he who introduced me to Sir Mathew Actually Darton. After my ‘pleased to meet you sir,’ he responded ‘we can do without the sir. If you call my wife Lorna, then Mathew is fine for me’. Mathew wanted to thank me personally for my help in the medical room and offering future help if necessary. I told him that it was really no problem to me and I was pleased to help. He was going on a trip to Medina and Mecca for a couple of days with Andreas, and asked me if I would care to join them. I was of course delighted, what an opportunity. This was his, and the captain’s thank you to me for my help.
Mathew had been doing some business in Sharm el Sheikh and had chartered the helicopter from there. He had set up the itinerary before leaving Sharm and had the necessary departments pass it. That evening at dinner tongues were wagging a bit more---the owner of the Ariadne was on board and dining with the captain; and I was sat between him and Lady Darton who had joined the captain’s table for the first time.
The Ariadne was anchored off Jiddah about forty miles from Mecca. Passengers could disembark and visit Mecca and Medina but would have to go by road. The ship had been turned over to the second-in-command and because Graham had come along, medical coverage for the ship had been arranged via the hospital at Jiddah. It was about one hundred miles to Medina; take-off to landing took the helicopter just over fifty-five minutes. A good way to travel.
Medina is perhaps the second most important place for Muslims outside Mecca. It has a population of about half a million people. It is the burial site of Mohammed and his daughter Fatima and also the Caliphs Umar and Abu Bakr. It also houses the world’s main Islamic University. The white mosque of Medina can be seen from outer space. We spent the day taking in the sites of this charming city and retired to a magnificent hotel at about five. We were to have another half day in Medina before the hundred and fifty mile spin down to Mecca. We had a very interesting time looking round Medina.
(I will be writing about Medina and Mecca in more detail in my book.)
The captain and Graham were in frequent contact with the ship throughout the day---Graham’s wife was still on board and had been able to deal with a couple of minor medical problems, so there were no worries.
We had a very nice relaxing evening on shore. After a few drinks when tongues were a bit looser, Mathew told us that his title was Lord Darton. The title had been passed down over many years. He wasn’t keen on being called Lord, much preferring Sir, and only then when it suited him. He worked a lot in the USA but also around the Middle East. His main residence was in Greece but he had others scattered about, but strangely not in the UK. He seemed a thoroughly nice guy and I suspected from his manner that he was very philanthropic; a snob he certainly was not. ‘Nicos Andronis’ was the business name he used for his shipping business.
We each spoke a little about ourselves in turn, and Mathew proved to be a good listener. He showed interest in my working life, my Royal air force service, and what I had been doing since retirement. Graham had matured tremendously since our hospital days, and I found out things about him that I hadn’t known before. Mathew told us quite a bit about himself, He was obviously a very rich man, but had worked very hard and took many risks along the way. I admired the man very much.
The next morning we had an early start and were looking forward with some anticipation to our trip down to Mecca, which was not now too far off...
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Notes From A Cruise Ship. Four.
Having been away from the ‘Ariadne’ for three days, I have got behind with my writing. I have to try to get up to date with my book. I changed my mind about starting the book on my return from the cruise and have made a start. I am trying to copy edit as I progress, it is not easy. I am anticipating that it will be about a hundred thousand words. I have a lot of work to do. Anyway here are some notes I managed to get down just to keep you in touch.
After emerging from the Suez Canal the weather has got considerably warmer and has continued to get hotter as we made our way down the Red Sea. The urgency to get to warmer climes is now past.
Graham lent me a set of his whites and a cap for our visit to Medina and Mecca; I didn’t realise how much I would appreciate them. Mathew of course had the right gear. We four must have looked quite smart. When we arrived at Mecca, some important-looking people met us. Mecca is a sensitive place for none Muslims, and Mathew had thought it prudent to have some important guides. We were never challenged in any part of Mecca but even with our guides, who were very obviously highly respected, there were many places we could not go.
Nevertheless we had a very interesting time and learned much. We could not go near the Kaaba, which is the cube shaped building that Muslim pilgrims circle. It is believed to have been built by Abraham. It is interesting to note that Muslims used to turn to Jerusalem to pray. The Dome on the Rock in Jerusalem is thought to be the spot where Abraham offered to sacrifice his son.
Mohammed was born in Mecca in 570 AD. Mecca has a population of 1.4 million, but this number is swelled considerably through the year---particularly for the Haaj. All Muslims are expected to do the Haaj at least once in their lifetime. Exceptions being - the mad, the poor, lone women and slaves. The Umra or little Haaj can be taken at any time and is not compulsory; it is the same---however the Haaj is special because of the date.
We learned from Mathew that he owns another two large cruise ships ‘Persius’ and ‘Media’. He also owned a number of smaller craft. This guy is a major player without a doubt.
The helicopter with Lord Darton on board left the ship and headed back up north.
The cover was taken from the pool, and it became a very popular spot; the weather is now superb. Quite a few of the passengers had done the Mecca/ Medina visit and it was interesting to compare notes whilst having cool drinks round the pool.
The captain stopped the boat near to a coral reef. Those of us who were interested were kitted out with snorkelling gear and ferried about four hundred yards to the best spot. We had been told what to look for and how to behave. There are some dangerous things on these reefs. I have snorkelled in the Red Sea before and had a good idea where to look. I was not disappointed--I spotted a Lion-fish first. The Lion-fish is brightly coloured, it likes coral crevices and shallow water, and although beautiful to look at these fish have venomous barbs. If a person is punctured by the barbs the result will be very bad pain and rapid swelling: the sting can cause nausea, breathing difficulty, paralysis, convulsions and sometimes even death. Most victims survive however, but the pain may last for days. Clearly these fascinating fish should be observed with respect and no attempt made to get too close.
I was told it would be very unusual to see a sea snake--however, I did see one. I was a bit alarmed at this, because sea snakes are sometimes prone to attack and ask questions afterwards. They are highly venomous creatures. They have also been known to wrap themselves around arms or legs of swimmers. I didn’t want to risk getting too near. Although beautiful to look at I thought it prudent to swim away from this delightful looking creature. I have some super video of the lion-fish and the snake. Many other beautiful fish of all shapes and sizes were to be seen. The Red Sea is not fed by any rivers and has only a small inlet at the gulf entrance. Because of this it is very salty--snorkelling then becomes very easy as you can lay virtually still on the water and so not disturb the fish. Many though seemed inquisitive and came very close.
Over another dinner the captain asked those present what we liked about cruising and what we missed about dry land. Well so far I haven’t missed anything. I haven’t missed the frenetic lifestyle, lack of consideration, road rage, speeding motorists, coarse and vulgar actions, and words; multiple TV channels with dumbed-down rubbish programmes. Stupid pronouncements by the government, (the government) especially Brown, and the corrupt EU. The return of diseases which we had eliminated years ago, and no control of immigration. Ridiculous waiting lists before getting treatment in hospitals (unless one can afford to go privately). Destruction of a once-excellent police force.
Most had similar views, and many more things were added to the list.
It is interesting to note that I have not heard any bad language since coming on board; people have always been well-mannered and considerate. Graham’s response surprised me--he is quite a few years younger than I, but he held that he had noticed there didn’t seem to be any gentleness anymore in society; everything seemed to be aggressive. That was one of the reasons for his change of direction. Nobody disagreed with him.
Graham and I have been shooting this morning. There is a launcher near the back of the ship; this can be set to throw the day-glow targets different distances.
The rifles are high velocity .22 calibre. There was virtually no sound nor any kick, unlike the .303 Lee-Enfield rifle I had to fire whilst in the forces. Those nearly blew your head off when the trigger was squeezed. We started at 50 yards and gradually increased to two hundred. We were still hitting the targets at this range. This was a very pleasant two hours, which we intend to repeat.
Lorna told me that she would be leaving the ship soon, her visit was not meant to be a long one. She apparently just wanted to get some winter sunshine. I think she would have stayed much longer but Mathew was worried about her leg. He was arranging for her to see an orthopaedic specialist in Athens. Graham had been taking radiographs of the leg, and all seemed okay, but he could understand the concern. We have been cruising steadily down the Red Sea, and will soon be turning left into the Gulf of Aden. Lorna will leave us there, where a flight has been arranged for her from Aden.
Going to try to catch up with my book now.
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Last notes from a cruise ship.
Older people quite often have pain problems that need on-going treatment. It has to be established that this treatment can be obtained on board before a cruise is arranged. A lot of this treatment only involves injections into arthritic joints. Something more serious is facet joint injections into the back. For soft tissue injury and sprains ultrasound can be used very effectively as a therapy tool.
This was to be my second call to the medical quarters. The ultrasound machine had failed during a course of treatment. Fortunately a very good service pack is supplied with the equipment and I was soon able to have the unit up and running again.
I had a call from the officer in charge of the ship's finances, he told me that my payment for the cruise had been deposited back into my account. I am not grumbling, but this is not how things were supposed to go.
Graham has had a call from Lord Darton. He has been asked to consider taking up a new position on the ‘Persius’, a much larger ship. He would be chief medical officer with a junior medical officer on the staff. He could take his wife in her nursing capacity. This position would be available after this cruise had ended. Graham knows my intentions; he is the only one I have confided in. If things turn out as I suspect they might, I may well join him on the Persius as he requested.
I was talking to a guy who is in publishing and I told him about my intended book. Well, I will correct that statement, he actually runs a large publishing firm. He wanted to see what I had down. I had no objection to this but I didn’t let him see the opening pages, which revealed my reasons for being here.
I am designing the cover, doing the formatting, page layout and numbering, and copy editing. I have converted what I have so far to PDF so it is already taking shape. The guy was quite impressed and thinks I may well have something. He has read what will be in the book, not my notes. The book has lots of details that I could not put in these notes. He has told me he may well be able to make me a decent offer before the cruise ends. He told me he wouldn’t interfere but would be happy to offer help and advice if I needed it.
He also told me ‘no more notes’ if he was to be involved, I think I understand what he means.
We have passed Yemen and are now about to sail up the Arabian Sea passed Oman and round the Strait of Hormuz, then hopefully to Dubai. I have heard from Mathew. Lorna’s leg was checked out and everything is fine, she is walking again. Some more good news, they are hoping to join the ship in Dubai, and Mathew has in mind another trip ashore---not ever having been to Dubai (only the airport) I look forward to that.
From Dubai the intention was for the ship to chug gracefully across the Arabian Sea to Mumbai (Bombay), however this plan has been changed in view of recent events. The intention now is to head to the south of India, maybe to ‘Vasco da Gama’, however that is a long time off.
This then will be the last of my notes. You will realise things are not turning out as I envisaged---and I have no idea at the present time how things will evolve. It does seem at the moment that I will end the cruise in a better fiscal state than when I started it, and we haven’t been going long yet. Things seem to have gone pear-shaped in a nice way.
I have brought two memory sticks with me that have all the stuff I have ever written---so I will be posting from time to time, but no new stuff, I just will not have the time. I hope to bob into the forum from time to time also.
So folks it is time to say farewell from the beautiful Ariadne…
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