10th October 2013
My day was planned out. I had several hours of admin to catch up on (and some ironing) and even though the warmth of the late summer sunshine was beaming through my window I knew I was likely to be stuck at that desk for most of the day if I were to make progress. Then I became aware of a new message notification flashing in the corner of my screen. “Can I borrow Python?” it said.
Further investigation revealed that while Python was sitting quietly at Paul Barber Boat Builders, awaiting her survey, there was another boat called Danny with engine problems in Nottingham that needed towing in. With Paul’s own boat Whitby out attending events and various other boats that might usually be commissioned for the job all at various stages of repair, there was no boat available to tow Danny in. David Goode, who owns the historic boat Ling, realised the potential in Python for the job and decided to ask if he could borrow her. Well of course Paul has been so good to the Chesterfield Canal Trust by looking after Python for us, that it seemed a great opportunity for Python to return the favour…. but nothing is quite that straightforward! There were some issues that needed ironing out to make sure that Python was properly insured for the trip and the easiest way of doing that was for Python crew to join David on the trip.
It was with very deep reluctance and a heavy heart that I allowed myself to be dragged away from my desk and the myriad of fascinating administrative tasks I had planned, to spend a blissfully warm and sunny day out on the River Trent. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.
During the hasty arrangements that morning, I had called Eddie to see if he was free to help. Like the true dependable crew member that Eddie is, he also fearlessly discarded his arrangements for the day without a second thought to the consequences and David, Eddie and I all arrived at Sheet Stores Basin within a few minutes of each other. Within moments the Lister fired into life, the ropes were untied and we were on our way.
We were soon at Trent Lock, where we worked Python through and into the deeper water of the Trent. Python always enjoys having some depth of water under her. It was a good job Python was having fun because David, Eddie and I were having to grit our teeth and get on with the job in hand. This day was not about having fun, we were there to do our duty. The sun shone and we fairly quickly discarded any of the layers of clothing we had put on thinking there would be a cool breeze out on the river. The beautiful late summer landscape gently passed us by as Python chugged along. We observed the cows coming down from the fields to drink, a huge flock of Brent geese, many of which took flight as Python chugged past. A kestrel flew low across the field and a heron stood tall as he watched out for his lunch swimming past. The first signs of autumnal colours in the trees were highlighted by the late summer sunshine.
Before we knew it, we had arrived at the marina where the stricken Danny was waiting. Her owners were pleased to see us. Python was very soon in place and the rope secured to take Danny with us. Then we were off again. This time Python had to work a little harder as she was running against the flow of the river and was towing Danny. She didn’t miss a beat. That old Lister engine was easily capable of the job with power left to spare. As we travelled along the river we all pondered on Python’s role in this rescue mission. Clearly Eddie, David and I were easily able to align ourselves with International Rescue’s best agents. We had all selflessly left our homes, our families and our daily commitments behind to head off into the breach and do our duty for King & Country a favour for Paul Barber. We tried to work out which of International Rescue’s fleet Python was most like. After her most recent episode of trying to sink, her bilge is mercifully dry and so we could not compare her to Thunderbird 4 (the submarine). Thunderbirds 3 & 5 are for space travel and we could hardly describe the Trent as outer space! Thunderbird 1 is a rocket plane. Python is not generally considered to be as fast as a rocket. That leaves Thunderbird 2, a heavy duty transporter. That sounds a little more fitting. So Python is not green and cannot fly either but in the wonderful world of fiction those small facts do not matter. It could seem like that day was fictional but it was not. It was just a totally splendid day for messing about on the river. Of course we were not actually messing about at all. We were all totally professional but it was fun. I hope David enjoyed it as much as Eddie and I did. We think he did. We think he has a soft spot for Python. We hope he will join our little team. He has a wealth of experience that Python could benefit from, and if any other reason for him to become a Pythoneer was required – he plays a brilliant Virgil Tracy!
As the sun went down and we watched a hot air balloon drift across the horizon, Python arrived back at Sheet Stores Basin with Danny in tow. Python was once again secured to her temporary mooring; her unexpected adventure over. Her crew had big smiles on their faces to match the glow that a day out on the river in late summer sunshine had caused. We could catch up on those chores tomorrow. Today we proved how quickly crew can be mobilised when necessary.
Pythoneers are GO!