Wednesday 15 October 2014

Not trivial at all

Oh yes, it may seem all very relaxed and friendly on board a cruise ship, everyone on holiday and chilled-out – but bring in an element of competition and beneath all that bonhomie there’s viciousness and backbiting, male chauvinism and grudge-bearing, and none of it is edifying. I’m speaking of course of Trivial Pursuit, though I’m sure this could as easily apply to the afternoon putting competition through an obstacle course of chair legs in one of the lobbies, or the daily crossword contest, or the general knowledge quiz or, obviously, the bridge tournament.

Every afternoon when shore duties allowed, we turned up in the bar and dragged the chairs into larger and larger circles as new people joined our team – eight, we had, at the end – and waited for Moss, the personable, English-accented Zimbabwean cruise director, to trot out his 20 questions about song lyrics, history, literature, computer anagrams, geography and the Falkland Islands. There was, initially, politeness and deference, which gave way to obduracy and resentment. Some of us will never forget, and rue, misplaced stubbornness over the source of the Amazon (Peru, not Ecuador) that led to suspicion and mistrust in subsequent rounds. The dermatologist from Florida is clearly never going to forgive me for that one (“Make sure she wrote that down,” he muttered this afternoon, about the least-used letter in English) (z); though I did hope that I redeemed myself with Dick Francis, which no-one else knew. (Thank you, Jillian, from way back.)

Kind Jerry from Georgia (is it uncharitable to note that he looked like Voldemort?) gave me his share of the prize tickets, and we fronted up to the reception desk at the end of the competition with what we thought was a grand tally of 40 points, only to find ourselves behind a Yorkshireman with 150, enough for a cap and a wine knife, which made our two key-ring torches seem so much less of an achievement. But we won’t remember that, or the thinly-veiled disparagement of suggested answers, or the outright refusal to accept a different opinion, no matter how well documented – I will remember instead that it was lots of fun, and a highlight of the cruise. And that Josephine, from Ascot, usurped my role as answer-writer on the second-to-last round? No lingering resentment whatsoever. Really.

Oh, and today? Trois Rivieres: a pulp mill town with lots of disconcertingly European twin-spired churches, yellow trees, a very jolly shuttle-bus guide and an eager tourism organisation. Also, salted maple caramel!

Plus, finally, the usual Silversea last-night whole-crew farewell to the passengers, which blew them all away, even those of us who’ve seen it before – and hope to again, one day. Under Tower Bridge?

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