Monday, February 28, 2011

Model Planes

There is an area at the other end of the Valley where a small arifield is laid out for model aricraft.  Most weekends when the wind is not very strong a group of fellows gather to fly their planes.  It's become quite a sophisticated business.
A Small Squadron of Local  Model Planes Ready to Take-off
When I was a kid, model airplane building and flying were very popular - I think I knew every inch of the Keil Kraft catalogue by heart.  Mostly we would build these kits from balsa wood and often they had strips of rubber to power them.  Gliders were very popular too.  It was a serious step to go to petrol driven engines - mostly the famous ED Bee, a 1 c.c. engine that was the staple of the model world, if you could afford them, of course.

Recently, there has been a big revolution in model plane power, with electrical engines driven by batteries.  They can keep a plane aloft for up to 20 minutes, and without the annoying buzz.  Of course, these planes cost a lot, but the standard of the men who fly them is extremely high.  If I had the patience, I might try it.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Terms of Endearment

Some time back I met a middle-aged couple, the man of which introduced the lady with him as his "girlfriend!"  Now I don't want to be hard, but she was way beyond the sell-by-date on being a girl.  I also thought that had she been introduced in corporate life as the girl in charge of say HR, there would have been a serious upset, and the offending introducer dragged off to sensitivity training.

The fact remains that life is more complicated these days in relationships and perhaps we need to revamp some of the language.  Up through the 70's you were boyfriend/girlfriend; fiance/fiancee; then husband/wife.  Simple stuff.  But what is one to make of the late bloomers who have as yet to make up their minds in a relationship that has been going on a long time.  "Man" or "Woman," seems a bit abrupt; "Fiance" or Fiancee" assumes perhaps a little too much; "Partner" has a tough of "gayness" about it, and "Lover" has too much information. 

We need an in-between, preferably gender neutral term for this problem.  I have a suggestion - Amia/Amio!  It's not in any dictionary as I made it up myself, but I think it would work as it has a little Continental romance about it, but doesn't make any serious commitment.  So I'm putting it out there and for a period without any charge.  Please feel free to use it as you wish.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sunday's Column - Pioneertown

Pioneertown was a movie set in the mid forties.  The above saloon started out as only a one-sided facade, called the Cantina.  Roy Rogers and Gene Autry and some friends named the town after Rogers' group "The Sons of the Pioneers."  Today it has a number of the original buildings, including Pappy and Harriet's Saloon which is a popular haunt for riders of horses and Harleys.  There is also a motel and a bowling barn where Rogers bowled the first ball - naturally it was a strike.  The little town is only open from Thursday's through Sunday's so it's a real ghost town on the other days.


The weather up here is frightful!  So there's nothing better to warm you up than a little serious rock and roll.  It would have been great to have been in among all these rocking people for some Tina Turner.  I know it's going to please a certain friend of mine in England.
There's a goose bump moment when she goes into the upper register at 2:35!

Friday, February 25, 2011


We have a number of very good aircraft museums in the area, and I have covered most of them on my travels.  My most favorite plane has to be the SR-71, the Blackbird.  Two of them are on show in the Inland Empire, one out in the desert at Edwards Air force base and also there is another at the March Aircraft Museum.
They are large aircraft and very hard to photograph.  I don't know where this one was taken but my efforts have not been good, although I had several tries.

The Blackbird was retired in 1990 after 25 years of service but stories of its epic journeys are still talked about.  Back in the early seventies tales were told of one of these dark shapes leaving Mildenhall Air Force Base in Cambridgeshire, England at breakfast time.  It would return around lunchtime, having been to Washington D.C. and back.  It holds the record for the trip across the Unites States in 1 hour, 7 minutes and 54 seconds.  The journey from New York to London was clocked at 1 hour, 54 minutes and 56 seconds.  It had a top speed of over 2,193 m.p.h. but it's thought there was a little in reserve.  It's flying altitude was 85,000 feet.

If a surface to air rocket was launched the standard operating procedure was to accelerate!  It could outrun a bullet.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Poodle Gene

Some time after I bought our first poodle, Whitney, home, I was reminded that this was not my first experience with the breed.  I was sitting in the Champs Elysees in Paris in the early sixties.  Someone brought two black standard Poodles along.  They are the biggest of the breed with miniature, toy and tea-cup following. Standards are about 60 - 80 pounds and are quite large dogs.
Frankie (L) and Johnny (R) Miniatures who weigh about 21 pounds each.

I had forgotten the event until I was reminded, but obviously a connection was made.  At the time I decided I wanted a poodle but with a young man's enthusiasms I forgot about it and perhaps rushed off in pursuit of another goal on my return home.

The other day there was another event.  I spotted a pair of black standard poodles being walked.  Without pause, I got out of the car and went over to the woman in charge:  "Do you mind if I speak to your Poodles?" I asked.  Naturally she understood that there is a compulsion among we poodle owners and she was happy to introduce them.  They were magnificent and very dignified.  I'm sure they understood me and were happy to allow me some time before they were walked off.

On return I mentioned the moment to She Who Must Be Obeyed, but was met with a slightly icy stare and the simple word "No!"  Not that I would want to bring another pair home.  But I do think about it from time to time.  It seems that I have the Poodle Gene for which there is no known cure.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Now I have to say that in the case of animals I'm a bit of a softy.  I'm not fond of snakes, and most creepy crawlies, but most every other creature I enjoy.  And that includes mice.  But like most women, S.W.M.B.O. is not a fan.

We have a vacation/weekend house at the other end of the valley and as such we don't go there too often - maybe every six weeks or so.  This means that when we turn up there has often been evidence of small intruders.

The last time we were over, Madam found a pile of peanuts neatly place under the duvet.  It seems the little chaps had hit on a stash and were moving them in having chosen the site as the best for storage.  She was not amused.  "The mice have to go!"
I have used the same traps for some time, and there has been evidence that the mice have been nibbling at the cheese and peanut butter I use as bait.  Obviously it was time for an upgrade.

I bought four new traps and found them very sensitive; almost impossible to disturb and hard to set, but they have done the job.  We called in the other day and finally found no corpses.  The score over the previous week however had been 11.  Does that qualify as an infestation?  I do hate killing the little fellows though.

Monday, February 21, 2011

England/UK/Great Britain???

People, and that includes a lot of Brits, get confused by the name to call residents from the group of islands to the west of Europe.  This five-minute explanation will help you through the minefield of political correctness involved.  Political correctness does not apply to any native of the UK unless of course, they or their parents happen to be from somewhere else, when they can be extremely touchy.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday's Column - Mount Baldy

The attitude of the Forest Service to my innocent request for information at its visitor's center in Mount Baldy was the subject of a Tirade some weeks ago.  I still find it incredible that these public servants refused to help me with the most basic information and sent me across the road to the "lady who runs the Lodge, she knows everything!"  Mount Baldy is another skiing resort but its runs are more challenging, also they are only accessible from one chair lift which then takes you up to the snow.

Mt Baldy's First Lift to Take You to the Snow

The village is quite small, and the center is dominated by the aforementioned lodge, which is full of roaring log fires, wooden furniture and steaming food; a comfortable place.  It's been several years since I made the trip, and I regret the absense, particularly to the lodge.

MUSIC TRACK - Randy Newman

Having offended all short people many years ago, Newman here lays out his new foreign policy in order to offend the rest of us.  Two and a half minutes of fun, and for those with little sensitivity, maybe an ideal approach to "political science" which is the title of the song.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cabo San Lucas

This place, which is our last port of call has changed beyond recognition. When we used to come here in the mid-eighties, the center of town was mostly dirt roads and donkeys. Today you’ll see Range Rovers and Escolades and other exotic SUV’s. The donkeys are long gone. Too bad in a way.

Ready to Shop!

The harbor, which used to have just a few wooden fishing boats, is now home to some serious gringo gin palaces and sport boats. But with the gringo money has come improvements and plenty of opportunities for refreshment – "Bucket of beer (6) plus Chips and Salsa just $10!" A man could live happily here in “Margaritaville.”

This is the best time of year to visit the tip of the Baja California. The daytime temperature is only up to about 80, whereas in the summer it goes to well over 95, and then it’s humid too.

The ship can’t dock here and has to moor outside and use its lifeboats as tenders to ferry people to and from. But that only adds to the general air of fun. Once ashore you have to pass through the gauntlet of venders all believing that if they can just reach that zenith of performance you will want to join them in their taxis/glass-bottom boats/mystery tours or whatever. To avoid all this you have to develop what I call “dead man’s eyes.” I’ve got it down pretty well, and we were left to stroll around unhindered.

You can't fault the logic, even if you can fault the grammar

The stop in Cabo is always quite short as with 1000 miles to get back to L.A. we have to turn the engines at 2:15 to make it. The captain tells us that it’s due to rain as we get close to our home port!

We have a full day's sailing tomorrow and arrive in at about 7 a.m. on Saturday.

Tonight is another formal night and as always it will be interesting to see some people's ideas of "formal!"  It's pretty varied.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


The Mercado at the docks in Mazatlan - Notice there are no women, they're all inside bargaining.
There is no more pitiful sight than that of a full grown male shuffling behind his wife as she shops in a native bazaar. The poor devil has no idea what he’s there for, or how much the experience is going to cost, or how long it will endure. Young men try and enter into the spirit in an effort to be supportive, but over the years the pure horror of the experience dulls the talents of the most cowed among us.

Unless you are among the very oldest of our clan, there is little you can do to avoid going along in support, dreaming of the day when the shopping bug leaves our partners. It’s a long wait.

As even the toughest cannot escape there are some things you can do to lessen the pain of the experience, and in an effort to help I would like to offer my suggestions.

Firstly, under no circumstances ever make a choice as to the item your lady wishes to purchase. If you choose blue against red, for instance, you will be wrong; either later that day or certainly some time down the road. “I never liked this one, you know, but you wanted me to buy it!” I’m proud to say that I have not fallen for this trap in over 20 years.

Better to ask what she likes about the item and then if that doesn’t make her mind up buy both of them; believe me, compared to the cost of the trip, it’s a bargain.

Secondly, try if possible to stay outside the bargaining area, or as I like to call it,”The killing zone.” It’s not a pretty sight to be in the proximity of one of your brothers, as he is eviscerated in a bout of bargaining that he cannot possibly win. You can’t come to his rescue no matter how pleadingly he looks in your direction. It’s a brutal business.

Notice in the picture that the little man is smiling. He is in that happy state where he sees S.W.M.B.O looking at his wares, and totally ignorant of the pain he is about to feel. And it won’t end there. He has a family at home who will rip him to shreds when they learn that the blue widget he worked so hard to acquire has been let go for a whisker more than he paid for it. Women are ruthless about the fact that his family may not eat again until the next cruise ship calls.

If possible you can suggest that your lady take a wander around and see if she can find the same item elsewhere, and then return to buy it later. That way the final horror can take place while you are enjoying an adult beverage in some local watering hole. You won’t find too many of your kin there, as they will be blundering around in shock as their women make purchases and they fail dismally to show the correct amount of enthusiasm in the whole ghastly business.

I'm afraid that having seen the light of battle in Madam's eyes I did retire to a nearby bar for a Pacifico and two shots of Jose Quervo.  I felt I deserved it!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Puerta Vallarta

Today was our first stop, in Puerta Vallarta.  We could have opted for being crammed into a Mexican van with defective air conditioning, but instead we just went into town - the Malacon, which is the main sea wall and beach.  It's very pleasant.  So rather than regaling you with comments here are some pictures of the place.

Local Residents Enjoying the Beach

Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral

El Malacon

S.W.M.B.O. Beside the Famous "Lovers" statue

Monday, February 14, 2011

Formal Night

Last night was the first formal night on board.  We always look forward to this evening as it makes the ugly people a lot more attractive.  And boy, have we got a crop of ugly ones on board this time.  Now, I'm not suggesting that they be punished for their appearance but if they are that way, I think they owe it to the rest of us to try a little harder.  There is nothing more upsetting than the sight of a 350 pounder in tear-offs and flip-flops pushing a tray around the buffet area, while sweating.  I know a lot of the more sensitive of you are going to think this is unfair, but then I would make the suggestion that life is most definitely unfair.
However it could be a lot better if the ugly ones dressed up a little more.  Perhaps a tax on the entire thing could be arranged so that we could all benefit.

Dressed up Nicely - We hope
We are currently off the coast of Cabo San Lucas; today is an all day at sea day, with our first stop in Puerta Vallarta tomorrow.  She Who Must Be Obeyed is off sampling the many things that are available for the discriminating cruiser: Yoga for the incontinent; Underwater embroidery; African mythology; Line dancing for the insane; Things to do with very sharp knives, and everything else that Princess believes is necessary to enjoy "Your well-deserved cruise!" Which the loudspeakers remind us of. How do they know that?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

It Comes in Threes

Most people who know me know that I have a pretty good sense of direction; it rarely lets me down. However yesterday something went disastrously wrong.  Not only did I end up driving to the wrong docks, but to the wrong city!  S.W.M.B.O. was furious.  I was humbled by my selection of the 710 rather than the 110.  It was not pretty. However we made it across the gigantic Vincent Thomas bridge to the Princess terminal and checked in without a problem.  But that was Steeerike One!

Settling Madam at the bar - picture of it below - I went to the cabin with our carry ons.  It took me about five minutes to realize that room 732 was not going to be located on the odd side of the ship.  Steeerike Two!

As I was about to leave the cabin, I noticed in the full length mirror on the door that a piece of my shirt was sticking out of my zipper!  How long this had been the case I do not know, but there it was, Steeerike Three!

At least for the next week, I'm not likely to get lost, as long as I don't leave the boat!  Otherwise people on the boat better look out for an old fool wandering around with his trousers inappropriately fastened.  Ah me!

My Early Morning Swim - Can't Get Lost in Here!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sunday's Column - Pioneertown

This Sunday's column is about the small township of Pioneertown, CA.  It's a very small place that was originally built by Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and their pals in 1946 to make movies.  Some of the places were just one wall backdrops like the Cantina, which is now Pappy and Harriet's Saloon.  The couple bought the place in the 50's and it's still a popular place for visitors on the weekends.
These big fellows are new additions since I was there about two years ago.  Pioneertown had a big fire come through just before my last visit, and I did wonder if there would still be signs of the damage, but Mother Nature has worked her magic again and there was no sign left.  As well as the saloon there is a small bowling alley, and a motel, which is very reasonable priced.  It's always fun to visit.

Music Track - Conducting

This was sent to me by a friend the other day.  It truly is a lot of fun to watch this little kid.  He's apparantly only three years old.
As a number of the comments underneath say he actually anticipates the music.  The itchy nose unfortunately kicks in at 2:10.

Friday, February 11, 2011

New Sponsor

Happily my lords and masters have agreed to allow their name on my blog.  You will see their logo on the right which links directly to their Web site.  Similarly they have a hot link posted on my columns on the Web site for those followers of the weekly column on-line.

The Sun is part of the Inland Newspapers Group and this group also publishes The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin; Redlands Daily Facts; the San Gabriel Valley Tribune; the Whittier Daily News, and the Pasadena Star-News; I think I come out in all of these, but I'm not sure.

At my age there is nothing more enjoyable than a little mutual "hot linkage" between consenting adults.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The King's Speech

Of course as a former Brit I was bound to see this movie as soon as I could.  Not just that but also because the time frame is just out of range of my memory.  I lived through the final scenes of the movie, but at only two weeks old I have no recollection of the actual event of the King's most important broadcast speech at the start of the war.  I have heard the recordings of course, but that's not the same.

I also remember the recording of Edward VIII abdicating the throne as he "...cannot carry the heavy burden without the support of the woman I love."  Words that drove my father crazy and many of his generation, who had a very high opinion of the previous Prince of Wales.  If you ever read the letters between Wallis and David (the Prince's given name) you would not be too impressed by him.  A very weak man and certainly not anyone to lead a country into war.  However he had his face on a number of the coins in our pockets, as he was in fact the king for almost a year; though never crowned.

I remember King George VI very well; he died when I was 13.  On that sad day I was very moved by the atmosphere of mourning that descended on the entire realm.  But we got Elizabeth II and she has been a remarkable monarch throughout her long reign of 59 years.  Oh yes, I know you Americans don't see why we continue with such an anachronistic institution, but if it was ended, what then?  At least with a monarchy every politician knows that the top job is taken.

As for the film, it was extremely good and even if you're an anti-monarchist it's well worth watching if only for the two leading roles.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Pantry

I recently found myself in that famous Los Angeles landmark - The Pantry.  It's been in continuous operation since 1924.  "Never closed and never without a customer" is their slogan.  It's an interesting place, and as I was sitting there I realized it had been a long time since my last visit.  Eventually I remembered the occasion in detail as it was rather important.
Always a Wait at The Pantry
On that day in September 1992, we began early.  We rode the Harley FXRS down to the center of Los Angeles.  We had some time on our hands so we walked up Figeroa and had some breakfast at The Pantry.  Afterwards we went back to the Convention Center, and along with some 14,000 others that day we became American Citizens.  We rode into town subjects of Her Majesty and returned Americans with little stars and stripes flying from our sissy bar. 

This last occasion was nowhere near so momentous but the bacon and eggs were still as good.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Words of Wisdom

This was sent to me the other day.  It seems that we haven't learned a lot since this was said about 150 years ago.

You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.

You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.

You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.

You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.

You cannot build character and courage by taking away men's initiative and independence.

You cannot help men permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.

Abraham Lincoln

Monday, February 7, 2011


I've always been rather interested in Evita.  I know, I know she was a despot and stole as much money from the Argentinian people as she could; but she was a very glamorous woman for all that.  Recently I went on an assignment to a large motor car museum.  As I was wandering around I found this wonderful car.

It is a 1939 Packard Super Eight Phaeton, which  was used by the Perons.  It was in fact the last car that the joint dictatoress was to ride in.

The cost of the vehicle was a staggering $10,000 when it was built and that represents about twenty years salary for the average American of the time and probably about 50 years for an Argentinian.

While I was looking at the car I couldn't resist taking one more photo.  It could be entitled: The Last Place the Peronista Posterior was to be Placed in the Packard Phaeton.

Eva's Seat for all Posterity

The shipping magnate, Aristotle Onassis, used to tell the story that when he visited the Perons in Buena Aires, Evita tapped him up for a donation to one of her foundations.  Most of the money ended up in her bank account in Switzerland, of course.  But to sweeten the pot she suggested he stay overnight with her, and she would cook him breakfast in the morning.  Ari later recalled that the overnight didn't amount to much in his opinion, but as he got his checkboook out after the promised breakfast he realized: "They were the most expensive damned eggs I'd ever eaten!"

The Daily

Rupert Murdock has just launched his new idea of an electronic newspaper - The Daily.  I'm intrigued to see how it goes, although not being an iPad user I can't sample it myself.  It seems the entire venture rests on the premise that people are prepared to pay about $1 a week to receive this paper automatically downloaded overnight to their machine.

I've used an iPad and found it a terrific machine, but I haven't as yet been able to justify buying one.  It seems to fall between an iPhone and a laptop.  I've got both of those and also the big machine, the desktop on which I do most of my writing.  I can't see how an iPad is going to improve my situation any more as on my iPhone I can receive news updates, emails, Facebook and the other necessities for day-to-day living.  Perhaps Mr. Murdoch will let this new paper come to us in-betweeners and download The Daily to an iPhone.  Time is going to tell on this one.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday's Column - Fire Museum

Sunday's column has been about a small but interesting musuem devoted to the work of the California Forestry Fire Service.  These types of museums often start out with one man's interest in the subject, and in this case the man is Jerry Glover.  He worked for the service until retirement and now oversees the many artifacts that come to him at the museum's premises in San Bernardino.

The service had a fitful start in 1887, and it was not until 1905 that things began in earnest.

I was a little confused as to the role of this particular department;  let's face it a fire truck is a fire truck.

But the CDF looks after the fires that begin outside the city and town boundaries.

They also assist in urban flare ups as well and are always on call for this.

This picture is the memorial wall at the musuem.  It is one of many things you can see if you visit them on their open day, which is every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Museum
3800 Sierra Way
San Bernardino, CA 92405
(909) 881-6984

Music Track - Mendelssohn

My father was particularly fond of Mendlessohn and used to play (and struggle with) a number of his Songs Withough Words.  This is one played by Daniel Barenboim, who I don't think has ever turned in a poor performance in his life.  It's opus 105, number 2.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


On the 12th we are disappearing again for another week's cruise.  I say "again" as we tend to do this when we can.  Originally I was very resistant to the idea, having seen people wandering around off these big ships looking miserable and somewhat lost.
Big Ship Plus a Small Woman with a Mexican Suitcase
However, She Who Must Be Obeyed rather put her foot down some ten years ago and insisted I stop being silly.  Once on board one of these huge vessels, I was hooked, and now we go away most years.

This time the ship is the Sapphire Princess, a sister ship of the one on the left.  It's 116,000 tons and its 900 crew can comfortably cater to 2000 passengers.

Imagine a large hotel with all the facilities you could wish for, and then let it float around on the ocean, with occasional stops to buy junk, and that's a cruise, if you've never been on one. If you want peace and quiet then there are plenty of places to escape on board. If you want good food then there's lots of that and as much as you could possibly want.  However, some people come aboard with the intention of being offloaded as freight.  Frightening!  I'll keep you in touch as we progress into the province of the drug cartels!

Friday, February 4, 2011


What is going on in Egypt is truly scary.  I had the experience of being in Tehran in 1979 about three weeks before the Shah was deposed.  No one believed he could be thrown out, as he was supposed to be the strong man of the Middle East.

As it happened he went and the black clothed cleric arrived from Paris to take over.  I had friends out there and they reported that the first thing that happened was the invasion of western hotels, where the bars were broken into and the booze taken out and poured into the wide ditches (jubes) that ran down both sides of the streets.  Up until then Tehran was a pretty wonderful place with an open society and attractive women everywhere.

If the riots in Tunisia, Jordan and Egypt allow the mullahs to take over this great swathe of land then we'll be looking at another Caliphate from Afghanistan to the edge of the Mediterranean across from Gibraltar.  Happy Days!

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I found my recent visit to Frank Sinatra's house in Palm Springs quite a moving experience.  It was the place where he courted and finally married Ava Gardner.  What a titanic relationship that was.

Here they are in one of their happier moments;  I think they only had a few.  Most of the time they were fighting.  I was too young to remember the many episodes where they were in the news, but by the time I was paying attention they were already divorced and going their separate ways.

She went on to live by herself in London, suffering from emphysema, he to marry a couple more times - Mia Farrow and then finally Barbara Marx with whom he stuck.  It has been said that he never totally recovered from his time with Ava, and carried a torch for her until he died in 1998.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Six Degrees

Some years ago I saw the very successful play Six Degrees of Separation, by John Guare.  The concept of the title is that no matter how lowly or how important you are in the world you can be linked with anyone in six degrees (or moves) or less.

Recently I went to look around the Frank Sinatra house in Palm Springs.  It was a most interesting assignment and these six degrees came to mind.  I will be posting some other reflections on the visit which was for my weekly column, but while I was waiting outside the house to meet my contact I thought about my link to the original owner, long since dead in 1998.

He had a very stormy relationship, and an even more difficult marriage to Ava Gardner.  Some say he never totally recovered.  But when it ended in 1954, Ava went for some rest and relaxation to a mutual friend Ernest Hemingway. It was he who introduced her to Spain's most famous bullfighter, Luis Miguel Dominguin.
Gardner fell deeply in love with the man, although later she said: "It was a sort of madness, honey."

Now here's where the links begin.  In the mid-seventies we decided to spread our company to Spain and in order to do that we had to have an English-speaking agent, who could find us a partner.  And that's when we met and did business with one, Pedro Rodriguez Mombru.  He had for many years been the business manager of the aforementioned Dominguin.  So Mombru - Dominguin - Gardner - Sinatra.  Check mate in four moves!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


The other day I went past the shop where I bought my tuxedo.  We go on a number of cruises and it's nice to be able to wear the uniform on the formal nights that are regularly held.  I'd put the moment off long enough and frankly the investment wasn't that much. 

When it came time to pay, the lady in charge reminded me that there were other items that had to go along with the jacket and trousers.  She showed me several formal shirts, shoes, and of course bowties and cummerbunds.  I was reaching for a tie/cummerbund set when I heard my father's voice reminding me: "Trevor, only waiters wear made-up bow ties!"  He had a bit of a thing about it.

Now he was a fairly simple fellow but he'd spent a lot of his early life as a junior officer on board ships that ferried people out to various parts of the Empire, and dress codes were rigid.  Hence his obsession with bow ties.

As a sop to his morality I purchased, along with the aforementioned set, a real bow tie, and later on I tried to tie it.  I had been quite proficient at the art in my late teens when dinner dances were all the rage, but now it seems the skill had left me.  I struggled with the wretched thing for about twenty minutes as it twisted and turned on me, before finally flinging it into the recesses of the garment bag.

We are about to take off on another cruise and once again as I dress for the first formal night I will look at the beastly black double ended thing and reject it.  I shall stubbornly hook up the bane of my father's life and head out the door.  Once again I know the feeling of guilt will only last until the first sip of pre-dinner cocktail has passed my lips.  And I have to say that no-one has ever called me over to order food or complain about the olive in their Martini!