From time to time I like to turn my little red shelter upside down and sit in it as though I'm in a boat. I sit there with my paws on the upturned rim and my nose peeping over the top. I do this because it seems that my staff find it appealing in some bizarre way, and thus feel obliged to feed me treats. I imagine myself as Captain Ahab aboard the Pequod. Badger is Moby Dick - the great black and white whale, although I call him "Little Dick". Courageously I hunt Little Dick across the seven seas, yelling "Avast behind!" at every opportunity and trying to spear him with my harpoon. Sadly up to now I've been unsuccessful because he always keeps his bottom to the wall. One day though, me hearties. One day!
My staff hate boats. My female staff gets seasick in the bath and my male staff can't swim. I've told him that the whole idea of boats is that you don't have to swim but he wasn't convinced. He never learned at school. While the other kids were measuring the distance they could swim in lengths of the pool, my male staff was measuring his distance in depths. He could manage one. Getting back to the surface was a problem though. So you see it came as something of a surprise when they decided to try a cruise. Just a short one. Five days in the calm waters of the Malacca Straits from Singapore to Penang and back. Sounds romantic doesn't it?
Languid tropical days, steamy nights under a starry equatorial sky.
The first night on board was good apparently. They sat in their cabin sipping a bottle of complimentary wine and gazed through their window as the lights of Singapore slid by. Sadly though it was all down hill from there. They woke the next day to find that they were the only Caucasians among twelve hundred Singaporean Chinese, all there for a week of gambling in the on-board casino. Breakfast was a buffet, but my staff had to join an enormous queue to reach the food and by the time they reached the front of the queue the buffet tabled looked as though a herd of cattle had stampeded through it. Taking care not to slip on a large blob of scrambled egg on the floor, they trudged disconsolately back to their table clutching only a stale muffin and a cup of cold coffee.
And so it went on. The only entertainment in the evening was a Chinese comedian who spoke Mandarin. The Chinese thought he was hilarious, but my staff had an uncomfortable suspicion that the jokes he was telling were about them. My female staff thought she'd try the pool one morning, but found it so tiny and so packed that she could have walked from one side to the other without getting wet simply by using the Singaporeans heads as stepping stones. One evening they decided to go to the cinema. "Nine And A Half Weeks" was showing and they thought it might put them in the mood for a little romance. It didn't. It put them in the mood for spending half the night shouting down the big white telephone. They discovered that watching the the antics of Bruce and Kim on a big screen that refused to stand still due to the gentle rocking of the ship brought on a bout of motion sickness. In the end they were so anxious to get off the damned ship that had my male staff been able to swim they would have jumped overboard and swam to the shore as soon a Singapore hove into view.
For a couple of years my staff thought they must be a bit strange - not to enjoy cruising after everyone had been telling them what a lovely holiday it was. Well, in truth they are a bit strange, but it has nothing to do with not liking cruising. Then one day they bumped into an old friend - a doctor as it happens. He too had been on a cruise out of Brisbane quite recently. He told my staff that it had been a really educational experience. For example, he hadn't realised that one could eat mash potatoes with one's fingers until some of his fellow passengers enlightened him. Then late one night when he was taking a stroll he discovered a young couple in the main public lounge which was otherwise deserted. The woman was bent over the back of a sofa and the gentleman was behind her performing what the doctor assumed to be the Heimlich Maneuver. Being a doctor he immediately noticed that the man's technique wasn't quite right so naturally he strode over to offer his expert help. Unfortunately, he'd already said "For God's sake man! That's not how you do it. Let me take over." When he noticed that the lady's knickers were down around her ankles.