By the grace of God, being the fourth day of July.
John – skipper and helmsman
Stephen – helmsman’s mate
Don – caterer
Helen – female cabin boy
On board - a total of 36 voyagers, hopeful for a new life in distant lands, boarded the good ship Richmond, tearfully waved farewell to their grieving loved ones on the quay and set sail for who-knows-where, not knowing if or when they would return.
In fair weather, skilfully steered by very-able seaman John, the vessel was carefully navigated out of the canal basin whence we pursued a southerly direction.
Grog was generously distributed or jealously guarded. To pass the weary hours music was played and songs were sung. Someone decided that an exercise in answering very silly questions might distract the passengers from the tedium of a long sea voyage.
As the city lights dwindled into the distance, we could no longer make out the forms of our relatives still waving their handerchiefs. We discussed the health risks of this ancient custom of handkerchief-waving.
At a remote place called Hunston someone passed wind and we were obliged to tack onto a more westerly course.
At Donnington disaster struck! Our progress was blocked by a low bridge that one Mr. Crosbie had hurriedly constructed overnight. The captain cursed Mr. Crosbie and pondered this desperate situation for a while. He decided to put about our craft. This serious piece of helmsmanship involved going astern for some distance. There was no option other than to return to our home port.
On passing Hunston again a fine anchorage was found. Noting that the on-board supplies were diminishing, some of the passengers undertook the short excursion to a local hostelry. The natives were friendly. A strange intoxicant called ‘Guinness’ was discovered. A pint thereof could be purchased for 350 pence in an unfamiliar local currency. Emboldened by this and other liquors, more songs were sung.
Twilight approached. The passengers staggered back aboard the Richmond. The anchor was weighed and, having left that earlier foul wind behind, we proceeded northwards. Entertained by more music and singing, we safely arrived back at the canal basin in time for the last train home.
Seriously, didn’t we have a jolly time again?
Very many thanks to all who contributed to our enjoyment of the evening.
The timely appearance of ardea cinerea while Anne was singing about a heron was greatly appreciated.
Thanks to Joe and his staff at The Spotted Cow for their indulgence.
Thanks to David for … err ... well … for simply being! (No, I didn’t say, nor intend, ‘being simple’!)
Congratulations to Linda who exhibited exhaustive knowledge of unimportant things. With 93% correct answers, she won the quiz.
Most importantly, thank you to John, Stephen, Don and Helen, volunteers of the Canal Society, who were extraordinarily tolerant of our behaviour and ensured that no lives were endangered, souls lost, nor limbs severed on the voyage.
I was so pleased that my glass eye was rapidly recovered from the bilge!