Wednesday, 20 November 2019

not a solicitor

I've moved westward. Now the view has widened out to the big field where you can sometimes see hares. There's a barn owl that patrols the sides of the canal here too, so a while after the sun had dropped below the horizon I went out to watch for it. I was just in time to see it wheel round in the air and drop onto something in the field, and I watched in vain for it to rise again; it was either happily eating the prey there on the ground or had flown away low so that I couldn't see it against the gloom of the hill.

But I did see the two deer who'd emerged from the hedge and were walking softly across the horizon.

My time at Sells Green was mostly peaceful, though I was interrupted on Sunday by a hireboat speeding past my window as I sat at my desk idly sketching out ideas. Knowing that at that speed, it was going to clout good and proper against the swingbridge a little further on, I went out just in time to see the helmsman go hard astern. Water boiling from the prop, the boat came back as fast as it had gone forward, clouting the stern of my boat as it came.

Before I had a chance to say anything, the bloke on the tiller shouted at me that I shouldn't be moored where I was, and that my boat was a tip. I started filming the incident, in case it turned even nastier. He objected loudly to having his picture taken, covering his face with his arm. "You can't take my picture, it's against the law!"

"Oh yes I can, and oh no it isn't"

"I'll report you!"

"Go ahead and welcome. I'll be reporting this to the hire company"

A man on the towpath, whom I assumed was one of the hireboat party, approached and reiterated that I was breaking the law by photographing the man on the boat.

"No I'm not"

"Are you a solicitor?"


"Well, I am. Is your boat damaged? I'd like to come on board and take photos of it"

"You are absolutely not coming onto my boat"

"Well, there you are then" he said, as though to prove something.

And off they all went. I was shaking by this time. So I went below and fired off my email. And then vented on the canal Facebook group, where a friend commented that they'd been pranged by the same boat earlier, down at Semington.

The next morning, I got an email back from the hire company; 
Our hirers are due back later this morning and I will personally be pointing out the error of their ways.
Approaching at bridge at such speed is unacceptable, apart from the fact they should have been going slowly past your boat. To then lose control and proceed to abuse you, just shows that they are not the sort of customers that we wish to build our business upon.
I am glad that no real damage has been inflicted and will update you on their response later on.

This is one of the better hire companies, so I trust this response.

Presently, a couple came by. It was the self-identified solicitor and his wife. 

He apologised; his wife had seen and heard the entire incident and told him that the hireboat was in the wrong. They'd been walking their dog on the hill and had been opening the swingbridge as a courtesy for the boat.

I accepted his apology, and failed to point out that he was wrong about the law on privacy.  Not to mention the underlying assumptions that went behind his actions... 


  1. The solicitor would have been wrong in Canada as well. When taking photos in a public place one is under no obligation to get the permission of those in the photo, although it is polite to do so.
    Disappointing that the solicitor dove into the discussion without knowing all the circumstances. Good that he apologized.

    We get ignorant folk in hireboats on our canal systems here in Ontario. Some will drop anchor just offshore on a lake, then party and play loud music all night, much to the distress of the people in homes or cottages onshore. Not the nicest people on the planet here or there it seems.

    Gorgeous sunset shots Dru!

  2. your ignorant folk sound just like the Hullabaloos in Arthur Ransome's Coot Club! ...I learned that solicitors can be pretty turpid creatures when I had to beat one once...