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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 39: 2 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 Days'You've got to tell a story, sing a song or show your bottom,' he tells them. The Singaporeans look suitably terrified.

Dinner is a mish-mash of British specifications and Singaporean application. The captain's attitude is to resolutely avoid too much foreign stuff. 'I've ordered steak, because at least they can't muck that up,' he reassures us, inaccurately as it happens. It's interesting that someone who has spent most of his life abroad should be so inimical to foreign cooking. But I must stop making the mistake of confusing being at sea with being abroad. Being at sea is really being nowhere and I suppose you have to create a cultural cocoon in which to live. The Tuddenhams have chosen to survive by replicating familiar home conditions as thoroughly as possible.

On the charts earlier today I'd noticed the words 'Many sightings of unlit sampans,' added in pencil. These presumably refer to the refugees from Vietnam, whose coast we are approaching fast. Captain Tuddenham's attitude to the boat people is as pragmatic as one would expect. He would set a course 20 miles longer to try and avoid them but 'of course I'd pick them up if I had to, poor buggers'.

Roger, who's recently completed some filming in Vietnam, scents a photo-opportunity, and tries to persuade the captain that it would be in everyone's interest for him to divert towards the coast and see if he could find any boat people to rescue. 'You'll bring glory to the company and a medal for yourself - you'll probably get the O.B.E.'

'The P.U.S.H. more likely,' replies Captain Tuddenham drily.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 39
  • Date: 2 November
  • Country/sea: Pacific Ocean
  • Place: South China Sea
  • Book page no: 127

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