Fine weather dawning for story-collecting. I’ve got a restless crew though – in that dangerous mid-voyage doldrums brought on by over-excitement and homesickness. The Land of Laughter left them in a silly mood, and they were further wound up by the frustration of being lost in Outer Space (I’m beginning to have my doubts about the skills of the Navigation Officer, though he came with the best references – from James T Kirk, Captain Nemo, Allan Quatermain and Dora the Explorer herself).
Satnav Steve tends to blame Twist for misdirection, but when I confronted her, she bristled and denied all knowledge. I thought our action adventures would allow everyone to let off steam, and to some extent they did, but at the same time they added exhaustion to the mix. My crew are, by and large, a skilled and valiant bunch, but even the most stoical can be pushed too far. I think they need settling down.
It’s calm sailing, and Lookout Kate reports distant land. Humandrama, I’m sure. She can see home fires burning. There are families I plan to visit: the Marches (those four girls and their Marmee are always welcoming), the Mortmains (a little eccentric, but that means they are likely to accept my motley crew), and the Cassons (good fun but also unconventional, and the hospitality can be a bit haphazard if their mother has been busy painting in her shed – but then Cook Conomos can rustle up a feast out of the most unpromising ingredients). I have a soft spot for Bobbie, Peter and Phyllis, and we can get to them up the railway line. I’d like to gather up that moment on the platform when Bobbie’s father returned, for the Story Museum’s collection. It’s a gem, to add to our treasures. Though all that steam will require a bit of ingenious protective packaging from In-the-Know Joe.
I am working on the principle that a bit of weeping can be good for a crew. Releases tension. And besides bucketsful of tears can be useful for swabbing the deck. Because we’re after some moments that could have pretty soggy consequences. The happy endings as much as the sad ones. Family reunions (Hetty Feather and her mum, Harry looking into the Mirror of Erised), substitute parents stepping into the breach (Miss Honey, Charles in ‘Rooftoppers’ defending Sophie against the woman from social services, Mister Tom rescuing William), and, well, let’s face it, a bit of romantic soppiness (Will and Lyra’s bench, and quite a few star-crossed lovers). Generally I expect stiff upper lips from my crew, but this may be the time to bawl rather than bale.
Well that didn’t work out quite as I expected. Yes, there were tears, and also some very jolly family gatherings. But the crew wandered into a school building and Satnav Steve found himself involved in a fracas with Greg Heffley and a lot of kids yelling “Cheese Touch!”. Cook Conomos too was drawn by a smell of cake into a class full of children and witnessed Miss Trunchbull hitting a chocolate-covered boy called Bruce Bogtrotter over the head with a plate.
And Lookout Kate stayed up late with a bunch of boarders for a midnight feast. Meanwhile In-the-Know Joe, who had been perfecting his time machine, was all over history, and emerged quite shaken by everything he had observed. So instead of coming back aboard rested, they were all even more overwrought, not to mention short of sleep and on a sugar high.
With such a fractious crew, I think we could be heading for trouble. This evening they answered back to orders, as if they are all taking their cue from Twist. And there are mutterings about the strictness of my regime, when everyone knows a safe ship needs a firm hand. They explored a lot of stories today about standing up to bullies. I fear it could be giving them ideas.
I am not sure I shall sleep easy in my bunk.