It’ll be St. Patrick’s Day next Wednesday, so I found you a poem with an Irish theme.
Thousands of Europeans were emigrating to Australia and New Zealand under the ‘Assisted Passage’ scheme. I took my Dutch, English, French and German across the Channel and joined P & O Lines Ltd as a WAP (Woman Assistant Purser) in 1969.
The following year I joined SS Orcades. The ship was due to arrive in Australia in time for older passengers to celebrate Christmas and New Year with family who’d moved there. Because of the large number of Dutch passengers, I held a daily coffee meeting – giving information about ports en route, as well as translating and interpreting.
Each morning, I also met with a small group of German-speaking passengers. On the photo, you can just about see my language badges, attached to my uniform with Velcro!
The poem SS Arcadia, from my second collection Nothing serious, nothing dangerous is about meeting my late husband for the first time. May you be blessed with the luck of the Irish!
I was still in my whites, had just rolled down the shutters
on shore excursions, orders for birthday cakes,
contact lenses lost in the swimming pool.
I was headed down aft, the Tourist Nursery,
rehearsals for Hawaiian Night.
Oh, I’m going to a hukilau.
It was a moment of whites and early evening sunlight.
That Irishman, feet planted wide on shiny boards, who
controlled the English bar staff, Goanese stewards.
I already knew that Junior Officers were not supposed
to fraternise with Leading Hands.