It is often said that we are blissfully unaware of the true nature and extent of just what may be lurking down in the darkest recesses of the ocean. Huge, fanged horrors that have never seen daylight. Octopi as large as a small oilfield. And it is indeed true that we know more about the near regions of outer space than we do about the deepest recesses of the ocean floor. God alone knows what is down there. And yet…..
I would argue that true, seagoing horror is often to be found nearer the surface than you might think. Much nearer, in fact. Often it will be in the buffet line just ahead of you, or perhaps hogging the lifts. It might come in the form of a snooty, socially obsessed fruit loop or a brood of satanic, snot sucking little savages that leap in and out of the so-called adults only pool, without either concern or any kind of sanction. Any of these rain clouds could potentially darken your brightest holiday memories.
There is a breed of woman, mostly but not exclusively American, that usually can be found ready to hit any fresh food buffet like a swarm of blubber fuelled kamikaze. These are collectively known as ‘Myrtles’.
The Myrtles tend to hunt in pairs, like German battle cruisers about to savage a defenceless convoy. The damage they can do to a freshly made buffet is equally devastating. They can usually be distinguished by their attire; white or pink stretch leotards, blonde bubble perm hair, and brightly coloured flip flops. This may be accessorised with a sun visor, or a floppy hat garnished with some kind of foliage that has been extinct since Krakatoa last blew it’s lid.
There is also a male version of the species, usually known as ‘Herb’.
The Herb can be recognised by his brightly checked Bermuda shorts (or wides), plaid shirt, and peaked cap bearing the logo of ‘USS Very Big Aircraft Carrier’. A true Herb will also sport a camera only marginally smaller than the Hubble telescope. It invariably gets stuck in the doorway of any lift that he can actually fit into without having to first turn sideways.
You should also beware what seems to be usually a British phenomenon; a self regarding singing sensation consisting of trios of bright orange things, weighed down by a tidal wave of their own cheap bling. After three bottles of Lambrini, they think they are the Supremes, instead of three drunken secretaries from Swindon. The karaoke is their domain. You can usually tell when they begin to sing by the vast amount of glassware that starts throwing itself off the shelves behind the bar.
And there is more. One particular lady- let’s call her Hyacinth- is a perfect example of a kind; a treasure who demanded to know why there was no afternoon tea served on a particular river cruise, despite the fact that all of the passengers were off the ship on tours every afternoon. This precious jewel seemed to find it disappointing that all the men did not wear ties in the evening (She liked her men to look smart. After all, even Hitler wore a tie). She also wondered why there was no waiter service at a self service buffet. It went on and on; a veritable torrent of weapons grade, de luxe drivel that made you lose the will to live. Why is it that you can never find a U boat when you want one?
These are just a few of the horrors that can be encountered in the vast global smorgasbord of the cruise experience. For while the deep may indeed be the domain of some fearsome, frightful, yet to be discovered fiends, true seagoing horror is sometimes much nearer to the surface than you might think.
Be afraid, dear reader. Be very, very afraid…