Some of my girlfriends really know how to cut to the chase when articulating about their holidays.
They dispense with lost luggage and flight delays and go straight to the main highlights of the destination, including the people they met and who they spotted on the beach.
So here is a quick guide, with their consent, on how to deliver a good holiday story. Any further suggestions gratefully received.
1 Work out in your head beforehand what were the best bits of the cruise and leave out the rest.
2 Take into consideration who you are talking to. Women might be driven to ecstasy hearing about the variety of good buys available in the shops on board or the great time to be had in the spa and beauty salon, while that subject may cause men to head for that other bedtime activity, sleep.
3 Interpret their face. Any sign of boredom – quickly move on.
4 Sum up your listener. What do you think they would most like to hear? Knowledge about the ports, information on your next planned cruise or maybe they just want to be amused by a good story.
5 Don’t monopolise; allow for valid interruptions or comments whenever necessary.
As for me, some of the adventures that have entertained my friends when recounting my travels include
As a journalist I was invited on a cruise by myself, so decided on that first evening, it might be a good idea to go to the singles evening, to meet up with others. On arrival it turned out the only other person present was the purser arranging the event. We had a perfectly interesting hour or so of conversation, but not quite what I had in mind!
On the same trip we stopped in a place called Örnsköldsvik in Sweden where the whole town came out to greet us as it was the first cruise ship to dock there for 33 years. Everybody had taken the day off for the occasion and there was a red carpet and a full brass band. The first man down the gangplank happened to be a retired American entertainer who danced and sang to the bemused locals as he got off the ship. I think they were wondering if the next 400 people from the boat would perform in the same, strange way.
Our guide on the tour bus was a local girl, married – a little bizarrely for that remote place – to a Londoner, and proceeded to explain the sights of the Swedish upland coast in a strong cockney accent!
During another cruise, someone asked me for my autograph, but before it could go to my head, it turned out they thought I was Victoria Wood. I was tempted not to disappoint and go ahead and sign anyway, but decided against it, when I realised I would have to keep up the pretence for a whole week!
Then there was the time a member of the ship’s crew told me over a beer, how an elderly couple had taken a cabin on the boat but sadly the husband had died on the trip. The wife, not wanting to waste the holiday had decided to continue right on with the cruise….I didn’t like to ask what happened to the body.
I could go on, but am anticipating the 5th piece of advice on how to deliver a good holiday story, here illustrated by the writer Sydney Smith (talking about the historian, Macauley)
“He had occasional flashes of silence, that made his conversation perfectly delightful”
6 Probably the most important rule; knowing when to stop!
- The five rules of friendly shipboard conversation One of the joys of cruising is the chance...