The doctor and I made our way back to our seats. I was close to passing out for real. My legs were like jelly. Technically, as the winner of our round, I should have moved on to the next heat but Londiwe was very sweet and said that I had done enough. The winners were engineer cadet, Kwasi Ampomah, jointly with deck cadet, Mzamoyakhe Mngoma, for the men and deck cadet, Priscilla Afful, for the girls.

After that, I had hoped that I had done all that was required of me to gain a certain standing amongst the ship’s company. But, there was more to come in the ‘Open Mic’ section which followed the ‘Dance Off’. Jill and Heather had arranged for us to do a theatrical performance to the words of the Flanders and Swann song “The Gas Man Cometh”. Luckily I didn’t have to act. All I did was recite the song while John (at 6ft 2 inches) and Heather (considerably shorter) with Jill and the poor Doctor acted out the various tradesmen who come to call.

It starts:

T’was on a Monday morning the gas man came to call,

The gas tap wouldn’t turn – I wasn’t getting gas at all,

He tore out all the skirting boards to try and find the main

And I had to call a carpenter to put them back again.

I then sang the refrain, “Oh it all makes work for the Agulhas crew to do”

My colleagues acted out the role of each tradesman as the song progressed (gas man, carpenter, electrician, glazier and painters). The song ends with all of them painting “every nook and cranny – but I found when they were gone, They’d painted over the gas tap and I couldn’t turn it on!”

“Oh it all makes work for the Agulhas crew to do”

I don’t know whether it made any sense at all. The lack of rehearsal was conspicuous and the little dance routine between each verse showed lack of choreography. The shouting was subdued but generous. It was getting late and supper was imminent. Our long suffering compere Londiwe Zulu thanked us and instructed the cadets to put the chairs back in the store. The party was over.

As evening set in, our ship, alone on the vast ocean was settling quietly back into the watch keeping routine. A small red ship boldly pushing on at 12 knots to an uncertain arrival at Cape Town. Tomorrow, I thought, I must find out whether we have a berth.

Interestingly, Captain Dave tells me he and Mick Jagger went to school together.

Best wishes