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« H. Lehmann camera repairs | Main | NY canals and the role of government in waterways »

Friday, 18 June 2010


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Andrew Denny


Haha! Yes, you are quite right, Maffi's distemper sparkles. But in this case it makes me feel uncomfortable.

My post is NOT about speeding or any other BW rule-breaking. I repeat, IT'S NOT about speeding or rule-breaking.

It's about how to act when one decides to self-appointedly uphold the law, like a martinet. (

I was trying to make a (perhaps too gentle) point on how Maffi should have reacted.

Loaded words like 'arrogant' and 'git' and 'arse to boot' and sarcasm like "where's his waterskier?" don't accomplish much when talking about encounters with other people whom one is quite likely to meet again as equals without authority. They are subjective insults that tell us more about the insulter than the insultee.

And repeating the insults publicly in a blog post doesn't really accomplish much except spread the misery about, and in a very passive-aggressive way.

What's more, picking on nits to bolster the claim (in this case, running the engine while stationary at 7:30am instead of 8am in high-summer) simply emphasises one's reputation for martinetry.

Maffi doesn't say what gentle, friendly words he exchanged with Mr Summer Run the following morning as he took his photograph. To be honest, I got the feeling he just took a surreptitious photo without speaking and walked on, 'banking' the photo in case the boat returned, so he could use it as ID.

And lo!, Summer Run returned the next day, so he was already in an 'alert witness' mood.

Finally, we have to accept Maffi's word that Mr Summer Run actually was speeding, was acting arrogantly and did dismiss him with a supercilious wave as if Maffi didn't matter more than anyone else.

The South Oxford Canal is a beautiful, calm relaxed place, and yes, it would be nicer if boaters sometimes took it a little slower.

But the effect I get is of "Here Be Dragons".

In other words I'm left with the impression that the map of the South Oxford Canal around Lower Heyford and Thrupp is full of angry, supercilious intolerant locals who consider hireboaters and other less-experienced boaters as arseholes.

However, I'm sure this is not what Maffi intended by his post.

And yes, I'm acutely aware of my failings too. See my 2006 post "Canal Rage" (, about an encounter I had on the South Oxford Canal.

Here's a photo of Maffi with his camera, being on the right side of the law in friendly, cooperative fashion:

You see, Maffi CAN smile and be conciliatory when he puts his mind to it!


Ho ho ho. And we all thought Maffi's distemper "just sparkles" for you.

Andrew Denny


There's only one possible 'lie' in Johnboy's comment, which is in how long you've owned the boat. According to your blog it would be about 4 years (you moved aboard about 3yrs 9mths ago - see .

To be fair to Johnboy, he might not be lying on this, which implies deliberate intent. He might have just been loose in fact-checking, which would be negligence, not 'lies'.

The rest of Johnboy's comment is opinion, not fact, so surely it can't be lying?


Johnboy you are factually incorrect. 'why did you bother writing lies?


Depressing but true, a well-observed commentary.


All I can say is, in all the time I spent living aboard, I met the friendliest, most helpful bunch of people I have ever met. I also met the most up-themselves patronising knobs I've ever met.


have you never met maffi?
oh you love him,what ever he does in life no matter how long for he is the best?
he has owened a boat for 2 1/2 years and spent most of that time moored on the oxford canal,just p*ssing everyone of that ever has any dealing's with him,he hates everyone so dont be offended.

cheers johnboy

Barry and Sandra - Northern Pride

Nice one Andrew! We've had a couple of run ins with 'old fish-wife' types and 'know-it-alls' too but it doesn't put us off; Barry just shrugs it off and we realise that unhappy people reflect their mood in such ways so we just feel sorry for them!


It's one of the reasons we left boating too. We were NOT inconsiderate speeders, by any means, but we just couldn't go slow enough for these people. Mostly the boats aren't really *moored* at all, just tethered. Some move so rarely that the occupants have forgotten what being afloat entails. It is irresponsible, in my opinion, to moor carelessly - online - and then expect everyone else to tiptoe past. We started to prefer river cruising for that very reason.

Nick Corble

Well said Andrew - yes there are speeders on the canals (often, it seems, with a good line in sarcasm), but you get these types in all walks of life. One of the reasons we decided to sell our boat and take a break from the waterways however were the breed you refer to towards the end of the post - what I call the 'instant expert' who is always ready with the letter of the law. They are in many ways much more irritating - it used to make me laugh when they would lecture my boys on how to lock when the boys had probably done ten times more than they had!

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