Friday 9 September 2016


Today I chatted with a boater about the flag on his boat, to find it was the Black Country one. Wikipedia says it was introduced in 2012, part of a national initiative to develop new local flags.

We've seen boats with flags from various countries as well – New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Denmark, Norway and so on. Some boats fly the Red Ensign. Everybody very proud to show off their identity.

The Boaters' Christian Fellowship doesn't have a flag, but it does have a badge that you can buy as a plaque or a plastic sticker for your window.

Now I have never, unlike some, wanted to put a Christian fish on my car. It strikes me as asking for trouble. You might be driving perfectly but, at some point, someone is bound to think you're going too slow or too fast, or that you cut them up. Or, as happened to me in Stafford a few months ago, you find you're by mistake in the wrong lane, trying to get into the right one, and a driver takes enormous exception to the fact that you are now in front of him. I tend to think that a fish would have led to a load of invective directed at Christians in general and this one in particular.

Boat rage is not quite in the same category as road rage, but it does occur, and that's one of the reasons I resisted putting a BCF sticker in Erin Mae's window. I may try to make my boating behaviour a model of perfection but at some point I will fail, and I didn't want to be the cause of some other boater cursing all Christians or having reason to draw noisy attention to my hypocrisy. However, two weeks ago we decided to put our stickers in the window, so there they are.

Today, coming down the Staffs and Worcs, we were approaching a bridge when we saw a boat also approaching from the other side. It's quite hard sometimes to judge distances and I thought we were nearer, so I speeded up a bit to get through and be clear by the time they got there. Next it became apparent that they were nearer than I thought, so I slowed done to see what they were going to do. It looked to me as though they were stopping on their side, so I nosed towards the bridge-hole. But no, they were coming straight through. I went into reverse and stopped Erin Mae but we were still just into the hole. The oncoming boat came on through, knocking us slightly in the process, with the driver making some choice comments as they passed. I buttoned my lip – (a) I was at least partly to blame for the incident; (b) I was busy admonishing myself that my inner attempts at self-justification were extremely unworthy; (c) in the event that they had noticed the BCF sticker I didn't want to add fuel to the flames.

Fish or no fish – that is the question. Not, of course, the ultimate question!


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