Not a testimonial but . . . .

Not raving but waving

If you were one of those onlookers not raving but waving along Regent’s Canal in trendy Camden Town at the weekend who returned my wave when my wife and I and a clutch of companions, not to mention Growler the small, brown, shaggy dog with the fierce eyebrows who sat on the roof of our 72-feet long all-in-a-good cause charitable canal boat named ‘Tarporley’, then thank you very much.

Obviously, I don’t know who you were. There was a pretty Chinese lady who was tucking into a Cornish pasty with her boyfriend who stopped munching long enough to wave, as well as a woman with small children and assorted persons on the bridges and by the locks as we waited for the water to rise. But thank you very much.

I was a bit surprised at all this waving. It seems that when you sit in a canal boat and wave the whole world waves with you. (Sounds a bit like a song, doesn’t it?) It is an interesting sociological phenomenon. I mean, when I am hurtling round the M25 at 69 miles an hour (a very law-abiding chap) it doesn’t occur to me to wave to my fellow motorists, be they male or female. Were I to wave, they would probably brake hard or blow their horn or push me off the road considering that here was a motorist gone bonkers.

Seriously, when did you last wave to a fellow motorist? Or even a non-motorist for that matter, such as a pedestrian wandering down the high street clutching their carton of coffee, for example?
’ Hi (wave, wave, wave) How y’doing?’

But sitting on a canal boat (courtesy of our charitable volunteer friends at CamdenCanals.Org) it seems that different rules apply. There is the timid and hesitant suggestion - as one overcomes embarrassment - that we might be human after all and, would you believe it? – those on the bank by the locks, on the tow path, on the bridges – might also be of the same species, the same kind (which is where kind-ness comes from). It fair takes your breath away!

But we’d better not let on to our political masters lest, for the sake of improving community relations, they enrol us all on canoe-waving trips.

Geoff Hooper
[published in ‘The Big Issue’ 2011]