27 May 2008

Marvellous Marple

We all have our different tastes and sensibilities, our likes and dislikes. Good job too otherwise there would be 9000 narrowboats trying to go up the Napton flight. This really is the only explanation for some people expressing a lack of fondness for the Marple flight, whereas I think it is magnificent. It wanders through exquisite sylvan surroundings for the most part, it’s beautifully engineered and it has an integrity and solidity about it that’s intensely satisfying.

We had tied up a little way short, just past Hyde and although there were houses and tower blocks in the mid-distance they were fortuitously screened by trees and high hedges. When we arrived at Marple bottom, there was a hire boat ahead so we decided to work with one of us going on to help them through and to set the next lock while the other worked the boat through behind and closed the gate. And it really was an idyllic trip up, as we established a rhythm and lent a hand to the hirers – even the unfortunate gentleman in the boat behind couldn’t spoil the day. I’m not sure I can think of another occasion when someone acted so...incomprehensibly! I wonder now if he had something wrong with him because we bumped into him twice more on the run down the Macc and on both occasions his manner was strange, saying things that he obviously thought were hilarious but were actually poorly veiled insults – and we hadn’t done anything! We think he was the friend of the couple who had the boat and at times you could see that the wife of the couple was horribly embarrassed by his behaviour. He was coming ahead to set the lock for them but rather than helping me close my gate and paddle, he just sat on the bottom balance beam, waggling his windlass on the spindle as if to say ‘get a bloody move on’.
So there I was every time leaving the lock, coming to a stop, going back to close up with him just looking on. I didn’t need the help as I’m far from being weak and feeble but most normal people in that situation would have pitched in or at least asked if I wanted a hand. At one point the wife came up and witnessed his behaviour and immediately came to my assistance, and you could see she was mortified not just by this chap’s lack of lock etiquette but the total absence of any natural courtesy. If we’re going up or down a flight, we always offer to help as it makes things easier all round and we’ll usually lift a paddle for the boat behind if there’s nothing coming the other way. It’s not rocket science, just good manners. If someone prefers to do things on their own, that’s fine too, but this Marple situation was a classic occasion for pitching in and speeding everyone on their way. A is normally quite a reticent chap but the constant rude windlass waggling had him threatening to go over for a bit of windlass waggling of his own, round this chap’s head. I pointed out that this might not be the wisest move though it was very tempting, so we merely pushed on only to have those two later encounters. If he’s still on the water and still behaving like that, then I don’t give him long before someone decides to demonstrate how far one can hammer a mooring pin up someone's backside. With a big mallet.

No comments: