1968: WEEK 13

1968: WEEK 13

Postcard of the interior of the Blue Mosque, Istanbul

Postcard of the interior of the Blue Mosque, Istanbul

Monday, 25 March

We had a fab young guide this time.

First went to the Blue Mosque - it's INCREDIBLE! There are beautiful blue-tiled domes and four large columns which means that most of the mosque is open, and you take your shoes off as there are rich carpets all over the floor. They never have weddings in there as marriage is not considered a religious ceremony, unlike in England - jolly sensible. Then went to St Sophia, one of the seven wonders of the world. At the wishing-place I stuck my finger in, turned my hand, and wished for a happy marriage!

Next we went to Topkapi, the Sultan's palace. I've never seen so many precious stones in my life - emeralds, rubies, diamonds and pearls stuck into everything. Mostly pretty gaudy but fantastically rich and fabulous. Saw beautifully preserved clothes four centuries old; the little boys' leather boots could have been made yesterday. Drove back to the ship - Istanbul is very shabby indeed! The men all look alike: black hair and moustaches. Some of the women still wear funny trousers and I saw one with a yashmak. The traffic is a bit chaotic and half of the cars are taxis; they have black and yellow tape stuck on them.

For our afternoon shopping we went in small groups with a guide, a sweet little 12-year-old called Sam. He was hopeless. We wasted ages walking up and down trying to find furry sheepskin waistcoats etc, and it was terrible because of the men, in fact, it was terrifying and worse than Venice. I didn't dare move five feet from the others for fear of a dirty old Turk's hand going up my skirt. At one point we were addressed as "Eeenglish chickens"!!! In Italy in comparison you feel like a queen.

We never found anything we wanted and ended up frustrated and miserable. The cobble streets and the crazy traffic didn't help either. What was so ridiculous was, we had one hour. It was Mrs Potton's fault. She get's in such a flap she doesn't know whether she's coming or going.

We hung around like a flock of sheep surrounded by the leering and sneering Turks. At last we were able to go back to the bazaar. This little Turkish bloke came up, he looked a bit teddy-boyish but turned out to be terribly helpful. I bought a five-litre box of Turkish Delight! I don't like it but I can't stop eating it! We hung around waiting for Mrs Rutherford and wasted another hour. It was so pathetic, and we got cold.

Back on the ship had dinner with some Turks; one is the son of a famous film actor. Went to the Turkish folk dancing and who should be sitting in front of us but Jeremy and that lucky girl. Later Jill and Claire got off with some Turks at the Dance in the rec. room. It was horribly hot. I sat with Pat, drank a coke and felt miserish. Then suddenly, Jeremy came up to me!!! He asked what time the Dance had ended. I told him, and the conversation moreorless ended. He went to the record player and didn't come back. I went over to ask them to play 'Try a Little Tenderness,' but he didn't join me. Nor did Patrick or the tall boy, both sitting nearby.

I felt so frustrated I tried to burst into tears and I did. 

Tuesday, 26 March

View of Istanbul from SS Navasa

View of Istanbul from SS Navasa

Unguided shopping in the morning. I got a Polnareff-style sheepskin waistcoat lined with shaggy black wool - £3! I brought it down from £5 by walking out of the shop. Lucy bought a huge sheepskin coat. We also bought big silver puzzle rings. I didn't like that shop very much as it was pokey and there were two sexy young men in there. When we went, they kissed us and the good-looking one tried on my lips - which I just avoided. 

Went on a coach tour to the Bosphoros. None of us wanted to go, the weather was foul, but I'm glad I did. We visited the most marvellous C15th castle with ramparts - built in three months!!! Such a pity the weather was disgusting. Then we went to a cafe where we had a Turkish tea and coffee, Turkish Delights and a funny rice-papery thing. 

Gorgeous cold supper. Wore cords, blouse and scarf round neck - makes me feel fably hippyish. Sat in games room and spent ages writing Diary. Jeremy is sitting with all the other fab ones by the gramophone; they're playing soul. It's fantastic. I so feel like dancing. He's devoted to the girl; he hasn't even looked at me.

Oh god, I am FRUSTRATED FRUSTRATED FRUSTRATED. It's the Reigate Grammar collection. Claire says if this was Victorian times they'd be in fun-fairs, they're so spastic. I have never met such a moronic crowd of MORONS, ever. Otis Redding was on and the one who looks like a mangled cat said, "I can't understand this music myself..." Jill and me lay our heads on the table and practically burst. They are not only generations but civilisations apart. And there was Jeremy a few yards away, tapping on the floor to this fantastic music.

At least we can kill ourselves over them in the dormitory every night.

Wednesday, 27 March

One year ago today I saw Dutronc for the very first time. I almost feel like crying.

I felt so tired today, in lessons I just fell asleep. Later I went up on deck where it was really windy and did a sketch. It was lovely sitting up there all alone. 

Our sheepskin coats were sprayed for fleas!

There was a conference on education. Unfortunately the Mangled Cat was there. One interesting point was about raising the school age to 16: when it was raised from 14 to 15 there was great resentment too. Just look where we'd be without it now. Supper was fab (baked beans and chips) because the ship was swaying around and fantastic music was played. Then saw Casino Royale. A skit on James Bond is a good idea but they might have made it funny - Jill and me walked out. Just in time for late night supper; I had three fantastic rock cakes with currants in them.

Went to the games room. Jeremy was by the gramophone. When 'Try a Little Tenderness' came on we sat down and closed our eyes but he couldn't see us. We asked them to play 'Dock of the Bay' but they didn't. Miserable, we were just about the leave when suddenly, I don't know why, I turned round to J and said, "you didn't play us Dock of the Bay." "I'm sorry," he said, "there wasn't time. I'll play it tomorrow, specially for you." Oh, he is so sweet. That lucky, lucky girlfriend, going around all the time with him, holding his hand.

Thursday, 28 March

Heavenly weather all day; in the morning we lay up on the deck.

Had swimming, it was compulsory. Huge waves in the pool but we weren't allowed to have showers, so I felt sticky and foul with salt. Had a visual quiz and two films on Italy.

In the afternoon Lucy and me went up to get the last few hours of sun. Jeremy and Stripy Girl were sitting further along. Then he came up to chat! "Why haven't you got a coat on?" he said to me. What he meant was, it was funny to see me dressed up in a scarf while other people were sun-bathing. It's sweet the way he comes up and chats to people.

It was so beautiful when it got dark - Jill, Claire, Pat and me strolled up and down the decks looking at Italy and Sicily on either side. All that's missing is a boy. It makes me want to cry, being in such a romantic place without someone to share it. Went to the Dance on the deck and a corny boy asked me to dance. I didn't like him but he took the hint. Suddenly there was a dreadful scream, this girl charged through us and fell screaming on the deck. Later we heard she's got a migraine. I feel so sorry for her. 

Fantastic hot-cross buns at late supper, and at 9.30 we passed the Stromboli. Everyone crowded the decks to see if it glowed - it did, twice! Saw J and Stripy Girl dancing extremely close.

Oh dear, it's so hilarious, Jill is teasing Sally H like mad about her 'boyfriend', saying she saw them snogging in the corridor, and that the bed was tousled. And all poor Sally can say is, "now, look here..."!!!

Friday, 29 March

Lucy at Pompeii

Lucy at Pompeii

Poor, poor Jackie, she's got a temperature of 103 and has had to go into hospital. What a ghastly thing to happen on a cruise.

Coach to Pompeii. Super drive in the hot sun. Millions of fruit trees in blossom, and long, long green grass with buttercups. Pompeii lived up to all expectations - it was 20 times better than the Acropolis! The city was destroyed in 6BC by the eruption of Vesuvius, and none of it was discovered till the C18th. It was buried under 30 feet of ashes so everything was beautifully preserved. You can see all the streets and the shops divided by brick walls, and the rooms in the houses, the temples, the forum, the drainage system, everything! But it was the tiny details that made it so fascinating: the tracks in the streets from the carts, the holes in the stone where the horses were tied up, the ovens where the bread was baked, the stones across the streets which served as zebra crossings when it rained. Instead of wallpaper they painted pictures on the walls, and had sweet little gardens in courtyards. It was  perfectly wonderful.

We drove into Naples but the traffic was impossible. One chap in a mini gave me a few flirty looks while we were in a traffic jam!

All found letters from home on our beds when we got back - gorgeous. I immediately wrote a large postcard back.

We went off to Vesuvius, up a very long, zig-zaggy road. There was a cafe at the top where we got gorgeous nutty ices. Six Italian snazzies looked up our skirts as we climbed the steps, and generally flirted around! Then we got a chair lift up to the top. Super view, only it was hazy because of the sun. Everything is a crumbling reddy-brown. The crater is absolutely vast. We got to a bit where some smoke was coming out; if you put your hand in it, it came out covered with vapour. Then the guide told us to shout out 'hello', which we did, and two seconds later the echo came back - it was fascinating. 

The ship left Naples at 8 and was nearly as dramatic as leaving Venice with the old 'Rule Britannia' blaring away! At 9.15 I went to have a shower. It was the worst one I've ever had. I couldn't get near the water it was so bloody cold. 

Saturday, 30 March

"Jeremy and his fabulous dormitory (Dave, Fred, that lot) did quite well." Jeremy is exerting himself in a pale grey jumper

"Jeremy and his fabulous dormitory (Dave, Fred, that lot) did quite well." Jeremy is exerting himself in a pale grey jumper

When we were playing ping-pong, or supposed to be playing ping-pong, I listened in to the conversation between Penny and Judith about sex and whether Judith should sleep with Tony etc, etc. It makes me realise how sexually immature I am. Lecture on Gibraltar; the speaker was very good but he was an unpleasant man.

Claire has had a marvellous idea for April Fool's Day, we'll put up a fake menu: smoked salmon for lunch, chicken and chive soufflé for supper! And to sound convincing, pretend it's the captain's birthday! Sunbathed after lunch; it was heaven. Then we realised the tug-of-war was on. We missed some of it but ended up in the finals! Jeremy and his fabulous dormitory (Dave, Fred, that lot) did quite well. 

Changed into linen trousers and Bentalls' blouse for supper. Wandered round the decks with Claire and Jo. Passionate couples scattered everywhere. I'm so envious of them.

Had two chocolate-covered rolls for late night supper. Very greedy but not compared to the boys opposite who went back four times. Sixth Form Club: listened to marvellous records like Otis and Chris Farlowe and 'grooved' to them. J did too. He looked so gorgeous sitting on the floor absorbed in the music.

Had rather a nice evening. I felt lively and rather confident of myself. Sounds a bit mental, but it's difficult to describe.

Sunday, 31 March

Found it very difficult to get up at 7. It isn't the early hours that depress me but the the amount of food that I'm consuming. I dread getting fat. I'm sure my tummy is getting flabbier all the time.

Played Cluedo in the rec room. Honestly, who should win the camera in the raffle but GARETH! He's now got three with him. I bloody well feel like chucking him overboard.

6th Form Conference on religion. I do like the vicar, he's so terribly nice, but the canon and the nun absolutely get me. Later we decided on our fancy dress - seven of us are going as the Monday's Child nursery rhyme. I'm Wednesday's child, "full of woe" - I'll wear my black dress and a black net, and I'll have tears painted down my face. Had supper with three Reigate boys - the nice ones. One was the chap with slightly fuzzyish hair who I like. Buns at late night supper, yum yum.

Then Jill, Ruth and me went along to the ship's office to get our menu typed! That sweet little one with glasses was terribly nice and did it for us. It looks fantastic. Longing to see people's reactions tomorrow.




1968: WEEK 14

1968: WEEK 14

1968: WEEK 12

1968: WEEK 12