January 9th 1984

posted in: The way back | 0
View from the bridge

Day 6.  Tho’ not much.  We both awoke (so we must have slept) feeling acutely depressed.  The day held absolutely nothing to offer us – no prospect of land, no taste treats – so we could think of no particular reason why we should want to shift.  Even the boredom we felt at having been lying there awake for much of the night was not likely to be dispelled by anything on deck… Oh dear, we are feeling sorry for ourselves, aren’t we?  And this is supposed to be an exciting trip.  Sorry, but it is very much the way we feel.

We did get up eventually of course, + somehow managed to pass the day.  I spent most of it finishing Pete’s letter, + we spent an hour or so playing cards.  The highlight of the day was definitely sharing our last remaining tangerine – enough said.  Meanwhile, the ship crashed on thro’ the waves, carrying us closer, moment by moment, to Pontianak.  We hope so, anyway.  No sign of land today, + one patch of ocean looks much like any other.

For our evening meal, sheer desperation drove me to sample the pot of cold fish sitting in the cupboard.  For a change it was very good, like sardines.  We couldn’t face the rice tho’, so mixed up some instant mashed potato.  This was a failure, for me anyway – we’d recently thrown the remainder of our parmesan cheese in with the potato to save space, but either there’s too much cheese or it hasn’t mixed too well.  In either case, it was too parmesany for me, + I couldn’t eat it.  Val enjoyed hers tho’.

Pen-picture – the owner, otherwise known as the boss-man, or The Cockroach.  An extraordinary shape – bullet head, thick neck, pot belly, skinny arms + legs.  His head is almost shaven, just slightly thicker on top, + he has a wispy beard on his chin.  In port + during the first part of the journey he wore a white lacy skull cap, but that has now been lost or put aside, + he lives entirely in a pair of trunks + wrap-around sarong (plus somewhat ostentatious wrist watch).  He has been to Mecca 3 times, Harry tells us (so what, I used to work for them) but I wouldn’t say he was conspicuously devout.  On the only occasion I’ve seen him praying, he fell over on deck during the preliminary washing.  Generally tho’, he is respectably nimble around deck.  He spends most of the day sitting on the back deck, gazing out at the horizon, occasionally pointing something, real or imagined, out to us.  We don’t like him very much – his attitude is far too condescending for there to be anything in the nature of a friendly relationship, + there is quite simply a huge gulf of understanding between us.  He is constantly exhorting us to eat, + obviously thinks we are either very weird or very sick for not wanting to shovel vast quantities of rice down our throats 3 times a day.  For our part, we find his table manners excruciating, especially the constant slurping noise.  He’s very rich, Harry tells us,+ presumably this is so, since he owns 3 more ships beside this one.  But money isn’t everything, + he’s the living proof.

An even gloomier day, with us definitely feeling sorry for ourselves. The Cockroach name is not explained, but I think referred more to his physical appearance than anything more profound. Explanation of the Mecca rference is that I spent a year as a croupier working for Mecca the gambling company in the UK.

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