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7 Overbearing at Overlord

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    7 Overbearing at Overlord

    After the emotional ride of the last few days, a period of recuperation is in order, and we are in just the place to enjoy it. We have two days with no great plans other than to let things develop as things will, and to reflect on what’s gone before.

    The president and CEO of Azamara, Larry Pimentel, is aboard with his wife, Sandi. The cruises he does personally are described as ‘president’s cruises’ in the various press releases and brochures so I’ve no idea if some of the extra touches we’ve enjoyed are because it’s a special amongst specials, but I like to think not. They seem to be a regular couple out to enjoy themselves, and you have to give kudos to them for putting themselves front-and-centre of their customers.

    We were once on P&O’s Ventura when the president of Carnival Cruises, Micky Ariston was shown around. They didn’t quite throw rose petals in his path and I’m sure all the people that surrounded him weren’t ex-special forces, but it certainly looked that way. (it was Ventura, after all…*) Quite a contrast.

    After a wonderful meal in the Discoveries restaurant last night we spent the rest of the evening in the Cabaret lounge on deck 5. They served a dish called Cherry Royale from impromptu serveries in the lounge as we arrived, and it was a very civilised way to watch a show.

    On such a small ship the entertainment is never going to have the whizz-bang glamour of the mega ships, but last night’s singer was enjoyable. In another first, and due to the much larger amount of space available, there was dancing on the small dance floor immediately in front of the stage. Couples twirled around each other like dogems whilst the on-board East European instructors did their best to keep the standard up.

    When I was a boy watching ‘Come Dancing’ with my granny, the soviet team consisted of: a) a brutally barbered young man in formal dress in charge of the the steering, and b) a strapping wench from the steppes providing the power. The snake-hipped onboard dancers Sasha and Duma are their Ukrainian modern equivalents, and instead are a study in style and grace.

    One guest lecturer on board is Michael Lee, who is, amongst other talents, a historian and lecturer in culture. Worryingly, according to Azamara themselves, he is also an expert in ‘negotiations’…

    The other speaker is a retired US judge, Bill Ricketts, who spoke knowledgeably about the war. Both were interesting and entertaining speakers, and perfect given the theme of the cruise.

    The two previous days at the war cemeteries and beaches had been quite draining, so we wanted a simpler day yesterday at Boulogne. We decided to have a simple walk around the town, and come back to the ship in time for an afternoon doing nothing. I had not yet had breakfast as we were late up, such that my attention was caught by the sounds of the local traders who knew enough to know an English speaking ship was in town.

    ‘’Sandweej’ cried the street vendor ‘’Ert Dergs’’.

    His English pronunciation was straight out of the ‘Allo ‘Allo TV series, but in truth it was better than most of the ship’s French, so he seemed to do OK.

    I took advantage of Mrs B being distracted such that it was with an Ert Derg in each hand that I made my way down past the docks and into the small town. I had imagined that Boulogne was really just Folkestone with garlic, but the old town up on the hill was charming. Hitler had designated Boulogne a ‘Festung’, which meant, along with the other large port towns, that it was to be defended to the last man. How the last man would have felt about this is not recorded.

    En-route overnight, the ship stayed close to the coast as it made the brief journey North-East to Boulogne from Honfleur and we were up on deck looking landwards, as the approaching landing craft would have. June 5th 1944 was a full moon, and it is surprising how much you can see with only moonlight as an aid. There were maybe a dozen of us out on deck, of various nationalities, and the atmosphere was properly respectful, but not solemn or downcast. We discussed many things, including the positives and negatives of the moonlight.

    We were joined by a man with a strong Texan accent, a tendency to speak louder than he perhaps should, and a wife who looked like she’d modelled for the term ‘long-suffering’. We’d twice seen him berating staff, most recently arguing at the gangplank that he’d ‘recently’ washed his hands so didn’t need to use the gel that everyone else was prepared to accept for the common good. He was small, maybe five feet 4 or 5, with a bald head that did much to prove one lady’s earlier point about the danger for the allies of moonlight causing unexpected reflections.

    He picked on our small group and began an astronomy lecture. ‘The pole star is called that because it’s in a straight line with that one over there, like a pole’ he averred confidently, pointing in the wrong direction. Mrs B, immune by nature to rudeness herself but well used to seeing the signs rising in her husband, nodded and said how nice an evening it was.

    After the sharing of more inaccurate information about the heavens, complete with expansive gestures that caused one lady to spill her drink, he said he thought that NASA should now move on to Mars. He couldn’t understand the delay as the technology to get there had been around for years.

    ’It’s not rocket science’’ he spat, his eyes narrowed with indignation.

    I hesitated, a smile playing on my lips as I absorbed the fact that I may have underestimated this man. I waited for the ‘ba-dum-bum-tish’ but it never came, and my half-smile melted like ice-cream in the sun. His failure to connect a trip to Mars with the science of rockets was not only not a joke, even when prompted he couldn’t quite make the connection.

    I couldn’t think of a way to close out the conversation that didn’t involve drawing pictures, but Mrs B remembered a pressing appointment, gave me a sharp dig in the ribs which said ‘say nothing more, we’re leaving’, and we bid our good evenings, as we do to you now.

    *We’re actually Ventura fans, not detractors, but couldn’t resist the joke.

    Thanks again for the kind comments from previous days.

    I'll wrap up Bill's story probably on the last day, so just wanted to say thank you to all of you who were as touched by my old friend's story as I am,


      Another great read Max, and thank you for all your efforts writing it. I know how much work goes into these articles. Enjoy your final few days and have a good rest. Maggiemou.


        Thanks Max and Mrs B, hope your enjoying your last few days, relaxing after the strong emotions of the days before.................................Carol


          Another good read Max thanks for sharing .CG


            Another wonderul read.

            I do hope you find time to spend an evening with your new Texan friend. He sounds like a hoot!
            Duncan S

            See my blog!


              We might as well face it, folks: the man's an absolute star - even if his Texan friend couldn't find which one

              Please say there are at least a few still to come ... please???



                Another very interesting read Max. No mention yet of "Azamara Amazing Evening". I though they had one on every cruise. Beryl


                  Great read Max,We too have met a guy like your new friend,it beggars belief. Loved reading your blogs. Jan.


                    Compulsive reading. Well Done.


                      Hi Max
                      Nice to seeing you are having a good cruise, perhaps your new friend is a seasoned astronomer as he comes from the "Lonestar State".


                        Perfect, Max, perfect....as are many of today's comments about your new friend!


                          Hi Max, a different tone to today's blog, but most enjoyable and informative. Ever thought of writing a book, you certainly seem to have the knack of putting together an entertaining read, both the serious and none serious stuff.

                          Again I look forward to your next blog.
                          Cheers and continue to enjoy the cruise.
                          Last edited by Bob, Huddersfield; 10th June 2014, 09:00 PM. Reason: One too many t's in writing


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