fern floating fine art

featured roving canal traders

fern floating fine art

Fern Floating Fine Art is a nomadic arts illustration business, currently making its way around the inland waterways of Britain.

Fern Floating Fine ArtI live on, work in and sell from my little boat ‘Fern’. I am a painter of fauna and flora and resident artist at Fern Floating Fine Art. My work is influenced by folklore, superstition, fireside tales, canal and traveller traditions, the macabre, Victoriana, and I take constant inspiration from the seasons and the countryside around me.

I am fascinated by animals and their connection to the natural world. Their interdependence with the world around them, that as human beings I feel, we have now largely lost. I use my exploration of animals and the subsequent paintings as an attempt to reconnect with nature and the forgotten elements of our own culture. One way that I attempt to do this is by always painting the creature whilst we are making eye contact. In this moment I feel a special knowledge is passed between us. I use flowers as symbolic signposts to direct the meaning of the painting. Each flower is carefully chosen to represent and to compliment the birds status and the meaning of the work.

I like to separate my subjects from their everyday existence and instead venerate them to icon status by infusing them with vast amounts of symbolic flora. I pay no regard to accurate or relative proportion, instead preferring to use this to further separate the subject by using the flowers to create busy almost abstracted backgrounds. This technique and my use of colour is very much influenced by my traveller culture where almost everything is highly decorative. My paintings reflect rather than illustrate the stories that I come across through my travels.

As an artist my mission is to create a feeling of connection and guardianship towards our planet and the life it contains.

John creates our beautiful handmade wooden frames, using wood that we have found and reclaimed along our travels.

All of the work is professionally printed and comes either mounted ready for framing or framed in our handmade reclaimed wood frames.

Shiam Wilcox, photo by canal photographyShiam and John Wilcox sell from their narrowboat wherever they happen to be on the waterways.

You can follow them on Facebook to see where they are, or you can buy direct from their website.

You may also contact Shiam by phone on 07528 802 967 or by email

steph’s packed lunch on channel 4

steph's packed lunch

steph mcgovern presents new lunchtime show on channel 4

crt staff welcome steph mcgovern to Leeds DockStaff from waterways and wellbeing charity, Canal & River Trust were on hand to give a warm waterways welcome to their new neighbour Steph McGovern.  Today, the former BBC Breakfast presenter launched her new daily lunchtime television show - Steph’s Packed Lunch.

Steph arrived at her new studio at Leeds Dock via water taxi on the Aire & Calder Navigation, welcomed by a socially distanced crowd – with music, dancing and cheers.  Becca Dent, strategic programmes delivery manager and Jade Wilkes, community roots engagement coordinator helped to escort the water taxi in the waterway charity’s canoes.  Lizzie Dealey, partnerships and external relationships manager joined Joy Van Rensburg, community & youth events coordinator to cheer on Steph from aboard the Trust’s workboat ‘Beale’.

Caleb & Fiona Price (Courtesy CRT)Local boater Caleb Price and his wife Fiona were also on hand to cheer from their narrowboat.  Caleb was one of the first to bring his boat into the newly regenerated Clarence Dock area almost quarter of a century ago, with the 1996 opening of the £42.5million purpose-built Royal Armouries Museum.

Becca Dent, strategic programmes delivery manager said: “In the absence of Leeds Waterfront Festival this year, due to Covid-19 restrictions, we’ve really missed seeing Leeds Dock draw in the crowds coming to enjoy music, performance and activities on the water, so it was especially great to be giving Steph a warm waterways welcome.  With the new studio overlooking the water at Leeds Dock, it would be great to see Steph and her guests making the most of this fabulous waterside setting and getting afloat themselves by canoe or even paddleboard.”

Pete McCabe, community engagement manager (Yorkshire & North East) for the Trust, said: “It was really great news for the city when Channel 4 decided to relocate to Leeds, and we’ve been really keen to work with them to show off our fantastic network of waterways and highlight the amazing work of our staff and volunteers.”

Steph's Packed Lunch is broadcast live on Channel 4, weekdays from 12.30-2.10pm, with a mixture of entertainment, lifestyle and celebrity guests, plus a changing panel of audience members reviewing the day’s news and chatting to celeb guests.

canal & river trust launches project

canal & river trust launches citizen science project

The Canal & River Trust has teamed up with partners, including King’s College London, and is appealing for people aged 16 or over to take part in its largest ever study of the wellbeing benefits of spending time beside water.

The academic study will enable the Trust to better understand the health benefits of waterways and will help make the case to partners and funders of the importance of looking after and investing in Britain’s former industrial canals and rivers.

Those taking part download an app onto their smart phone.  Then, three times a day over the following two weeks, they are prompted to answer ‘in the moment’ questions about how they feel and the environment around them.  On each occasion it takes about one minute to complete the survey.

Those taking part are able to access an individualised report summarising their experiences.  This could shed light on how being in different types of places, such as being close to birds, trees and water, affects their mood, as well as contributing to the wider study of the impact of different environments on mental health and wellbeing.

Jenny Shepherd, research and impact manager at the Canal & River Trust, comments: “Those of us that know and use the waterways feel instinctively that spending time beside water is good for our wellbeing.  With our academic partners, and with the help of the public, we’re able to collect our own bespoke data to record how people are affected by their environment and how this changes when they are on or beside water.

“This scale and scope of this research is a first for the Trust.  And, with the help of those taking part, we can emphatically demonstrate to decision makers and funders the importance of canals and the vital role they play, particularly in our towns and cities where green and blue space is at a premium.  We’d like as many people to take part as possible – having taken part myself, I know it literally takes a minute or so just three times a day.  It’s a fascinating area of study, both to find out about your own individual mood influencers, and for the wider social implications of the environment on wellbeing.”

The Canal & River Trust survey, which runs from 21 September to 15 November, is run on the Urban Mind app and partners King’s College London, J&L Gibbons and Nomad Projects.  The app is free to download on App Store & Google Play.  To take part please download and select the ‘custom’ study option and enter the password ‘water’ when prompted.  The survey is confidential and participants are not asked to provide their name, phone, email or any other information which could identify them.

narrow boat engine by stephanie horton

narrow boat engine maintenance and repair

by stephanie horton

Stephanie Horton, RCRWritten by River Canal Rescue managing director, Stephanie Horton, Narrow Boat Engine Maintenance and Repair is an essential maintenance tool and perfect for those keen to keep their vessels in a good condition, inside and out.

“The idea behind the book was to combine our practical advice with our engineers’ specialist knowledge who through years of experience have unrivalled skills and repair techniques."

With a focus on diesel engines and their arrangements, it explains the theory behind the boat’s main systems, including propulsion, cooling and electrics, and gives instructions on how to identify key components, how to locate faults and where possible, how to fix them.

There are tips on everyday engine maintenance and how to complete a service and all instructions are accompanied by over 260 colour step-by-step photographs and 60 technical diagrams.

Narrow Boat Engine Maintenance and Repair retails at £18 (discounted for RCR members) and is available from River Canal Rescue and bookshops.

“My aim was to deliver a single reference tool, keeping things as simple as possible, and from the feedback received, this what it achieves. I’m delighted it’s been published.”


how to wire a narrowboat – part 4

how to wire a narrowboat - part 4

fuse board and connection to the batteries

Next we can work out the fuse board needed and the size of the connection to the Domestic batteries.

It is back to those drawings to detail the fuse and the current the circuit is going to need

Example Lights 1 - Maximum current 9 3W lights = 27W / 12 = 2.25A

Smallest cable size (this is the maximum current that the circuit can take without multiple other fuses) as earlier there was found to be a need for 2mmsq it make economical sense to use 2mmsq everywhere 1.5mmsq is shown on the drawings. 2mmsq has a maximum current capacity of 25A. The current to be carried is 2.25A and the Maximum that can be carried 25A.  Knowing what is available means a fuse of 5A to possibly 10A

Fuse Board List

  1. Lighting 1 - 5A to 10A, current - 2.25A
  2. Passageway Lights - 5A to 10A, current - 2.25A current
  3. 12 way fuse board Lights 2 - 5A to 10A, current – 3A
  4. USB Sockets - 10A to 15A, current - 8A
  5. Drainage Pump - 15A to 20A, current – 15A(5A)
  6. Water Pump -- 15A to 20A, current – 15A (5A)
  7. 12V Sockets 12VS1P - Fuse 10A to 20A, current -10A
  8. 12V Sockets 12VS3P - Fuse 10A to 20A, current - 10A
  9. 12V Sockets 12VS4P Fuse 10A to 20A, current - 10A
  10. Fridge 10A to 15A, current - 5A
  11. Cigar Lighter socket 10A to 15A, current - 10A
  12. Headlight LED - 5A to 10A, current - 0.7A
  • Headlight Tungsten - 10A to 15A, current - 4.6A

So the fuse board needed is a 12 way (J assuming only one headlight). It is sometimes sensible to allow a few fuses for expansion in the future.

Cable selection from the batteries via the Domestic Isolator to the Fuse-board

The total current with everything on and running at maximum is nominally 76A. Now this is unlikely to happen but can/ought be prepared for. For example the cables from the Fuse board to the Domestic batteries is a 3-metre run; 25mmsq will give a volt-drop of 0.35V or 2.93%. If we worked on the basis that only 50% of items were going to be used at anyone time that would be 38A and 25mmsq would give a volt drop of 0.18V/1.46% which meets the target for a 2% or less volt-drop in normal operation at the Fuse-board.

Unfortunately, some fuse-board manufacturers are a bit slow in coming up to date with the increased electrical use on boats and the only connection to their fuse-boards is a 6.3mm male spade connector. The crimp connectors for these spades have a maximum cable size of 6mmsq. The current capacity of 6mmsq is 50A unlike the 25mmsq that has a current capacity of 170A; also the volt-drop of 6mmsq is at 38A 0.72V/5.97%. That is nearly 3 times our target of 2% volt-drop at the fuse-board.

The common 12-way 12 way circuit breaker switch panel (fuse-board) is conveniently set out as two columns of 6 fuses/breakers this give us the ability to feed each column from the top and bottom. So we could use four 6mmsq cables, which would give us a volt-drop of 0.18V/1.49% that is almost the same as the 25mmsq and gives a similar current carrying capacity overall using four 6mmsq.

This can be achieved in one of two ways, running 4 6mmsq cables from the domestic isolator fusing each 6mmsq at the Isolator at 30A. That tends to be a bit messy, my preferred way is to run 25mmsq, fused at 100A, from the Domestic Isolator using to a small busbar by the fuse-board. Then from busbar, using 6mmsq, to the fuse board to the top and bottom of each of the two columns. The 6mmsq being fuse as it leaves the busbar at 30A, This will give a volt-drop battery to fuse-board of about 1.5% allowing us to keep the volt-drop to any DC electrical item to less than 0.6V/5%.

Now we need to balance the two columns of the fuse-board, so that each pair of 6mmsq feed cables handles nearly the same current and one pair of 6mmsq is not handling considerable more than the other pair.

  1. 12V Sockets 12VS3P - Fuse 10A to 20A, current - 10A
  2. 12V Sockets 12VS4P Fuse 10A to 20A, current - 10A
  3. Passageway Lights - 5A to 10A, current - 2.25A
  4. USB Sockets - 10A to 15A, current - 8A
  5. Drainage Pump - 15A to 20A, current – 15A(5A)
  6. Headlight LED - 5A to 10A, current  - 0.7A

Maximum current of fuses 1 to 6 - 35.95A

  1. 12V Sockets 12VS1P - Fuse 10A to 20A, current -10A
  2. Lighting 1 - 5A to 10A, current - 2.25A
  3. Lights 2 - 5A to 10A, current – 3A
  4. Fridge 10A to 15A, current - 5A
  5. Cigar Lighter socket 10A to 15A, current - 10A
  6. Water Pump -- 15A to 20A, current – (15A) 5A

Maximum current of fuses 7 to 12 - 35.25A

So by moving fuses and their items from one column to the other one, one section will handle 35.95A and the other will handle 35.25A. This is the nearest in real life you are likely to get the two currents. This difference of 0.7A is acceptable and the two sections and their 6mmsq feed cables will not be over stressed and the volt-drops will be acceptable.

Hope that is helpful to you all and that it has enabled a bit more learning to go on.

In the Appendix you will find: the explanation of how the two-way switch operates, the complete one page drawing for the Lights, and the one page drawing for the sockets, copies are available from me.

how to wire a narrowboat – part 3

how to wire a narrowboat - part 3

the sockets, pumps etc.

It is time to repeat the process for the sockets pumps etc., starting with the layout drawing.

Again the process is the same process as the one for the lighting drawings, a blank outline and put the pumps, USBs, 12 Volt sockets etc on to the drawing.

Outline for Power Sockets etc

First the symbols chart and an explanation of each item the USB outlets, Cigar Lighter etc are I expect apparent what is not is the Wago. They are a modern version of the old chocolate block and a lot better. When wiring things like the USBs etc they can either be wired with one cable all the way back to their own individual fuse or the supply cable can be broken where each USB etc is to go and the supply cable broken and joined to run on to the next one.

The Wago is the modern equivalent of the chocolate block connector but a 100 times better and unlike the Chocolate Block it does not damage the strands of the cables. It is also easier to fit, prepare the wire, lift the orange clip, slide the wire in, and push the orange clip back down job done. They cannot come open pushing the clip down locks them.

I have done the example drawing using them as using them as it makes big savings on cable.

So starting with the USB charging points the basic drawings looks like this:

Now using the 1 metre marks on the outline work out the cable runs length and then calculate the Volt Drop and from that the cable size, add the cable labels and you end up with a drawing like this:

The drain and water pumps:


The Drain Pump and Water Pump the negative cables are the same length as the positive

The 12V sockets – the negative cables are the same length as the positive cables.

This is divided into three circuits to keep the volt drop down to acceptable limits:

Now the Fridge circuit

Remember the general rule for fridges 1mmsq for every metre as the cable goes from the battery to the Fridge. Most fridges will start at 11V at 15A that is an average start up current so if there is a volt drop of 0.75V the fridge will start at 11.75V at the battery.

And finally the Cigar lighter circuit

Now you should have a complete set of circuits from them it is possible to calculate the amount of each type and size of cable needed the size and number of fuses and a diagram to do the wiring from and all of this can be done before the boat has been delivered with the aid of the outline plan supplied by the builder as part of their normal paperwork to clients.

the diary of Iris Lloyd

the diary of iris lloyd

hungerford 30 years on

Whenever I tell people that I live in Hungerford, home to about 6,000 inhabitants, their usual reaction is, “The scene of the massacre?” That tragedy, when 17 people were shot by a local young man, who then turned the gun on himself, was in 1987, over thirty years ago.

We tell people that Hungerford is more than the tragedy, although some who were personally affected still live here. Hungerford celebrates its antique shops, pubs, coffee bars and tearooms, an independent bookshop and butcher’s shop, a market every Wednesday morning, an annual December evening Extravaganza and the best Christmas lights you will see anywhere; they extend on both sides of the High Street for its entire length, on the trees and above the shops, with an extra large tree outside the Town Hall and another on the canal bank in the Wharf.

Hungerford Christmas Lights

As well as a mayor and town council, Hungerford has a Town and Manor, presided over by a Constable, that has jurisdiction over the fisheries, marsh and common and owns the Town Hall and the John o’Gaunt public house. The name commemorates the third son of King Edward III who, in the fourteenth century, gave rights of fishing, grazing cows on the common and shooting (though no one does the latter any more) to the commoners, who retain the rights to this day.

Every Eastertide, we celebrate the ancient custom of Hocktide, the only town in Britain still to do so. 2020 has been the first time in its history that the celebration has had to be cancelled, because of the coronavirus.

So, next time you are in the area, after lockdown, do pop into The Tutti Pole tea room, which you will pass on your way from the towpath into the High Street, and then explore the rest of the town. You will be very welcome!


another week in the life of…

one week in the life of Devid Scowcrovich

old spice

Lockdown Diary - Week Three or is it Nine - can’t remember

(This diary contains scenes of a sexual nature – goodie)


Hurrah, it’s all over!  The government has eased the lockdown.  You can do many things now that you couldn’t do last week.  Tried to find out exactly what you can and cannot do but alas it is not absolutely clear.  The Government website has over a thousand words but that was written last week, before the grimly, smiley, politician with the bald spot said they were relaxing the rules.  He was backed-up by the fatter one with lots of hair and children.  I think the latter one is called ‘Boris’.  With a name like that he must be Russian and work for the KGB or the FSB, which I think is something to do with farming.  There was a time when you knew a politician was lying – they opened their lips.  Now they keep tight-lipped and you can only tell they are lying because they are standing at a lectern.  I do know when they say they are being ‘crystal clear’ they are covering something up, like the true death figures or PPE levels.  I can manage a bit of PPE, but I have to wait several minutes with my pants round my ankles and can never be more than 100 yards from a toilet.

The best I can do is rely on Brenda to help me with the rules.  She says that one person from a household can visit another household or at least (and here she gets a bit vague) can meet with another person from a second household but no non-Royal Air Force hugging or kissing.  I remain a little confused but fortunately she has been brave enough to leave the boat and visit someone, not sure who, an old friend she claims.  She thinks it is best if I remain on the boat and not chance exposure to the virus.  It must have been dangerous because when she comes back she is flushed and smells of Old Spice, which she says she put on to keep the germs away.  Plus, now she has been outside, she must have a shower and change her underwear.

Whilst staying inside I note from the government advice one can now play Polo.  This is because if you are on a horse you are one metre up and the other rider is one metre up which amounts to two metres and not because you are rich and couldn’t care less about the NHS.  Which is all good to know.  Brenda says she might go for a ride tomorrow.


It is becoming clearer by the day that this lockdown thing is all over, but Brenda insists I stay on board whilst she goes out.  Only one per household she says is the safe motto; watching the TV it seems I must be more alert. Ah, well rules is rules bit like ‘Brexit is Brexit’ whatever that was, it seems so long ago it was the only topic.  Then it was Climate Change when creepy old men encouraged young children not to go to school.

You can now play golf.  It seems you are always two club lengths away and therefore safe.  Brenda encourages me to go out and have a game she says the fresh air will do me good.  I thought the air was smothered in germs, but it seems that was yesterday and the lectern politician - this was the bad-tempered looking one into a skirt or was that Boris again – said the death figures were under control.  Confused me because the PowerPoint charts seemed to show we had the worst death rates in Europe and they did not include deaths in care homes, normal homes, on buses or anywhere outside a hospital ward marked ‘Covid 19’.  So, relax if you die in a ward one to eighteen you have not died from the virus.  Began to worry, that there is still a virus problem but fortunately my friend, Donald, the President of the United States has sacked his virus crisis team so it must be all over.

Went out on the golf course allowed because of the distancing and not because it’s a posh sport for those who care only for themselves.  It seems you are not allowed into the club house for a quick snifter before or after the game.  Females were, of course, at one time, not allowed into the club house at all but that was when we had an Empire.  Now you are never more than ten yards from a woman dressed in a heavy tweed suit and proclaiming sexual freedom in a loud voice.

Arrested on the course by two policepersons sticking close together, it seems one of the rules is that you must have a set of clubs and a ball.  I say, ‘So Adolf Hitler can play but I can’t’.  Taken to the Police Station in Coventry as all stations in Birmingham have been closed due to something call ‘Austerity’. Which was when the country had no money, before the Lectern Politician – the one that looks like a young undertaker on a diet – won the lottery.

Released on grounds of too much paperwork.  Brenda picks me up in a car driven by a youngish chap who smells of Old Spice.  Brenda says he is an old RAF friend and that Boris says we must avoid public transport.  Sent in disgrace to the boat whilst she thanks her old friend in the car park.


More relaxing; you can now play tennis which is not because it’s a posh sport but you are a good distance away from each other.  Well not in mixed doubles but Brenda has never allowed that sort of thing.  Turned up at the local club but not allowed to play due to an ‘all whites policy’.  Told them I was Anglo-Saxon with a dash of Viking but I have two bi-racial golden grandsons and therefore was disbarred.  It seems not only have you to be white you have to wear white clothing which played havoc with my cataracts.  I am assured that allowing tennis is not just because ‘Society’ want to go in the Royal Box at Wimbledon.  After the Grand Old Duke of York, that the last place any young society girl should want to go.

Got back early to the boat.  I’m sure I saw someone getting off the back.  ‘Engineer’, mutters Brenda and I will have to wait for a shower as she needs one and to change her underwear.  I stay alert whilst watching the daily Corona Lies.  The one in the middle says he is Raab which I think is an anagram for Really Arrogant Angry B***.  Anyway, he explains they has been a cock-up in the numbering of cases and unfortunate deaths.  How many fortunate deaths they do not say.  Anyway, the cock-up has nothing to do with Boris this time but it seems the slides have been put into the machine each day upside-down.  Therefore, the cases and deceased are increasing not decreasing but we can go on relaxing things provided we remain ‘Alert’; something I am always good at.

Whilst waiting for the shower I watch some live sport on TV, gosh I have missed Liverpool not winning the Premership.  Such a pity.  I had a small drink in my Manchester United mug.  This pandemic is a severe way to stop them winning but if needs must.  The sport is table-tennis and you can bet on who wins, how many wiffs and how many waffs per game plus a dozen more technicalities to help the time pass.  It seems that nice Mr Hill needs the income, Monte Carlo being so expensive.  I put the housekeeping on the Chinese man who goes a couple of rallies up, but then starts coughing and falls to the floor in a collapse.  The small fat English guy wins at odds of 100 to 1.  The invalid when fit was five to one on and so Mr Hill has enough money to continue his isolation in Monte.  We will have to make do with tinned tuna and out-of-date pasta.  Explained to Brenda it was her fault for keeping me waiting for a shower – does not go down well.


You can now go fishing which I always thought I was too cheerful to take part in, as most fishermen I have roared past in the boat, have been bar stewards.  Still we must do what we are allowed to do and Brenda issues me with a stick, a piece of string and a coat hook and tells me not to be back before dark.  She would have given me bread for bait and my tea, but I lost all our money on the Chinese man.  Who it appears, died not of the virus but of exhaustion.  Sat for hours by the water dangling my hook but to no effect.  Fish kept jumping out of the water, smiling at me and disappearing.  It was getting damn cold but fortunately some local idiot has set fire to the nearby 5G telecoms mast and that kept me quite warm.  He was an idiot because everyone knows that it was the 2G masts that spread the virus, the 5G masts are shielded.

Rang Brenda who said it was safe to come home.  I think she meant that the boat was not sinking.  I stay Alert.

I mention sex to Brenda, but she says the Dutch Government has said that you should only have sex with one person during the lockdown.  I’m confused I only wanted sex with one person.  Haven’t the energy for anymore participants.

The Donald has stated the virus is no more important than the influenza virus and so we shouldn’t worry.  Meanwhile the newspapers report more shocking details of the virus thus selling even more papers.  It appears the illness gives you scarring on lung tissue which can stay with you for the rest of your life leaving you breathless  It also gives you sticky blood which can cause blood clots thus can killing you instantly.  Glad its all over and we can retreat to worrying about having a cold.

The lectern politician is the blank faced one with the curly hair and a faint grasp on reality.  He says that decisions on which country has handled the pandemic best must wait until it is all over.


Now last week, you could not go out on your boat except for essential requirements, which means that the boat which came and moored behind us during the lockdown was essential.  Essential I was annoyed, obviously.  The towpath was open to all.  On average only a yard and a half wide the towpath contained walkers puffing by, joggers gasping, whilst spitting on the ground, cyclists whizzing by at great speed shouting for everyone to get out of the way.  Ignore closed areas, the most dangerous area was a canal towpath.  Meanwhile the wide expanse of water remained empty, the water undisturbed, not a boat in sight. The Canal and River Trust must have read my previous diary because they published a poster reading, ‘Limit your use of the towpath’.  That will solve the problem of overcrowded towpaths.  They have also issued new instructions that boaters can make small cruises of the canals provided they do not touch a lock.  There are those who say CRT has not touched a lock since its conception, but that is unkind.  I know of a couple of locks that are still in working order.

Brenda decides we should go for a cruise around one of the canal loops and laugh at the new modern housing.  They are prefabricated construction built on a concrete base beneath a CRT dam.  £250,000 gets you a concrete cube with a metre square garden.  Might just stay with the boat.

On the way Brenda shouts ‘Drop me off, there’s an old friend, you can pick me up on the way back.’  I see only an RAF blazer and beret with the whiff of Old Spice in the air.  I glide the boat to the bank, skilfully drop her off and stay alert.


Bad night couldn’t sleep.  We have had a family of Canada Geese produce in Gas Street Basin and the honking keeps me awake.  Also, Brenda was sawing wood which I thought was a bit inconsiderate so late at night.  So, dozing on the sofa I missed the Coronavirus update/lies.  I expect things are improving all the time, cases down, deaths down, correct decisions made at the right time by a dynamic government lead by science.  Wonder if Boris is the first honest politician since he has openly kept a mistress in a Downing Street flat.  Harold Macmillan kept his in St Johns Wood, Harold Wilson may or may not have kept his in the office. Ted Heath played the piano celibately – know how he felt.

Doze to the soothing smell of Old Spice - still alert.


Tomorrow the shops are open.  No one can go inside and nothing can be bought, but they are all open except those that are in shopping centres behind locked gates and those who have gone belly-up during the crisis.  That is the pandemic crisis not the ones who went belly-up during the financial crisis.  Jet2Com has actually put the complete refund of our airfares into our bank account.  Well done them in obeying the law.  Ryanair says it will take six months to complete but then only masochists travel Ryanair so they will probably enjoy the pain.  The hotel in Florence has given us a credit note until May 21 which should just be in time for the second peak.  Instead of going to Florence we ate M&S Italian food and I posed for Brenda in my ‘Statue of David’ pose. So, the best of all worlds.  No foreigners, proper traditional English food from M&S and one of the finest art works for Brenda to admire.  Although she is seeing an equal amount of her old RAF friend whose perfume lingers over the mooring like the threat of a CRT eviction.

We are due to go on a Black Sea Cruise at the end of July.  It will probable go ahead if there any Americans left alive and it will probably not be able to dock anywhere.  The Travel Insurance will cost more than the cruise and the small print will be longer than the itinerary.  Might get Brenda to take her RAF friend provided he stays alert. Brenda says she is not wearing any underwear.

Hang on, I have just started coughing, can’t breathe, pain in my muscles – I’ve caught the virus.  Boris, you Cretin you stopped the lockdown too early.

Bye folks.

a week in the life of…

one week in the life of Devid Scowcrovich

week two in lockdown - hypochondria?

(This diary may contain items some readers may find distressing but no scenes of a sexual nature – unfortunately.)


Thank the Gods that I am not a hypochondriac in these boring, tormented days of virus lockdown it would be a real misery for my wife, Brenda.  I do have an itchy scalp though - just the odd bit of scratching seems to ease the irritation.  My eyes have started to weep a little, mostly it’s watching Brenda having money in her bank account and no shops to spend, spend, spend.  I think one of my eyelids is beginning to swell, but the floaters in my eyes can only be seen when I read.  It is difficult to read since my eyebrows now hang over my eyes.

I managed to take the skin off part of my forehead when photographing some goslings by the lock side.  I knew the blasted metal sign was there, it’s one of the innumerable signs the waterway authorities have placed on the canal system to state the bleeding obvious or give out useless information pontificating on how marvellous they are.  Bang, no bruise, just loss of skin Brenda says, but I’m not sure.  Despite government warning I keep feeling the scab.

cake & chocolatesNicked my nose when shaving the other day; got a graze that won’t go away, and my teeth have started to itch and my lips flake.  There are no dentists, that I know of, operating – bunch of snowflakes scared they are going to catch something.  My headaches are getting a bit worse - perhaps a diabetic reaction to the box of chocolates I munch through before Brenda gets up.  Must hide the wrappers to avoid a nagging.  Need some time now to clear the wax out of my ears as they are beginning to feel blocked.  My hands have arthritis and tremble although my hips only give trouble when I go to bed, which is late because of Restless Leg Syndrome, Brenda says if it gets any worse, I will have to sleep on the roof.

After 15 minutes standing, managed a pee but anything solid will have to wait a week or two longer.

Still once I have taken my ten morning pills and my insulin injection I can rise from the sofa without much groaning and screaming because of my painful knees.


There’s a pain that’s never spoken, it’s in my neck forcing the head downwards.  From time to time the bones crick and snap.  It’s never mentioned because I think it is serious and may need a brace but us men are accustomed to putting up with pain.  No need to bother the doctor at a time like this.  The last time I reported the discomfort they put me in one of those claustrophobic magnetic tubes and played Radio One to me.  I think it was not so much to check the bone structure but to discourage me from complaining to the NHS heroes.

My shoulders have started to ache, a sort of muscle problem or the bone shrinkage.  Hope it’s not Multiple Sclerosis (a terrible disease), still that professor bloke managed a long life and the woman on Neighbours has it but you would not know from her actions, only the actors keep mentioning it; something I never do.

My forehead scrape is beginning to weep a little. Brenda says it might need a dab with TCP, but she is not a nurse and didn’t really mean it when she promised ‘through sickness and in health’.  The headaches are a little worse although I have swapped the morning chocolate scoff for a litre of healthy apple juice.  My nose is beginning to peel from the nick, doubt it will go gangrenous, Brenda says any look is an improvement. Having to keep blowing out my ears as if on an aircraft and rubbing the orifices hard to get some relief, nothing new there.

There is a definite pang of pain in my bottom left tooth – the one on the right is fine.

Have decided to keep a stock of prescription pills on the sofa with me to save neighbours from the noise when I try to get up.


My armpits feel as if they are on fire and I’m sure there are bumps under the skin, gave them a good dousing with bleach - you can now get a particularly thick version called ‘Donald’.  According to the internet, the lumps are probably lymph nodes reacting to my various allergies.  Brenda says it might help if I start to wash, but why start now.  I think after 70 years you get a strong anti-germ covering to the skin.  My chest is fine (I had a girlfriend like that once) just the occasional wheezing and, of course, I spend the first couple of hours coughing up phlegm.  Good clean grey stuff, nothing of medical importance.

There are bits of fatty tissue hanging from my body like globular spheres on a skinny extension.  I suspect long-term cancer, although a friend said they were just fat lumps of no concern.  It seems they can be made to drop-off if tied-up with cotton strangulation. Brenda has offered, starting with my neck for some reason.

May be running out of insulin there are only six boxes in the fridge – try not to worry, Donald says you can have too much of medical science.

There is little skin left on my forehead and the weeping hole seems to be getting deeper.  I no longer have a nose as far as I can see, which is not very well.  I expect it is cataracts which can be cleared once the 1.5 million NHS backlog is despatched.  I am now fairly deaf, particularly in the female octave and I am sure some yellow puss is starting to seep-out, but I can’t reach it for the pain in my shoulders.  The tremor means I spill most of my drink.

The neck pain is starting to keep me prone on the sofa clutching my remaining syringes of insulin.


Stomachs can be a problem.  Some say backs are tricky, but I’ve solved my back with a brace, stomachs are always a worry.  Is it ulcers, which you can get from stress and worry?  So, I try not to worry about the ulcers or stomach cancer but being sick in the morning out of the side hatch is not a good look.  I did report the problem to the doctor before the pandemic.  She sent me to a private hospital to have a TV camera pushed down and have a good look around.  The specialist said he could see nothing, so there was nothing to do but put a TV camera up my bottom.  It was all on BBC Two, therefore I have no need to relate what happened.  Bowel cancer can be expected.

The forehead problem has joined with the itchy scalp. Took wifely advice and gave it all a good scrub.  I will unblock the drain once I can rise from the sofa.  The two plastic straws I now have for a nose, work well, but they were not easy to find due to all the bars being closed and concern for the environment – not much on the news about that now.

Washed out my ears with a good solution of ‘Donald’ but not sure it has done any good; the discharge is now blue not yellow is that good?

The tooth that was giving me bother has dropped out, so it is only the rotting gums I need concern myself with now.  My chapped lips look like I have had a silicone implant, I have that ‘Trout’ look of an aging glamour girl.  If there is a bone in my body not aching, I am not sure where it is.  Brenda says no sex until I stop shaking.

Started to take Iron, Zinc, Magnesium and Phosphorous tablets in case I get the virus, but I must be careful when near magnets.  I am not convinced that Brenda is taking my symptoms and aches seriously: she says when the sun comes out, they will all clear away.  She has taken to spending long periods walking the moorings for ‘exercise’.


When I was a child, in the days of rickets, and old men hit you with a newspaper if you made any insightful comments, my Mother took me to the aged doctor.  I had stabbing pains in all my muscles as if someone had a voodoo doll of me.  He sagely diagnosed ‘Growing Pains’.  I must still be growing, particularly in the thighs.

My head now looks as if I am auditioning for The Elephant man, I am blind, deaf and can only smell plastic.  The lumps in my armpits are now melons – which is good for you cannot get them in Marks and Spencer.  My chest and stomach have combined churning, but I am saving a fortune on food.  I can still manage some of that delicious packet soup, I hope I don’t catch the virus as it is reported you lose your sense of taste.

Mental health is now a great worry in the world.  In the days of being hit over the head with a rolled-up newspaper such things were never discussed.  Although I once heard my Mother say I was ‘soft in the head’.  It was a pleasant refrain from the usual ‘I’ll swing for you one day’.  She will be glad they have abolished Capital Punishment although ‘I’ll be put in prison for you one day’ does not have the same affect.  So, thanks to mother love and help from working-class newspaper readers I remain clear of mind and optimistic.

It is some concern that the muscle pain, which seems as if someone is stabbing me with a pin, only occurs when Brenda is onboard the boat.


The Army sends me a War Disability pension for my damaged feet.  Running in boots has fused the main toe joints resulting in severe pain particularly during cold weather.  There is also nerve damage across the toes which means writhing pain across the toes.  Please don’t feel sorry for this war hero, whenever I am in pain, I ask Brenda how much they send each month and it eases the pain.

Unlike my head which has taken to prolonged bouts of throbbing.  I have given up eating which is good news as I have run out of insulin.  For some reason Brenda entirely forgets to pack my insulin when we go away.  On one occasion after confirming with her that we had the insulin – twice – she forgot the needles!  I am sure it is because she is getting forgetful in her old age.  Although she is still a young girl in my eyes (she does read my diary).

The shaking is very bad particularly when Brenda appears.


Alright we are going to have to discuss it.  There is no feeling in the genital area, no sense of pleasure, nor arousal, not even when I watch cartoons of Jessica Rabbit.  Brenda claimed that age has made no difference and that ‘things’ had always been like that.  I insisted on seeing a doctor because I do remember, I’m sure, the odd twinge behind the NAAFI.  I was given these blue pills to take one hour before sex.  The Doc did not solve the problem of whether you find a sexual partner and wait an hour or take a pill and chance your luck.  The pills, however, give me agonising neck ache and wipe me out entirely for the next day.  Complained to the doctor but she said that I had just described the main side effects of Viagra. So, the answer?  I asked.  Well, she said you have to decide if sex with your chosen partner was worth the pain.  That sums up life, I think.

Someone kind person asked me the other day how I was.  ‘Doing great’ I declared.  As you do.

east end canal tales

the story of the east end canal

east end canal tales by carolyn clark

The East End Canal Tales weaves the memories of over 50 local residents together with historical accounts to tell of intriguing, humorous, moving and often surprising stories of life and work on the Regent’s and Hertford Union Canals over two centuries.

A fascinating insight into the social history of the canals of East London, and the people who lived and worked beside them. The book is not about boating but the way in which local people interacted with the canal - sometimes in a less-than-commendable way, and how the canal had an impact on the lives of ordinary people in the mid 20th Century. It is an unusual book, covering an under-reported part of London's canal story.

The book is published this month by London Canal Museum as part of the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Regent’s Canal.

The East End Canal Tales is lavishly illustrated with over 130 photographs, many never published before, and three maps.

Read about canal trades of coal and manure and canal-side industries ranging from timber and metalworks to ice and chocolate. Learn about the canal’s role in what was the equivalent of the Victorian internet. Relive childhood memories of diving from ‘the pipe’ and being chased by the ‘cut runners’. Join the villains’ search for the holy grail of a gold cargo. Find out what happened in the old buildings which you can still find along the canal banks and what it was like to work on the Cut.

Lonely Planet London says: ‘Pick up a copy of the museum’s newly published The East End Canal Tales by Carolyn Clark to sail through the canal’s and its industries' fascinating history, meeting a colourful cast of characters who lived and worked on them along the way. Bon voyage!’

The East End Canal Tales is written by Carolyn Clark, author of The Shoreditch Tales and The Lower Clapton Tales.

The East End Canal Tales is on sale at the London Canal Museum, local bookshops including Brick Lane Books, Broadway Books and Pages of Hackney as well as on-line.

​For further information:

Press contact: Carolyn Clark
Phone number: 07773 784 517
Email: carolynclark10@aol.com