A rambling discourse on C-beams glittering in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate

It’s documented in my personnel file in the bowels of Whitehall that the original, the real, the hitherto only Blade Runner is just about my favourite film. I haven’t seen the – what? The re-make? The sequel? I’ll watch it, of course, when it finally drags itself onto DVD and falls to charity-shop prices. I don’t generally think much of remakes or sequels though, so I am not holding my breath (or, despite what the police say, holding anyone else’s).

Miami Vice wasn’t bad, as films go, but it wasn’t and never could be the original television series. My affection for the 2006 big-screen version probably has more to do with it starring Colin Farrell than it has to do with any homage to Crockett and Tubbs Mk.1. Anyone involved, however, in the “remake” of The Italian Job ought, in my opinion, to be debagged and duct taped to the rear end of a ripe female rhinoceros during rhinoceros mating season.

Life’s a bit like originals and remakes. Hooman beans are, mostly, far too desperately busy in the business of trying to create the life they think that they want – the sequel – to appreciate the life that they have – the original. We may be stardust, we may be golden, but unless you’re a baggy-trousered Buddhist there won’t be a remake of your life, no sequels I to VI. If you miss the action first time around then you’ve missed it. Which cheerful truism brings me, ramblingly, back around to C-beams glittering in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.

These, and other wonders, were the subject of replicant Roy Batty’s brief but uber-poignant monologue in the moments before he shakes a double six, snuffs it, puts on his wooden overcoat and generally bounces off this mortal coil. I may be wrong, but if you ask me, if you are in need of a philosophy by which to live your life, you might do worse than to consider these words and reshape them to your needs.

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.

Still I ramble.

My point is, life is made up of a series of moments, each one juicy, significant, full of meaning and promise, and all about as eternal as an individual fart in a vegan hippie commune.

You are the only one who can appreciate your moments.

No-one else gives a rodent’s rectum about them, but they’re your life, and if you miss them first (and only) time around, they’ll be lost – like a brilliant television series recorded on VHS tapes, if you’ll excuse me paraphrasing Roy.

Each daft, silly little really quite insigificant moment needs to be recognised, grasped and – if you speak Martian – grokked. Miss a moment here and there and it won’t make much difference, but miss them all and you’ll wonder what you actually did for eighty-six and a half years as they flatten down the earth over you with the Curate’s favourite spare shovel. I don’t want to be buried with a puzzled expression on my face. A smug, slightly lewd grin would be much preferable, thank you.

You don’t need to rush to catch your moments, quite the opposite. Top speed of my life these days (except when I am streaking at sporting events) is walking pace, and I still get served up many moments worth – I hope – photographing and repeating here. They’re all really quite insigificant in the grand (non-)scheme of things, but they’re fun, and they’re a giggle, and they constitute my life these days.

The dawn this morning, so full of Eastern promise.


Ten minutes after dawn this morning, so full of thick, soggy cloud about to cover over all thoughts of Eastern promise.


Whenever I stop the Cardinal and pause in our journey I allow the planet to tie itself up to us so that it feels safe. Earth’s ropes, today, frozen solid and covered in hail overnight, but strong enough to stop a whole planet from drifting away from me.


Yes, I suppose that you could think of these as Earth’s nipple rings. How odd that you should think them thus.

Random graffiti in one of the canal bridges through Middlewich. An excellent point, but made with faulty grammar and thus forever irksome.


Monday’s are fine It’s your life thats rubbish.

The artist has, by the look of things, never taken a moment to study the apostrophic arts under a Master Apostropher.

A lone swan waiting but for what? To use the lock? This is one of the locks that the Cardinal and I shall have to thread ourselves through when we move on. We’ll be coming down through this lock.


A friendly goose at Aqueduct Marina – I am a “goose-approved” person. Whenever I pointed my camera at him he stood on one leg and stuck out the other, determined to be photographed displaying his disability, “Angel wing“, for all to see. This is why he’s a friendly goose in a marina, he can’t fly away and has no option.


A unicyclist rushing back and forth on the towpath. Don’t ask me why, I have no idea. The most plausible theory offered to date is that he took his tricycle in for repair and was told where to shove it, but didn’t quite have the room.


A look back at the fuel boat Halsall, and a lovely boat-couple who allowed me to hijack their visit to bung Halsall for three extra sacks of coal and please to leave it when you pass on the deck of my boat which is what are about two miles back that way thank you yes indeedy. They did, no problem. How’s that for a friendly, canal-ish service?


Coal, on my boat, covered in last night’s hail, partially thawed and then re-frozen for extra crispiness, like nothing so much as bags of big black peas, waiting in the freezer.


There have been other moments in this past “Silly Season” week, moments not amenable to being photographed. There were two delicious days when the world fell quiet, the trains didn’t rumble past, the roads were just about free from traffic and no aeroplanes roared overhead, landing or taking off from Manchester hairyport. These were “Christmas Day” and “Indigestion Day” (also known as “Boxing Day”).

On the first of these two days I stepped off the Cardinal to sniff around and, in some sort of sensory paradox, noticed the absence of the usual volume of aural sensory input. I just had time to savour the lack of machine noise when a huge flock of small birds, sparrows or some such, flew overhead. I could hear the whisper of their wings. How often can a chap say that he heard a sparrow fly past? I heard it two thousand or more times over all at once, and it was the loudest sound around at the time.

It was the sound, if you’ll excuse me confusing my life-forms, of the power of a billion butterfly sneezes, transmitted through icy-crisp clear air. Had a squirrel coughed and then excused itself a hundred yards away, I should have heard that too. There are indeed occasions when extreme quiet, if not by definition silence, can be golden.

You can’t spend all of your life having moments of course, but what would this life be, if full of care, without the time to stand and stare? [Or some such poetic bollocks.]

Appreciate the little things, folks, they’re what the big things are made from.

No matter how small, they’re every bit as good as “attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion” or “C-beams glittering in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate”. Remember them, they’re all that any of us has – and remember too that they will all be lost, like tears in rain.

Here endeth the canal philosophy lecture for today. Please have your essays in by the end of the week, no exceptions, no excuses.

postum scriptum addendii – If you ever worry that your life is boring, folks, and quite frankly, some of you ought to be worrying, then just remember that to an alien you’re the alien. How interesting is that?

It’s all about perspective.

No, not those sheets of plastic “glass”, that’s Perspex. I mean the way we look at things.

Sideways, usually, like a bewildered Welsh Collie. Or wide-eyed and pensive, like Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham and, yes, even Donald Sutherland, all lashed individually to the rear of a female rhinoceros, listening to the rumble of approaching young gentlemen rhinos.

Yes, I liked the “re-make” of The Italian Job that much.



  1. Like you, Blade Runner is (currently) my favourite film, and Batty’s words a philosophy I embrace. I have yet to see, or to really desire to see, the sequel. Also like you, I am driven crazy, on a daily basis, by the misuse of the apostrophe.
    Unlike you, I have never been on a narrow boat traversing the canal system. It appears that it must be good for the brain, judging by this perceptive and enjoyable article.
    Thanks for following my blog, which is much appreciated.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Combine the physical pain of an absentee or misplaced apostrophe with the inexorable rise of “gonna”, “wanna”, “thru”, add a dash of “bring” used in place of “take”, sprinkle on some repetitive use of “like” and “get”, top off with a rising inflection at the end of every sentence and there you have it, a lethal combination. King English is dead, long live King Gibberish!

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        1. The hyphen is also dying the death of a thousand omissions, resulting in new professions such as “coworker”. I’ve no idea how to ork a cow, and no desire to do so, but perhaps my co-workers could shed some light on the matter? Perhaps though, I simply misspoke… [aaarghh!]. 😉 The insane thing is that the people who are murdering the English language and claim that it doesn’t matter, if you can somehow work out the intended message, would be the first and the loudest to complain if someone began similarly murdering the arithmetic used in their pay-slips…

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  2. Life. And cinema. It’s about perspective. I like the remake of the Italian Job. 😀
    I didn’t see the original until several years after I saw the remake and I didn’t think much of it.
    I was musing the other day about how much of my perception of beauty and art and just good taste is completely about the context I originally judged it in. If I watch a movie in it’s era and I liked it, I almost invariably continue to like it. Even when I can see from the distance of time that it really isn’t all that good or that it has themes I know see as abhorrent. I will still like it.

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    1. It is, as you say, all individual and personal – the problem is that the most we can ever do is to conjur up some empathy with other folk’s points of view, we can never actually experience them fully, and certainly not in the same context. In that sense we truly are all quite alone in this “life” experience. Yee-hah! Giddy up, Universe, we’re coming through… one at a time! 😉

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    1. Thank you! Well, according to physics and wotnot the sun ought to be on the horizon again by now, but it’s pitch black, full cloud and pelting down with sleet & rain. No dawn for me today then! The rain on the Cardinal’s hull does make a nice sound though…


      1. I think that even though the days are beginning to very slowly get longer, the mornings actually get darker at first, I don’t know why, although it is staying lighter in the afternoons, I am sure of it! Stay warm!

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  3. This is so wonderful, an exceptional piece and just what I needed to read and I am certain to go back and re-read it over and over again! You excel! I shall watch the re-make, but just this one small piece, complete with music of Blade Runner still sends shivers down my spine; a film that brilliant could never be remade.

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    1. Ta muchly, ma’am, I must have been inspired by the (very, very, brief) dawn this morning! Have to agree entirely with you on Blade Runner – and on Rutger. 🙂


    1. Thank you! I was – still am – in a osrt of thinkee-philosophical mood that only twelve hours’ of sleep will cure. I shall begin treatment soon, now that’s it’s dark again. 😉

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