As we travelled northwards towards Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, S. and I were busily rehearsing for the St Patrick’s day celebrations.

On the transatlantic crossing S. had persuaded me to teach her a Highland fling so that we could take part in the Crew Concert arranged by the purser. The main attractions for doing this were a) it gave us something to do in the evenings when we were off-duty,  which could be rather boring for the crew when at sea. b) those taking part in the performance were allowed to stay in the ballroom afterwards and join in the dancing. The usual rules did not allow the crew to mix socially with the passengers whilst on board.

On the cruises we had a professional entertainments staff who were multi-talented but needed to supplement their small company for the special occasions, so S. and I were recruited. We had enjoyed taking part in several shows and it certainly brightened up what could have been tedius long evenings between ports.  

We had done gipsy dances, ballet, hornpipes and generally joined in the choruses. In some of the shows some of the passengers were also recruited. The two I remember best were Eda, a very glamorous former film star and Joe a jazz trumpeter. They were both well into their eighties, but surprisingly energetic and a delight to work with.

For St Patrick’s day we were to dance an Irish Jig. It was quite simple (nothing like the amazing Riverdance :)) but I was very glad that Grandad R. had included National dances in his varied curriculum. We had made our green costumes, practised the steps and B. and the orchestra had found appropriate music for us.

St Patrick’s day dawned and the ship had been decorated with green and orange streamers, balloons and cut out leprechauns (a bit cheesy, but the passengers liked it!) the barkeepers had devised special cocktails for the occasion and the chefs had added Irish sounding dishes to the menu, so everyone was in the right mood for the entertainment in the evening.

Our Irish Jig was well received and the finale of the concert was a rendition of Macnamara’s band with a conger like line led by Joe the trumpeter followed by several other passengers playing improvised instruments.

When the ballroom dancing started the Captain came over to speak to us and boasted that he could do the Irish jig which he had learned during the war, and the  mischievous S. slipped away and told the musicians that the Captain had requested them to play it again. The Captain took it in good part and gamely led me out to lead the passengers round the floor in another rendition!

It was a very happy evening and we and the passengers went away contented, ready for the next day when we would be visiting Montevideo.

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