When you cruise, you’re under no obligation to do anything other than totally enjoy yourself. My problem is I feel guilty about having a good time while the crew are working so hard.
To ease my conscience I set myself various guilt-relieving tasks, like ensuring my cabin is always left in a decent condition. Yes, there are staff paid to do this, but I feel bad about making them work too hard.
For me, it’s all about being a good citizen at sea. I admit it’s completely unnecessary and there’s no reason for you to copy me, but the truth is I get pleasure from doing it.
So every day that I’m on a cruise I generally give the place a thorough spring clean.
Taking meals in your cabin can be one of cruising’s great pleasures, but in my case there’s a downside to it. That’s because when I eat I tend to create a lot of debris.
For a start, being left-handed and slightly accident prone, I’m constantly either dropping things or knocking things over. A plate of chicken tikka masala, a bowl of rice pudding, a tureen of minestrone – these are exactly the kinds of thing that can end up on the floor when I’m having a meal.
Sometimes I wonder, if I’d be better off eating at ground level.
Here’s another thing I ought to mention. When I eat, I tend to speak in a very animated way. As a result a lot of foodstuff goes flying out in all directions. It’s just the way I am.
Actually, the whole Beckett family is like this. We’re very argumentative and talk over each other all the time. At lunchtime, visibility over the dining table can be greatly reduced.
People who join us for a meal often remark that instead of offering napkins, we should provide umbrellas.
Needless to say, at the end of each day there’s a lot of work to be done in the Beckett cabin.
The good news is that if you put your mind to it and come armed with the right cleaning materials, it only takes a couple of hours to sort things out.
Over the years I’ve developed a methodology that makes the cleaning process as efficient as possible.
First I like to gather up all the detritus of modern everyday life that seems to collect without you ever noticing.
You know what I mean – lager cans, cider bottles, crates of wine, used tea bags, crisp packets, sweet wrappers, yoghurt cartons, biscuit tins, lolly sticks, cake boxes and ice cream tubs.
Wherever they are – under the bed, in the bath, inside the wardrobe, stuck to the wall, hanging from the light fittings – I track them all down and dispose of them.
Next I look for food remnants that might have been discarded over the course of the day.
All the usual suspects are quickly rounded up: orange peel, banana skins, prune stones, bacon rind, coconut shells, pumpkin seeds, kebab wraps, papadom fragments, pieces of battered haddock.
If you make a real effort, you can fill a couple of those white 20-litre bin liners with this stuff in no time.
Having addressed the surface debris I can now focus on the waste matter that’s more deeply ingrained.
Breakfast cereals that have been inadvertently trodden into the carpet, gravy or custard stains on the duvet and pillows, beer stains on the curtains and ceiling, bubble gum stuck to the inside of the lampshade.
If you know what you’re doing, many of these things can be eliminated quickly and easily. For example, you can use a hairdryer to heat the bubble gum until it melts and then it should be possible to remove it using a piece of plastic.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many ways you can be a good citizen at sea. This is simply how I choose to do it.
I don’t expect a gold medal for sprucing up my cabin, though a small framed certificate wouldn’t go amiss. But the truth is, I’m not hankering after recognition of any kind.
For me the main reward comes from knowing I’ve made a tiny corner of the world a little more habitable and in the process I’ve lightened someone else’s load.
As a civilised human being, who’s been brought up well, that’s the least I can do.