Captain’s log, canal date 20-05-2018.3

Life, the Universe, and Everything.

I flogged two midshipmen yesterday (insubordination), and hanged the carpenter from the yardarm (for whistling Kylie songs, let’s hear you whistle Locomotion now, with a well-deserved noose around your throat).

Six mornings ago we (the Cardinal and I, aye, aye aye) were waking to frosts.

May frost on the solar panels and the boat…

Yesterday, and today too according to the Shipping O’Forecast, we bake(d) in ridiculous sunshine and temperatures requiring the cooling fans in the Cardinal’s Electrical Bay to be at full pelt.

The “The Powers That Be” tried once more, and failed, to thwart my navigation plans – with a(nother) land-slide, blocking the canal ahead. What they didn’t know was that I intended to volte-face anyway and to head back to a rendezvous sometime in the next couple of weeks for some workings to be worked upon. The initial blockage was cleared on the day of the slide (cynical me – there is a holiday hire company just yon side of the bridge, I can’t help but wonder if their presence had anything to do with the reaction time), but the yellow “CaRT Aware” tape marks the remainder of the underwater obstruction. Boats may pass, if prepared to squeeze through at odd angles and one at a time.

The Bunbury Slip – not a patch on the Middlewich Collapse…

Not Mount St Helens, happily, or even yet Hawaii (enjoy the island while it still exists), but then we are a touch more restrained and less “bling” in England. The trees and vegetation that secure the two-hundred-and-more years old banks of the canal system haven’t really been given any attention in two-hundred years and more, and this is the result…

Other exciting news?

Well, spring and summer are the “seasons” (such as they are, blurred and confused) when I rely much more on LPG for the black magic that is cookery and coffee making on a narrowboat. In winter Mr Stove takes care of all of that, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. On Thursday I rolled out of my hammock at Sparrowcough O’Clock, put the kettle on and settled down to stare mindlessly into a corner for a while – only to hear the dull “thwrrrpp… click” that is the flame going out followed by the gas cut-off detecting that the flame has gone out.

The Spanner of Damocles

0600hrs and there I am, wholly uncaffeinated, dressed mostly in pillow-hair and duvet-fluff, leaning out over the Cardinal’s gas locker in the bows, doing unnatural things with a dirty-great spanner. Once the old bottle is sealed up and the new one connected there is some fiddling about to be done with, of all things, “washing-up liquid” (soap) – lathering up the new connection and then watching for bubbles. Bubbles = leak. There were no bubbles, so I made my usual morning litre of coffee.

Kneeling on the well deck like some bleary-eyed monk worshipping the orange bottles set me to thinking crazy thoughts. I acted upon those crazy thoughts later in the day.

Welsh mud, grass from manifold and varied counties, spider-legs the size of HB pencils…

I acted upon them by clearing out the items that had collected there over winter, by lifting the rubber matting and taking a stiff brush to all of the cr*p that I had walked in.

I also took a stiff brush to some terrifyingly large spiders that had set up some sort of arachnid-hippie commune in there, the sort of spiders that don’t run when you express a certain negativity vis-a-vis their continued right of residence, the sort that fight back.

I won.

It’s all looking and feeling much tidier now, so much so that I went even madder, and gave the rear deck the same treatment. Just the engine bay and the whole of the inside of the boat to spring clean now.

A tidy well deck and a tidy mind. The winne bottle holds fresh water, sometimes if there’s not even dew the solar panels need a wetting down before I can squeegee them…

On Friday I had some sort of possibly-meteorological but more likely animal-or-alien-related experience – the sort of experience that puts a chap right back on the plains of the African Rift Valley with a spear and the taste of a short life-expectancy if unwary. More of that elsewhere, elsewhen, next Sunday on The Story-Reading Ape’s blog. 🙂


I have been wrestling with the faceless, brainless, charm-free institution that is my bank. I won’t name the bank, for obvious reasons, but suffice it to say that they pretend to be based in Yorkshire and the other word in their two-word name is Bank. Put the two together and you get something very similar to Yorkshire Bank.

Actually, it’s identical.

One problemette with living on a boat is that you can’t get post delivered directly. It has to go to some long-suffering relative’s address and then be carted aboard at the next visit. The terms upon which I was allowed a “Basic” bank account include a stipulation that it must be my one and only account, I am allowed none other. My – also thus one and only – debit card expires at the end of this month, May.

In early April, being wise to the efficiencies of banking institutions, I checked that all was swelligant and on target for the replacement to be sent out. Yes indeed came the reply. As much as “nothing” can, nothing arrived. I checked again. Oh yes, all done, give it another couple of days. Nothing. I checked again. Anything up to the first two weeks of the month, blah blah blah, don’t worry. Nothing. I checked again. Oh, it hasn’t been sent, please confirm your address (this being the address that it has always been, the one that I actively confirmed in April…) I indicated a certain please do excuse me, but I confirmed aforesaid address, again, last month, and you have since, thrice, confirmed the card to be on its way and yet now you’re telling me that I’ve been pillocking relatives about, checking, and you’ve actually issued nothing… did you perhaps attend Art College?

Then I receive some “passive-aggressive” semi-veiled threat from a corporate jackboot, in view of my complaint they are prepared to offer me a “distress” payment of some twenty-five knicker but – but – should I not accept this, my “case” will be escalated to their “specialist complaints” team (shades of “and they have pickaxe handles and even fewer scruples” methinks).

I reply indicating that I lodged no complaint, simply the standard cajolements required to get anything done by hippy-dippy corporations these days. Just, please, send the replacement debit card, that is all I want!

Back comes an even more terse reply – the bank “raised the complaint on my behalf” and I have now been escalated to the aforementioned specialist complaints team, the ones with pickaxe handles and no mothers. Letters will be sent. Procedures will be invoked… “contact” will be made…

I haven’t replied to that as yet, I really don’t know what to say. Should I say nothing? Ought I to remind them that I am over eighteen, compos mentis and, to the best of my knowledge, have not granted the Yorkshire Bank an Enduring Power of Attorney to act on my behalf? Would it do any good to tell them, again, that all I want is the card, please, as promised, and that if, and only if, I don’t receive it by the time the old one expires (now eleven days to go…) then -and only then – I – and only I – will be the one to lodge a complaint on my behalf?

Institutions eh?

Amazon is no better. I am gathering items for some improvements & enhancements on the Cardinal’s services and, being me, I buy only from United Kingdom based sellers, fulfilled by Amazon. For the second time a parcel has been “delayed”, and I find from the tracking information, such as it is, that the item was in fact coming from ruddy Italy.

The NONSENSE that is Amazon. Italy is not England, thank goodness.

I ordered the beasties a week ago, they are now exhorting me to wait another week to see if perhaps it arrives. Do they think that folk buy these things on an idle whim? I want it for a job, real world, real time!

This is why I loathe institutions, they grow until they are nought but faceless, soul-free, inhuman incompetence. Unless there have been some serious political machinations overnight, Italy is not part of the United Kingdom. Amazon lied. The Yorkshire Bank, under the guise of the lazy incompetence of minimum-wage staff, lied. Do I have any power to kick either of them in the corporate goolies? Not one iota.

Is it any wonder that people attempt to hide away on the canals, resigning from the Rat Race and hoping that this silly, silly world we’ve constructed disappears right up where the sensible monkey hides his peanuts?

Captain Kirk never has to document this sort of nonsense in his Captain’s Logs!

To boldly go where no man has gone before – into the loving arms of the auto-invoked “specialist complaints team”, via Italy.


Anyway, today’s jobs? Get the last of the laundry dry. Mayhap sort, clean and tidy the shelf and cupboards behind the stove area. A couple of articles to be wroted, and more work to be done on “Cheerio, and thanks for the apocalypse”. It’s all exciting stuff. Actually, it is great fun.

The wood-pigeons are wood-pigeoning, the flies are buzzing, butterflies are fluttering, the sound of the nearby road is reasonably muted, and our current, fresh moorings are not too shabby.

The day is good. Captain’s Log for canal date 20-05-2018.3 ends. Engage Warp Factor zero.

I have always wondered why buttercups and dandelions and other flowers close up overnight – what are they trying to avoid? What is that they are so afraid of that they have to shut their eyes so tightly?
Blossom has blossomed. Theresa Green.


Books by Ian Hutson… available on Amazon and all good, bad or ugly book shops.


NGLND XPX – purple verbosity – at Amazon
The Cat Wore Electric Goggles – speculative nonsense – at Amazon
The Dog With The Bakelite Nose – more speculative nonsense – at Amazon

Cheerio, And Thanks For The Apocalypse – COMING SOON!


  1. Another interesting post and cracking photos reminding us there are still some beautiful areas in this once green and pleasant land. When I used to man the helm I often approached obstacles at odd angles so no problem there. I was interested to see the price of a midshipman in this day and age as times and values surely change.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have to lodge a complaint on behalf of the innocent and much maligned spiders. They are harming no one, and doing the cardinal some good. A bit of spider web fluff in the abode (or boat) is a sign of a broad mind, Ian. (unless it’s over my bed or I’m walking through it) This is what I tell people when they look askance in my corners.

    I find, and follow this closely, that if you make friends with the spiders, there is less work in spring cleaning. Entire corners can be skipped in deference to their community. Tis better to take out your annoyances on the banks and corporations. THEY deserve it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If spiders wanted love and affection they’d look more like teddybears! Seriously, I am better with them than I used to be, I can at least tackle them and put them outside with a glass and a piece of card… no more must I load the blunderbuss with grape and chain!

      The banks, on the other hand, as you say, deserve every kicking they get!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad your spring cleaning went well, 😀 and as to the other dross that needs to be tossed overboard, I heartily agree with you … and the most annoying thing is we are all aware that there’s no need for that kind of idiocy. It happens all the time though when some bright thing, or idea, gets wedged into an institution they soon wither and drop to the lowest common denominator, which is minimum effort for maximum annoyance. I wonder if this is some kind of species failure that effects ninety-eleven percent of the human race.

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    1. I think that I have seen the light and become a post-hippy-era hippy. It is so sad that almost all of the species is running around, frantically doing all of the wrong things. Money worked well, once, as the lubrication of collective human endeavour, but I think it’s run its course. Some other way ought to be found – some way that doesn’t mirror the flow of work effort and flow of value that presently reigns… A good beginning would be to de-employ the folk who make “funny money”, money for nothing of value, on money markets, in speculations, swaps and commodity markets. Lamp posts and ropes need to be brought together, lamp posts and ropes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When in high school I did an analysis of the stock market for an assignment. After much verbal blathering I concluded that the entire thing was a foolish house of cards. I don’t think my teacher was impressed but I do recall getting a decent mark.

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    1. Much ta and thank’ee kindly, sir, tis much appreciated. So far there has been no sign of the mysterious whatever-it-was following us to these moorings – fingers crossed… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. More wonderful photography to cheer up the frustrations of living in a paperless society. It’s all flick and flash and remembering pin codes that even old dinosaurs have to join in with. It’s hard enough keeping your credit cards even with a home address; banks regularly want to take them away if you’re not racking up sizeable credit. Why? Because they only have so much credit limit to allow people and if your aren’t using yours to the limit they want to give it to someone else to get themselves in debt. This told to me by the helpline when I received a letter telling me they would take it away unless I upped my useage! Of course, when you get to the specified limit they seem to have no trouble extending it to make even more in interest.

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    1. The chief annoyance with the bank is that if I hadn’t been in touch with them six weeks ago and if I hadn’t chased them four times since, I’d still be waiting and nothing would ever happen. They and all institutions like them are just some of the warts that go to make up this society of lunatics that we have built, and allowed to be built around us. The whole system needs scrapping, we ought to begin again with a little more global focus on “life” rather than on “things”. There is a very good reason why half of the world is killing the other half, another half is popping pills to take the edge off depression and the U.S. of North America, the most insane couuntry on the planet, has a school shooting every hour, on the hour, and twice on Sundays.

      Even the canals are infected – the powers that (somehow, for some reason) be – a private company to which the canal system was gifted – have just scrapped their hierarchy and introduced a fresh New World Order. Six “Regional Directors” – ONE of whom has “… & boating” in his title! I’ll give you three guesses where we boaters come on their list of priorities!

      Liked by 2 people

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