So a strange thing happened, which necessitated a post about ships in bottles. On my way down to London last week, I was reading Scarlett Thomas's new book Our Tragic Universe (and very good it is too. You should read that) on the train. In it the narrator, Meg, finds a ship in a bottle washed up at her feet which is exactly the same as one she admired in childhood. It is a book where strange connections, coincidences and cosmic ordering are treated with both suspicion and intellectual curiosity.
So imagine how weird it was to walk towards Trafalgar Square and find this massive thing displayed on a plinth.
National Museums Liverpool, a group of six museums and galleries. Whilst meeting some press people in the Merseyside Maritime Museum, I watched a craftsman place a ship in a bottle to an audience of open-mouthed children. I loved his ships in bottles, and would peer at them gleefully every time I went there.
When I left, I harboured (harboured! get it?) a secret desire that my leaving present would be a ship in a bottle. Sadly, I had not communicated anything of the sort to anybody. I had limited confidence at the time, and had barely spoken to the woman who was my boss all the time I was there for fear that I would snap in two (there was nothing remotely wrong with her). Unsurprisingly, my ship-in-a-bottle wish was not granted, and my gift was a very small cup (I do not favour small cups) printed with a picture from the Walker Art Gallery which I wasn't particularly bothered about.
Especially when they had The Beguiling of Merlin by Edward Burne-Jones in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, which would have made a much better cup, in my opinion.
Last year when I was in our local Maritime Museum I saw this obituary pinned onto the noticeboard. It made me sad, even though I'd never even spoken to the man. Because, you know, of the lack of social skills.
Long-term readers of this blog (that's just Alice) may remember the story of the woman who bought herself a case of champagne for Christmas every year because she knew her presents would be disappointing. When I sat down to write this blog post, I thought it was for you. But it's actually a present to me, a gift of ships in bottles with a bit of Arthurian magic thrown in. It's making up for past regrets, for things not said, and tiny cups. I'm enjoying it, whether you are or not.