Wednesday 23 May 2012


Being on the cut reminds me a bit of walking to the shops in the village where we spend the rest of our time. You greet most of the people you meet, apart from those lost in a world of white ear-buds. You exchange a smile and a joke and, if you need help with something, most are pleased to oblige. On the cut, they tend to offer before you ask.

Except for occasional know-it-all. The ones who use the fact that some are still learning, to parade their know-it-all-ness. They stand out because they are the exception, very keen to tell you what you've done wrong or might have done better, with the arrogance of the already perfect. What a difference in style from those who also probably know it all, but whose advice, if offered, is gentle, with nary the slightest sense of criticism!

What is embarrassing for the self-analytical is to realise how easily you yourself can fall into the trap, principally with those nearest and dearest. Concern to protect Erin Mae from another scrape as she enters a lock leads to the offering of advice. Unfortunately the advice gets offered at extremely high volume, to be heard above the engine. Any advice offered at high volume tends to sound distinctly critical. I have yet to learn how to conduct a conversation about possible changes to speed or direction, and how to achieve them, that doesn't sound positively know-it-all.

Today I discovered there's a Royal Navy regulation: "No officer shall speak discouragingly to another officer in the discharge of his duties." I suspect whoever wrote it had probably just brought a narrowboat down the seventeen locks between Market Drayton and Audlem.


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