Disclaimer: this is all based on my interpretation of events in the last 8 years. Not everything may be accurate, and my opinions are entirely my own, but I started a cliched metaphor on another post earlier and it took on a life of its own to become a short story I never intended it to be.
So while I apologise for how self indulgent this is, I wanted to share it anyway.
HMS Stockport County was a proud old ship. Never the biggest or most popular on the ocean, and at times it had taken on water and looked in danger of slipping below the surface, but it never did, and those who cared for her cared for her more deeply than near anything else in their lives; for those who knew her, knew her.
Unfortunately one calm day, when all seemed well and she was sailing better than she had in years, she suddenly struck an unseen iceberg called administration. One of the senior crew members had seen the iceberg, some might argue pointed the ship in its direction, but had quietly slinked off into a lifeboat before the collision happened.
To begin with the ship took on a lot of water quickly. The panicked crew were unable to do anything about the situation and the engineer in charge of organising the repair job was unceremoniously told he was redundant. This was a very popular ship you see and the well wishers back home couldn't bare to see it be allowed to sink and have to build a whole new one in its place; and too right as well, far too many grand old ships had been allowed to sink when the going got tough and replacements had to be fashioned.
While the ship was sinking a group of passengers eventually decided to buy it. The previous owners had been told they couldn't be trusted with a ship any more and this group of passengers had a distinctly worried feeling (wanted to say sinking feeling but I feel like I'm over egging this metaphor) that if they didn't buy it then it would be allowed to sink with them on board.
The ship's new owners tried to get the engineer who was previously made redundant back but he'd already been offered a job on another ship and while it was a bit of a commute it wasn't sinking; in fact it was doing fairly well. So they found a new engineer who came fairy highly recommended gave him the previous engineer's old assistants to work with and left him to it.
But still the ship took on water, and the new engineer couldn't seem to stop it, so the owners got rid of him and put the assistants in charge. They then decided to swap the assistants roles around just prior to a big part of the repair job causing no end of delays and problems.
Still the ship took on water.
The ship was now at a point where it was riding lower in the water than it had ever been in its long and illustrious years sailing the seas but the owners had faith that the second assistant engineer, the one they now had in charge of proceedings, would be able to repair the hole and get the engine running again; until all of a sudden they didn't.
You see they'd had a phone call from a scouse bloke claiming he was in one of the cabins and that he wanted to help. To prove he was serious he sent his German engineer mate with a bag of cash and a load of his mates as repair crew to get things started; so the owners took the cash and let the German engineer take over the repairs.
Turns out though that this German engineer wasn't an engineer at all, he was a retired welder who wanted to have a go at being an engineer. He had been a very good welder in his day, I mean no disrespect, but he certainly wasn't an engineer; and the crew he had didn't give a shit if the ship they were on sank or not because they knew they could jump off and swim to another one if really necessary. Even worse than all that though was the discovery that the scouse bloke wasn't on the ship at all, and the bit of cash he'd sent before would whiff up the place and stain the clothes for a while after.
So the owners once again went cap in hand to the old engineer, the one who had been made redundant. This wise sage turned to the owners and said:
"This ship has taken on a lot of water, such a lot of water that some might say it will never be able to power up and float proudly once again; plus some of the crew you've hired are loafing around down there and swimming in flooded halls of steerage. But I disagree. With patience, time, and an acceptance of some hiccups along the way we can get this ship floating again, fire up these old engines and boldly sail the seven seas once more."
The owners nodded along to the wise old sage's words and then, fired him anyway when he wasn't able to clear the lower decks and fire up the engines immediately. Although really it seems that they just didn't like that he was more popular than they were and knew more about ships and sailing than they did.
So with the old engineer gone again, and water still filling the lower decks, the ship's owners had to find someone else to lead the effort. Luckily someone had come along with a fairly successful history in canoeing and he had brought someone with him who reckoned he knew all about how to run a ship efficiently because he'd read a few books and edited a magazine about the business side of boating. He had all these fancy ideas about blue skies but unfortunately in the time that has past since hitting the iceberg it was clear that a storm was now battering the stricken vessel; so one could think about blue skies all they liked without it making a blind bit of difference.
Undeterred this boy wonder flew in a Swiss-Bosnian engineer, who had only worked smaller Dutch and Belgian boats before, while he went and did the only thing possibly less pertinent than rearranging the deckchairs; emptied the bins.
This new engineer did his best with his new crew (new money had mysteriously been unearthed to pay for this new crew, money which wasn't supposed there before) but it didn't take him long to realise he was way out of his depth (no pun intended) and wisely left before things got too hairy. There were no real hard feelings for this engineer and his assistant, as they didn't really seem to know what they were letting themselves in for.
Still HMS Stockport County took on water.
The owners scrambled around for another engineer to take over and just about managed to find one. He had managed to recover other ships to this depth before so if the worst happened, and it carried on sinking, he should be able to organise a defiant return to this level of partially sunk.
It did carry on sinking, quicker than before, and this new engineer jumped at the first sign of pressure.
Several of the owners by this point were wising up to the fact that they didn't have a clue what to do. Some had already left and others followed. On a mildly related note one of the owners that jumped ship during this period bought into slightly smaller nearby ship, which they then oversaw hitting another iceberg and, as things stand, that ship seems to be still taking on water at a terrifying pace.
In fact it reached a point where so many owners had left the ship that nobody was really sure who was making the decisions any more. The boy wonder was still there taking care of the bins and babbling on about "fundamentals" and a new engineer had been found, but nobody was really sure who was completely in charge. The canoe guy had decided he'd had enough and left it to the others but there wasn't really any others. He did offer to give up the money he was owed if the others did too, which was nice of him.
Or at least that's what was thought. Turned out while all this was going on a couple of guys who'd been getting smashed in the bar suddenly realised they were the only owners still left on the ship. They'd never really wanted to be owners but they loved the ship and didn't want to see her sink so had paid in financially to help out but they didn't really want to be involved in the decision making. Now though they realised they had to.
While letting the boy wonder get on with his own thing they backed this new engineer and finally some progress seemed to be being made. This new engineer was an old friend of the wise sage mentioned earlier and while he was very good at training young crew he'd never been an engineer on a boat much bigger than a schooner before, and HMS Stockport County was no schooner.
Thank the Lord though this new engineer seemed to have something about him. He managed to not only stop the ship taking on any more water but even got some of the pumps working and dispersed some of that which was already on board. The remaining owners sobered up and brought on board a couple of guys who had been heavily involved in managing the ship during earlier glory days on an advisory basis. One of them would even go on to be made an official director of the ship's management team!
The boy wonder left and nobody really noticed.
Things seemed to finally not be terminal for this grand old ship. No more water was coming on, decisions were being made by people who cared and who trusted those who knew more than they did; but while things had improved there was no sign that they were going to get any better than that, not sinking but not refloating either and certainly not moving anywhere.
So this new engineer decided to step aside. Recognising he had done all he could, and happy that the ship was no longer sinking. He committed to helping in a way he knew would benefit the ship for years to come; training new crew.
The owners began looking for a new engineer before the previous one had stepped down. They searched extensively and finally settled on one who came full of promise. He had worked miracles at one of those new build ships mentioned earlier on and came with vibrant promises of immediate success, not only at pumping out water but even getting the old engines running too.
Excitement gripped the owners and bold claims of a final return to glory were promised to the adoring public back home. Surely now things were going to improve.
The first sign that something was amiss was when one of the key members of the crew, someone who had single handedly sealed some of the hull compartments himself, was lent to a smaller nearby ship, that was floating much more steadily, at a rumoured cost to HMS Stockport County.
At first things seemed ok under this new engineer, a great roar was heard from the old engines and little victories in the repair were heralded. But metaphorical victories soon gave way to defeats as it turned out that roar wasn't the engines but a rush of water back into the hull as one of the repairs was blown open by an ill disciplined new crew member.
HMS Stockport County was taking on water again!
The owners and their board of directors had enough of these backwards steps and got rid of yet another engineer. Frustrated and deeply concerned they turned to the one person they thought could finally save their dear vessel; the sageful engineer once again.
He had been working his magic at another nearby ship, one that had been beset with its own difficulties but whose old engines he had purring better than they had for years. The sage was sceptical but on seeing the change in who was actually making decisions, and the advisors they had turned to he was confident he could work with them and finally get this beautiful ship not just afloat, but moving again.
Which brings us to where we are now. Many engineers have come and gone and this beautiful vessel still sits low on the surface of the sea, water still sits in her hull and her engines still struggle to fire. But the sageful engineer and his crew, some of whom lack certain skills but few to none of whom are not putting in all the effort they can (you'll see none of this crew swimming in the flood waters of steerage), are working diligently and with the support of the ship's owners to finally re float this grand old girl. It has been a long and sad wait to get to this point, and we may have longer still to wait before the water is out and she's moving again, but with this sageful engineer in charge and a little patience from the ship's owners and fans, I have no doubt in my mind or in my heart that she will sail the seven seas once more.
Tl;dr: trust Jim and have patience, because we are rising again