Why I’ll decline a recliner

What is the purpose, exactly, of reclining chairs on ferries?

I had assumed that they were to enable passengers to relax and have a sleep after a long drive, but from recent experience I realised this is a very stupid idea.

Firstly, it is supremely uncomfortable on the neck to lie in the reclining position, with one’s feet, having nowhere to rest themselves, doomed to dangle in the air unless the legs are long enough to let them reach the floor (mine are not). From the ceiling, blindingly bright lights beamed down like interrogation lights onto the face of recliners. From the adjacent children’s bouncy area blood-curdling shrieks and extreme-decibel squeals pierced the eardrums. (I was awed when I saw that there were just two tiny tots creating all the noise). Ahead, the television mumbled, not quite loud enough to hear what was being said, but loud enough, in the short but blissful intervals between shrieks and squeals, to invade the head.

There is another recliner lounge on the higher deck – just behind the bar where less tired travellers were clinking cups and glasses and talking and laughing (nothing wrong with that), and adjacent to a heavy door that opened with a very loud groan and closed with a very loud slam and through which a constant stream of people went in and out for no apparent reason. This room also boasted a large television, which a thoughtless idiot turned on and flicked from channel to channel for several minutes, waking those few lucky souls who had managed to find comfort in the bosom of Morpheus, before wandering off muttering bad-temperedly to himself.

Trying to snatch half an hour of sleep in one of these torture chambers was just about the most frustrating experience I can remember; so instead I bought a cup of hot chocolate and looked for a quiet place to sit and read my book (Sebastian Faulks’ “Birdsong” – very highly recommended). In every lounge there was a television, offering a viewing choice of either French game shows or a football match. The one lounge that didn’t have a television was next to the gaming machines. I realised, sadly, that there are no quiet places on a ferry.

On a previous trip I had booked a cabin, with the intention of having a few hours peace. This strategy was a failure as the people in the next door cabin alternately talked or hurled themselves against the cabin wall.

For future reference, when travelling by ferry: Mental note, reinforced by a written one: Next time, bring earplugs and a blindfold.

Otherwise occupied

Blogging has taken a bit of a back seat over the last few days, as I am off to England for work on Wednesday, TOH has been away for five days – leaving me to do all the things he normally does as well as all the things I normally do – and there are all sorts of ends to tie up before I go.

Still, in between chores I’ve been starting to upload some of my photos to My Flickr album. If you want, you can have a look. 🙂

If Firefox is your browser, then I highly recommend the add-on called “PicLens”, which is a superb image viewer. (Unfortunately, it doesn’t yet work with Linux).

Right, back to packing and organising. Bye for now.

The Max saga

This week Motorsport South Africa joined in the call for Mr Mosley to resign following his starring role in a splendid 5-hour orgy with five hookers, which culminated in a nice cup of tea.

Mark Webber is the first F1 driver to have the balls to openly say that Mr Mosley has brought the sport into disrepute – an offence for which Max is usually eager to apply the most draconian punishment. However, he refuses to see that his private “eccentricities” – as he so coyly describes his sado-masochistic proclivities – have no adverse reflection on his position as the President of the world’s most prestigious motoring organisation.

But surely, Mr Mosley, it’s all about image? The Spirit of Ecstasy sits on the bonnet of the Rolls Royce. A prancing black horse decorates the Ferrari. Would a Barbie doll make an acceptable substitute, or a rocking horse? They wouldn’t be taken seriously.

To avoid the possibility of embarrassing the King of Spain, Mr Mosley will not be attending the forthcoming Grand Prix in Barcelona. Instead he will go to Jordan, whose King has also let it be known that he does not wish to meet Mr Mosley.

Escape from the poison pit

Did anybody else get the impression that Simon Smith was only too glad to be on the end of Sir Alan Sugar’s pointing finger last night? Methought he didth protest too little as he became the latest Apprentice to be fired. Poor fellow, with Claire “Funny eyelashes” Shoutingallthetime and Transparentlytricky Alex Sillyname on his team, he never had a chance.

De la Rochefoucauld and Franklin both pointed out, a century apart, that tricks and treachery are the weapons and defences of the incompetent and dishonest, a truth consummately illustrated in the current series. From the moment he so unwisely volunteered himself for the task, Simon’s failure as a project manager was written on the hairy face and suspiciously pink lips of Alex Sillyname.

Really, there are a few seriously horrid people amongst the current crop of hopefuls.

My take was that Sir Alan had a soft spot for Simon, who was a baby bunny in a cage of ravenous weasels, and gave him a rope ladder so that he could escape, whilst lining up gobby Claire and sneaky Alex for a few weeks of stress and humiliation to delight the audience. Would Sir Alan actually want to hire somebody who shows themselves to be as untrustworthy as Alex? Somehow I doubt it.

Gripping stuff, isn’t it? 🙂

Now the Vatican becomes involved with Mosley!

No, it isn’t April 1st. It seems that for some bizarre reason, the Vatican is a member of the FIA, and will have a vote on whether spanky Max should stay or go.

From today’s News of the World:

“SHAMED F1 boss Max Mosley could be excommunicated from the sport following his depraved Nazi orgy…by the Pope.

Incredibly, the Vatican is a member of motor sport’s world governing body—the FIA—which will decide 67-year-old Mosley’s fate.”

The NOTW also published a transcript from the video of Mr Mosley – if you are faint-hearted look away now – describing the FIA President (in his subservient role) having his bottom shaved and a thermometer stuck up it.

While most of the F1 fraternity are keeping quiet on the subject, at last one senior player – Mike Gascoyne of Force India team – has, according to the NOTW – had the courage to speak out and suggest that it is time for Max to go.

And if anybody wonders about my addiction to the News of the World, it is inherited from my unpleasant and furtive old grandfather, who hid his copy under his cushion, in the mistaken belief that nobody knew it was there. I did, though. 🙂

Strawberry fool

Entirely my own fault. Of all the desserts I could have chosen to make for tomorrow, only for this one are strawberries a vital ingredient. If I wasn’t dopey, I would have hunted down acceptable strawbs before lashing out on all the other ingredients for the Malakoff, then I could have made an alternative. But no; the butter, ground almonds, gallons of cream and bottle of Grand Marnier were already bought and waiting to be assembled.

On principle I don’t buy anything Spanish, mainly because of that country’s abysmal treatment of animals great and small. And in particular I don’t buy Spanish strawberries. The World Wildlife Fund claims that their cultivation drains much-needed water from surrounding marshes and is having a devastating effect on the local environment. Production methods rely on vast amounts of harmful chemicals and polluting plastic materials. Employers are accused of exploiting and underpaying North African and Eastern European workers who are underpaid and living in shanty towns. And as if all that isn’t sufficient, the things don’t actually taste very good. They don’t look natural – they’re far too big, and the flat end is generally green and tough. So plenty of reasons not to buy them.

Unfortunately, today in town there were no alternatives available. Often we can buy Moroccan strawberries locally; but not today, when I most needed them. I spied some punnets of raspberries, which would have been the only possible substitute, but they too bore the dreaded mark of Zorro. I was forced to go against my principles. But it will certainly be the last time, and in the greater scheme of things I doubt one punnet will have too great a beneficial impact on the Spanish economy.