Waiter? There are people in my soup.

It’s been a funny old week. Yesterday, Friday, was technically the hottest day of the year thus far being in the eighties Fahrengezundheitings, but – curiously – Thursday, while technically less Hellish, was the unbearably hot one. This being England today is of course struggling to achieve sixty effs and has eight-eighths cloud cover (outdoors).

We’ve happily, enjoyably, constructively, the Cardinal and I, cruised a couple of times albeit largely back and forth on minor domestic missions, we’ve met some splendid people, and we’re currently moored rubbing bow buttons with Mr & Mrs R Soul (see previous post).

S.S. Epicaricacy is a dangerous vessel to board. Sometimes day boats, like hired horses, just stop to eat random foliage and can’t be easily moved on until they’ve had their fill.

We have anti-scurvy comestibles aboard, having contrived at length to meet Messrs ASDA. I arrived early, they arrived late. The day being roastingly warm (on the Hutson Scale) I sought shade, received an eventual message in re their tardiness (gnoshit, Sherlock) immediately followed by another advising me that they were ‘on their way’ immediately followed by the bright green van whizzing past me (cunningly hidden as I was in the shade of the [now] derelict “Services” block). Messrs ASDA then disappeared at not some little velocity into the depths of the local marina, and had to be rescued before they faded into the monochrome tones, dispiritment, disconsolation, desolation and the despondent doldrums concomitant with the establishment.

There was one heinous substitution – my Richmond brand (non-animal) sausages for something of ASDA’s own invention and labelled ‘Plant Based Soya Sausages’ without so much as the necessary hyphen. I shall probably have to do something adventurous with those to make them tasty and appealing (such as throw them away and eat something else). Will there be, do you think, sufficient surplus industrial agro-chemical oestrogen in one pack of soy-based sossiges for me to develop 38D breasts and a mothering instinct again? I do hope not.

Anyway, Ship’s Stores are now beginning to look healthy once more.

In the matter of more minor substitutions a “Vegan Moroccan Vegetable Pasty” – an unlikely comestible at best – was swapped out for a “Bombay Potato & Spinach Pasty” – surely an even more unlikely item. In all of Mother’s (many, many) years on the North-West Frontier I don’t remember a single instance of a “Bombay Anything Pasty” being dropped through the iron bars of the Regimental Nursery and into my feeding dish. Perhaps though it is just memory that fails me?

I don’t see why it shouldn’t. The knees have gone, the back’s unreliable, my eyesight is on a par with your average mole’s peepers and my thinking-brain is can anyone remember what I was blethering on about?

I still miss my old tin feeding dish. I spent millions of happy hours rattling that up and down the Nursery bars, or sitting under it during monsoon season, it being the only shelter after the Regimental Mascot elephant took fright during the first shots of the 1857 rebellion and ate the thatched roof. Even now in my dotage years everything above the eyebrows has neatly sloping sides and a flat top upon which, in reverse relief, is written ‘Produced by The Calcutta Tin Corporation. Not For Human Use. Recommended Retail Price 6 Rupees.’ It was a tight fit at best.

Ducks in Camouflage. That’s what Cook used to write on the menu when times were hard, the Bishop was due to call for dinner, and all that the pantry held was my pet hens and a catering-sized tin of mushy peas.

One of the boats – moored, naturally, in such proximity that had we been an MP and a prostitute in the nineteen-fifties then I should have been forced by the Ethics Committee to resign – appeared to be attempting to contact inter-stellar life. Either that or this is England’s Official Biggest Radio Telescope on a field trip with Basingstoke University as they try to ‘use the science yeah?’ to verify the existence of the Moon.

The sattylight dish was of such size in comparison to the boat that had there been a wind and the ropes held there may have been a notifiable change in England’s continental tectonic drift. Presumably with such a dish it is possible to pick up and watch (albethey in black & white 405-line VHF transmission) Tales of The RIver Bank, pre-“WOKE” Dr Who, and Christopher Trace presenting Blue Peter pre-Shep era.

As I have been tripe-ing this post I’ve been treated to the Saturday morning stampede – Anglo-Welsh hire boats that, having spent their last night of holiday moored outside the local Public House, are attempting to make it back to the hire base in time for their 0900 hundred o’clock hours return – misjudging the pace of boats and forgetting in their alcohoolic stupor that there’s a set of staircase locks twixt them and safe return of their boat-hire deposit monies.

Towards the end of the afternoon there will be a minor stampede in the reverse direction, as those on a week-long hire all attempt to circumnavigate the entirety of the canal system before Tuesday.

Mr & Mrs R Soul have yet to unzip their covers, so to speak, let alone to leave – although the boat has been rocking about with evidence of the movement of lumpen creatures inside.

Nor have they let the dog out for a shite, and I’ve been up since 0400. I assume that the hound is used to them and all of their amusing ways. Hopefully he’s taken matters into his own paws and already shat in their hats.

I may poke that “Bombay Pasty” with a sharp stick for lunch, and see if it squeals or moves.

Whatever will they think of next? Bangalore Eccles Cakes?

Ian H., &etc.

Grumpy Scourge of the High Cs.


  1. Those poor boaters need a bit of a lesson on exactly where the pivot point on a long narrow steel coffin is! …When the sun doth deign to shine it’s well and truly hot, but most of the time we’re all cloud-cover-y and hot water bottle-y … very confusing.

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  2. They need to put a curb bit on that boat to get it off the greenery.
    Came across mention of walking the towpaths in – I think, therefore am not sure that I am, The Telegraph where the dog emptier noted how cheery and welcoming the hire boat people were, in sharp contrast to the live aboards who were surly and distinctly standoffish.
    He must have passed The Cardinal on his treks.

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    1. With all due respect to the filthy rat’s nest and social cesspool that is London* (and all such cities), Hackney is almost certainly as far as they went to conduct their opinion poll – although, that said, I can’t imagine hiring a narrowboat in or around London! It would surely be similar to a camping holiday in Thamesmead’s subterranean parking. 😉

      The dogs are always welcome, whether being emptied or not. The people? Well, the jury’s coming back early on that one, and I’ve handed down instructions in re a “Guilty” verdict…

      I love humans, but it’s so very difficult to cook them properly.

      *JMHO. E&OE.

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  3. I’m not sure if it’s the Spinney experiencing its own climate, or whether I’m getting old and my blood has stopped working, but I’ve still got my woolly sweater on and I’m not roasting, despite the endless images of people in bikinis spreading covid round swimming pools all over the BBC News. (Incidentally, Beep the Meep is heading for the Dr Who 60th anniversary,so I suspect all ‘woke’ and ‘viewer condescension’ will be well and truly slung out of the window along Mr Chibnall…)

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    1. Sunday here now and it’s akin to the end of Autumn. My valet slash batman has to change my clothes several times a day, from Summer flannels to Winter onesies. It’s all most confusin’. I still don’t know why he’s wearing my clothes.

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