This damnable canal water seems apt to turn crusty at the slightest provocation.
According to Her Majesty’s Meteorological Office it was a balmy barely zero last night (and how else would I know, snug in my Captain Pugwash onesie?) but it’s still solid enough for mice to ice-skate upon this morning, and they are doing so with abandon in tartan trousers and little red scarves.
The dawn sky has that curiously unpleasant nicotine-yellow horizon, the one that according to folklore means that several early-morning farm-diddlers are smoking their pipes, just over the horizon. In fact, I can vouch for that, being moored next to what passes for a dairy farm these days, where the moo-cows (what am I, thirteen going on eight?) live indoors and hugely noisy tractors and wotnots move their poo about all night, every night. Tis more akin to a factory than a farm.
Really, they would do better to farm sparrows, although I suspect that milking would be more of a palaver.
Have you ever tried milking a sparrow? No, nor have I.
I am still where I am, which is exactly where I was, but needs must mooch on again in a couple of days. This is why I don’t want the canal to freeze, thank you very much indeed, Noleen.
Yesterday was another day for an appointment with the fuel boat, Messrs Halsall. After doubtless a long day they arrived Chez Cardinal soon after winter-dark, and we exchanged goods. They gave me a bottle of LP gas and some sacks of modern coal-substitute, and I gave them quids from Baby’s First Bank Account (by Tomy™). I don’t know what I do with the stuff, really I don’t, I might as well burn it for all that it just goes up in smoke and flame.
It is, I am certain, gobsmackingly hard work running the fuel boats. Long days ploughing up and down the canals, oiking sacks of coal and bottles of LPG about – all while dancing on the gunwales of two loosely-tethered boats. I don’t know how they do it, but I am certain glad that they do. Thank you, chaps.
The Silly-Silly Season (yonder christmas and the new year) have largely shown us their backsides, thanks and praise be to the Greek and Roman gods. We may now resume more ordinary levels of insanity, and we may get on with the business of Messrs January and Messrs February.
Captain Pugwash (that’s me) finally – and herein I refer to the nonsense of the aforesaid Silly Season – finally found a pharmacy run by a pharmacist qualified and willing to administer an Influenza vaccination (yes, yes, I know, but needs must, we live in a world of compromise). Have to laugh at folk on the Facebook &etc who are “off with flu” or “have had flu for a few days”. No. No, what you have or had is not flu! I had flu when I was thirty-one years old, and it damned near killed me. I lost weeks upon weeks, two of which were spent thoroughly disconscious and hoping (at the time) for a swift death. Thus: had proper flu once, never ever want it again (not sure that I could handle it again, these decades later).
The Cardinal’s holds are once again stocked against the weather with comestibles. I may not always fancy what I have aboard, but I shan’t suffer rickets or scurvy or sail-trimmer’s foot except by choice.
The next items of urgency on the constantly-rolling agenda are the refilling the main water tank and the emptying of the gazunders. We are about to hit “Red light on cassette number three, Captain”. I have no idea where it all comes from, but it does.
Enough, I say, enough!
Get a grip, man, get a grip.
Panic over, I just got a grip. Phew, that was close.
The wildlife hereabouts is not quite up to Longleat standards. Sparrows, certainly, and there is some nocturnal towpath-commuter that sounds like a cross between a fox and a goose. Perhaps he has flu? Perhaps it is a cross between a fox and a goose? Anything’s possible. There is a deceased fox up by the next lock. I suspect that he fell in and drowned and has been fished out by some passer-by. He looked to be a lean and hungry young chap.
Speaking of wildlife, the dog-walkers and joggers are going back to their more usual pattern. The sudden Silly Season rush of “christmas guilt” joggers and “new year’s resolutioners” has evaporated, and only the usual die-hards are left. A couple of these sport respectable shorts, the others eschewing simple good taste and any respect for their fellow man by wearing that invention of Mr The Devil, Lycra tights. Who knew that so many of England’s men (“men“) harboured such desires to dress in similar fashion to pre-school and primary-school girls, and ballerinas? It’s very sad.
Talking of sad, some twonk has just forced his way past through the ice, clattering, clonking and generally saying yah boo sucks to your blacking coat as well as mine, sir. There’s always, well – I was going to say one, but there’s usually many more than that.
The day has puffed itself up to a blue sky and a low winter sun, so I ventured out for a sniff around. One of the regular passers-by here on the towpath is a creature who walks each day. Since we chanced upon proximity I ventured the required gentlemanly “good morning”. Jebus H., you would have thought that I’d asked for the contents of his wallet and suggested that I had pictorial evidence that his wife had serviced the Coldstream Guards and the regimental mascot. What a miserable cove he is, if you’ll pardon my French. Up yours too, Doris. May your thighs forever chafe*.
[*An old Chinese curse.]
The Bro has also independently recorded and commented upon this, the over-generous numbers of rude, miserable, disconnected and damaged people wandering freely about these days. The quarter or perhaps, just, only just, the bare third who are nice are very, very nice, but the rest need a monumental kick up the Arsenal Villa and a slap around the nose with a hardback copy of “Basic Manners, Volumes 1 to 27”.
When exactly did even rural Englishmen cease acknowledging and greeting one another with a swift hello? Is it any wonder that dogs are more popular than are people?
Right, I must away. The stove must be stoked, and I mun skin some vegetables for boiling into a curry. The countryside shall echo to the screech of carrot and potato and swede and cabbage, my favourite kitchen knife knows no mercy.
Sparrow curry, perhaps?
Still, I have things to be, people to do.
Stay warm, and stay off the ice – and stay cheerful, if you can.