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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 39: 2 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysThe ship as hospital analogy which first occurred to me on board the dhow is becoming remarkably literal. On the Susak Nigel and I shared the hospital, and on the Neptune Diamond I'm occupying the Doctor's Bedroom. The ship's doctor seems to be a largely fictional character these days. Norman and Pat Tuddenham seem capable of anything and I'm sure minor surgery wouldn't be beyond them.

Despite not getting to bed until the small hours I'm awake early. A new bed, a new ship, a new movement, a new engine note, a new set of circumstances, a new crowd of people to absorb and process into the film, together with my natural curiosity, all conspire to keep me from a lie-in. I have to realise that until I reach London in December everything that surrounds me is potential material. I'm on full filming alert for eighty days - or however long it takes.

A look at my copy of Around The World In Eighty Days is not encouraging. Fogg, aboard the Rangoon, was in and out of Singapore as fast as I was, but ten days ahead of me. He hoped to accomplish the 1400 miles from Singapore to Hong Kong 'in six days at the most', but Captain Tuddenham is quite confident that we can accomplish it in 67 hours. Fogg was crossing the South China Sea at the same time of year and hit seriously bad weather. Tuddenham checks his radar and his daily weather charts and says we have nothing to fear. Perhaps this is another chance to catch up.

Unlike the Susak which pottered along at 13 knots to conserve fuel, the Neptune ships earn their money by getting there fast and arriving on schedule. Gone are the days of pleasant lackadaisical dawdlings on the Bay of Bengal.
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  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 39
  • Date: 2 November
  • Country/sea: Pacific Ocean
  • Place: South China Sea
  • Book page no: 126

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