Somehow we managed to drag ourselves up at a respectable hour – I suppose it must have been Doug switching the engine on. Just after breakfast the Princess appeared on the dock. It seemed she was leaving on a trip up to Penhryn tomorrow, so tonight she was cooking an umu, that is, a local barbecue, to which we were invited. I was more than pleased to accept for us – tho’ she can be overpowering when taken in large doses, (which is the way she’s packaged) she really is a lovely person, + I wanted to make it clear we valued her friendship. Also (he adds selfishly) we wanted to try an umu.
However, work first. We’d taken the headsail off yesterday, + this morning we all lent a hand to get it ashore, so that it could be fixed in comfort. In case you’re interested, it needed a new leech-cord. However, Doug + Val had that well in hand, so I hitched out with Heather to her place to collect the washing. (Incidentally, on Rarotonga the raised thumb is an obscene gesture, so one hitches with a flat, open hand.) Persuaded Heather to come to the umu too, + then we walked over to Annie’s to invite her too – she said yes. Then back to Heather’s for lunch, picking in of washing, + packing. For all sorts of complicated reasons, Heather is seeking a new place to stay. Whatever, she is leaving her current abode – comfy enough, but pricey. I really enjoyed talking with Heather – we have a lot in common in outlook + interests, + she’s fun too.
We caught the bus back to Avatiu, the harbour, + I immediately whisked Val off into town (called Avarua). First stop was the Princess’s. It was interesting to see that she’s made friends with 3 of our fellow extras – Hans, a German guy, + Leif + Berit, an attractive Swedish couple. They had been rather aloof on the set, but were friendly enough now. They were helping the Princess to prepare the food – I’m afraid the contribution of Val + myself was hard cash, to buy booze – we’re busy people. Our main reason for calling by now was to make our mark in Princess’s yacht book – we’d brought along a couple of pictures for the purpose.
Then off we had to trot on yacht business – the purchase of meat. A lovely job, when one knows that every lump of meat means another smashing meal. We lugged all that back to the boat, then got ourselves ready for going out. As expected, Annie + Heather were late getting themselves ready, so they shouted across from “Blue Moves” for us to go on, + they would catch us up. They didn’t, of course, + after we had been sitting around the Princess’s for some time, + the dinner was all ready, I shot off to hurry them up. To be fair, they were on their way, but they weren’t running.
It wasn’t a large party for the meal – we four plus the 3 Europeans already mentioned, plus a couple from another boat, plus the owner of Corky’s boat. Plus the Princess, of course. An awful lot of trouble had gone into the meal, but I found it interesting rather than delicious… but then, as a sign of rapidly encroaching old age, I do not seem actively to enjoy new foods any longer. There was chicken, beautifully stuffed (they were good), taro, cumara, salad, raw fish, a sort of pudding. And beer, of course.
After dinner, I don’t know for what reason, a discussion developed about drugs. The Princess was suddenly mysteriously absent, but the rest of us ranged on two distinct sides, pro + anti, the majority versus the European trio. It got nowhere, of course, in that no-one had a startling change of mind about previously firmly held opinions, but some sense (+ nonsense) talked on both sides nonetheless. And it was all reasonably amicable too, heated at the time, but we were still good friends afterwards.
In any case, at about 9 we all adjourned to the Banana Court, at the Princess’s instigation – she had suddenly reappeared. So we all (or most) trooped off there. And we had a bloody good night. It is not often that Val + I find ourselves at a dance with a good crowd but it’s really enjoyable. One can dance with various people without any big hassles. And I really love the Banana Court. The band there is absolutely excellent, especially for a very mixed audience. I’d never sit + listen to their stuff, but they’re great to dance to. (They do a particularly good version of a current song – Beautiful Woman.) We finally left at one-ish, + then had the only nastiness of the day. I walked back with Heather + Annie, while Val trotted off with the Princess to collect our camera. On her way back a local guy decided to try his luck with her, finally trying force. He received a knee in the balls for his pains – I was proud of her.
I’m regularly apologising for my lack of adventurousness regarding food; actually, I think I was just being grumpy. But another good social occasion, and another night at the Banana Court. I had forgotten all about Val’s encounter with a local malcontent (and actually so had she) and have frequently said that we never really encountered violence all the time we were away. Except for this, I suppose…