The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde

Once more unto the breach…

Candles in cratch

Warming my cratch

No, it ISN’T cold in the winter, so stop asking us. But it is winter. I caught myself making Ovaltine in the middle of the day, the candles are shining in my cratch (no, really), I have covered the back hatch and had my stern gland tightened by Rob the Spanner. It’s worth living on a boat for the innuendo alone. And best of all we get to wear hats like this.

Hat - boat in lock

Lock, stock and barrel

Boating, however, is not all jolliness. Spare a thought for boaters on the Caldon Canal’s upper arm, who woke up to this on Friday:

Caldon breach

Badgers dunnit, apparently

They are all stranded by a breach (hole) and listing in a fifteen-mile stretch of mud. Luckily for him, the Smily Man lives on the other bit of the Caldon Canal or he might have needed a new nom de blog.

Jon and camper

Camper fetish - incurable apparently

I was supposed to drive to the Ledbury Poetry Festival committee meeting on Wednesday, seeing friends on the way. So several kinds of disappointment struck me as I bit into a toffee, and realised that the lump in it was my gold filling. This hefty chunk of metal has been part of my head for twelve years; I had grown attached to it, and wanted it still to be attached to me. I cancelled my meetings and went to the NHS Dental Access Centre in Macclesfield where a Polish dentist of startling glamour, with bright red lipstick and an interest in Tolstoy, did a temporary repair within the hour. That’ll be £16.50, thanks. Still want to vote Conservative?

Darkness is...

Gloomy graffiti backstage

The last performance of Fourpenny Circus, in Salford, was an occasion to reflect on all that we’ve achieved. Instead, we reflected on the curious fact that many theatres have no vehicular access, so that you have to carry heavy props across car parks and up steps in the rain. We will catch our breath, then have a debrief over oatcakes at the Room at the Top Cafe.

George with Jonks (2)

George and daddy gurning

I visited small friend George who has just taken up walking – and Aunty Bill who has just given it up, settling into a residential home with a pack of chocolate biscuits and a bottle of gin. I taught George some essential spelling whilst he was in the bath….


Useful words, number 124

There was work between all these visits: National Poetry Day documents, a radio interview, a synopsis for Action Transport Theatre, and meetings about Living Derby’s Illuminate programme for next year.

But above anything else this week, one moment shines out like a candle in the cratch. I had to move my boat across the marina for an unglamorous, toilet-related task.


Flushing the toilet (tank)

The location and length of Tinker make this a tricky manoeuvre, but I did it rather neatly. I thought no-one was watching – but neighbour Albert emerged, a 90-year old boatman who knows more about boating than the rest of us put together. He doffed his hat (no, really) and said, ‘that was a very nice piece of navigation, young lady.’ That’s worth a gold filling of anyone’s money. I am still glowing; now that will keep me warm through the winter.



This entry was posted on November 14, 2009 by in Uncategorized.
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