Have you missed Namibian, protagonist extraordinaire of 2009/10? No, neither have I. Were you wondering if he’d expired? Ooh, don’t be silly: obviously I’d have blogged his funeral. In fact, knowing my luck, I’d be one of the seventy-two pallbearers buckling beneath the weight of his coffin.
He is, as far as I can tell, alive. And he was wittering down the telephone line only yesterday, boring me to death about an episode of Panorama that he’d watched. Should I work him into a blog post again? OK, then. The only thing is that, owing to us being on different tours over the last year or so, I’ll have to take you back to a ferry ride from Sweden to Finland in 2010. The tour was Black Ice for AC/DC.
‘I’m not fucking sharing,’ said Namibian, hotly. He was addressing that hoary old chestnut, the twin-cabin issue. Why, given his innate comportment and tact, he hasn’t ever plumped for a position in the diplomatic service is beyond me. Anyway, M/F Finnfellow built up steam – or soot or whatever it is that marine diesel engines build up – and Namibian heartily set about “disabling” the second bunk in his cabin.
‘Don’t want some fat bloke in here with me,’ he explained, indignantly, bordering dangerously, I thought, on hypocrisy. He sweated a little from the exertion of unfastening the spare sleeping quarters and fearful oaths spewed forth. As the bed began to sag, the chances of Reception allocating him a roommate did indeed diminish. Though what he’s got against Russian freight drivers in grubby string vests, making endless vodka toasts all night, I don’t know.
Estonian Ferry Disaster
The ferry eased into the Baltic Sea, sailing out of Kappelskar as part of a convoy. Ever since the Estonian disaster of 1994, in which 852 people died, the ferries have run within sight of each other on Baltic crossings. I bade Namibian goodnight, incipient sleepiness evident in the old teddy bear’s eyes…and I thought nothing of the television remaining on in his room.
Almost at once, it was morning. (Well, if you can call 5 a.m. morning.) The oaf of a captain bellowed some rot in Finnish through the Tannoy, jarring me awake well before my alarm clock, and I trotted downstairs to a Scandinavian attempt at a fry-up: rollmops and unnaturally glistening plastic sausages. I espied Gentleman Steve raising a convivial eyebrow.
‘Hands off cocks, feet in socks,’ he cried, his preferred mode of attracting one’s attention at dawn. ‘We used to say that in the military, don’t you know. Course the wife doesn’t like me saying it to children,’ he elaborated. I yawned. I always yawn when I’m interested. Saving me, a brawny figure appeared. Now, when I say brawny, I use the term loosely – Namibian’s relaxed muscle doesn’t actually tense.
‘Did you watch porn or sleep?’ he asked, bluntly, sitting down uninvited with a laden breakfast tray. Good gracious, doesn’t anybody say Good Morning anymore? ‘It was heavy porn, not X-rated,’ he continued, not waiting for an answer and doing an impressive job of emulating an art lecturer whose findings are based on empirically based research.
‘Ooh, I saw that programme,’ chirped Gentleman Steve, enthusiastically. ‘I fell asleep to a Brad Pitt film and the next minute someone’s ramming it up somebody else’s chuff.’ But before we got any further with this conversation, it was time to drive on Finnish roads.
If you’d like to see a little video in which a Scandinavian recovery vehicle makes a pig’s ear of rescuing a Lithuanian chappie in difficulty up north, click here. And let’s hear it for good old Namibian, almost going strong in his early fifties…