Monday, 20 April 2009

Belle's Blog - The Waterways Code

Captain Ahab’s Word for the Day: ‘Ah, the Code! More a set of guidelines really.’

The code of which the Captain speaks is the unwritten Waterways Code, and as anyone who has seen Pirates of the Caribbean will know, sticking to the Code is a sort of flexible arrangement. By and large the Code can be used to justify any action. It can be used to berate fellow boaters, whether they be ignorant, wilful or just plain stupid. It can be used to vindicate oneself in all circumstances. Kind of useful really. For instance if one is going too fast, other canal users are at perfect liberty to quote the code and insist on a speed reduction. If one is going too slowly, other canal users may quote the code and insist you speed up. Interpretation of the Code is entirely subjective and the only sure and certain thing is that the first person’s interpretation is always right. It can lead to some interesting moments but as narrowboating is an occupation of conservative excitement, these moments are to be treasured. Indeed they can be the stuff of folklore as boaters gather around the wood-burning stoves of winter and regale each other with tales of past summers’ glories. Captain Ahab is particularly fond of such tales as ‘The time a hire-boater jumped the queue for the lock’, or ‘When the lock gates were shut on my approach’ and ‘The day the paddles were left up emptying the pound’. Fortunately he doesn’t need much from an audience. He’s quite happy to wax lyrical over a steaming mug of tea and a Snickers Flap Jack with only occasional grunts to indicate attentiveness. Should he glance in my direction I’m hoping that the glazed look in my eye is misinterpreted as rapt amazement and total abandonment to the wonders of his tale. He doesn’t need to know that actually I’m trying to work out if there’s a clause in the code that prevents the excessive subjection of crew members to a Captain’s whimsical memories. I’m sure there is somewhere. I just need to find it. Hmm, I fear my landlubber ways are showing again. I should just do what all boaters do. Interpret the Code to suit my need. After all, it’s more a set of guidelines, really.

1 comment:

Northern Pride said...

Hey Helen, have just read your entries to Captain Ahab's tales - they're brilliant? Why did you stop?