Monday, 23 April 2012

The Gripes of Froth

Life on the canal and canal life continues to surprise me. I have to admit, its not what I expected. (a sort of microcosm of the life ashore but with webbed feet) Most of the people you meet are straight forward and enjoying the life. However, from time to time the different characters are encountered and the variation in their personalities are a constant source of amazement and entertainment. The longer I observe the more I have come to enjoy the variation each day brings.

I have written about some of the introspective aquatic types that I have come across already. Many are odd-ball characters who bring either a breath of fresh air or alternatively a sharp intake of breath. Today its my observations of a much rarer breed. 

This time in a volte-face of the Mad Mardi. A sort of "Florence of Arabia" in a tutu, meets "Sanders of the River" with piles. This water-borne character is full of honour, duty, angst, merde and comes complete with a liberal helping of British flag waving. All in all a watery version of Bosambo. (or in this case a wet M'bapi)

When I suggested Sanders of the River, I was not thinking about the version with Paul Robeson (Bosambo) and Leslie Banks (Sandy). I was thinking of the spoof version (Old Bones of the River) with Will Hay (Tibbetts) and Jack London (M'bapi). (This film parody has been described as one of the most comprehensive trashing of the British Empire)

The special talent of M'bapi  is to precipitate what could be best described as a native uprising along the river. As a strong smell of old goat permeates the canal, M'bapi comes to the fore. Constant Cruising on his lugger as a sort of nomadic Womble. M'bapi feels he is personally carrying the white mans burden, rather than recognising  that M'bapi  is the burden.

Kipling's "White Man's Burden" is a poem and a metaphor for a condescending view of a moral duty and obligation to interfere whether wanted or not. A good old British colonial tradition. 

Happiness is a myopic view on life and the profound belief in the virtues of being a mixture of a Wimbledon Womble and Constant Cruiser. Insecure in the knowledge that everyone else on the cut is out to get'em. 

With all the finesse of a water buffalo with earache. The vexed question that is keeping him awake at night "are Constant Cruisers just free-loaders" is regurgitated up once again, for another airing. With all the makings of a self perceived mountain cobbled-up out of what was in reality just a shallow depression in the ground. M'bapi then played his trump and opened up and released the whole can of worms.

There were proponents and dissenters. The publication of the comment caused a flurry of arguments and a fluffing of indigent feathers on both sides. After the tsunami ripple had subsided. Peace and quiet has broken out once more along the riverbank. Toad and Ratty aided by the doves of war have eaten all the worms. As for the Womble - well - M'bapi wombles on to the sound of "Land of Hope and Gory." Secure in the knowledge and certainty that  M'bapi  has done everyone else a favour. Many are now hoping M'bapi will do them all a favour.



  1. I enjoyed your antidote to the "storm in a teacup" keep it up.

  2. Good Grief.. I'm SO SLOW... I missed the references...

    Make it easier next time for us thicko's please!



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