(Originally written on 02 October 2008)
There I am at Heysham in the Ferry Terminal. God is having a particularly heavy pee on the port at the time. It’s early December 2006 and I’m on my way home.
Heysham Terminal – I wonder why Dante omitted it from his divine comedy – must have been too scary. Actually it’s more Mines of Moria from Lord of the Rings. Dark, damp and full of strange creatures.
The traffic cone is in the middle of the sewage pool designated as the Gentlemens toilet. I heard on Manx Radio several weeks later it was still there.
Passengers gather. Staff mill about saying nothing. Rumours circulate. Staff admit nothing. I speculate if I can afford the prices at the cafeteria – café? Sod all to eat bar some cake. Hardly adequate fare for those about to be in peril on the seas.
Tension mounts. Due to the lack of information from the staff, the passengers mill around like a badly directed crowd scene from a 1950s Hollywood epic. The designated sailing time comes and goes, An hour passes then we low caste foot passengers are herded on. I start Baaing like a sheep. Several of the younger passengers join in. Further delay ensues but at least we’re on the boat. I find the buffet area and scrutinise the menu. Outside the weather can best be described as very unsettled. At last the mighty engines rumble and we set off. Starving, I buy a chicken curry with chips and rice. Superb. Then the fun begins. The ship rattles, pitches and people start to be sick. The deck tilts like a mad tilty thing and there’s the growing smell of sick. The Angel of Death appears in a corridor. Jack Hawkins walks past in his duffle coat. I debate asking if there’s a U Boat ahead. Half way across, the lounge resembles a Star Trek episode – people being hurled from side to side. The Christmas trees ( cleverly secured at the top, but not at the bottom ) swing side to side like deranged monkeys. The plates in the galley and all the little packets of biscuits and cakes fly out of their display cases.
Flavour of the day is vomit.
We crawl round on the floor looking for someones spectacles which were thrown of his nose by a particularly vicious pitch of the boat. The TVs go out. Lights flicker.
I wait for Jean Luc Picard to give the order to abandon ship.
The Angel of Death is throwing up in the gents. I am struck by the realisation that Steam Packets’ Ben My Chree is as stable as Gaddaffi in his pre friend of the west days.
Some poor sod is huddled on the top deck on the leeward side under blankets throwing up her intestines. The only others up there are a few madmen trying to enjoy a fag and not get tossed overboard.
Everything not bolted down in the lounge is flying around including all the passengers. Then at last lights through the dark and rain.
People try to avoid dying before reaching land. When the ship of doom does eventually dock hours late, naturally with their usual contempt for foot passengers; we are let off last. In fact the cleaners were boarding and in the lounge before we get on dry? land. But at last there I am.
On holy ground.
The land of my birth.
The blessed isle
It’s cold, dark and p*ssing down but I’m home.