Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Canal Cavalcade

‘Worst case scenario Mer!’ Back in the boat brushing my teeth on a windy stormy gale-force sort of night, the drizzle hasn’t commenced yet but I assume there’ll be lashings of it after midnight, always is in England.

‘OK I’ll leave the keys right here - so we can drive in the middle of the night if we come loose.’

Pointing skyward with my toothbrush I say, ‘Good idea. Always be prepared.’

‘I’m telling ya’, Mer moves to the front end of the boat where she lives in a purple envelopment of warm blankets and wires ‘there are boats flying everywhere!’


‘The canals. They’re all saying it.’

There was the Canal Cavalcade this weekend and all the happy boat folk were out in force. The floating bandstand was a novelty, reminding me of Dick Van Dyke and loud cartoon penguins, and I did spy a handful of rosy-cheeked men; one with a resplendent white beard and moustache combo which Brill Cream could only worship and never shape. I had a dog with me too - sniff sniff sniff wag wag wag - like there was no tomorrow, and whilst trying to sympathise with the canine form of excitement that copious crowds and smells must stir in them (‘Like being at a rave and being told off for dancing’ as a friend interjected whilst I pulled the dog away from another sandal-ed foot for the hundredth time) I kept tugging at her little collar because she would eat trodden down bread and lick spilt Mr. Whippy off the pavement. When I arrived back at the boat I told Mer of the festivities happening down the canal.

‘Yeah I went to see the cavalcade but I wasn’t impressed.’ 

She’s rarely impressed and always into something else, forever riding the alternative wave. ‘They’re not real boaters like us. Most of them aren’t liveaboards so they’re just in it for show you know, all pretty and no panties.’ 

I definitely raised my eyebrows at the “me being a real boater” comment but she makes me laugh. To Mer you’ve got to live it to believe it (like rock n’ roll) and she does live it be fair, and I like how in her mind all these pin-striped red and white blazers, the bunting, the brass band and the boater-hats are marks of a hobbyists. Conformist sold-out establishment whiners. Mer’s a true blue Lefty. I shake my head fondly.

The wind has really picked up since the weekend and now the debris from the parties float past my window. Some slowly, some chunks vigorously. A lot of PET bottles and straws and plastic bags and hell of a lot of blossom petals. There’s indistinguishable stuff mainly, and ducks swimming against it. The other day I saw a cat swimming - not on purpose - it must have fallen out of a Yuppie flat’s window overlooking the canal. It paddled quietly keeping his head above above the water with determination but looked exhausted from the wet, I wandered back and forth, but I was too far away to do anything about it. I hope the cat survived. There is lapping under my bed tonight and I can’t help feeling worried for the cat.


The happy mess and excitement of parties throws people into a commotion and although that’s fun it can be disconcerting. When you've found yourself alone all of a sudden in a throng of people and the eyes begin to dart. A pretty pretty butterfly of anxiety flutters off the shoulder in to my drink then drowns. That’s a little insight in to my psyche anyway. I always keep remembering that there’s another side to the story and bits you missed or didn’t quite understand and that feeling of discomfort after having fun equates closely to but isn’t quite guilt. Like a whole weekend of fun is premonitory… of what I shall not know, but could this storm be the pathetic fallacy of these thoughts incarnate?! No, more likely a hangover.