In The Cradle of Your Warm Handshake: A Lifetime Dream Fulfilled And The Jobs That Made It Possible

August 26th, 2011

Marjorie King: It’s always been my dream to have a narrow boat, ‘cause when I was a child I grew up watching this TV program called Tales of The River Bank and it had animals, the hamster, and the badger, and the water rat! And they lived on the river bank, in model boats and the rat would drive them, and I just thought, ‘I want to live on the riverbank! I want to have that experience!’ And as I grew up I used to go a lot to Hackney Marshes which is on the River Lea. That was introduced to me when I was in school; we took a geography trip along the River Lea which was still used then as an industrial canal. There all the wood would come in and they’d saw it. They had the old saw mills there… Just industries that were still using the canal. That was when I was about 11, and I saw it and I thought, ‘Yeah!’ You didn’t see many boats, but you saw working boats on there. I always used to go back to that area, and it changed phenomenally, it’s a residential area now, all the factories had been knocked down and they built housing. But more and more narrow boats showed up and I used to think, ‘I really, really want to live on a narrow boat!’ 
A friend of mine came, she is not really a Buddhist but she encapsulated their philosophy, she’d say to me, ‘Marjorie, what do you want?’ ‘I want a narrow boat.’ ‘Yeah, but what size, how big, what color? Ask the universe what you want, be specific.’ I’d say, ‘I want a narrow boat because it’s time now. I’d like to have that experience of living on a river boat. I’ve been saving up some money. It’s affordable. And I’ve been doing some research.’ She’d say, ‘What is it that you want?’ ‘I said, ‘It has to be blue.’ ‘When do you want it?’ ‘I give myself till March 2011.’ This was about September time, and then I said, ‘Hang on a minute. I’ve been on a narrow boat before, and helped friends move in and I really liked it, but that was 25 years ago! I’m older now. Do I still like it?’
So I booked a holiday in Wales on the Llangollen Canal, in October when is cold, dump, gray, miserable, to experience it for a week. So I booked a 44-foot boat and I had my friend Kim and her boxer dog. He hated being on the boat and he used to run along the shore, got really fit, in whatever the weather was wind, rain. When it was sunny, which happened a few times, and it was cold, I loved it! I just thought, ‘This is really what I want! It’s fantastic! You can go wherever you want.’
You just put your moorings lines down, hook up, you have all the technology there so you can get radio, television if you wanted, access with your phone, and you’d go thru the countryside, meander at 4 miles an hour, which is like walking pace really, 4 miles it’s top speed, you don’t really go that fast, and it’s beautiful.
It’s really serene, it’s really relaxing.
‘Cause I work in a very high temper job where it’s always an emergency.
It’s a nice way to chill out, and relax. And also it’s a nice way to look at the scenery. ‘Cause everything is so fast when you drive on the motorway you don’t see anything, but here you can see the trees, as you pass them by, you can see them the other way, as you’re leaving them, and you get to see other boats, you get more an idea what you’re looking at. And after that week, ‘Yeah, I definitely want to get a boat!’
Then I spent another week, ‘cause it just so happened that my dad and my aunt had booked a narrow boat in Hackney and asked me to go with them ‘cause she’s 77 and my dad is 72! And she said, ‘Marjorie, we booked a time-share on a 77-foot narrow boat on Burton-on-Trent.’ And I said, ‘When?’ ‘In the middle of October.’ ‘I’ve just been a week on a boat at the beginning of October!’ And I thought, ‘There’s no way these two could spent time on a 77-foot narrow boat! In the middle of October! It’s dangerous! It’s slippery, it’s wet!’ so I called my brother and I said, ‘Look, I can take free days but you have to take some time off as well, so that we can go and give them the experience, because they won’t be able to manage on their own. They don’t realize it’s really physical. You have to crank, you need a bit of strength in your arms and shoulders, and if you’re not used to that it’s hard work.’ [Laughs gently] So my brother and I went and met my dad and my aunt. So there was a family of four Kings. Our surname is King, and we went and we spent an argumentative four days traveling up the canal with them. Because they are our peers, they are adults, they’d say, ‘We know what to do!’ My aunt would go, ‘Oh, we know what to do!’ and I’d say, ‘No, no, no. We have to show you and explain to you how it works!’
We had a great time! It didn’t rain. It was lovely! It was brilliant! Mid October! And we were on a bigger boat, so even more so I wanted to do it, ‘cause not only I love it, my family also loves it, which is nice that you can share the experience.
And the day came, in March 2011, on which I had to get a boat, and I looked and I’d seen lots of them, I visited and gone on boats and the price was going up and I saved more money, another amount, another amount, and then a boat came up which was blue and it had a side hatch, and I rang the gentleman up and he chatted a lot, he was a car salesman, can you imagine how irritating he was, he won’t shut up! And I’m trying to get the information out of him, where do I have to come out and see it, and he’s just yapping, yapping, yapping. And I thought, ‘Do I want to meet this person?! Yes, yes,’ and I drove 50 miles out of London, with my friend Kim, and after ten minutes on the boat with this guy, she got off, and I thought, ‘Oh, she doesn’t like it. I absolutely love it.’ The moment I saw it, I said, ‘This is it! This is what I’ve been looking for!’ Inside this man had this horrible carpet, it was the right price but there was a lot of disgusting work that had to be done to clear it. You had to strip away the manky carpet, the dirt, and see it for what it was. Basically I agree to the sale. [Laughs] He wanted the survey right then and there. I couldn’t organize the survey, because it’s a steel hull, you worry a lot with these boats, the integrity of the hull, is it thick enough, because the plates are about 6 millimeters thick when the boat was made these days and mine was an older boat, made in 1978. I knew it was steel in the ‘70s, it was better quality than if it was built now, but the boat didn’t look that great, so I tapped it, I walked around, I did what I knew I could do, and I asked… There was a guy who was welding on the boat next door, it was out of the water, it was on sleepers, they call it hard standing, out of water, so you could walk all around it and look underneath it. And he said to me he thought she was in a decent condition, but the guy I was buying from he didn’t really like him, he said he was an idiot. So I went back to the fella’, and I asked him, ‘Can you give me just a couple of days to organize the survey?’ and he said, ‘No.’ He had another person that was interested. So I had to go for it, so I went for it. I took the plunge. I bought it and a week later had it surveyed and [Laughs] it passed with flying colors! This is what she looks like! [Shows her picture on the cell phone] That’s her when she’s surveyed ‘cause it has different markings here, the thickness of the plates… My worry was that if there’s anything below 4 millimeters you have to have it replated and it costs a lot of money. And I was going to strip it to be painted, and this is what she looks like on one side, and I painted her.
Her name was Wixen, but I’m gonna call her Wadadli, which means Antigua, ‘cause in Antigua that’s where I’m happiest. When I go home to Antigua, that’s where my family is from, I’m really happy. So I’d call her Wadadli, which is, the Caribbean name the Arawak Indians used to call Antigua before the Spanish got there and called it Antigua, which means ‘without water’.
I’m gonna be a water Gypsy, I’m gonna travel on the water. They use it as a derogative term in this country because there’s a lot of people on narrow boats of a certain generation, retired, and they bought a boat and they keep it in the marina, and they don’t real roam around the network of canals. And the network of canals is quite big in this country ‘cause during the industrial revolutions the canals were built to move coal and cotton and pottery, they build a huge canal system so they could move pottery to the common people. So it’s hugely interlinked with the industrial revolution. And the people who live on the rivers, who move up and down it, they tend to be young artists, itinerant, maybe not with a job, low income, a whole variety, but younger, and they just don’t buy mooring fees in the marina, they just go up and down the water system. And the people that have the money, that have the clout, that have the voice in this establishment, they don’t like them, and they are not as tolerant as I would be, ‘cause I think that what they do is keep the waterways safe, ‘cause when I go and look down the canal I like to see these people up and down the river mooring there, because it gives me a sense of safety, of security.
Because before, when I was younger, you could go down the Regent’s Canal along Islington, and you only got alcoholics and people doing drug deals and it wasn’t safe, but because you have a lot of people mooring out, moving to and fro, it’s safe now. The rules have changed. The Inland Waterways Association is a charity, but the organization is run by people who aren’t particularly charitable. So they’ve got a system by which they track people. If I was to be on the water they’d track my movement and if I’m not out of an area within a specific period they charge you, they fine you. And what they do is people who can’t afford the fees are evicted off their boats. They’re confiscating their boats. Every day or so you have to move to get out of one zone, a zone is where the dockings are, to going out to Hackney and from Hackney going on to probably Enfield, and from Enfield going into Haringey. So they’ve done it so it takes you about two weeks to move from one area to another area. But if you’re working, shift work is not so bad, but if you’re working 9 to 5 it’s difficult. And if you got children going into school, it’s impossible. But for me I work shift work, so… I have different days off, I work shifts, so for someone like me it’s not problematic, and I don’t have children. But for people who live on the river, who do have kids, who do go to school it can be impossible for them to continue.
And you get leisure moorings and residential moorings. Residential moorings you hardly get them in London, they’re so expensive, and leisure moorings where you can live on the mooring for a certain amount of time but you’re not supposed to live there full time, it’s really difficult. So it’s gonna have an impact.
It’s gonna be interesting to see what the changes will be.
And with the Olympics they moved so many people out of that Hackney area, where the Olympics is going to be staged, they moved them out of the area for security they say. But when the Olympics happens it’s gonna be a lot of vying for moorings there. It would be interesting to see what the prices are. Before, when I was looking into moorings say nearby here, which is Stonebridge Lock, they were about £2,000 a year, and you had to bid for them. My understanding is that when you make a bid you pay that amount for three years. And the bid is based on the size, the length. I was looking at what would be between 45 foot-60 foot, and people were bidding up £6,000 for those moorings. So they’re paying 500 plus in order to live there. It’s ridiculous. So they have to pay that for three years. It’s a lot of money. It’s very expensive. If you circumnavigate the waterways you have to pay something like £600 a year for a boat my size. So it’s better for me to do that than to try and get mooring, and just see what’s happening on the waterways and get fit riding up and down [Laughs] the canal and get into the nearest subway station so I can get into work. But it is feasible. It’s possible.
Ella Veres: It looks like you are one happy person who achieves her dream!
MK: I’m achieving it. I’m in the process of achieving it, ‘cause it’s here, it’s not on water, it’s on hard standing.
EV: But soon it will be on the water.
MK: Yeah. By 2012 she’s gonna be ready. I’m gonna be launching her by March 2012, ‘cause what I’m doing this September, I’ve done the hull. Every fourth year you have to take it out of the water, every two to four years depending on which waterways you’re on, you have to take it out of the water and jet spray it down, repaint it, ‘cause this protects the hull from rusting. But I have to do the top part as well, and the top part I’m gonna do in September. I’m gonna strip the old one down and I’m gonna paint it. I’m gonna get some friends and paint it. My logo’s gonna be a green turtle ‘cause that’s the emblem of Antigua, Wadadli is a Hawkbill green turtle, so I’ll have that.
EV: So in order to achieve your dream you had to work, so if you could tell me your work history. You said your work is a bit stressful so maybe you touch upon that too?
MK: Yeah. I started working in school as a lab technician in secondary education, so that was 11-18 year old. I loved that job, I did it for about 10 years. Then I was made redundant thru LEA [Local Education Authority], which is they pay you to leave. So I said, ‘Okay, I worked in education 10 years, I’ll do something different.’ In education, the work was hard, but the majority of people that worked in education were women. I left that world and applied for a job with British Telecom. When I got there I discovered that it was a man’s world. You didn’t work that hard, though they gave the impression that you did. They had two-hour lunch breaks. When I went to work for BT one of their social areas had huge snooker tables and a bar where you could buy alcohol. Coming from LEA, you go to the pub maybe but you wouldn’t spend two hours drinking in a bar and then you’d be working, and part of the work you had to drive. It was bizarre! I couldn’t believe that. And you’d find that you had work given to you, but it wasn’t work that would take you all day to do. So what I used to do, because we had a two-hour lunch break, it wasn’t official, it was an unofficial lunch break, but you’d know it, ‘cause if I had to arrange jobs with other colleagues from other exchanges from different parts of London and I’d be saying, ‘Okay, it’s 12 o’clock now, I’m gonna go for lunch, we’ll test at one?’ and they’d go, ‘Oh, no! At two.’ So you’re having lunch between 12 and two?! Okay, fine. I get the picture. Everyone was doing it. So I used to go to the British Museum and go to the South Bank, ‘cause I worked in the city, around by Saint Paul’s which is a great place to walk. I was a tourist for two hours. It was brilliant. And I did that for four years.
I’ll tell you more stories, but take my name out, okay?
So when I first got to the place of work at BT, and I walked into the office, which was a huge room, 40 foot by 20 foot, and it was a wall that was covered from the table to the ceiling in pornography. Hard core pornography! And there were eight of my colleagues looking at me to see what my response would be. I tried not to show them how shocked I was, but I was shocked. It was just too much. It was a mass of flesh. I decided I wasn’t going to stay with this sector. If this is what they wanted to do, they didn’t want women working for them, I was quite happy not to be working with them. So I was able to arrange with my boss, if he couldn’t make them take the pornography down, that I would go to a different unit. So I did, ’cause he obviously couldn’t manage his team of men. He moved me in the city and there I was quite happy ‘cause it was a different group of guys.
I later found out one of the reasons they covered the wall in pornography, was they had a few pictures up, and another guy had objected, and the group’s response was to plaster the whole wall with pornography ‘cause they didn’t like him, and he’d gone off sick from the stress of working under these conditions prior to me arriving, so I just happened to come in at that time, it wasn’t specifically targeted at me. It was a joke, a pun to this other guy, a way of getting at him. Oh, then before I left, I was there for a week, so I’d go in, sit there, look at those pictures, or try not to, and the guys would sit, women’s legs akimbo offering their genitals, one guy was sitting so that his head was between her legs, and I just made this joke, ‘God, if you’d turn around suddenly, you’d be giving her cunnilingus.’ He didn’t even know what that meant. He was like, ‘Wha-what’s cunnilingus?!’ and I thought, ‘If you know what that means, what are you looking at these pictures for?!’ Part of why the pictures were there you’d think it was to give them a sex education, but they had no knowledge themselves, which I thought was funny. It just highlighted their ignorance. It was bravado for them, but their knowledge of sex was limited.
Then I left. When I worked in BT, ‘cause I was one of the few females there, and you go into an exchange and there wouldn’t be a ladies loo, you know it’s a man’s world. They had a gents at every floor, but the ladies would be on one floor somewhere in the building. I was new to it and I was new to them, so some parts of it were intimidating. If I bent down I’d get comments and… What happened eventually, other managers would be more responsible, more supportive, so I stopped getting any flack, and they took me to be, not one of the guys, but you know, to be a work colleague and I was there for four years, working in the exchanges. I used to go around singing, ‘It’s a man’s world.’
Because after working in education in the labs where I’d be lucky if a got half an hour lunch break, ‘cause we were always busy, they just didn’t know the meaning of hard work! There were groups of guys who’d gone into work for state run communications, the state had the monopoly, and it was a job for life! If they worked over time, they’d be claiming a full day but only worked half a day if they worked on the weekend. They’d call it ‘wheelbarrows of money’, ‘cause if you did over time you got paid a lot, you got paid well, and not much responsibility. It was highly mechanized. Once a guy told his boss, when he had a work appraisal, assessment, and was asked, ‘How do you feel about your work?’ and he said, ‘A monkey could do this.’ Because we were just connecting cables. Co-axel cables, there wasn’t much thought that went into it. We had to test equipment that people didn’t use because they were too lazy, and… For me, personally, I thought I’d use the occasion and do telecommunication courses, ‘cause it was boring! You ran out of things to do!
EV: What was the level of conversation there?
MK: [Laughs] They talked endlessly about cars, football, women, girlfriends. There were others that were like doing the job while being musicians, and… There was one guy buying property, trying to expand his portfolio, another one was trying to sell satellite TV, it was just the early stages of it, and I thought, ‘I’ll study and get some courses under my belt.’ And then after four years I took the package which was very good, the redundancy package, and after spending 14 years in technology, I thought, ‘I’d rather work with people. I’ve worked with machines and men, [Laughs] I’ve worked in schools with children and teachers,’ so I went… Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, the color of the car! Maroon. I didn’t realize they’d vie on car colors! The common colors and red and black and blue and green, but this guy was really excited because his car was maroon and there weren’t that many in that color, and he got the first batch and I used to be bored, really, [Laughs] they’d talk about football but I was quite into football, but horse racing, gambling.
I’ll get back to it, I’ll tell you why. But after working for six months in a home for elderly I went back in training to get a degree, and I got a place to do psychology, North Middlesex University Hospital and at the same time a job came in at Hammersmith & Fulham, and it was too good to miss, so I applied for it and I got it but I had to get a medical, I had to get checked, I had to go to the university college hospital for a blood test.
And while I was there I met one of the former pupils who was at the school I was at, and I just told her where I used to work, telling her I worked for BT, etc., and she said, ‘What part did you work in BT?’ and I told her, and she said, ‘Oh, my God, I hope you didn’t sleep with any of the guys because at that unit it’s quite a high incidence of HIV!’ because a lot of them used to go and sleep with the prostitutes around Soho during their lunch breaks, yeah! [Laughs] and I remembered guys would ringing up their wives, ‘God! I had such a hard day working! I’m really tired, love. Don’t expect me back early. I’ve got to work extended hours.’ And they’d leave at 5 and then go off and do their jollies, ‘cause there was no extension of work into the evening. They were terrible! I wasn’t surprised about the HIV. I was more surprised about the things she was telling me being confidential, but I wasn’t any longer working at BT. But I never forgot what she told me. They were messing around, and... The people I feel sorry for is their wives.
Oh, God, they were awful. A lot of the staff were young men, and because they weren’t doing much and didn’t have much work to do, they’d get mischievous, so one of them, before he left he was angry with management and how they treated him, and he was actually moving to work for a competitor. It was a time that now BT had competition, Mercury, a competitor that broke the monopoly that BT had. And his partying gift was he cut the cables that were in the exchange and it affected the Midland Bank teller machines so you couldn’t get any money out ‘cause he’d cut the cable. Another time he sabotaged the photo copying machine.
Another young man who was annoyed with the guy who managed us who did not work much, who never took out his tools, one day the young fella’ took out the tool box that held a delicate instrument that was used for testing, he took out that instrument and he took the case to the loo and shat in it. And then closed it and put it back in the guy’s case. And it was left there for weeeeeks! before the smell of it actually caused the manager to open it! [Laughs] That’s when he discovered the little surprise that was left to him. It was dried out, ossified by then.
Yeah, bizarre behavior, ‘cause they didn’t have any work, enough work to do. You know, driving cars around, speeding in the car park, wrapping them around pillars, yeah, mischief. It was a waste, ‘cause a lot of them were talented! Hopefully they turned themselves around, but they were young! That’s what happens. Now things have changed. I’ve got a godson who still works with BT and the two-hour lunch break is gone out of the window, their time is monitored. The new management is a generation with a degree, who were trained to manage. That was one of the problems with BT, the managers you had were from the shop floor, they weren’t trained in management techniques, and that was one of the problems with this country: you need people who are actually trained to manage people. It’s a skill how to manage, how you motivate staff, keep them interested, and keep them going. And keep the standards. So you have this new breed and they monitor the staff in a way that we were never monitored. And it’s no longer a job for life and they subcontract, so you don’t have permanent BT staff, not in the same volumes that they had when I was working. They had thousands. They were one of the huge employers in the ‘80s, but now their work force is vastly reduced, and they subcontract out people that vie for a position with BT now. And they are a lot more rigorous now in how they employ the staff.
In the post office it was the same. It was BT, the postmen. They had a very strong union, so management didn’t want to fight the union. It was only during the Thatcher period when unions got crushed, and when we had a recession that forced the hands of government, or business, to reduce the monopoly. And also people, the general public was fed up. The huge rental on my phone! I didn’t want to pay huge rental on my phone when you wouldn’t get an engineer come out to you fix it, because they’ve gone to play golf! They were really taking the mick and getting paid for it! They weren’t doing their jobs! [Laughs] So, yeah, it turned around.
And now I work in social care with people who we’re trying to enable to live in their own home. We’re using technology so they can remain in their own home, which is a great saving for the state and social services if they don’t go into residential care. To have someone in residential care is £3-400 a week. To have someone in their own homes when they are paying mortgage, the older 60 plus generation, it’s a lot cheaper and it’s better all around for them, for their families, and that’s what I do. It’s called Telecare. It’s telephone using a call line to put out an emergency call in a little box in a pendant that people wear around their necks and on their wrist, and if they need help they press a button, it’s a panic button, and it automatically dials out comes thru to our control room where I can speak to them and find out what’s going on.
It could be they’re having a heart attack or we had a woman the other day she called because she was going into hypoglycemia, she was diabetic, so I called an ambulance and had an officer go and open up, to make sure they get in to tend to the person when he needs help. We also monitor people with Alzheimer’s. We have something called ‘property exit’ so when we’ve got someone go out of the house when they shouldn’t. Not they shouldn’t, just monitoring when they gone out of the house and they put themselves in potential danger because they’ve got Alzheimer’s or they’ve got dementia. And it raises an alert to their family or their carerer that they’ve gone out and they are able to go and get them.
In one case one wife just wanted to know when her husband went out, because she’d know where he was going. He had a familiar routine, he’d go to the station or library, and she’d know where to look for him, and if she didn’t find him there, then she’d call the police.
It helps people actually stay home a little longer.
It’s a whole array of technology that we use.
We use things like bed sensors, so if someone gets up at night and was to fall on the floor, the bed sensor after 20 minutes, ‘cause that’s what we say, ‘How long it takes you to go to the bathroom and come back?’ They say 20 minutes, half an hour. If after half an hour they haven’t gotten back in bed they potentially had a fall, and normally what happens is they get up, they go to the toilet, they have a fall, and they are on the floor for four to six hours. Because they’ve been on the floor, the impact of lying on the floor, its coldness on their vital organs, dehydration, whatever occurs, reaches toxic levels, which means they’re in the hospital for about one week, two weeks for recovery. When they have a bed sensor, they are on the floor for half an hour, or so, before someone’s got to them to raise the alert to call an ambulance. They don’t go to hospital, they go back to bed. So it works.
It’s a great saving. And that’s what we do. Yeah, savings. It saves their lives, saves the economy and saves my job! [Laughs] So it’s a great saving. I don’t see it as a monitoring thing at all! We save them from being on the floor and causing them distress! ‘cause that’s why we’re here for. The stressful part of the job is the fact that you’ve got to make sure that the staff do their job properly, they respond to the emergency. That you listen, and you’ve got things in place to cover. Because it’s an emergency situation you have to make decisions… We just had the riots recently and that’s also part of my job in the borough to make sure that the riot doesn’t affect our operations, to make sure that people have food, they have water, they have heating. All that’s taken on board. To make sure they’ve got the batteries to change, or when the equipment isn’t working any longer to make sure they’ve got different monitoring systems.
I used to work as a response officer for ten years, and you’d meet people from all walks of life, you’d meet people with whom you can connect and have a really nice conversation, while you’re going to install the equipment. I used to have this lovely woman, she used to dance with Nureyev, Russian Rudolf Nureyev, and she used to dance, she wasn’t Russian, she was English, she used to dance with Royal Ballet Company. There was amazing pictures of her life! I used to like hearing people’s life stories, just as you like to get what people do, I loved that! I loved that.
And I met this guy who worked for Suez Canal, he was an engineer.
And you know, you go and help them because they had a fall, the ambulance crew comes to assist them off the floor, or I would, and you make them a cup of tea, make them comfortable, make sure they are okay, and then you’d get to talk to them, get to find out about them and their nice stories.
That was then. Now, as a manager, I don’t have that one-to-one with the service users as I used to have, but I have it more with the relatives, or with other professionals who are trying to arrange for this equipment to go into their homes. Because technology has moved a lot since I’ve started 18 years ago in Telecare, in Community Alarm. It’s always fascinating, ‘cause I’ve always liked the technological side, but also with the people side, with customer service, going out giving talks to groups, promoting the service.
In September I’m gonna be talking to a younger generation of users, who have got learning difficulties, to promote the service to parents of younger people to see how we can assist them with technology.
Yeah, it’s stimulating. It’s interesting. It’s rewarding when you help people. It’s a very feel-good job, you are helping someone. Sometimes it’s indirectly, doing it over the phone, dealing with the emergency, speaking to them, reassuring them that you gonna be getting them help, and sending staff out to respond. And as a manager it’s really hands-on because of shortages of staff, of cut-backs. I like that. Being able to be hands-on, being able to reassure someone who’s in distress that help’s gonna be coming and that we gonna be sorting things out for them. And also I like when a family member talks about, ‘I need this alarm,’ and you learn what are their concerns and how we can help them, and they’re, ‘God, I didn’t know you can do this!’
By the time it comes around to me, it will be a chip in the brain and someone on computer when I go off wandering about saying, ‘Turn left at this junction!’ and that would be horrible! Who knows what it’s gonna be like… It’s a lot of involvement. It’s a lot of juggling of balls to make sure that everything runs smoothly. I really like it. It’s a great job, ‘cause no day is the same. You get different challenges, how to make things work, how to promote the service, how to support the staff, so I like it and I’ll do it for the rest of my life, but I have to have my safe haven which is the boat.
This is such a different world when I go and stay on the boat, it’s a different community. I’m connecting with the boating community out where’s moored, with people coming giving you advice. Making a staircase! My neighbor, who’s a paratrooper, made a staircase for me, because he got fed up with seeing me climb up and down this metal, rickety sea ladder, so he built a solid wood staircase for me to go up and down my boat. If I need any advice a whole array of experts willing to give me advice to help me, show me how to do things, and encourage me.
It’s just a slower pace. And I’ve got a fantastic view, even if I’m not going on the water, I see the countryside when I go there. I can walk along the canal to the nearest pub, a few hundred feet away, it’s great!

Thanks goes to Stephen Sillett from Aiding Dramatic Change in Development and Ethan Black who rectified some British culture related mistakes that I made while transcribing the interview.

Well, here you have it: If you’d like to throw a bit of money my way to keep my endeavors going, and also enable me to spread the money to my various causes, witnessing democracy, freedom of speech and faith, and engineering social change thru art being one of them, I’d be grateful.

June 30, 2013
New York

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