Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Man overboard - went willingly

Works Well has suffered. The blog has lacked energy, invention, frequency and entertainment value while its begetter wrestles Laocoön-like with what may be his funerary ornament. That’s enough purple passaging. Readers with stamina may be interested that I’m editing Chapter 15 (out of 22) which includes the parachuted-in single-appearance character who was discussed with Plutarch at the Blogger’s Retreat – an event which itself suffered its own real-life parachuted-in character.

I need something techno, something gloomy. How about the SS France, the Gallic equivalent of the Queen Mary, on which the Bondens floated home after six years in The Land of the Free? A pleasant five-day interlude? Hardly, although things started well. The first lunch came with a litre of red and a litre of white which the Bondens happily consumed. To be faced with a further two litres at dinner four hours later. Too much of a good thing.

Mute in the huge ship’s bowels stood the Bondens’ bolide, a VW Variant drained of its fuel and destined for misfiring problems in the weeks ahead. Also stowed were two steamer trunks and an even larger wooden packing case which was beginning to break up. Our worldly possessions, well in excess of the VW’s capacity. There would be problems on the dock at Southampton.

The France offered many diversions provided you were of an idiotic turn of mind. Bingo for instance. Ping-pong on a table that yawed. The Bondens fought tooth and nail in a claustrophobic cabin. Much later, when comfortably off, the Bondens received travel brochures urging luxury cruises. Both of us would sooner slit our wrists.

13 comments:

Rouchswalwe said...

Ugh. A cruise. Gloomy is good for me today after a night of nasty coughing. I would rather be sitting here on the sofa on firm land though, even with a bad cold, than bobbing about on a cruise ship for days. Now a nice boat ride up the Rhein River - yes! A few hours. No more. Glad to read that you're on chapter 15, BB! As they say in the Land of the Rising Sun - Ganbatte!

Relucent Reader said...

Wonderful, hell on water. Missus RR and I would also be at each oiother's throats,as she has severe claustrophobia, rats in a shoebox. "Problems on the dock...", the mind boggles at the possibilities, the icing on the cake.
As to the VW misfiring problem. Was it fuel injected, or carburated? Were the problems related to draining the fuel?

Plutarch said...

Nothing worse I can think of than a cruise, so desirable to some. Didn't Evelyn Waugh write a novel about such a nightmare?

The Crow said...

If I could just ride the boat and not have to participate in the "enforced gaiety" from the cruise social director, I might like to do a cruise.

When I was 19, an uncle was going to tell me how to see the world traveling aboard merchant ships. I chickened out.

If you and Mrs. BB are still together after that journey, then nothing can split the two of you! Ever!

Barrett Bonden said...

All: It's so much more rewarding to write about grievous rather than pleasant experience. I ask myself - have I put enough grief into the novel?

RW (zS): It would have taken a severe marine tumult to get the SS France to bob about mid-Atlantic. Sorry about your cold, I suffer it vicariously. Have finished Ch. 15 with its parachuted-in character, touching it up here and there, ensuring it says more about Hatch than about his visiting angel. I think others will have to decide whether its inclusion is justified or not.

RR: This huge ship felt so confining. We were as you say rats in a shoebox, taking part in some laboratory experiment overseen by the French merchant marine. Problems on the dock: I was aware that the wooden packing case would not survive further transportation and I bribed the steward to find me several fathoms of hairy rope which I bound round and round the case. No romantic return to the land of my birth. Draining the fuel tank ensured isolating a residue of sediment which found its way into the car's twin carburettors. I spluttered along country roads from Southampton to Folkestone where my in-laws lived and where we lived for an anti-climactic month or two while looking for a house.

Plutarch: The book is, of course, The Ordeal of Gilbert Penfold which I re-read a couple of years ago and didn't care for. A slight air of indulgence.

The Crow: We were not forced into anything against our will. In fact we were desperate for something to do provided it wasn't infantile. But you are quite right. I don't think either of us came so close to hating each other as during that penitential voyage. It is perhaps because of that experience that I admire Ulysses so much (from a safe distance), based as it is on the endless privations recounted in the Odyssey.

Julia said...

How does a week-long cruise in an ocean liner compare to sailing on a small boat for a week?

Barrett Bonden said...

Julia: Now there's a sneaky one, and I'm sure you know the answer. The France was a floating resort, devoted to an institutional view of pleasure and isolated from the natural world. A small yacht is a working environment where most people make a contribution and there are direct aesthetic sensations from the significant wind and the closeness of the sea. You knew all that, though.

Julia said...

I do know, just interested in hearing your thoughts on the difference!

I've never been on a cruise but I think I'd also get very impatient. Cruises should add working options - perhaps flag signal classes ending in a harbor exam?

Hattie said...

I would rather flunk my Wasserman test than take a cruise. The boats look pretty floating past my deck, though.
And I've been enjoying water excursions in Seattle, where we are spending some time. An hour or two on the bounding main is about right.
My word verification is "lubbur." How about that! As in land "lubber," I guess.

Barrett Bonden said...

Julia: I'd have joined the flag-wagging session, I really would.

Hattie: Are you really due a Wasserman test?

Lucy said...

Now here I am almost afraid to go aganst the tide and admit that I do look rather longingly at the Page and Moy and similar advertising supplements that come with the Radio Times, and catch myself wondering guiltily about a time when dear Mol is no longer with us, and the sight of the Norwegian fjords from the sea, or R's river boat down the Rhine, or it's said, better and more comfortable accommodation than can easily be found on land in between St Petersburg and Moscow, might have its appeal, as well as built in means of transport.

Feel free to put me yet straighter, however. The yawing ping-pong table sounds like an interestingly surreal, or perhaps nightmarish, form of diversion.

I'll come back for Hay-on-Wye after I get back from a haircut...

Avus said...

Long aircraft journeys and cruises are both dreadful to me. The "romance of travel" they are not. Perhaps R L Stevenson had the right idea with the donkey?

Barrett Bonden said...

Lucy: I have the feeling we're talking about different things. You on a "cultural" trip, your every aesthetic and intellectual need catered for; the Bondens as part of a sedimentary herd reduced to the LCD. The yawing table turns ping-pong from something of an essentially linear activity into 3D. Too much for our small minds.

Avus: Donkeys or Japanese Airlines - a hard choice.