Tuesday, 12 October 2010

I know how I live at the maritime museum

Everyone who visits grit's day will, at some point, become painfully aware of the indestructible optimism with which I must travel to view all the world.

You, fortunate reader, can take it or leave it; come and go as you please. Me, I am stuck with it. If I do not travel with a bucketful of look on the bright side, I will kill myself.

I do not know why particularly I am affected by my grin-and-bear-it disposition today. There is no special reason for it. We catch the bus which chugs over Happy Valley where the cemetery is located. Then we labour on upwards towards the knife-edge of a Hong Kong mountain road.

At the top slice, where the ridge of land parts the sky, I think for a moment I may be cured of my affliction and now actually will myself towards life. Indeed, I fall to praying that the driver has years of experience, and did not eye up the Number 6 over-the-top route this morning at the depot, and laugh, Give me a try!

But the driver must have driven it before, that tilting, creaking double decker, and I must have survived the fifteen hundred foot plunge because when I open my eyes we're at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum in Stanley.

I can only say, with my optimistic outlook renewed daily, sometimes hourly, now restored fully to a glad-to-be-alive moment, this museum is fantastic. It is worth the near-death experience brought on by being too mean to pay for the bus route that takes the sensible tunnel through the mountain.

Because, at this museum, are lots of painstakingly made model boats, carrying explanations about shipping routes and why China would have captured world trade in the fifteenth century if it had wanted to. With ships that might have looked like this.

Instead, it opted for roundabout seas and local sails with boats that looked like this.

I think it is of especial credit to the Chinese that the words Portuguese bastards never once appeared in any caption describing the fifteenth century naval choice of the Chinese not to sail the world. Neither was much reference made at all to the circumnavigatory trickery of the dastardly greedy money stealing devil worshipping Europeans. No, because China has the future, and all your 500-year old sailing skills round the world won't help you then.

But out of everything in this museum, including Tiger crashing a container ship into a dockside ...

... there was one exhibit that I loved more than all the rest. It is this.

There! Do you see it?

Yes. It is that. The fence. I hope I have photographed the right fence. From what I can see, boats are filled with fences. Otherwise people would continuously be throwing themselves into the welcoming arms of the sea.

Why, you ask? A fence? In the pride of place position? Let me read you the explanation from the brochure. I cannot better it.

'The most interesting feature of all... It is a fence. An anti-piracy fence. ... A preferred tactic pioneered in the late 19th century was for the pirates to board as passengers with their weapons hidden, and then storm the bridge, take over the ship, steer it to an out of way spot and pillage it and the passengers. The fence around the bridge was aimed to frustrate this'.

There you have it. It captures something of my perilous existence. All the dangers, hazards and disasters in the world can be held at bay by a fence. The fence prevails. It is not because pirates are too stupid to climb over a fence. It is the power of the fence. The indestructible, unscalable fence. I realise today, I know that fence. I carry one with me, daily.


Anonymous said...

One current anti-piracy measure being deployed on tankers travelling through the perilous Gulf of Aden is the scarecrow. Suitably attired and tied to the fence aft of the Bridge. Brilliant. (and it is true, because I'm in shipping!!)

sharon said...

So, when we finally acquire neighbours and build our boundary fences, we can be sure no pirates will enter our premises. Whew, that's a relief! Sure isn't going to keep the kangaroos out though.

Grit said...

mud, i'm talking EXACTLY that. It is so optimistic, isn't it? the best plan of all!

Better than hope, because hope is a form of despair.

But optimism. It means always start again, always find a solution, because you never know! this one might work! It just might! and we can always try another tomorrow.

sharon, electricity and shot guns are effective against all intruders.