Third Law Part 10 – The Boat

Sometimes I practice the third law whilst wearing earphones and listening to music instead of surfing. It’s difficult to know whether this is a genuine alternative. I suspect not but sometimes there is no choice and on a boat in the Mersey estuary heading for the Isle of Man I am in one of those ongoing “no option” situations. No cellular signal = no internet access.

Actually this may not be entirely true but if such a connection exists it is almost certainly diminishing and a drain on the laptop battery which, in the absence of a power point, I need to last the whole journey.

You will have instantly noted that I am on the way to the Isle of Man. This is an annual pilgrimage to see my mam and dad for Easter. We do see them at other times of the year but usually it is on the mainland. The ferry journey to Douglas is not only expensive – knocking on £500 for the car and six of us, but also a full  day’s journey as we have to drive over to Liverpool to catch it.

In going to the Isle of Man there is an element of going back in time. This is partly due to the quaint olde worlde aspect of the place and partly down to my rule of going offline when on holiday. No twitter, no email, no Google+, Facebook or any other online destination guaranteed to prove the Third Law without a shadow of a doubt.

I like to describe this as the process of going offline and re-entering or reengaging with society. You have heard about the fact that every cigarette you smoke knocks an hour off your life (or whatever the factoid is).  Well every week you stay offline lengthens your life by a month, or certainly appears to and it is often the appearance that matters, to some people anyway.

I’m not big on appearance, being a bit of an internet dweller where such things are either irrelevant or can easily be manipulated according to your choice of profile picture. It is difficult then to modify this practice when it comes to real offline behaviour. That’s why I like to spend some downtime in places like the Morning Star of the Strugglers where nobody really gives a toss about what you wear. Afaik.  At least when they mention my shorts or loud shirt they don’t do it in a derogatory way, I think.

It’s hot on this boat. I have discarded coat, fleece and shirt. Before you start to get worried I should hurriedly mention that I am still wearing a tshirt. It’s my red “Training” tshirt purchased from LA Fitness, Newark’s small clothing and accessories display. I guess most people buy stuff to train in.

I bought it because I had caught the first train back from London having spent an unplanned night there. The previous day I had been about to enter the gym when the phone rang. To cut a long story short it was a chap called Keith who I proceeded to meet that night in a pub in Kings Cross and then to whom I offered a job.

I can’t remember where I stayed that night. Perhaps with my sister in Balham but perhaps not. Anyway I didn’t have any clean clothes to change into the next day. When the train arrived in Newark I got off and went to LA Fitnes for a shower and purchased an outfit there.

I like that sort of spontaneity. We don’t do enough of it. So anyway that’s where I got this shirt from and I am wearing it now much to everyone’s relief I’m sure. It’s funny how a shirt can be the source of such relief. One can imagine the whole of the Niarbyl Lounge letting out a big sigh of relief as they realised “there was another layer”. They are a discerning lot the occupants of the Niarbyl Lounge. They have all paid three quid each to reserve a seat there and every conversation is conducted in hushed tones. We are a very refined.

Not as refined as those in the Mannanan Premier Lounge where people have paid an extra eighteen quid for the privilege of free cups of tea and coffee and the personal service of an attendant. There being six of us I didn’t fancy forking out an additional two hundred of her majesty’s best spondooliks  for the round trip.  We did at one time travel first class but then they introduced the “no kids under the age of eight” rule which annoyed me no end. Now that we have no family member in that category it is expedient not to fork out the extra cash in anycase.

For those of you that have not yet experienced it they get more expensive as they get older. On a logarithmic scale I believe. If you don’t know what I’m talking about google it. Logarithmic that is – I doubt google search is intelligent enough to understand the finer points of the growing cost of kids as they progress through their education.

It’s almost dark out there now. According to the skipper we are approximately half way, at least that’s what he said over the tannoy a few minutes ago. I call him skipper because I can’t remember his name. He must have told us. They normally do when telling us the ship is about to depart and run through the safety procedures etc.

I am, if you haven’t already spotted it, admitting that I didn’t listen to the safety announcement. I was listening to 10cc on my laptop. Not good, not responsible, I know but there you have it.  My interest in 10ccwas rekindled a few years ago when I was out and about in Cambridge with Terry. We were on our way to or fifth or sixth pub, can’t remember exactly, when we came across a poster at the Corn Exchange in the middle of town.  The poster said “10cc on tour”. Bugger me if they weren’t playing in Cambridge that night.

In we walked and they let us in free of charge – there was only half an hour or so of the gig left. The great thing of course is that bands reserve their best songs for the last half an hour and there we were: Dreadlock Holiday, I’m Not In Love, Rubber Bullets etc etc. I was in heaven. All my childhood favourites. What a night.

At this time I must point out that the sum total of all my favourite songs of youth were not just those produced by 10cc. There are others, but you understood I’m sure. The list is in fact a long one and one that I revisited and spent a small fortune acquiring digital versions of in advance of my 50th birthday beach party last December.

In my ears at this very moment is Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.  One of the greats.  I remember the DJ at a school disco telling us it wasn’t really a dance track but he played it for us anyway – we were, after all, the customers.

Anyway back to the safety announcement. If you are reading this it means I must have survived the trip to post it so all’s well that ends well eh? Said with a slightly impish grin on my face suggesting I thought I had been a very slightly naughty boy but got away with itJ

The main cabin of the ship is downstairs from where we are by the way. Noisy and full of kids under eight. Let’s move on.

Brief intermission

During that barely perceptible interval the Davies boys headed out on deck. It was v windy and there were some lads there having an illicit cigarette. Preferring not to die of passive smoking and having emitted a loud fart which we all know can be highly dangerous in the presence of a naked flame, we withdrew to the safety of the bar where we purchased some cold diet cokes for our refreshment. At the same time, John, the youngest of our party, returned from the ship shop (and Bristol fashion – sorry had to get that one in) with a large bag of M&Ms which he generously shared around.

We hung around the bar, as boys do, swapping stories and generally enjoying a bit of banter. Later, drinks consumed and with no mutual desire to prolong the session, we returned to the Niarbyl Lounge and safety. The bar was in any case about to close as re were about to enter Manx territorial waters. At least I think that’s the reason it shut – they weren’t very specific when they made the announcement. Sounds good anyway if possibly totally off the mark. It clearly can’t have been the skipper because I’m sure he would never have made an announcement that left its audience still asking questions. I’m happy with my thought process – I wouldn’t want to be driving off the boat with doubts in my mind as to the reasons the bar shut. It would be a huge waste of some brain processing cycles that could have been applied to the creation of the most famous poem that was ever written

Probably not. Driving a car is no the best environment for writing good poetry, especially in the dark and even though I know the road very well.

It has changed a bit over the years mind you, the road that is. That’s progress, evolution even. The addition of a traffic light or two is evolution. It’s the road adapting to traffic usage patterns, assisted no doubt by the fine men of the Douglas Corporation. I assume they are men though I dod see a female civil engineer a few years back. She was in charge of a gang of men lifting the new Peel Marina bridge into place. Very exciting it was. We stood there for ages watching the crane work its magic.

Waaaa, one time, head nods rapidly up and down. The music is taking over and the ship is coming into harbour. That’s what I call the third law in action – offline mode.

3rd law part 9 here 

3rd Law part 11 here