Cheese pie and chips at Moon’s Bridge

The boat has been in lockdown beneath the trees near the Hollowforth Aqueduct for the last month. It took me ages to find it, because it was buried beneath an improvised bonfire. Last week’s gale had shaken the local woods to their bark. The bows were full of dead leaves, resembling some bargain basement ball pit. I could barely see over the top of them when I climbed aboard. The roof was worse, lost beneath a spongy moss of damp blossom.

It took me even more ages to clear everything out, the canal blanketed in the debris like some mouldy patchwork quilt by the time I’d done. I scrubbed the roof where the mulched-down confetti had stained it, but only succeeded in moving the smears around. You could be forgiven for thinking that a herd of diuretic buffalo had held a party up there. I turfed the six-legged occupants out of the nooks inside, moved the boat closer to the swing bridge outside Moon’s Farm and dug out my paint pot.

Just behind the swing bridge waiting for mink.

Jeanie McIntosh turned up as I was pimping my stern. She’d brought tea with her, which consisted of a bag of boiled potatoes and another bag of cherry tomatoes. (Don’t ask. I’d mentioned something about bringing some sausage rolls along the week before, and had then forgotten to bring them, so it was a bit of a paltry meal on the whole.)

The CaRT have lifted the lockdown. Us boat owners are now allowed to visit our boats, even take them out for a quick spin, but we’re not allowed to sleep onboard. So I slept on the towpath. This got me to thinking just how ridiculous some of these anti-plague regulations are. I’m not sure how sleeping next to the boat rather than in it could possibly help stop the spread of Covid-19, but then again I’m not sure how parcelling your wife and child into a car and driving sixty miles when you’re going blind is supposed to protect them either.

Dominic Cummings has certainly upset a lot of people recently. To play devil’s advocate, I suspect that most of us have bent the rules to some extent. But the anger out there is palpable right now. I don’t think it’s that Cummings acted irresponsibly so much as we just can’t stand the bloke. There are forty-eight per cent of us who haven’t forgotten his Brexit campaign, and in particular, his ‘Taking Back Control’ slogan; something, ironically, that he’s having major difficulty with himself at the moment.

In the morning two swans proudly paddled past with five noisy cygnets. One of them had convinced his mother to give him a piggyback. I threw them half a cherry tomato and a slice of ham with a bite taken out of it, and carried on painting.

Not the greatest photograph ever. Michelle’s got the ‘good’ camera. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking by it.

I’d covered about half of the boat with mottled green Hammerite, when the strimmer-men from the CaRT turned up; their mowers shrieking like banshees in a maelstrom of decapitated grass and daisies. Fortunately they were decent enough to leave a goatee of un-defoliated growth around the boat for me.

Men wearing protective gear, giving the towpath a short back and sides.

That evening Jeannie McIntosh turned up again, this time with her future potential daughter-in-law and some cheese pie and chips. (I’ve known Jeanie McIntosh for, what? Fifty, sixty years? It seems longer.)

We took the boat for a potter up White Horse Lane way, respecting proper social distancing (as unrecognised by Dominic Cummings and Boris Johnson) by towing the two of them behind in the dinghy. They must have grown bored at some point or other, because when I arrived back at Moon’s Bridge the dinghy was empty.



6 thoughts on “Cheese pie and chips at Moon’s Bridge

  1. Its even worse on our canal down here, Brian (Glos Sharpness). We’ve had an email saying that they’ll be opening the bridges on the Sharpness canal and the River Severn from 1 June. But only between 10am and 4pm. And only if we give them 24 hours notice. And we’re not allowed to stay on the boat. I’m not sure of the logistics of working out how to book which bridges in order for us to make a pointless trip in one direction then book the bridges so that we can return to base by 4pm. It is all so frustrating …

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I am a peculiar, old-fashioned codger, and I have indeed been going out of my way – in the name of cussed self-preservation – and following the rules to the letter and more besides. It has been nigh on impossible. I have had to become almost entirely nocturnal and now even that is not working – four-thirty of the a of the m yesterday I went a-watering a-gazundering and a-rubbish dumping, manually, on footski – three (all-night) anglers (who wouldn’t distance ann inch) and a velocipedist (who had two aims in mind: my murder by handlebar; a personal best speed along the M’wich towpath). Four ruddy thirty in the middle of so’dding nowhere, and I still can’t avoid exchanging bodily fluids with strangers.

    Still, mustn’t grumble, so long as the cyclists, dog-emptiers, twin-pole haversack geriatric ramblers and anglers are all happy. CaRT haven’t _actually_ said that I ought to hurry up and die to make way for the nicer people, but I know that that’s what they have had in mind.

    It must be said – so I’ll say it – that from El Government to El C’Anal & River Truss, this country couldn’t organise a wild micturition in a production establshment that uses water, barley, and hops as its main raw materials. The odds are fifty-fifty whether we all die of COVID-19 or of sheer embarrassment.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s all very confusing, I must admit. We can now travel long distances, but we can’t open lock gates. And we can hold a barbecue in our gardens with people from six other households so long as the sausages are bought from Sainsburies. I’m not sure what science the government are following, but I’m starting to think it’s produced by Scientologists.

      Liked by 1 person

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