Friday, January 21, 2005

Quinglish Watch: A grand week out

Following last month’s report on Simon Callow playing Charles Dickens in a forthcoming episode of Doctor Who, I feel duty bound to start a regular feature.

‘Quinglish Watch’ will provide a record of diverse items which are as quintessentially English as the expression ‘quintessentially English’. We begin with an absolute corker…

Today the most pathetic cruise of recent times finally threw in the beach towel, as passengers of the Aurora disembarked after an exotic round-the-world cruise turned into an extended tour around the Isle of Wight.

The Independent reports:

Abandoned, the £23m world cruise that never got beyond Devon
They had boarded with dreams of sailing through the Strait of Magellan, eating soft-shelled crab in Osaka and being entertained by fire-eaters in Aruba during a three-month round-the-world odyssey.

But the memory the 1,367 hardy souls on board the ill-fated cruise ship Aurora will take home will be of the free drinks chugging about in the drizzly English Channel watching the emergency cabaret by Jimmy Tarbuck and Paul Daniels.

After 10 days of limbo caused by a faulty 176-ton motor, the £200m liner was due back in Southampton last night after sea trials revealed more problems. And the owner, P&O Cruises, finally cancelled the 103-day Grand Voyage, ending the fiasco that will cost it nearly £23m.

The ship had pulled away from Southampton's Mayflower terminal on Wednesday night bound for the Portuguese island of Madeira, but got no further than the Devon coast before engineers found a week of repairs had failed to fix the propulsion system fault.

Now, it isn’t so much the glorious incompetence that qualifies this story for the ‘Quinglish Watch’, so much as the stoical, spirit-of-the-Blitz attitude of the passengers.

In other countries this fiasco would have resulted in mass law suits and on-board brawls, but these passengers, being English, had a whale of a time.

In the land where a ‘grand day out’ traditionally involves sipping lukewarm tea from a flask and nibbling thin ham sandwiches, a tartan blanket wrapped around your legs, as you sit shivering in your car watching drizzle fall softly on a grey, deserted seafront, this ‘cruise’ must have been an absolute joy.

There’s nothing the English love more than ‘making the best of things’ in challenging circumstances – and they don’t come much more challenging than being stuck on a boat trip you’ve paid £40k for, endlessly circling the IoW while Elaine Paige warbles away on stage and Jimmy Tarbuck tells another one about his mother-in-law.

A lady on BBC News this morning said that she "couldn’t complain at all about P&O. they’ve been wonderful and we’ll definitely be booking up for more P&O cruises. We organise tours – we’ve got 150 people on board and they’re all saying the same thing.”

And The Sun reports:

One passenger said: “We’ve spent 11 days on a liner with free food and drinks and been entertained royally. I have had a luxury holiday for diddly squat!”

But retired John Miller, who booked a £42,000 suite, said: “When P&O announced the cruise was cancelled the mood was very sad.

“The most awful thing about this is I shall now have to go back to Croydon.”

Still, I’m sure he’ll make the best of it.


Duck said...

Were they drinking Watneys Red Barrel?

One thing that Americans are not is stoic. If Americans were on this cruise, one third would be on their cell phones demanding to speak to the Chairman of the Board of the cruise line, one third would be on their cell phones calling their lawyers to see how much their pain and suffering over not seeing the Straits of Magellan could run, and one third would be contacting the Channel 7 Action News Team to get their horrible plight broadcast to the world.

Brit said...

...And singing 'Torremolinos, Torremolinos"...

Actually, what with the free booze I should imagine the evenings were riotous, with everyone up on the dancefloor for the Hokey Cokey, the Conga and a good old singalong to "Come On Eileen" and especially, "Hi, Ho, Silver Loi-ning!"

Unlike the Americans, the English have never got the hang of complaining.

A key part of the Quinglish psyche is to pretty much permanently grumble (preceding each bout of grumbling with the phrase "Mustn't grumble, but...") except when there is genuinely something to complain about, when the correct response is to 'rally round' and say, as often as possible, "Still, worse things happen at sea..." (which I imagine was a joke done to death and beyond on the Aurora)