Older people on the canal - could be our swan song


Sowerby Bridge to Brighouse - not far, but ...

Three weeks after surgery is no time to cruise. No heavy work for me. Andrew was able to do most of it despite an ankle injury.

So started with a series of accidents. Windlass and my best glasses overboard. Collapsed put-up chair, sprained ankle which nearly had us drafting in more crew.

Got into some sort of rhythm by day 2, realised we weren't going to make Aspley, Huddersfield. Content with Brighouse. Tight on-board spaces. Canal not busy. Frequent locks. Morning cruising and chilled afternoons - BBQ and a few beers. Considering we were in the heart of industrial West Yorkshire, it is remarkably rural. Who would know there is a large marina in the middle of Brighouse. Plus a pub to sit out with Saltaire Blonde. Some guy appeared with a Maclaren. We think he was showing off just a tad.

Middle of Brighouse and the crew

Extremely broad and well-kept towpath. Dogwalking, cycling and running heaven. Those without dogs, often men alone or women in pairs. Don't go at weekends one boater warned. People with dogs do stop and chat with each other. Same with walkers and boats, especially those who fancy having a go. 

Putting your bed up each night is a pain. TV pixelated. We missed Elland's Barge and Barrel.

Catching up with fresh water in Brighouse a man sat on the point quizzed us about boating. Turned out he was an Airbus pilot, late of Thomas Cook. Applying for Jet2.

Finished the week bumping and brawling up deep double locks despite cautious filling. One didn't fill hardly at all, til we saw that mum, the gin queen, had left the paddles up.

Andrew bought some gin. Mum was soon worse for wear. Several coffee and craft boats. One of Salter Hebble lock flight is a guillotine.

Very unlikely we will be doing this again.

Rewinding? - we don't do the 're'

None of these plants were here when we moved in. We don't do weeding. They can produce pretty flowers.

Michael Deacon, Telegraph, 26th May. Should I have entered my garden for Chelsea?
'My back garden is a bold statement about the plight of our ecosystems, a hymn to the wonders of biodiversity, and a full-throated call to arms in the battle against climate change.'

Here are his top tips
    pour large gin and tonic
    sit on sofa
    switch on TV

I would modify Michael's advice to several beers on a seat among the wildness.


Older brother's 80th - Anfield tour

Up under the roof at Anfield. South housing to the horizon with a spire or two, but no obvious landmarks. East derricks, cranes, big ships of the port. The stadium is large and stunning and shining clean inside. Seems to be continuous expansion. On this site since 1880s, initially rented by Everton.

Older brother’s 80th and the Anfield tour. Beginning in the players’ lounge, Q&A with Alan Kennedy, left back and hero of the 1983-4 treble. Signed from Newcastle in 1974 for £43000 or thereabouts. “They get that per week now.” Alan seems to be the go-to media guy just now. R4 and BBCTV.

Supporting Liverpool is not a bandwagon. We lived there between 1966-72. Kop visitors twice. Hunt, St John, Lawler, Callaghan, Smith, Yeats, Shankly. We were rugby guys really. Followed from afar since - Cardiff, Saddleworth (Manchester), Bedale (N Yorks), Honley and now Holmfirth (Huddersfield). I'd a tenous connection when I was at school, supporting Huddersfield Town. Shankly was our manager then. Brought Denis law to Yorkshire. He supervised and played Sunday afternoon soccer on a rec in Lindley and I turned out.

Alan was on for an hour or so. Main takeaway message was the culture of team, manager, boot room, programme sellers, caterers and so on. They’d been a second division side until Shankly (1959 -74), a staunch socialist. All equal, no stars, humility, common purpose - winning, The Liverpool Way, The Liverpool family. Disdain for authority, world against you, closing ranks, strength from within. Needed for Hillsborough and Heysel. After Shankly, Paisley (1974-83), Fagan (1983-85), Dalglish (85-91). Moran and Evans in there somewhere. All signed up to The Liverpool Way. No idea when it all went corporate but today, it’s telephone number wages like the rest.

'The song was written for the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel. In the second act, the character of Nettie Fowler, a cousin of the main character Julie Jordan, sings 'You'll Never Walk Alone' to comfort her when her husband Billy dies.'
                                                                                                                                                smooth radio

Sadly now a cliche, the song adopted by many teams and organisations. The Kop has sung it as an anthem since the 1960s, originally recorded by Gerry and the Pacemakers. The rise and rise of Liverpool FC was mirrored by the successes of Merseysound. And it's still powerful.

The boot room ran things. Inner sanctum, no players. Just room for six managerial staff under the main stand. No natural light. Talk for hours about everything. ‘Conveyer belt of wisdom concealed in a broom cupboard.’

The dugout and The Kop.

Older brother had a spat with the official photographer who was not allowing private pics of the European trophies. I sneaked in round the back. Three pubs round the stadium. The 12th Man, bottom left is a tribute to the extra player that the supporters represent - in this case more specifically The Kop. The Park, bottom right, was Pete and my choice for RL's magic weekend at Anfield. Totally mobbed. Hull FC supporters, stripped to the waist, singing, shouting, arms and shirts in the air. Landlady looking bemused. We went out the back which was a bit of a building site and had a quiet chat with 2-3 quieter Hull guys.

So we were treated to a view of a less pampered era. Alan confessed to an additional team drinking culture. Even drinking before playing. Still won. Today the players are confined to their rooms from 8.30pm the night before a game. 

We missed out on a few things, but it didn’t spoil an amazing experience.

And then, 3 months later - a card from brother Steve. My 76th.