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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 35: 29 October

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysWe go below to film a sequence in the laundry. A crewman who doesn't speak any English is showing me how to work the washing machine. Unfortunately he keeps pouring the soap powder in before Nigel has the camera focused or the tape recorder on, and has to repeat the action. Eventually he times it right, but by then about six loads of powder have gone into my washing and we leave the scene rapidly before lather engulfs the entire below-decks area.

To the engine room which is pristine compared to the last one I saw - on The Saudi Moon II (crossed out and I written in), which shuddered and rattled and leaked oil from the cylinder casings, where Filipinos worked at temperatures of 40 Centigrade. The Susak engine room is like a library by comparison and the control room is cool and spacious. The chief engineer is anxious to show me how they can re-bore piston rings in their own workshop; Ivan, his assistant, is anxious to show us the comprehensive display of beverages in their fridge.

The engine room is unmanned from five in the evening until eight in the morning. The whole thing operates automatically, but has a system of alarms which ring through to the cabin of the engineer on duty. It's a far cry from the cinema image of the engine room, which always had Richard Attenborough or Michael Medwin about to be engulfed by seawater. Stuck to the walls are pin-up photos of great-chested ladies. One for each of the engine-room crew, according to Ivan, who seems to have picked the most statuesque for himself.
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  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 35
  • Date: 29 October
  • Country/sea: Indian Ocean
  • Place: Bay of Bengal
  • Book page no: 116

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