Canberra on Arcadia

Today we had another full day at sea to look forward to.  People who read this blog sometimes say to me, “But you always seem to do the same stuff on sea days – don’t you get bored?”.   I wouldn’t say we always do the same thing, but like everyday life, we tend to fall into a routine.  Get up, go out on the balcony, have our breakfast, attend the talks/lectures, wander around the ship, have lunch, have a few drinks, sunbathe, swim, have a few more drinks, get dressed for dinner, go to the show, then along to the pub for the quiz or karaoke or whatever.  So it might sound boring, but in actual fact you speak to different people, see different presentations and the good thing is we are on holiday instead of being at work.  🙂

So, after our breakfast, we made sure we were along at the Palladium theatre in plenty of time, because at 10.00am Captain Trevor Lane was going to be doing a presentation about the 1982 Falklands War.  He had been a navigator on board P&O’s famous ship the Canberra, which had been pressed into service during the Falklands conflict as a hospital ship.

We got to the theatre just after 9.00am to the inevitable queue.  They were still doing rehearsals for tonight’s show so they wouldn’t let anyone in until they’d finished.  Eventually the doors opened and everyone poured in en masse in their efforts to procure the best seats.  It always amuses Trevor and me how some of the (apparently) doddery old people with walking sticks and/or Zimmer frames suddenly develop prowess like Olympic athletes when it comes to queue-jumping or competing for “their” seats.  🙂

Anyway, we got our usual seats down at the front and I read my Kindle until the cruise director Christine Noble came on stage to introduce Captain Lane.  Apparently the presentation had been unplanned, but passengers who knew that Captain Lane had served on board Canberra had especially asked for him to do a talk about his Falklands experiences.  So by popular request they’d put it on the itinerary.  When Christine introduced the Captain and said the words “on board our own beautiful ship Canberra…” her voice wobbled with a little bit of emotion.  “Sorry… it always gets to me” she said, but I’m sure there were others in the audience who knew exactly what she meant.  I always feel like that at the mention of RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 or, as I’ve mentioned previously, our gorgeous “Speedbird 1” Concorde.

Captain Trevor Lane came on stage and said that he didn’t have any script or anything prepared, he just had some slides and photographs, as well as some BBC video footage, and he’d attempt to talk about each.  He explained about how some merchant/cruise ships had been commandeered into the Falklands conflict to assist in the war effort; most notably the Canberra and the QE2.  He had lots of photographs of the Canberra as she was before (as a luxury ocean liner) as well as as she was after she’d been refitted and altered to act as a supply and hospital ship.  He also had some archived BBC news footage of the ship during the Falklands war; the sort of stuff that was reported to the folks back in Blighty.

The presentation was absolutely fascinating and very interesting, as well as quite emotional in some parts, particularly when Captain Lane showed video footage of the Canberra coming back home to Southampton; the friends and families of the servicemen lining the dockside with a forest of Union flags waving, and the sailors lined up on deck in their “number ones” as a flotilla of smaller ships blasted out their foghorns as they accompanied the Canberra into port in a blaze of glory.  It made us all proud to be British.   🙂  The talk was all the more interesting for the fact that the Captain had spoken for over an hour with no prompt notes or script, the sign of a true orator.

Once the talk was over, to tumultuous applause, we stayed in the theatre to listen to the next lecture, which was given by crime historian Mike Harvey about Ronald Biggs and the 1963 Great Train Robbery.  There were 15 men who took part in the planning and carrying out of the robbery and Ronnie Biggs was really only one of the minor characters, but he became the most famous (or infamous) because of his spectacular escape from prison, following which he remained in Brazil for 37 years before handing himself in to the British police (as he was in ill health and wanted treating for free on the NHS).  Another very interesting talk which tided us over nicely until lunchtime.

We came out of the theatre just before the midday announcement from the bridge.  It was an unusual announcement and it went something like this:  “Ladies and gentlemen, the time from the bridge is exactly 12 noon” (chimes – ding ding, ding ding, ding ding) then immediately afterwards “Ladies and gentlemen, the time from the bridge is exactly 1.00pm” (chimes – ding ding, ding ding, ding ding).  This is because the clocks had to go forward one hour to GMT -2.  So we’d just lost an hour of our day.

After lunch we went and sat up on deck for a while and pottered about.  We whiled away the afternoon in its usual pleasant way and before we knew it, it was time to get ready for dinner.  Tonight the dress code was Smart, so jacket and tie for the blokes and cocktail dresses for the lay-deez.  I wore my black trousers, a sequinned top, and some mega-high heels.

After dinner we went along to see the show; tonight it was Mark O’Malley, the middle-of-the-road singer again.  Then it was along to the Rising Sun as usual to find nearly a full house from table #187:  Frank and Brenda, Chris and Sue and Paul, but no Tatiana – she was visiting a fellow Soviet passenger elsewhere on the ship.

The quiz tonight was diabolical.  It was called “Mind and Memory” and must have been pinched from the entrance exam sheet for MENSA, it was so blimmin’ hard.  There was lots of mental arithmetic, memorising numbers, doing long multiplication etc.  We really couldn’t be arsed at that time of night and we gave up half-way through.  We could see other teams around us abandoning their papers as well.  So, yet again, no prize for us in the quiz tonight.

We stayed for a few more drinks, me with my prosecco and Trevor with his “Newky Broon”, then it was back to cabin C149 for bed.  Tomorrow we were due to arrive at that pearl in the shell, Rio de Janeiro.

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