Thursday, 21 April 2011

Down & out

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!


Sarah said...

Hear hear Carrie and so well put.

Anonymous said...

Shame you have to use bad language shows a lack of command of the english language. Its a pity you dont understand that these people with their shiny tubes coming from their lives of priviledge have had to work very hard to get where they are. Its these peoples taxes which are paying number of peiople who take from this life rather than give!

Carrie said...

Hmm... won't focus on your own 'command of the english language' ;-)
May you never be in need, disabled, ill, depressed, in danger of losing your home, unable to cope. You will be in a very tiny minority of the population, but good luck in your invicibility!

Anonymous said...

I used to agree with your post. I do admire the fact that you still hold this view point. However, after twelve years on the water I have changed my stance to that of the 'other side'.
Why? Because we work very hard to fund our live aboard life style and have endured some very difficult and trying circumstances. Through out we always tried to help those 'less fortunate'. Yet we were only either stolen from or taken advantage of. Frequently, but not always, these problem boaters use prime mooring spots including lock moorings and restricted timed moorings causing other people unseen hardships in the process.
I understand your very valid reasoning about causing such people further hardship, but the sad fact is they do stand a better chance of being helped when returning bankside. As for the ' shiny boat' brigade, they do have a valid stance - they not only pay taxes that are spent on providing help for the vulnerabke but also increasingly feel as if they are not only paying to licence and moor their own boats but are supporting those who cannot/ refuse to pay for their own lifestyle choice.
There is no easy answer. Some hard choices do have to be made. Personally, those causing trouble to and difficulties for others need to be moved, those just wanting to be left alone and causing no hindrance to others should be left to do just that.
Sorry to rant. Happy floating to all.

Anonymous said...

Thankyou to the other anonymous comment following on from mine and the typical response I would expect from Carrie from my comment. Its a pity so many people don't realise that people who do pay taxes and pay their way enable the people less well off to have all the benefits they receive. And just to add, I have been ill, depressed and unable to cope in my life in the past, but made an effort to pull myself out of it, its not only a condition of your so called less well off, it can happen to anyone of us, perhaps you are the member of the tiny minority who protest too much? Its such a shame from what used to be a great blog you have had reduced it to the comments and criticisms you now make on anyone who makes something of themselves.

Carrie said...

Dear anonymous
Thank you for your comments!
You are of course, very widely supported in your views which are expressed in many other boat blogs and forums.
p.s Am greatly amused by you describing my site as once being 'a great blog'! I've been ranting about bigotry and exclusion for the last 5 years :-D

Simon said...

The people I respect who could be said to have 'made something of themselves' have done it by being genuine, kind, extraordinary, generous - not by having a few quid in the bank and thinking they're above everyone else.

I'd add more, but it's already been said.