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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 61: 24 November

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysSaatchi shows me our position on the charts and I tell him we are going to have to re-shoot the initiation ceremony. He looks so utterly terrified that I have trouble persuading him it was a joke. We talk about football. Saatchi the Malay, like Captain Abbas the Egyptian, is a Liverpool supporter. He says people all over the world watch English football. For some reason it's more exportable than French or Italian or Dutch. Everyone he knew made sure they were near a television set to watch live coverage of the European Cup Final at the Heysel stadium. It's easy to forget the international repercussions of the disaster. The millions of Liverpool well-wishers let down, embarrassed and shamed by the events.

Still, he says, it's past and there has been a sympathetic backlash over the continued exclusion of English clubs from international football. 'You're not so bad,' he says, and, as if to cheer me up, 'Everyone knows Mrs Thatcher . . . '

The captain has asked us to his cabin for a drink before supper. It's comfortable up there with soft sofas and plants and Mozart coming through elegantly on the hi-fi. The chief engineer (Mr Wonka) is there. They talk of cricket, the Japanese (admired but not liked), reduced manning levels on container ships (neither admired nor liked) and the experiences of Neptune Orient Lines in the Gulf war. Two company ships were hit. One was completely destroyed. The other, a tanker, was hit fifteen times, but only one crew member was killed.

After supper there's bingo in the games room. The captain joins in as usual, and takes it very seriously. He's hoping to win at least 50 dollars.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 61
  • Date: 24 November
  • Country/sea: Pacific Ocean
  • Place: Pacific Ocean
  • Book page no: 199

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