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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 71: 4 December

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysThere is an almost palpable sense of company pride about the Leda Maersk which did not exist on any of the other ships. A.P. Moller, the founder of the owning company, is a controversial figure in Denmark. The richest man in the country and an unapologetic advocate of private enterprise, his views rarely coincide with those of a liberal, progressive government. But his business, 'run with a rod of iron' I'm told, is the biggest employer in the country, including shipyards, oil exploration equipment, trucks and aeroplanes. This ship was built in Denmark in 1982 and registered there, despite world-wide trends to register in the cheaper free ports like Monrovia, Singapore, Panama and Limassol. The captain has been with the ship for its whole life, unlike the Neptune Orient captains who may do only six months before being transferred. The crew, with the exception of the chef and an Indian radio officer, is Danish, and the whole atmosphere seems to reflect confidence and top-dogginess rather than the retrenchment of Neptune's Singapore-based operation. Mind you, this impression could be the result of having a company man on board. This is Jesper, thin and sardonic, and with him two other 'civilians', Erik and Thorval, both office workers gaining travel experience. Erik is an accountant and Thorval isn't.

Pass the day in mundane activities with the rather traumatic exception of a hair cut. The Professor has discovered that Lillian, one of the stewardesses, cuts all the crew's hair, and she and the gloating Passepartout assemble in my cabin after lunch for the ritual depilation. Lillian, armed only with a cigarette and a pair of scissors, has a strong lived-in face and a wearily enigmatic manner. Does she not feel that it's a lonely life at sea?
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  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 71
  • Date: 4 December
  • Country/sea: Atlantic Ocean
  • Place: Atlantic Ocean
  • Book page no: 237

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