A fishy tale

Mine, all mine…for the day

I don’t have a bucket list. Now I don’t know whether this evidences a chronic lack of ambition or imagination on my part or simply indicates that I am heartily enjoying and greatly appreciative of those things I already do, to the point where I simply don’t crave the ‘big ticket’ items. Or maybe I’m just an old fart who can’t be arsed to make a list. That said, there are things that fall into a slightly lesser category, stuff badged as ‘quite fancy doing that if I had the chance but not going to go to my grave full of regret and remorse if I miss the bus’. So not a bucket list, more a used milk pan with some ideas scratched into the bottom. And would you believe it, two of these ‘nice to dos’ have come up – one is planned for next month and I will keep that under wraps for now. But the other I did last week, and heaven knows what trouble it will land me in…

Heather Boyce – a new poster girl in the making

You see, my chum Heather Boyce (long-term pukka continuous cruiser who we have bumped into so often that she is now considered family and allowed on our boats without a visa) invited me to lend a hand on NB Tench, the FMC motor that has been pressed back into carrying; its cargo, the Alarum Theatre Company. You may have seen that Alarum (aka Kate Saffin and Heather Wastie) is touring the network with its Idle Women production, and the good repertory ship Tench, with Heather B skippering, is plying up and down the cut, stopping only for curtain up and Tescos. And here I was being given a gold-plated opportunity to crew a full length unconverted motor…well, I say, ‘crew’, but to be more accurate it was ‘helm’. No-one stood a chance, once my hand was on the tiller there was no way I was letting go, I superglued myself to the footboard, and that was it really. And by golly it was good. Too good, way too good. I need another boat, I needs me a Josher! (Close your ears, little Enc, I will always love you)

I will admit to nerves ahead of my arrival. Curiously, despite how long I have been boating, I have never helmed a 70 footer. And certainly not a boat like this, with its little peculiarities. Like not stopping. Well, that’s to say, it did stop but it only came up short at Maffers because I’d chucked it in reverse at Berko. So I did take it very carefully. Observers might have described it in other terms…painfully slowly maybe or…are you actually moving… But when under way she did go along beautifully, with a gentle Tigger-ish bouncing motion across well down pounds, whereas I’m more used to my two big bottomed girls dragging their derrieres recalcitrantly through the mud. They give me attitude whereas Tench just gave of herself most willingly. There may have been no official Fish class as such but that’s how she swam for sure. Her HA2 never missed a beat, her throbby pom-pomming actuating the usual ‘head pop out of hatch’ effect on moored boaters; she went where I put her; behaved herself largely in locks, although she had a bit of a moment when after having naturally lain right side, she decided she fancied a bit of the other; and bless her, she didn’t show me up once, making me look half-way competent and, most importantly, ensuring that I might get another go!

Who needs bucket lists?

Other highlights: the hot sunny weather, which made the Chilterns almost painfully pretty; the ceaseless stream of hospitality that came out of Kate’s boat, this despite Kate steering and locking for a lot of the time; chatting to Nick off Barlows’ Hood, well over a decade since he made his appearance on Narrowboat. I can summarise my opening gambit thus: ‘You’re the bloke that was in the Dover programme. You haven’t changed a bit. So pleased to see that you still have Hood.’ Don’t tell me that I don’t have sparkling repartee…he was a rather lovely chap, so chatting while waiting for the lock to be turned was no hardship…and he did tell me that Barlows’ Ian is set for some major work now that it’s under new ownership, which is good news hopefully. I was about to launch into my Fantasy Fleets game with him when the spoilsports opened the gates…

Having set off from Tring that morning, we finally stopped just short of Grove lock, a little earlier than planned on account of the unexpected stoppage there. It wasn’t quite plan A (which had been the Globe) but it was an acceptable plan B, accompanied in true Brit style by tea and cake. Homemade, again. I must say, Kate may be performing Idle Women but she does a rubbish impression of one.


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2 Responses to A fishy tale

  1. Just as you come to appreciate the necessity of a full length boat (yup, they really do know what they’re doing; all the steerer has to do is not screw it up) – and you go getting seduced by them fancy joshers. We must arrange a session on Chertsey with all due haste to redress the balance.


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