I suppose this one was inevitable, really.
One of the most frequent questions people ask me is; ‘Have you met anyone famous at sea?’ Sadly, the answer is ‘yes’……
Some of these ‘famous’ people are not seemingly as famous as their egos believed, or their publicists told them. One or two were actually quite down to earth, and lovely with it. Others were so remote and aloof that you wouldn’t have been able to get near them with a moon rocket; it’s that odd little quirk that the perennially star stuck have of being able to sit at the next table, and still seem a million miles away. Heigh ho, it’s all par for the course.
One of the funniest-and quite unintentionally- was ‘Lord’ Jeffrey Archer (see previous blogs). ‘Jeff’- we were such good friends- was the poster boy for pomposity. His ego entered a room five minutes before he did. Imagine Mussolini in a Savile Row suit, and you have the essence of this preposterous, jumped up chav.
We once had the late Sacha Distel on board as entertainment on a repositioning cruise across the Atlantic. I thought he was already dead, to be honest. Credit where credit’s due, I have never seen a man with such pearly white gnashers as Sachers. And his voice was smoother than a Rolls Royce, even at that age. I had thought that he might be so far over the hill that a crane couldn’t get him back up, but no. Two coats of creosote, a quick gargle of embalming fluid, and he was good to go. Seemed like a genuinely nice guy as well.
We had Petula Clark on the same trip. She had a blond bubble perm that looked as if it had been filched from one of the Golden Girls, and she could no longer hit the notes. If only she’d once hit Cilla Black, I’d still have cheered from the rafters. But she could still phrase a song quite beautifully, and listening to her amazing back catalogue was like a wistful walk through the sixties all over again.
Another sixties relic I encountered was the late, largely unlamented Jimmy Saville. And not once, but twice. Sir ‘now-then now-then’ had what I can only describe as a deeply creepy aura; that candy floss wig looked like it had last been combed before Waterloo- the Napoleon Bonaparte gig, not the Abba one. With his ridiculous medallion and his grisly taste in shell suits, he radiated unease in every direction.
Phyllis Diller was our headline cabaret act once; she reduced me to tears in a way that only Mariah Carey’s singing can do now. Yes, she was already old, and her make up was thicker than a battleship’s armour, but the lady was screamingly funny. I sobbed tears of genuine laughter at that show.
Others I have encountered at a distance. Telly Savalas once held a lift open for me; he had a reputation as an all round nice guy, and he certainly liked to gamble. Before she became a dame, Shirley Bassey onced wafted past me in a cloud of Chanel worth the entire national debt of a small third world country. But boy, if ever a woman had star presence, it was her. Classy Bassey sounds about right.
And there are others. Two bit game show hosts and one hit wonders, MP’s of all parties so precious that their own sense of self importance threatened to overwhelm them. If only it had.
It just goes to show that all human life is out there at sea, and then some. For, whatever fanged, scary horrors might be lurking in the trackless depths of the ocean, true horror can sometimes be much closer to the surface of the sea than you might expect.
Be afraid, dear reader. Be very, very afraid…..