It was an exciting (and challenging) experience: three brand new audiences each day, with no idea who would be boarding, how many would be on board, and – slightly scarily – how many would speak English. My schoolboy French wasn’t much good even when I was at school, and it’s a heck of a lot worse these days.
But we managed to make ourselves understood. I was able to perform some of my tricks in English and French, and I learned some new French words for popular balloon models, such as épée for sword and singe for monkey. Speaking of balloons, I calculated I made 1500 balloon models in the 11 days at sea. In fact, they were so popular that the crew ran out of balloons on the day before I left!
Despite the differences between these shows and my usual work, it was thoroughly enjoyable and very satisfying. Living out of a suitcase wasn’t as difficult as I thought it might be, and my crew cabin was small but very comfortable. I worked with some amazing people (who spend a lot more time working afloat than I did), and we had loads of fun keeping the passengers entertained. I even submitted to dressing up when we all went on a pirate treasure hunt!
I met some amazing people. There was the group of cyclists riding from Cardiff to Paris, raising £22,000 for their local hospital. And I won’t quickly forget the group travelling from Cern Abbas to CERN Geneva. I managed to make the balloon model of the Cern Abbas Man they asked for, but no, I didn’t take a photo! Sorry.
And, of course, I met the star of the ship, Pierre le Bear. Thankfully, I wasn’t asked to dress up as Pierre.
So, looking back, I’m really pleased I was booked to perform at sea. I missed my family’s Easter celebrations, but I’ve added ‘at sea’ to the list of venues where I can perform. I wonder what’s next? Do you have a challenging venue or a challenging show for me? I’m happy to discuss anything.
Au revoir for now.