Jul 10, 2014

Snatching the Feet From the Jaws of Victory

Far be it for me to bang on about logistics and principle of keeping things simple but I have a prime example of Slimmplification coming right up.

Today was Portsmouth day. We (Anne and the Brisbanes) were to catch the Catameringue (sic) over from Ryde Pier. To get to Ryde Pier, Mick was to take us.

Complication: Eloise had been invited to school because Maisie was going to do a Show and Tell or whatever their equivalent is. This meant that the plan was for:
1) Nicole and Eloise to go to the school (I don't recall how this was achieved, I don't expect it was complicated)

2) Mick and Anne to rendezvous with Lyra and I at Magnolia Mansion and proceed to Ryde Pier.

3) Mick to return to the school, retrieve Nicole and Eloise and deliver them back to the pier in time to catch the ferry.

Phases 1 and 2 were completed without significant delivery. Anne, Lyra and I were indeed delivered to the pier in plenty of time, where we waited.

And waited.

Meanwhile, or rather previously, Mick had neglected to take his mobile phone with him.

After a while, when it would have been nice for phase 3 to be well in hand, we phoned Mick but he didn't answer.

So we waited. In the absence of any other activities that we had either the time or the inclination to perform, we waited. The ferry was due to leave in five minutes.

The last call for the ferry went out. As the barriers closed, Nicole and Eloise ran into the building. We yelled at the ferryman to wait for us. He was not inclined to wait, clearly feeling that he had a choice in the matter.

So we missed the ferry.

Turns out the Slimmplification was manifold: firstly, Maisie's presentation had had nothing whatsoever to do with Eloise and there had been no perceivable need for her to be present over and above learning how dreadful discipline in English schools appears to be; secondly, the Slimms, bless them, had agreed to meet in a playground, without specifying exactly which one, relying as we sometimes wont to do on lgendary common sense to provide the answers.

So were there recriminations? Yes, there were. Did we put them behind us? As far as I'm aware, we did. Did we manage to do some more waiting? Yes, we did.

The ferry trip, when it eventually eventuated, was pretty quick, and when we got off at Portsmouth we carried on the day's activities by forming an orderly line and doing some more waiting. This time we waited in a queue to get into the Dockyards where all the tourist attractions are, and where Matt works, so we managed to get two types of waiting concurrently achieved: waiting for Matt and waiting to pay for our tickets. Matt the Efficient turned up in good time and we had a chat with him in the queue about the attractions we would like to see but eventually he had to go back to work, coincidentally just after the tickets had been purchased, so off we went to see what we hoped would be the highlight of the day: the HMS Victory.

The Victory did not disappoint: in its dark and claustrophobic confines footfalls knocked like possums at night and cannon lined the galleries bedecked in rope, their accesories around them, powdering thingies, powderkegs, powderhorns, boxes of balls, cages of rope protecting the the winching routes from one deck to the next.

A constant crouch was what was required with the beams overhead just below the height of my head; and the stairs were steep on the way up and steeper on the way down.

Eloise was clearly absorbed by what was going on as we filled in the gaps with stories of pressganging and sea battles. A Grey Guardian showed her how to trigger the mechanism on the cannon. Lyra was just delighted to be in a place so strange and different and ran back and forth with fire in her eyes.

We went up on deck then back down again into the bowels of the warship, saw the Infirmary and the various cabins and mess rooms of the ranks and the ratings.

As we descended into the deepest depths Lyra made everyone's day just that little bit more interesting by losing her shoe, dropping it between the slats of a staircase and deep into the bilge of the ship when the enormous masts wee fixed onto the hull. We could look down the gap between the floorboards and a structural spar and see the little red shoe nestled next to a hullpart.

A Grey Guardian noticed our dismay and came unflinchingly to our aid, fearlessly and indomitably in the way only a Military Man can muster. He professed to have seen many an unlikely scenario unfold on his Tours of Duty aboard Victory but that this was the first time that somebody had lost a shoe. But not to worry for he had a plan.He got out his R/T and before long another Grey Guardian appeared, instantly gelling into the Team, receiving his orders, saluting smartly, and leaving by a secret passage.

The lights went out momentarily then came back, but with lights below on as well, and within a couple of minutes Grey Guardian #2 appeared below us, quartering the floor space, before locating the red shoe, retrieving it smartly, and disappearing.

Within a couple of minutes we were showering the Grey Guardians with thanks as we returned the shoe to Lyra's foot and within a few more minutes, as we had had to do in most of historic locations we had visited, we made good our escape.

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