A Child's View

By Sue James

Jason Christopher Marshall handed his writing assignment in with quiet confidence, convinced that his work would merit an A. Writing about his hero had been easy. He hadn't needed to write about some footballer or pop star that he'd never even met. He'd been able to write about a real hero. He'd written about his Uncle Chip, executive officer of the world famous submarine, the Seaview. Jason adored his uncle and loved to hear stories about his adventures aboard the Seaview. In fact, to his impressionable 8 year old mind the whole crew were heroes but none more so than his uncle. Uncle Chip even looked like a hero being tall and strong and good at sport and so did his best friend, Seaview's skipper, Lee Crane. Jason wasn't so sure about their boss, Admiral Nelson, who was short and had red hair and was a lot older than Uncle Chip but he had invented the Seaview so Jason supposed that he was also a hero.

Jason hoped that his teacher would like his writing. He was sure it would be more interesting than reading about footballers and pop stars. His friend, Shaun, had written about a soccer player called Kevin Keegan but Jason couldn't see what was heroic about playing soccer. It was just a game after all. Shaun had said that writing about a relation didn't count although he was always interested to hear Jason's stories about his uncle and the Seaview. It had been difficult to decide exactly what to write about but in the end he'd written about the time three years ago when the Seaview had been sunk in a minefield and Uncle Chip had rescued everyone. He had written, truthfully, that he didn't remember the event very well as he'd only been 5 years old at the time but he'd read all about it lots of times in the newspapers and magazines that his parents had kept. He didn't write that his mother, Uncle Chip's older sister, had called her brother "a stupid idiot" rather than a hero, although she was really very proud of him. He'd ended by stating that when he grew up he wanted to be an executive officer aboard the Seaview. When he received the "A" he was sure would be awarded for his work Jason intended to write and let his uncle know. Until then he wouldn't tell anyone, not even his parents.


It was in shocked disbelief that Jason looked at his returned assignment. "B". There in red ink was a "B" and the comment: "An interesting piece of writing, Jason. You obviously know a lot about submarines but this was supposed to be a factual piece of writing, not a story."

Jason's fair eyebrows came together in a frown that was reminiscent of his uncle's. A story!! How dare she accuse him of writing a story as if he'd just made it up. He knew what a factual piece of writing was but did Miss Armstrong? His teacher suddenly slid several points in his estimation of her. When he'd first arrived in England the previous September he'd taken immediately to the pretty, young teacher at his temporary school. Although the Marshall family were only in England for a year Jason had taken seriously his parents' encouragement to make friends and to get the most out of the experience of living in another country. Despite being rather quiet and shy he'd settled down well at school and this was partly due to the friendly encouragement of his new teacher. Jason had thought she was wonderful but now he wasn't sure, especially as Shaun's writing about Kevin Keegan had earned him an "A". Finally, at the end of the day, he plucked up the courage to approach her.

"Yes, Jason?" Miss Armstrong smiled at him as he hovered by her desk when everyone else went home. "Can I help you?"

Jason frowned slightly. "Why'd you say my writing was a story when it wasn't?"

"Which writing was that?" She continued to smile pleasantly at him.

"About Uncle Chip and the Seaview," Jason replied unhappily. "It wasn't a story; it's true."

Miss Armstrong's face indicated that she remembered the story and she nodded. It had, she recalled, shown that Jason Marshall had an excellent knowledge of submarines and a vivid imagination. Possibly his story had been based on truth and she suggested this now. "I'm sure that some of it was true," she began, "but........"

"Not some of it, ALL of it," Jason interrupted with a glare. "It's all true."

"But it couldn't be," Miss Armstrong said gently, aware that Jason was becoming a little upset. "Nobody could travel through a minefield like your uncle did and still be alive."

"He did," Jason insisted. "You can ask him. He did do it and he's still alive."

"Where is he now?" Miss Armstrong asked patiently.

Jason shrugged. "I don't know. He might be at home; he might be on Seaview. I'm gonna write him and tell him you don't believe me. He'll tell you it's all true." And with that Jason gathered up his books and walked out leaving a startled and slightly amused teacher behind him.


"Hey, Champ. What's up?" Helen Morton Marshall regarded her elder son with concern. Trailing out of school ten minutes after his elder sisters and younger brother, Jason's face was mutinous and his blue eyes were full of tears that threatened to spill over any minute.

"He's been in trouble!" Ten year old Derry laughed somewhat triumphantly as it made a change for one of her siblings to be in trouble instead of her. "That's why he's late. What did you do, Jase?”

"NOTHING!!" Jason glared through his tears. "I didn't do anything. She did.....she called me a liar."

"Who did?" Helen put an arm around his shoulders.

"Miss Armstrong."

"Miss Armstrong?!" His mother looked at him in surprise. "Miss Armstrong called you a liar?"

Jason nodded his expression still mutinous.


"She said....." Jason struggled to get the words out, he was so upset. "She said that Uncle Chip couldn't have gone through that minefield and still be alive and that I'd made it all up. She said it was a story." Slowly he told his mother and siblings all about the assignment and what he'd written as they walked to the car. Despite her sympathy for her son Helen couldn't help feeling sorry for his young teacher faced with almost unbelievable stories about her younger brother. "I said Uncle Chip will write and tell her it's all true and then she'll have to believe me," Jason said as he climbed into the back seat of their hired estate car. "Can I phone him?"

"No," Helen shook her head as she put the key into the ignition. "No, you can't phone him. He's probably at sea."

"But he might be home," Jason protested. "She'd have to believe it if he told her."

"I'll tell her," Helen spoke decisively. "I'll come in tomorrow and explain that it's all true. And maybe you could write and ask Nanna and Gramps to send a copy of one of the newspapers that they kept .I left all ours at home."

"Yes!" Jason cheered up considerably. "Then she'll know for sure that it's true."


After writing to his grandparents to request a copy of the news cuttings they'd kept, Jason returned to school the next day slightly happier but still distrustful of Miss Armstrong. As promised, at the end of the day, Helen Marshall came into school and asked to read the disputed piece of work. When she'd finished she put the book down on the desk and smiled apologetically at the young teacher. "I know it sounds a little far fetched but it is true I'm afraid. Believe me. I watched the whole thing on TV and it was one of the worst days of my life."

"You mean Jason's uncle really did go through that minefield and survive?"

"He did," Helen nodded. "It was all over the news and in the papers though I guess it wouldn't have generated as much interest over here."

"I'm sure I don't remember it," Miss Armstrong admitted. "I would have been in my last year of college at the time. I have heard of the Seaview though and Admiral Nelson. Is he really as brilliant as they say he is?"

"I guess he is," Helen shrugged slightly. "Chip has a lot of respect for him. Anyway, I'm sorry to have taken up so much of your time Miss Armstrong but it was important to Jason that I came and sorted this out. He does idolise his uncle and he was a bit upset yesterday."

"I realize that and I'm sorry," Miss Armstrong apologised. "I really didn't mean to upset him."

"I know," Helen Marshall smiled. "And believe me when I say I wouldn't have believed him either."


Several weeks later and thousand miles away in Santa Barbara, California Lieutenant-Commander Chip Morton and his best friend, Captain Lee Crane were on their way to eat dinner at their favourite Italian restaurant. After three weeks at sea on a routine but exacting mission they were looking forward to a quiet, relaxing evening eating and drinking. After going home to their respective apartments to shower and change, Chip had driven to Lee's to collect him. As the dark haired captain climbed into the passenger seat of his friend's jeep the latter tossed an envelope at him.

"Here, read this."

What is it?" Lee caught it deftly with one hand and, turning it over saw the stamps and answered his own question. "It's from Helen."

"Yea," Chip nodded his blond head as he waited for Lee to fasten his safety belt. "We're famous!"

"Are we?" Lee regarded his friend quizzically. "Why? What did we do?"

"Actually you didn't do much at all," Chip grinned as he looked in his rear view mirror and pulled smoothly away from the kerb. "It was me but you did get a mention. Read it." He indicated the envelope that Lee still held in his hands.

"Isn't it personal?"

"No," Chip laughed. "It's all about us and Jason's teacher. It appears we've caused quite a stir on the other side of the pond!"

Curiously, Lee unfolded the airmail letter and began to read. As he did so a broad smile spread across his handsome features. "If she thinks that's farfetched we should write and tell her of some of our more unconventional adventures. When are they coming home…. August? I wonder if we could persuade the Admiral to let us dock somewhere in the UK before then. We could go pay Jason's school a visit."

"No way," Chip shook his blond head. "They don't need us disrupting their lives."

"It'd be fun!" Lee grinned. "And I'm sure that poor teacher would love to meet Jason's hero in the flesh."

"Yea, well I'm just glad that this happened after I'd been to visit them else I bet the kids would manage to force me into visiting their school," Chip made a face. "I'll send them some pictures of the Seaview. That should keep them quiet."

“That’s no good,” Lee admonished him. “The project was all about heroes. Its pictures of you that they need. Hey,” he grinned to himself as Chip kept his eyes on the road. “I bet I could find some very “un-hero” like pictures to send them…or how about Helen giving them some of your childhood photos….how about those ones of you at Helen’s wedding? That would encourage the children, wouldn’t it? Despite an unlikely start this little boy in the kilt still grew up to be a strong, manly hero!” Lee dissolved into laughter at Chip’s ominous expression.

“Least Helen keeps everything in perspective,” Lee continued to chuckle as he returned his attention to the letter in his hands. “I felt so sorry for the teacher I was tempted to tell her some of your less heroic exploits.” “I wonder which ones she was referring to. Maybe I should write to this teacher and tell her what you’re really like?”

Chip merely raised his eyebrows and grunted his eyes on the road as he pulled into the restaurant’s parking lot and reversed deftly into a vacant space. Turning off the ignition with one hand, he released his seatbelt with the other as he turned to his friend and held out his hand for the letter. “May I remind you,” he said solemnly, “that without my heroic efforts you wouldn’t be here today teasing me!”

“Are you finally admitting that what you did was heroic?” Lee asked equally solemnly as he handed the letter over and released his own seat belt. Chip had never been comfortable with the media’s insistence on calling him a hero and had called the rescue mission “necessary but foolhardy”. Like Lee himself he was very modest and saw all acts of bravery performed in the course of his work as nothing more than his duty and he was always very keen to protect his own privacy. Now his blue eyes twinkled as he considered Lee’s question: “I still think it was a pretty dumb thing to do,” he grinned, “and I’m still amazed that I did it but if Jason wants to see me as a hero it’s not my place to shatter his illusions.” He paused. “Do you see yourself as a hero?”

“No,” Lee shook his dark head.

“Even though you’ve done some very heroic things?”

“Just my job,” Lee argued, honestly.

“Exactly!” Chip smiled triumphantly. “Heroism isn’t something anyone aspires to. You don’t get up in the morning and say I want to be a hero today but sometimes you find yourself in a situation where you have to do something that others will insist on labelling you a hero for.”

“True,” Lee couldn’t argue with that. “Tell you what, in recognition of your heroism I’ll buy dinner!”

Chip’s eyebrows shot up and then he laughed. “Three years late but you’re on!” And with that they both exited the car and entered the restaurant.