An appreciation of the exquisite art of the Dutch Old Master Hertz van Rental

Well, there’s another week gone of the meteoric Decline & Fall of Western Civilisation.

I got a bit o’shopping done.

Yep, that’s yonder Cardinal moored up, centre-ish of frame above.

Canals are a little quieter than hitherto, although the skools are all on or about to be on “half term hodilays”, so this may be ruined changed. Haven’t the festering, toxic little vectors of disease only just gone back after a year off? Hire boats are still charging about, doing the holidays. Of the other boats both moving around and moored there’s a distinctly higher proportion of 24x7x52 stalwarts than previously (a.k.a. weirdos, the emphasis in most cases being on “warts”). It should be noted that I stand out as being a wonderful and balanced human being and exemplar of my species, as do the people I talk to – it’s the others who are all strange.

Oh dear – a hire boat has just cruised past, name of ‘Hermit Thrush’. Most of the boats of that company are named after medical conditions or after the subjects of unfortunate and tasteless veterinarian anecdotes: Glaucous Gull; Septic Toad; Trench Foot Badger, that sort of thing. As with all of the others as they pass, I was sore tempted (another possible name?) to throw a tub of E45 at them to rub into affected areas twice daily.

A bit fell off the canal this week.

I say “fell off” but I suspect that eighteen tonnes of (relatively) high speed holiday steel had something to do with it.

A slight hazard to navigation, being exactly oposite the junction and floating around freely hither and thither.The nice chaps from the Wellness Charity put it back in place.

The water level was down by a couple of inches, doubtless due to a novel virus.

The ‘Reduces Water Levels By A Couple Of Inches Virus’, believed by many to have been released from an obscure Chinese laboratory by an obscure counter-intelligence agency known as the C.I.A., an ironically-named official body, working from one of the more obscurantic and otiose old colonies (Rutland).

Given that the water hereabouts comes from Wales, and nothing is allowed to enter or leave Wales at the moment (except, perhaps, Nicola Sturgeon when on inter-Celtic aid missions delivering haggis*) I’m not Surprised. Nor am I any of the other dwarfs, Grotty, Stumpy, Dotty, Dopey, Gropey and Stinkalot, who may sadly no longer meet (legally) all at the same time. Even the fairy tales are being ruined. I suppose that The Famous Five are still alright, so long as they wear masks and wash Hans a lot.

Hans used to work for Hertz van Rental, mixing his paints and stuff.

[* Sturgeon used to be a midwife.]

I’ve lost it again, haven’t I?

Fine, I’ll avoid the Cardinal’s galley for a while (that’s where all of the sharps are).


The pubs and clubs and wotnots of this area of England are, at last glance (it may have changed) all closed unless able to ‘…offer substantial meals to poor peasant school children during the holidays while Rishi Sunak fiddles (with a football player named Rashford MBE)…’

It should be noted that while the car park of the Barbridge Inn may be desserted (do you see what I did there?) the boat park is rammed.

On my early-morning perambulations all that I could hear were the contented snores and bilious digestive rumblings of boaters sleeping off those same substantial meals.

The canal to either side of the pub boat park wasn’t exactly empty, either.

The Cardinal and I are headed north sometime in the next few days. Not far. Mojo and Oomf willing.

Good names for dogs, Mojo and Oomf. If they ever strayed then a chap could wander around public places shouting their names and explaining to policemen that he was in search of his mojo and oomf.

There wasn’t supposed to be a lot of rain today, but Parapluie (the ancient French God of Rain) has just been Le Chuffing Chucking It Down, dans les buckets. Mr Sun has responded with a warming smile, but there’s more rain up in that thar sky. I shall have to step outside and squeegee the solar panels again while they’re wet – the rain is doubtless filthy, and we’re but a trebuchet fling away from a busy road here, so the air is not pristine, being full of particular particulates and of less than particular particulates, all of a generally motorised nation nature. Poop poop.

The wind’s backed off too, but I bet you sixpence to a guinea that if I were to untie the Cardinal’s ropes to steam away it’d be back like a shot. Not going there. I’m not so green as I am cabbage-looking.

No, the outside world can do one for the rest of the day, I’m going to stay indoors and brew coffee and eat curry.

Heaven forfend that I come over all OAP and get those two processes confused.

Confused? You will be, after this week’s episode of SOAP.


I’ve just interrogated the batteries (via some process called “Blue Teeth”, or some such), and as of mid-day we’re some fifty minutes into “float” at 13.94 volts and a physical temperature at the batteries of 15° on the Celsius Scale. So there’s lovely for you, yes indeed, Myfanwy.

You can’t beat a bit o’lead-acid, can you?

Right, I must away and check the “news” to see if Mint Imperials and wooden legs are allowed to be sold or not today, and whether the R Factor, who art in Heaven, really is one (as the more salacious gossip has it). I really daren’t look though – I’ll probably visit double-ewe double-ewe double-ewe gubberment dot con and be presented with some video of Boris explaining that all persons of 5′ 6″ or above who can hop on one leg while whistling tunes from Evita may only use the left-hand side of the High Street while in the presence of two Covids Martial. Um, I mean Covid Marshals. And only then while purchasing Government Bonds or sliced white bread for personal use.

It’s all very silly indeed, but at least the “ramming board” is back in its rightful position opposite the junction.

All swell in the world.


Ian H., &etc.


    1. It is certainly something for consideration. I have been running trials of my Isolationist Indicators Adaptations – where when I moor up I hoist a 30′ tall neon-illuminated cross along with banners asking if anyone would like to hear the word of Mr God – but there have been significant failures, these being the active encouragement of “genuine” evangelical types.

      I shall plan and experiment with some sort of highly specific medical “meerkatting” discouragement. Obviously, given the bas*tard Perry’s campaign to encourage all and sundry down to the towpath during a mere close-down/apparently-extinction level pandemic, my anti-meerkatting measures will need pin-point targetting (since a simple lethal airborne virus doesn’t seem to deter). Medical conditions such as something lumpy in cycle-clips and lycra strung upside down by its boll*ocks perhaps, a dog-emptier suffocated in a (donated, obviously) used poo-bag and left on the towpath, a jogger dismembered and the pieces formed into the ‘ADIDAS’ logo, that sort of thing. Perhaps fold-out warning triangles showing not some chap having difficulty with an umbrella, as with roadworks, but the outline of an axe-murderer. I’ll publish the results when available.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. HMS Herpes. Might be a good name for a canal faring craft. Greek god of crustaceans of the nethers. Barnacles on your bottom type obv. Which begs the question has the Cardinal had his attended to recently?

    And another thing this ‘ere coostard, do you buy the upmarket full fat double cream from Jersey cows type or the common out of a tin sort? Or maybe, perish the thought the instant stuff in packets that after the addition of hot water and the application of rigorous whisking, it as if by magic turns into something resembling custard? Only asking?


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Another boat of the same company cruised by later, name of ‘Purple Heron’. I opened the side-hatch and suggested that it may have something to do with poor blood supply or perhaps a blocked airway. Those aboard really had no idea what I was on about, so I’ve emailed the hire company.

      I fully expect ‘Face Like a Rivet-Catcher’s Glove’ to cruise past at some stage. If they’re letting the Chairman’s niece choose the names then she must be the most horrid little child – possibly also with secret access to unsuitable literature.

      Custard? I am bound by the terms of my late Mother’s Last Will to never reveal the family recipe, but I can tell you that it begins with ‘Take one thousand larks, remove the tongues, discard the larks…’

      No packet or tin (or jar) in the ship’s galley – and there are such, in these trying times – is ever presented at table without addition or re-formulation. I am the most tremendous culinary meddler. At the L’oie d’or morte in Marseilles in – oh, I think it was ’43 or ’44 – I was awarded The Chapelure Estomac de mille éructations. No mean achievement for a chap with three tastebuds (those being hot, cold & curried). 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aah! The gay yellow and blue tub with ‘Ducks’ written on the side it is then? Us land-locked use ‘Birds’, larks notwithstanding.


        Liked by 1 person

        1. My goodness me, do they still sell those lovely old tins of Birds Cousteau? I thought that they’d been driven the way of Vesta boil-in-the-bag curries (one or two of which I have consumed in past decades). 🙂 Mind you, I don’t suppose that SPAM fritters are legal these days either.


    1. This is a question that I have often pondered, mug by mug. My best answer is that it depends upon how well I wash up the coffee press and my mug – and upon the condition of the sponge involved.

      When I say “sponge” of course I refer to something made of plastic, I am not enslaving and mistreating sea-life, forcing helpless coral-based creatures (plants?) to work in the ship’s galley.

      Although that does sound like a damned good idea. Now, if I could just train ship’s orang-utan to work with genuine sea-sponges…

      Hmm. What was the original question? A, yes – coffee. Yes indeed. I used to grind my own beans you know, until the apparatus was impounded by Her Majesty’s Police.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. As they intimate in the song lyric, life is a many splattered thing.

      Of course, it’s just possible that my hearing may have been at fault. Life is so damnably serious that it really can’t be taken seriously at all, can it? Otherwise we’d all be overwhelmed, all of the time (instead of just some of the time).

      Take the concept of “time” for example. Was there ever a less linear or reliable dimension, a more ridiculous limitation? Except for all of the other dimensions, I mean. Quite ridiculous, all.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, life’s ridiclious, really. Yes, you’re right about time. People make a fuss about the changing of the clocks. Why? We have exactly the same amount of daylight whatever the clock says. And in winter, evenings will be dark anyway.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Desserted, eh? You reckon they are storing all the puds there to accompanying the ‘substantial meals’ consumed by the boating fraternity moored alongside…and for some miles either side by the look of it.
    Or is it a more uomarket substantial meals in which case it will be the fruit and nuts being stored there ready for the demands of the fruit and nut cases.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am finding it very difficult to understand why folks still frequent pubs in these Peculiar Times – rigid organisation, no bar service, no mixing, no dancing, no singing (I kid you not – all illegal). Surely all of the fun has been removed? Mind you, that said, I haven’t been a pub-hound for decades – when I frequented every low gin joint and sleazy bar in Blackpool and/or Manchester. They all still hold shares in my liver. 😉

      Proper puddings are (can be) magical things – jam roly poly, spotted dick, treacle tart, (a well-made) Bakewell tart – a zillion others – and all with a great coo-stard. As a young brat in the Outer Hebrides where school meals were generally salt herring & dry potatoes followed by a pudding I charmed my teachers sufficiently to be allowed to live on puddings alone.

      Were any of the State secrets in my brain-gland actually to be current enough for any enemy to desire then they would need no messy or invasive tortures – merely puddings offered and withheld, offered and withheld… and I’d squeal.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Proper puddings have proved popular with Costa Rican friends, though to get suet I have to get the butcher to provide it. He regards it as something to be used to dubbin boots and must be wondering by now just how many pairs of boots we have which need dubbining.
        Treacle tart has meant making ersatz golden syrup, but it works…Sussex pond pudding with our own lemons, the very name of spotted dick gives the english speakers among them cause for mirth – but they eat it!
        They did not know custard….they do now.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The French, known for their dessets, like creme brulee, mousse au chocolate and other such delicate desserts, have begun to embrace the pud. They love crumble with custard (even if they do call it creme Anglais). They’ve yet to discover our wonderful sponge and suet puds, though.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. They discovered them when I lived there…or our circle of French friends did…as you say, crumble now seems to have been adopted generally, but friends liked the suet puds – though horrified when told what was in them – I used to make Christmas puds on an assembly line in late October as friends wanted them for their families. Rhubarb sponge used to go down well too…
            I failed to encourage the habit of frying slices of left over clootie dumpling for breakfast however…a step too far….

            Liked by 3 people

    1. You’re very welcome, Pam. Your enjoyment is puzzling, given that some people create happiness wherever they go, but I create happiness whenever I go… 😉

      On a slightly worrying note, the font size of your comment is standard – I thought that everything was bigger in Texes? Are you being shrunk en route to Ing-ger-lund (perhaps the trans-Atlantic cable is undersized)?


      1. Ahh yes, perhaps it is because I was born and raised in England, so I will never be a true Texan and therefore must keep my font in check.
        Keep writing please, you are a tonic in these trying times.
        Pam in Texas.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Early morning ramblings will be a bit brighter now, but the dark nights are drawing in. Why is the canal so low is there a breach somewhere?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A couple of inches is a normal up and down for canals, I’ve known them up nd down by a foot or so at times – when it can be difficult (impossible) to move. The clocks moving sideways or whatever it is that they’ve done is fine, but my body-clock will never adjust. I’ll be beginning and ending my days at the usual -real- time, no matter what the clock-face may say. Any moment around about now I’m due to yawn, stretch and fall asl…

      Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.