(For some reason images don't seem to be available today - words will have to be sufficient)
Sunday 31 October 2010
Lat 19d 56.13’ North : Long 57d 8.81’ West
Nearing the other side
It is a long time since I heard the story of Christopher Columbus. It was possibly in a Junior School history lesson or maybe on the back page of the Eagle comic in one of those “Heroes of History” features. In any case, in was a long time ago and I might be getting the story mixed up with another one. However, I seem to recall that after they had been at sea for weeks on end, the crew were getting restive. It had been months since they’d had a decent cup of tea and their mobile phones had run out of credit. Just as they were about to bundle poor old Chris C over the side and head back home, someone spotted a little bird flying in from the west. Land was near, Chris was reprieved, and he and his crew went on to discover Columbus Ohio (or something like that).
I sense that our own captain is beginning to understand how Chris felt as they were shoving him into an open boat with nothing other than a bottle of Harrogate Spa Water and a banana sandwich. It is many days since we last sighted land and our willingness to be diverted by the sight of a passing floating plastic carrier bag is being stretched to the very edge of endurance. All available members of the crew have been detailed to stare towards the western horizon in the hope that one of them will eventually spot the land we all crave. When this monster of a boat was built just over two years ago it was decided, in line with all modern cruise ships, that it should have a theme, and the curious theme someone in the marketing department came up with was the circus. Consequently, on the very top deck, the 19th deck, they installed a series of trampolines so adventurous children could soar into the sky way above the ocean. It is a sign of our new found collective desperation that the resident team of Russian acrobats now monopolise these trampolines to fly up into the sky clutching a pair of binoculars and scanning the western horizon.
I nearly phoned the captain up last night to inform him of his impending salvation. As I took the evening air on my little balcony I heard a cricket merrily chirping away. But it appears that I had mistranslated merry for desperate in cricket talk and the poor creature had sneaked aboard back in the Canary Islands and had been chirping away in increasing desperation ever since. I keep trying to explain to the poor creature that the West Indies is famous for its love of cricket, but I am not sure if the message is getting through.
If things go according to plan tomorrow morning at 8.00am we will sail into Road Town harbour on the island of Tortola. All my many relatives will be gathered at the dockside waving placards and rejoicing in my deliverance from the cruel sea. A small steel band will play anthems especially written in my honour and a bevy of young ladies will be hand-rolling cigars against their thighs for my later enjoyment. I think that’s the plan, but there again I may be mixing it up with something I read long ago on the back page of the Eagle comic.
Tomorrow will tell, so until then, AB