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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Ian H., &etc.