Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Easter Bunny in the Red Sea

My father loved Easter. I remember, when we were little, on Easter weekend, he would paint hard-boiled eggs in bright colours ad patterns, and the ‘Easter Bunny’ would hide them in the garden at Palliser Road, Wellington, New Zealand, for my brother and I to find.

Well, I haven’t really ‘done’ Easter for a long time, and I certainly didn’t expect it to be in any way celebrated on a ship in the middle of the Red Sea. But that would have been counting without our Captain Chris. Easter was decreed ‘on’, and I got the job of being an Easter Bunny!
Marie and I took half a dozen eggs from the galley, painted with numbers by our Tina and, while the crew and officers were on morning tea break, we secreted them around the castle and after-deck of the ship. Then we sat back, for what I was sure would be an extended period, to wait and watch whilst thirty folk tore the place apart in pursuit of an egg. The eggs, needless to say, all exchangeable for more tangible prizes after lunch.
I thought I’d been a hell of a good Bunny: I’d hidden one egg in the bottom of the crew cigarette-sand-bucket, another (wrapped in tissue) in the middle of a discarded cable reel, and my third inside an ancient pair of greasy work-gloves that didn’t look as if they’d been touched in years. The sand-bucket held out the longest, but in half an hour it was all over, and cadets Kerry and Charles, the bosun, and three crew members were the winners

Next came the Passengers’ Egg-and-spoon race. Oh, yes! Twice round the bridge deck, including four‘hurdles’ at the bridge doors and a heavy right turn into a strong breeze behind the smokestack on each lap, spoon to be held in the left hand and by the back end of the handle. No piece of cake! The ladies’ heat was a hecatomb of cracked eggs, and Ann Marie (Germany) staged a bullocking run from midfield to edge out Tiny (Holland) in the home straight. The men’s heat was very different. This time the eggs stayed in the spoons, but the New Zealand representative shot from the barrier, quickly gapped the field, and came home clear by the length of the straight. Germany second and Canada third.

And so, we lined up for the final. Anne-Marie and I. Once again, New Zealand zoomed from the starting stalls and into the lead with Germany hot on his tail, but down the first straight Ann-Marie started to close with reckless speed as we raced for the narrow bridge doorstep…

We never made it. Two figures went flying, two eggs sailed through the air, two finalists burst into giggles and agreed, when they could get through their laughter, that a dead-heat was an entirely suitable result.

And a jolly evening was had by all!

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