Dullth and Drear and Mud and Madness

It seems to me as though it’s been raining torrentially for years. I went out earlier this morning and brought back inside with me two of every species that I could wake from hibernation and persuade to pack a bag. They’re perched and curled up everywhere in the boat, all looking at me with eyes full of sleep and accusation.

If I were not already on a boat then I would be somewhere else, hot-wiring one and searching the lockers for a yellow sou’wester and oilskins. I know that I have been quoted as saying that I won’t be happy until I have a parrot and a wooden leg, but really, this is ridiculous.

The photograph above shows a real tree hiding the Tree of the Internet. On these moorings I get eighty-one Imperial dozen bars of 67G, or something such. Taken during one of those rare moments in the morning when Father Nature shows us the nearest star, and then whips it away with the intelligent, deep and emotional cry of ‘har-har!’.

Anglo-Welsh’s ‘Golden Goose’ has just cruised by at an uncommonly moderate pace, tillered by a hatless, and inappropriately-coated chap who is the living eppy-tome of “cold, soaked, unhappy” and “heading for pneumatic monia”. At the very least he’s heading for the sort of old-fashioned chill that requires a chap to put his head under a towel and steam out his lungs over a basin full of hot Guinness.

Cheer up young fella m’lad; you’re on your holidays!

No but seriously. It’s persisting down.

My goodness me but as we hurtle towards the 2020 Winter Solstice like a snail on bad acid the english weather is being true to form. Just enough short spells of sunshine to remind us of what we are missing, and the rest a blasting concoction of wind, rain and darkness. On occasion the solar panels aren’t just not bringing anything in; the sky is sucking energy out of my batteries via the panels. Somehow the wind is blowing from the south at the bow, and simultaneously blowing from the north at the stern. For the previous few days it has been trying its best to blow us off the towpath.

A boat moored on pins to our stern did indeed in the pitch-darkness of ten-thirty of the pm a couple of evenings ago step out of the boat to empty the dog before beddy-byes only to find that the towpath was not where they had left it. The pins had pulled free and the boat had changed sides of the canal.

You haven’t known the true meaning of Christmas discomnobulation until you’ve stepped off your well-deck, ribbon-decorated, dazzlingly white, full-bladdered toy poodle in hand, only to find that the Mr Jesus of the Christians made it look so much easier than it actually is.

Mud, mud, Gloria’s mud, there’s nothing quite like it for pooling the blood…

As well as the occasional Chas Hardon or Angloid-Welch holiday hire-boat (they’re doing winter this year, when they ordinarily stop the hiring at the end of – watchermacallit? Summer, the end of “summer”) there have been a few hardy souls moving about. Some will be racing from Tier 1b to Tier 14a via entirely separate Welsh restrictions to get somewhere in time for a masked ball at The Family Seat, others will be moving just “because”.

Besides, the Canal Rozzers of the Watery Wellness Trust Ltd (formerly the Canal & River Trust Ltd) have cheerily advised* us all to move move move, my pretties, move.


They really ought to get some sort of help with that Corporate obsession, it’s developed beyond “vaguely amusing” and is now a full-blown psychosis. Why is it that such “corporations” always put all of their energies into over-stepping their authority and shirking their responsibilities, and none at all into the actual business of their true business? Why, for once, might it not be the other way around?

Taken during another brief bright spell. I am rarely taken during brief bright spells, preferring instead to be taken by surprise.

The towpath isn’t as civilised as it looks above, it’s nigh-on am-poh-see-blurgh to navigate for mortal man with standard, non-swivelling feet and hydraulic ankles. That said, some lycra-clad twonk has just – sort of – cycled by through the mud. I say ‘sort of’ because I’ve never seen a more worried-looking or precarious lycra-lout, moving at a non-acidic snail’s pace, wobbling and weaving desperately for balance. He’s also tearing up the towpath, cutting deep grooves into the structure, thanks very much indeed, you PILLOCK.

At the top of frame that’s a determined dog-emptier and beyond him a worm-dangler (some folk call them “anglers”), intent on hooking tiddlers. He was here yesterday too, with a cheery chum*, and neither of them have the least notion about “sharing the space” or giving boats even a modicum of lebensraum.

*Sarcasm, unbridled.

They were so close at one point, one to the bow, one to our stern, that I thought it inevitable that we should end up with – at the least – oy vey – a Tiddler on the Roof.

The trains continue to thunder past on the Chadderton to Finklebury line, or whatever it is (Chester to Crewe?), doubtless all packed to the gunwales with mutant refugees fleeing London and the South-East of the country. God bless London. God knows who blew the whistle to give them all an eight-hour head-start. Whodathunkit?

I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’

Or something. It’s all gibberish by the time some politician belches it up at a spittle-flecked microphone. I often wonder if we wouldn’t perhaps be better off turning all of our politicians upside down, and listening to the other end.

It could hardly sound any less intelligent.

Grey skies indeed.

The Cardinal and I are sitting here for a few days more. I shall – subject to meteorological clemency – choose one of the more unfashionable days to move, and see where the madness takes me. It won’t be far, wherever it is. Half of the population hasn’t left home for ten months, preferring to watch events unfold by peering out with bloodshot eyes past the flap of the letterbox, and the other half are stampeding around the country like Martians escaped from the set of Quatermass & The Pit. I’ll try for some sort of compromise, by doing whatever the heck I feel like doing instead.

My goodness me, the wind’s just died down, the sun’s come out – after a low, weak fashion – and another bright red and green hire-boat has just cruised past, with a lady* on the stern in what I can only assume to be her pyjamas. Really, I don’t wish to boast, but one sees it all on the canals.

*An assumption proving a generosity of spirit (and a laxity of classification) far beyond that required by the old, outdated, Chivalric Code.

Seriously, you see it all.

I even saw a cheerful angler once.

Just the once.

I rang the local asylum and told them where he might be found. They were ever so grateful.

I wonder if I ought to call someone in re the lady in pyjamas?

I’d call Boris, but he doesn’t answer anymore, and all calls go straight through to his answering service.

Aha – in the time that it took me to type that the sun’s gone and the breeze is back. I do hope that that lady on the hire-boat has a dressing gown.

Right, talking of pyjamas* I’ve been out of bed for at least five hours now. It’s time I went back there.

*Which I never wear – informational overload.

Chin-chin, chaps.

Ian H., &etc.


  1. Seriously though have you never thought to drive, steer, tiller or coax and cajole the ole tub The Right Honourable Cardinal Wolsey in your velvet smoking jacket with matching tasseled hat atop, fired up with a craic or three of single malt? You obviously haven’t lived if the answer is nah! Jim-jams a-go-go…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Rather unsurprisingly – being an insufferable pillock – I do have a small selection of smoking caps… should I wear the silk or the hand-embroidered wool, I don’t know what is appropriate for boatering!

        Gone are my days of white flares and cuban heels, disappeared with discoid music. I am now a most conservative dresser indeedly. 😉


  2. Lady on hire boat may be American. About 10 years ago millennials turned wearing pjs in public into a normin the US. Its not a norm I endorse. Although… I notice that as they are it’s less of a thing. Proving that age makes you smarter. Perhaps humans only become fully intelligent in the minute before they die.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It poses a dilemma – ought my last words to be ‘Aha! So that’s the meaning of life!’ or the more simple ‘Avenge me…’?

      Thanks for the info in re the jypamas, that could ebe the answer to the puzzle. Given the state of some boats that pass I am just grateful that she was wearing something, anything!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. It occurs to me that it’s almost impossible to utter “lycra-clad” rapidly three times without tying one’s tongue into knots. Condolences of the Season to you, Ian.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve never understood the wearing of lycra, even by those with bodies of the Greek and Roman ideal. When did Michelin Man become the dominant “style” guru? I much favour the kaftan and, whilst I seriously doubt the medical efficacy of the current fad for face-coverings, thick masks are a positive boon in a country where most of us (myself included, YOURself EXcluded, dear lady!) have faces that may be confused with bulldogs defecating… 😉

      Have a very merry whatever you have, wherever you are – sing as though there’s nobody dancing, dance as though your feet aren’t stinging – or something. Good food, good ale and great company to you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Kaftans conceal figure-failures, but I suppose they would get caught in the spokes. I don’t know why some of those lycra-wearers also turn themselves into rolling advertising billboards, though.
        Many thanks for the bountiful good wishes, and the same to you, sir!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I have a theory that explains why our ancestors in the pre-bear-skin over-the-shoulder one-piece died so early. Chasing sabre-toothed sheep around with clubs while naked only led to hysterical laughter among the sheep, so our ancestors threw themselves, flab and all, off cliffs in sartorial shame. The invention of woollen cloth by Mr Tweed in the year fifty-five million B.C.E. was, ironically (sheep don’t do irony), the biggest life-saver in human history. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Reminds me of why we left Europe. All I have to worry about here are volcanic expressions of distaste, the tail end of hurricanes, earthquakes and the heavy rains at the end of winter which take out roads and fell telephone lines indiscriminately. And now it is summer and here comes the searing heat and two hours watering the garden in the evenings.
    Now suitably disgruntled by it all may I wish you the compliments of the season and a good long pull at that bottle of mothers’ ruin.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All problems are indeed relative (although I must confess that my remaining relatives are relatively well-behaved). You live in a most interesting part of the planet. Given the chance to make suitable preparations I might cope with hurricanes and heavy rains, but I draw a definite 2B or HB line in the sand at volcanic disruptions – the stuff of my nightmares.

      Given my species-memory revulsion for insect life and my horror of shaking farmlands and lava streams crossing the A51 I long-since concluded that my ancestors were survivors from some Doug McClure epic; most probably The Land That Time Forgot. I have learned to live with myself, provided that I keep deep granite underfoot and a weather eye on the horizon. 😉

      A very merry Crimbo (or whatever) to you too, and thank you for all of your encouraging visits to my blogette! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The last time I had such a winter was so long ago my memories of it have been softened.

    Here, we are bracing for a fresh round of selfishness as people ignore the keep-your-germs-at-home and go rushing about with Willy and Nilly.
    And they’ve cancelled the yacht race, on account thereof! I suppose I’ll have to watch bloody cricket instead! Still, mustn’t grumble.
    Here’s to a better year,continued supplies of Mother’s Ruin and whatever tickles your fancy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I find that spectatin’ at yacht races is more difficult with each passing year – there are so very few places to sit, and I no longer float as I used to in my youth.

      Don’t please let anyone else know but I have heard from reliable sources that Willy and Nilly are to be replaced this year in Father Christmas’s (Christmas’? Christmasses?) reindeer team. Apparently they were caught in flagrante delicto at a private party during lockdown and their form is in question. The replacements are rumoured to be Elspeth and Margot, a couple of youngsters who have been in the wings for years awaiting their turn.

      I thought that I had had a funny turn once, but it turned out that someone had put three sugars in my coffee, and half a year in rehab got me back on track.

      There is a large bottle of a most splendid Mother’s Ruin on the boat this year, I shall doubtless end up singing from the main mast again. 🙂

      Keep well, have fun, and do please keep on keeping on (no reason other than that it seems to annoy so many folk in the status quo these days). Chin-chin.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have an on-going battle with my spouse. He’s all for keeping the heat in, fair enough, but it means keeping the daylight out. He wants to close all the curtings at silly o’clock, while there’s still some light out there. I want to keep as much of the light as possible. there’s little enough as it is, what with Mr Sun being on a go-slow or almost hibernation for the winter, and the met office ordering dark skies and rain all day.
    I suppose it’ll sort itself out by summer. Summer? What’s that?
    Have a Merry Crimble, Ian. We’ve just had ours curtailed somewhat as we’re in Tier 2 and our daughter, whom we were planning on seeing over the Spendmas time, is in Tier 4 and ne’er the twain shall meet. Still, our son is in Tier 2 so is coming for Spendmas Day, but only that one day! Grandson number 1 is coming on Boxing Day (I hope with his own boxing gloves as we’ve not got spares) as he’s also in our tier.
    What a year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a merciless decision to have to take – light versus heat retention. On the Cardinal closing the blinds makes a huge difference to the heat retention (single-glazing all round), but – like yourself – I cling to the last rays of natural light for as long as possible.

      Have a great Christmas yourselves too, please. I shall be having my customary day on The Day, taking lunch with Mr God, Ms Beelzebub, and a small but perfectly-formed electric-triangle player from the Coldstream Guards, before settling down to see if Mrs Queen E II reads out my speech word for word this year. Then we’ll have hot mice pies and ale before torching the Palace of Westminster and all of Whitehall. The usual. A quiet day.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. And a very merry wotsit to you too – don’t forget to toot the urtle doves, threef the wrench hens and fork the awling birds, and to look out for the five goal dings, otherwise Pa Tridge will fall out of his pear tree. 🙂

      I quite love winter, but -proper- winters, not this soggy nonsense – and winter on the way back to the daylight hours, too. Yesterday was pitch dark at half past three in the afternoon, howling a gale and throwing down the rain, it’s all very depressing.


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