There were summat on t’roof last night – summat wi’claws #narrowboat #boating #boatsthattweet

There’s a row of buttons beside my bed.

The sort of buttons that you can’t press accidentally; you have to flip up a little safety catch before the magic kicks in. Rather like the “Fire the nukes” switches that my dear late Mother guarded for so many years, in her role as the ‘No, Prime Minister, I’m afraid that I can’t let you do that’ Officer.*

[ * The full M.o.D. records of her military career have never been released to the public but Family records indicate that Mother only ever had to level her gun at a serving Prime Minister twice, and both of those occasions were when Thatcher was angry and upset because Reagan wouldn’t “sleep” with her or had “slept” with her but wasn’t good enough or had refused to take her up the aisle, or something. Mother always substituted the latin words for anything she didn’t want the servants to read, and I can’t be bothered lugging out my English-Latin dictionary to translate ‘and she stormed into the Operations Room after screaming “sodomiticii meum cerebrum excutiunt, puer magnus” and expressing some small dissatisfaction with Reagan’s reply’. ]

So, anyway, these buttons.

There’s Horn, Exterior Lights, Electrify the Hull, Gas Gas Gas, Flamethrower (Manual), Flamethrower (Auto-Mode), and several others that are classified because they aren’t in accordance with the Articles of the Geneva Convention.

The ‘Gas Gas Gas’ switch has a rotary dial next to it that allows me to choose between helium (good if you just want to take the piss out of intruders), nitrous oxide (if I’m going to bury them under quicklime anyway, but want their last moments on earth to be a hoot), methane (gentle persuasion), tear-gas, and dichlorodiethylsulfide (“mustard gas”).

I’ve used ’em on drunks banging on the boat at night.

The safety-catches prevent me from accidentally blowing things up, like bridges, anglers and other boats, when all I am really trying to do is to manoeuvre my love-handles past the switches and down the corridor. I’m not totally heartless.

Last night there was something on the roof; something with claws that scratched and scraped as it went about its nefarious and protracted business.

The intrusion was of sufficient volume for Hind-Brain to wake me.

I selected “Exterior Lights”.

One does like to begin with a certain gentle restraint and only work up to the “You have three seconds to comply – three… two… call the undertaker” options if entirely necessary.


Whatever it was with the claws and the crawly-abouty, scarpered, quick-sharpish.

Praise be to Zeus and others.

Everything sounds louder than it ought when inside a steel boat, especially so during the hours of darkness. I suspect that the heavy-footed intruder was just a rat.

Hobgoblins don’t usually scarper quite so easily.

The CCTV showed a mere blur caught between infra-red mode and the lights. Whatever it was, it was camera-shy.

Remind me to get the rocking chair out this evening, and a rug for my knees (the barrel of the Purdey can be quite chilly when laid across the lap).

I can wait.


Ian H., & The Death-Star Cardinal W.


  1. Small things on the roof, or in the attic, can sound as though dragons are playing up there. I was convinced we had, at least, a small dragon cavorting around. Turns out it was sparrows! But they had hobnailed boots on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A dragon on the boat roof is something that I might consider – provided that it was reasonably well-behaved and pooped discreetly somewhere else…

      I doubt that a fire-breathing sparrow, while unquestionably cute, could earn its keep!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m picturing a drunk tottering innocently along while you are scaring off the rat. Suddenly being lit up like an escapee from a prison camp, freezing with hands up. And you, entirely unaware of him, leaving the lights on for long enough to deter rats. The drunk wondering when and where his enemy is going to be. Afraid to kove. 🤣

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First time that I used the lights and horn was on a drunk, banging on the line of boats as he walked along. 120db in his left ear’ole and a bit of light set him (trying to) run so fast that it was like a cartoon to watch. He took giant drunken steps from one side the towpath to the other as he staggered along, looking over his shoulder as though hounds were hunting him (but I hadn’t used the switch for those). Once I stopped laughing I began to worry that he’d end up in the canal and I’d have to fish him out, but he made it to the horizon so I went back to bed! 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  3. So THAT’S where they went! Mom had raccoons in her attic (not bats in her belfry — always an individualist, my mother), but my husband found their ingress and egress and boarded both closed. So they went to England. Fair trade for Harry?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Raccoons in the attic sounds like a very respectable medical diagnosis indeed – perhaps something from America’s deep south? ‘Why I have always relied upon the wildlife of strangers…’

      Mind you, if you sent us even half a raccoon in exchange for Harry & Thing I’d say that you over-payed! Sadly I think that the last of the royals is H.M. Queen herself, the others, the younger generations, are more akin to over-paid footballers and footballers’ wives – very undignified and ill-behaved. All that remains is for me to apologise to you if they are coming to live nearby, it was not our intent to export them! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. She’s the only one left with the required gravitas to carry our the office. After the whole Chuck & Diana debacle I occasional wondered, (when I gave any thought to it at all) if it would be William or Harry who finally flew the coop.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It was all so predictable (and I DID predict it). Another divorce on the cards once the money has rolled in. Unless H.R.H. Grandmother arranges another car “accident” of course!

          I know that they’re all robber barons and have their land and money because their ancestors were nastier and more violent than my own (as are they themselves, still), but in a world of silly, idiotic institutions with no meaning or dignity or gravitas, having the armed forces swear their allegiance to the Crown and not to the ever-changing politician-in-office is a good thing. Privilieged and pampered Senior H.R.H. may be, but I believe she’s done a chuffing fantastic job at a career she really didn’t want – witness her arrival at Sandringham for the show-down. Age 93, driving herself about confidently, stops at just the best angle for the press and looks at each and every camera, then pootles on. She wanted her expression and mood in re this lot clocked, and knew exactly how to achieve that.

          It’s sad that she’s the last. Anne withdrew decades ago to hug her horses, and Charles and that one named after a brand of bathroom soap (“Camilla”) are a bit too akin to a couple of Morris Minor Travellers in a Classic Ferrari race. The next generation down? Well, they began promisingly but have turned out to be unspeakable.

          Close it down when Ma’am finally goes and make the post an elected one. I vote myself for next King of England. I shall be firm and fair and benevolent. Let’s bring back the chopping block and the axe and begin working through my little list of people who won’t be missed…

          Liked by 1 person

  4. We need your technology.
    Migrating ducks that have given up on the idea on finding the sewage lagoon of the pig farm down the road and the feeding facilities for our own poultry have taken to living on our tin roof.
    Fine…except that they are very active at night and dance strip the willow in hobnailed boots for hours.
    So far I had wondered about playing Jimmy Shand at them….except it would probably bring the neighbours from far and near protesting in their night garb.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wasn’t ‘Duck on a Hot Tin Roof’ a Marlon Brando classic? I may be confusing myself, it doesn’t take much. 😉

      Every once in a while some small item of birdlife gets really brave and decides to investigate all of the corners, nooks and crevices of the boat cratch cover (over the front deck) for insect life. Whatever I’m doing, I always postpone things to let them work undisturbed – if they’re that hungry then they’re welcome to my spiders!

      Of course, if something looks as though it is planning some sort of nest in there then it gets poked with the Discouragement Stick, quick smart.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, i’m quite happy to let general birdlife investigate the dog dishes and anything else that takes their fancy…but this ceilidh on the roof is beyond the pale. Mark you the dogs sleep through it all…
        Time for the discouragement stick…if I can get up the ladder to wield it.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It was indeed, although I have serious doubts about whether the guidance software of our missiles at the time would have accepted co-ordinates for ‘Tampico, Illinois’ anyway. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, the Cardinal is, to borrow the ‘Merrycan vernacular, “fully loaded” – although I do confess that I don’t actually have the “flame-thrower” facilities mentioned! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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