Gadzooks! Engine room? I need full power now, Scottie – I think we’ve accidentally moored up in some sort of “dogging” zone #narrowboat #boating #England

Doris? Fetch the binoculars, I do believe that they’re at it again.

There are many, many things that no-one warns an innocent young chap about before he moves onto his narrowboat to live. There are many, many things that no-one mentions afterwards, too.

I’ve been moored here for about a week and there has been the usual mooring and unmooring of the usual types: boats shiny enough to make your eyes wince; boats to make you mutter ‘Safety Certification?’ under your breath. Then a boat cruised alongside at an obvious “sniffing for a mooring” pace, and they pulled over to the towpath in front of the Cardinal.

It was a very, very shiny boat, with everything just so and not a speck of duck-dust unpolished or out of place. The couple aboard moored up with what might only be described as pathological precision. They didn’t quite apply ruler and protractor to their mooring ropes, but that was only because there was no need. They then settled quickly into the (surely very uncomfortable) “locker lid” seating on the open rear deck (stern doors open, pram cover unbuttoned, unzipped and furled except for the top-sheet).

Now, I ought to point out at this time that my “study” area, my desk, where I spend a lot of my time, is raised and the view includes all side windows and directly ahead, a view through the Cardinal’s bow doors (also glazed). The boat ahead was thus, necessarily, slap bang in the middle of my incidental line of vision (sorry to mention the terms “slap” and “bang” in this post, I’m not thinking straight). Unless I changed the modus of my entire day this freshly-moored boat was to be a prominent feature of the landscape.

It was a touch of footsie at first. Then a touching of fingertips. Then hairy male hand began lingering on well-turned female ankle. Are ankles still a “thing”? I thought that the Victorians and Edwardians had worked ankles out of the English system, so to speak? I’m more a fan of the thigh, myself. Anyway. Then bared knees were fondled and, well, you begin to get the picture.

At one stage I glanced up from my work and was reminded of Attenborough’s sage old documentaries on grooming behaviour in chimpanzees.

I am aware of the academic theory and the animal Darwinian imperative of the activity that this couple engaged in next, and that’s probably all that allowed me to hang onto my lunch.

Good god, that really is what they do. I had assumed the Master at my old school to have been joking. How extraordinary. Pheromones do make fools of us all, don’t they?

Anyway, I digress.

Whether they then fell down the steps into the cabin while the balance of their “minds” was unsettled in the throes of connubial bliss or whether they were then engaged in some All-In-Wrestling inspired and favoured sexual set piece, the important thing is that they disappeared from view, and took the remainder of their passion – and there can’t have been much left over – inside their boat, where, if anywhere, it had always belonged. One may only hope that nothing of any wild import was broken in the fall.

It’s been a couple of months since I last moored here. Neighbourhoods change. I checked with the locals, and they were not aware of any planning applications being posted for change of use esp, in re “Residential to Dogging” or any such. This is good, because it means that it was just the one boat-load of exhibitionists, and I don’t have to move (there surely must be little more peculiar or embarrassing – or kinky – than mooring up in such an area with just the one person aboard).

Mother? Wherever you are up there, you were right about the big, bad, wide world.

Well, as I mentioned, the boat aforementioned has now moved on and the moorings have settled back into the more usual mix of ne’er-do-wells, freaks and circus side-show exhibits (myself included, I have few illusions). There are still dogs involved of course, although literally now, not figuratively.

The chap on the boat ahead, the one with the engine from an elderly building-site concrete-mixer, carefully lifts his dogs off the boat one at a time, carries them away from his boat – and thus alongside the boats of we, the others along here – and only then puts them down to exercise, or possible exorcise, their bowels, thus ensuring that his dogs don’t sh*t on his doorstep.

There’s the young lady who regularly walks “her” beagle-esque hound – although they engage in this activity concurrently, they do so quite separately. She walks the towpath from horizon to horizon either shouting vacuous nonsenses into her “smart phone” or peering at it (perhaps logged onto a dogging site?), while the hound follows up always some three or four hundred yards behind and seemingly unconnected and wholly disconnected. This is not an inter-species relationship twixt faithful pet and beloved master. The young lady’s hound sh*ts where it will, explores aboard boats without invitation and generally has a whale of an unsupervised time. I have no idea what the young lady gains from the activity.

I mention for example from the variety available but a couple. Damn it, that boat has tainted even the hitherto-innocent word “couple” for me. My eyes still grow wide and my brain retreats to the back of my skull at the mention of the word and its recent passionate associations.

Tis too windy of late and today to consider moving. A chap some boats up ahead tried, his boat left the towpath long before he did (and there followed a leap of Olympian merit and not some little athletic faith), promptly got slapped onto the offside bank, seemed to change his mind and managed to pull in and moor up again just behind. There are boats passing, of course, (fool-)hardy souls, and hire-boaters who have little choice (having paid and having set times to be back at base, so to spoke), and one or two of the “I’ve been boating since water was invented and I taught Noah everything he knew” types. I won’t be joining them. For one thing it’s also lashing down with rain, cold, cold, cold rain – something else that Ing-ger-lund does very well.

This is the first day of the season when my solar panels are struggling, there just isn’t any daylight out there to be harvested.

Mr Stove is playing the fool again, being reluctant to light and reluctant to stay lit. I’ve quite lost patience.

It’s all very dismal.

Perhaps tis time to choose a book from the shelves and retreat under the duvet for the day.

Oh my, I can hear the revving engine and churning prop of another boat approaching, crabbing down the canal at forty-five degrees, doubtless skippered by something that ought more properly to be on the front of a box of Findus frozen fish fingers.

Chuffing heck, there’s loads of them out there. Mid-ruddy-October, as miserable as a cold cow-pat, and the canal looks like the set of some re-make of ‘Carry On Narrowboating’. Anorak hoods tied under their chins and the only thing stopping them being blown off the back of their boats is their deathly, white-knuckle grip on the tiller.

Seriously, if you’re doing this for fun, chaps, then why not save your money, stay at home, open all of the windows and sit fully-clothed in a bathtub of cold ditchwater listening to your BBC 33rpm Long-Player of ‘Marine Diesel Engines Through The Ages’?

Mind you, what then would I vent my young spleen upon?

Seriously, you have to be here to appreciate the rich tapestry of English life afloat.

Anyway, that’s been my past few days, and I must say:

Whatever happened to the Likely Lads?

Whatever happened to my ability to take puppy-like joy in the world, and to my child-like innocence?

Oh yes, now I remember, I was born without the former and the latter was ripped from me by the recent activity on that boat. Ye gods, is that really what they do?

Well, in the absence of charm I shall just have to fall back upon my good looks and my legendary social skills. And on some mental yoga.

Om mani padme love the human species. Om mani padme love the human species…

Nope, it’s not working.

England has quite gone to the dogs – and I haven’t even once mentioned politics.


Definitely duvet.

Bugger life’s rich tapestry, I want my duvet.



    1. The crazy thing is that I don’t doubt for a second that there IS just such a contest, and that it has a long and illustrious history!

      I’m all for folk enjoying themselves in the simple, non-battery-powered pastimes, but really, a smidgen of decorum would not have gone amiss. Perhaps I need a megaphone? Then I could have stood on my boat’s bow and shouted driving instructions – ‘Left hand down a bit, clutch man! Clutch! You’re letting the clutch in too early! Alright, select a gear… accelerate… mind that pedestrian…’ 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bwhahaha. 😀 … I probably would’ve been more prosaic and yelled something like, “Don’t forget the condoms, dental dams, and rubber gloves.”


  1. I sympathize with you and the boat sec folk. I do not want other people’s sexual adventures thrust into my brain. I wonder if they think their audience is grateful for the encounter?
    And also if my entire country was in the midst of an existential crisis, I might just say “Eh, why not?” No more boundaries apply, apparently.
    As someone whose country is midst of a psychotic breakdown I am considering resigning from the earth and volunteering for a post on Mars or the Moon.. Probably few exhibitionists there, but probably more lunatics.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Tis almost funny to wake up one day and realise that the entirety of the country you thought you lived in has vanishes, replaced by some unholy construction owned by person or persons unknown and without apparent sane function. Nothing is to be taken seriously anymore… the heavy rain has flushed us all down some terracotta version of a rabbit hole. ;-(

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So very funny!! You poor thing! Do you suppose they took one look at the sign and thought it was compulsory? Cheered me up immensely on this….whatever the damn day is!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure that they were having a grand old time. A lot of people do seem to assume that there’s nobody aboard the Cardinal – something that I must change, if possible. A sack of rubbish permanently on the roof, perhaps, or a Rottweiler patrolling the towpath side… 😉


    1. Indeed so sir, indeed so. Oddbods. I do seem to attract ’em the way that fly-paper attracts flies. 😉 …or perhaps I just notive them more than most! Eyes open (or largely shut in this case)!


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