Posts by marshlander

    Oh boy - i live on the cut . . . . Waaaaaaaay too busy! The canals have had their hayday! 20 years ago it was great. ...

    The last bastion of freedom has had its day.

    Maybe, but it depends where you are despite our local navigation authority working very hard to ruin it. For eight or nine months of the year I see few other moving boats and the only other liveaboarder in sight of my home mooring is at least 200m away.

    Happyfat, sounds like you've been near Peterborough? Which way are you heading?

    I don't know if this provides any sort of answer, but I do have a few thoughts on the subject of relationship compatibility. Through two long relationships and a few other close encounters, I have realised that I appreciate being allowed my own journey through life. I do not own anyone and am not anyone's property and feel no need to conform to any demands another person might think they want to make. If I am in tune I will do what is good for both of us. I know I feel driven to do things that attracted confrontation, abuse, rebuttal and rejection in my previous thirty-year relationship. Through withdrawing from writing, composing, performing and from friendships I lost a lot of myself over those decades and suffered mental health problems as a consequence.

    It is a real eye-opener to be in a relationship (now coming up to sixteen years) with someone is not afraid to have a life of their own, who can show he loves me for the person I am, not some fantasy demanded by an allegiance to a religious or political affiliation. I guess my partner is my muse in that not only does he directly inspire a lot of my work, but also creates the conditions for me to carry on. I can let him encourage me to write, practise and rehearse, because he knows I know I want to be able to feel satisfaction in what I do. I love having a partner who is also very creative in a range of endeavours, who achieves amazing things and of whom I can feel genuinely proud in those achievements and yet neither of us feel any need to be in competition. I love that we can both sense when the other needs us in their space and when the other needs a bit of space to work through something. I like who I am when he is around.

    Silly example, perhaps; after fifty years of vegetarianism I have this year decided to stop making excuses and to go the extra mile into veganism. He has not complained at all and probably reads food labels even more carefully than I do to make sure my wish is not compromised.

    Someone mentioned musical differences. I celebrate those as does he. I would not have given Strauss, Offenbach, the jazz crooners or 70s disco much space in my life before meeting him. He would have been unlikely to have listened to much contemporary "modernistic" jazz, discordant classical composition or guitar-based rock before attending concerts with me. Thankfully we had enough in common to create the spaces where we could share as we explored each others' interests, which have broadened our own.

    There is probably a whole research paper that could be carried out on why our relationship just seems to work, but that's probably enough to be going on with.

    It's hard to know what to do in such situations. ... I thought maybe you should tell the police station - but sometimes you don't want the attention. And from what some are saying on this thread, who knows it could back fire. Some people are odd out there and you don't always know which are going to be odd . . .

    The property I had stolen followed the time I loaned some expensive, heavy-duty jump leads to a policeman after they'd been using my place of work for baton training ("Back! Back! Back!" - it was quite a pantomime) and didn't get them back. I waited a few days and phoned the local police station. I explained the situation and was put on to the desk sergeant. I only wanted my property returned, but he said there was no chance of anyone owning up and that it was never going to happen. He asked me how much I'd paid for them and sent me a cheque which arrived a couple of days later. He didn't ask for any proof of purchase or put up any resistance to compensating me for my loss. It would appear bad behaviour was rife and they didn't have very high expectations of their own officers. I think I felt more let down by that than any of the other times I mentioned above.

    There was a vid I saw on you tube not long back where several musicians were linked by sattelite around the world and were jamming together at the same time but from different countries, technology can make this happen.

    Yes, there have been a few of those. Which one did you see? "Stand By Me" was rather a good one, I thought. This is less so, but still pretty nifty and I hadn't seen it before. This is for Angio, wherever you are:

    Yes, AW, on the face of it it is a useful service, but you'll find you will probably be getting e-mails letting you know about anything that contains the words "middle", "level" or ... "bill". It's not very discriminating. I had a notification yesterday about the Committee meeting that was actually held two days earlier. I'm glad the office I was dealing with was more on the ball and I hope it proves more useful to you.

    I would be very happy to spend time with you having a chat about it. You may just have to pay me that long awaited visit, or I can come to you if it's easier.

    Thanks for posting the links. Modesty forbids, but we were all recorded and each session is on the Parliament TV server (the Parliament one, NOT BBC Parliament).

    The previous acts (from the 17th century onwards) make exhilarating reading ... not. They are collected and bound together in an ancient leather-bound book entitled "The Middle Level Acts". I almost wanted one, but I suspect they cost hundreds of pounds, much the same as academic books sometimes do.

    Anyway, I've been trying to catch up with work stuff. I've rather let some of the organisation slip from my usual standards in the melée. Wedding ceilidh last evening with my trio and a samba band rehearsal this morning ready for next week's carnival procession, which will be the second of five gigs with four different projects in four different places next weekend. I'm looking forward to chilling at Dovedale!

    Well, of all the weeks I've ever had that was certainly one of them.

    First, the piece of nastiness I referred to in my last message concerned an attempt by the MLC, the Middle Level Bill's sponsors, to have our three most experienced and knowledgeable petitioners barred from giving their statements to the committee of Lords. Had they felt they had grounds no doubt they would have gone for me, a musician, and D, a care worker, too. In the end the post woman and the delivery driver provided incontrovertible evidence of their qualification to speak at the Select Committee. Unfortunately their plea to have our very knowledgeable and experienced campaigner was held up quoting "standing orders". So we started the week on a low, but maybe a little on the moral high ground too I felt. It also gave me cause to call them out on their nasty, petty behaviour during my forty-five minute presentation on Wednesday afternoon.

    Quite unlike the Commons Opposed Private Bill Committee hearings in January, the Lords gave a much better impression of having read all the documents in advance and of having an understanding of the issues. They also seemed to get our notion that this Bill was actually a bit of opportunism from the MLC and challenged them repeatedly during the week. From my point of view the Bill's sponsors were on the back foot and having to work harder then they probably imagined they would have to. The Committee's chairman was also until recently the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales and, however cynical I may have been in the past about the upper house in Parliament, I am glad we were all on the receiving end of their wisdom and experience. The points I made about the feudal nature of land ownership round here were readily picked up and the MLC were more or less told their governance and accounting procedures were not fit for purpose in a modern age. They had to accept when I pointed out that some of their evidence was actually inaccurate - i.e. claiming some unnavigable waterways were actually passable by implying that my boat could travel up weirs! There have been no costings for this Bill and no business plan. The sponsors also wanted to leave all the fine detail out of the Bill and only include it in secondary bylaw legislation. Our position all along has been that for what is being taken away from us the MLC have to be under obligation and forced to give clear undertakings that are written into the law, which cannot easily be dismissed when those of us present this year are no longer around. After all some of the present governing legislation on the Middle Level has been in force since the eighteenth century. The chairman of the Lords hoped this would give them a chance to bring their organisation into the 20th century - he acknowledged inviting them to participate in the 21st century might be a bit of a tall order at present!

    Four of the five Lords consistently asked deeply probing questions and in the end the four days allocated were not enough. The MLC side have been instructed to do a lot of homework and come back with some proper proposals for amendments and undertakings. The Lords want to be able to consider everything they have heard in detail before they make their decisions about what happens next. I guess there will be one more day to do this before recess in a few weeks. Unfortunately, my impression is that the Bill will go back to the Commons and probably eventually go through to Royal Assent, albeit in a very amended form. Although now looking like it is becoming a much better piece of legislation (in terms of fairness), my preference is still to have seen it scrapped completely. However, I suspect that too much money has been spent to allow it to fall at this stage.

    I think we may have "encouraged" the inclusion of about twenty amendments (including unprecedented protection for boat-dwellers, some teeth for the sop the sponsors offered of a "navigation advisory group", some protection for boaters who never leave the marinas, licenses for unpowered craft and some other useful stuff that has slipped my mind at the moment) during this year. This is almost unprecedented in law-changing procedures of this type that often amount to little more than a rubber-stamp on an original document. Again it seems possible that we have also set the beginning of the end of the feudal system on this waterway - although I shan't hold my breath on that one. My gratitude goes to the Labour peer on the committee who reminded the room that there should be no taxation without representation, something the MLC have completely failed to understand. I do now, though, have a list of some 253 people and businesses who probably didn't know they were entitled to act as Middle Level Commissioners. Now that could be interesting if some of those people take up that right and vote in a new Board! #endofboysclub

    Obviously there is much more to say about the week and much still to be decided, but I think a postie, a careworker, a van driver and a musician have not done too badly pitted against a QC, three solicitors the whole of the Middle Level Commission and their powerful supporters with landed interests. I would love to think that the people and the groups in the area will understand what we've achieved on their behalf, but somehow I think that the system will find a way of blaming us for intervening and there is still the time and the will to turn us into the villains. I hope not, but we have trodden on some very sensitive toes and we'll have to see.

    By the way, our experienced agitator who was excluded from participating fully in the proceedings at very short notice by the MLC's vexatious action backfired. His written evidence was referred to throughout the week by us, by the Sponsor's QC and by the Committee of their Lordships. Two of our side were also able to call him as a "witness". By this method we were able to make sure all the points he wanted to raise were at least covered, if not explained as fully as he would have liked had he the opportunity to speak to his own petition.

    One small victory, which maybe you should be invited to celebrate, is that I think we have secured an exclusion that "small, unpowered craft" will now not need to pay for a licence if the Bill becomes law. Bring your canoes, your kayaks and inflatables?

    To be continued ...

    P.S. On my way home on Thursday I met a Brazilian family from Sao Paulo. They expressed wonder that an ordinary member of the public like me could get involved in the democratic process and speak at committees in both chambers of Parliament to make my case. He said they have seen massive deterioration in his country in the past five years and felt that there was still something to be admired about our way of doing things. I have to take his point although the last twenty months (since I first heard about the campaign) have been exhausting.

    As a child I had a thrill from reading Kolob backwards, but it took me until decades later to realise the backwards version was closer than I thought to describing the "one true religion".

    These days they are much too busy trying to stem the flood of converts (and their money) out of the door, colluding with the "great and abominable church" against human rights and actively abusing LGBT people to worry about how silly and inconsistent the beliefs they are instructed to have really are.

    ... The creation of the Knowledge book brought to mind the story of Joseph Smith, though as far as I'm aware, the Mormons are not intergalactic.…ie-to-kolob?lang=eng&_r=1

    I think they were once more spaced out than they are these days. God lives on the planet Kolob.

    Growing up I always thought this hymn was an utter waste of a beautiful Vaughan Williams version of The Star Of The County Down. They did the same with Sibelius, Handel and Mozart.

    There have been developments over the last day or so that I found out about last evening. I don't want to say anything more here at the moment, but I am rather shocked to say the least.

    Were this football it would be like kicking the player if you don't think you can kick the ball.


    I have had some bad experiences and some not quite so bad ones.

    In the past I have been set up for entrapment in a public toilet, been bowled over by them at a CND demo, and was once dragged out of my works truck and yelled at while parked legally, sitting in the cab and filling out some paperwork. I am frequently pulled over at night time after working and have falsely been pulled over for speeding (I definitely know I wasn't on that occasion). I have had property stolen (not impounded for evidence or otherwise confiscated - just stolen by an officer to whom I loaned something in good faith). When my youngest daughter was experiencing a psychotic episode and went missing, the officer who spent the day with us would not talk to me or my ex regarding our daughter even though we were in the room. They asked us to go outside and spoke to her so-called friend and this friend's father instead. I have had light-hearted discussions with them on some demos, and the officers in the sentry box near the vehicle entrance to Parliament seemed to appreciate my expression of condolence for losing their colleague not long after the terrorist incident there. The ones I met when I was helping steward a demo outside the Russian Embassy were all talking about me. They said they recognised me from somewhere and ended up up asking me how they knew me!

    A friend is in a relationship with one. He seems okay, but I'm not finding out for sure. I once had a good school friend who underwent a complete personality transplant when he joined up. I have called to report things I would expect them to want to know about, and I have experienced neighbours and strangers who had them sent round to my house, once for kidnapping an elderly blind woman (deceased) whose sister said I was holding captive in my bathroom (really!) and once for kidnapping my own infant daughter who was having one of her regular town centre tantrums. I was very grateful that they checked up on that occasion.

    I may be being overly cautious, but I would not trust any single one of them an inch. I just prefer to keep them at arm's length if I have a choice. I could not do their job. They have to deal with stuff the rest of us don't want to see.

    Could it have hit the smaller post at speed which made the holes at the front and bounced it up into the air where it landed on the bigger post?

    Maybe the bigger post is shorter than it looks?

    It fell off a transporter?

    It was being towed?

    Next week we go to a House of Lords Opposed Private Bill Committee for four days and get to put our respective cases before, this time, a committee of Lords. Having submitted my technical evidence earlier today I have at least met the 5pm deadline and, having achieved that and spent the last few days reworking my presentation for next week, I am stopping for today and will get back on the case tomorrow. I have no idea how effective my contribution will be.

    In January, in the Commons, our side opposing the Middle Level Bill had five "petitioners", two of which were organisations. Following that committee hearing we lost one from our side when the representative of a local organisation decided they'd done what they could. Unfortunately, the club they were representing couldn't come up with anyone else prepared to put the stated views of the members forward so we were one down. We picked up another liveaboard boater and, amazingly, two other organisations switched sides. That put us up to seven petitions against this time round. However, it now looks as though those two organisations have come to some kind of agreement and have dropped their petitions, so we are back down to five - one national organisation and four individuals - two of us living in boats on the Middle Level, one seasoned campaigner who occasionally passes through and one house-dwelling boat-owner.

    Whatever the outcome I cannot wait for this to be over so I can have my life back.

    I haven't had television for years and refuse to let the BBC have my details for watching online, so I've been catching up with the boxes of DVDs that French Whale Fan has had delivered here (no postage to pay if they are sent within the UK).

    I recently succumbed to signing up for Netflix, mainly because (at £6 a month) it is cheaper than a television licence and I can use as much Netflix-generated data as I like since it doesn't come out of my monthly allowance with my Three contract. I'm enjoying the free trial month at the moment and have been catching up with lots of Star Trek I've never seen before. If in the future I decide I don't want it, I am not locked into any contract forcing me to pay until the contract is up. So far it is working out. That would not be the same with Amazon.

    French Whale Fan was a contributor to an international gay discussion forum I joined back in the nineties. Although there was a hook-up part of the site the discussion boards attracted a completely different set of people. There was some deep discussion about the state of the world, a lot of banter and the occasional firestorm. I was a moderator on the site for a while. FWF and we were both trying, for very different reasons, to try and make sense of the worlds in which we found ourselves - he after the loss of his younger brother to AIDS and me to the collapse of my marriage of many years. I was very attracted to his command of English, so was happy to receive a private message from him. I can't remember what it was about, but I think it was to do with some event happening in Peterborough. That was weird. It may have been a ruse ...

    I replied and we were eventually corresponding daily. This went on for several months and after turning down many invitations I accepted his suggestion to meet him in Geneva. He wanted to offer friendship, support and a few hours of respite to a pen-friend he recognised was in a seriously dark place. We had thirty-six hours together that first weekend which at some point involved dancing in the street to a steel pan band from Zürich. For me it wasn't love at first sight, I don't think I was capable, but we kept in touch and some months later I spent a few more days with him and this time felt I wanted to keep in touch. This August will make it sixteen years since he sent me that first private message. I wasn't looking for a relationship and finding him certainly scored pretty highly on any scale of improbabilities. He has, though, enriched my life in ways I could never previously have imagined and my feelings and love for him grow stronger as time goes on.

    We are at an age where we are beginning to lose some of our dearest friends. I don't want to contemplate losing the man who showed me I was actually capable of loving and of being loved, but whichever one of us goes last will always have the most beautiful memories to enjoy.

    My fiftieth was horrible. I had no contact with anyone on the day. My sixtieth was amazing. My kids organised a meal for me in a local restaurant. They and the grandchildren turned up for a lovely evening. This year, as I do most years, I spent the day alone and treated myself to a couple of films I wanted to see at the cinema. I had messages or phone calls from the family though and the pending visit to French Whale Fan to look forward to. That was sufficient and made the day special.

    We love you, Daisysmum. Let's hope the coming year turns out to be a better one.

    ... Josh wants a party for his 60th, no idea what to do. Half the freaking family don't talk to each other.

    If you book a hall, send out invitations, mentioning that guests would be welcome to bring food to share, could you wash your hands of any further organisation satisfied that you have gone above and beyond?

    I suspect you might be right, Maxal. I'm glad I have read the book first. I am intrigued to see how it might be dramatised!

    I have had some long train journeys recently (fifteen hours coming back from Switzerland on Wednesday) with shorter ones to Cambridge and back today for Strawberry Fair and have been enjoying Mick Houghton's biography of Sandy Denny, "I've Always Kept A Unicorn".

    Hi Max,

    Three very fine albums indeed. Of course, no longer having access to a turntable and my only copy of A Child's Adventure being on vinyl I haven't heard it for years. It doesn't seem to be available at the moment. Now you've got me humming the substantive riff to Blue Millionaire :broc:

    French Whale Fan and I have a wonderful chocolatier in a neighbouring village. My birthday present this year was two bags of specially selected broken dark chocolate with his different flavours. No milk or butter in Lionel's dark chocolate (and horrors like palm oil would never even get across the threshold of his home or laboratoire). mmmmmmmm


    FWF's father is a pretty good chocolatier too. We commissioned Lionel to make a beautiful chocolate sculpture for Papa's 90th birthday. We took it to him yesterday. I hope he eats it soon, but I don't think he can bear to break into it. I suspect his girlfriend will get there first ...