A naming ceremony and a goodbye meal – first published 13 June 2013

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Mid June 2013 and there was high excitement in the office about the naming of the huge new Royal Princess ship by a real Royal princess, especially as our boss was going to be there. There was also sadness as this was the last day we’d be working with Gail. She’d decided to accept a job in the new office up in the frozen north rather than redundancy and this was her last day. All in all it was a strange roller coaster kind of day half lovely, half prickles a bit like the first thistle of the year on my lunchtime walk.

13 June 2013

Last night I was incredibly tired. What with the getting up an hour early and then getting home late, I felt drained. If only I was still working three day weeks I could have had a nice little lie in this morning but as it was I had to pry myself from my lovely comfy bed when the alarm went off. Why are songs on the radio first thing in the morning always so blasted cheerful? There is nothing to be cheerful about when the alarm goes off at six o’clock in the morning!

When I left the house, not only was it blowing a hoolie, it was spitting with rain too. The first part of my Big Bridge walks leads towards the bus stop right at the point where the path divides, as I was wavering and trying to decide whether to go left and walk or go right and catch the bus, my phone buzzed. It was Gigi, texting to ask if I’d left yet. So that was that, I was walking. I stopped and waited for her to catch up.

We didn’t get blown over the bridge. We did, however, get very cold and windblown. In fact, when I got down to the gym this morning, Commando was looking suspiciously at the radiator because it had come on, triggered by the cold. That really shouldn’t be happening half way through June. I shall miss these walks to work with Gigi when she leaves, even if they do mean I don’t stop to take photos.

I was starving by eleven and it was hard to force myself to hold on until midday before I ate my wrap. Just as I was about to finally tuck in my phone rang. It was the accounts department querying an invoice I’d sent over. The invoice in question was from one of the lounge bands, the Tuxedo Players.
“Is the amount right on this invoice?” the accounts guy asked.
“Of course it’s right,” I said “I checked it myself.”
“Isn’t that rather a lot to pay for hiring dinner jackets?”
“Perhaps you should read the whole invoice,” I suggested, unable to keep the sarcasm from my voice. “They are a lounge band. Tuxedo Players is just their name.”
Honestly I sometimes wonder about the quality of some of our staff! Still it did give me a laugh.

The Royal Princess had her naming ceremony today and we all dashed to the window to have a look. There was nothing to see. No official limousines pulling up, no cheering crowds. It was a total anti-climax even though we knew our CEO was there somewhere. Alice explained that all the exciting stuff was going on behind the terminal building.
“You see that little white awning thing right at the back,” she said. “That’s where it’s all happening.”
Apparently she used to be in charge of constructing them in a previous incarnation for another cruise company.

Feeling rather cheated, we all toddled back to our desks. Then someone found live film of the whole thing on line so we all gathered around and had a look. We even saw the owner of Silver Helm although we didn’t see our CEO. The Duchess of Cambridge looked cold sitting around waiting while the singers did their bit and people waffled on. Natasha Bedingfield appeared to be wearing a high vis jacket instead of a skirt which struck me as quite strange, maybe she was so cold she borrowed it from one of the security guards. Personally I’d have put it on rather than wrap it round my legs leaving my midriff bare but still.

Photo from my friend JE who was there organising it all
Photo from my friend JE who was there organising it all

None of us envied the Duchess having to climb up on the stage to actually name the ship. I hope she had her thermal underwear on because the wind whistling around on that platform must have been icy and her coat was getting blown all over the place. At least the bottle smashed which is always good news, there is so much superstition around ships and a bottle of champagne that doesn’t smash is the worst of omens.

Photo from my friend JE who was there organising it all
Photo from my friend JE who was there organising it all

At lunch time I popped around the corner to get a take away coffee and another stamp on my free coffee card. Six more and I get a free coffee. As I always say, it’s the little things that make me smile and free coffee tastes better somehow. Besides its a nice little coffee shop and cheaper than Costa or Pret. They’re very friendly too which makes all the difference. On my way back I spotted my first thistle flower of the year. For a weed they’re incredibly beautiful, from the top like purple star bursts, from the side like pompoms on a child’s hat.

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Howard had gone off to our old Head Office this morning to scavenge some of the old printers and things before they got thrown in skips. This was a source of great excitement to me as I had bagsied a filing cabinet. Yes I know, I need to get out more, but all I have at the moment is one drawer stuffed to the gills with archive stuff and such a mess I can’t find anything anyway. When he came back with my filing cabinet I was beside myself. We all had to carry some of the boxes up the stairs from the lift as it stops the floor below ours. Poor Howard had to get the printers and the filing cabinet up the stairs on a sack truck. He gets all the best jobs.

Alice was reading the report of the launch while we were waiting for everyone to finish up so we could go off the Pizza Express for Gail’s leaving meal. Apparently the bottle of champagne used to launch the ship this morning was the equivalent of twenty, count them, normal bottles of champagne and cost over one thousand pounds. I don’t really drink but I do like a glass or five of champagne when I can get it and, personally, I think that’s a criminal waste of champagne. They could have just used a bottle of cheap £13.99 supermarket champers or better still, why couldn’t they fill a bottle with fizzy water? Who’d know?

After a damp, cold windy day the sun finally decided to come out just as we left the office. We walked down to Oxford Street in dazzling sunshine. Because Anika was stuck on a phone call we popped into White Star for pre dinner drinks. It’s an old seaman’s hotel now an upmarket restaurant, bar and small hotel named after the White Star Line, most famous for the Titanic. It was too nice to sit inside so we sat at one of the tables on the street watching the passing people traffic and chatting about all the changes at work.

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At the Mad House there was quite a bit of after work going out with the team. I think that was how we all got so close. As I sat sipping my diet coke with all the work chat going on around me it reminded me of those days. Suddenly we were a group of friends rather than work colleagues. Such a shame that Gail is leaving tomorrow and Gigi will be following her soon, even if Gail is going to the new head office so we will still see her on turnaround days and Gigi and I will still see each other because we live so close together.

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Pizza express is not somewhere I normally go and I was a bit worried about the calorie count. Turns out they have a really good light menu. I ordered a light Gorgonzola pizza not really knowing what to expect. It was brilliant, the pizza was ultra thin crust with the centre cut out, a bit like a doughnut, and a lovely green salad right there where the middle would normally be. The salad was so tasty, mainly rocket and some Parmesan shavings with a little side bowl of cherry tomatoes and some kind of dressing. Heavenly. Normally I can’t eat a whole one person pizza and end up feeling a bit guilty about all the waste. This was exactly the right amount.

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When they bought the desert menu round I was going to decline and just have a coffee. Really I was! The I saw they have a special light desert menu quite unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. Each desert was a mini portion of a normal desert with a coffee. It was so cute I should have taken a photo but I forgot. I chose a chocolate and coffee torte, well I couldn’t really not could I? Coffee and chocolate together, my ideal combination. It was a tiny portion but so rich and tasty. The coffee was pretty good too. Pizza express is on my list of favourite eating places from now on!

We left at about nine and, as it was still light, Gigi, Gail and I decided to walk home over the New Bridge and up the rough the woodland path. A lovely walk to round off a great evening. As Gigi and I turned into the top of The Crescent she checked her Nike Fuel Band and said we’d burned one thousand two hundred calories today with our walking, seeing as we’d both walked the same distance. At least that burnt off any extra calories from the meal. Think I may have to get one of those Nike Fuel Bands, they seem like a good idea.

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Right now I’m listening to all the fireworks going off wafting over from the docks where the naming ceremony is coming to a close. Sadly I can’t actually see any fireworks but they’re certainly loud enough. CJ says it sounds like war has broken out. Maybe we should have stayed in town a bit longer and stood on the old walls to watch them.

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Marie

Writer, walker, coffee drinker, chocolate eater, lover of nature, history and the little things that make me smile

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