That’s if you can call these gigantic alien floating holiday camps ships. They’re more like vast, incredibly ugly apartment blocks, floated out sideways and sharpened at one end. They dwarf the small town of Coalfishreek, and from their enormity fleets of buses take thousands of cruiserists to gaze at our sheep, our (not total) absence of trees, our strange knitwear, our imitation vikings, our boiler suits and beards.. Well, apart from myself, Zetdogg, of course; I am not a Bearded collie so my facial hair is slick, smooth and carefully tended. Attempts to dress me in a boiler suit have failed on more than one occasion. And I have only once been forced to wear Fair Isle, in the middle of winter, something which nearly caused a nasty traffic accident involving a quad bike, an invalid carriage and a migrating parrot (climate change - it’s having some odd effects).
The Lords and Ladies of the Grand Aristocracy of Ports and Havens (GAPH) in Coalfishreek welcome the cruise ships, of course, as they earn money from everything to do with them - the harbour fees, the bus parking charges, passengers’ right to breathe Ports and Havens air. But as to the actual fiscal benefits to Greater Zetlandics, who knows? I believe tour guides and bus operators do quite well, but I have heard that shoplifting has become a something of an issue when busloads of cruisers descend on souvenir and knitwear emporia. So much so that The Omnipotent Bishopric of Coalfishreek Haberdashers (OBOCH) has begun insisting that certain parties of cruisers (those from the Level One ships, the refurbished prison hulks offering full board and all the Buckfast you can drink for a fiver a day) must have their arms cable tied behind them prior to entering their members’ establishments. This has not proved entirely popular. Most food and drink outlets allow the cruiserists to be conjoined, one of the pair having a single hand free to feed or water each of them in turn. Again, there have been incidents of a messy and unfortunate nature as a result. Such is the price of security.
There is little I, Zetdogg can do save observe and bark foul mouthed abuse at any cruiserists who dare to try and photograph me. One particularly embarrassing incident occurred when I was attempting to - I believe the term is ‘do my business - on the grass at the Hillhead in Coalfishreek, a well known canine toilette, when some cruiserists began snapping away with their digital camera box machines.
“Look!” I heard one cry, “A small native kangaroo! Or perhaps a wallaby.”
I said nothing, finished my ablutions and then chased them with deep barking of an intimidating kind into the nearby Miniature Library.
“I am Zetdogg!” I cried, though I feel they did not properly understand me.After a few hours I allowed them to leave. By that time their ship had sailed. Suddenly, they were no longer cruiserists, but touristics. If only they’d had sufficient money to pay for accommodation. Still, the police cells are relatively comfortable, I believe.
Soon the cruiserist season will be over, and life will return to the abnormal. I’m looking forward to it.