Emma Samms

All at sea for a hol­i­day of a life­time

Cotswold Life - - CONTENTS - CON­TACT @Em­masamms1

This is a story about one of the best hol­i­days I’ve ever had. And I say that even though I had to work twice in the mid­dle of the trip. But there’s also a ru­inous as­pect to the whole thing. Let me ex­plain.

I was in­vited to be a guest speaker on the Queen Mary 2 on one of its North At­lantic cross­ings from New York to Southamp­ton and I was al­lowed to bring a guest. The brief boost in my pop­u­lar­ity be­fore I de­cided whom to in­vite was slightly marred by the re­al­i­sa­tion that I had to think of some­thing to talk about for 50 min­utes and then de­liver it to a large au­di­ence.

I chose the sub­ject of my ca­reer but with some added be­hind-the-scenes rev­e­la­tions of what it’s ac­tu­ally like to work on a tele­vi­sion se­ries or be in a film, both of which I’ve been lucky enough to do. I also de­cided to in­vite my friend Claire Carter. As you may know she used to host a show on BBC Ra­dio Glouces­ter­shire be­fore an­noy­ingly be­ing pro­moted to the break­fast show in dis­tant Som­er­set. We be­came friends when we worked on a ra­dio drama to­gether and I knew she’d be good com­pany.

What Claire prob­a­bly didn’t re­alise when she ac­cepted my in­vi­ta­tion was that she’d have to let me prac­tice my talk on her a few times. This must have been pretty te­dious for her by the fourth or fifth time but she con­sis­tently man­aged to feign in­ter­est, which I greatly ap­pre­ci­ated.

So, we flew to New York and on land­ing at JFK were im­me­di­ately driven to the port in Brook­lyn. My ro­man­tic fan­tasy of sail­ing away on a huge ship re­quired some­one to wave to on the dock as we de­parted. Luck­ily a dear friend of mine, Alas­tair, who lives in Brook­lyn was will­ing to in­dulge me, stand­ing on the dock and wav­ing a large red hand­ker­chief with great com­mit­ment as we sailed away.

Cu­nard’s flag­ship ocean liner, the Queen Mary 2, is more than just a float­ing five-star ho­tel. With its the­atre, cinema, gym, spa, ball­room, swim­ming pools, mul­ti­ple restau­rants and bars, dog ken­nels and even a plan­e­tar­ium, it’s a world unto its own. Ev­ery inch is re­cently re­fur­bished, deco el­e­gance and, not sur­pris­ingly, the sea views are amaz­ing.

The num­ber of events and on­board ac­tiv­i­ties avail­able was seem­ingly lim­it­less; there was even a mas­quer­ade ball one evening. But ball or not, at 6pm each evening all pas­sen­gers are re­quired to change for din­ner into ei­ther black tie or cock­tail SHIP SHAPE: Queen Mary 2 was in­tended for rou­tine cross­ings of the At­lantic Ocean, and was de­signed dif­fer­ently from many other pas­sen­ger ships. The ship has a max­i­mum speed of just over 30 knots (35mph) and a cruis­ing speed of 26 knots (30 mph), much faster than a con­tem­po­rary cruise ship. Some of the fa­cil­i­ties in­clude 15 restau­rants and bars, five swim­ming pools, a casino and the first plan­e­tar­ium at sea. at­tire. One could imag­ine this to be a bit of a chore, but it ac­tu­ally be­came a trea­sured part of our day, greatly en­hanced by our but­ler Roger (yes, our BUT­LER) bring­ing Claire and my­self drinks and canapés to ease us through our tran­si­tion into for­mal wear.

The first ‘work’ part of the trip hap­pened on day two. I’m not sure if it should be de­scribed as a talk or a speech, or even a One Woman Show, but my Pow­er­point pre­sen­ta­tion and I man­aged to at least keep peo­ple’s at­ten­tion for an hour, so I was happy with that. The sec­ond part came a few days later and that was just a Q&A ses­sion with Jo, the en­ter­tain­ment di­rec­tor and mem­bers of the au­di­ence, so a much eas­ier en­deav­our.

What I didn’t re­alise was that they were film­ing both of these and that im­me­di­ately af­ter my talk the record­ing of it would be played on a per­ma­nent loop on chan­nel 23 of the on­board tele­vi­sion sys­tem only to be re­placed by my Q&A ses­sion im­me­di­ately af­ter I had done that. Claire took great plea­sure in switch­ing the tele­vi­sion to chan­nel 23 at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity just to tor­ment me.

It takes six days to cross the At­lantic and once my talk was un­der my belt Claire and I were de­ter­mined to see as much of the ship as pos­si­ble. I took far too may pho­tos, mostly of Claire and mostly in re­venge for the tele­vi­sion chan­nelchang­ing thing. Both of us felt con­sid­er­ably more re­laxed than we had an­tic­i­pated, even when, at one point, it was an­nounced that we were 500 miles from land in any di­rec­tion.

The ru­inous part of the trip is that both Claire and I re­alise that we would be hard pressed to have a bet­ter hol­i­day. Any jour­ney or break will feel a bit hum­drum af­ter a cross­ing on the QM2. On the plus side, af­ter lis­ten­ing to my speech so many times, if Claire ever ap­pears on Master­mind, her spe­cial­ist sub­ject could eas­ily be ‘The Life and Times of Emma Samms’. Poor love.

‘The best hol­i­day ever... and why Claire Carter is now an ex­pert on my life and times’

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