Yesterday was a landmark day, a day both emotional and at the same time ruthlessly without sentiment. Yesterday was a watershed. I sold the Ferrari, the Bentley and the Astons: Doris, my faithful steed, was presented at market and exchanged for six magic beans. Well, damn near enough! Having had an enjoyable eighteen months together, we are both off to pastures and adventures new.
I look upon this not so much as an automotive divorce or a parting of vehicular ways but as an amicable flouncing in opposite directions. Doris flounced off to the [spiv-infested, skin-crawlingly unpleasant] Ford dealership in Chester, and I flounced back to the Cardinal. My approach is to regard this as the beginning of a yet-more intimate relationship with my boat. Look for me tomorrow and you shall find me not a grave man, but a man aboard Cardinal Wolsey (or somewhere close by, probably emptying the toilet cassette or some such).
Life in an oddly-shaped bucket floating on a system of shallow drains.
I am fast becoming the screaming nightmare of corporate England and the Establishment in that I live and yet I consume not. Well, lots less than I am supposed to consume, anyway. I playeth not “The Game”. Well, I only play the boaty bits of the game… The “housing ladder”, the motorway “system” and the parochially-metropolitan feminazi “social justice warrior” politically-“correct” government lies & propaganda conformity-enforcement officers of the BBC have no hold on me.
[For the eagle-eyed among you who may have spotted, or at some future date, spot, a screen dangling from the bulkhead of the Cardinal, that is not a television but merely a dumb monitor screen and the machine next to it is but a DVD player. I capture not the live signals of any channel. The only soap that comes aboard the Cardinal is antibacterial and comes in those squirty jars.]
My first car-free journey was the journey back from the Ford dealer in Chester to the Cardinal’s current, temporary, “home” mooring – some eighteen miles as the Google Map flies. Doris would have performed this trip with an immediate cost of about a third of a gallon of petroleum, something on the order of two quid. Public transport in the form of taxi-train-taxi did the same job about an hour slower and for the princely sum of £42.45…
I shall and shall thus be travelling a smidge less than I have of late! But I also won’t have a car to run… no MoT, no Licence Fee and a much-reduced and less-direct fleecing by OPEC.
The trip home did afford me one stellar “WOW!” moment, and you don’t get many of those cosseted in private four-wheeled luxury. This wholly unexpected choirs-of-angels-singing ray-of-sunshine good-grief-but-the-world-is-a-nice-place moment was served up to me at none other than the hands of “Customer Services” at Chester Railway Station, by an employee of whatever “British Rail” is called these days!
As is the custom these [strange] days in England, I ordered my train ticket on the interwebnets before travelling, thus securing a fifty-percent reduction in the face-to-face at-the-ticket-office price. Having been thown out of the moving taxi onto the pavement outside the station I picked myself up, dusted down my black Levi 501s and hobbled in to collect my “real” ticket from the bank of machines. So far, so good. Then I looked at the information displays, wondering in that loveable, vague way that my brain oftentimes assumes, which platform I needed to be on in order to secure a ride on the correct train, one heading towards Crewe and thus nearer [current] home.
All of the displays were ejecting gobs of gibberish about the “eleven-fifty-threes to Middle Earth” and the “expresses only to Hell and Related Destinations” and so forth – nothing mentioning Crewe at all… So, I girded my loins and prepared to tackle “Customer Services”, an institution not known, historically, for its customer-friendliness.
Was I ever wrong on that score or what? At the service desk was a chap looking happy and eager. I explained that I had successfully found my way into the railway system quite alone, but that I didn’t actually know my platform arse from my final destination elbow, and might he please to point me in the direction of something pre-set with the correct vector for my purposes.
The gentleman smiled even more widely [cue the fanfare, cue the crepuscular rays shining down, twang the aged heartstrings with a cattle-prod]. The gentleman stood and told me that this was something he could sort out for me very easily indeed. He then proceeded to invite me through the barrier in the service counter, led me through the back-office where numerous railway employees were beavering away and opened a “Staff Only” door for me. The door led directly onto Platform One, whereupon my train to Crewe was waiting with the driver fondly caressing the steam lever and the fireman working to release the brakes on the pullman.
Mr Customer Services smiled again [knee-braces please, or at the very least, give me something solid to stagger against to maintain some little dignity and street-cred]. He then politely indicated that my private train was about to depart. It was indeed. I thanked him, walked across the platform, boarded, chose a seat and off we went! Had I been required to walk the longer “public” route around the platforms I should have had to wait another half an hour for the next train.
How nice of him was that?
Anyhap. Today is thus the very first day of my life with 57′ of worldly goods. The boat, and what is aboard, are my lot – there isn’t even anything in the marina’s car park.
This is a most splendid circumstance, a most splendid one indeed.
Where e’er I goeth, I boat or I walk. Mostly. I have good shoes and stout boots. These boots were made for walking, and that’s just what they’re going to do.
Now, I suppose that I ought to whip the cabin-boy or splice the mop on the foredeck or something. Or I could just naff off and cook myself some lunch.
I think I’ll just naff off and cook myself some lunch.
Something with a pastry crust again, methinks.
This, naturally, entails a walk into the galley.
Aaaaaannnnnnnnd right left right left left left left right right left…
Knees up you ‘orrible little man… poise those ankles and… skip.