It took Neil a full three days to get over his food/alcohol poisoning/chikungunya and his long-suffering wife Sarah (to whom, you will recall, Neil proposed marriage on the satellite phone whilst crossing the equator on Mina2 back in 2009) will be well pleased with the results. Neil had lost about a stone in weight in the process.
But no sooner had Neil recovered than Mina2 acquired another invalid. Lawrence must have been a pain in the neck as an attention seeking child and, 72 years on, little has changed. I think his nose had been put slightly out of joint by all the attention Neil had been getting and he was determined to make up for it.
“Ti-im” Lawrence whined, “I’ve got a really bad earache, can I have some penicillin please?”. I gave him some out of date ear drops from the medicine cabinet which seemed to do the trick. The following day – “Ti-im, I’ve got a really bad sore throat, can I have some penicillin please?”. He got a couple of Strepsils which again seemed to do the trick. “Ti-im” Lawrence whined again “I’ve got a really bad headache. Can I have some penicillin please?”. A couple of paracetamol sorted that out. By this time, the door of the medicine cabinet, which I’m relieved rarely needs to be opened, had seen so much use it was almost falling off its hinges.
“Ti-im” came the familiar cry, “my skin’s falling off.” And no surprise. Lawrence is a sun-worshipper. If I’d told him once, I’d told him a dozen times that the sun here in the tropics was exceedingly strong, but would he listen? Would he hell. He crept round the deck all day finding a spot that wasn’t shadowed by the sails to expose as much of his flesh as possible to the burning ultra-violet rays. Having gone through lobster red in the first few days, he was beginning to tan to his delight, when he started shedding his skin like a snake. “Why do you do it Lawrence?” I asked. “After 20 years of marriage, Carrie isn’t going to be in the slightest bit interested in your body, so who are you going to show your tan to when you get back home to Sussex in the middle of February? Are you going to go down to the pub in running shorts and a singlet?” “Yeah, probably” said Lawrence.
The following day it was “Ti-im, my eye really hurts. Can I have some penicillin please?”. I snapped. “For Christ’s sake Lawrence, just get a grip will you” I shouted, “Let me have a look at your bloody eye”. To be honest, I’m not sure if I’d ever seen Lawrence’s eyes as they’re permanently covered, day and night, with very expensive designer sunglasses. He took his sunglasses off and Neil and I recoiled in horror. One of his eyes was completely bloodshot and weeping puss. I’ve never seen anything so disgusting in all my life. Lawrence said he could feel the infection running down his face into his jaw. I gave Lawrence some Brolene eye drops which was all I had, and the moment we arrived in Martinique we marched him straight off to the chemist. Lawrence’s French is almost non-existent but it made no difference. All he had to do was to take his sunglasses off and within minutes he was walking out with drops containing the penicillin he had been craving, and a large quantity of eye wash.