I spent a good part of Monday barefoot in a creek. I took in the summer sunlight filtering through the leaves and the smell of river grasses and wet sand; it was a beautiful day. While the woodland scene was miles from the English countryside, my mind went back to Three Men in a Boat, Jerome K. Jerome's comic masterpiece. A sunny, carefree feeling pervades Jerome's tale of three hapless friends out to spend a Late Victorian summer on the canal towpaths of the Thames, despite the countless misfortunes that befall them along the way. Dreamy and hilarious by turns, it's a perfect summer story that was turned into a light and thoroughly enjoyable screenplay by Tom Stoppard, and made into a film starring Tim Curry and Michael Palin in the 1970's (see above- nice stripes!). The film and book are both great, and I always love seeing '60s and '70s versions of other periods.


There is something very strange and unaccountable about a tow-line [rope]. You roll it up with as much patience and care as you would take to fold up a new pair of trousers, and five minutes afterwards, when you pick it up, it is one ghastly, soul-revolting tangle.

I do not wish to be insulting, but I firmly believe that if you took an average tow-line, and stretched it out straight across the middle of a field, and then turned your back on it for thirty seconds, that, when you looked round again, you would find that it had got itself altogether in a heap in the middle of the field, and had twisted itself up, and tied itself into knots, and lost its two ends, and become all loops; and it would take you a good half-hour, sitting down there on the grass and swearing all the while, to disentangle it again.

That is my opinion of tow-lines in general. Of course, there may be honourable exceptions; I do not say that there are not. There may be tow-lines that are a credit to their profession - conscientious, respectable tow-lines - tow-lines that do not imagine they are crochet-work, and try to knit themselves up into antimacassars the instant they are left to themselves. I say there may be such tow-lines; I sincerely hope there are. But I have not met with them.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for these wonderful lists Erik (and a fantastic blog!).