Navigation lights, LED tunnel light, auto-Taser antennae and satellite link system installed…

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in place of the old tunnel light…

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I just hope that the red and the green are on the correct sides!

Yet to be fully hitched to the systems but all is in place now. New LED tunnel light, set slightly upwards and to the right… Rinky dinky navigation lights… Satellite link in its wee box… and probably the most giggle-inducing bit of all, two motorised auto-tracking 80,000 volt Tasers as part of the security system. Trigger any of the sensors and, if you’re within ten metres of the boat, I get an option on my mobile phone (whether aboard or abroad) to lay you out and fry your hairy arse with a wee bolt of electrickery through the aether. I cannot believe that these things (the two black “antennae”) are legal, but it seems so.

Tally ruddy ho, chocks away, let me see your ne’er do well eyeballs (and suchlike) swivel.

Similar systems to be fitted to the rear, on a rack with the rear nav light, anchor light, some uber-floodlights, the horn and two more antennae.

Decks painted and new anti-slip rubber mat laid everywhere including in the engine bay, a manky little dark cupboard opened up into a six-shelf bookshelf (and the corridor made wider as an added benefit) – and some of the interior visual embellishments are up and running, such as these two over my bunk…

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Yes, yes, they do rather betray my sixties and seventies upbringing, with bearded, sandal-wearing music teachers and Hillman Imps and Caramac chocolate bars and “It’s frothy, baby!” Cresta in glass bottles… but I love ’em.

Loads and loads and loads done, loads still to do, but we’re getting there. If only I could stop adding jobs to the list…

Coal storage, new fire surround, fifteen feet more of bookshelf, somewhere to hide my OAP shopping trolley…

How many ellipsesisies can a chap use in one blog post?

Right, I must away and fill in the firearms licence questionnaire for the Tasers. There’s a paragraph in there about a cheque or Postal Order for ten shillings or something, payable to Her Majesty’s Constabulary. Then I must away to my bunk to contemplate negative space within an organic juxtaposition to strong polychromatic statements in portrait format. Or I may just dribble over some splodges of orange and grey and yellow.

BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZT.

BZZZZZZZZTTT.

Take that, yabbastads.

I love the smell of hot, smoking peasant.

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzttttttttttttt.

Chin-chin.

IGH.

The (Margot & Todd) “Dinette” is now the “Ruddy Library, what, eh?” #narrowboat #pretentiousness #moi

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Well, very nearly.

What was a four-seater eating area and a two-person bed is fast becoming a two-person eating area, a redesigned solid-as-a-rock desk, a single bed… with all of the storage it had before PLUS a 75″ x 15″ locker (lined out in carpet) AND a 75″ x 15″ bookshelf with four extra 230v sockets, two USB charging sockets and two 12v sockets. There’s even space underneath for my vast heap of shoes and walking boots to be slung out of sight.

It’s official.

If in the nineteen-seventies it was acceptable for Margot and Todd to call the original a “dinette” then I am damned sure that in the twenty-teens or whatever we’re currently in it is acceptable for me to refer to the space from now on as “The Library”!

Alright, the boat’s far too young to have known what a “dinette” was, but give it a day or two and there’ll be 75″ of luvverly books lined up on that shelf.

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These little 12v beasties (just like car accessory sockets) will allow me to run the laptop and similar stuff without needing the inverter to be on – two ampere-ish things an hour saved there that my solar panels can better direct elsewhere.

The table is an entirely new lump of oak-faced ply, varnished by yours truly (out in the mid-day sun – tee-hee, boing, boing, wibble moo fribble de-clomp I think it’s sunstroke, m’lud…) and it will soon be stood standing on a new leg and with new bracing structures so that, unlike the old table, this one stays upright and doesn’t collapse under the weight of a small but lovingly prepared bucket of gin and tonic.

The old table will be going on to do service in the engine bay, as backing for some more panels of soundproofing. Waste not, etcetera, etcetera.

In other news, the Bro did some extremely brave things with the Cardinal’s engine yesterday, including adjusting something called “the tappets”. I gave him (non-alcoholic) drinks, fetched any tools called for and tried to leave him to it so as not to break his concentration.

Henceforth he shall officially be known as ‘Gunga Din’.

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Both alternators have been tickled and prodded and suchlike and now treat the warning light on the instrument panel with the proper respect, and they both charge away like healthy charging things, one to the starter battery, one to the domestic batteries.

The (very small, semi-trad) rear deck is now painted and ready for new rubber mat to go down, the well deck will follow suit asap or sooner while this dry spell lasts.

A million (possibly two million) other small jobs have been done, and I am ready for my bed. Oh sheesh, am I ever ready for my bed. I love my bed. If arranging oneself horizontally and sleeping the sleep that only those with a 120db “pig and whistle” snore can truly know were an Olympic event, then I’d be bringing home a swag-bag full of gold medals for England about now.

Sitting down and doing sod-all. Why isn’t that an Olympic event? It’s just as difficult to do really properly as is runnin’ or jumpin’ or throwin’ things.

I shall start a petition to see which of the more accessible, everyday sports we can get included in the next Olympic games.

Re-wiring, re-plumbing and re-woodworking a narrowboat for one, that should be an Olympic event.

We are, now, gently sliding on our raggedy arses down the “almost there” side of the moutainous list of jobs. The end (of the beginning) beckons. Wheeeeee!

Cutting down the cushions to fit the new reduced seating and bed space also beckons.

How’s your needlework, Hutson?

Passable, Gunga Din, passable. I remember once in Poonah, having to sew new uniforms for the regiment’s elephant brigade…

Chin-chin.

IGH.

Eating the sun while it cooks me alive #narrowboat #solar

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Feed, my little ones, feed…

Yesterday was ridiculously, disgustingly, liver-churningly hot and humid, and today is predicted and looks likely to be even more foul. I do solemnly swear and affirm that if just one more short-shorted, belly-button-revealing-t-shirted, manky-footed-Croc-sporting person wobbles on at me about how “isn’t it lovely?” and “gorgeous weather” I will exercise my cricket-bat on their brain-casing. It’s not lovely, it’s inhuman, even in the shade. Worse than that, it’s un-English! So, quite frankly, are some of the “sights” that this weather brings out – truly, what has been seen cannot be unseen, no matter how much one’s brain vomits. My retinas still bear the greasy after-image shadow of that… lady, the one wearing what looked like a pair of bloke’s too-small budgie-smugglers, the fringe she’d cut off her great-grandmother’s never-washed net curtains and, where human skin ought to have been, a layer of whipped Factor-50, cellulite, bum-fluff and self-deception.

Yes, I am well aware that I don’t look good either – so that’s why I keep a respectable layer between my “oh-my-good-gods-is-that-even-human” body and Her Majesty’s public!

Just to give you a smidgen of what this weather brings out, here’s a photo of a dead rat’s arse.

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Yesterday was so hot that even the plague-rats were leaping into the canal and drowning themselves. Note the lovely oily scum that had settled around this one, floating past yesterday evening. Note to self: never, not never, don’t ever fall in…

Still, being the stalwarts (Stalinist warts?) that we are, the Bro and I got the extra domestic solar panel mounted and wired in. There are now three one-hundred and thirty-five watt panels on there hooked up to a controller designed to keep the domestic batteries happy. Towards the blunt end is a single thirty-watt panel that has been given a separate controller and the assigned the task of keeping the starter battery in Olympic form. If I were to bung my solar-powered torch (possibly the world’s greatest technological oxymoron) and my solar-powered DAB radio on the roof too then I have no fewer than six solar panels gobbling up the sun’s effluence.

Serious confession time. The sun scares me. Honestly, it does. It’s a chuffing great ball of nuclear nonsense, it’s wholly eight light-minutes away, and it can – at the drop of a summer cloud – make my life unworkable. I just can’t do “heat”, and by heat I mean anything much over 63°F with a pleasant breeze and some tree-rustled shade. When, as today in England, it’s in the nineties, all that I can do is to sit and stare at my feet. I can’t walk, I can’t talk and I certainly can’t work. Even my laptop hates it – the fans, as of 08:40hrs, are on high-alert and 50,000rpm.

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Yestereve’s relief of Mafeking. Um, I mean “sun-set”, yestereve’s sun-set.

No-one else seems worried. If the sun were, for example, just one light-minute closer how would we ever get our Pimms chilled? Don’t tell me that hot and humid is lovely, and that a tropical island is some putative “paradise” – they’re all Hell.

Consider this if you will. If you were to grab the keys to your Toyota Priapus Hybrid or whatever it is that you drive and head towards the sun at 70mph it would only take some one million two hundred and twenty thousand or so hours of constant driving to get there.

That’s far too close, even if it would necessitate listening to one or two of the CDs in the car twice.

Nota bene: if you wish to know, then paradise, such as it may be, is actually a small, desolate and windswept island somewhere on the Atlantic coast of northern England or even, damn it, Scotchland.😉

Anyway, so alright already with the horror stories, what else have you done this week, eh?

Well, we’ve begun to fit the first of the soundproofing. Wasn’t that just the noisiest job this side of gas-testing the brass section of a Yorkshire-based orchestra. Fourteen holes to drill just for this, the smallest hatch – five for the bolts that hold up the 18mm marine-ply and nine to pin the soundproofing to it. My apologies to the neighbours in the marina (but there’s more, much more to come before things quieten down)…

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When fitted, the panels have the flavour of a Victorian buttoned-velour seat cushion.

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This is the stuff that’s going in – layers of acoustic foam and various densities of rubber (from “doh” to “ug”, one presumes).

Many, many fine sundry items have been going back in place, such as fire blankets and extinguishers. The washing machine now has its own cupboard, tucked up and out of the way under the gunwale in the galley, soon to have its own power supply. The first of the nifty perspex-and-chrome photo-frames has gone onto the cabin wall, and very sleek it looks too (ten quid plus p&p from Amazon, A3 size). The last of the uninvestigated wiring has been investigated and changes planned, ditto the plumbing and new taps.

The final two of the four “Breezies” have gone on the roof in place of the mush-er-oom vents – tiny wee flying saucers, in a neat formation from stem to stern and with teensie-weensy little fans to push air in or out of the Cardinal’s innards. These latter take the place of the punka-wallahs sitting in the corners with fans tied to their toes. I am an equal opportunities employer, and have given them all a guinea in redundancy money, a letter of reference and the same opportunity to catch a bus back to Poonah from the stop outside the marina.

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Batteries not included, although, if they were, my solar panels could now charge them up within nano-seconds.

It is now 09:15hrs and I am already sitting here with a damp flannel on my head and one foot in a bucket of water. Today may very well be cancelled due to inclemencies.

I daren’t even go out – that woman with the stretchy budgie-smugglers might be out there again. It’s just possible that with this heat and with Chinese-manufacture elastic having a tendency to give up the struggle when over-loaded the ensemble may have ridden even further up into areas of interest only to gynaecologists, bacteriologists and aliens with probes…

No, much better that I stay indoors, lie on the floor and think about penguins and ice-cubes and lovely winter snow-storms.

I’m not strong enough for outdoors in these conditions.

There are jobs abounding on the “still to be done” list. I’ll just have to start working night-shifts.

In the meantime, I will leave you with my best wishes and my fervent hope that the great bird of happiness craps in your beer.

Chin-chin.

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Exits stage left to the sound of water being poured over his pith helmet.

Ian Hutson 2

Erm – I mean right, exits stage right…

Ian Hutson 2a

Oh, sod it. I am very over-warm Hector.

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Exits whichever bloody way is coolest…

Oh, how I remember cool. I have fond memories of cool. Cool? Cool? Where are you, Cool? Cool, come home, you fool, all is forgiven.

Stumbling about the Cheshire countryside soon after sparrow-fart

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The skeleton of a Vulcan Bomber, picked clean by feral sheep and field-marmosets in a field in Cheshire.

Body took brain on a walk yesterday morning. Brain didn’t want to go, but cabin-fever loomed and body prevailed, insisting upon at least a brief sashay and a short shuffle in the open air. If nothing else, said body, it keeps that musty smell a little at bay.

Anyway, what did we spy on our perambulations together, but the eerie sight of the skeleton of a Vulcan bomber.

It must be the annual Vulcan Bomber migration season again, and I suppose that this one just hadn’t eaten enough to see it through the long, long flight from Stoke Poges to Mablethorpe, or something, and fell out of formation. Once on land of course they are almost immediately seen to by feral sheep and field-marmosets, and the bones are picked clean.

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An R.A.F. Avro Vulcan Bomber, by Sgt. David S. Nolan, US Air Force (DF-ST-86-11850) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

How sad to see something once so dominant brought so low.

The bones will be there for years, I suspect – at least until the next Cold War.

Anyway, the rest of the stroll was relatively uneventful. One of the wheels on my Zimmer began to display a mind of its own. My drip-dry jeans worked wonderfully and hardly left any trail behind me. I suppose it’s just possible that I have misunderstood the directions on the label, and they aren’t intended to be quite so liberating as I think they thunk I thought?

Talking of thinking, I had been toying with the idea of buying Cheshire, but now that I know it’s on the Vulcan migration flight-path, I don’t think I shall. Have you seen the size of the droppings, for one thing? They put seaflaminherongullimots to shame in the poop department.

Work on the Cardinal continues apace, and yesterday he gained a fully-functioning remote isolation switch for the starter battery, courtesy of the Chief Engineer. It makes a nice, satisfying “clunk” when the relay kicks in, means that I can isolate the starter battery from inside and, most importantly, saves some eleventy-three metres of hefty cable which has now been removed from the starter circuit. There’s now very little wire indeed in the engine bay, and such as there is has to stretch on tip-toes to connect what must be connected. It is now a lean, mean, engine machine – with a remote battery isolation switch.

By the time we’ve finished, this boat will be far too posh for me to be seen in.

😉

Meanwhile, the search for the bodies continues in the marina car-park.

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If I had to hazard a guess myself, then I’d say that they are digging roughly twenty-seven and a half metres too far due north-east, and two point three metres too far out from the bank, but they won’t be sure of that until they’ve gone down at least one point five metres for the first body, two metres down for the second.

Just a guess.

Anyway.

One of these evenings they’re going to leave the keys in that machine, and then I’ll have some fun.

And I’ll move the bodies again, just to be on the safe side.

Chin-chin.

Sir Isaac Newton, gravity wells, apples and the Dark Side of the Moon

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Don’t sit under the apple tree and change the course of human science with anyone else but me, anyone else but me… The sign didn’t explain where the talking snake was while the apple was falling and why the Mr God then threw young Isaac out of his own garden.

Day something-or-other of our wanderings while Cardinal Wolsey is was being blacked (hull blacked, that is, not black-balled or admitted into the High Order of Blick & White Minstrels).

Sir Isaac Newton’s home, Woolsthorpe Manor, near Grantham in Lincolnshire.

Wow.

Just, wow.

The place felt magical – steeped in history (and none of the history had been washed off or “modernised” or commericalised away). Bucolic landscape – twittering birds, rustling trees, rolling meadows, grass and wildflowers singing to themselves as they grew.

What can beat standing in Sir Isaac Newton’s own bedroom, looking out of the window he looked out of, straight at a direct descendant of the very tree under which he was brained by a ripe apple? What a connection to history eh? Just casually wandering about the room where he conducted his experiments with prisms and light – what a privilege, what a secular scientific pilgrimage!

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Mr Newton was either unaware or cared less than a fig that IKEA could do him a nice window treatment for less than eleventy-three guineas.

Newton, undoubtedly one of the top one scientists throughout human and alien history, was the inventor of gravity, a slayer of apples, and latterly a manufacturer of the “Rainbow Ray-Gun” used to enforce prism reforms… Notice how, even after all of these years he can control the gun from his portrait using just an index-finger…

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Mr Newton pictured here without his customary wig. Many, if not most, of the people in Wolverhampton think of the seventeenth century and onwards as a time of dull, beige and sober quietness, but in fact, from 1666 onwards after Mr Newton’s work with light, history buzzed and fizzed to the sound of his Rainbow Gun.

He also invented the Gravity Well (and planet Earth was immediately moved into one, since it was deemed fashionable)…

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Initially, Mr Newton was pleased, pleased that is until his invention led to an increase in the number of brass euphoniums being played.

Worse was yet to come, when someone down Mexico way turned a gravity well upside down to see what would fall out, and invented a new fifty-gallon hat…

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However, after working really hard to make things right again, Newton became the fifth member of Pink Floyd and wrote Dark Side of the Moon, so all was forgiven.

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Alright, alright, I am finished with my tacky jokes (“jokes”) section. Back to the serious world of Woolsthorpe Manor.

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Sitting in Newton’s garden on a sunny summer’s day (and, no, in England “sunny summer’s day” is NOT a tautology but more of a rarity)!

This is one of the eighteen-thousand two hundred and seventy-six top reasons why I love England. Where else could you just wander along to a scientific giant’s old birthplace and family home, cough up half a dozen quid each and then wander in to gawp at liesure? The estate is really tastefully managed, with coffee (and cake) room hidden away in one of the barns and an interactive display for part-formed, untamed, smelly humans (i.e., children) – also hidden away from the main building. Visitors can also hang about in the wholly unsupervised garden wherein grows a descendant of a descendant of a descendant of a descendant of the actual, genuine, real apple tree in question – how brilliant is that?

The house itself – no “tours”, just a couple of knowledgeable guides dotted around, happy to answer questions and watching that visitors don’t run off with any of the larger laws of motion, or tuck the original copy of Principia into their bag. Relaxed, human, thoroughly enjoyable.

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Mr Albert Einstein called in to visit – not while we were there though – to pay his respects to the spot. I would say when he visited, but it doesn’t really matter, since time is all relative.

I like to believe that he stood where I was later to stand (although how he would know this, one can but conjecture) and said something akin to ‘So, Newton, time and space already? You want I should tell you a few things about time and space? Oy!…’

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Folk weren’t shorter in those days, they just didn’t lie down full-length to sleep, sleeping propped up instead for health and anti-snoring reasons.

In fact, the only thing that wasn’t civilised about this visit (and even then, only in the brother’s view) was the lady on the desk as we first walked in to buy our tickets. She took one look at us, up, down and sideways and then asked (with an evil grin) ‘So what’s all this then? Father and son on a day out? …’

Once again I found myself in the position of having to restrain the Bro from violence and mayhem, while simultaneously explaining that, no, it’s just that Steve’s had a hard life whereas I have been cosetted in the lap of luxury and privilege for most of mine*.

[* As open prisons go, I have been held in some of England’s finest.]

The custodians of the Newton place are an august body going by the name of the The National Truss, so we don’t have an individual or more approachable FaceBook of Twitter presence, just the major all-encompassing one.

National Truss on Facebook

National Truss on Twitter

BUT, they do have a dedicated interwebnets page here – Woolsthorpe Manor

AND you can use Googoil to find them with this map thingy

Would I recommend a visit? Ab-so-lutely yes. The history there is momentous, stupendous, mind-boggling. The establishment well-run, relaxed, tasteful and generally spiffing. I’ve sat in Sir Isaac Newton’s garden! I’ve poked around his house and his bedroom/study! I’ve eaten cake and swilled coffee where his family used to keep their cows! All while trees rustled, birds twittered and where someone thought that I looked a lot, lot younger than my bro!

[Sniggers into lace handkerchief…]

As far as I am concerned, if you don’t know who Sir Isaac Newton was then you don’t deserve to stick to the floor.

I will leave you with the Newton coat of arms; crossed bones. A coat of arms so very similar to the Hutson arms, ours being crossed spoons with bezants grand and badgers rampant.

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English poet Alexander Pope was moved by Newton’s accomplishments to write the famous epitaph:

Nature and nature’s laws lay hid in night;
God said “Let Newton be” and all was light.

Newton himself had been rather more modest of his own achievements, famously writing in a letter to Robert Hooke in February 1676:

‘If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.’

It occurs to me however that, had the coconut tree been as popular in England as was the apple tree, Mr Newton might have formulated his great theories only for his cerebral lights to go out permanently almost immediately afterwards. Wheeeeee… ‘Aha, now it all makes sense!’ … Splat! – ‘Oh, I’m dead!’ Result; no Newtonian physics, not never.

Once again, the English climate is responsible for so very much that we may be grateful for.

Chin-chin.