26 May 2008

I once was an arse

From my own experiences, I would say that the majority of boaters are like me – we just want a peaceable day’s cruising, with the occasional pleasant interchange and absolutely zero aggro. That’s why I avoid conflict like the plague. I’ll hang back at bridgeholes even if I’m nearer; I’ll move up on a mooring if I can make room for another; I’ll check with the other party if we meet a lock that is neither up nor down; I’ll let people go past rather than casting off right in front of them; I’ll move off a water point as soon as I’m done; and I’ll wave people by if they are quicker than me. And no, I’m not a bloody paragon, it’s just my way of keeping things running smoothly, of feeling relaxed about my cruising, of knowing I’m not inconveniencing anyone and of preventing some git coming and ruining my day. Because they are out there, you know. Not in many numbers and not in the polarized ranks much posited by brainless people (all shiny boaters are tossers, all hirers are idiots, all shareboaters are know-it-alls, all ex-working boat boaters are rude and curmudgeonly etc). That’s all patent rubbish but I don’t need to tell you that. No, arses exist in every type of boat and we’ve all met them – rarely, thankfully, but I bet you remember every encounter with an arse, don’t you? In return for them ruining my day, I try to smile sweetly and forget about it as quickly as possible.

But I have a confession to make. Even little old virtuous me (Old, yes. Little? No. Ed) lost it once...and when I blow, I blow to Moby Dick proportions! I can’t remember which lock it was (possibly Tatenhill as it certainly had a bridge in front of it)) but we had it turned against us. And by turned I mean gates shut deliberately in our faces having been clearly clocked and no hint of an apology when they finally emerged. I think I was having a bad day generally so I was already a tad steamed up by the time they opened the gates and edged out very, very slowly. Then I thought I would encourage them to get a move on by steering towards the lock...with them still half in it. Anyway, with me bearing down on them like the Battleship Potemkin, they gave it a bit of yog so that I only just clipped their stern and we moved on to exchange some unpleasantries as we passed. They were American hirers (nothing wrong in that, met loads, all lovely) and I gave them a short lesson on lock etiquette and Anglo-Saxon oaths. The woman was as tough as a pair of old spurs and gave as good as she got; I then just managed to loose off a final salvo before I thonked the side of the bridge. That gave them all a good laugh and I couldn’t wait to be inside the lock with the gates closed to bring a curtain down on this unfortunate episode. I realised, to my eternal chagrin, that my fit of temper had probably made their day memorable for all the wrong reasons and that I had achieved precisely nothing except damage to the bow flare. What a silly moo I was. To those hirers, I apologise unreservedly. That day I was the arse and I’m not proud of what I did. And I guess I also came to understand that sometimes we can be unlucky enough to meet a non-arse having an off day. So let’s smile and not be judgemental if we can help it....unless they’re repeat offenders in which case please feel free to let rip with a few choice words of Anglo Saxon invective!

No comments: