A Candle To Light My Way

Only for ten or fifteen minutes, before Messrs Sun & Co got out of bed. We moved a bit early the other day, the Cardinal and I, and it was the first time for a long while that I’ve used the tunnel light to see where we were going. In fact, I switched the light off just as we came through this s-bend bridge, and my bulging, blood-shot, slightly luminous eyes adjusted quickly.

Just half an hour into the wee cruise-ette we came upon my favourite services area – and some &^”*ing winnet had moored there overnight. Modern entitlement at its finest. I squeezed in with them bow-button to bow-button. Strange to relate, everything that I used when I was there banged, clanged or acidentally sprayed water over a boat that was effectively giving the reverse-Churchillian to all other passing boaters. Nor was I kind to the three-rope knitting with which they had sought to claim the most useful mooring bollard. Their boat’s curtains twitched, but they declined to pop their heads out to say ‘Air hair lair’.

Unless you’re a Fuel Boat loading or a private boat receiving an emergency double-buttockotomy from uniformed Paramedics then I support the De’Ath Penalty for mooring on Service Points.

Moving at such times is the only way – and not at all a sure certain way – to re-live a taste of the canals pre-Parry, before they had been reduced to some sort of down-market floating “Butlins” with p*ssed up hooligans rushing about, music blaring, leather shoes, black socks, embarrassingly age-inappropriate torso-clothing, and backwards “baseball caps” also blaring.

Why do pee-pul hire boats to enjoy the putative (long lost) tranquility of the canals and then blast (shite) music to the world as they cruise? Have these people ever heard a bird tweet? Ever listened to the plink of water on a slow boat hull? Ever heard a frog say ‘ribbet’? I doubt it. Nor will they ever, methinks.

Because most canals have been or still are closed (structural failures, lack of water, on a whim, off a whim, wimoweh) traffic would appear to have been concentrated in this corner of the network alone. Imagine a hire-car company where the main gates are locked but they’re still hiring out all of their cars, and everyone’s screaming around the car park in unfamiliar vehicles shouting ‘IT’S A CONTACT SPORT!’ to one another.

Thank you, Mr Parry, smoochies. Thank you, Mr Timothy West. Nicknames ‘Left’ and ‘Right’, although which is which does depend upon your viewing the horse’s arse cheeks from the correct angle.

Here are some soothing geese.

I don’t know how you use live goose-balm, I think that you have to rub them on, or something. If you want old-fashioned goose-grease then you just squeeze them. Same thing with orphans if you need Industrial Orphagrease.

Anywhen, serviced a-plenty, we mooched on and plonked ourselves into some very pleasant moorings indeed. Ill-advised moorings. A moment of madness, perhaps.

Not long after and on the critically-urgent advice of Monsieur Jean-Paul Sartre, we moved on again. Also early, and with scant care for the slumbers of the chap moored so closely while he painted his boat (fumes, Gloria’s fumes…) that I could hear his every sniff… and sniff was all that he did. He didn’t breathe; he sniffed. Sniff sniff sniff sniff sniff sniff – swallow – sniff sniff sniff. Sniff sniff – snort – sniff sniff swallow. Until you’ve heard this man in action you cannot know what a sniff is. It is the low-mass item that compromised the structural integrity of the dromedary’s skeletal arrangments.

L’enfer, c’est les autres. Sorry but there it is. Let’s face it, at my very first meeting with a human stranger I was held upside down and slapped on the arse, and it’s all been downhill from there. I’ve made overtures but the pain lingers (and not just for me, since I turned around and gave the midwife a knuckle sandwich in fair return).

Where we then hove up is – for the moment – most splendid indeed. There’s traffic noise a-plenty, but for some peculiar reason (I have a large peculiar-gland) I can tune that out. The birds are twittering. There’s no wider view as such, except along the canal, for hedgerow faces un-tended overgrown offside – and it’s delightful.

The towpath is, of course, luxuriant in its wild growth of Robsons (Flora; 1902-1984). Mooring here relies upon the gaps mown and trampled down by previous boaters. I donned my favoured matt-black “serial killer” rubber gloves to reach down and through to attach my chains, and minimised the prick and the sting of the weeds. When I say ‘prick’ of course, I refer to the spiked plants, not to the Gollygarch of the Canal Company. I landed where some 57′ boat must have landed before, and won a pre-flattened yard at either end, for cratch and rear-deck step-off. Pure luxury.

There are many appropriate things to announce as one leaps off onto – one hopes – the towpath, centreline and nappy-pin in hand, these days.

‘Dr Livingstone. I presume?’ (especially useful if there are any ramblers, velocipedists, anglers, dog-emptiers, or doggers, lost and cowering in the foliage).

‘I claim this land in the name of Her Britannic Majesty Queen Victoria. You are all now subject to English law and taxation, although you won’t get a vote.’ (especially useful if there are any ramblers, velocipedists, anglers, dog-emptiers, or doggers, lost and cowering in the foliage).

‘Dear God, Robinson – look at that! I believe it’s a whole new species, entirely unknown to science.’ (especially useful if there are any ramblers, velocipedists, anglers, dog-emptiers, or doggers, lost and cowering in the foliage). ‘Bloody Hell, it’s ugly. Look out – it’s probably poisonous!’

If I step off and find myself in the company of a pair of humans I like to stand tall and proclaim ‘By the authority vested in me by Kaiser William the Second I pronounce you man and wife. Proceed with the execution.’

Sometimes though I stick to the more simple ‘One thing in the world I hate: leeches. Filthy little devils.’ although sometimes adding ‘Rosie, are you cracked? The currents down there are fierce!’.

Tis a Bank Hodilay weekend here which, in England at least, ensures grotty weather and lousy crowds. My intention is to sit out the peak of the numptydumptiness, only occasionally popping out to tighten ropes stretched by the passing of charabanc traffic.

I can’t really cruise again on a Bank Holiday weekend; the aftermath of such … activity … is not a good look for me, and it lasts for weeks, months, or until my medication kicks in again…

A post-cruise narrowboater in Parry’s New Floating Butlins… hands grasping the Oscillatronic Elsan Blue Dispenser lever and with not some little wild intent.

The Canal Company Ltd claim to be conducting some sort of “census” at the moment, individually emailing boaters a link that they describe as ‘Here is the link to the SNAP survey that is unique to you; your answers will be anonymous: …’

Mine such leads to a blank white screen. Of course it does.

I’ve made enquiries, such as one can given the “support” arrangements, and apparently it’s all my fault and I ought to try turning it off and on again, and my “broadband” is too slow (although fine for everything else, including the streaming of High-Definition YooBend videos of multi-million “Expedition Yachts” for sale*). Of course it’s my fault.

*My guilty pleasure over morning coffee.

I am told that I must t’elephone instead, and someone will enter the answers on my behalf. This does rather beg the question of how they will enter “anonymous” answers on behalf of some chap who simply t’elephones them, and also of how I know that anything that I say is what they will actually type… or if indeed they are typing at all.

It’s all just so much pig poop, isn’t it? It is an overworked phrase I grant you, but they really couldn’t organise a wine-tasting in a field of grapes, could they? A census with anonymity assured where you have to ring up, identify yourself via any number of “security questions”, and then the people issuing the census faithfully type in – they say – your answers to their own survey. Follow The Science.

Happy daze.

Utterly bloody ridiculous days.

ASDA managed to stumble up to my moorings a few days ago, laden with silly substitutions and missing items (and in this world, it is indeed possible to be laden with missing items). There will thus be an artistic tower of steamed bruised (not mashed) English (non-)season vegetables served with a swirl of ASDA Gravy Granules jus and cracked black pepper for lunch. If I get off my gluteus maximode and get it prepared, anyway.

I shall then dine comme repas de pique-nique at the side-hatch, offering cheery advice to those unfortunates who have lost their water-skiers, or who are – obviously – on their way to assist professionally at the site of some major conflagration.

My god, Miss Jones, I know how to live. I didn’t get where I am today, CJ, by not living.

I wonder if it will be (relatively) quiet enough in a week’s time that I might move in daylight?

Shall I be “spotted” here by the Rozzers?

Ought I to have a pot of Peruvian or a pot of Southern Indian after my tower of spuds and cabbage?

These, and other questions, answered on next week’s esipode of SOAP.

Soap’s one thing that has mightily improved- IMHO – during my lifetime. Lovely liquid gloop now. Anyone else remember those very suspect, slimy, bars of hairy one-bar-for-all stuff that we used to (occasionally, perhaps once a week) use in our ablutions?

Don’t even get me started on those Imperial Leather advertisements implying that upon first use the customer would suddenly own their own private jet…

Chin-chin, chaps, and … wimoweh.

Ian H., and Cardinal W., moaning for England, as ever. It’s all that keeps me cheerful.


  1. As I recall, Dame Flora did a couple of very acceptable ‘Good Queen Bess’es’ in her day … and a couple of nuns. 🙂 .. and I truly appreciated the Kate-Bogey reference! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ‘Can you make a torpedo? Well do so Mr. Allnut.’

      Can you imagine the cgi nonsense and dismal actoring were the African QUeen to be filmed today? I wonder how many utterly implausible arms and legs flailing escapes from carefully faked explosions there would have to be…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. This chap was the king of the sniffers, I’ve not before heard someone with such volume and consistency – I don’t think it was even a “cold” or some reaction to his own paints, I gained the impression that he’d always “breathed” that way. Mind you, he looked like a sandal-wearing refugee from the early split-level lounge nineteen-seventies who had entirely skipped the eighties, nineties, noughties, and twenty-teenies, so perhaps he was sniffing in support of [insert “good” cause from that era]?

      Perhaps if he had been wearing his favourite t-shirt I’d know that he had been Sniffing For Blue Whales or some such.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m typing ver’ cautious-like, in case the WordPress Wolves are starving…
    Yes, they are messing about most rudely with what used to be a clean,simple platform for airing one’s nonsense.
    Now I forget what I was going to say! Probably something banal about a canal.
    Entertaining, all the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. WordPress – the company with a great future behind it…

      All platforms eventually go this way, methinks, losing their focus and direction. I am old enough to remember FleaBay when it was still a fun and profitable site for individual sellers. Eventually the customer becomes incidental and the aim of making perhaps half a dozen people really really really cash-rich surfaces like oil on water.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The only time we ever moved the boat in the dark was one winter’s night when there was a force ten gale blowing and we’d pinned ourselves to a towpath that was mere spongy mud. When we woke up the next morning we were upside down in a cafe in Yorkshire.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Upside down is probably the safest orientation in a cafe in Yorkshire. Other than being sideways in Prague.

      I cruised accidentally in the dark. Well, more accurately I got fed up of waiting for the it of it to get light… the days are drawing in faster than relatives after a fight at a wedding in Sicily. Unless I am in need of a de-coke and a full tune-up it appears to not get light until 0600 and to be dark again by 2100. This simply will not do. I haven’t enjoyed a (proper) Summer yet.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank your lucky stars that, it being a Bank Holiday, you are spared folk dancing.
    I note the clever trick WordPress are now employing. To comment you must click on their icon…which disappears under a message when you do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aha – I do get the feeling that WordPress is beginning to gasp its last. WordPress has felt lifeless and struggling under the weight of £add-on£ £gizmos£ for a while. The advertising that I’ve seen would fail even to impress the lowest common denominatrix. Doubtless they are being prepared for a take-over/buy-out. The Money Machine grinds on, ever on.

      Folk dancing – there is but one cure. I count it among the sorrows visited upon my island that, while such as New Zealand got the Haka, the Northern American colony the Line Dance, and Greece that odd dance that constantly near-stalls, we in England got chuffing Morris Dancers. Proof, surely, that The Universe has a cruel sense of humour, and perhaps a grudge.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I like Terry Pratchett’s idea that the opening salvo on the squeezebox was the sign for you to run away before the Morris began…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Some years ago there used to be some sort of Morris Dancing known as “Borders” and it was a tad more upbeat, black outfits and much of the crow, the sunrise and sunset… but what I’ve seen of them lately has been watered down. A shame.

          Mr Pratchett was a chap awash with great advice.


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