Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Boat Trip.

The city I have an unusual love/hate relationship with offers boat cruises on the river that grew it, up-and-down the length of the city and under it’s seven bridges. As my Favourite Son and Favourite Daughter are staying with me for a rare few days I decide we should take the cruise. It’ll be ‘fun’.

We board the boat and take our seats. Curved Perspex glass serves as a roof and we’ve a table seat next to the windows. All is well, although eleven-year old Favourite Son is a bit jittery. He’s only ever been on a ferry before - which is essentially a small town with cinemas and amusement arcades and everything. This is a boat, and each swell of the river, each movement of the passengers, each change in the wind can be felt.

Favourite Son is terrified and we both know it.

A group of ‘boys on tour’ join the vessel. There’s about eight of them, all at least six-foot tall, reeking of testosterone and bravado. Their accents are from out of town – Essex by the sound – and they’re probably on a stag weekend. This city is a destination’ for such people.

They settle themselves.

“Is there a bar? There better be a bar mate.”

“Yeah there’s a bar mate, settle down.”

“This feels weird mate, it’s rocking about I don’t like it mate.”

“It’s fine mate don’t worry.”

“Yeah mate I don’t like it neither this isn’t right”

“Mate this is all over the place.”

“Mate settle down yeah”

The diesel engines start and the whole boat shudders. Favourite Son grabs and hugs me for the first time I can remember. I’d love to say I told him that a person can never be brave unless they are scared but I’m not sure I did.

The Boys On Tour are troubled.

“Oh mate this ain’t right”

“Mate see if you can talk to the guy. Get a refund or summink. I ain’t doin this mate. This is mental.”

“Mate I don’t even care about no refund. Let’s get out of here. This ain’t normal.”

They all disembark, reeking of fear. The cruise starts.

It’s a gorgeous day, the river sparkles, the wake we leave is hypnotic as we look back on it. The city is beautiful when seen from the water. There is a recorded history of the city narrated over speakers, a steward brings us tea and refuses my payment for reasons known only to himself.

We return to our starting point after a couple of hours. Favourite Son beams at me, seeming inches taller.

“Can we do this again?”
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