Living a Posh Life — on the Starboard Side
file under whatever color for you means NOT true
The following etymological story was making the rounds of our shipboard community last week, which entranced many of us, living in one of the rare phases of life when there is someone to make your bed for you every morning. (Thanks, Sotero!)
Here’s the version as it appears online:
The origin of the English word POSH is interesting. Back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was the thing to do for Englishmen (and women) to go to India for holiday (vacation). They went by steamship. In those days, having a tan was not meant for the upper class, because it meant that one was a manual laborer or field worker.
The route to India meant that the ship went out with the afternoon sun (the hottest and most likely to tan one) on the right or starboard side. And returning from India the afternoon sun was on the left or port side. To avoid the tanning sun (and paying for the more expensive side) a wealthy person would ask for a ticket “portside out starboard home”. The ticket person would stamp P.O.S.H. on the ticket. Eventually, one had only to ask for POSH. Thus, the word became part of the language to mean better accommodations… for a price.
But, of course, all good stories deserve a check-in with Snopes.com before sharing too widely, and sadly, this one doesn’t hold up well under scrutiny.
But if it had been true, I would have to say I’m traveling S.O.S.H. as my starboard cabin on Deck 4 is mine for the entire voyage. (Which currently means the sun is in a perfect position to force its equatorial brightness between the slit in my blackout curtains—e.g. sunrise came at 4:57 this morning as we travel north toward the mouth of the Amazon River; not a typical November morning for this native of the Northern Hemisphere. But then little has been normal about the past four months.)
Still, SOSH or POSH, here’s a chance for me to publicly salute the daily efforts and constant smiles of my cabin stewards: Julius (who departed in Cape Town, South Africa, for a much deserved break and visit with his family in the Phillipines after his eight-month contract was up) and his replacement, Sotero, who joined our 182-member crew to begin a new eight-month contract on the MV Explorer.