There are three black Labradors at the marina tonight. A mum, and her two growing puppies who are staying in the family. Full of vim, when I said hello, they pulled their master to the ground. His wife came out of the loo, and we bonded as dog lovers do, so that at the end of several minutes, I knew the dogs’ names, but not the humans. The adult dog is used to river cruising, but for the two youngsters, tomorrow will be their first time. I may have to watch them set off.
The people on the boat next to mine were struggling with flat batteries. We chatted and as they were asking about my boat, I gave them the guided tour. It was nice to see it through their eyes. They seemed impressed. They also have the same problem with the vinyl lining as I have.
Eventually I stowed my stuff away, ran the engine for fifteen minutes to ensure hot water; removed and shook the dust covers; wiped away the spider poo; used the vacuum cleaner and upset the resident insects and arachnids.
Then it was time to get down to the main reason I had come East. An afternoon of washing the roof of the boat, and scraping away things that had started to grow on the foredeck, left me satisfiedith my efforts, but tired. The boat’s blue front cover is increasingly green, but it will have to wait until morning. A hot shower and a good meal did much to restore me, so then I thought I watch a programme I had downloaded to the iPad.
It seemed a good idea at the time. I was watching something else, and as I don`t have any advanced technology at home that always me to record programmes to see later, I tend to rely on the different channels’ services.
The programme was Stammer School on Channel 4. Maybe you saw it. It followed three people with stammers through a four day course in Croydon where they found their voices. There were lots of tears. And not just on the screen. A few minutes in, I fished a tissue out of my pocket and blew my nose; hard.
One young woman had had a stroke at the age of twenty-five due to a condition called HHT. Another had stammered since she was four years old. The third, a teenager, came to fame in the television series Educating Yorkshire last year. His stammer was so severe he typed what he wanted to say. I went into the aft cabin and took a couple of tissues from the box.
His ambition to be a teacher seemed as likely to be realised as the moon turning out to be made of blue cheese.
Vicky, the woman who had suffered a stroke went into a wine bar and announced her problem and her name to a room full of strangers. Time for another handful of tissues.
At the end of four days each gave a speech in front of the friends and relatives of everyone on the course. By this time I had my box of tissues beside me.
Cynically, I wondered how long lasting the effects would be, and whether within a short time of leaving the course their problems would remain.
But there was follow up. Vicky was shown addressing a huge number of people as she fundraised for HHT.
Debbie had the birthday party she had cancelled because she didn’t think she’d be able to speak. She had also been promoted, and her smile had a thousand watt quality.
But most amazingly, Musharaf is back at school, doing work experience as his ambition becomes reality. He was smiling and confident with a group of year 7 or 8 pupils. His old teacher, whom he had thanked earlier for his encouragement and belief, beamed quietly and proudly, and said words to the effect that as a teacher, the best thing is to see a pupil you have taught doing well. Hear hear.
There’s a twin pack of tissues in the boot of the car. But I wish the munchkin boy were here so that I could have a cuddle and bury my face in his fur for while.