Gawd! I swear I will write something uplifting soon, but I just have to let off more steam first! It seems, from reading a few bloater blogs, that BW have been pretty busy recently, clamping down on unlicenced boats and removing them from the waterways. The jubilation of some boaters over this just baffles me! Maybe I'm being dim but I don't get it.
One person talked about hoping BW could sell a little boat (a fairly valueless one by the look of it) to recoup some money - as though that means we would all get lower licence fees as a result! As I pointed out, all that would happen is that the guy whose boat was siezed will probably now need to be housed in B&B accomodation (social housing being so scarce) at huge expense to tax-payers. Housing benefit and homeless accomodation apparently costs us £12 billion/year. Or he will be sleeping rough.
Another boat blogger actually helped BW impound a 'dosser boat' as they called it (from the delightful comfort of their new shiny boat). The guy living on the impounded boat was, apparently, drunk.
I've met a number of alcoholics living on boats. Some cling on to something resembling a stable life while they have their boat homes. Somewhere to live privately, a small pride of ownership, of being 'A Boater'. Take that away and you have a vulnerable drunk sleeping in a doorway and with all pride gone.
A couple of posts back, I was banging on about the hidden homeless and see how this can be the direct result of our witch-hunt of the 'dosser boater'.
Why should we do BW's work for them? We play into their hands when they try to get us to inform on unlicenced boats or overstayers. (That's how you get a country to support oppressive regimes - set the people on each other, drive out anyone dissenting.)
We could be a powerful, self-regulating community if only we acted in solidarity with each other. Solidarity and inclusivity. A strong inclusive community could support those not coping well with life (that can come to all of us at some point), help them move about enough to not be a nuisance to other boaters (fuck BW rules, I'm talking about our own co-existence here), offer support and advice on organising money for licnce and repairs, help out with maintenance etc.
It's when you treat someone like a pariah that I think they become isolated and stop caring what anyone thinks of them.
Too many people have come onto the canals from a life of priviledge and then spend all their time moaning about and waging war on those without the advantages of the opportunities that education and a loving family brings.
Personally, I would hate to see the day come when there are only identikit shiny tubes on the waterways owned by wealthy retired people. I love seeing families afloat, non-white boaters, young couples, craft of all strange and ingenious fabrication and interesting people with vastly different life-stories.
Sometimes I think this is why I have a blog - so I don't endlessly rant in the street :-)
I'm really looking forwards to the Little Venice cavalcade at the weekend. All the boats together looking lovely and festive. Good company, hopefully cider and sunshine!