TSS Captain Cook
If someone told you that you had to leave the country of your birth never to see your friends, Aunts, Uncles and cousins again how would you react. Fear, anger, sadness? I was 7 years old when this happened to me and I couldn’t have cared less! Yes, it was exciting but then so was going to Jaywick for a holiday. I did know it was a special trip though because I was bought my first pair of slippers!
Home For Ten Pound Poms
The TSS Captain Cook was to be my home for 6 weeks. My first impression of was that it was big. So big that looking up I couldn’t see the top of it or how long it was. My next memory is of a happy face peering into mine. He wore a white jacket with gold buttons on it so I knew he must be important. He led a group of us down small, corridors and the walk seemed to go on for ever. We came to a room with 3 sets of bunk and two round windows. I bagged a top bunk and my sister sat on hers, underneath mine. Mum and the other lady seemed very busy. Then I realised Dad wasn’t there. No one else seemed to notice he was lost! I never did find out (or ask) where he was. I saw him during the day, on and off, but as we didn’t normally spend a lot of time together the balance of my world remained intact.
For 6 weeks I was in charge of my life…..as far as I recall anyway. There was a school on board but I only went a few times. I roamed around the ship without guide or censure. Most morning I got up to watch the sailors clean the decks. I seem to remember them throwing a lot of water around which is always fun for children. Food was plentiful and at every meal I was asked, “What would you like?” and shown a menu. Both experiences were new to me. The tables were covered with pristine white tablecloths……another new experience! Funnily enough I don’t remember my parents or sister at the table. My memories are always with me, at the table, by myself. Of course, that may be due to my egocentric memory and as I have no one I can ask it will always remain an unconfirmed recollection.
I hasten to write that I was not a recluse. I remember a special day on board when we crossed the date line. Of course I had no idea what that was but I distinctly remember being told to watch out for the bump when we crossed over. More importantly there was a fancy dress competition. I dressed up as “Mrs Mop” as Mum was able to borrow a mop and bucket from “our” pursor. I marched around with all the other children and lined up in front of the judges. I started mopping the floor and wiped my sweaty brow as part of my “act”. All the children were ushered to the side while to wait for the judges decision. As a 7 year old the wait was obviously a bit long because I left! My sister found out later that I had won. As I was not around to pick up my prize it was given to someone else and I was left holding my “Neptune Certificate” Even the certificate has not survived by mothers “anti hoarding” bent. You can how see the memory is etched in my memory with a clarity that far exceeds anything else from that time!
Being the child of a Ten Pound Pom my memories are purely selfish. If there was angst at leaving “home” on the part of my parents they hid it well. My sister however, did share a comment that resonates far more than my memories, “They didn’t ask me!” At 17 years of age perhaps they should have. Please comment below if you would like to add to this conversation.