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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 59: 22 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysThe four of us are lined up and the crew members, dressed in an odd mixture of handmade ceremonial robes, with cardboard hats and in one case a Korean flag worn like a toga, start to make us ready. Parek, the mild-mannered chief officer, has become a monster for the occasion. He has the role of Neptune's High Priest, so he can shout louder and more abusively than anyone apart from the King. We are ordered to strip down to underpants, and are given only a thin strip of sacking to act as a loin cloth. Then our wrists are bound together with adhesive tape and a rope is looped round all our necks. Yoked thus, like the burghers of Calais, and proceeded by a pounding gong, we are half-led, half-shoved onto the deck and up two flights of steps to the Captain's Bridge Deck.

Here is enthroned King Neptune, a cardboard crown and cotton wool beard barely disguising the dark Singaporean features of the chief electrician. He holds a trident and next to him sits the Queen - his wife Lily. Their little boy Rajiv, who is travelling with them, is not one of the participants but looks on in total amazement. We are ordered to kneel. Just time to notice there's a handsome sunset behind us before being shouted at to keep my head bowed. A scroll is then unwound and charges read to the effect that we transgressors have strayed over the Date Line without asking King Neptune's permission.
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  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 59
  • Date: 22 November
  • Country/sea: Pacific Ocean
  • Place: Pacific Ocean
  • Book page no: 193

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