Monday, 30 September 2013


Well, we have reached yet another milestone of 150,000 page views and still counting. I am pleased to say that things are still on the up for visitors coming to view the blog. I don't claim to have any special talents other than having the odd rant at CaRT, twiddling with android apps and observing and giving comment upon other things that interest me. Such as politics, conservation and sometimes even the inland waterways.

Over time I have made some deliberate changes to the blog content, just to test the water so to speak. I wanted to try and establish what interested the readership. I wondered, if I could change the number of pageviews by what I chose to write about. Certainly a single posting was not enough to make the change. That's why sometimes you will see a series of posts with a common thread. Sometimes with each post numbered and sometimes not numbered at all.

You might have noticed that I have a sort of ironic sense of humour. Which I try to inject into my postings.  I have been described by one commenter who knows me as 'Jack Dee in deck shoes' and that observation I will treasure for ever and it certainly made my day.

I took a snapshot of page views at the end of August. This shows the trend over a period of just over three and a half years. The peaks and troughs illustrate two things. The season of the year has an effect as does the topics that I concentrated upon. A second thing that I get from the graph illustration is that page views will plateau in a year or so from now at around 9,500 pageviews a month. That is because the blog topic is a 'narrow' one so to speak. Boating has a limited audience.

The most popular turn on and turn off, as you might well expect is BW/CaRT. 

If I choose to ignore CaRT the trend over time is downwards. If I concentrate more on CaRT the number of pageviews goes up. So one of the staples for the blog should be to continue to pass my observations upon the trials and tribulations of a pre-pubescent CaRT. 

One or two readers and Richard Parry the new CEO have said that I should be more positive about how well CaRT performs. The problem is that positives are much less frequent in arriving than the metaphoric 'I shot myself in the foot again' disasters. Disasters which we have all been conditioned to expect. Disasters which are just like public transport, you stand around waiting for one and then suddenly several wonderful examples arrive all at once.

I have noticed that there is a formula to the CaRT dealing with cock-ups. 

The first point in the formula is: When something goes wrong - there is immediately a bit of spin applied to the report. The cause is never in house and never, ever, down to a lack of maintenance. Yet we all know that the role of the lengths men have been disposed of. Plus CaRT has underspent year on year according to their own published figures.

One of the more recent ones that tickled my humour bone was 'The great tidal wave on the Wolverhampton 21'. It has all the makings of a disaster film just in the name alone. Here is the plot line: A lock wall is in the early stages of collapse and its cause is down to a very carefully choreographed tidal wave perpetrated by a group of unknown vandals. Who seem to have perfected the technique all in one go. There is one problem, the only way that the water could get down is over the bywash and through the paddles. Not all paddles are working. I have been on the flight where the level was low, and it took me almost an hour to let water down the flight.
All this is aided and abetted by the latest new CaRT bogeyman of global warming, which is now the CaRT answer to all water shortages. Which currently is the major blame for causing a loss of the liquid stuff in the cut. Whoops, even after the wettest year on record in 2012 with groundwater in aquifers at record levels. But water saving measures are already in place in the middle of the cruising season. Even CaRT can't blame 'global warming' for a general lack of non water. Or for the deluge of non water creating a non water tidal wave. 
It certainly has nothing to do with the mirage of leaking locks and the mirage of mud bringing the bottom much closer to the top. It certainly has nothing to do with the mirage of a - year on year - carefully orchestrated underspend in the maintenance budget. 

The second point in the formula is: This is then followed by optimism on the grand scale. The spin doctors reported that 'The problem will be sorted by the middle of July' I knew it was a load of old tosh, my dogs knew it was a load of old tosh. CaRT knew it was a load of old tosh. Well gosh and golly by the middle of July work had hardly started. It was a load of old tosh.

The third point in the formula is: The deafening quiet that descends as questions are being asked. It's like a surreal form of the News at Ten opening credits. 

Bong 'are you sure it was a tidal wave' - Silence.
Bong 'are you sure it will be fixed by mid july' - Silence.
Bong 'is it down to a lack of maintenance' - Silence.
Bong 'would it not be better to have a lengthsman back' - Silence.
Bong 'how much will it cost' - Silence.
Bong 'what went wrong. - Silence.

But I digress, back to the blog stuff. 

The most recent popular turn on and turn off - as you might not expect is 'Dear Bill'. When I first started the Dear Bill letters, many readers were mystified by the content. I know that my po faced humour has always been enjoyed by some the readers. Now the Dear Bill letters (which I shamelessly purloined the idea from Private Eye) seem to be amongst the top read content. It has been fun choosing suitable characters beyond the usual ones of old.

Based upon a spoof charity called the 'Cycling Angling Rambling Trust' which is viewed from the towpath by a couple of old boaters known as 'Dear Bill and Cap't Bob' where the two old buffers correspond with each other by mail. You only ever see one side of the conversation. The letters from Cap't Bob and you sort of fill in the blanks for yourself.

Bill 'Willi' Gedit The recipient of letters, friend, bon viveur and raconteur. The reader of regular tidbits of news. Owner of a full set of golf bats and a handicap that can only go down. Famous statement "What! You too? I thought I was the only one."

Cap't Bob A man of letters also known to go overboard at times. A 'typical IWA type' a liveaboard boat owner, who constantly cruises between the water point, the pump out and the £25 a night visitor moorings. We all know such people are fictitious and do not exist. Bob's famous statement "I never forget a face, but in your case I'd be glad to make an exception."

A storyline based around well known locations such as the 'Bucket and Chuck it' one of a chain of 110 canal side pubs. Or the 'Cinque Marina' a struggling business that it trying hard to keep its head above water.

I would like to draw a comparison between my blog and Private Eye. But I can only give a nod in the direction of a team who bring to me, frequent gasps of incredulity and a fair few head shaking chuckles. CaRT seem to having a good run in Private Eye. A magazine read by the people in Parliament and Government mandarins  if only to keep a weather eye on the excesses taking place under their remit.

So I hope you continue to enjoy my ramblings and here's to the next 150,000 visitors.

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