Up early for a meeting with Chris at Wallem Shipping, a friend of Stuart Jackets from the Queen Victoria pub in Wan Chai. We sat down and had a good natter about all things ship-shaped and were joined by Elizabeth Vella, the Group Media Manager. If anyone could help me get to country 198, Sri Lanka, it was these guys. However, the news was not good. They had nothing going south this week, everything was going north – to Shanghai, to Korea, to Japan or to Taiwan. Nothing even just down to Singapore, I’m afraid. Oh well, time for plan B: overland it down to Singapore and take a ship from there.
But before I could put in my Chinese visa application (it standing between Hong Kong and my dreams of Singapore), I was due on the radio – another media op arranged by my magnificent CouchSurf host Michael. I jumped the Underground (yes I’ll call it an Underground, Metro is for the French, Subway is for the Yanks. I’m British and I like ‘Underground’, mkay?). I didn’t realise the radio station would be so far up a steep hill. Or that it would be so damn hot. I arrived looking like the trampish wretch that I am, the sweat literally dripping off my face and my otherwise nice clean shirt clinging to my body in a desperate un-sexy re-enactment of Mr. Darcy’s emergence from the duckpond. Luckily, the host of the TV show, Phil Whelan, was outside having a cheeky bifter and recognised me.
In you come, Graham, you scruffy bugger. I had a good half hour before I was due on so I got to cool down in reception’s splendid air-conditioning. There I met Meaghan, a blogger from HK who was interested in doing an interview with me for her site. All this attention for a drunken braggart, stumbling around the world in a manner ill-befitting the legacy of the great gentlemen adventurers of yore – I’m really not sure that I deserve it. And then I catch a glimpse of the latest Charlie Boorman tosh and I change my mind. The two main things I wish to get across for you wonderful Odysseans out there are that a) the world isn’t such bad/scary place and that b) travelling the world doesn’t have to cost a fortune. If I’ve convinced at least a handful of people that this be the case, then my work here is done. Anyway, here’s the interview:
Afterwards, I was chatting with Phil, the host, and he said he had a contact in the shipping industry for me to chase up – a guy called Tim who runs the Wah Kwong shipping company. I called him up and (sorta) explained what I was attempting and managed to snag a meeting with him tomorrow morning. I therefore decided to put Plan B on hold for the moment in order to see what came of this.
That night I returned to the Queen Victoria primarily to thank Stuart the Landlord for his help and secondly to win the pub quiz. But (as always seems the case) our team came a close second. What is it with pub quizzes that my team ALWAYS seems to come second? Except for one time… the P&O cruise from Australia to Fiji where my team won three times a day. Methinks the lack of ze googles might have something to do with it… jus’ saying…! Stuart was a total gent again, this time giving me my din-dins on the house, and the night ended in boozy hilarity, the highpoint being when one inebriated fan of ‘Graham’s World’ asked me what I thought happened at Pearl Harbour. After making some lame joke about the movie, I suggested that it was my understanding that the Japanese had perhaps, maybe, (I wasn’t there, but I’m fairly sure this happened), you know, bombed Pearl Harbour…?
This seemingly uncontentious piece of newsreel from 1941 was met with a verbal lashing the likes of which I had not received since school (or at least since I last went on a date with Madame Whiplash). Apparently, I been to all this f—ing countries but don’t know anything! I’m a dick! A DICK!! Cue crazy guy storming out of the pub and a look of bewilderment spreading across the faces of my fellow quiz teamers. Erm… what is the correct answer to that question? Is this a test? The Japanese seem quite adamant that they did, indeed, bomb Pearl Harbour. But maybe the Americans bombed themselves eh? Sort of thing they’d do, right? Urgh.
The rest of the night was taken up with hilarious re-enactments of the scene we had just witnessed taken to its most ludicrous extremes. You think the French blew up Rainbow Warrior I? YOU’RE A DICK! You think Macbeth killed Duncan? YOU’RE A DICK! You think Luke Skywalker blew up the Death Star? YOU’RE A DICK! et al etc ad nauseum.
I stumbled home to Michael’s at Godknows-o’-clock. I wish people would stop plying me with free alcohol. By that I mean I love it when people ply me with free alcohol.