Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Boat Days

I smell of sweet stale bananas. I can smell it in my hair. Tad self-conscious that I smell too sweet for my fellow tubers, but heck, more worryingly I could smell of damp and just not notice - this smell of artificial sweet covering up the odour of the natural banks of the canal. Actually, I hope I smell of biscuits, which most would agree is nicer than pondweed.

I live on a boat. Just moved in on Monday night, right after I did a show with my theatre troopers at the recently (half) burnt down Battersea Arts Centre; post-show I retreated to water with the mild feeling already that it had been an unusual day, but what’s usual these days?

The sail boat (not a barge) is a liveaboard that’s in a continuous state of ‘work in progress’. It floats nicely and comes with an interesting liveaboard ‘landlady’, but with us being on water I’ll just call her by her name.

‘What shall I call you?’

‘You can call me whatever you want, whatever’s easiest.’

‘OK. But I don’t know your name so that’s quite difficult.’

‘Oh. I haven’t even told you – it’s Merrill.’

‘Like the bank.’

‘No nothing like the bank – nothing like that – what bank? - friends call me all sorts of thing like Margaret or Merry or Lily…’

‘OK. So they call you by lots of names then. I’ll call you Mer if that’s alright?’


So at the moment Mer’s moored the boat next to a giant biscuit factory: McVities. It’s in northwest London in a place called Harlesden and the air surrounding the station is the smell of concentrated sweet. I can almost taste the dough kneaded in industry quantities, its constant stream of puffy air wafting over canal and pouring across the junction into the Underground station down the steps towards the commuters.

There are definitely worse things to smell of than biscuits and so I’m not complaining, they also make Hula Hoops there because I see the vans but I can’t smell the crisps so much. When I leave for work this morning Mer tells me we’ll move the boat this week.