THE BARGE WAS MOVED YESTERDAY.
Yes, the Barge sailed off yesterday. You could tell fate was slightly against us when Mark Tam, co-owner of Catch22, called me to say he had arrived at the yard gate but had forgotten the key to the padlock. By luck, my meeting in Plymouth had ended early and I was back in Starcross sending emails. I managed to fight through three sets of traffic works to get to them with the key. Once in the fun and games began.
The Marine engineer, a Cornish man, who had been collected that morning from the pub, was already downing another can of lager to hone his concentration. Mad Dog, the Irish singer, who had recently been checked out by the river police on Drakes Island at 3am with Mark, along with an exotic dancer and two transvestites, was sorting the ropes. Mark, the Welshman, was in charge of the steering because he had paddled a canoe in the distant past. The Marine Engineer, who, with can in hand announced, “We got an Irishman, a Welshman and a Cornishman – what could go wrong?”
Well it kind of went alright until I remembered the chain and lock was on the dash of the barge. So I had to run the canal shouting at them which they could not hear over the engine noise. The chain was finally hurled and caught but the lock was thrown by the Marine Engineer, who was glowing with lager-happiness, and disappeared into the undergrowth and is still missing. Now under way it appeared all this was behind us.
Enter Exeter Council.
Or rather, a non entry. After evicting us from the canal against their previous agreement, they lie and lie and lie; they had then decided not to open the bridge and not let us out. This was the word from one of the canal workers who believes he is the god-of-the-canal. So I contacted their legal team who wanted us out, but unfortunately every manager was at a team building exercise and could not be reached to tell the god-of-the-canal to get his hairy butt down to let us out. The outcome? We reached Topsham footbridge and could go no further. Bloody embarrassing for them and maddening for us. I will be putting a you-tube link to the blog showing footage of it all when I have time. But as a foot note, if Exeter Council ever want you to do something, just go along with it and they will fight to stop you doing what they wanted you to do in the first place.