One of the first things you will experience when you cast off onto the waterways is, what is sometimes referred to as, ‘canal time.’ What is canal time and how is it different to land time?
Canal time functions not so much as a marker for time passing as a recognition of the many streams of timelines of things and lives that fall outside the sphere of human control. However, there is also a deep irony about it too...
“3rd February, Wednesday.
This morning the tangled thicket by the pool bristled with starlings. The air flustered and vibrated with wings and energy as a flight of geese cut low, blading across the field.
The maintain a tight formation. Wing tips almost touching.
The air is filled with a constant movement of sound -
honks and soft grunts and whistles.
Gentle rhythms of sounds among the wing-song.
Vocalisations of the lives being lived on the wing.
But what are they saying?
What is it they feel in their impulse to communicate
to reach out across the span of space to another,
to fill the air with communication?
And what feelings and needs are they vocalising?
What do the others hear?
“Stay close.” “You are needed.”
What do they feel hearing those soft purrs and snorts
Carried to them on the wind, lifted by the songs of their wings?
I recede over their fast-turning horizon.
Deaf to their language and so blind to their world.
And it seems as if all of my achievements
And the great, heavy weight of my worries
Dissolved between my fingers.
Undone by the closed orbit of their hidden conversation."
I refer to Matt and Ali's vlog Boating Beyond and, in particular, their episode 'Why you DON'T want LIVE on a NARROWBOAT!' It is a great video and well worth a look for those considering a canal-based life.
In this episode I make passing reference to John Hassell's (1819) Tour of the Grand Junction and John Hollingshead's (1860) Odd Journeys in and out of London.
In the intro and the outro, Saint-Saen's The Swan is performed by Karr and Bernstein (1961) and available on CC at archive.org.
Two-stroke narrowboat engine recorded by 'James2nd' on the River weaver, Cheshire. Uploaded to Freesound.org on 23rd June 2018. Creative Commons Licence.
Piano interludes composed and performed by Helen Ingram.
All other audio recorded on site.
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