Yesterday morning was taken up with a visit to the Royal Dockyard at Chatham. We went to visit the HMS Ocelot. This was the last submarine built for the Royal Navy at Chatham Dockyard.
When we arrived at the submarine lying in dry dock we were told that the lights were not working. While we waited for fuses to be replaced we met a number of pleasant and helpful men and women who assured that all would be well in due course.
Sixty seven men worked on this submarine. The bunks are very small and close together. You needed to be a well balanced individual to be able to survive a number of tours of duty without having differences of opinion with fellow submariners. Two cooks manned the galley. It is difficult to see how they could have turned out food for over sixty people in such a small working space. The heat and the smell must have been overpowering at times.
To keep the men focused and directed during their time on duty – and their time for rest and recreation - must have taken extraordinary powers of leadership. We are often told that when we get stressed we need to take exercise. In a submarine the size of HMS Ocelot there is simply no room for any one to be able to take a long walk. The bunks are too low to be able to do sit ups. Yoga would be very difficult. Pilates may have been popular – but pilates also requires an amount of room – even if it is a mat on the floor.
So when your ten year old complains about noise while he or she is working – remind him or her about the noise that submariners had to endure. How they had to be absolutely silent while they were being hunted down by a ship on the surface. Put the thought in their minds too of the sound of the water on the hull, the noise of the engines and the ping of the radar. It must have been hard to concentrate at times.
When your ten year old refuse a `nice brisk walk’ to get work off a little steam – remind him or her about having to work in an environment where there is simply no room to be able walk without putting someone else out.
Your ten year old might want to promote an argument about work. Draw the parallel of men under water for periods of time – who could not possible enjoy the luxury of a good argument without putting lives at risk. There is no room for a door to be slammed in anger.
So when it looks as if you and your child are reaching towards a `stressful moment’ consider a trip to a submarine, a potholing experience or a crawl through a cave. All concerned should feel calmer and more able to listen to each other.