The colour of one’s deckchair is crucial: it calls into question one’s sexuality. The good news, then, is that my green deckchair left in Zurich was not in fact ruined, but rescued by another driver: hawk-eyed Ken. The bad news..
Erm, there isn’t any bad news except that most of us could happily have remained at home for a bit longer. So, no more pink deckchairs for me. Namibian talks of donating the – now redundant – polka-dot eyesore to Little Dick for a small fee.
To prove a point of machismo, we roll the trucks onto the weighbridge in Holyhead, Wales this morning, before boarding “Ulysses” to Dublin. Namibian weighs in at 26 tons, and I, despite a usual diet of fish and vegetables, come in at a whopping 36, 200kg. Well, no wonder I’m struggling on the hills.
In the manliness stakes, I suggest that Namibian should think about taking up hairdressing instead. By the way, he has retracted his statement that ‘I lose weight all the time’, finally admitting that he might have picked up an ounce or two on this tour.
He looks at the map of the ship. ‘Now, if we’re here, where is the drivers’ restaurant?’
The “Ulysses” is enormous. In fact, she is the world’s largest car ferry. Standing twelve decks high, and grossing 50,938 tonnes, she offers plenty of scope for walking round in circles trying to find the freight lounge.
Just getting out of the car deck is bad enough: there is almost three miles of parking space. The crossing is calm, we find something to eat, and watch a helicopter perform a training exercise, landing on Deck 11.
Remember Cookie? Yes, that’s him, the chap who regards jazz as ‘playing the wrong tune’. Well, he lives in Ireland and is consequently engaged in a little furniture-moving endeavour.
He’s loaded up from a relative’s house in England – disappointingly he hasn’t even gone off route – and now faces the task of fitting chairs and tables into a van already containing his wife Caroline and four children. Oh, and the van is already clogged to the gunwales with bric-a-brac. Little Dick and I offer to help.
‘Be careful where you step,’ says Cookie, ‘there are demijohns for homebrew in that box.’ Little Dick has some experience in removal jobs, and is last seen underneath a cardboard box, trying to find an anchor point for a strap.
You see, Irish roads aren’t the smoothest: we’re concerned that the four-hour journey to Kerry is more than enough time to have a child’s eye out with a chair-leg.
While I unpack the trombone for a rendition of “The Acrobat”, one of Cookie’s little urchins has a pee against Da’s lorry..