Who am I?… Mother and wife (first and foremost), galley slave, first mate, educator, entertainer, bosun’s apprentice, night watch woman… Not necessarily in that order. I am an all round wearer of many hats and have cause often to employ what I like to call my ‘Chameleonic Shift’. Transitioning from one ‘hat’ to another with the slick ease of the well practiced at the merest holler, yell, or occasionally even polite request. Sometimes (OK quite often) the ‘Chameleonic Shift’ gets a bit glitchy and I’m stuck mid Shift as multiple requests and demands come in thick and fast from various small and larger crew. Numerous hats cocked at jaunty and precarious angles, trying to juggle and prioritise requests before their is mutiny on board.
William is the captain and bosun on the good ship Moonlighting. He is the sailor and the maintainer of the boat – it is in his blood, it annoyingly all comes very naturally to him. I am the novice (relative to him), trying to learn and keep up – still after about 17 years of sailing with him. I will never catch up and although I’d like to think I can hold my own as very useful first mate, I will never make captain. That is solely his responsibility, and to be honest he’s welcome to it. It would be no good for the ship to have two aspiring captains aboard and I perversely quite enjoy my change of hats and Chameleonic Shift.
The boat is old and bits break or fall apart regularly – there is a constant ‘to do’ maintenance list and I can often be found wearing my ‘bosun’s apprentice’s hat’. Whilst I’m being asked to hold ‘this’ still, pass that screwdriver (no not that one, that one), hand me a sharp knife, find some washers for these screws, stitch the rip in this sail…I am also wearing a half cocked, jaunty angled ‘mother hat’ – a half chameleonic shift taking place- always alert to where each of the three children are and what they are doing – breaking up a fight at the far end of the boat with a few choice words projected in their direction, (‘bosun’s hat’ half cocked – ‘yes darling I am paying attention, no I wasn’t shouting at you, which spanner do you want?’) whilst calculating in my head how far off lunch or tea we are, when someone (me) needs to start cooking and how long till the children get truly horrible because they are board with bosun’s jobs and are not being paid attention to, or are getting grouchy because they are hungry.
My current current Chameleonic Shift has gone from full slumber mode to high alert as I’m rudely shaken awake at midnight after a couple of too short and disturbed hours sleep for my turn at night watch- never totally restful when I know I’m going to have to be up again before morning.
Now on night watch and drinking copious amounts of caffeinated tea (unusual for me) to try and wake up enough for my three hour stint, I am alone and my Chameleonic Shift has settled to docile, relaxed and only semi alert. I repeat, I am alone. Everyone else is in bed asleep and assuming there is no calamity on my watch they will remain so. Which means I have three blissful, uninterrupted hours, to do with, whatever I wish (so long as I also keep watch!).
I can write a blog entry – uninterrupted, I can read few chapters of my current novel – uninterrupted, I can listen to a podcast – uninterrupted, write some emails – uninterrupted or I could tune into the music on my iPod – uninterrupted.
I’m all of a dither, I don’t know which joyous uninterrupted activity to pick first and I’m desperate not to waste my three hours of quiet, peaceful, time.
Oh yes, when I first clambered up into the cockpit of our yacht Moonlighting for my watch, the starts were so utterly bright and beautiful that they elicited an involuntary ‘Oh wow!’ From me – that’s saying something after five months at sea. Orion’s Belt, The Seven Sisters, The North Star and The Milky Whey all visible at a brief glance, with many many more waiting to be spotted. That’s what I’ll do – I’ll lye on my back on the cushions in the cockpit and look at the stars – blissfully uninterrupted, Chameleonic Shift in full repose…