24 March 2008

Reading matter

When we spend time on the boat, I tend to vary my usual book fare with one or two canal-oriented non-fiction/fiction works. I started at the top with Tom Rolt's seminal Narrowboat, got sidetracked by Shirley Ginger, hung around with Anthony Lewis for a bit, ploughed through most of the Working Waterways series and laughed myself silly with Terry Darlington's Narrow Dog to Carcassonne. Now, thanks to the shops at Nantwich Canal Centre and Audlem Mill, I have now also enjoyed three tales weaved by a chap called Geoffrey Lewis.

Two of the three - with the trilogy to be completed next year - are focused around the working boat families of the 1940s, with a central character who joins them 'off the bank' and is the fulcrum around which all subsequent events turn. Both Boy off the Bank and Girl at the Tiller are bursting with authentic detail and rattle along at a satisfying pace, and while the books' general feel-good factor precludes too much mention of the harsh realities of a boatman's life, it doesn't spoil one's overall enjoyment. What really shines through is the cameraderie and selflessness of the extended boating family - would that today's society had a tenth of their spirit. Look out for them.

On a boating note...well I counted them all out and now I've counted them all in again. The brave/foolish Easter adventurers are returning while one or two are setting off, taking advantage of the quieter waters and more quiescent weather. It will be us soon.....probably.

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