A Ferry Short Story (or Four)
After the broad canvas that was our recent Travel Shorts competition, this month’s selection sees four writers focus their efforts on the vagaries of ferry travel, in association with P&O Ferries
‘Til death us do part? by Jonny Robertson
A case of pre-wedding jitters sees thoughts turn to murder… naturally
“It’s crazy how white those cliffs actually are,” I said, hoping to continue impressing her with equally sharp observations for the duration of our trip from Dover to Calais. In a few weeks we’d be married, for now we were free agents of the sea, ploughing the wild waves towards mid-range wedding wine by the box load. “All this water makes me thirsty,” said my fiancé, and we settled down to a cold beer at the bar. A couple next to us, mid-seventies I'd guess, were exchanging quiet anger until the man suddenly walked out. The woman looked embarrassed but defiant and followed him out on deck in her own good time. We had another drink and forgot about them until we went on deck ourselves about half way across the Channel. The man craned over the edge clutching her handbag. Christ; had she jumped? Had she pushed her? Is this married life for you?! Was I perhaps getting too imaginative in my anticipation of things to come? Relief – she came back, a reconciliatory smile formed on both their faces. She took a sip of her pint and handed him his white wine. It’d be alright after all it seems.
Sea legs by Ruby Fletcher
Life lessons abound in this extravagant Tale of the (Ferry) Unexpected
Stars fall soft and silent as we sail further south through the black. The ferry from Athens to Crete is sleeping, and I am alone on the deck. A warm breeze fans my face as I lay by the peace of the party that was. Curious now and with beer crate in tow, I climb the hot steps towards the helipad. I'm alone but somehow not lonely. And it's not the full beer crate beside me, or the close friends in cabins that offer me comfort, it's the feeling I get from the ferry. I once knew a fisherman who couldn't stand straight, even when he'd been on land for months. He used to say that his life was in waves, and freedom for us was on water that no man could own. As I lay on the bough of a boat going south, I’m beginning to think he was right. Of course, he died tragically, hit by a train – wobbled off the platform apparently.
fled from Falkirk, and flourished on a ferry by Leo Corbett
Eh, what it says right here
I left Falkirk in the dreary winter of 2002 to work for P&O ferries and my life instantly became more interesting. The personalities that I met over the next four years have definitely shaped my worldview and my horizons are now quite different because I’ve sailed over quite a few. There are few life choices that would have given me the opportunity to be best man at a wedding in Eastern Hungary or get arrested in St. Petersburg; to play football on a team of Jamaicans against a ferry crew of Bolivians in Oslo; to meet an Apollo 7 astronaut or to see my mates get chased around the crew bar by Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees. Do you want to shop Tesco or Alfresco Tesco, the illegal Russian version (complete with AK-47s)? You might do both within a couple of weeks. Then again, you could always stay in Falkirk.
Sailing home for Christmas by Alex Hill
The Seven Year Itch strikes a once blossoming bromance, but will it all work out in the end?
“Do you want a lift home for the holidays?” he asked, “I’m taking the car on the boat.” It was most likely a mere polite gesture, as things had been fraught for a while, but I said yes, thanks. At the very least, it was a lot cheaper than taking the plane. As friends, we’d reached the stage where extreme hedonism and almost literally living in each other’s pockets for the best part of seven years was becoming much more like hard work. Where once there’d be nothing but mutual encouragement to explore the edges of joyous absurdity and social acceptability, now remained irritation by the seeming predictability of it all. We weren’t actively avoiding each other, just always ‘happened’ to have something else to do.
But the drive from Edinburgh to the port at Troon was pleasant; I’d compiled a playlist featuring the soundtrack to our time together, well, particularly the all-night parties and epic comedowns. On the ferry, I gently taunted him with the pint forbidden to the designated driver, a signifier, perhaps, of a heretofore unidentified ‘maturity’. “You know,” he said, “this nonsense between us is just that…” I nodded in agreement. “We should probably stop it then.”
● In association with P&O Ferries