Mission Visits the UK - England & Wales, May 2013
"The New Number 2." (A pop reference so obscure
that it will probably be lost on 85% of you.)
Being the Journal of the good surgeon Mission who was captured by the pirates of the Mercury and... hmm. Actually, the pirates of the Mercury are no where to be seen in this Journal. And Mission never really played a surgeon on this trip, except for those 10 minutes he spent in a pub in Conwy explaining his pocket kit of instruments to his fellow pirate travellers to the event and a few curious bystanders who leaned in to listen. (It actually reminds me of that scene in Ghostbusters where Ray was explaining Ivo Shandor's building design and all the inmates gather 'round. But I digress... Gee. That didn't take long.)
So this is really not an actual Pirate Surgeon's Journal in the proper sense. (You purists have been forewarned.) It is more like "Mission's Account of His Travels in Wales and England, Visiting His Fellow Pirate Reenactors Who Live There and Stopping in Portmeirion where The Prisoner TV Show Was Filmed So He Could Be a Complete and Utter Cosplay Geek." Except that's too long for the title; it would take up half the web page.
Where was I? Oh, yes. Since it's really not a proper event journal, this is going to be roughly divided into 6 sections - 1. The Prologue, 2. Visiting PoD/Lee Morrisroe from the Pyracy Pub, 3. Going To and Visiting Portmeirion, 4. Staying with Gareth Pugh, who will be familiar to regular readers (and irregular ones who click on that link), 5. Meeting Ed Fox, resident genius at the Pyracy Pub and 6. Closing Comments/Epilogue. Well that's an awfully long Intro, so I think I'll just stop now.
Prologue: Some notes on the plane trip over and various issues getting past officious officials, with a particular focus on the Patrick Hand Original™ Planter's Hat, which the author had nattered on so much about on forums and whatnot that even Ed Fox called it by its proper name when your author produced it upon their meeting.
This trip began on an alarming note. Having only days before returned from a trip in Pennsylvania where we had
Breathing a Sigh of Relief at Seeing This View of Security
been loading and unloading boxes, my father decided to stick a box knife in my luggage for convenience. This naturally managed to worm its way underneath the plastic-coated cardboard luggage bottom, making it impossible to find when we got to Pennsylvania and further making me suspect he had not packed it at all at the time. It was the work of a moment for the crack X-Ray team at the airport to prove my suspicion wrong. Of all the things you do not want Homeland Security to find in your carry on, a box knife has to rank somewhere between a Bofors 40mm guns and cyanide gas, given its recent history.
The HS inspector made concerned noises about it containing blades and I assured her that it did indeed contain blades and that she could have it because it should never have been there,. (I also told her my dad put it in there – as if that would somehow make its presence less suspicious.) Fortunately she was very nice about the whole thing and after removing the offending knife and swabbing my bag, she said I could go. When I started packing everything back up, she said something about a special inspection to another HS agent, which made me think I should take her up on her invitation to exit quickly, stage right. (No doubt this entire incident will go on my permanent record.)
Something had happened with the flights from Detroit to Newark (I connected through Newark) and they were all hours behind or something. I had arrived early enough that they had put me on standby for the flight that preceded mine. So I beat feet to the gate.
There were a dozen of us on standby and I was last to arrive, so I figured it was going to be a fun night of sitting around in the Detroit Back Up Terminal. (There are two terminals in Detroit – the nice shiny new one with all the amenities and the dancing fountain and the Back Up one, which had recently been updated so that it looked like a gloomy new terminal instead of a gloomy old one.) Somehow, possibly due to divine intervention, one person didn't show up and they picked me to take it. This was a definite improvement over the box knife incident.
The Patrick Hand Original™ Planter's Hat in the Overhead Compartment Thus I managed to be the very last passenger on an earlier flight, which made me fear for the fate of the Patrick Hand Original™ Planter's Hat because everyone else had boarded and probably jammed the overhead compartments full with their overstuffed and oversized luggage.
Lee Morrisroe, my first "pirate contact" once I get to England, had earlier asked me how I managed to pack the hat so that it didn't get squashed. As I explained to him, "The hat never gets packed. It is a giant pain in the arse on a plane. I put it in the overhead compartment opposite my seat upside down and then sit like an anxious schoolgirl watching it to make sure some water buffalo traveler doesn't squash it while cramming their luggage in. Most people seem to think it's sort of cool, though, so they are careful. I have sometimes had others sit and watch the hat in the overhead compartment with me once they see the problem."
The Passport Control Guy kinda' looked
like Simms from the British TV Show
Adam Adamant Lives! (A pop reference so
obscure it will probably be lost on 99%
of you.) (Get used to this.)
Fortunately, the hat made it all the way to England.
There is one more hat story before I move on, however. As I was going through passport control in the Manchester airport, the inspector started asking me a lot of questions. I explained that I was meeting people I knew from the internet. (It does sound a bit bizarre. Trying to bolster my explanation by telling him that I knew all these people from pirate re-enacting websites didn't seem to reassure him at all.) He asked for my itinerary which I had succinctly listed on a single page.
As he was looking it over, I leaned over and he said (and I quote): "Please don't lean over like that; your daft hat is blocking the light making it difficult to read." He asked a bunch more questions, seeming rather curious about the whole idea of reenacting pirates and finally sent me on my way.