Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Titanic Trip

The children were all hyper about the trip to the Maritime Museum’s Titanic Exhibition. Just before the train arrived at the station I got them to line up with partners.

The train was full of senior citizens who gazed beneficently at our horde. Peter went into overdrive and began chattering like Graham Norton on speed, “Is that signal down sir, sir? Is another train coming? Did you see on the news about that train crash with all those people killed sir, SIR? I’m watching Saints next week, they’re world champions.”

The old gentleman sitting next to him is also a Saints fan; he tries and fails to get a word in edgeways.

“Sir look at that house it’s MASSIVE, they must be posh! Look at that sign sir, 58 steps from the station to the road, sir, sir.”

“Peter, do you get out much?”

The woman next to me smiles.

We count everyone off the train and head for the underground, down the steep escalators, into the darkness of the echoing station. Keith’s mum was concerned about the short trip into Liverpool and whether he would return unscathed and intact. Keith chooses this moment to collapse into the arms of a teaching assistant, he sits there whimpering on the train seat.

Blinking into the sunlight we walk to the Maritime Museum. The Titanic exhibition has changed to include the sinking of the Empress (it collided with another ship in thick fog in May 1914 in the St Lawrence Seaway, Canada, over 1,000 people died) and the Lusitania (torpedoed by a German submarine in May 1915 with 1,201 dying).

The children rush round without even reading anything, I herd them back to watch a film about the search for the wreck of the Titanic. There’s an apron from a servant who survived the sinking and artefacts like rivets and uniforms. They race through the ‘Battle of the Atlantic 1940’ and the ships’ models. The ‘Shipwrecked’ exhibition is excellent, they dress up as animals and have to answer clues to win a badge and certificate. This keeps them occupied for ages.

All morning I’m trying to stave off, “I’m hungry”. By 11 o’clock it’s changed to, “We’re starving” and half an hour later signs of serious malnutrition are evident. We’ve booked a room to eat our packed lunches at 12.30, but it’s a beautiful day and instead we sit on the benches on the riverfront. I warn them not to feed the pigeons and then give the command – ‘EAT’.

After polishing off enough food to… sink a ship, they clamber over statues, imitate Billy Fury (we all thought it was Elvis at first). Later on we race round the Customs exhibition, Slavery and Emigration. By the end of all this they are beginning to wilt and I’m marvelling at how many times they can visit the toilet.

We walk back to the underground and even Keith isn’t fazed by the lifts and escalators. Thinking on I should have been better prepared, split them into mixed ability groups with clues to search for, the museum’s worksheet was too difficult.

As we get back to school we can see Keith’s mother waiting anxiously, I’m worried he’ll collapse in a heap, but he’s quite matter of fact. Luckily even Peter is shattered and has stopped talking – at last.

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