M/S Panorama

I realise, dear readers, that you have all been waiting with bated breath for the next instalment of my review of the Handbook of ODDE. The last one came out as long ago as February 17. ‘What,’ I hear you asking, ‘has he been doing?’

Events, dear boy – events

The British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, in the midst of a series of political crises in the early 1960s, was asked by a TV interviewer what he feared most in politics. ‘Events, dear boy – events.’ It’s the things that come out of left field that you hadn’t been expecting that get you.

I have had a series of events over the last two months that have set back my plans to review the whole bloody book. I left you hanging in suspense, with a review half way through Part 4, on Organization, Leadership and Change. Fear not, the review of the chapters in the second part is coming in the next day or two, followed by another post that provides a reflection on the whole 12 chapters. I will then continue to review the remaining parts of the book.

So what were these events that dragged me away from such an important task?

Costa Rica and the Panama Canal

Just over a year ago, my wife and I thought we’d take a holiday in late February of this year to get away from the rain and the cold. We chose a small Adventures Canada ecological cruise sailing the south coast of Costa Rica and Panama, with a trip through the Panama Canal (see the ship above – 49 passengers). 

However, on the day before leaving for Costa Rica, my wife went out to feed the birds on the back deck, slipped on the snow, and broke her arm (her upper humerus). She’s from Yorkshire, though. That means she’s tough and isn’t going to waste money, so the hospital patched her up, and she stuck out the long distance flights, airport chaos, sailing, and the getting in and out of dinghies to get to and from shore, all the time in great pain. Amazing.

Costa Rica was beautiful: thick rain-forest, many species of animals, great, empty beaches (until we arrived), great Costa Rican ecology guides. However, it was extremely tiring for my wife – and, to lesser extent of course, for me. Sleeping on a rocking ship was not easy with a broken arm between you.

Panama City vista from the sea
Panama City from the ship

Panama City was bit of a surprise, more like Dubai than Havana, with towering high-rises and modern highways everywhere. However, Panama and UNESCO have done a good job of restoring the old city, which is very pretty (but at the cost of driving out the poor to the outer suburbs).

Historical centre of Panama City
Historical centre of Panama City

Sailing through the Panama Canal itself was an amazing experience. I was blown away with the precision by which enormous ships were maneuvered through the locks, using small diesel engines on railway tracks to keep the tow ropes taught that control the ship as it navigates the locks. 

Engine (mule) used to guide ship in Panama Canal
An engine (mule) used to guide the ship through the lock

Some of the largest ships carry 40,000 containers and pay a US$800,000 fee for one crossing of the canal.

We sailed south to north, from Panama City on the Pacific to Colon on the Caribbean, from where we took a bus back to Panama City through the central mountains, meaning we crossed the Panama Isthmus both by ship and by road (there’s also a very busy railway that takes containers for transhipment between the Atlantic and Pacific). Panama is the real estate dream: location, location, location.

However, when we got back, my wife went to see her doctor and physiologist, and (according to my wife) they both told her that she wasn’t to do any shopping, cooking, washing, ironing or cleaning for at least two months. (Yes, I know, her other arm was all right, but…). I had to learn which was the washing machine and which the dryer, which was an interesting experience. (I used the trial-and-error system of learning, ignoring my wife’s advice after she got fed up answering which was the top one – logically, shouldn’t the washing machine be at the top? Apparently not).


I was just getting ready for my Red Seal domestic maintenance certificate, when I was overtaken by more events. My birthday was coming up (my FOURTH 21st birthday).

I was delighted that most of my family (all based in England) wanted to come and celebrate. First my 25 year old grandson and his delightful girlfriend of five years came for 10 days. They discovered places in Vancouver that even after 33 years I didn’t know existed (such as which bars are open until 8.00 am on a Sunday morning.) We went to a Canucks hockey match (lost again, against the Kracken) and went to a soul/R&B concert (I made it as far the half-way mark, which was already way past my bed time). They went skiing in the local mountains which reluctantly I can no longer do. We even played golf. They then left to go skiing in Utah. The energy of the young!

My eldest son then came and also stayed for a few days on his way back from Utah, where he had been skiing with my grandson. He should have been joined by my other son, who was also going to meet up with the family in Utah on his way from a conference in the States, but he missed his connection in England (Ryan Air was seven hours late leaving), and so he will be coming in two weeks time instead. This will mean more golf. I do love my boys – they make me do all the things I love!


So I had a two week window to get on with my review, but before I could get started I went down with a really nasty bout of Covid. This came as a complete shock, as I had already had three vaccine shots and thought I was immune. But no – you should not underestimate Covid. It is a really nasty, sneaky, evil little virus. I was really sick for three days with my wife’s (good) hand hovering over 911. I’m now slowly recovering. My wife’s arm is slowly getting better but the chiro and physio is still painful.

So fear not. I hope by the end of this week to post not only a review of the last six chapters in Part 4, but a separate post reflecting on these chapters and the implications for organization, leadership and change in ODDE. In the meantime, it’s good to be still alive.


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