Ruthie Henshall and Odd Passengers

We had all sorts of plans for this morning but none of them worked out because WE DIDN’

T WAKE UP TILL 11AM!!!!!!! This is unbelievable. We never sleep late…. And I wouldn’t have woken up then, if Bob hadn’t woken up and checked his watch and then shouted out to me. No idea why we slept so long, must have been tired. But of course, the cabin is entirely blacked out once the lights go out, and we are up then end of a corridor, in a side offshoot, so hardly any passing passengers.
So, that meant we had missed both breakfast and, more importantly, art. Damn. Instead we heard a lecture from the international photographer on board, on his years photographing the Royal Family. He’s a really good speaker and we enjoyed his previous talks on celebrity photographs. He has been everything from a runner photographer to Pictures Editor of the News of the World and Director of Photography for News International. It was his photograph of Michael Jackson, taken by chance, with a telephoto lens that he had on his camera, unlike all the rest of the press photogs at the concert, that brought the whole issue of MJ’s plastic surgery into the public domain. MJ apparently cancelled the rest of his European tour after seeing it, sued News International for £30 million and this photographer personally for £1 million, but then dropped it. He has done everything from celeb photography to war photography and of course a long history of photographing the Royal Family. He was very interesting on the Royal Family, particularly the Queen Mother and Princess Diana. Most enjoyable.
Then we had lunch (yes, sushi!!!)). Today was a special day for the onboard pastry chefs and the dining rooms were decorated with ice carvings and amazing cake displays of every type: gateaux, cupcakes, desserts, chocolate fountain, cake lollipops – all so pretty. I had to taste one! And hooray, it tasted just as good as it looked. Sometimes, desserts look great but are tasteless. Not the case today.
Heard a bit of the lecture from the astronomer on the use of telescopes to examine the solar system. It was so interesting. I wish I’d heard all of them. We have decided to leave the astronomical things for when we are on Queen Mary again and will have more time. There’s just too much to do in 7 days.
The weather today is still grey but dry and the sea is calming down. There is still a strong wind though although we did notice some brave souls out on the promenade deck battling around. We will have to go out tomorrow for a walk.
The highlight of this afternoon was the concert from Ruthie Henshall, the award winning West End and Broadway musical star who is travelling home on board with her musical director. She gave an hour’s performance in the Royal Court theatre. It was packed of course but we managed to get front row seats. She was spectacular. It’s when you hear a voice like hers and see her perform that you realise what star quality is. There have been other great performers on board both in the troupe and single artists, but she is in a different class altogether. Really enjoyable and she got a well-deserved standing ovation at the end.
Went to the Corinthia Lounge for tea and….. A CAKE…… after the show and read our books for a while. I had misjudged how many books to download to my kindle before we departed NYC and have run out. I could re-read but I felt in the mood for a fresh book and luckily the Queen Mary as the largest library at sea. It’s huge. And stacked with all manner of books. A pleasure to visit. Got a couple out anyway to keep me going.
I haven’t mentioned our fellow passengers very much. There are roughly 2500, about 700 of which are making a round voyage, Southampton to Southampton i.e. a double transatlantic crossing. There are over 30 nationalities, the largest group being British followed by Americans and Canadians. The age group is quite mixed, I suppose, most being over 45. There are some children aboard but not many at all.
It is quite noticeable to me, that there are more unusual people, shall we say, eccentrics, on board than is usual, at least on other lines. And I’m talking about true eccentrics as opposed to…. Well….. the people of Walmart or just….err…. Maybe Cunard, especially on a crossing, attracts them. It’s got that sort of retro, cachet that suits the theatrical traveller. There are two elderly Chinese ladies, for instance, who dress at all times, as though they were in a 1930s Shanghai movie: little hats with veils; velvet suits; little shoes with bows on!!! Other ladies “of a certain age” who are dressed to the nines, with fur stoles, immaculate blown-out hair and faces showing both the art of the plastic surgeon and the make up artist. They tend to congregate around the champagne bar and the jewellers’ shops.
There’s quite a few gay men “of a certain age” too. They are quite different from the normal, like you and I, gay chaps or couples we meet all the time. These men are more along the lines of the Quentin Crisp variety. Flamboyant. Extravagant mincers. There’s one couple who sport the facial hair of King George V, or George Bernard Shaw, and who dress in quite loud check three piece tweed suits, no matter what the hour. With bow ties. In fact, there’s several couples who dress in this style. It must be some sort of New York thing. They have a variety of these suits. And one of them tops this ensemble off with a trilby hat with a large feather in it. Another chap is locked in a 50s/60s Greenwich village poet look gone gay: he sashays around in tight trousers with an enormous knitted sweater and a French beret perched jauntily on his head. All in bright orange. Or scarlet! I could go on… but you get the picture! A few of them come to the drama workshop with us. One guy – in his 70s at least is part of the Greenwich village contingent and he wears a beret, a large red sweater and very very tight tartan trousers with red velvet ballet pumps. His dog persona was interesting to say the least and involved sniffing. I shall say no more 😊
I can’t tell you how much we’re enjoying ourselves! This is undoubtedly the best way to travel to and from America and it costs about the same as an air ticket. You MUST do it sometime. Don’t be afraid of seasickness. Look, here we are travelling in late November in gales of force 8 and 9, and I promise you, there is barely any movement at all. We quite like the rocking on a normal cruise ship, but it is entirely absent on here. This is just the most fantastic experience.
Tonight we went to another cocktail party given for repeat Cunarders. We managed to sink at least three glasses of champagne during the course of the event and had enjoyable chats to several couples. They presented an award to a lady who is retiring from Cunard after 40 years working on the ships in housekeeping. And to a passenger who has spent 2000 nights on board Cunard ships. WOW!
After dinner we went to a comedy show in the theatre. A chap we’ve seen before on other ships. He does a standup routine plus he is a talented singer and piano player. At times he plays the piano a la Jerry Lee Lewis with his feet. Really entertaining.
Setting an alarm tonight as there is just too much to do tomorrow to sleep in.