Saturday 21 September 2013

Class War

Following on from yesterdays 'water gypsy' posting. I thought I would explore where we are today in the canal 'class war.' I find it such a juxtaposition, that for the majority of people in our towns. The word 'canal' holds a connotation of being a dirty, dank and a place to dump rubbish. Also the canal is an unsafe place for children to be. To a point - that perception - is correct. But not when that generalisation is carried over onto boaters in general.

As a charity seeking public funds, you might think that CaRT would want to change that public perception. There are no better ambassadors for the canal, than boaters. Boaters could have a significant impact upon changing that perception of the dirty smelly dangerous canal.. The problem is that there seems to be just one type/class of boater that holds any sway with the Trust. Its those shiny boaters living in marinas. The 'weekend warriors' who complain about the lack of mooring spaces. Usually the moorings are just a short distance away from their home mooring. So rather than be ambassadors for the trust a large number of boaters now feel disenfranchised by this 'class war' exclusion. With the imposition of ever more 'draconian' set of so called fair and proportionate 'rules.'

As things go from bad to worse on the cut, there is no better illustration that the whole new identity that has slowly metamorphosed from what were generally known as boaters. As far as I knew, boaters were and are people who enjoy life in or around boats. The only other kind who had an interest in boats and the navigation were the 'gongoozlers' or those people who liked to observe boats.

In a way this is where the real division starts. 

The boaters for a long time were subdivided into GRP or 'Tupperware' owners. The other division were the 'ditch crawlers' or steel boat owners. Generally the two groups got along with just a little bit of rivalry as the two colloquial names might suggest. 
Within the two groups there is a certain amount of 'willy waving' and unsurprisingly its often based around size. For the steel boats its either a wide beam or narrow beam. I prefer to think short and stubby or thin and long. For Tupperware its often based around speed and engine power.

Now however we have a sort of underclass developing.

First there is the 'Mrs Bucket Brigade'  made up of a group of people who have a new or newish boat, who also take an obsessive compulsive sort of pride in the appearance of their boat. At their happiest when polishing the brass work and the paintwork. Life for this type of person revolves around a marina where the boat is kept between the odd weekend or holiday cruise. 
The Bucket Brigade are 'serial whiners' they can whine whenever a boat gets too close or is not following their version of marina etiquette. They like to look down on other boaters and consider themselves to be custodians of the inland waterways. They never share passage through locks because they consider their boat is at risk of getting dirty or scratched. Marina etiquette dictates that visitor moorings are provided exclusively for this class of boater. 

The second group is the 'shiny boat squad'. This tends to be an older boat that cost half the price of a 'Bucket Boat' with paintwork that is getting a little bit tired. However, the regular application of Johnson's baby oil makes up for the care worn condition of the paintwork if only for a few weeks at a time. Life for this boat will be spent in an around a marina with extended trips in the holiday season. 
Maintenance is a constant requirement for the shiny boat squad, as scratches and blemishes are polished away. They try to keep their boat conforming as close as possible to the bucket brigade standard. This group looks up with reverence to the Bucket Brigade. Marina etiquette dictates that visitor moorings are not provided exclusively for this class of boater. But they are tolerated by the Bucket Brigade.

Its at this point when the boating class division becomes much more obvious. 

Boat owners who do not have a home mooring are designated as 'Constant Cruisers'. Bucket Brigade and Shiny Boaters because they pay for a mooring look down on this class of boater. The perception is that the Constant Cruisers get something for nothing because they do not have to pay for a home mooring. But as I see if you are travelling round the inland waterways why should you have to pay for something you are not going to use.
The crazy thing is, that the 'shiny, bucket' boats in the marina pay to be in the marina whilst doing nothing. They also pay a licence to cruise the system which however they chose not to do. So rather than rail against paying for something that they believe they don't need or use. They blindly pay twice and then complain about everyone else.

A further interesting issue is when the shiny, bucket boats come out of the marina usually in the middle of the school holidays. They expect that the visitor moorings will be empty. When the shiny bucket finds that the visitor moorings are full or there is limited space. In their warped minds, the lack of a free mooring is because of constant cruisers, who are stealing their mooring. Because at that moment in time, the CCers are not cruising.

This then identifies the next group of boaters.

The boater of mythical proportions in the minds of the Bucket Brigade, Shiny Boat and Constant Cruiser. The 'Constant Moorer'. No matter what the status is of a boat on a visitor mooring. The mooring must be filled with mythical constant moorers.
Because of the obsessive compulsive disorder of the shiny buckets. Plus their penchant to whinge and complain. Any boat that does not have a tidy roof that conforms with the standard of the marina etiquette. Then that boat is a 'water gypsy' or 'benefit swindler' or  'dirty boater'.

Some people live on boats because for them its a lifestyle choice. It might not be my choice or your choice of lifestyle. But it has nothing to do with us. Often the life choice means that these kinds of boaters are living on a very limited budget. So having cut logs on the roof means that they collect winter fuel throughout the year and save money. They might be the owner of an old boat that fits into their budget. They are usually perfectly respectable human beings.

Last but not least are the newbies.

For most boat owners 'Hire Boaters' are the most maligned. We all had to learn sometime and it seems the moment you become a boat owner. Your memory of being a newbie hire boater is forgotten. But of course the bucket brigade and shiny boat squad will still see these as undesirables. Any boat that is not operated in a way that conforms with the standard of the marina etiquette should not be on the waterway.

The Class War, is a comedy sketch first broadcast in 1966, in an episode of the late David Frost's satirical comedy programme The Frost Report. It has been described as a "genuinely timeless sketch, ingeniously satirising the British class system" Written by the late Marty Feldman and John Law. The sketch features John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett.

Cleese, tall and patrician in both appearance and demeanour, represents the upper class. Barker, of average height, the middle class, and Corbett, short in stature, the working class. Each in turn describes their social advantages and disadvantages as against their neighbours. An effect which is emphasised by the actors' relative heights as they look downwards or upwards to each other. Barker: "I look up to him [Cleese] because he is upper class, but I look down on him [Corbett] because he is lower class". Corbett: "I know my place."

It is this situation that gives Corbett the pay-off line. As the others describe their advantages in the form of "I get a sense of superiority or inferiority." His character finally looks up at the others and says "I get a pain in the neck.The twinning of height and social position, combined with a minimal script, created a classic TV moment.

So what is the truth.

When you go out on your boat and arrive at a visitor mooring that is some distance away from your marina mooring. It might by purely by chance be full of boats. How long any particular boat been there is unknown to anyone other than the boat owner. No one knows if people are overstaying. No one knows if individual boaters have been given dispensation to stay longer. No one knows if a boat is broken down or any one of many other reasons. 

However, for the bucket brigade marina etiquette dictates that visitor moorings are provided exclusively for their 'class' of boater. The Bucket Brigade are also 'serial whingers' they whinge whenever a boat is not following their version of marina etiquette. After all, they consider themselves to be custodians of the inland waterways.

So what is CaRT's role in all this?

I wish I could say, but I fail to understand how their logic works. Well, I almost fail to understand how it works. Because the more I look at the non issue of overstaying. The more I believe its down to the complainers and we all know the answer to a complainer is always a knee jerk reaction.

What is the answer to all of this. This is an easy question to answer. Get the facts, collate the evidence, publish the findings and consult with boaters.  What is the reality of all this. It seems that the current order is to ignore the facts, decide the outcome and then inform consult with boaters.


  1. Well, I have to say Mike this post is a load of absolute crap, since when have you been able to read people's minds? What's class got to do with anything? Just because we choose to be marina based doesn't mean we're all serial whingers, or begrudge anyone else's lifestyle, or polish our boats all day, or look down on any other boaters, or moan about ANY kind of fees. In this post you proclaim to know how we think as "mindless idiots." Well, sorry mate you couldn't be more wrong. Keep on whinging & moaning about CART. You're much better at that. This post is offensive to anyone based in a marina, And the so called "class system" is all in your own head.
    What a contradiction in terms - who's whinging here? You and only you. Keep marina moorers out of it. This post is not about fact, it's about you having a nasty poke when it certainly isn't justified or even anywhere close to the truth. Heth.

    1. Hello Heth.

      Maybe I should first of all point out that we also moor in a CaRT marina.I don't think I said everyone in a marina is a whiner or winger. But what I can tell you, is that for a long period in time in the marina where we moor. There are boats that hardly ever leave. That's their choice, but a small number of the non moving boaters are serial wingers and whiners. They spend all their time watching and waiting to report the smallest transgressions of marina rules. When that does not work - well they make them up.

      I don't have to read minds, the 'class' system and bullying is alive and well and being practised in our marina.

      For instance, when a new boat arrived with a box of wood on the roof. The small group went to visit the marina where the boat had moored previously. As they admitted, just to 'dig the dirt'. Those are their words not mine.

      Other boats were moved around the marina because the owners felt so intimidated by their antics. If you don't fit their stereotype of a suitable boater then you will feel the full force of their ire.

      The small group applied to CaRT to manage the fishing. Their first move was to ban all disabled people from fishing on a small section of bank. Close to a disabled toilet and a car park where they could off load their wheelchairs. Wonderful nice individuals. Why they even changed the watermate locks on the CaRT sanitary block block so that passing boaters could not use them.

      I certainly would not put you in that camp. I certainly would not put everyone in that grouping. But there is a minority that behave in such a way. I have a whole list of similar stories that I could relate. That would make your tootsies curl.

      But on our travels we have stayed for long and short periods in other marinas. Some have been wonderful short term pit-stops. Many with great friendly people. But we have stayed in a good number of places where we have witnessed first hand the ill feeling, sniggering and bad mouthing. It does go on - I can't say that I see you wearing the hat. But there are those who the cap does fit and I know that they will recognise themselves.

      But I welcome your comments.

      Fraternal greetings comrade.

      A Orlov
      The Manor!

    2. Greetings Orlov,

      Well all I can say is get off a CART marina, you'd be welcomed and integrate well down here. Thing is, this blog post it was aimed at all marina dwellers, not some, or a minority. The latter was never mentioned.
      Sounds more like you're in a prison camp!
      I was so annoyed by this post, I've done my own today. Haven't mentioned you in person of course. But there's two sides to everything. However I understand how you must feel in such a place, why don't you go somewhere else? Perhaps it's just CART marinas, they know how to stir up the shit without even realising.
      Anyway, after having been based in 2 marinas for many years I can honestly say I've never come across such attitudes. Sounds like they're a bunch of bullies who don't want anyone else there.
      Jeez, here's the opposite, a boat parked up on our pier a couple of weeks ago for winter. The woman went and complained about some nettles overhanging the jetty and they were uprooted the next day. Yesterday they locked up their boat and buggered off!
      There's pier reps here who cater for any little problems and jobs get done, whether a complaint comes from marina based moorers or temporary or whatever.
      Sorry if you don't like todays blog post of mine. No links, no mention of Orlov, no mention of your blog, but I felt it had to be addressed. Hey, hope you like the meerkats on there. It had absolutely no ref whatsoever! I'd written the darn thing before editing & adding to it. (Weird).. Are we still friends?
      Well I must go, need an early night, got my operation tomorrow, won't sleep anyway...

    3. Hello H

      Are we still friends... you betcha! You write what you like, if I have issue well I'll post a comment or four.

      I have a touch of man flu, so I'm not having the best day... We men call it 'the curse!' Its with us being the more considerate gender - you know, holding doors open etc. I put it down to our inbuilt almost instinctive sensitivities to our surroundings. It's something you can't nurture.

      Orlovski - of Meerkovo

  2. Greetings Orlovski,

    Where's Orlov gone? Ah, perhaps the "ski" bit means man flu? (Will send a get well card via pigeon post).

    Anyway about this "curse" thingy, well, not to get too technical, but us women have absolute ownership of that, and to make matters worse the the wrinkles set in afterwards. (So they tell me). No amount of holding doors open for us can prevent it, although Oil of Olay and Vit C helps. (So they tell me).

    Well there's a coincidence, Vit C is an aid to preventing any kind of flu in the first place. So as a "quick fix" alternative, Dr H here recommends a good clean out of the sinuses with the chimley brush, (think open doors).

    Well good luck for a speedy recovery, hope my helpful "hints & tips" guide is useful.

    From Doc Heth & safety


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