If you were paying attention in my last posting (show of hands please) you will have noticed that I said that day 3 was notable for three things – but I only wrote about one of them.
So dear readers, this cleverly leads me into today’s topic.
The second thing of note to happen on day three was that the ship’s daily paper, called the Princess Patter (the name should go, in my not so humble opinion) announced that there would be a get together for the gay passengers on board. We had been eagerly awaiting this announcement as we were beginning to worry that we were the only two gay men on board. Actually that is an exaggeration as we had spotted one man whom we had assumed was gay, but so far that was it. We certainly hadn’t seen any same sex couples.
Most cruise ships will host a gathering for their gay customers. This is just a mixer allowing us to meet like minded people on board and hopefully make new friends. The meetings are usually announced under the euphemism of “Friends of Dorothy”, a phrase instantly recognised by gay men and women but hopefully ignored by everyone else. This worked perfectly well for years until an unsuspecting passenger, unfortunately going by the name of Dorothy, and sailing to celebrate her 80th birthday, saw the announcement and thought it must be a surprise birthday party for her. Imagine her disappointment when she entered the designated meeting area to find a group of strangers, all of them men, and none of them expecting her. Fortunately, being gay men, they rallied round and gave her a gay old time which she thoroughly enjoyed.
But Princess Cruises, in their infinite wisdom has decided not to risk offending any real Dorothy’s on board. So they made the announcement under the name LGBT Common interests@sea. This is hardly a fitting substitute for “friends of Dorothy” firstly because it makes it sound as if being gay is common (as in low class) and secondly it suggests that being gay only happens at sea. I can assure you neither is the case.
So, unsure what to expect of the gay get together, we make our way to the designated bar. A crew member has thoughtfully made a large circle of chairs for everyone to sit at. It looks as if it has been prepared for an AA meeting. Are they expecting us to stand up individually, announce we are gay and then promise never to do it again. Will there be an intervention? That could be entertaining. Will we be assigned a sponsor whom we should call if we are thinking of doing anything unnatural. If so, I can pretty much guarantee that it isn’t going to work.
We arrive fashionably late, determined not to be the first people sitting there. We don’t want to seem desperate. There are precisely two people sitting in this large circle of chairs. One is the single gentleman we have already spotted, and the other is another single gentlemen whom we haven’t spotted, and not to put too fine a point on it, we would be quite happy not to spot again. These are the only two people there and they have chosen seats at either side of the circle of chairs. They are as far away from each other as they could possibly be. Neither has ordered a drink and neither is communicating with the other. The air is laden with disappointment.
Gordon and I look at each other, turn on our heels and run.
The final thing that happened on day three, is perhaps the most notable of all. We are invited to join two Australians for dinner. That in itself is surprising. But what will come as a shock to you, as it did to me, is that we accepted.
In my tirades against Australians, I have always said that my objections are to Australians in general and that I was sure there must be exceptions. Over the years that certainty has begun to waver as the exceptions proved very hard to find. But now, I am happy to say that I have met two exceptions (well, one and a half). They are two Australian women traveling together . Both are slim, classy (well one is), well dressed (well one is some of the time, the other not so much), well mannered, sober (most of the time) and very funny. We have a great time with them and are delighted to be invited to join them for dinner:
They are both widows. Margaret is the older one. Either that or she hasn’t aged as well as Nancy. I never thought I would say this about an Australian, but she is a classy broad. She is always beautifully dressed for dinner in expensive evening gowns dripping with jewels. She is anything but dull, full of stories and laughter. She maybe approaching 75, but she is not doing so quietly.
Nancy is not such a classy broad. Nor is she quite as slim as Margaret. Her dress sense veers dangerously close to the embellished T shirt and culottes brigade. But she scores several points by talking rather softly. I have to lean in close to hear what she is saying, which is a new experience for me with an Australian. The newest experience of all is actually wanting to hear what an Australian has to say.
Margaret and Nancy have been assigned to a table of eight. They have struck lucky. Four others at the table are delightful company and all of them have a great sense of humour. There are two extra seats at the table so we are able to join them. It is an evening full of laughter courtesy of our table mates, and mediocre food, courtesy of Princess Cruises.
Passenger of the week:
I took this photo while we were boarding the ship and thought that they looked fascinating. I said to Gordon that we had to get to know them. Amazingly, they are one of the other couples on Margaret and Nancy’s table. They are from Wales and are delightful. They have endless changes of clothes – at least three a day and everything they wear is stylish and slightly over the top. I might try and have them as passenger of the week again.