The Day with Robert Rankin was fantastic, The boat broke down (police are looking for a man named Pratchett, believed to have been seen running away with a spanner in his hand).
But the two hour wait was worth it. We had a nice view of Tower Bridge and an even better one of the queue for the bar. The queue for the bogs was just as long, though I cheated and used the ladies. Which out of interest refused to flush afterwards (methinks Pratchett may have been there as well).
So by the time the boat did get moving, most of us were pretty much as the preverbial newt. And had to smile graciously at Stef's impressive attempts to flog us T-shirts. I'm wondering if he got sunburn, cos if he did, there should be a massive white patch on his forehead where he'd slapped himself with the official riverboat shuffle stamp. Also watching Lee trying his hardest to flog posters. I believe I heard him use the phrase "Buy this poster you bastard!" or something like that. My apologies Lee if I've mis-quoted you.
We arrived in Brentford around five-ish, marvelling at Griffin Island and the Brentford boat-people, where Robert announced that you can actually see bugger-all else from the boat (I'm not surprised with the glare from his shirt). The Boat finally ran aground at Kew Pier, (out of interest Westminster Pier doesn't appear on the London A-Z I have, does that make it a Forbidden Zone?) where we all staggered off, cursing at the distance we were about to walk. 160 of us trying not to get run over on Kew Bridge was quite an awe-inspiring sight. People at the back tried to keep up, people at the front tried to slow down, while Robert shouted out things like "Fudgepackers Emporium, pass it on."
When we reached the Flying Swan someone shouted "Robert's buying, Pass it on!" The Swan didn't know what hit it, 160 souls crying out for more beer. I was one of the first to the bar, and one of the last to be served! We gathered outside and many group photos were taken, and then we were off, well some of us were, others decided that beer was more important (strange people!)
We walked along Moby Dick Terrace, and through the Memorial Park, where Robert said "There's an interesting story about that memorial," and then walked off!
We paused for a brief rest at the Library to take photos of Robert on Jim Pooley's bench (complete with shopping trolley) and then the walking continued through the Butts Estate (I haven't walked that much since I left the Army) where we saw the Professor's house and the Seaman's Mission (which actually is a Seaman's Mission of sorts). Past the court house and (walking faster) finally to the last pub, for a rest and beer.
The Double Decker in the garden proved a great playing (James Bacon commandeering the driving seat) and it wasn't long before bursts of "We're all going on a summer holiday" were ringing out. Robert was later presented with a Birthday Cake, that was covered in Sprouts (well, what else?) and a large horn from some creature or other.
All in all, it was a superb day out, and I only wish that I'd arranged to stay in London, cos I'm sure that the rest of the evening was a blast too.
Hello to every one I spoke to, and hello to every one I didn't. And Hieki, I'd love to see the video some time!
Roll on the next Sproutlore Event.