Second Rule Of Boat Club – No, Seriously, it’s bloody freezing out there.

So, at the end of the last episode, I’d just received a call from a Welsh policeman.

Turned out that my mate Anup had lost his rucksack, wallet and phone but some kind soul had handed them in to the police. P.C Ivor Thereslovely said they were trying to get hold of him by phoning the numbers on his mobile. The poor bloke was discovering that most of Anup’s friends were either away, out of phone coverage range or had no idea where he was. I’m not actually sure what happened in the end. No doubt, I’ll find out.

So we got to the ferry terminal in Gourock. Then we turned round and went to the other terminal for the other ferry – the one we actually had tickets for – which seemed wise. CalMac obviously have money for bigger signs.

Actually getting on the water was almost too much for Sophie. Her smile had expanded so far across her face I was concerned it would meet at the back of her head. Ralph’s description of his house as “needing some work” seemed fair. Luckily, our plans only required somewhere to sleep, somewhere to eat, somewhere to sit still while drinking heroically and a bathroom.

Dunoon is quiet. Properly quiet. You don’t realise how noisy Manchester is until you’re in a town where the sound of a car engine makes you jump. Sophie was amused by the kids who stole the left shoe from one of their number, flung it over the fence onto the bowling green then shouted to the poor lad when he went to retrieve it to take his other shoe off so as not to damage the grass, which he did. Not exactly like the kids round our way.

Due to my feeling ill and the other two drinking all night, Tuesday was somewhat subdued. Ralph cooked an amazing French onion soup which was about all any of us could keep down.

Wednesday, and Sophie and I trekked off to Glasgow for the day. The poor lass was subjected to a 90-word-a-second guided tour of my old stomping grounds. Glasgow also seems to be mostly clothes and “stuff” shops now. All my favourite record shops are there, I think, although I didn’t get to a point where I could check for Echo Records on Byres Road. Sophie was smitten with the Kibble palace in the Botanic Gardens – a Victorian hothouse for tropical and exotic plants. She was although rather taken with my Auntie’s flat near Kirklee although disappointed no cats were in attendance.

Personally, I was just excited to smell the Underground again. Billy Connolly said he always felt that he was home when his feet touched the platform at Central Station. I know what he means, but I think that the smell of electricity and dust that hangs off the underground is what does it for me.

Back to Ralph’s and a trip to McClures Bar. It was absolutely and in no way an excuse to watch the Football – hooo no. Just so HAPPENED that we went to a pub and it HAPPENED to have the telly on and we INCIDENTALLY watch the mighty Scots kick the Austrians off the park. Or something.

So to Thursday and the sailing. Cards on the table, much as I like the idea of sailing and romantically being out on the water, alone amidst the elements, the actual “doing it” part scared the bejesus out of me. A little part of me was secretly relieved that the weather had been too nice for sailing all week.

i’ll just repeat that




On Thursday, Ralph had decided that we were going out come hell or … well, regardless of conditions, so off we went. Much to my surprise, once I was out on the water and realised it WASN’T compulsory to fall in, I absolutely loved it. Ralph is an expert on a boat and manages to pass his enthusiasm on when he’s explaining the intricacies of reading the sea and positioning the sails to use the wind to the best effect. Sitting on the yacht in the middle of the Firth of Clyde, with my beloved Sophie and my fine friend, engines off and not a sound to be heard was one of those perfect moments I expect to flash through my mind when I’m breathing my last.

All too soon, we had to head back to harbour. Quietly humming “Westering home” to myself, we tied the boat up while I tried to work out which organs I could sell to get one of my own.

After another night of wine and photos, it became Friday morning and time to leave. The drive down the west coast was as gorgeous as on the way up and even Sophie’s attempt to drive us sideways across a roundabout didn’t spoil it.

Coming back to Manchester wasn’t the usual post-holiday buzz where you’re glad to be back where you belong. I think I can speak for Sophie, too – we both felt home was (or should be in the near future) by a shoreline many hundreds of miles away.