Boat living turns out to be incredibly sociable! I have been a London commuter for a number of years and felt the lines and wrinkles on my face deepening with the minutes spent squashed like a sardine on trains, tubes and buses. I have also wrung my hands and felt bitterly the loss of the amicable easy-going version of me that had always been happy to exchange words with strangers.
I will forever now be wary of my sharp elbows, the speed at which I kick at ankles and bare my teeth into a snarl. But recently I can feel my shoulders drop and my eyes soften as the pace of life slows and people actually stop and exchange pleasantries on the tow-path.
Just the other day a lady I have chatted with once before stopped again to ask how things were going and gave me her number so that I could pop round for a shower if I needed to. She and her boisterous labrador are moving onto a boat in the summer and she is lucky (or just sensible) enough to be gutting the thing and getting it ship-shape before she embarks on her life aboard.
I love to hear about other peoples experiences of Boat(er)ing so I am really eager to chat to the neighbours. Recently a fellow came to borrow a generator because his had been nicked, which prompted the realisation that ours had also gone walkabout (silly sods, taking a genny that’s worth peanuts, won’t start and is pretty much ready for the dump!). The conversation prompted mutual interest in the insides of our respective boat projects and an exchange of offers to “come and have a look.”
Another couple on a boat who we met in a lock on the Lea Navigation have also shown heart-warming kindness by mooring alongside me and feeding the cat while I was away visiting a certain birthday-boy. Their boat couldn’t be more different to ours, with its full-size gas cooker and breakfast bar! It’s a Parisian flat as opposed to a country cottage but the occupants are could not be more friendly and helpful.
I am so pleased to be discovering this little community and couldn’t be more chuffed. It’s a big contrast to the hideous woman in Camden who announced loudly just as I was emerging from my boat, “It’s a right mess in there!” and then giggled as she realised that I must have heard. I am pleased with it but I am also dependent on it…