You just can’t buy entertainment like this.
His Eminence and I mooched on a little yesterday. Just a mile, back to Hack Green locks, near the nukular bunker – the “secret” one. The neighbours had become tedious at our previous moorings and besides, a change of scenery was overdue. A mini cruise-ette in some light rain was, quite seriously, very pleasant, and it warmed the cockles of my heart to be multi-purposing the engine (motion plus, as always, battery en-chargement and a tank of hot water).
[Despite the numpty hare-brained un-thinkery of the Customs and Exorcise Department AND the Inland Rever-gnu, a narrowboat engine is never not never ever used merely for propulsion. Anyway.]
Queace and Piet ruled on our fresh moorings… for about fifteen minutes.
When the Cardinal and I moored here last we were, of necessity, facing away from the locks. This time we have grandstand seating, facing the locks.
oiked up screamed past from our stern, dithered about a little and then rammed the towpath just shy of the lock landing bollards (those white-topped thingies, ropes for the use of). A chap stepped off and tied on to a mooring ring with his centre-line (the mooring rings are hidden in the grass, but they look like the ones that you can see in the coping stones to the foreground above). He scanned up and down, made his determination that the Cardinal was not manned, dipped inside and re-appeared with the ash bucket from his stove.
Very, very carefully, as though dealing with Great-Aunt Violet’s cremated remains, he sprinkled them around the CaRT mooring notice post (the black-painted wooden posts that bear the usual “Das Ist Verboten” and “Thinken Not of even Trying That” signs). In this case, the wooden post carrying the signs marking out visitor moorings to one side and lock landing to the other.
The ashes promptly set the post and/or hedgerow not quite on fire as such, but well into an enthusiastic smoulder that had every intention of growing.
Setting a smokey a-smoulder to the post and/or hedgerow was no mean feat given that it rained a lot of the day afore and all of the previous night. Perhaps the paint used on the post is oil-based or something?
Several Native American tribes sent up replies to the gentleman’s smoke signals. Puff puff dash, dash dash puff, puff puff puff exclamation mark. Puff puff long stringy bit dash dash puff something shaped like a chihuahua-on-heat puff puff dash question mark. I was impressed by how much smoke the paint on a CaRT Verboten-Post could generate. I don’t imagine that it carried the aroma of a Cuban cigar either.
As much as anyone on so soggy a towpath can rush, he rushed back to his boat for a bucket type bucket rather than an ashes type bucket, dipped it into the canal and half put the fire out. A second bucket and some ooga-booga-booga cave-man stamping about put it out altogether.
There ended the first direct smoke-based communication between the people of Cheshire and the people of North Dakota. You won’t find that in any encylopedia.
Moral of the story? If you’re going to dump your stove ashes into the hedgerow, and most especially if you’re going to dump them in the hedgerow around a wooden post, do make sure that the ashes aren’t fresh from the stove and full of red-glowing embers.
Also make sure that you’re not being watched and photographed by some overly-smug, unprincipled and dastardly bar-steward on a boat that you erroneously decided was moored sans personnel.
The pyromaniac chap’s female (presumably-)significant other then appeared but didn’t get off the boat to go and prepare the lock or any such thing. Nope. He let loose the rope, got back aboard and motored them both the whole twenty or thirty yards to the lock itself, deposited aforesaid significant wotnot on the lock from the bow and then danced the old cross-wind two-step boat excuse-me while Ms Pyromaniac slowly set the lock.
Better yet, and in a supreme example of teamwork, Ms Pyromaniac planted herself on the “wrong” side of the lock and gave off distinct boddy-lang-goo-age indicating that she wasn’t going to move… so he juggled the boat about, got off again, re-moored half-heartedly, opened the top gate himself, re-untied the rope, got back aboard all over again and then commenced the navigational intricacies of persuading the bow into the lock… while Ms P resumed inspecting her fingernails and picking damp blue fluff from her belly-button.
I gather that perhaps there was something rotten in the domestic State of Denmark.
Woman has never, if truth be told, been properly appreciative of Man’s mastery of fire.
Everything went quiet again then, for about five minutes.
oiked up screamed past from our rear. A boat with one genitalman on the stern and a very large radio belting out the moronic mix of voiced inanity and tuneless excuse for music that radios belt out these days, when allowed to belt. It belted. Even the sheep wrinkled their noses and wished that they could put cheese in their ears. Why do people do that? Headphones are a wonderful invention but no, always with the big “boom box” and always with the worst possible taste in “muzak-rap”.
Aforesaid gentleman trundled – to a funky beat and a thousand decibels – up to the lock landings. He didn’t so much tie his boat up as he attached it on a very long line and hoped for the best, for some unfathomable reason. He prepared the lock for himself and opened the top gate, by which time his boat had drifted far out to sea. Well, across the canal, anyway.
For some further unfathomable reason, he didn’t then retrieve and move his boat into the lock but disappeared below the bridge to – I presume – go and prepare the next lock, a hundred yards away or so. Out of sight…
While he was away (ten minutes) yet another boat (constituting canal rush-hour traffic)
oiked up screamed past from our stern – and simultaneously a woman bearing a well-oiled windlass strode past on the towpath. This pair didn’t do the whole “lock landing” thing, nope. Nor did they do the “letting other people get in their way” thing, apparently.
Ms Windlass pulled in the strange but un-manned boat already on the lock landing (whose genitalman had set the lock for himself and his boat and then disappeared) and held it in to the towpath while Mr Windlass-Boat cruised straight into the open lock, velocity uninterrupted… an inalienable right to make constant progress in play, perhaps?
Ms Windlass dropped the strange boat’s rope, and they set about letting themselves down on the other gentleman’s water, so to speak.
The chap who had originally set the lock for himself, but failed to “claim” it by actually moving his boat in, then re-appeared. Of course he did.
It would be easy to script the interaction that then took place, but one ought never to make assumptions in these matters, at least, not when the Laser-microphone is malfunctioning and they were all too far away for me to lip-read. Boaters really ought to be fitted with larger lips the better to facilitate more informed gongoozling by other boaters. We are a nosy bunch.
Who knows what was going on? Not I, certainly. All very odd though, and the body-language was dodgy to say the least.
The “pirate” boat then left the gentleman to continue by re-setting the lock for himself – while they, I can only assume, went to lay spurious claim to the next lock that he had also been preparing…
Oh, what larks!
Comedy’s better by water.
It ought to be said that I also left the gentleman to his own devices, having noticed earlier that his technique for closing lock paddles was to lift the safety-catch sprocket wotnot and just let the paddle drop… wheeeeeee-thunk, ooh – it’s still in one piece better luck next time.
That, around, behaviour, sort of, I do not want to be.
If he breaks any locks before I get through them then his liver will be mine, garnished with not-unrelated sweetbreads and washed down with a barrel of mulled Chianti.
The bottom line is that I was treated to loud [c]rap music for half an hour instead of ten or fifteen minutes. Me me me, always with the me, eh?
Talking of which, the Cardinal and I are moored almost exactly in the spot we were in when moored here last, just one ring closer to the Canal & River Trust barge/pontoon/thingy. I gave it extra room last time because, like most “official” boats, it is moored up with hairy string, cobwebs and an air of misplaced optimism not seen since Mr Chamberlain flew back from Germany holding a piece of blue Basildon Bond bearing Mr Hitler’s autograph and a “winky-smiley” emoticon scribbled in splotchy green Biro.
This time there’s no reason to give it any extra room – it’s on the bottom.
It’s going nowhere fast.
The water inside is at the same level as the water in the canal outside. It will need a spot of salvage, methinks, before it can play any active part in the winter stoppage work due to begin here in January.
The temptation to move to the end of the “visitor moorings” to ensure an uninterrupted view of the lock landing and lock is strong, but then again, so is the instinct to not get any closer than I have to, just in case.
When I go through these locks myself, in a day or two, I shall be careful to do so at sparrowfart and no later.
Hopefully then the Candid Canal Camera Corporation will no longer be filming in the area.
I have to stick around here for tomorrow, Sunday. A whole Sunday of hoomans, boating – with lockery pokery.
Let the games re-commence.
If – when – something happens I’ll try to get better photographs and maybe even some video.
Post-Script, added Sunday in the a of the m.
‘Curses; foiled by daylight foggery.’