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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 41: 4 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysA rough night. Wake at 5.30, with a sore head and the boat pitching and plunging. Unsteady progress to the bathroom, trying to time my movements to the roll of the ship. First Alka-Seltzer of the journey.

Later, on the bridge, last night's party is judged a success. The captain sounds surprised. 'They all came!'

Ascertain that 'they' comprise 18 Singaporeans, 1 Burmese, 1 Filipino and 5 Malaysians. I ask the captain what size of crew he thinks will be needed to run ships like this in the year 2000.

'One. An educated monkey.'

What is sad is that so much folklore will die with Captain Tuddenham and others like him. No one else could tell so richly the story of the woman who knocked on the door of the captain's cabin in the middle of a voyage, said she'd fallen asleep on the toilet after saying goodbye to her man, and could he drop her off at Cardiff.

'Well,' I said, 'I'm not goin' to Cardiff. We're in the middle of the Bay of Biscay and the next stop's Brazil.' She had been quite unfazed by this and in the end he'd had to put into port at Madeira and pay her fare home. 'She walked off that ship lookin' immaculate!' I ask him if he has any legal redress and he shakes his head. 'At sea, Michael, everything's legal after seven days.'
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  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 41
  • Date: 4 November
  • Country/sea: Pacific Ocean
  • Place: South China Sea
  • Book page no: 130

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