The following evening we met again to discuss our plans. Harris said, 'Now, we must decide what to take with us. You get a piece of paper, J, and you get a pencil, George. I'll write the list.'
Harris is always like this. He tells everyone what to do, and he does nothing.
My old Uncle Podger was just like Harris. When Uncle Podger did a job, everybody in the house helped. One day, Uncle Podger bought a picture. Aunt Podger asked, 'Where can we put this picture?'
'Leave it to me. Don't worry about it. I'll do it all,' Uncle Podger said.
He sent one of the girls to buy the nails. Then he sent one of the boys to tell her the size of the nails. He sent Bill to get the hammer, and he sent Tom to get the ruler.
'Now get me a kitchen chair, Jim. I need two people to hold the chair. Maria, come here and hold the light. Tom, come here and give me the nail.'
He finally had the nail in his hand, but it fell on the floor.
Everyone looked everywhere for the nail. When someone finally found it, Uncle Podger lost the hammer.
'Where's the hammer? Where did I put the hammer? Help me find the hammer!'
When we found the hammer, he lost the place on the wall to put the picture. So each one of us climbed up on the chair to look for the place. Each one thought it was a different place. When Uncle Podger climbed up on the chair, he fell on the piano. Aunt Podger was very angry. She said, 'The next time you put a picture on the wall, please tell me. I'll go and spend a week with my mother!'
Uncle Podger tried again and again. At midnight, the picture was on the wall. However, it was not straight. The wall was dirty. Everyone was tired and unhappy. Uncle Podger looked at the picture and said, 'It was such an easy job!'
I told Harris, 'You get the paper and pencil. George will write the list, and I'll do the work.'
The first list was too long. We threw it away. We started another list.
'In order to travel to the north part of the River Thames, we need a small boat,' George said. 'With a small boat, we can carry only necessary things. We won't take a heavy tent. We can put a canvas cover I over the boat at night. It will be like a little house, warm and comfortable.'
We made a list of all the clothes we needed. George said he knew everything about the right clothes for a trip. We discovered later that this wasn't true.
We talked about food next. George said, 'Let's continue with breakfast. For breakfast we'll need a frying pan.'
'That's quite difficult to eat,' Harris said, smiling.
'Stop being stupid, Harris,' I said.
'Let's continue,' said George. 'We'll need tea, sugar, eggs, bacon, bread, butter and jam. For lunch, we can take biscuits, cold meat, and fruit — but no cheese. The smell of cheese is too strong. After a day or two, everything will smell of cheese.
'For dinner, we can take meat pies, fruit pies, tomatoes and green vegetables. This good food will keep us healthy,' George said.
We didn't take wine or beer, because they both make you sleep.
George continued, 'We'll also need a teapot, a pan and a camping stove. We don't want a paraffin oil stove.'
'Oh, no, not a paraffin oil stove!' I said. We once took a paraffin oil stove. It was horrible. The smell of paraffin oil was everywhere. The river smelled of paraffin. The wind smelled of paraffin. Even the sunset smelled of paraffin. When we visited the town of Marlow, it smelled of paraffin, too! Even the church of Marlow smelled of paraffin. The countryside for miles around smelled of paraffin. We decided never to take a paraffin oil stove again.
The next day we bought everything we needed. We met in the evening to pack our suitcases. We got a large suitcase for the clothes, and two large hampers for the food and utensils.
I am very good at packing. Packing is one of those things that I do best.
'I'll organise the packing,' I said to George and Harris. They agreed. George sat in the armchair and Harris put his feet up on the table.
This was not what I had intended. I wanted to organise the packing — not do it! I wanted George and Harris to do all the work. However, I didn't say anything. I started packing the clothes. It took a long time, but I finally finished. I sat on the big suitcase to close it. George and Harris watched me.
'Aren't you putting the boots in?' asked Harris.
I had forgotten them!
'Why didn't you tell me before?' I said. Harris said nothing. George laughed. I was furious. I opened the suitcase again, and packed the boots. Then an awful idea came to me. Did I pack my toothbrush?
I started looking for it. I took everything out of the suitcase. I found George's toothbrush. I found Harris's toothbrush. But I didn't find mine. In the end, I found it inside a boot. I packed everything again.
When I finished, George asked me, 'Is the soap in the suitcase?'
'I don't care about the soap,' I answered. I sat on the big suitcase again to close it. Then I remembered that my cigarettes were in the suitcase. I opened it again and finally closed it at 10:50 p.m.
There were still the two hampers to pack. Harris and George decided to pack them. I sat down to watch.