ROLL UP! ROLL UP! For one day only: the magnificent, the hilarious, the intrinsically fascinating BLOKE WHO’S NOT FROM AROUND HERE!
Yes, I get stared at a lot. Usually because I’m walking down the street babbling inanely to my camera, but mostly because I’m as whiter than a late-era Michael Jackson and I have the most unusual mutation on my 16th chromosome that makes my hair a most ridiculous shade of red.
I guess there’s a point (usually when you reach India) when you stop seeing it as rude, but you know like, sometimes, you just really want to – you know – scratch your arse? Or maybe adjust yourself after a night’s kip? What if doing so resulted in gales of laughter from the stalls? I better explain.
Yesterday, after fighting Jakarta and losing miserably (and then winning by default) I was in no mood for caring nor indeed sharing. The first on board the ship, I monopolised an entire cushioned pew designed for four to myself. Knowing there were no beds on board and also knowing I was going to spent the next two nights sweating like Shergar on this floating cockroach farm there was no way on God’s Green Earth I was going to be scrunched up in a ball and then spending the following day attempting to get the crick out of my neck. So I spread myself and my bags out across the bench, stuck my earphones into my lugholes and proceeded to ignore anybody and everybody who may or may not have some kind of objection to my selfish behaviour.
For its excellent position by the window and the telly, I had picked the bench on the very front row of the ship, which was great for keeping an eye on my stuff, not so good if I was hoping not to be gawked at by the 100+ other passengers for the subsequent 36 hours. Yup, I was the only Johnny Foreigner onboard and boy did they let me know it. I sat up, everybody laughed. I laid down, everybody laughed. I got up to go to the toilet, everybody laughed. I reckon I could have told a couple of mother-in-law jokes in Yiddish and everyone would have laughed.
I took this all in good humour, I guess it’s all part of the experience, but there is a difference between people laughing with you and people laughing at you, is there not?
I should possibly tell you something about the ferry itself. Man I thought I had been transported back to Africa. No air-con (just an open window to keep things cool), plastic on the benches which was marvellously attuned to stick to sweaty human skin like superglue, people sleeping on the floor on bits of cardboard (I could have been back on the Sissiwani) and the aforementioned cockroach infestation. BIG ONES. Like, really big.
I managed to kill about 17 of the little feckers (much to the delight of my captive audience) but did wake up a few times in the night and have to pick one off my face or out of my hair.
But unlike the Sissiwani (almost exactly one year ago, pop-pickers!) at least there was a telly on board, which meant I got to watch half of The Gods Must Be Crazy and nearly all of The Frighteners. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to watch the Merseyside Derby and see Everton well and truly trounce – going down! – Liverpool 2-0.
But you can’t have everything. I just enjoyed the fact despite everything that the red half of the city had a much worse day than me.