It’s so perishing cold here, and foggy outside – probably coming of the sea, that my mind seems somewhat frozen. Lacking in inspiration but nothing daunted I am going to do a word puzzle, an Octordle, and whatever eight words are in the solution, I’ll use them in a story! In case you haven’t come across these puzzles before, they are similar to Wordle except you have to find eight words. If you haven’t come across Wordle, it’s a puzzle where you have to guess a five letter word in six goes – with each try it shows whether you have a correct letter in a correct place, a correct letter in the wrong place, or no correct letters at all. It sounds more tricky than it is but if you like words and you like word games, you might enjoy it! Off to do my puzzle, back in a moment…
I hadn’t wanted to go on a cruise, but for various reasons, on a cruise I was. Our ship was not heading to the sun, no Mediterranean warmth and splashing in a pool on the upper deck, no this cruise was heading north. Norway Fjord Cruising was taking us up as far as the Arctic Circle, and then bringing us back home again. To be honest I hadn’t wanted to come, and in fact I was quite childish in expressing it – I wasn’t just unenthusiastic, I was whiny and pathetic. In the end I gave myself a good talking to, told myself to grow up, and since my step-sister Viola was being so generous (in an irritatingly patronising way) I should enter into the adventure – as she described it, and go on the damned cruise.
It was a very luxurious and exclusive cruise, in actual fact, and we had a cabin with a window from which we would be able to view the splendours of coastal Norway if the weather was inclement and we didn’t want to be in the comfortable and rather posh lounge. I’d hoped we would dine on a table for two – not that I’m anti-social – actually, ok, yes I am very antisocial, but on the first evening we were joined by a couple, Dr and Mrs Sower, and two brothers, James and Martin Martin. Yes, it’s true, poor Mr Martin the elder had been named Martin by his parents. Everyone was very pleasant, and I was polite, but I quite quickly formed the idea that all three men, despite Dr Sower having Mrs Sower beside him, were very interested in Viola. I had up front said I was engaged and looking forward to getting married when we got back from this holiday. Total fiction, but I had no interest in a ship-board romance.
After dinner I had an early night, and left Viola with our table mates. She came back to the cabin clearly having enjoyed a cocktail or two and insisted on telling me all about our new acquaintances, except for Mrs Sower who had gone back to her cabin soon after me with a headache and toothache. Her husband should be able to attend to one of her problems, I told Viola.
“Oooh, I wouldn’t mind him attending to me!” she exclaimed. I tried not to sigh. So typical of Viola, three blokes, one married, and he’s the one she has to fall for. “But Julian’s so handsome, so suave…”
“So sophisticated,” I interrupted, and of course she agreed with me as if she didn’t think I was being sarcastic. Dr Sower had seemed a bit too charming to me, and his wife, Cecily definitely seemed bored by him – unless like me, she was on this cruise under sufferance. And why was he Dr Sower? Dentists are Mr – but I held back on mentioning it to her.
To be honest, I did find myself enjoying the stunning scenery, and on a trip ashore I went on the guided walk which was very interesting and we stopped at a bar and had a couple of expensive drinks after which I enjoyed the walk even more. Martin Martin had joined the group and he told me to call him Rob, and went on to say he was thinking of having his ridiculous name changed officially, and maybe even his surname too. He worked in a town planning department but was writing a novel – and of course, that interested me as I was trying to do the same.
At dinner Rob and I talked about writing and our novels, mine a Gothic mystery, his about a man escaping a triad he’d inadvertently betrayed to a rival gang. I told him honestly that it wasn’t my sort of novel, but if it was ever published I would buy it and read it! He said ditto. Dr Sower’s wife Cecily hadn’t reappeared, leaving him free to chat up Viola. I pointedly asked after her; toothache still troubling her, a molar playing up he said. Viola gave me a severe look and I turned back to Rob to continue our conversation about writing and the difficulties of finding an agent and publisher. His brother James sat silent, looking bored – I sympathised and was thankful Rob was interesting.
The trip in fact wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated, and I thanked Viola sincerely and said I was sorry I’d been so grumpy and unenthusiastic beforehand. She made some silly remarks about a shipboard romance and I was about to say something because although Rob was a nice guy and we’d had a pleasant time, there was nothing more to it… but then I noticed Viola was blushing and looking across the lounge at Dr Sower.
It was the last opportunity to buy souvenirs and I picked up some little pewter troll type figures and a couple of rosemaling platters – that traditional decorative painting. Viola of course, because she’s wealthy bought a mountain of things, rugs, wall-hangings, costumes, and I stood clutching my plastic bag and a Norwegian flag, and wearing my souvenir bobble hat, watching her things being packed into a small crate.
Dr Sower was on hand to help her and I pointedly asked if Cecily had bought any mementos of the holiday. I was pretty sure she hadn’t because I’d not seen her looking round the souvenir shops. He said she might pick some up at the airport – she had decided to fly home rather than endure any more time on the ship. Life is so easy for the wealthy, isn’t it? To be honest she’d spent most of her time in their cabin, in fact she hadn’t joined us for dinner after the second evening, when she’d disappeared early again to take her troublesome molar to bed.
In fact I hadn’t seen her since then, only Dr Sower who spent most of his time chatting up Viola as far as I could tell. To be fair, I’d spent most of my time with Rob and Jamie and the three of us had gone on all the expeditions and on-shore trips, and joined in the quizzes and other activities on the ship.
Back in Blighty, as we said goodbye to each other, I asked them when they had last seen Cecilia. They looked blank, they couldn’t remember either.
“Something for you two scribblers to write about!” Jamie said cheerfully and gave me a hug.
So here I am, writing about the cruise, and I’ll WhatsApp it to Rob, and then I might message Viola, she’s supposed to be meeting the Sowers in London somewhere, apparently, so she said…
These are the random words from the puzzle which I’ve used in my story, in alphabetical order: crate, fjord, molar, sower, suave, triad, viola, whiny,