Right, I know I shut that bathroom window last night. Even though I was still half asleep I remember distinctly having to climb into the bath to reach and suddenly remembering the giant spider who has recently taken up residence there. I did leave the tiniest gap, for ventilation, but only about half an inch, nothing a cat could get through, not even a very small cat like Fulffy.
I told Commando all about the night’s cat burglar escapade too and made him promise not to open the window again. He denied ever opening the window in the first place so the blame fell on Mini Commando, who also said he hadn’t opened the window. To be honest, I was inclined to believe him because he always showers in the downstairs bathroom, Commando is the only one of us that ever has a bath. My money was on Commando pushing it from tiny ventilation crack to wide open when he was cleaning. He probably did it without even realising.
This time it was about half past four when the meowing outside the bedroom door woke me up. Why is it always me? Commando was deep in dreamland, Mini Commando’s bedroom door was firmly shut. Once he goes to sleep nothing short of an earthquake would wake him anyway and even then I’m pretty sure he’d sleep through it unless his bed collapsed on top of him.
When I opened the bedroom door there was Fluffy, pacing the hall meowing. She dashed down the stairs as soon as she saw me and was waiting patiently at the gym door when I got to the bottom of the stairs. Of course there was more fumbling about in my bag for my key to open the French windows. All the while Fluffy was pacing by the door, obviously in desperate need of a call of nature. Really she almost had her legs crossed. Once the door was open, after some dropping of keys and a little swearing, she shot out into the dark and I was left to lock up again.
When I passed the bathroom on my way back to bed I stopped to check the window and it was wide open again. I know it was closed when we went to bed and there is no reason at all for me to think Mini Commando opened it. All I can think is that Fluffy has not only managed to scale the roof and somehow up onto the outside windowsill but has also managed to push the window open with her paw as she balanced there. I blame the fancy new cat treats Mini Commando bought for her a few days ago, their lure must be very tempting. Thinking about her climbing and jumping and pawing there is a Mission Impossible soundtrack running through my head. Maybe we should get a security camera trained on that window!
Yesterday I told you all about my mother son adventure back in September, spotting baby rhinos at the Art Gallery before they all left town. Things didn’t end with the Art Gallery though, there was one more place left with baby rhinos neither of us had seen and it was, literally, just around the corner. The next part of our mission was to visit Sea City Museum.
The museum opened in the former police station and magistrates court section of the Civic Centre back in 2012 to mark the centenary of the sailing of the RMS Titanic from Southampton Docks.
“A least I never had to come in here when it was a police station,” Mini Commando said as we looked up at the ornately decorated arched ceiling.
“I did,” I said. He looked at me askance, surely his mother had never been arrested. I let him ponder for a while, watching his face change as all the possibilities flashed across his mind, I’m nasty like that. Then I put him out of his misery. “I was in town with some friends and one of them had his motorbike stolen. We had to come into the police station to report it.”
I’m not sure, but he may have been a little disappointed. Maybe having a fugitive for a mother would have been good for his street cred.
No sooner had we got inside than we saw the first baby rhino, Wicky, Wickham C of E Primary School’s rhino, covered in primary coloured hand prints by the children. We weren’t sure how many baby rhinos there were in the museum, for all we knew he could have been the only one but we still wanted to see the museum so I paid my money and we trotted up the stairs.
There are two permanent exhibitions in the museum, along with a space for temporary ones. The Gateway to the World was all about Southampton, archeological finds from the earliest settlements, the story of Clausentum a small Roman town on a bend in the river Itchen. Clausentum was especially interesting to us because it’s where my village is today. Four Roman milestones were found in the 1800′s and several other artefacts have been discovered including an alter dedicated to the Celtic goddess Ancasta. We spent a while wandering round looking at the exhibits from flint hand tools to items once belonging to GI brides.
Then we went on to the second exhibition, Southampton’s Titanic Story. From the start it blew us both away. First there was a wall showing all the crew of the ship, some with photographs, giving their jobs, where they lived and their ages. These were faces we could have walked past in the street any day of the week, real people like us. Most were from places we knew well, places we passed every day. The youngest we found was just eighteen.
We walked through a narrow corridor lined with an almost life sized frieze of the city as it would have been back when Titanic sailed. With a sound track of the city streets as they would have sounded back then, knife sharpeners calling out, children playing, women discussing recent dock strikes. The evocative combination of sights and sounds was awesome, like being there back then.
The next area showed the layout of the ship, the massive amount of coal aboard to keep it going, the food, dinner plates, all the things it takes to keep a ship going on a long voyage. For me this was all too familiar (well not the coal obviously), things were not so very different back then, there were musicians, just like mine, a gym, card games, all the things I spend my days organising. Around the outside walls were artifacts and we took some time to examine each one. Lots were everyday items, menus, pass cards, keys, boots, personal items. Each had a little story attached.
The story of Titanic is one that has grabbed the imagination of the world, an unsinkable ship that sank on its very first voyage. She sailed from Southampton on 10 April 1912, bound for New York with some of the wealthiest people in the world along with hundreds of poor emigrants seeking a better life. Just five days later she hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic and the unsinkable ship sank. There were Not enough life boats and many of the ones there were were launched half full. Of two thousand two hundred and twenty three passengers and crew, one thousand five hundred and seventeen died. The musicians were amongst the dead and played on as the ship sank. I’m pretty sure mine would be first in the lifeboats.
For the city of Southampton it was all about the crew, of the nine hundred and thirteen crew, around six hundred were from the city, only two hundred and fifteen survived. Five hundred and forty nine of the dead, including twelve passengers, were from Southampton. That is an awful lot of people for a small city to lose, especially as most of them came from poor families. Hardly a street was untouched. The exhibit reminded us they were all normal people who had walked the same streets we do, lived lives like us. It was emotional.
We emerged, blinking into the light of the foyer and, as we turned the corner, there were three more baby rhinos waiting for us. Lyddie, designed but the children of Lydlynch Infant School and decorated with the animals their classes are named after. Rush designed by year eight student Josh Conway of Upper by Shirley Highschool with each of the pupils a cog working together to create a wonderful machine. Mansel by the year six pupils of Mansel Park Primary School, weaving together the school emblem, the Union Jack and the earth.
So our mission was complete, we’d seen them all, every last one. Or so we thought…