The Curious Case of the Damaged Little Dog

The Cardinal and I moved again yesterday evening. A hundred yards, on the ropes. There’s a new dog at one of the houses hereabouts and it has a limited script.

Yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap yap

No change in tone, no change in intensity, no change in rhythm but every once in a while instead of staring across the canal at me it flinched and looked over its doggy-shoulder and yapped briefly at a spec of dust in a tree or a butterfly in the Amazon Basin.

This constitutes a slight disconvenience when one is on the stern deck pretending to be Sonny Crockett and chugging at a thirst-quenching mojito on one’s 57′ SCARAB en route for Quoobah.

Even the dog’s humans appeared to have given up trying to comfort the wee beastie. We’ll like as not be here for a day or three yet and it’s just easier this way – moving was the lesser of two weevils. I walked (very quietly) past the house this morning at sparrow-stretch o’clock. The house was closed up with nobody apparently about but from inside I could hear yap yap yap yap yap yap yap… I suspect that there are not enough hugs in the world to cure the hound of whatever terror ails it. This is sad.

Kate Bush would have been proud of this cloud formation. The lower portion over the tree-tops almost triggers my trypophobia. Almost. My flesh is on high-alert ready to crawl, nausea lurks in the wings tying its running shoes onto the wrong feet, and an assistant is readying a chaise-longue for Mr Brain to faint into. Almost, but not quite. I’m as insane as that little dog, I just hide it better. 😉

A convoy came past yesterday. Nine or ten boats one way (and two the other), one after the other, boat boat boat boat boat… No idea what caused it. Locks act to space out the traffic, since by definition only one or two boats can get through at a time and there’s a delay before the next can cycle themselves up or down. Perhaps there was some kerfuffle at the junction, a blockage suddenly cleared?

Oh Christus on an electric pogo-stickus, the little bleeder’s out there again. Someone must be coming past. Yap yap yap yap yap yap yap… Can someone please invent the meat-flavoured doggy gob-stopper? Or meat-flavoured really, really, really chewy toffee?

Yep, twas a boat cruising past.

Is there a Vet in the house? Emergency in Basket Three, Doctor…

The Canal MisCorporation tell us that they are trialling a revolutionary never-thought-of-before wheeze this year – not trimming the general towpaths.

How they are managing this I do not know, since the mowing contract to Messrs Fountains Ltd (PLC?) is a ten year contract. I wonder who’s done what with the refund?


They call it in the name of flora and fauna (Flora Robson and Fauna Cation perhaps) and the better to indulge the MisCorporation’s wild, passionate but hitherto totally hidden love for Earth ecology and, you know – those “hedgehogs” and animals and things.

Not being born yesterday I call it several things. Money-grubbing parsimony. A part of their energetic campaign against boaters and in particular agin boaters who live-aboard their boats. The boats that C&RT make the most money out of – marina boats and holiday-hire boats – do not, as a rule, moor on the general towpaths, but on C&RT’s other wheeze; the time-restricted “visitor” mooring (and these will still be trimmed of course). The rest of us are virtually under orders to keep clear and leave the “visitor” moorings to the nice folk.

Thus only the scumbag smelly boil-covered live-aboards (and other socio-economic sub-groups slated for enthusiastic pogrom-esque disappearance) will henceforth have to make a leap of faith into the undergrowth when coming in to moor, hoping upon hope that there’s actually some solid towpath to land on. Hoping that they can pull the boat in close enough. Hoping that there isn’t a colony of albino Balinese warthogs or something right where a chap’s size elevens are about to thump down. Or a pile of dog turds.

One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind (centreline and nappy-pin in hand).

I have very mixed feelings. It’s luvverly to see – oh feck, that dog’s off again – yap yap yap yap yap – I didn’t move far enough – luvverly to see the cutterbups and daisies and white and purple clover and wotnot, but it does make it rather more difficile, Lucille.

Kneeling down to attach a chain to armco, fr’example, now involves the simultaneous exploration of minor jungle and concomitant wildlife therein. I came nose to nose with a grass snake once, and it was a close-run thing which of us was the more surprised. I bent down into the “wildly successful flora” of the towpath edge looking for moorings just as he was in the process of oiking himself up and out of the canal. I screamed, the grass snake screamed, we all screamed ice-cream, you scream, Carry On Screaming. Why the hecky-heck “The Nature” can’t consist entirely of cute miniaturised teddybears I have no idea. Doubtless the snake thought much the same.

Moan moan moan, it’s all that I ever (seem to) do, but I suspect that there is a time and place for these economical ecology wheezes (and it’s not the towpath) – I know; why don’t we grass over the car parks at all of the C&RT Corporate offices instead?

Yeah, right, I’m not holding my breath waiting for an announcement that they are “doing their part”. Someone might step out of the company Renault Twizzy on the way into the office (it happens sometimes – they have to come in to sign expense forms), trip over a butterfly nest in the long grass and spill a cardboard tray of latte and sushi that they’d bought en route as a treat for the “the diverse colleagues, yeah?”. [Upward inflection on the ‘yeah’.]

There’s a reason why we crabby old gits look bored when bright young metropolitan wannabee types talk; it’s because we’ve heard it all before.

Ecology my Arse

nal Villa are still doing awfully well this season, are they not?

Well I remember the days of office managers whipping caretakers into removing every other lightbulb and replacing those remaining with 40w jobs ‘for reasons of ecology; it’s safer this way for the moths, now get on with your work you smelly peasants, I want to hear those quills scratching on parchment…’


What a cyncial old Hector I am. But then you all already knew that, didn’t you?

It’s Saturday; holiday hire-boat change-over day. I am snuggled down in a reasonable spot, on a decently lengthy straight stretch (not that this means a lot really). There are two hire-companies up ahead, their customers will be cruising past like well-meaning boats from Hell soon enough. Passing moored boats at tick-over seems to be a thing of the past, post-pandemic. Everyone’s deep in a rush and damn the hindmost.

Mrs Moorhen and her now rather large single what? Moorhenlet? Mini-Moorhen? Mrs Moorhen and child are head-bobbing about in the reeds opposite – for the moment. They know the routine. They’ll be tying themselves to the nest soon enough and bracing agin the wash.

The Catholic swan couple haven’t been past yet today. I know that they’re Catholic because they have no fewer than twelve cygnets. The rhythm method obviously isn’t working for them.

I have some Jersey Royals for lunch, but I can’t decide what to have them with. Mini-Moorhen or cygnet? Roasted or boiled?

Problems problems problems.


Chin-chin, chaps.



  1. I bet they are counting on you lot to buy weed whackers and clear the tow path where you moor up. It’s an excellent way to save expense – have someone you don’t pay do the job. It’ll probably work too. Enough snakes and pooed shoes will make the weed whacker seem like the only solution.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that you may well be correct. It will likely become the norm, after the initial leaping-off into the unknown for mooring, to then trim the neighbourhood. I already carry with me a chjild’s sea-side sand shovel, the better to clean up other people’s doggy duds, so strimmer, hedge-trimmer and a large can of Weed & Feed will needs must be added. ;-(


  2. Poor little dog…perhaps they should get it a little companion so it can concentrate on sniffing, jumping about and quarreling over food instead. Keeps my lot busy, anyway.
    If they are not mowing the towpaths – except in specially selec and selected areas – what will happen to the lycra louts on their bikes? Wet grass, an unexpected swerve …and splosh!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Now that I must admit will be a(n unexpected but wholly welcome) bonus in rural areas – in almost all of the more metropolitan districts the Watery Wellness Trust Ltd has taken money from SUSTRANS and others and paved the entirety of those towpaths (thus making it a delicious race-track for lycra-loons and simultaneously unusable by boaters – you can’t bang mooring pins into concrete and/or tarmac… especially not now since a lot of towpaths in towns and wotnot have been sold/rented out to power companies, internet companies and so forth, and have humming cables buried beneath! Can’t help but think that it’s all part of some grand “green crayon on lined paper” plan sketched out by the Waterways Emperor…

      I get very wide and very ugly (and apparently very deaf) when cyclists ding-ding at me with intent to have me leap out of their way. I have been offered violence, but mostly they just see the glint of Hell’s fires in my eyes and press “Pause” on whatever “App” it is that they’re using to log their personal best time…

      Should I ever be found dead, covered in the spoor of the business end of a bicycle pump, I ask only this – avenge me. Raze the Lycra Civilisation to the ground and send its citizenry en masse to meet their Maker.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Fountains used up their entire budget in the winter when teams of 3 or 4 ploughed through the mud. cutting/mowing nothing and then started on the non-towpath side, clearing a footpath that was on private land, leaving the overhanging branches of course and now, well I never, it’s all grown back again.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yep, I’ve been on my boat and watched them this past year, slogging through the mud wondering where the grass had gone. Two ladies in hi-vis and a Fountains van came a-walking hereabouts yesterday – they appeared to be counting the daisies and checking the health of the buttercups. We might solve the problem of cheap electricity production at a stroke with around fifty giant alternators appropriately connected – the canal builders and other engineers of the age are surely spinning in their graves at a steady ten or twenty thousand rpm!

      Parry’s a sweetheart, isn’t he? No dredging of anything other than “visitor” moorings, ever, and now no trimming of towpaths either – we soon won’t be able to see towpath from canal and vice versa, let alone step from one to t’other. All part of T’he Grand Plan for a Series of Disconnected Linear Park Ponds, Hire-Boats, Anglers and Watery-Wellness Seekers for the Use Of (Only)’. ;-(


  4. Small dogs yap constantly. There’s one somewhere in the Spinney. It yaps at birds. It yaps at its owners. It yaps at shadows, leaves, kettles, the indignant spirits of the dead floating through the copse, the time, cochlear implants, abstract thoughts and the background radiation of the universe. After a few weeks the mind adjusts and the noise becomes so much distant hum, blended with general invisible cacophony of twenty-first century Britain. Unless somebody stitched its mouth shut.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This was an odd one, the other (small and small-ish) dogs at that house yap a lot – encouraged to do so by their humans – but they somehow interact while yapping and they give up once they realise that the target is unimpressed. This new dog appears to be zonked, totally disconnected. I suspect some doggy pathology at play – perhaps as a puppy it was left in front of a looped video of Tony Blair’s speeches, or some such dastardly torture.

      If I could afford it I’d love to rescue a hound, but I fear very much that with my luck I’d get the only dog on the planet that was determined to master playing the kazoo or the trumpet, or both…

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I suggest you have a mini-moorhen with your spuds, Ian. The cygnet will be a bit large for one at this time of year, I would think.
    Why can’t the powers that be (be what? I ask myself) trim around the mooring thingies so you don’t have to scrabble about in the grass and endanger yourself by coming face to face with real Nature? It’d give work to a lot of people with a pair of scissors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rather embarrassingly, for a private company pretending to be a charity charged with looking after two thousand miles of big machinery from the Industrial Revolution era(s), the Watery Wellness Trust envisage themselves as half a dozen latte-soaked suit-clad wannabees in an office somewhere fussing over “out-sourcing” contracts. They have no experience of and no idea how to manage workmen, and so most of them have been sacked… they’ve even flogged off most of the tools of the trade, the working boats and pans and… “things”. Methinks that the experience of C&RT Corporate in re “the canals” is what they read in the Grauniad and what they watch on “ketchup tv” on their iPhones of the faux/has-been “celeb” “barging holiday” programmes… ;-(

      Liked by 1 person

  6. That’s the problem with opening a window now that they’ve let all the humans out, the Rotti across the way yap yap yap yapping! Not as bad as yours though, you’d think they would lose their voices after a while, someone must be feeding them strepsil chews. You would think that the doggy owners would get sick of hearing it though.
    Jersey Royal, aren’t they wonderful and probably the only time of the year I eat potatoes, nothing like them is there?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can only konklude that all of the humans in the household are stone deaf. There’s no other way that anyone could put up with endless yelping and yapping – whatever the reason, and I think that the dog needs help medical or help psychological!

      Potatoes are a good invention. The best I ever had were served up in Prague, many years ago – I was stunned at how potatoey a potato could taste. Never had their like since. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes and no, but the spuds melted on me! A most amazing taste when compared to the more usual “supermarket” fare – probably grown in radioactive GMO cow-poop, but amazing all the same. 🙂


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