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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 30: 24 October

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysNot out of the woods yet. The earliest boat to Singapore doesn't leave for 48 hours. It's a Yugoslav freighter chartered by a German company called Bengal Tiger Lines. The chief, and as far as I can see, insurmountable problem is that the ship has no space for passengers. There is a crew of 18 and only 18 places in the lifeboat, so it would be illegal and uninsurable to take any supernumeraries. There is no other sailing to Singapore until the end of the week. We have to try and put pressure on Bengal Tiger Lines for a compromise. Added to this uncertainty Roger Mills, director on this leg, who, like me, felt pretty lousy on the train, has come down with sweats and a temperature. So a day off is called, our first non-filming day since we left.

After a breakfast of paw-paw, fresh pineapple juice and brown toast I nose around the hotel. There is a pool and a small bookstore called Giggles, which doesn't sound promising but is a treasure trove inside. Though only the size of a couple of cupboards it seems to contain a comprehensive selection of all the latest novels, but the chatty, intelligent lady who runs it is still not satisfied. 'I'm after them every day for Bonfire Of The Vanities, and every day they let me down.' She will stock The Satanic Verses. 'After the elections the ban will be lifted. It's all so political.' I ask her why she called the place Giggles.

'Because I started it for a giggle,' she replies very seriously.

I buy Ellman's Oscar Wilde biography, a Ruth Prawer Jhabwala and a J. L. Carr novel, A Season in Sinji.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 30
  • Date: 24 October
  • Country/sea: India
  • Place: Madras
  • Book page no: 104

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