15 Oct 64 : Sailing to America : RMS Queen Elizabeth 

Cherbourg, France
Thursday morning 15th Oct. 1964

Dear Mum, Dad, and Nigel

Well, another surprise letter, we were told we can send letters ashore at Cherbourg, so here we are. We are at present speeding towards France, and we have just had our lifeboat drill. We all have life jackets in our cabins and we had to muster a lifeboat number 3 on the promenade deck.

It was very amusing to see everyone wandering around in these things, but I felt sorry for some of the little old ladies, some of whom looked worried to death. In our boat we have a real ‘Andy Capp’ type, who I’m sure will be the one to start us all singing and doing physical jerks should the ship sink. Honestly though it doesn’t seem a bit like a ship, but more like a floating hotel.

I didn’t sleep very well as our cabin is very hot, but since we have been on the move it has cooled down a bit. We awoke at 7.30 and dressed and went up on deck (thinking we would still be edging out of dock in Southampton) and we were amazed to find that we were passing the Isle of Wight. I went out on deck and it was very eerie to be gliding silently through a blanket of fog which covered the sea.

I got chatting to a woman who lives on the Isle of White. She is getting off at Cherbourg and going to Cannes and Paris for a week and then returning on the Queen Mary, for £31-10 ALL IN.

The ship is beginning to roll a bit now and occasionally I feel a bit dizzy, but I should be OK. Apparently you can get injections now for seasickness from the ships Doctor which work 100%.

Actually we are not quite so impressed as we thought we would be with the ship. The thing I dislike most is the fantastic class distinction between First, Cabin and Tourist classes. For instance last night we were in a lift in the First Class section (last night only, the whole ship was open to all classes, today we have to stick to our own sections) and I asked the lift attendant where the tourist class dances were held.

He looked shocked and actually said: “Christ Almighty, how should I know, I’m First Class”, whereupon I got very annoyed and told him that I imagined as he worked on board, he ought to know…his reply to this was that he had been on the Q E* for 16 years, and had never been to the tourist section.                    <NOTE: The Queen Elizabeth>

So, we decided to look smart and confident, and last night walked into the First Class cinema, which is like the Theatre Royal, and watched a film, and intend to continue to do so too!!! It’s amazing what bluff will do. Breakfast was very good, with more or less anything you want it seems.

Things seem to be a bit chaotic because there are loads of people only going to Cherbourg, but at lunchtime we have our own table for the rest of the trip.
We can’t stand the Americans, which is silly, considering we are going there.

<NOTE: We would eventually fall in love with the American people. But clearly not yet!> 

A woman sitting opposite us at breakfast had griddled flapjacks and poured about a pint of maple syrup over them, which almost made me feel sick. And they keep asking us to pass the cream, and we say “oh, you mean the milk, do you?” Their manners are atrocious at the table, and only use their forks to stab their food with.

The clocks are put back an hour each day starting tonight (Thursday) so in effect we get a 25-hour day each day. I have just looked out of a porthole and France is there so I must dash out and post this.

No more news until New York, so cheerio, and look after yourselves.

All my love,  Tony  XX 


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