Now that we'd written and published our book If Hovercraft Can Go Anywhere, How Did We End Up Here? we felt that we needed a holiday. Fortunately, John and Sue have part ownership of a yacht based in Corfu so we decided to decamp there for a week or two to get away from the pressures of running our publishing empire.
Just a word or two about Yacht Saly, (yes, Sally with one L!) which is a fine vessel and regarded by all four of us with great affection. But so you don’t get the wrong impression, just take a second or two to scale down that scenario, based on cinema ads, that came to mind on reading the words ‘yacht based in Corfu’. Saly is not spacious. Or modern. Or air-conditioned. Mostly that doesn’t matter except maybe after the fifth time in the same day that you knock the bin off the bulkhead when trying to reach the milk. Or the sixth time in a row that Russ bangs his head on the hatch and uses the same unimaginative swear-word. Or, while shimmying round the cockpit table, getting your flipflop caught the piece of broom-handle honed to just the right angle for this task of holding up the leaf. As it is red, it’s called ‘the red thing’.
We’d soon established a holiday routine. On Saly, getting up takes place promptly between nine and eleven o’clock and is defined as sitting in the cockpit wearing at least one garment you didn’t sleep in. Then comes a ritual breakfast, always the same. Fruit of the day (the piece in the fruit bowl most likely to disintegrate that day), Greek yoghurt, honey and muesli are passed up from the galley through the hatch to cockpit table, all eaten while looking out at a blue sparkling sea. Being close to mid-day, the relentless sun can be a problem at breakfast so there would have already been a certain amount of strategic pegging of towels to the awning, a job best left to John who leaps around the deck like a mountain goat. It’s difficult to know quite where lunch fits into the day: let’s say that it is a moveable feast and always pops up somewhere. That brings us nicely to dinner, which takes place in the nearest Taverna: Saly isn’t really designed for aspiring cooks. Of course, it’s not all meals. There is the bumper book of crosswords to finish, the world to be put to rights, a year’s backlog of worthy books to read, music to be listened to, some pretty tough swimming off the boat to be accomplished. After a couple of days Saly had worked her magic - we had learned to relax again.
Unfortunately, there is about a day between feeling relaxed and feeling bored. We needed something to fill the time left by writing a book.
Then over the blue horizon appeared a strange, substantial vessel, like a pointy-nosed insect on rigid legs, heading in our direction, going really fast. There was an old-fashioned, futuristic look about it. ‘Crikey, what’s that?’
‘It’s an elderly Russian hydrofoil in service between Corfu and Albania,’ replied Google. This was not a chance that Shivering Sheep could forego.