The Canal & River Trust Ltd tell me that I may have “trouble renewing my boat licence” because I haven’t cruised enough in the period May 2020 to December 2020… Trouble from them that is.
In seven months of restrictions because of You Know What I’ve cruised nearly seventy miles over a twelve mile range (between three local service areas/my support bubbly-group marina chandlery) – sweet naff all, I know, but it’s what I agreed with them in advance, in order to keep me within hailing distance of aged rellie one of two (and I am not interested in setting distance records anyway). Had they but been polite enough to wait out the full year they would anyway have had their silly, self-declared, unilaterally decided, wholly arbitrary minimum and much more, this in spite of the &etc, but no, they insist that their “spotters” have only clocked me less than 3 kilometres distant in that whole period and it’s threat threat threat. This would be the “spotters” who have either been on furlough (to save C&RT money) or who have been on reduced rounds because the pandemic legal restrictions meant that they could not share pick-up & drop-off vehicles.
It ought to be said, just so that it is noted, dire pandemic utterances from government notwithstanding, not even withsitting, that like other folk, I do not simply move my boat until C&RT cry ‘Halt! That’s enough for today’, then moor up and then stay inside peering out of some letterbox arrangement like a pair of disembodied, deranged, bloodshot eyes. No. I too need exercise and shopping and water and gazunders and suchlike. Like everyone else, I do get off the boat once moored up, once in a while. Moving my boat from neighbourhood to neighbourhood means, if it means nothing else, that my four or five mile daily “stay sane (ish)” walks must be taken in ever-changing neighbourhoods, with ever-changing people and ever-changing arrangements. In the more ordinary course of more ordinary World Events that would be fun fun fun, but in the Current Displeasantness it’s hardly the spirit of the whole Stay Safe thing, eh?
Rather as though I am some acne-ridden thirteen year old they want “till receipts from a wider area and/or photographs of my boat with recognisable landmarks in the background” as “proof” that I have moved (during three national lockdowns, several tiered restrictions, half of planned winter stoppages and three named storms in January 2021 alone… They will then “consider” these, and maybe I won’t have “trouble renewing my licence”, from them, if they are amused enough by my story…
BTW, the threatening email arrived the day before Christmas Eve, it’s taken me a month to raise a reply from C&RT, and at that only by Formal Complaint. Their response? ‘Sorry it took a while, you went into the “junk” email box – two separate corporate official email addresses, three separate emails… – and oh, we issued the email (the threat) because we issued it. Issued it stays.
Nope, I am to sodski off and to do better – while still in National “no non-essential movement” lockdown, with the entire stretch of the Shropshire Union completely closed due to multiple problems, with Bridge 18 behind me closed for February and with the Trent & Mersey beyond that closed for landslides and breaches, at least one of which will take at least 8-10 weeks to repair… they have to build an access road before they can even begin repairs to one of these major problems… (all, it must be noted, from their notifications, caused by Storm Christophe). 😉
So, being an obliging chap, I’ve selected my favourite photographs of nb Cardinal Wolsey 508533 in some of the best locations we’ve visited. Total round-trip cruise eighteen trillion miles four furlongs and ten and a half centimetres ha’penny.
The Cardinal and I shot the new-fangled Beeston Rapids. Gosh it was such fun. We had lashings of cake and ginger beer afterwards.
Got a great rooster tail from the prop powering up that flow, I can tell you!
The Cardinal and I chased poor old Nathan – a v.decent bloke working in a cra*p “charity” Ltd – all over The Moon.
Then, because that had been so much fun, the Cardinal and I chased Jim – also a v.decent bloke ensnared in a dismal “charity” Ltd – anti-clockwise all over The Moon. We didn’t catch him either. Here he is pictured just about to take a long leap right across the Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville Canal right in front of our bows (shouting ‘you’ll never take me alive unless you have cake…’).
Immediately after that trip – and after more lashings of lockdown ginger beer and some dainty sandwiches – my pager went off and we were summoned for a medical emergency. Some MisManaging Director had a broken heart and we had to be temporarily miniaturised to undertake a Fantastic Voyage to clear a huge clot. Now that I come to think on it, may have been the other way around. There was this huge clot that had a “Director” attached to it … 😉
The Cardinal and I needed a holiday after that, and since all of the politicians and celebs have been bogging off to Antibe and Acapulco and wotnot, we decided to cruise over the Cairo Aqueduct and see the Great Pyramids.
Between you, me and the Canal & River Trust Ltd’s “licensing” “system” we rather like Outer Space and yearn to get back out there and rejoin my own people on our home planet, deep in the Far Kinnell system in the second arm of the Long Spiral Downthuplugole.
Here’s the Cardinal zooming out of an immense Black Hole (rather like the one my seventy miles over a twelve mile range during a f-f-f-flamin’ pandemic seem to have fallen into). We spent fourteen days moored in a totally different universe, where common sense, good manners and notions of customer service are social constructs still in use…
After overcoming the gravitational pull of a thousand butterfly sneezes (ye cannae deny the laws of physiques) the Cardinal and I splash-landed in Hong Kong Harbour circa 1963, and had quite a way to steam before we could report to the British Consulate. The water was a bit choppy, but we’ve seen worse.
Like all good vessels though we had our part to play in history, so we went off and volunteered to join an Atlantic convoy in WWII – this one took us to South Africa. The Cardinal positively dwarfed the other vessels. Not many people know that a lot of Atlantic convoys were in fact radio-controlled scale models of the real thing.
Now, as everyone knows, if you over-shoot South Africa you will eventually find yourself among the fishing fleet in Stornoway harbour, on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. It’s something to do with Rhumb Lines and the Curvature of the Erf. We over-shot, and we did. We only just got a berth.
By the time that we’d unloaded our herring it was time for us to report for Emergency Vehicle Duty at the 1978 Les Vingt-Quatre Heures du Mans. Let’s face it, you can only do so much with a Citroen DS23 ambulance and a Renault fire engine. For complete driver safety every race track needs a well-equipped, Northwich-built narrowboat on duty.
Naturally, after such a serious cruise we needed another rest, so we went back to The Moon to take time to reflect on matters (and on corporate numptie-isms).
Well, as any one of the people behind the 31,343 hits on this blog in the past twelve months knows. the Cardinal and I are not what you might call the most natural people persons. The Cardinal’s a boat (duh!), and I was born socially discomnobulated, and the experimental drugs haven’t helped in any of the now seven decades since the midwife took one look at me and slapped my mother.
Poor dear Mother. Poor dear Father. I think perhaps that they were both accidentally unfaithful at the same time, and I am the product of two personality-challenged cave-trolls.
The Moon was far too crowded with colonials bouncing around and making beep-beep “just like Hutson, we have a problem” noises directed at Houston (and at inner-city, highly-metropolitan Birmingham), so I decided to cruise us up the Mons Ampère flight of one thousand six hundred and twenty-half low-gravity locks, just for the hell of it, just to see the view from the top. Oh god, how I remember the view from the top, when I could command a minor modicum of adult human respect (at least during office hours)! A long, long time ago… and it was hardly universal then.
We had help with the locks from some Moon-Cows, but it was still a lot of locks to do in one morning. Surprisingly, they were all operational, not a breach or a broken paddle in sight. Meeow. Spot of preventative maintenance anyone? No, I thought not.
All that remained after these little cruises was to give Archie and Simon of the Red Arrows a swift email and ask if they might like to give the Cardinal and me a spot of a fly-over by way of celebrating making it to the Barbridge Junction on the main line Shropshire Union Canal (incidentally, where – as I type – the canal is wholly closed in both directions by multiple stoppages.
Can you spell “stoppages”? “Stoppages” is a long word. Almost as long as “pandemic”. Run Pandemic run. See Pandemic run. How Stoppage runs after Pandemic. My goodness me, there’s a plot in there for a book for children, or perhaps for folk who are real-world-challenged.
Anyway, Archie and Simon – who are not overly concerned with the laws of the land or with any pesky £800 – £10,000 fines – because they have intimidating handlebar moustaches – said yes, that they’d be happy to give me a fly-over!
Here it is, children. See the fly over. How the fly-over flies.
Really, children, my dander is well and truly in the upright and locked position now, so I’ll probably have lots and lots more billions of miles of proof of the Cardinal’s more exotic crusie-woosies to show you in future posts, because let’s face it – it’s not as though I am a paying customer, an adult of good legal standing and moral character, so till receipts for coconut-latte coffees, acne cream and comics combined with ‘…photographic proof of my boat with recognisable landmarks in the background’ is the only thing that will be believed by They Who. My actual, you know – thingy – my word as a human being counts for nothing, apparently.
Actually, knowing all about Mr Micawber and his Principle Of The Miserable Sixpence, I don’t spend money willy-nilly (haven’t got any anyway to fling around on “till receipt” items, just my pension!), so photos it will needs must be then.
Jebus H. on a pogo-stick.
Chin-chin folks, keep on keeping on and please, as you click “like” and “share to twitter” and share to Facebook” and wotnot, translate the following into dog-Latin:
Don’t let the bastards grind you down. Keep Jung and beautiful, if you want to be loved, &etc.
‘Making Life Better by Water’ my ar*se [that’s the C&RT’s expensive new tag-line btw!).
Not the ‘my ar*se’ bit, although I do think that they should add that, just for the sake of truth (please excuse my Anglo-Saxon, I am… well and truly mildly miffed).
p.s., please, seriously – even if you don’t usually do so, please do share this on twitter and facebook and anywhere else, I’d like the story of my recent travels to spread as far and as wide as I have “travelled”… while wild far and wide travelling has been… frowned upon by bigger than They Who.