Well this was a big day for us – the Melbourne Cup. After breakfast we assembled in the larger cabin of Dennis and Anthea for a working bee and planning session. Our intrepid ladies turned up with needles, a full cone of thread, (not a bobbin or even a kop, but a full cone!) scissors, orange paint (our official colours were black and orange) and somehow or other, Judy turned up with a glue gun!!!! Paula brought along a bottle of port and Arnold had a one on one training session with our chosen Jockey Dennis, who stands about 6ft plus tall and is not a small man, but does walk with the aid of a stick. Ros was our chosen representative of the syndicate and had gone to great trouble to write out her introduction ready for interview by Warren, the cruise director. Although it may appear on her blog, she was kind enough to email it anyway, so here it is:
Ladies and gentlemen, Warren and Dave, on behalf of the Florentine 18 syndicate (our table), I am proud to introduce you to our thoroughbred Italian stallion – ‘Semplecemente Magistrale”. Careful thought went into the choice of his name - chosen to be symbolic of his character - translated from Italian it means ‘the best of the best’, and of course, the most important criteria - a name that would be hard for Warren to pronounce as he calls the race!!
His pedigree is impressive - sired by previous Cup winner - Knackery Bound - out of a beautiful little chestnut mare - Glue Factory’s Desire.
“Semplecemente Magistrale” has himself won three group 1 races in recent times - although they were at the Dapto dogs - with over $327.50 in prize money to date.
Following in the proud family traditional, he is racing in the famous black and orange silks, first worn by his great grandfather ‘Bumblebee’ - and then his grandfather -‘Bumblebee cold if you don’t put your pants on’.
He has had a rigorous training schedule leading up to the race but his preparation wasn’t without incident. He managed to slip his reins in the corridor and ventured into the laundry but the atmosphere was a bit heated for his delicate disposition so he beat a hasty retreat.
We would have liked to have given him an early morning workout on deck 7 (the Promenade deck – subject some complaints from the speedy ones...) but he couldn’t keep to the left and was almost trampled by a wheelie walker. He was rested overnight in the rarefied atmosphere of Deck 11; his diet is a closely guarded secret - thanks to the onboard vet - I mean doctor - he has had an intravenous infusion of prune juice and liquorice all-sorts - definitely guaranteed to get him running, and give the other horses a run for their money as well.
We don’t like to draw attention to his affliction but I am sure you haven’t failed to observe his missing appendage (the horse only has three legs!) which some would see as a disadvantage. But his looks are deceiving - if he wasn’t white - he would be the dark horse of this year’s Melbourne Cup! Everyone knows that a great horse race is a partnership - careful merging of horse and jockey - and our jockey is our secret weapon. Big Dennis is our jockey - and he only has one good leg - and let’s face it - four good legs are all that any horse needs to win the Melbourne Cup!!
In keeping with the Italian plus black and orange colour scheme, we decided the men should dress Mafia style, with false moustaches where necessary plus shades. In Arnold’s case, we chose the Casanova style as most appropriate in a fetching shade of grey. My curly black wig was donated to Ros but we decided that in deference to any sensitive hirsute Italian ladies on board, she decided to dispense with the proffered black moustache.
Birdie was duly stuffed and mounted - on the plywood horse - and we retired until mid afternoon for the big race.
The first 4 races were not our worry, but as we were in lane one of six, it was interesting to see how the other races went. Meanwhile we spectated from our owner’s box whilst “Brazilian Barbara” served us champagne. From the attached pic above, it rather looks as though Arnold was trying to add to his harem He failed. Alas, number one rarely appeared on the dice and we failed to win ‘best dressed horse’ too. A lot of laughs but maybe as we have been granted an entry in the Mumbai Classic in a few day’s time, our luck will change – but we did think that our team were definitely the best dressed and deserved a prize.
Oh, and in the Trivia, we split into a boys and a girls team. The boys finished equal first but lost the play off by guessing that the longest boxing match ever was 52 rounds. The correct answer was 105... if we had heard Dennis’s answer regarding Seagrams & Royal something or other as whiskies rather than gins, we would have won. So near yet so far.
For the dancers, today was the Gypsy Tap, but in all the excitement, we skipped it.
Another excellent evening meal though Ros and Arnold went to the Steakhouse (an extra $20) with Anne & John. Our steaks in the dining room were excellent (see pic, plus Paula’s veal Cordon Bleu), which was also very nice. We shared that dessert...
General comments for 2012 cruisers: A few grumbles from those who use the main dining room for breakfast. It was taking an hour just to get porridge – which is of course a staple in the buffet anyway, with no queues. We haven’t bothered with a dining room breakfast so far and probably won’t.
A warning regarding currency exchanges. At Langkawi on the wharf a money changer had set up – presumably with some sort of official sanction. Not only were his conversion rates appalling, but it appears that several people also thought they had been ripped off too – a double dip, so be warned. They were pushing people through quickly and unlike the exchange in Singapore, no receipts either...
Tomorrow, Cochin or Kochi, in India. A first visit to India for many and as the port lecturer emphasised, “You’ll either love or hate India”. We’ll see about 10am tomorrow.
The ship trundles along at a leisurely pace, presumably so as to not over stress the three remaining good engines. Lots of speculation - particularly from the men - as to the true nature of the problem and the likely outcome. So far, the details have only been published as far as Dover so what happens there, or thereafter, is anyone’s guess. This ranges from cutting out a port or two before Los Angeles to flying every one home after Dover, to major repairs in Los Angeles. Bearing in mind the size and position of these generators/engines in the ship, major problems in the cylinder blocks or lower part of the engines could be rather difficult to deal with whilst at sea. It is all pure speculation of course but no doubt Captain McBain will lets us know just as soon as practicable, meanwhile, we are just cruisin’, laughin’, talkin’, eatin’, drinkin’, dancin’, writin’ and just lovin’ every single minute of it.