The View from the Bow

The View from the Bow

So Margaret and I have been migrant crew for the low-skilled jobs on Pegotty for a day and a bit now, and have been doing the induction course in instalments. Last night we learned how not to sleep on a canal boat, which is most easily achieved by (i) failing to plan for night being colder than day and (ii) ensuring that your natural edge detection is disabled by lapping the topper over the futon on the side that slopes down towards the bank. Then this morning we learned about shouting, which is used by the Pegotty community (and believe me, we’re all Pegotty on this boat) to facilitate communication failure between prow and stern, since whoever is standing next to the engine can’t hear anything from anywhere, so they have to shout into the air to tell everyone else they can’t hear them.

We also learned how to outrun a narrowboat between one lock and the next, which is done by strolling at about half the pace of a weekly supermarket shop. This was a locky day, if not as locky as Caen Hill is going to be on Tuesday, so we spent a lot of time running up the towpath to get the next lock in a receptive state for Pegotty’s ceremonial entrance. Margaret and I stalked an insouciant heron while swinging our windlasses invitingly, but it grew suspicious of our intentions and the fact we hadn’t had lunch yet, so showed us a clean pair of wading heels.

But we also got to see all the stuff from the bow that doesn’t make Andrew’s blog because he’s back on the command deck with the phasers. Margaret saw a kingfisher, and for one stretch there was a young cormorant taunting us to track it from the faint stream of bubbles it left while it was under the water, and just as we were finally closing on it it emerged with a fish twice the size of its head and flew off with the cormorant’s distinctive calls of “And that’s how I roll, bitches”, “So long, losers”, and “Eat my tail feathers, oh wait, you can’t catch them”. Today was Topless Day, so I volunteered to strip to the waist and be lashed to the prow as an unsettling figurehead, but with only one nipple I couldn’t get my licence not to frighten the protected wildlife.

Andrew is about to tell you about the giant steam-powered art installation that sucked us in, drew us up three storeys, and then spat us out between slices of Victoria sponge and timeline wallcharts of the fortunes of the Kennet & Avon, so I shan’t.

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