The whole world’s gone utterly insanitary

The Cardinal and I, however, have not.

I took my protein pills and put my helmet on yesterday before engaging in a pleasant five-mile-ish (round-trip) cruise to drop off rubbish, empty gazunders, and replenish potable and main-tank water up at Calveley.

I chose, as is my long, felt, wont, a quiet period – and still there was a queue. Yon Cardinal is 57′ from stem to stern and there was a 59′ space to wait in on the end of the service area and overlapping the moorings… my thanks indeed to the (boating) gentleman who took my rope and pulled us in neatly sideways.

To the jady and lentilman – “proper boaters” – who attempted to give me a nuclear scowl of disapproval for – what? – getting too close bow to bow with their boat while they finished their chattings – well, K.M.H.A. It’s a service area, not a social club for the Braying Classes afloat.

To the lady and gentleman who arrived a few minutes after I did and who waited, full of smiles and “no problems” and (non-delaying) chit-chat – smoochies.

After servicing I took the Cardinal up to the Bunbury winding hole – met not one but two holiday boats in the narrow reed-bound section on the curve immediately before the turning point – and cruised then back past the services to find just one boat on them (one of the boats I’d met in the reeds). Unfortunately for the boat by then pursuing me and wanting to pull in, aforesaid one boat twas just about slap in the middle of the moorings. Quelle surprise, c’est la vie, c’est la guerre, c’est la concorde and probably c’est la travail de terroristas &etc.

As the services shrank from view my last impression was of some sort of “nudging in” manoeuvre being performed. A gentle ramming is oft regarded as a polite reminder that space ought always to be left on service areas, whenever possible. 😉

Messrs Meteorillogical Office kept turning a light rain on and off at irreglar intervals, but twas a most agreeabull cruise-ette indeed in spite of &etc.

I met a cheerfulness-disabled angler gentleman on both the outward and home-bound legs of the journey, he having set up (considerable) camp just down-wind of the S-Bend bridge – where liberal use of horn is most certainly indicated. The Cardinal’s horn is 120db, and due to some cunning circuitry involving no great lengths of voltage-sapping wiring, musters all one hundred and twenty of them. At the swick of a flitch I can make miserable anglers even more miserable, and I can set off the dogs that live in the garden of the house on the corner. It’s really most pleasing indeed.

These daguerréotypes are of my slipping the Cardinal around the corners and under the road-bridge on the return journey, when I amused the angling gentleman with a little more horn.

Mr Cheerful is visible under his anti-decibels umbrella, ‘dead ahead’ in nautical terms. I think that he may also have the umbrella up because the dogs keep flinging things at him. Good dogs. I had hitherto thought that only chimpanzees did that.

Back to within fifty metres of where we began the day, just facing south now instead of north.

Once the planet had been securely tied on to the Cardinal I went for a stroll-ette to my favourite chandlery to collect some pastry that had most kindly been procured for me (from some sort of nefarious street pastry-dealer, a cash transaction in the shadows, doubtless). The pastry is the better to wrap the baked contents of a large bag of apples that I’ve been given – thank’ee. We shall see what the OmniaOven does with apple bakery. I also have an appropriate brand of “custard” – lashings of – to go with the pastry-bound apples. Probably can’t say “la Creme Anglais” now that we’re un-Europed.

It’s a lousy, rotten job, but someone’s got to do it. I suffer so that you don’t have to.

This also facilitated a good natter to some local folk there who don’t (always) chase me out of town with fire-brands and pitchforks held aloft. I have no idea whether the (out of doors) meeting was legal, illegal or just judicially frowned upon. I no longer care. It is no longer possible to really know.

So there we had the day, yesterday. Some five miles cruise with servicings, followed by some four miles plus or so of walkies. I spent the evening working on my “sitting down”, my eating and my watching of esipodes of Fawlty Towers, after which I went to bedfordshire and had no trouble sleeping until 0300hrs when I stoked up Mr Stove, and he promptly went out.

Grasping the nettle I cleaned him out, began from scratch and drank an Ovaltine-analogue while checking that the little b’ger was happy enough to be left once more.

So long as other boats don’t surround me again like flies landing on…. yes, well, you know what I mean, I can crank up Mr Stereo here. The hedgerow is currently packed twig and leaf with small birds and items of wildlife listening to some over-breasted Italian bint going insane as Society reacts to her marriage to a randy git, all while they are plagued by an orchestra that won’t stop stalking them and playing atmospheric music as they fall in love and out of love and in marriage and out of marriage and other pretentious tommy rot. Why do the over-breasted italian bints always end up insane and determined to sing about it at the top of their voices? Why do the blokes always sound as though they are Sergeants Major in the Army barking out reversing orders to chaps parking Bedford lorries in the dark and rain on a parade ground? Why is tuberculosis always involved somewhere in the score?

Really, I have no idea.

However, don’t despair, it’ll probably be Europe, Cher and seventies/eighties/nineties pop by evening, when this afternoon’s pills kick in. That’ll test the loyalty (and sore test the tastes) of the hedgerow audience if nothing else. There aren’t many english squirrels that will hang around long for Mr Big or several tracks from Jim Diamond. What can I say? I’m a musical tart.

Um, I mean a tart, musically speaking.

Do I speak at all musically?

Not on your Nellie.

Oh Jebus H – now my brain is trying to decide (entirely without my say-so) what a “musical tart” might look and sound like.

Brain-swap, anyone? Going cheap.

Oh – apologies – that’s the hedgerow audience, and they’re mostly going “cheep”.

Chirpy-chirpy cheep cheep. Almost as though they think that they’re Middle Of The Road, not a hedgerow…

Time to go.

Talking of which, why, why, oh why, is FaceBook only showing me advertisements for life insurance and funeral costs plans these days, and at that, lots and lots of them? What do they know that I don’t?

Don’t answer that, not until I’ve Finnished this Baked Apple, anyway. Do they serve baked apples in Hell? Is Finland in Hell or vice versa?

I’ll let you know.

Chin-chin, Ian H., &etc.


  1. Ian! Have you seen theis magical video of barge life in 1924? You probably have. If I see it, as a mere narrowboat spectator you must have. My only quibble with it is that in one section a pulling horse is shown headed towards our boat. No footage of how that is managed. What are the logistics of this in horse pulled barges? I feel utterly uneducated on that point. Also how a horse barge manages a winding hole.. not addressed. Howsomever. It is still utterly beautiful and worthwhile.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This one? [Youtube link]

      The canals have been modified a lot since the horse-drawn days, but in their time they were entirely horse-friendly. Where the tow-path changed sides of the canal there were (still are) bridges that curve cleverly about to take the horse up and over without having to untie the hauling rope. In tunnels and winding holes I – think – that the work was performed entirely by the men, with the proberbial barge-poles and ropes. At locks the men roped the boats in, and any bridges over locks were split to allow passage of the ropes.

      One thing to make it easier to imagine is that in those times the boats were working, they went from one wharf to another wharf with few or no stops – time being money (and not much of it in the bargees’ case).

      It’s from a later motorised era but as a good fun watch I can recommend the film (movie) ‘The Bargee’. with Harry H Corbett and Ronnie Barker. 😉


    1. Facebook shmacebook. I mainly use it to make contact with my dealers, and to assist with the process of keeping my friends close and my enemies’ enemas closer.

      Seriously, I have no idea where all of the trendy people hang out online these days. Myspace?

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Bakewell… you’re such a tart Ian, be afraid, very afraid Mr Kipling will be sending the boys round any day.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shhhhh, please – I’m still trying to decide what a musical tart might look and sound like. I am on the verge of something cataclysmic here, there may be a Nobel Piece Prize at stake.

      p.s., Kipling does bake exceedingly good cakes, doesn’t he? I have heard though that he doesn’t do them all himself, but has help in twice a week at the factory.


    1. It has always been my mission in life to improve the lot of those around me, even if only their mood. Oh, I’ll admit that it used to hurt when Mummy, Daddy, Nanny and the neighbourhood children all came to stare into my pram, pointing and laughing, but when they began to bus in coachloads of depressed pensioners for the “laughing cure” I thought to myself, Hutson I thought, this is your métier. Go with the flow, there’s something innately amusing about the juxtaposition of features and expression that makes people cheery. Yes. I’ve never been able to get a passport photo approved, but what the heck. you’re never alone with a split personality.

      I just wish I could find out where the other half of mine went.


      Liked by 2 people

  3. Goodness that a turn bridge needs to be reorganizesd by the cart soon as possible after the git who dreamed it up is dug up and flogged. Do you suppose it was a practical joke by a sadistic engineer or possibly a bit vengeful sabatoge by an underpaid engineer?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My personal theory is that the bridge was designed by and built on the orders of that highest grade among engineers; the County Council accountant.

      What makes the bridge extra fun is the amount of lorry traffic and the nearby building sites and industrial turn-offs within a couple of hundred yards – one boat horn among a dozen lorry horns doth rarely a great impression make. I’ve only once hooted there and had a serious and sensible reply (and that was from an owl).

      Liked by 2 people

  4. This is so funny I’m crying, just what I needed!! I’m getting way too grumpy! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve spent my life making people cry, one way or another. Mother, Father (when traced and returned by the Police), Nanny, every High Street bank in England, the Magistrate at Norfolk County Court. They all cried. I have thought long and hard about this, and can only conclude that I arouse strong emotions in my fellow man. I do wonder if it’s somethiing to do with my puppy-dog eyes, chiselled features and industrial-grade pheromones. I bring out something primal in the human psyche – not dissimilar to an old teddybear that smells of Marmite and damp.


  5. That horn would have come in useful in the days when courting couples in cars used to pull in on our top road for their consensual activities – leaving their rubbish behind them. We had to make do with an electric light bright enough to play cricket by which cleared them and their rubbish out, but giving them the horn would have been much more appropriate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A good horn does tend to loosen the old earwax and make folk much more receptive to hand-signals.

      Your courting couples did rather remind me of that boat a while ago that moored in front of me in Windy Alley – and promptly commenced mutual explorations on the aft deck. I was sore tempted to use a fire hose on them. Filthy beasts.

      Whenever I forgot myself and looked up from my desk it was akin to seeing two bacon pigs that were long overdue for the abattoir wrestling over who would get the life-belt and try to swim for it. Nobody warns a chap about such things, not Nanny, and certainly not the Canal & River Trust. Made me feel quite bilious.

      Liked by 2 people

        1. They are indeed beginning to charge extra for wide-beam boats from this year onwards, I kid you not… but I don’t think that my “dogging” mooring experience was the inspiration.

          At least, I have no proof. 😉

          Liked by 1 person

  6. You always cheer me up, Ian. It won’t be long now before only the hardened boaters can stick the inclement weather. Then you should have more space. Always a good thing.
    And I hope Mr Stove gets over his sulks and stays alight. to keep you warm.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mr Stove and I will be having a serious talk sometime soon if he lets his duties slide just one more time. 😉 There’ s a slight reduction in the number of boats moving about – good for me, not so good for the hire companies (trying to make a buck in a bad year) – and the winter stoppages for repairs beginning at the start of November ought to put the kibosh on a lot of boatery casualatum. Only ever twice or mayhap thrice had to queue for services like this. Tsk tsk.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Are your winter perambulation plans likely to be reorganised by said winter repairs. Was it just last winter (at least 10 years ago according to Covid-time) you needed to be somewhere before something happened, and had to play dodge-ems through the countryside?
        Apple pie sounds delicious. : D

        Liked by 1 person

        1. They are indeed. This has been a peculiar year in that for reasons viral (and reasons legal and restrictive) I’ve not cruised far at all. The scheduled winter stoppages for repairs are looking as though they will slightly curtail even this extent for some of the winter months – and we’re all still waiting to see what direct effect political/legal measures will have as well. I have no intention of being “locked down” for weeks (or months) in some less familiar territory where I don’t have any form of support infrastructure or group. Wales is already closed to people from England, and other restrictions are fast closing in.

          The canal rozzers Body Corporate simply repeat their mantra of “move on move on move on – nothing to see here” without a care or thought. In this they are perhaps not the brightest little fairy on the Christmas tree (but then we knew this already)! Those in the positions on the ground (the real workers!) have much more about them, and are – as they need to be and have to be – much more accommodating and flexible.

          Liked by 1 person

      2. I would have thought a nice isolated boat would have been good this year. You can shut yourself off from the world and still see our lovely countryside.


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