Subscribe: Subscribe to me on YouTube

Sunday, September 16, 2012

I took this photo from the window of the Liverpool Travelodge on Thursday evening...

That's the Merseyside Maritime Museum. And a queue about a hundred yards long. I had no idea shipping was so popular with Scousers. Although I suppose 'Ferry Cross the Mersey' was quite a big hit.

I'd been for a walk around the Albert Dock (named after Uncle Albert from 'Only Fools and Horses') after chucking-out time at the conference, and the queue was just beginning to form then. I assumed it was a coachload of sailing enthusiasts keen to do a bit of naval-gazing, but by the time I'd walked back to my room to get changed for the evening meal, the line was stretching back from the entrance of the museum to the doors of the Tate Gallery.

At the time, I was shocked by the presence of so many ardent seafaring fans in one place, but since getting home and doing a bit of research, I've discovered that they were actually queuing up to see 'Jaws'. Which is even more shocking. It's almost thirty years old and the shark looks fake. It's particularly ironic, because when I published that photo on Friday, I was only joking.

One thing which is clearly no joke, however, is my discovery that in Liverpool you have to give way to humped zebras...

It's down there in black and white. With a hump. So it must be true.

In other news, I'm pleased to report that our recent run of crippling bad luck has come to an end, and I'm currently riding a wave of good fortune. No, really. I may not have won the lottery (yet), but I've achieved something which in many ways is a lot more impressive. I've retrieved a metal rod from a lift shaft. And trust me, the odds were far greater.

Following on from the clamping and the champing, our luck reached an all-time low on Wednesday morning, half an hour before I left for Liverpool. My Mum had driven over here to keep Lisa and the kids company, and she brought with her Amelie's old cot, which has been stored in my parent's loft for the past two years. I wanted to get it set up in Am's bedroom, ready for when Toby outgrows the Moses basket. Which at this rate will be sometime next year.

The cot arrived in five bits, with two metal rods and a bag of screws, so I helped my Mum carry it all in from the car, and up to our flat in the lift. When the lift door opens, it reveals a one-inch-wide gap in the floor - a tiny gap, down which you'd struggle to ever lose anything. Unless, of course, you're on a roll of bad luck. Suffice it to say that as I carried the side of the cot into the lift, a two-foot-long metal rod dropped off at precisely the wrong moment, and fell down the one-inch-wide gap. You could have given me a hundred attempts, and I couldn't have repeated it if I'd wanted to.

I had a train to catch and some gods to curse, so I had no time to do anything about it (if indeed anything was possible), so I consoled myself with the fact that at least the lift still worked, and then promptly left for Merseyside.

Yesterday afternoon, however, I decided to investigate, and having headed down to the ground floor with a torch, I discovered that a miracle had taken place. It's a three-foot drop from the floor of the lift to the bottom of the lift shaft, and only a one-inch gap to play with, but somehow the rod had managed to land on its end and stay there. For three days. The top of the rod was a foot from the floor, and tantalisingly within reach. Not of my fingers, obviously, but of two sticks and some blu-tac.

I broke a garden cane in two (why we had a garden cane when we live in a flat is anyone's guess), attached copious amounts of blu-tac to each end, and having practised on the other rod we still had, discovered that whilst one stick with blu-tac wouldn't pick up the rod, two in conjunction would. For a short while. If you were lucky.

So with Lisa holding both the torch and the lift door, the two of us got down on our hands and knees, and carried out the kind of tense, delicate operation known only to bomb disposal experts. Although to be honest, ours was more dangerous. If some of our neighbours found us blocking the lift for five minutes, we could be lynched. Fortunately, after a lot of stress, and a combination of optimistic dowsing and blind fishing, I held my nerve, and the rod emerged stuck to my blu-tac, whereupon it was quickly grabbed by Lisa before we dropped it back down forever.

We did come close to divorce at one point when the pressure got too much and I accused Lisa of shining the torch in the wrong direction, but other than that, the operation was a complete success. I spent the rest of the afternoon putting the cot back together, and installing it in Amelie's bedroom. As Lisa said to me when she saw it, "It's a job well done. Toby's all set for January".


Phil's Mum said...

I suspect that Amelie was not present for this delicate operation.  Her 'help' would definitely have caused you to drop the rod again.

Phil said...

Amelie confidently told me that she could get the rod out with one stick. But in the end I decided she'd be better off cheering us on from half a mile away. So we sent her to Lisa's Mum's.