The time is about eight o'clock. I walk across the gangplank and board the ferry at Portsmouth. I feel cold and fancy a cup of tea and make my way down the steps to the buffet at the front of the ship.
I walk up to the counter but the rather surly assistant informs me that refreshments are only available once the ship has left the harbour.
Typical, I think before finding a table to sit down to wait till they open.
As I pull out the chair I catch the eye of a plain middle-aged woman who raises her eyebrows. I assume she has been told the same thing and, like me, isn't impressed by the customer service. I really don't want to get involved in conversation but I raise my eyebrows back at her out of acknowledgement. I then get out my newspaper and start to read.
A few minutes later I hear the boat's engines fire up so I lower my paper and look up to see if the counter is now open for business - it isn't. The 'eyebrow lady' then raises her eyebrows again at me. I feel the point had already been made but nevertheless lift my eyebrows back out of politeness.
Finally I get my tea and take it and myself to the non-smoking saloon astern.
Twenty five minutes later we are docked at Ryde Pier and I make my way up to the disembarkation area on the ship. As I wait for the ramp to be lowered I see the lady I had exchanged raised eyebrows with earlier. I then notice that she suffers from a twitch in which she involuntarily raises her eyebrows every few seconds. Fuck! She must have thought I had been taking the piss. I lower my gaze and keep my distance.