My ten New Year resolutions
I’m still stranded in the floods around York. It’s not just that we can’t cruise, we’ve barely been able to get on to dry land for weeks now. So, being the season it is, I started framing a few New Year’s resolutions to pass the time.
1. I have vowed for 2016 never again to get engaged in heated debates with other boaters about bow thrusters. I can’t see the use of them and think they signify someone who can’t steer. But I recognise that those who have them swear by them. They claim they can get into mooring spots I can’t and cruise in high winds that would defeat the rest of us. We are never going to agree. Pax?
2. I have pledged never to pass a fisherman without exchanging a few cheery words. To that end, I’ve decided that if they don’t do the same, I shall deliver them again. And again – only this time in a voice loud enough to scare the fish for miles around.
3. I have realised that the confrontational approach will get me nowhere and have promised myself that never again will I cuss at speeding Lycra louts on bicycles on the towpath, the miserable, self- centred, self-righteous, shiny-ar**d b*******s.
4. I have sworn that this year, when I am pottering up the towpath on my own bike to get my morning paper, I will never again get impatient at dozy boaters who step off their craft without looking. Boaters who – after I’ve nearly knocked them down – have the effrontery to accuse me of going too fast. Don’t they realise this is the 21st Century? Cyclists OWN the towpaths.
5. I have resolved that never again will I follow a towpath dog walker with a bag of poo I have picked up from the towpath outside my boat, ranting at them. They never take any notice, anyhow. And besides, it’s much better to follow them home and drop it on their doorstep.
6. I have vowed never to pass an Elsan or water point without stopping. First of all, I might need to use the facilities. But if I don’t, I might find some wide-eyed newbie moored there I can have a go at. Better still, I might discover the facility out of order, which will give me something to happily grumble to the Canal & River Trust about for months on end.
7. I have made an oath not to get riled by the increasing number of ‘new modernists’ who seem to believe that, just because they’ve passed one boat with a dirty and noisy trad engine, ALL trad engines are noisy and dirty. (And while we’re on the topic, the side doors to a trad engine room aren’t open to show off the engine. They’re open because older engines run at a higher temperature than modern ones and need the air.)
8. This is the year I give up with people who cruise with their fenders down. They know they risk of getting hung up in locks, but they don’t care. Neither do they care about other boaters who get torn- off ones fouling their props, or who are held up at locks when they jam gates. These people don’t even care that just one pipe fender to ‘protect’ their hull costs more than a tin of blacking which would do the job just as well for a year. I mean, a boater who doesn’t care about what they spend? How can you argue with people like that?
9. However, despite all this, I have decided to put all these petty irritations to one side and remind myself every day just what an extraordinary environment the cut is. Canals are close to nature, a part of the seasons, and they pass through some of our most magnificent countryside, and towns and cities. Along the waterways of Britain you’ll find the best of what’s British from our fauna to our food, our beer to our birdlife. And I wish you all the joy of it in 2016.
10. And finally, I have made a resolution NEVER to return to the River Ouse in winter when it’s so vulnerable to flood. Well, not for a year or two, at least...
‘I might discover the facility out of order, which will give me something to happily grumble to CRT about for months on end’