… oh, and a mention for the chap who wanted me to skip over his mooring rope (with my two bags of shopping) because he was too lazy to tie up properly [notable benny – you’ll be surprised to learn that he removed his rope from across the towpath].
It’s all go you know, on Ingerlund’s canals.
Hairy Porter? Well, I didn’t know that he was Hairy Porter, not until he’d finished waiting for one of his many, many dogs to squeeze another one out, not until he popped his hat on and motored them all away from the scene of Shatalot*.
*Shatalot is a bit like Camelot, but without the Arthurian legend charm, and it is much easier to step into, quite ruining one’s Jimmy Choo walking boots.
I ought to have guessed that celeryebrittee was in the air from the way that their heads self-blurred.
England is, en ce moment, experiencing some vile weather with blazing sunshine and temperatures in the high eighties of the Fahrengezundheitings (for the wee ones among you that is on the order of thirty and more of the Celsiuses). The air is humid, and when I say “humid” I mean humid in the way that the nylon crotch of a ginger roofer’s week-old budgie-smugglers gets humid while working on a dark-tile roof in high summer sans breeze. Any more humid and I shall have to fashion some sort of rudimentary 20,000 metre snorkel and change to breathing from the stratosphere or perhaps the mesosphere instead.
The day is just – and only just – civilised at perhaps five o’bugger of the early clock, but by six bells of the morning watch it is already too uncomfortable for any unnecessary movement.
This morning, sadly, I had some necessary movement to make – comestibles, the seeking of. There are, about a mile or so away from these moorings, a couple of locations where a chap in a domestic “well that will just have to do for the moment situation” may purchase – at a rip-off premium – bread, orange and apple juices, razor blades and a few tins and packets of les mangeables to tide himself over until the next proper shopping. I set off at ten minutelings past 0800hrs (that’s Indian Army terminology), raided the farthest one a mile and something away at their opening (0830 BC in modern notation), called at the other one on the return and then commenced trudging back to the Cardinal with my two bags of nonsense.
There was a gentleman in the process of tying up his cruiser – using a line strung at waist-height right across the towpath, a line that he intended knotting to the nearest fencepost… I met him at the moment when he was trying to remember how to tie a double-grannie boy scout with cloven half-hoof reefer, all in blue nylon cord.
I asked the gentleman whether I did indeed look like an overheated old grouch with two heavy bags who seemed keen and eager to launch into some sort of Double-Dutch skipping arrangement to the tune of Malcolm McLaren. He looked into my eye, and he concluded that, no, I didn’t, and he lowered his rope for me to pass. As I trudged on through the shimmering heat I could hear the sound of him deciding to take the sixty seconds to do it properly, and hammering in a mooring pin…
More confirmation, as if I needed such, that I am a grumpy old Hector and that this is why the human species dislikes me so.
[Note to self: change your ways, if you can be arsed, or don’t, it’s not as though you’re missing a lot in the species.]
Anyway, comestibles and I made it safely back to the boat before temperatures become wholly “kill me now – oh, you are doing”, and we made it without skipping or hurdles or being hanged by the waist until dead, dead, dead. Items have been flung into the coolbox, breakfast items have been flung down my throat and a cooling litre of coffee has been consumed. I shan’t venture out again today unless it is to exercise Mr Biggenthwacker in the dispatching of some oik who cheerily remarks that we are having “lovely” or “glorious” weather.
No, we are not. It is vile.
It is, though, weather that brings out the Games People to play the games that Games People play now, every night and every day, now, la-da da da da da da da, la da da da da da de. Paddle-boarders for one. What is the collective noun for “paddle boarders”? Answers in the comments please. For my part, having seen the canal water close-up, I think that the collective noun ought to be a “brave” of paddle boarders, or perhaps a “nexus of Weil’s disease”. Cheerful, happy, happy souls (for the most part, madam you know who you are), and with lovely hats. Never seen piddle boarders in hats such as these before, sunshine is as sunshine does, I suppose, if you will excuse me speaking twaddle.
Whatever the hats, they – fortunately – missed meeting the hotel boat chugging in das opposite direction a few minutes later. Around the corner behind these folk is a blind bridge under a roadway roundabout – blind as in it forms part of a neat “s-bend”. The canal under the bridge is just wide enough, only just, for two boats lashed together – you wouldn’t get two boats passing one another. It would have been… an opportunity for lots of cool-headed thinking and avoidery action… had this lot met this lot:
That is about forty tons of boat lashed together with one engine and one rudder, approaching the blindeth bendeth under the bridgeth.
The hotel boat was, I think, being chased by these chaps – doubtless someone who is more hip and down with the ways of the active younglings than am I will tell me what these watery vehicles are known as. They look like half-canoes to me, all bow and no stern. Odd, stubby-looking things.
I wonder who would have been the victors had these two met the poddle boarders? The chap in the lead looked as though he was enjoying life to the full even though his “hat” was on back to front; the younger chap following on looked rather as though he wanted some waste ground upon which to introduce his half-canoe thingy and paddle to a gallon of five-star petrol and a box of matches…
The morning hire-boat rush has been and gone. Boats every which way but loose, some rushing because they are late returning the hire-boats, others rushing because they’ve just begun their holiday. The chap who offered me the skipping opportunity has been past, but I didn’t enquire whether he’d had success in his own mission to visit the rip-offery shops.
It is quite exhausting watching other people scurrying about, I do wish that they would be more discreet about it.
My winter-warmer snake? ‘What’s that?’ I hear your left-neuron fire off as an urgent query across the echoing cerebral wastelands to your right-neuron. Well, it’s a spot of DIY from the Chief Engineer, and it is ready for winter. The Cardinal is, for the most part, open-plan. The only separation of church from state lies in the shower & wotsit room. This results in there being two distinct weather systems within the boat, one fore and one aft – the air just doesn’t (easily) move either way along the corridor past the shower room.
The vinter-varmer-viper is a lovely tube with 12v fans at either end that draws air from the stove end of the boat to the non-stove sleeping cabin down the far end. In winter an hour or two of such gentle suckery-blowery will force a spot more warmth down to my dreaming-pit. Doesn’t need a lot, just enough to take the extra chill off. I like my sleeping pit to be cool at the best of times, this device will prevent it from being ice-cool during the depths of Ingerlund’s winters.
It is, you’ll notice (if you have the right specs upon your nose), quite out in the open and obvious. This is just as I like my technology. All of the many upgrades to the Cardinal have been fitted in this style – the gun-metal cable tray to the left of frame holds most of the new wiring (easy access, easier to fit tidily and properly). The vinter-varmer-viper is indeed plumbing pipe bolted on, with the ends turned out on the Chief Engineer’s lathe to fit a couple of “computer” fans. It works splendidly.
That is about the sum of my intended activity until this damnable heat dissipates and we get back to something civilised, such as monsoon rain. Inactivity’s not a choice; I simply cease to function at anything much over 63°F, and we are at the moment so very, very far over 63° of the F.
I have moved the Cardinal a couple of times in the past week, both times in the company of early-morning night-owls, in the fives, sixes and sevens of the ante meridian clock, when it is just un-warm enough to do so without medical damage (to me).
The Saddleworth Moor fire is apparently now so large that NASA has been photographing it from orbit. The Army has been called in to assist Her Maj’s Fire Brigade. Water restrictions are beginning to pop up, some flights of locks now have time restrictions on them in order to conserve water in the canals. I am still saving the cost of diesel to run my diesel boiler by willingly, gratefully, gleefully and positively joyfully taking cold showers. Who would have thought that the advice of all of those prison psychiatrists all of those years ago would finally hit the mark, eh? After a day at 90°F there is nought so wonderful as twenty-five litres of cold water lashing upon one’s person.
In two or three short months I shall, once again, be regaling you, dear reader singular, with tales of ice and sleet and snow and frozen mooring ropes. Gloves and hats and coats and boots and roaring stoves and curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Fewer paddle boarders, half-canoeists and hire-boater, non-poop-scoopers about in winter. Fewer moorland fires, too.
Time, methinks, for a spot of LSD.
[Long-term Sitting Down]
Chin-chin for the mo, &etc.,
Ian H. in the company of nb Cardinal Wolsey. Phew!