"She lives the poetry she cannot write" – Wilde
‘Can you write a half-hour ‘docupoem’ about your life on the canals?’ said Mair Bosworth, the BBC producer. Yes, I thought. Of course I can. Piece of cake. Easy.
Reader, it wasn’t easy. There were too many stories to tell. Broken rudders and glorious adventures; hangovers and heartbreaks; comical interludes with rude mechanicals (some ruder than others); moments of stillness in city backwaters; exhilarating trips and giddy canalside pubs; hearty adventures that nearly sank my boat. Which journey would tell the whole story of thirteen years afloat?
I explained the difficulty, and in passing mentioned my own recent commission – I had just ordered a new boat from X R & D. As its completion date got closer, I was getting ready to say goodbye to my first boat. We talked about falling in love with Tinker, about how much boat and skipper have changed together. ‘That’s your journey,’ said Mair. ‘Right there. Your time with Tinker, and how it feels to lose her.’
So that’s what I wrote. In mid-June the programme, Slow Machine went out on Radio 4 at 4.30pm. The response from boaters and bank-bound humans has been just amazing. If you want to hear it, it’s on iPlayer until mid-July – click here. Or if you’re reading this in time for the repeat on Saturday 25th June, it’s on late at night, 11.30pm.
In the meantime, here’s a little taster of those thirteen years, with thanks to all who have joined me on the journey so far. And if you feel a powerful need to buy my book, which includes some of the material from the show…. find it here.