Rudely Re-Awoken By A Giant Virgin

This damnable weather has returned my sleep pattern to the primordial sludge; I sleep – half a brain, one eye, one ear – I wake, I get up and occupy myself (not like Poland) pottering about doing job-ettes, I go back to Bedfordshire for what hobbits would call ‘Second Napping’. I have no say in the matter, it’s just the way wot fings is, and doubtless they will return to normal when the it of it feels like it. Anyway, Second Napping was rudely interrupted by the unmistakeabode sound of a hot air balloon pilot burning a lot of (Russian?) gas…

I threw on my spectacles and flip-flops, flung open the rear hatch and stepped onto the deck to have a gander.

I’ve been in a hot air balloon some many years since, and it were wot was a fantabulosa experience but not without incident. To my thus barely experienced and inexpert eye I suspect that some, maybe all of the occupants of the sillily-sized basket would be in need of fresh underwear and a Wet Wipe each. They were low, damned low, considering what was below them. They skimmed the trees, for a few tense moments appeared to be about to “land” on/in the canal itself, then skimmed the towpath-side trees, dropped down into the field and eventually away. The pilot was burning gas as though it was going out of fashion. Whether he was showing off or whether he’d “had a moment” I could not say.

I like to think that it was the sight of me somewhat dรฉshabiller and en costume d’anniversaire as Father Nature intended that assisted them back to the necessary altitude. One does what one can to help. Early mornings are not so peaceful as once they were. F’rexample this morning. While Second Napping went on happily undisturbed Second Walkies was more of a Walkette than a Walkies…

…several other factors piling on to the already tardy-temporal and mitigating convincingly (dirty beasts!) against a better mileage. The day was already become too warm and too humid for a Hutson Minor; those people things were beginning to appear – some chap on my path (how dare he?); and I could hear the BolinderGardnerListerRussellNewbury putt-potter-putt of an approaching boat. Using a stick to draw diagrams in the earth I made my calculations and drew the sad conclusion that it was time to return to the Cardinal, a-sap or sooner.

Four boats then passed us before 0700 hrs hundred o’clock of the sun-dial, and a fifth – the one nicely moored but a polite git-gap ahead of us – left at just past the hour. All of them thinking to be “early”. Unfortunately, this leaves us wide open to some Grade A Twonk mooring bow to bow without the polite git-gap. Ho et le hum. Ce sera and soon to be surrounded, I surmise.

A deceptive phomatograph, the Cardinal actually being perhaps two full boat-lengths away from the windy-windy hole. Three, when you include the idiots who always tag on the end IN the winding hole and OVER the lock landings because “meeeee, yeah?”.

Whether the weather in Wetherby &etc will bring others out like flies today or will keep them at bay I dare not say. As we’ve had admirably demonstrated over the past two or three years the behaviour of the Human Beast is neither rational nor intelligent. Not even pretty.

As I type there’s a chap walking up to the bottom lock, windlass in hand – between you, me, and the gatepost he doesn’t look as though he’s likely to even make it there. Imagine The Walking Dead, but with narrowboats involved. Does he know that the moorings beyond are jam-packed? Is he really intending to do all fifteen locks today, under the blaze of the nearest star? Will 999 answer, or is the call-centre in New Delhi even warmer than here? These and other questions answered on next week’s episode of SOAP.

Me, myself, and I are – I are? – holed up here with dismal comfort-expectations until at least Wodin’s Day. The char-id-ee shoppe in the local townette-village was open yesterday (it opens once a week, in season, for a few hours) so I made a madcap dash of a raid. Five quids bought me a nice stash of books and some DVDs. It’s not as though I’ll actually be watching or reading them any time soon, they’ll just tag very nicely indeed onto the end of my to-be-viewed/to-be-read pile.

No idea what the charity is that the charity shoppe supports. Old porcupines or Loud Londoners or some such deserving cause. Brash Brummies perhaps – the local marina has a taxi-boat that chugs past on a heart-beat regular basis, with someone possessing that accent and a very healthy pair of lungs explaining the “history and uses of the canal system” to passengers. First time past his captive audience on the line of moored boats is… interesting; fifteenth time past makes a chap want to run out the long nines and send him and his taxi-boat down to Davy Jones’ Underwear Drawer.

Three more boats past. One – H.M.S. Pretentious, or some such, of the Gosh Look At Us Navy – missing the Cardinal by a molecule or two of paint, the chap on the stern clutching at some yappy wee rat-on-a-string “dog” while “steering”, while his [wifeling?] assists mightily by doing sweet FA. The gentleman is roping his boat forward to the lock now, the lady is comfortably seated and tippetty-tapping on her mobile phone.

People strike some fairly strange bargains in their lives.

There is indeed evidence a-plenty that the planet Earth is the Universe’s lunatic ayslum.

Or perhaps – my favourite theory – is the u-bend sink-trap of the Universe.

Oh – a boat-load flying some Scandinavian (?) flag have arrived and are attempting to work out what the gentleman is doing. This boat-watching is fun! Should I tell them that no-one is doing anything, there’s no boat coming down the lock, and the initial chap is just standing there holding his centreline rope, having done nothing to get the lock ready for himself?

Go go gongoozlers! GoGo Gongoozlers? Now there’s a thought. The Walking Dead (with Narrowboats involved) – cage dancing to Donna Summer. Aaargh! That which hath once been imagined may not be unimagined.

The Scandinavian holdilaymakers are wandering around now like penguins in a pin-ball machine, but none appear eager to walk ahead and check the status of the lock… the rat-on-a-string dog is on the towpath, yapping and be-bothering everyone and every dog passing… Lady Phobile-Moan is (seated again, but) energetically lecturing it on how Mummy says Doggy-Woggy must behave much more morer nicely… oh – the first boat has gone in the lock, so someone prepared it for them… the Scandinavians are attempting to follow them in (it’s a single lock)… now they’re floating about below the hastily closed lower gates… there’s an awful lot of wing-walking (shuffling along the gunwales) going on; someone’s going in before long… This could take some time.

More toast, more coffee, I think.

Well why shouldn’t I watch? I’ve always got an audience whenever I do something stoopid, I have never laid claim to “being a nice person”, and I don’t have a television…

Besides, which of us can really resist a slice of epicaricacy pie?

By way of contrast to Mrs Do-Nothing, a game old bird (am I still allowed to use that phrase on the internet? I mean it in a highly complimentary fashion.) just hove up, waited for hubby to bring the boat alongside the bollards, lobbed her walking stick off the boat, grabbed the Labrador dawg and marched off a-pace to set the lock… step step stick, step step stick… Jolly well done, Doris.


Ooh – I hear another boat approaching…

Chin-chin, chaps.

Ian H., Nebby of the Canals. I wish us all luck with the warmth. Ugh.

p.s. on a commercial note, don’t forget that just a link-click away is a fine selection of merchandiseables, including a selection of mugs ranging from “peaceful canal mugs” to “Cold War mugs” and my personal Cold War favourite – the Bikini Alert State mug. Worldwide delivery, and Hutson lives to eat another day. Link on top menu under ‘Gubbins’ or ‘Here‘. Prints, greetings cards, even jigsaws – all manner of tat.


  1. People-watching on canals is somewhat akin to people-watching in campgrounds.
    There’s the ‘sharp-division-of-labour’ couple, – him doing manly stuff on the outside, and her doing womanly stuff on the inside … the newbies who probably only watched a YouTube video on how to reverse park a quadruple-axeled behemoth that’s probably longer than the Cardinal – tres amusing.
    Mrs Widds is often seen twitching her tail and wanting to get out there and tell/show them how to do it, but I insist that any help offered must be asked for first. Not that I’m a grouch (most of the time) but RV’ers tend to be a tetchy lot when faced with unasked-for assistance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same sort of divisions evident on the canals – menfolk to the stern with the engine and waggly steery-stick, women to the bow or inside doing something odd with tea-towels. Very few women take the boats into the locks, preferring to work the lock mechanisms instead. There are exeptions of course, but the general division applies through all age groups. It’s as though almost every narrowboat passing is in fact still a stone-age cave, man at the door on guard, woman inside next to the fire and doing something unspeakable with a hedgehogosaurus, garlic, and pasta.

      The exceptions of course are men who do things with hedgehogs and garlic as well as steering, and women who steer, moor up, cruise into locks, and knock small bulls unconscious with a single left-hook or uppercut.

      I haven’t learned much over my years but one thing I can tell you is to never never never approach or – which is far, far worse – get between an arguing (or even disgruntled) couple under any any any circumstances.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely so. First time that mine have been laundered since summer of 1976. They didn’t really need it, but it seemed a shame to waste the good drying weather.


  2. My husband, my son and myself spent a happy half hour watching someone trying to moor a boat at Conac. So I can understand your amusement at the antics of the people holidaying.

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    1. We all make mistakes, I know that I do – but that doesn’t make it any less fun watching those who don’t have a throttle lever, just an “on-off” switch. Maximum revs or no revs at all. Even the ducks stop to watch those. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      My latest goof was mooring up here – queace and piet for the whole cruise-ette, until I chose a spot to moor in, when boats appeared from all directions and the light breeze decided to become a wind blowing (for me) the “wrong” way. I made a right royal… proverbial – with an audience! I look upon it as my payback for the amusement of others. ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. Life is certainly hectic in your neck of the woods….do you think it would help tourism if you were to stand on deck in long johns and tweed cap as a photo opportunity for foreigners keen to see the ‘real’; England?
    Or would it clear the canal in double quick time?
    Given the weather probably best to postpone the trials until autumn half term.

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    1. I do confess that some days ago I wandered into the local chippy for a healthy lunch of chips, pie and mushy peas (it was cooler then!) – and the lady behind the counter looked me up and down and announced (in a well-populated shop) that she would ‘put me on the “Pensioner Special”, and that it was only ยฃ4 and included a “can of pop”‘… I don’t think that I can ever go back there now. Technically yes, I am a “pensioner” but not in those terms, being still half a decade shy of State Retirement! Perhaps I just need a face-lift. Also a body-lift, a personal trainer, someone to dress me, and a more cheery demeanour.

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      1. There are limits to what one can put up with to score a can of pop in a chippy….
        Though the way the state pension is going you will probably still be half a decade short when you are ninety.

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        1. Sadly I think that you’re not wrong there. The contract that I signed aged eighteen in re my payments for a pension at sixty-five has already been unilaterally changed to sixty-seven – and a quarter. The pension itself is about what Rishi Sunak et al might spend on wine during a single very ho-hum meal out. The inflation deliberately organised of late will reduce it further.

          I have been trying to think of a time of late when I heard something positive, some good news, from H.M. Government – something statesmanlike and akin to the extension of the vote (even to the men who survived WWI without it), of the creation of the NHS, or the arrangement of the State Retirement Pension itself… and I couldn’t remember one thing. It’s all doom, gloom, inflation, taxes and death. If politicians had a real job and there was a genuine employer-employee relationship, then they’d all have been dusted with quicklime long ago. Other than this I have the greatest of respek for the species. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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