If you have a narrowboat in London and you haven’t got static mooring, (and very few people do), then you have to move your boat every 2 weeks. Inspectors walk the tow path and if you’re within 1.5 miles of your previous mooring you’ll get a letter. This necessitates a vagabond lifestyle, the idea of which – typically – appeals to me, even if the practical side of it would swamp me. The boats aren’t big. I’m not organised enough to manage to sustain existence on one without some serious systemic changes. I like the idea though.

Frequently good people in my life end up living on one. Sometimes they enjoy it and it sticks. Sometimes they don’t. There’s a lot more work than you’d think.

This afternoon I took my bike and myself to finally meet a boat and its occupant that have been together on the canal since January. They’ve weathered the storms of deep winter as a new partnership, and now they’re reaping the rewards in these beautiful afternoons. I got the easy bit. I could come along lounge around and talk about art. I didn’t have to walk three miles with an empty bottle of water and a plastic container of poo, then back the other way with full bottle of water and empty pooish container. I didn’t have to get dead rats out of the bilges, or living ones out of the kitchen. I didn’t have to haul myself to the rudder in the middle of a crazy week of work and go miles in the dark hoping I can find a place to tie up in a totally new part of town just to satisfy the inspectors. I didn’t have to run the engine for ages on a freezing winter night just so I could have some friends round and use the inboard lights until late. I didn’t have to pay someone to tell me why I was sinking and stop it happening. I just got to lie on the roof with a beer.


Sitting in my bedroom now looking at the apocalypse of clothes around me, I find myself thinking it would probably be the best thing I could possibly force myself to do, to go live on a boat in those punishing close quarters, but so close to nature, so close to the sky, to the water, to the world. To have to be organised and practical and forward thinking or have a horrible time. That’s the rules.

I love living sparely. I’ve spent a great deal of the last decade living out of a suitcase. But this flat has become an easy place for me to pack with unnecessary crap and I really do, and then have to come up with reasons why I might need that shit.

I finished cataloguing all those bastard comics and then I saw there was a function in the database that lets you list individual titles online for sale. I thought I’d try it with a single issue. It crashed the whole database. Angry email to the support. Maybe it’s fixable? I’m going to have to start again though, I can feel it. If I lived on a boat then all the comics would be in the canal and I wouldn’t have to worry about them. But argh. Still. Better than sinking.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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