Sunday 26 June 2011

There Is Always beer

A few years ago we were in England for Louise and her Dragonboat team to paddle down the Thames in “The Great River Race”. It is a bizarre fun day, and the participants in all kinds of boats and boat like things paddle and row 20 miles from Ham down to the London docks. Sting was there to fire the canon and start the race.

The river is quite narrow and tranquil in Ham, but over the twenty miles there are dangerous currents, bridge supports to dodge, pollution of course and fatigue to overcome. Sounds like fun eh? That is why I was waving goodbye and wishing them luck as they set off on their journey.

I had the good fortune to ride with a miserable bitch that charged me ten pounds for the privilege of riding in her van to the docks. I have never met a less talkative uninspiring human before! I had to bite my bottom lip so that I didn’t cheer when the van broke down in heavy London traffic. I managed a concerned look and when she lifted "the bonnet" I looked at the engine as if I knew something and muttered things like, “…air cleaner…carb could be…fuel injectors…dirty gas…vacuum leak…terminals could be loose…”. She was almost in tears. Heh, heh, heh. One of the vans from another team pulled up and they looked inside the engine compartment and muttered things like “ … air cleaner... carb could be…fuel injectors…dirty gas…vacuum leak…terminals could be loose…”, so I was pretty sure they had met the bitch before and just stopped to gloat. I like their style!

I told the bitch that there really wasn’t anything that I could do if I stayed, because I had only had experience with Canadian engines and this one is British. I asked the other guys if I could get a ride to the finish with them and they agreed. I like to believe they gave me a ride because they liked the cut of my jib, but judging from their conversation and laughter I’m pretty sure they would do anything in order for the she-devil to be alone and relying on her pleasant demeanour to get help. The guys were the ground crew (drinking buddies) of a team from Leeds. The traffic was horrible and every now and then we could see boats in the Thames passing us as we drove along.

It took us about two and a half hours to get to the finish line! I thanked the guys and wished their team luck in the race. I wandered amongst exhausted looking paddlers that just a few short hours ago were laughing and full of energy. I came to the top of the main boat ramp and saw Louise’s team struggling to lift their dragonboat and carry it through the river mud and up the ramp.

I can’t believe it, they beat me here! I will grant you that we spent a lot of time at the side of the road watching the bitch freak out, but how could a boat beat a car in a twenty mile race? I pondered this question for a good ten minutes watching Louise’s team struggle up the ramp and half carry and half drag the boat onto the waiting trailer. I even had to back into a doorway to keep the way clear for them. When the boat was finally loaded I came out with my camera and took a bunch of pictures, all the while congratulating them on a race well paddled.

We went into the pub and had a few beers while they talked of the difficulties manoeuvring around the river obstacles and the trouble of paddling for two and a half hours. I kept making the attempt to tell how difficult my trip was, but they were just so full of themselves that I resolved to tell them at a later date. Sometimes people get so wrapped up in themselves that there just isn’t room for anyone else.

Oh well, at least there is always beer.


  1. So tell me which is better an ice cold Canadian beer or a room temperture English beer? B

  2. Once your tongue gets numb it doesn't really matter any more.