13. The Charleston as a tonic for all ills.

Oh, Maud, what a ball.

I think Velma is having a bracing effect on everyone, or at least, a certain impishness is infecting all those with a pulse and a red rag for authority. This whole experience is mad, bad and glad.

But also weird.

I confess, I may not have had a great deal of exposure to the finer things in life, but the oddities of this vessel do perplex me at times. I find it quite silly, for instance, that despite being surrounded by such opulence, and with such a fine dance area in the Santorini Restaurant (equipped with the grandest of grand pianos – a Steinway – no less!), that there are often more people dancing around the sickbay radio than are prepared to do the Jay-Bird or The Black Bottom in the designated areas – truly amazing.

‘Designated areas?’ says Velma. ‘Let them eat Charleston wherever they are, the poor dears.’ But she would say that – she’s the one getting all the patients up and scandalising the doctors. One fellow had a prolapse. Another stood on a thermometer.

Thankfully, there’s a surprising number of beds, but not many in use.

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