A fragment from a conversation I had with an American called Mike, a fellow passenger on the distinctly less orange than it used to be Easycruiseone, off the coast of Greece last week…
Mike: I’m glad to know that not all you Brits hate Americans
Stef: What makes you say that?
Mike: On the first night on board an English guy punched me in the face
Stef: Are you sure he did it because you were American?
Mike: I don't know. He’d been drinking heavily all evening, walked up to two of us in the bar and called me a (whispers) cunt…
Stef: That’s never a good sign
Mike: We don’t use that word much in America, particularly when talking to a guy, so first I assumed he was talking about the philosopher …Immanuel Kant…
Stef: (not sure if the Kant line was a joke or not) We use that word a lot more in the UK. Normally when describing guys we seriously don’t like – it’s kind of a fighting word
Mike: (delivering my chosen Line of the Week) So, when a very drunk English guy walks up to you out of nowhere and calls you a cunt you should get ready for a fight or flight?
Stef: (still not sure if his leg is being pulled) Er, yes
Mike: Well, I did neither and he punched me in the face (takes off glasses and displays a stonking black eye)
Mike then went on to explain that a couple of days later the owner of Easycruise, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, appeared in the bar and asked Mike how the cruise was going. To which Mike replied ‘Really great - aside from that drunken English guy yelling obscenities, punching me in the face and getting thrown off the boat on my first night - really, really great’
It’s nice to know that there are some things we Brits still do well
As last week marked Easycruiseone’s first cruise of the year, Stelios actually popped on and off the boat and mooched around the bar and dining areas a couple of times to see how things were going.
Sadly, I wasn’t around to witness the original punching or Stelios’ reaction to the story as we were avoiding the bar and dining areas of Easycruiseone like the plague. The reason being that whilst sleeping and traveling on EC1 is very, very cheap (£10 per person per day) – eating, drinking, or doing pretty much anything else on the boat ain’t.
Which, combined with a strict ‘No food and drink to be brought on board’ policy resulted in the more tight-arsed passengers (i.e. most of us) scaling new heights of inventiveness when it came to smuggling food and drink on board – fried cheese pies hidden in camera cases, shore-bought ouzo decanted into mineral water bottles and people with so many croissants stuffed underneath their coats they looked like suicide bombers.
By round about Day 5 the more cost-conscious passengers were getting seriously tired of this game and mutinied. I passed three or four chunkier-looking fellow voyagers in the lounge surrounded by half a dozen take-away pizza boxes chomping away merrily, in plain view of the staff, whilst exuding a certain je ne sais fuck you air about them.
Anyway, thumbs up for Easycruiseone, thumbs down for the onboard economics and cheers to Stelios for subsidising our week away in the fallacious expectation that we were going to spend over the odds for stuff on board (amount pre-authorised on our credit card = 50 Euro x2 x7 = 700 Euro vs. amount actually spent = 10.50 Euro on three cups of coffee)
Other things I learned whilst in Greece last week...
- Any Greek man who pretends he was christened anything but George is probably lying
- The typical completion time for any Greek building project ranges from approximately 30 years to never
- Do not refer to cheap kebabs as 'dogburgers' in the presence of American tourists - they will sometimes take you literally
- Greek retail staff are suspiciously courteous and honest in their dealings with tourists; passing up on opportunities that their average Italian equivalents would consider to be open goals
- On the subject of Greece vs. Italy comparisons, the Greek equivalent of Operation Gladio was Operation Sheepskin - because self-determination is far to precious a thing to be left to a country's indigenous population...