Saturday, 11 September 2010

The Boatman

Sunday 25th July

Dr Swan is here to visit and staying on board for the weekend. We are sat on the back deck and I’m telling him that our boating neighbours are so often single men, often drinkers, often divorced and sometimes ‘escaping’ from society. Less common are couples and very rare are families. I told him that I once re-wrote the lyrics to the Boatman song by the Levellers to describe the different types of people you might find on the cut.

The Boatman

“if i could choose the life i please then i would be a boat man
on the canals and the rivers free no hasty words are spoken
my only law is the river breeze that takes me to the open seas
If i could choose the life i please then i would be a boat man”

- The Levellers

if i could choose the life i please i'd be a water pikie
that plant pot growing on the roof is ganja more than likely
my only law is gaffa tape it gets yer boat lookin ship shape
If i could choose the life i please i'd be a water pikie

if i could choose the life i please then i would be a boat yard
to get your boat fixed up down here will over load your credit card
and if you break down on the cut we're gonna charge you mega bucks
so if you need to get towed out make sure you call the boat yard

if we could choose the life we please then we could be brass polishers
Our mushroom vents and horse brasses could not get any shinier
There's lace doilies in our port holes and two ridiculous rag dolls
The boaters call us Rosy n Jims because we are brass polishers

if i could choose the life i please then i would be a fisherman
Just sitting fishing in the rain the waterways militia-man
Boaters barge into my rod
then give a friendly boating nod
They think the cut was built for boats
I wish I threw my fish at em.

But we all choose the life we please and some of us are boat men
on the canals and the rivers free no hasty words are spoken
my only law's the river breeze that takes me to the open seas
We can all choose the life we please and some of us are boat men.


We are sat among the wildflowers on the riverbank, under the trees, watching the hire boats go by – they are always bad drivers. Posh Tupperware boats on daytrips go past our boat too fast. The etiquette is to slow down past moored craft or your wake will rock our boat and at its worst can pull our mooring pegs out of the ground.

I am feeling more calm even though I am still busy. Big Sister woke three times last night. I think I need to invent another scientific equation to calculate anxiety levels.

(Number of times woken by children) - (estimated hours of sleep lost) x (your age), and double that number to find the percentage of anxiety likely to be experienced the next day.

If this figure is over seventy percent you will be in tears by mid-afternoon. If it is over ninety percent there is a good chance that you will blame your partner for everything and start a row. This can be illustrated thus:

(Sleep deprivation induced anxiety) x (units of alcohol) + (name and blame) = verbal dispute.
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