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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 23: 17 October

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysHaving overdosed on happiness and contentment I pay the price a few hours later when an ungrateful stomach has me out of bed and swaying dangerously toward the barrel soon after midnight. Fierce acidic discomfort persists and I have to make three visits to the stern during the night. Each time I feel worse and each time I'm greeted more warmly by the crew. Any hopes of slipping quietly by and enjoying my misery in private is out of the question. They all seem to be awake, and as I totter across the sacks of dates, on the point of nausea and clutching my lavatory paper, a chorus rises from the darkness:

'Mi-kel! . . . 'Ello Mi-kel . . . '

'Mi-kel, Mi-kel Jack-son!'

And even more poignantly, 'Mi-kel . . . 'ow are yoo?'

The first time I react very Britishly, with a complete fib. 'Fine . . . fine, thank you!'

But later when my resistance is lower it's not so easy to be British about it. 'Mi-kel, 'ow are yoo?'

'Not at all well!'

'Good, Mi-kel!'

It doesn't really seem to make a scrap of difference what I say. They're just pleased to see me, whether white as a sheet and carrying an ever-decreasing roll of loo-paper or not. On my third and most traumatic visit they actually ask me to come and eat something with them which at that moment is a bit like offering a vegetarian a job in a butcher's shop. I clamber back into my pit feeling sorry for myself and a cockroach walks over my head. By the time dawn comes the idyll has gone. There's nothing like feeling ill to make you want to be at home, and the smell of frying onions and the sight of the morning omelette and chapati induce a sudden feeling of imprisonment.
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  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 23
  • Date: 17 October
  • Country/sea: Indian Ocean
  • Place: Arabian Sea
  • Book page no: 82

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