Saturday, 25 April 2015

To vote or not to vote……

…….that is the dilemma facing every adult in the country who has the right to elect our government. Russell Brand (who?) says we should not vote. Well he is entitled to his opinion, but is that good advice? Should Brand use his celebrity as a public buffoon to advise the rest of the country what to do with their blood stained ‘right to vote’?

I say blood stained right to vote because once upon a time the only people who could vote were landowners and then not all of them. In order for ordinary people to get that right blood was shed and more than just a little. People died because they believed that every man in the country had a right to have a part in deciding the future of this country. A right to democracy.

These days its a bit moot point. The wealthy control everything. However like all things that we fight for we must stick with it. If we lose it now our great grandchildren will have to fight for it all over again. More than enough blood has been spilt on this.

Back on track Russell Brand is wrong! He is not only wrong but he is getting you to play into the hands of the politico’s who are quite happy that there are 7.5 million eligible adults in this country who cant vote because they couldn’t be bothered to register. Indeed the law has been changed to make it easier for apathy to rule the process. It was once the duty of the householder to register the household members. Now it is each individuals duty. Is this important? Yes it is. In 2010 there were only 6 million eligible people who failed to register, so there has been a 1.5 million increase in the numbers that wont be able to vote. this year. 7,500,000 people who the parties do not have to consider.

Add to that those who have registered and wont vote because the parties are not talking to them and people who just can’t be assed to take a few minutes out of their lives and walk down to the Polling Station. People who  don’t vote don’t get counted. Yes the government know how many but they have not made a statement of their wishes. Russell Brand and his puppet masters know this is the case. If you say nothing you get nothing because you can’t be heard.

So how can you make your vote count? It is vitally important that we all make some effort to understand the issues that will affect us and come to some decision that will, if not right, we can live with.

There are countries that have a ‘None of the above’ option on the ballot paper. This would be a good thing for us to have because I think more people would come out to vote.

Have you ever taken any real notice of the results? There is always one score that is not on the ballot paper.

Conseratives  XXXXXXXX
Labour             XXXXXXXX
Lib/dems        XXXXXXXX
Greens             XXXXXXXX

Spoilt Papers  XXXXXXXX

That’s the one Spoilt Papers. A spoiled paper is not a no vote. A spoiled paper says “we are not happy with the system”, it says, “we are not happy with the people on offer”, and it says, “we are not happy with the policies”. It also says “we came out to let you know we are not happy with the way you run things”.

What it doesn’t say is we are apathetic, we don’t care enough to vote, or Eastenders is getting really exciting.

The spoiled paper was advocated by the suffragettes. You may have heard of them, they were some of the people who shed their blood so you could have the right to vote. Lives were lost!

If you don’t think the parties or the policies are going to work for you please DO NOT vote for the man who will fuck you up the least. That is acceptance of this crazy system and that is not acceptable!

I don’t care who you vote for, I don’t care if you spoil your paper, I do care that you make the effort to go down to the polling station and pay your respects to honour those who lost their lives fighting for your right to VOTE! Anything less is shameful.

Don’t let me down!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

This has to stop

Yesterday a boater, who was having a serious medical problem, was being wheeled along the towpath in London. The ambulance crew who attended were also carrying their equipment back to the ambulance. You can imagine a worrisome time for all. Cue the CCC (Crazy Commuter Cyclist). The cyclists, obviously more important than a medical emergency, expected the medics to move out of their way, which only goes to prove that you can stick a daffodil in an arsehole but it will never be a vase.

I know not all cyclists are like this, but it only takes on bad apple to rot the barrel.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

If you walk into a pub and shout Steve half a dozen may say “yes”, If you walk into a pub and shout Maffi people will say “Oh (bloody hell) is he here.” I like that!

Isn’t it amazing. One thing you know for sure, with me you get ME. What ever I write I use the name everyone knows me by Maffi and there is a picture of my ugly mug There is often a picture of my boat (blog, FB etc). If you see me out and about you know who I am. I do not hide behind pictures of dogs, cats, flowers etc. Everyone on the canal I have met or had some interchange on the net knows me as Maffi. Few know me as Stephen Russell. I don’t hide the name my family know me by. They know who Maffi is it is not a problem. P1010050

Why Maffi? Its not difficult. I wanted to call my boat No Problem but there are six of those so I thought to call it No Problem in another language. Well at the time I was deciding I was in Saudi Arabia. So I chose Maffi Mushkila which is more or less No Problem.

When the CWDF started up in 2004 I signed up as my proposed boat name Maffi Mushkilla Lots of people do it. I was member No 37. I never expected people to call me Maffi, but when it happened I thought I would stick with it. My blog became Aardvarks & Maffi’s Boat. Aardvarks is plural Maffi’s is possessive. Most people don’t see that. I am often asked, “Who is Aardvark.” Aardvark because it is at the top of the alphabetical list and usually comes first on search engines. It’s all about selling me.

A couple of years later when my boat was finished I returned home. So there I was on my boat meeting people who only knew me as Maffi. Do I tell them otherwise or leave it as it was. I decided to leave it. Not one of the thousands of people who knew me on CWDF or the thousands who watched my boat being built on the net knew Stephen. So why change it? The reason my boat is called Milly M and not Maffi Mushkila is because I really didn’t feel like remembering my time in Saudi with such a huge reminder (the name on my boat is quite big even now).

I never hide who I really am, all people have to do is ask and I will tell them about me. About Sherwood Park School,  Rowan Secondary, Tamworth High, my family, my 25 years in the RAF my experiences getting robbed of a shed load of money by the fecking Arabs I worked for. I don’t need much to switch me on.

Of course I much prefer these days to be Maffi the writer. I have been published in a few magazines, I have written a pile of poetry, song lyrics, short stories, a play and I am working on a TV series (its not going well) and am working on a couple of books. When I get bored with one I do some work on the other.

I have 3 daughters and one son the three daughters have produced 6 grandkids 1 boy the rest girls. My dog is Molly. My boat, The Milly M, is named after my mother, now deceased. My father has been gone about 25 years. I am an orphan! Boo! Hoo!

Most of the rest is boring I have never been arrested although there was an incident with a gun back in the nineties but I was only doing my job so said my boss and my Group Captain. The Provost were livid but I was fire proof, and any way no one died. After leaving the RAF I worked mostly in the Middle East Oman, Kuwait, Saudi see here.

I am probably one of the most boring people you will ever meet, but I do have manners. I am a good writer, but I am lazy so I don’t push myself. This is why I am not widely published. If I correct you spelling/grammar don’t be offended I just cant stop myself. It would be easier to stop breathing. If you see me turning blue it means I am holding back.

I am not ashamed of who I am or what I have done in my life, that’s for you to worry about you paid me to do it.

I am writing this because there are a lot of people on the water today who don’t know this stuff.

Of course there are people who pick up on the fact that I use another name, but then so did George Orwell, George Elliot, Mark Twain, there is a long list. Who knows  Robert Allen Zimmerman, (Bob Dylan).  Harry Webb (Cliff Richards). Did you know that Henry Deutchendorf was once the highest paid performer in the USA? You of course would know him as John Denver. There is no shame in reinventing yourself as you see I am not the first and I certainly wont be the last.

Do not accuse me of being false or hiding because that is not the case. If I write something you have a name and a picture always! Its not a picture of a dog/cat/horse etc its me. When you see my boat you will see me on it. In the nine years I have been aboard I have only stayed off it for little over one month usually just two days at a time. If you have met me you will know I am straight (no not that straight). I like a laugh and a pint, and I love to be in company. I love to help people. When it comes to the internet I  am so transparent.

Of course others are not so transparent. They are a pain in the anonymous!

Sunday, 19 April 2015


What we seem to forget here is speeding is not just about rocking boats. Its about the canal , it’s about the wild life.

The Canal

High speed (breaking wash) causes a disproportionate amount of damage (bank erosion) than slower speeds (no breaking wash). 4 mph is a maximum not a must. On wider canals that's fine, on narrower canals 3 mph or less should be the order of the day.

Whether or not your wash breaks is not just down to the speed you normally do. As you travel along the width varies as does the depth. The narrower/shallower the canal the lower the speed at which your wash will break.

You may be travelling at a speed that doesn't break wash if you travel in the centre of the canal but if you meander to the side then your wash will break when it didn't whilst in the centre. This is because by moving closer to the bank you have effectively narrowed the canal on that side and of course the water is shallower closer to the edge.

Now there you are driving your boat keeping a good look out forward how can you be expected to see what is going on behind you? Well if you stopped steering your boat with your bum you might position yourself in such a way that you can easily look back from time to time to see what is happening with your wash and adjust accordingly (its part of being a good boater).

The Wildlife

More especially at this time of year many birds are nesting often at the waters edge. 4 mph can swamp a nest of eggs or drown chicks. You , therefore, are a murderer. Yes I know the canals were here before the wildlife but then the birds were here before you.

Not all fish manage to get out of the way of your propeller. I often see fish with a prop gash floating on the water. Some fish are shredded so finely by morons using too much power to move off or stop that the remains never get to float.

The Boats

Now when tied up my boat rarely moves (fore & aft) anyone wanting to see how this is done is welcome to stop on their way past and ask. But there are times when rings, bollards, or firm ground are not available. You can argue all you like about mooring on soft ground but at the end of the day some visitor moorings are posted where the towpath is soft (the 14 day moorings at Shipton are along a soft towpath). I don't give a monkeys what you think, or what common sense says, people moor where they feel its nice, where they feel they can enjoy the canal or the local pub or, provided you haven drowned them, the chicks.

The canals have changed their use, they are no longer a trade route, but a leisure park. They will never ever return to being a trade route however much the Greenies might want it. People come to the water for the peace and quiet. They come to slow down and chill. If you want to go racing around might I suggest you get a bus or hire a car. If you have to get somewhere in a hurry might I also suggest you get out of bed earlier (lets call it better planning). Whilst you are entitled to be on the water it would be much better if you paid attention to the environment and inhabitants of the canals and stopped abusing yourself with the tiller handle. Who knows you might even start to enjoy it!

Saturday, 18 April 2015

The Stag Night

It’s Friday and the quiet has gone. Our pleasant idyllic evenings have abated for the weekend and been replaced with the raucous rasp of inebriated stags each trying to out do the other in volume, whilst relating stories that only they think are funny and most think are untrue, unless they themselves were present at the event. Many an alcohol laden breath speaks of exploits past, of dangers long since filed in the ‘great day’ file in their booze sodden brains.

Like the day they were naked in the town fountain, or when they drove across a roundabout at the top of the main road leaving town for London, and left a hole through the bushes. “Another tray of shots please barman”, came a voice from a table across from the bar.

Mechanical laughter impregnates the walls and glues itself to the beams only to fall later as dust to the floor around us and seep into the grain of the oak boards never to be heard again. Slowly the evening's noise reaches a crescendo of deafening proportions. At it’s peak it levels for a while and then staggers, step by step, to a more moderate cacophony. Still finding its way to small peaks on its way to the end of the evening, but it never falls to a comfortable level until the door is shut. With the doors finally closed their noise dies out as they disappear along the tow path.

Back on the boat more laughter spills out on to the canal and bounces along disturbing only the light sleepers close by. The moon has fallen from the sky and the ISS passes overhead. One by one the revellers fall into bed and the boat falls silent save for the occasional banging of the hull against the concrete piling as everyone seems to turn in their beds at the same time gently rocking the boat.

Friday, 17 April 2015

A bunch o’fives.

Here at Thrupp we have some quality information boards.DSCF2790 Good info is always available even if not up to date.DSCF2791But be careful what you say or ya might get a punch from the puncher.DSCF2792 I think they meant puncture!

Thursday, 9 April 2015

The trouble with being me is…..

Many people would have a long list on this topic. Mine is relatively short. I am well aware what some of my peers think of me and I don’t really care. Those who mind don’t matter, those matter don’t mind! I am  sure I am a better person than they will ever be.

I am sure there are those, who read this ‘ere blog, who think they know me, they don’t. They have no idea.

I meet many people when I am out and about and even when I am stationary, like now. This is where I see ‘The trouble with being me’. I met  couple on Tuesday who knew me by name (this always surprises me) lovely people who hope I will meet again. I did ask how they managed to recognise me they pointed out that I was wearing as tee shirt with my name across the front (M*A*F*F*I) That’s the point, ‘The trouble with being me is my memory. I know they told me their names and the name of their boat, but unfortunately I don’t remember. We had a short chat, but I am currently doing some maintenance on the boat and was keen to get on. I am always pleased to meet people who know who I am though I do wonder why they read the blog.

This afternoon nb PIPER came past. One chap taking pictures of my boat. The chap on the tiller said, “Hello Maffi, how’s it going?”

‘Fine Sir how are you?’ (if I call you Sir it’s because I don’t know/remember your name)

I had no idea who they were and still only know the two chaps were brothers. Memory again! They stopped on the water point and we chatted for some while and tea was drunk.

I do meet lots of people and I really do love it that they know who I am, I’m nobody in particular, but they know and that makes my day. If I have met you this week it was nice to meet you all even if I don’t remember your names. I hope we meet again somewhere. Maybe we could talk about the trouble with being me!

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

South of Marston Doles

Apparently the farmer who owns this land never does anything by the book preferring instead to do it ‘his’ way. Obviously a class 1 Dickhead!

CRT are going to be pissed.

DSCF2720 DSCF2721  DSCF2722 DSCF2723 DSCF2724

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Big Business

I find it absolutely crazy that major Agricultural companies are threatening to sue if they don’t stop their petition to save the bees.

It doesn’t matter what the the natural world needs to survive big business thinks it takes precedence. This shows how corporatism has been allowed to grow unchecked. .

But the point is Big Business want to put on the market a product that will kill all the bees in the world. Bees are vitally important important to the survival of this planet and yet these people want to kill bees for a quick profit.

Western Governments are responsible for this situation. They have allowed Big Business to get too BIG!

Friday, 3 April 2015

Hello Paula

Arriving back at Thrupp late Thursday I met three people. Dan of nb Woodpecker, my old friend Martin the Farmer, and Paula who lives in Shipton. I did say to Paula I would give her a mention while I was away but failed mainly because on those occasions when I remembered I was in a bad signal area.


Wolverhampton Top

This litter bin is behind the wall at Wolverhampton Top Lock. You can just see the lock top left corner. It appears that some people miss the bin with their litter.DSCF2527 

What missed the litter bin was litter, but litter that never should have been there. This is from a boat, there are no houses close enough to warrant the walk.DSCF2528This is CAT LITTER! Some disgusting bastard thinks it is OK to dump their cat shit in litter bins.

This is happening more and more these days. Dirty people doing dirty things. Their parents are obviously the same and passed their dirty scumbag genes on to their dirty scumbag kids.

CAT LITTER goes in the boaters rubbish bins and like dog doo doo is double bagged! If you don’t understand You are not fit to have a cat!

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Fast food and bad service.

There I was in a well known fast food outlet. I had sat to ‘enjoy your  meal sir’ (I am not daft enough to believe this is a meal, its a hole filler). Any way a chap walked in with his bicycle. This is an odd thing to do, but it was a very expensive machine disc brakes and everything!

“Sorry sir you cant bring that in ‘ere,” said a 300 pound security guard.

“Sorry,” said the chap, “but I didn’t bring my lock,”

“You still can’t bring that in ‘ere.”

“It might get nicked outside.”

“Leave it outside the door.”

Now the security guy probably couldn’t have done anything to stop the chap if he chose to keep the bike with him. He was six foot seventeen, that was his thigh size.

Just thinking about running after a perp would have probably caused a severe bout of sitting down exhausted. I would hazard a guess he doesn’t have a direct visual relationship with his man bits and hasn’t for many years.

The chap took his bike outside and  watched painfully while waiting for the security guard’s doppelganger behind the counter to serve him.

The Security guy stood against a wall looking inwards paying no attention to the chaps bike.

Security people need to do a course on customer service. What man mountain should have done, given that it was a slack time, is to wait outside or very near the door being a guardian angel. But no after he stood for a bit he himself went to the counter  and ordered his lunch. The last thing he needed, at this point in time, was a Maccie D. A bottle of water would have done him more good!

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Do what!!!

Last Sunday I walked with Molly down the road from the Elephant & Castle into the ‘village’. There is a One-Stop and a Chippy. On through the housing estates and eventually I found myself at The Greyhound where I had a lunchtime pint and and chatted to Caroline a photographer.

On my way I observed this patch of grass between two houses. Its nowhere special.DSCF2649The leaves have been allowed to lay on the grass too long in places causing bare patches. There is a bit of litter, not much, and dare I say the dogs have left their mark.

What is surprising is the sign . DSCF2648 What kind of a council would fine a kid £500 for playing footy on a patch of grass. Vehicles I can understand maybe even cycles, but ball games! And worse still they have a law! We live in a world where faceless bureaucrats make laws against kids having fun! Where will it end!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015


There I was waiting at Great Haywood Lock waiting to take a picture. Before I could get the picture I wanted a green boat arrived, Tumbarumba, on board Julie and Brian who I last met at Great Heywood two years ago. Before that I met them at Newbold Tunnel down on the North Oxford and then 7 years ago at Brentford Reading Abingdon Thrupp. Cassie’s Dream. I met Smiffy and TG on Islonian at Atherstone, Fazeley. Fradley. Rugeley, GH. I met James nb Marquis at Fradley then again at Stone. I see Sue and Vic on No Problem in Thrupp and Gary and Della on nb Muleless and Del & Al on Derwent 6, Festina Liente, The Hunters nb Beefur. Tony and Jackie on Timewarp often appear as I am on my way around the canals. I saw nb Chalkhill Blue on the T&M at Fradely Nev on Percy. Mort Bones will be a lunch date in Brum. Barbara and Terry on nb Hakuna Matata invited me to dinner at the bottom of Atherstone. Ann and Keith on OAKFIELD are often visited in and around Braunston. 5G show up from time to time. Christine and Les and Jaq on VALERIE. These people and many, many more are friends.

Time for a cuppa or a beer or even dinner.  Its one of the joys of boating  you just never know who is around the next corner.

This is my Continuous Cruiser Community. We meet every so often be it days, weeks, months, or even years. As CCers this is what we like. To suggest that CRT are in any way trying to break up CCer communities is absolutely farcical. To do that they would have to catch us all together first and that never happens.

CCers move. We have a great life and enjoy our lives meeting old and new friends on our journey. If you want to stay where your ‘community’ is then you are not a CCer by any stretch of the imagination.To suggest you are is disrespectful to the rest of us. If you don’t move around then you are a Continuous Avoider. Live with that and stop fecking up every one else who will play by the rules.

And as for Regional CCers Pah!