I arrived as usual for the cross channel ferry. As I passed reception on the way to the lounge, a steward asked me to “step this way”. I followed her into a special lounge where a number of distinguished people were assembled.
“Congratulations Sir, you have been chosen by your fellow passengers – you will be taking this ferry to France”.
“But why me?”
“Because you told us you wanted the job”
” I’d had a few when I filled in that questionnaire!”
“Never mind Sir- Congratulations”.
I was introduced to the people in the room. There was a nice lady who told me she was in charge of the “passenger resource” : apparently she was rewarded for identifying that they were resourceful. There was a man who knew about money who told me he controlled the cost of ferries by overseeing the “amount of cheese in the baguettes”. Another man had been immensely successful in getting passengers to claim this “was ther best way to Calais”.
Once we had all been introduced, there trooped in a series of business people in suits. An accountant told us he would be auditing our every wave and would be telling the fat controller of our progress. A fellow called “the actuary” told us he had predicted exactly where we should be going and how long it would take us and as long as everything worked as we he predicted- we would be fine. A lawyer told us that he would keep us out of trouble with passengers and a clever person told us that he’d chosen the right fuel mix and the correct amout of fuel according to the actuary’s calculations. Surely with such a wise group of suited men we could have no problems.
Everybody was nodding sagely- so I nodded sagely though I didn’t understand any of this. Then an old man in a beard arrived. He nodded more sagely than anyone else so we voted him Captain and Chairman. We were shown to the wheelroom which was full of flashing lights and dials. Although all the men in suits had gone, we weren’t too worried as we had the men in suits behind us.
With that there was a great roar from the engines. People ran around on the deck throwing ropes around and getting excited. The ferry floated out through the harbour gates and everything was fine. Everything was fine for about two minutes before a great wind sprang up. The boat went sideways and everyone in the wheelhouse went quiet.
“Eh up Captain-what do we do now?” said I
“Damned if I know” said the old sea dog (not)…”let’s put it to a vote”.
We voted and decided to do nothing. Reports were coming in of passengers revolting as the boat swayed from side to side.
A voice came from the intercom “The passengers are revolting”. “Aren’t they always” quipped the passenger champion. We decided to discuss the quality of the baguettes and concluded that they were the problem.
“Put the stabilisers on” boomed the intercom – the Captain identified the voice as the Fat Contoller who controlled the fleet. We had another vote and agreed we didn’t understand stabilisers so we decided to put the stabilisers on when we got into port at Calais.
The Fat Controller wasn’t happy. “You are now 20 miles off course. I will have to use the reserve fuel supplies to get you back – this is costing us a fortune – heads will roll and they won’t be mine”.
Things went from bad to worse. A strong tide pulled us down towards Cherbourg, we nearly hit another ship and then we ran out of fuel. We drifted towards the Channel Isles, got caught in the Alderney Race and before we knew it we hit a rock.
“You’re sinking” boomed the intercom. We called the lawyer. “You’re f*****”” said the lawyer. “Thanks” we said.
As the ferry went down, passengers jumped like lemmings into the sea. We had another meeting and concluded that we would sue the men in suits before following the passengers. The last thing I remember was being hauled from the water by a man with a peaked cap, I remember around the rim the words “HMRC PPF”.