On a recent cruise on the MSC Musica northwards to its home in Italy we were swept off our feet by the beauty of the Adriatic coast. We were similarly bowled over by the kindness of two British strangers. Over a cup of tea next to the swimming pool, one of three on Deck 13 of the Musica, we struck up a conversation with Garry and Christine Cornell from Hayling Island, Hampshire.
‘Despite my precautions and the promises of my service provider,’ I grumbled , ‘my cell phone picked up no signal.’
Garry looked at Christine, and Christine looked at Garry, I noted. The next moment I was surprised by a generous offer. Their tour package included internet service which they did not use, and I was free to avail myself of it. Promptly the MSCMusicahotspot was found and connectivity activated. From that moment on my alias was Garry Cornell. Switching on my computer, Google greeted me with a ‘Hello, Hennie’. Turning to the Musica App, I heard, ‘Hello, Garry’.
Hopefully no fraud or similar impropriety was committed. Garry had, after all, paid for the service fully. Magnanimously, I merely supplied the device, of course!
Later on we became aware of the fact that Thursday 2 May was Christine’s birthday. As the Cornells did not imbibe, we celebrated with strong Italian cappucinnos . For Christmas (and/or) er next birthday I sent Christine a copy of my new book, “Na verre hawens” ( To faraway harbours) with a translation of the relevant paragraphs.
‘Watch your mail box, Christine.’
Cappuccino with the Cornells became a ritual. Where to meet up was no problem at all. Near the ‘floating’ concert piano made of glass in the luxurious foyer of the Musica was just the spot. Glass replaced wood in this pièce de résistance – even the piano stool was of nothing but glass. One could watch the vibrating strings and the movement of the hammers through the glass lid as the pianist Sifiso from Sandton tickled the keys.
This unique grand piano stood against the backdrop of a glass waterfall on a platform of glass. To me it was the most marvellous object on the lovely ship. Peculiar, though, no one seemed to know the story of the piano.
Usually it is the person whose birthday it is who gets the gift. With the Cornells, it was the other way round – to the benefit of the receiver who perpetually yearns for communication with the outside world. May Christine abundantly experience the Biblical truth that it is better to give than to receive.
In the process of getting acquainted, we learned that the brother of Garry’s American grandfather worked as a slave in the famous American circus Barnum’s where he boxed against every possible contender. The surname Cornell he purloined from the American university. On a visit to London he put some distance between himself and Barnum ’s and became a decorated hero in the British army.
Currently, his story is being filmed. Illustrious indeed was my alias.
- In my 15 years of blogging this is my first try at one in English. If it is not perfect, please forgive an 78 year old Afrikaans man the errors. The peculiar incident described here is also described in my new book on cruising over a period of 50 years. The title is “Na verre hawens”. It is published by Naledi. If not available at book shops yet, it should be soon The ISBN no. Is 978-1-928518-18-1. You can also buy directly from Naledi at naledi.online.