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Published: October 31st 2018
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From left to right: Patrick Dennis, his book "Reluctant Warriors", and a fan!
October 31, around a hundred kilometres south of Cornwall, England
Hallowe’en and the last night of our voyage. Heavy sigh.
Perhaps it’s just as well. There’s been ‘way too much revenge eating and drinking on this trip. (Revenge eating, you ask, what’s that? That, my friends, is what happens when the food is already paid for.) Viz., would you like a double-sized appetizer, sir? Yup. The steak and the shrimp? Well, there’s a good idea. What about dessert? The cheesecake and the cheese plate? Hm, that’s a kind of theme I could enjoy: bring it on, steward!
And you’ll be having the double salad, sir? Oh, no, certainly not! After all, one has to draw the line somewhere, Don’t want to overdo it now, do we?
We made it to bed slightly earlier last night. Midnight, instead of after that. We were both tired from the day and wanted very much to sleep in. I was having a lovely dream in which I woke up at noon, gave it a quick thought, decided to go back to sleep and was only awoken at 2:45 p.m. It was wonderful. Then the phone in our room rang!! And it was a mere 8:30.
Patrick Dennis, the retired airforce officer and historian whom we met a couple of days ago, was on the line. He had, he said, found that he had a spare copy of his book about the role of Canadian conscripts (whose number included George Lawrence Price). Would I be interested in buying a copy?
Shameless, totally unsolicited plug: Reluctant Warriors: Canadian Conscripts and the Great War, UBC Press, 2017. A book which has changed the way Canadian historians have to think about our soldiers who had to be forced to enlist. Quite revolutionary, it is! You should rush out and buy a copy or get one off the internet as soon as possible and READ it! (In self-defence if for no other reason, because I will be talking to you about it. And you wouldn’t want me to leave you behind now, would you?)
So breakfast (gluten free everything , including a croissant), then off to see Patrick. See the picture! He is the good-looking one. (Blast him.) I made Patrick promise to think of us while he and Keith attend the commemorations on the November 11 weekend. So, although we cannot be there this year, I feel like we will have a couple of agents representing us, which is really quite important to me.
Then we went for a walk on deck and saw dolphins swimming alongside the ship, both starboard and port. It was easy to spot them as long as you did not look out to sea. (Or to see, come to that). What you do is watch the foot traffic parading along the deck and when they move spontaneously to the rail and start pointing, that’s your clue.
We saw a pod of SIX on the port side of the ship. They positively fly out of the water and curve back in. So graceful and so fast. I think they were playing with the ship.
After lunch and some souvenir shopping, we got back to the room to find we had phone messages. I guess Keith had been talking to Patrick about an idea I had for a book about a strategic appraisal of the effect of the battle of Vimy Ridge. They wanted to get together with me to talk about it! I was thrilled. These guys are the real deal (Patrick, for example, is currently, quoting from the dust jacket of his book, “an adjunct associate with the Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies) and that they might find something worthwhile in my idea is really exciting.
We met them after the performance of the passengers’ choir (in which Grita was singing – it was FUN!) and I did a brief précis for them. They like the idea. They even seem enthusiastic about the idea and had a couple of dozen great ideas of where to go next – which includes my being able to run things by them after we get home, and offers to introduce me to other big hitters in the area.
I am just thrilled.Their encouragement means more to me than I can probably tell you. It has been a lovely day and it is a great way to round off our time at sea.
One last dinner, then back to the room as we still have work to do. Our suitcases, barring light carry on, must be placed in the corridor before midnight and we will not see it until tomorrow after we leave the ship.
Also, as tonight is the last meaningful contact with the service staff, we face the nerve-wracking chore of deciding who to tip and how much to leave them. Cunard’s official policy is rather unhelpful and sort of odd. We in the lower classes pay, for example, $11 per person per day to a general shipwide fund to compensate all ship’s crew. Unless you go to the purser’s office and opt out of the program.
The line-up to do this at the beginning of the voyage is quite long. Most people, I believe, will say that they want to decide how much to tip and who to tip. Not that they’re cheap or anything like that.
(No, we didn’t opt out. Feh. For a couple of dollars? I would think badly of myself if I did. Maybe that means we have too much money. Fine.)
So, how much to tip? I dunno. We’re gonna guess. And, frankly, I doubt we’re going to make anyone super happy and probably disappoint others. Ah, what the hell. It’s only money.
Tomorrow, we will be driven up to London and to our hotel there. More then!
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