Sidey‘s Weekend Theme is “decorate”….
The Christmas tree had arrived tightly tied and even more tightly shrink-wrapped so getting it in had been no problem. It was now two weeks later and, just as the clothes that you bring on holiday expand until they will not fit into the suitcase for the trip home, the tree had stretched its limbs and was now far too wide for them to get it back out. They couldn’t get it up the spiral steps and in any case it would never fit through the hatch at the top.
There was no way of getting the tree out of the submarine.
The idea of having a Christmas tree on the USS Regardless (there’s been a documentary, Carry On Regardless, made about it) came from Seaman Webb, a new and young recruit whose love of the sea was bettered only by his love of all things Christmas. If’d he’d had his way, snorted Petty Officer Crowe, he’d have had lights all over the outside of the hull and Santa climbing the conning tower on a ladder. The word Petty described Officer Crowe fairly well.
Commander Craig, always anxious to improve crew morale, had agreed to Webb’s request, and so for a fortnight there had been tinsel draped over every computer, fake snow in the galley and some badly placed holly in the toilet.
Craig had drawn the line at mistletoe. Sailors get enough slagging as it is.
All in all the decorations had been a success, apart from the time that the submarine had banked sideways to avoid an outcrop of rock causing a load of balls, in the polite sense of that phrase, to fall from the tree and bounce noisily about the floors, and the time that Webb, in an attempt to keep the pine needles moist, had sprayed the tree lightly with water from an after-shave bottle while the lights were plugged in and give a short electric shock to every crew member standing on the metal floor, as well as causing a glitch on every screen which made them seem to show that the sub was about to be attacked by a giant mackerel.
But now Christmas was over, the decorations had come down and all that remained was the indisposable tree. There may be those of you thinking that all they had to do was saw it up, but they did not in fact have a saw, since in a small tin tube made entirely of metal there is surprisingly little use for one. The tree remained for a week after the rest of the decorations, getting in the way and causing the crunch of underfoot pine-needles to echo eerily around the enclosed space. Eventually Craig sighed.
“Put in into a torpedo-tube,” he said.
The tree was loaded base first into the tube in a spray of needles and snapping twigs. It needed to be forced right to the end of the tube and Commander Craig was horrified to find Webb doing this with an actual torpedo. Eventually the tube was loaded, the button was pressed and the tree sped through the sea. With no target there was nothing stop it and eventually it bounced at speed up a beach, causing a flock to cormorants to flee in a flurry of wings and involuntary guano. It hit and demolished a statue (leaving just two vast and trunkless legs of stone) and eventually slammed into another statue against which it propped itself, its base sinking into the soil.
Mother Nature intends all things to grow, so roots eventually snaked from the bottom of the tree, the pine needles returned and the tree once again stood proud and alive.
And that is why there is a Christmas Tree on Easter Island.