Saturday May 13, 2000
[Or will the real John Luxton - please stand up!?]
The reason for the slightly strange sub heading will be come apparent as you read on!
The weather on Saturday turned out to be almost perfect for a day at sea, except for the poor visibility particularly off the Isle of Man which hindered long-range views.
I arrived at Heysham Port just as the BEN-MY-CHREE had berthed, though disembarkation had not commenced. It was obvious that the coach tour season was well underway with Shearings vehicles lined up on the terminal forecourt.
Boarding commenced shortly after 13:30. Oddly despite there being a number of coaches travelling, they were noted not to be well filled, this combined with quite a few passengers in the departure lounge suggested that the BEN-MY-CHREE would be quite full. However, this didn't prove to be the case with a passenger loading of just 150 being reported to Liverpool Coastguard on departure.
I made my way up to the Blue Riband lounge where I made a rather interesting discovery. Apparently, I had been on the BEN-MY-CHREE on May 11 and didn't know about it!
I jest of course and I will explain. It is practice for members of the Blue Riband Club to sign in the members book. - But there was my name and details - not of course in my handwriting but that of some impostor with an entry for May 11. In fact the handwriting looked rather similar to that of another entry made that same day probably someone had chosen to adopt my identity to cover for an unauthorised guest!
In recent months the company has been tightening up on checks on passengers travelling in the lounge on the BEN. In the past, given that the BEN-MY-CHREE has a member controlled access door activated by membership cards there has, until recently, been a tendency to leave members to their own devices unlike on the SeaCats. However, crew are now quite vigilant and check members either before entering or come around a little later.
When the steward came round to check the membership cards I pointed the entry in the book out and he went off to get the CSO. She told me that though things had been tightened up and regular membership lists issued to the ships there were known to be people getting access to the lounge. Some of whom were members who had failed to renew and others were people bringing in unauthorised guests.
Given the increased vigilance of the crew, one must assume that possibly some people have let themselves, or an unauthorised guest, after the vessel has sailed and in this case just picked a name at random from those in the book and entered it - hoping to bluff any challenge. Of course I was rather miffed to find it had been myself! However, if I had travelled on May 11 the impostor would have had quite a shock!
Perhaps one way of reducing the problem of outdated membership cards being used would be to fit a lock similar to those increasingly found in hotels which are operated by cards, programmed to work between specific dates. That way at least only current members could enter, though there would still remain the problem of unauthorised guests being brought in.
Given the number of journeys I make on Sea Co vessels each year, I find BR Club membership is a cost effective way of obtaining my refreshments and having a pleasant travelling environment in which to relax. Relaxation being my main reason of course for travelling in the first place! After paying my hard earned cash for myself and also my parents to enjoy these facilities, when they travel with me, I am non too pleased to find someone getting and using my identity.
On my return to Heysham on Saturday evening I decided to add a little note to the members' book by my name and draw an arrow up the page to the forged entry. At least it should draw attention to what has happened and avoid it happening to other genuine members.
After my grouse about Blue Riband lounge access abuse, I must say I was rather impressed by the new fresh ground coffee machine. So much more of an improvement than the old Scanomat.