Sec­ond part of the ac­tors’ ex­pe­ri­ences on their float­ing home...and the drama just goes on

Get­ting caught in a crime scene and pulling a drunk out of the canal would have been plum parts for young ac­tors Lewis Goody and Kae Alexan­der but this was real life for the Lon­don live­aboards

Canal Boat - - This Month -

Even­tu­ally af­ter what felt like months in Cam­den we were able to cast off again. By this point we had been chat­ting to a boater who lived on a moor­ing in Lis­son Grove, just down the canal be­fore the Maida Vale tun­nel through to Lit­tle Venice. For a small price, he agreed to spend the day with us cruis­ing up and down and quite lit­er­ally teach­ing us the ropes. His main piece of ad­vice was “take ev­ery­thing ex­tremely slowly”.

I still have that voice in my head five years later, ev­ery time we move and al­though it is sim­ple and ob­vi­ous. He hopped off as we ap­proached Lis­son Grove moor­ings and we were on our own again, now fac­ing the next chal­lenge of go­ing through a long nar­row tun­nel. As our eyes ad­justed and we slowly crept out of the other end ev­ery­thing felt great and fun again. There were some friendly peo­ple wav­ing, wil­low trees and swans, ducks and geese pad­dling about. Of course, I still get flash­backs of the an­gry wo­man’s voice ev­ery time we pass an­other boat, but it was from this point on that we felt this was go­ing to be an awe­some way of life. Sud­denly we felt like “boaters”. Stop­ping for wa­ter along the canal and emp­ty­ing the pump-out, chat­ting with passers by and other “boaters” along the canal. We de­cided to head out to Ken­sal Green where there is a big Sains­bury’s, easy ac­cess to the Tube with a tad more green­ery. As we ap­proached the Ken­sal vis­i­tor moor­ings there was a bloke in his fifties chop­ping wood, blar­ing out blues mu­sic, smok­ing a roll-up and smil­ing, so we de­cided this was where we would moor. Cruis­ing is fun, slow and fairly easy but stop­ping here was not quite so sim­ple. Thank­fully Mike was as friendly as he looked and has also just joined the

wa­ter­ways , so we threw him a rope and he lent us a cou­ple of moor­ing pins and helped us tie up.

A huge part of our job as ac­tors is to be cu­ri­ous and to ex­plore peo­ple and dif­fer­ing ways of life. We try to fill our heads with dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives and points of view and liv­ing on a nar­row­boat has proved to be a huge ad­van­tage. Lon­don is a massive city, full of dif­fer­ent peo­ple and pos­si­bil­i­ties for ex­pe­ri­enc­ing new things.

How­ever, in the time I have been here I have re­alised that it can also be an in­cred­i­bly lonely place with lack of con­tact with oth­ers and it can be very dif­fi­cult to af­ford to ex­pe­ri­ence ev­ery­thing it has to of­fer. You could live in a build­ing of 20 or more flats and never know your next door neigh­bour. There is a strange fear float­ing in the air and it stops peo­ple from reach­ing out to one an­other, whether that be for a cup of sugar or from just say­ing hello in the cor­ri­dor. On the canal how­ever, things are very dif­fer­ent. When you run out of coal and there doesn’t seem to be a work boat any­where and you’re freez­ing cold, wear­ing jumpers and ex­tra lay­ers of long johns, it doesn’t seem such a big deal to knock on a boat and ask nicely if they can spare a bag of coal. Gen­er­ally for us, this has lead to a cup of tea, din­ner, a bottle of wine and a last­ing friend­ship. Our friend­ship group went from a bunch of ac­tors of sim­i­lar ages to 50 to 60-year-old blokes with dogs, mid­dle-aged cou­ples, tree sur­geons, set de­sign­ers, artists, book sell­ers, so­cial work­ers, nurses, jour­nal­ists, ar­chi­tects, un­em­ployed al­co­holics, trav­ellers and all sorts of peo­ple from all walks of life. The imag­i­na­tion goes wild when you are sur­rounded by in­ter­est­ing folk and you feel much more con­nected to the peo­ple you live around. I am not say­ing ev­ery­one on the canal is per­fect but at least the taboo of talk­ing to other hu­man be­ings is lifted and you can ac­tu­ally de­cide through meet­ing some­one whether or not you will be meet­ing them again.

I think that the canal net­work is a gi­ant stage ( I would wouldn’t I?) with plenty of drama tak­ing place on a reg­u­lar ba­sis! We have seen some in­ter­est­ing sto­ries un­fold on the canal and been di­rectly in­volved in a few with­out much choice. I have pulled an un­grate­ful drunken id­iot out of the canal at 2 in the morn­ing in the mid­dle of Novem­ber and we have even been witness to not one but two stab­bings one day af­ter the other in Lit­tle Venice, with us get­ting caught up in the crime scene as the po­lice cor­doned off the area, obliv­i­ous to the fact we were there!

They were less than pleased when we hopped off the boat that morn­ing and the CSI team screamed their heads off as we dis­em­barked!

Ob­vi­ously, these are not the most pleas­ant of ex­pe­ri­ences but they are ex­pe­ri­ences re­gard­less and as an ac­tor, see­ing blood sprayed all over the tow­path and po­lice in white suits with blue gloves, you can’t help but think that it is go­ing to be use­ful when I bag that part on CSI. So in terms of meet­ing peo­ple from dif­fer­ent worlds and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some real-life drama, liv­ing on the wa­ter­ways has re­ally de­liv­ered and kept our cre­ative cogs turn­ing. Were we able to quit do­ing all the other kinds of jobs to fully com­mit to our act­ing ca­reers?

Yes and no. Kae had some great luck with a cou­ple of big TV and film gigs, so that def­i­nitely freed her up a bit. It wasn’t un­til the last cou­ple of years that I man­aged to do the same and if I hadn’t con­tin­ued to do other jobs I think I would have gone nuts, but liv­ing on the boat and mov­ing ev­ery two weeks meant that we haven’t had to do that as much. We have our own space which a lot of peo­ple we know haven’t. It is our boat and we no longer have to re­port to a land­lord or land­lady and we have an in­ter­est­ing and re­lax­ing place to come

‘A huge part of our job as ac­tors is to be cu­ri­ous and to ex­plore peo­ple and dif­fer­ing ways of life. We try to fill our heads with dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives and points of view and liv­ing on a nar­row­boat has proved to be a huge ad­van­tage.’

home to ev­ery­day. It re­ally has lifted a lot of the stress from our lives.

When the act­ing work does roll in, it oc­ca­sion­ally takes us abroad. When the un­heard of hap­pens and we both get work at the same time, mov­ing the boats on time has oc­ca­sion­ally been a prob­lem, not only do we get a ticket but it is an ex­tra stress put back on the list. To com­bat this dur­ing the win­ter, we ar­ranged to have a win­ter moor­ing in Padding­ton for a cou­ple of years in a row. This has been great for stay­ing cen­tral dur­ing the tough months and a boon not to have to move too much in the wind, rain, snow and ice. We also got to know a cou­ple of other ac­tors do­ing the same thing and an­other great friend­ship was cre­ated.

How­ever, the priv­i­lege of not mov­ing does come at a price which rein­tro­duces a kind of rent sit­u­a­tion. Still, I can’t imag­ine that we pay as much as folks liv­ing in the flats sur­round­ing the moor­ings, so it was man­age­able with a few days a week ded­i­cated to part-time work.

The op­tion of get­ting out of cen­tral Lon­don is quite use­ful as well. We are both na­ture kids at heart and the city can sometimes get a bit much, so when it is re­quired we can cast off and head up to Uxbridge, Den­ham and Rick­mansworth and take time out.

We can also get around to do­ing some of the jobs that need at­ten­tion on the boat and also get com­plete si­lence at night. It is only when we get sum­moned to town for an au­di­tion that is be­comes a bit of an in­con­ve­nience.

For some years we could not fault life afloat one bit as we man­aged to greatly re­duce our “rest­ing job” hours and fo­cus more on our ca­reers. We have a beau­ti­ful cosy home full of char­ac­ter which has filled our heads with in­spi­ra­tion from a myr­iad of in­ter­est­ing peo­ple we have met along the way. Life in Lon­don is chang­ing for the con­stant cruiser on the wa­ter­ways.

In the last cou­ple of years liv­ing on a boat has be­come not only a cheaper al­ter­na­tive to liv­ing in and around the big city for many peo­ple, but also a trendy thing to do as well. You can’t blame peo­ple, we did ex­actly the same but maybe just be­fore the boom. When we first moved on, find­ing some­where to moor was no prob­lem. You could go from Ken­sall Green to Lime­house and ev­ery­where in be­tween and moor up with no is­sues. In just three years we no­ticed that change dras­ti­cally.

Find­ing a spot in Cam­den or Lit­tle Venice is like find­ing a Va­poreon on Poke­mon GO! (very rare and it caused a stam­pede in Cen­tral Park). King’s Cross and Vic­to­ria Park, just for­get it, un­less you want to be quadru­ple moored or squeezed in be­tween three bearded lum­ber­jacks and at­tacked on the Lon­don Boaters Face­book page by a “real” boater, which from what I can gather, is some­one who was born on, bred on and never left a nar­row­boat! So mov­ing around is a tad more dif­fi­cult, hav­ing said that if you have the time and pa­tience that is no prob­lem, but time and pa­tience are a def­i­nite must if you are liv­ing on the wa­ter­ways.

As time goes on and we get more work and meet­ings and also re­quests for what are known as “self tapes” (an au­di­tion you do at home on your own with a mate and a cam­era) the only prob­lem we are have is a lack of space and I can’t lie, when one of us is re­hears­ing for a Shakespeare play bel­low­ing out “to be or not to be’s , and the other is be­ing picked up at five in the morn­ing for a screen job, oc­ca­sion­ally do­mes­tic is­sues can be­come a thing, “dar­ling”!

I would say that liv­ing on a nar­row­boat has helped our ca­reers hugely by pro­vid­ing some fi­nan­cial free­dom and en­rich­ing our lives by meet­ing in­ter­est­ing peo­ple.

It has also helped us equally with lov­ing life, which is essen­tial no mat­ter what you do. What­ever hap­pens in the fu­ture with our liv­ing cir­cum­stances we will most cer­tainly still be in­volved in life on the wa­ter and we look for­ward to the ad­ven­tures to come.

An­other run-through for an­other show!

Kae and Lewis on the move

Home and re­hearsal stu­dio

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