Hard Ride to Nijmegen

Nijmegen lies just a stone’s throw from the German border, a fact of which many have reminded us. In Bellvue, a town we harboured in prior to making the dash for Nijmegen, a woman to whom we asked directions schooled us on how hard the second world war had been on the region. “Just there across the river the Germans sent a constant assault against American and English forces that were just there on the other side. By the time they were finished I’m surprised there was anything left to rebuild,” she said. Her name was Briggette and she was going home to walk her dog. She had been kind enough to escort the crew to the site of a discount grocery and then stood talking for half hour. “Just remember,” she told us. “Not every German person you will meet will be bad.” Obviously, Briggette held a bit of grudge over German atrocities more than 50 years ago. We took her stilted advice and headed into the store for provisions.

We had found this little port by luck. We were scanning the maps and shoreline looking for either a bunker barge, a largish stationary ship that is like a massive Petro Canada, or a land-based petrol station for diesel that was getting a tich low in our tanks. Looking through the binoculars the flag of a Total station flapped in the distance between a church spire and bridge. We headed in and found Bellvue and the De Waal jachtshaven, the first place in more than a week that we had to pay to berth (7.50 Euro).

Formalities taken care of, the crew set off to ferry the diesel from the petrol station above the harbour. This took a good hour or more to fill the tank. Next it was off to the shops to fill in some holes in Djes’ stores as well as find a T Mobile shop to get advice on the new Euro phone that was causing so much anxiety. Back in the boat by 9:00 and ready for dinner. Tonight it was green pea soup, Camembert and fresh whole grain bread, an exact replication of lunch. This meal also offered numerous flagons of French vin a table.

The next day started late for the crew. Undoubtedly we drank a few too many flagons and noon was creeping up as things were readied for the challenge of Nijmegen. The map showed nothing but the wilds of Gelderland, a Dutch province that offers a lot of forests and lonely spaces. There were no jachtshavens and even the berthing facilities for the larger boats were few. I had been slipping into these and getting away with it till two nights before when the river police explained things to us in detail. Now we was shy of these big boat berths not wanting to incur the nasty fines that hang over boaters’ heads for everything from lack of sewage black tanks, to oily discharge, to docking where you are not supposed to.

The engine was started and given its half hour idle before setting out. The crew had an uneasy feeling about the day. The weather had turned from just miserable to state-of-the-art nasty. Wind direction was variable with gusts of 50 km, freezing rain turned to snow and visibility out the windows was bad but made worse by the plus 2 temperatures inside that created a constant fog on the glass. We released the lines and left anyway.

There are some things which are difficult in a boat where constant supervision at the helm is mandatory. The crew would make lunch in advance of setting off. A thermos of coffee and a peanut butter sandwich was a good standby if a quiet harbour or tie-up spot could not be found. One hand on the wheel and the other grabbing thermos and sandwich is an easy task. Going pee is another thing altogether. Let’s just say we have had to be very creative in ways that keep the inside of the wheel house from being sprayed by unconstrained urine as the boat is lashed by wind and wake from passing barges.

The day wore on and as 5:00 rolled around and the sun started to fade, the Voyager’s thoughts turned to ways to get off the river. An inlet appeared and the crew turned the boat into what turned out to be a massive ship yard (shipswerf). The docks were simply too high to tie up. We could not get the ropes swung around the bollards and as time was a wastin’ we abandoned this location and headed back onto the channel. Next we spied a largish canal and small lake. In we went thinking that we could tie up to a tree or even beach the boat. This thinking got the boat grounded in sand. We kept our cool and soon the Volvo had pulled the boat out and we were free again to keep looking. By this time it was after 6:30 and it was dark. The decision was made to stop wasting time with the searching and just power on to Nijmegen, another 12 km up river. Twelve kilometers doesn’t sound like much, but when the current is 6 to 8 km against you and the engine can make 15 km in still water the challenge comes into view. I figure I am making 5 km an hour ground speed with the engine running at around 3/4 full.

The night was as dark as the inside of a cow’s stomach. All that could be seen were the distant green starboard lights of tilting buoys. The markers that I had been using – long poles with green arrows atop that indicated the edge of the channel and the danger of the rocky outcrops – were now gone from view. Occasionally they would race into sight and we would have to quickly change course to either avoid them or move away from the rocky points at their edges. Ships would now just appear, rather than show up on the starboard tail. All that could be done was face this music and continue along until the tune was over in Nijmegen. An hour followed another hour. Soon the lights of Nijmegen showed up bright as we came around a bend. I could see a good potential haven just at the entrance to the town. By now the Voyager’s arms were tired from the constant battle with the wheel and rudder. The entry point came up quickly, and Djes dodged into the quiet of the canal. Unfortunately, this was another shipswerf and we had to set back out onto the river to make the last push into the main part of the town.

Nijmegen is the Netherland’s oldest city and has a population of about 165,000. Looking toward the lights on the shore, our eyes could see that the landscape looked interesting. First we had to get onto the land. Help was at hand. No sooner had we had pulled back onto the current when lights start going off all around the boat. It seems the control tower at the bridge as I entered the shipswerf had radioed a navy boat as I came out of the canal to come back onto the river. They could see that we were seeking safe harbour and sent the navy boat to guide me to the city’s jachtshaven. Under the red and orange flash the navy’s rotating emergency lights we were asked to come alongside for a quick chin wag at which time the crew was told to follow the patrol boat into town.

“Hallo, where are you going?

“Nijmegen,” we answered. “We are looking for the jachtshaven.”

“This is what we think. So, we have come to assist you. There is nothing wrong. You are sailing well and all the lights are working. We just want to make sure you get off the river in the dark. This is a very dangerous place for you. I will speak to you again once you are tied up.”

Tied up in Gorinchem

Tied up in the old port at Gorinchem

awoke to snow on deck

Awoke to snow on the deck – again.

Small fishing boats line the docks at Gorinchem

Traditional small fishing boats like the ones Auggie used line the dock at Gorinchem

The cops again

The heat rousting me from my free perch. – Sorry, m’am I’m just leaving.

The sweet taste of free parking

The sweet, sweet taste of free parking

Laurents and Auggie

Auggie (L) and Laurents (R)- Auggie had fished in a small boat till the 60’s where he had to row up the Rhine and live on the craft for three weeks at a time with another fisherman. We discussed fishing and the river currents with the assistance of Laurents who owned the jachtshaven in Gorinchem. Laurents was an exWinnipegger who returned to his native Holland for healthcare.

barge folk

Barge Folk

An hour later we had been guided into a berth right in the very heart of Nijmegen across from their hot-shot new casino. We considered going over for a few spins of the roulette wheel, maybe some baccarat. Given the day the suspicion was that all our luck had been used up just making it to port. Even the newly installed Tibetan prayer flags from Prairie Sky were mostly destroyed leaving us with the view that as the day wore on we had been traveling without a prayer when it seemed we needed them most.

 

On Our Way

At the dock in Rotterdam. I will pay that parking ticket. I promise

At the dock in Coolshaven, Rotterdam. I promise to pay that parking ticket. I promise.

ould Delft at night.

Delft at night. Quality of life is high on their list.

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The Swede’s Volvo heart is pumping as Djes sits ready to cast off from Rotterdam Noord.

The view inside Djes

The view inside just as The Voyager steps to the helm to take her out for a bit of drive.

the square

Church and state in Delft. The cathedral towers over the ornate Stadshuis.

crowd gathers outside the Bulldog in Amsterdam

Small crowd gathers in front of the Bulldog in Amsterdam. What’s the attraction? I couldn’t get in.

don't try the truffles. I think they are off.

I heard these truffles are sourced using hallucinating pigs. They don’t seem to work well in scrambled eggs. I suspect they are off.

Street Sweeper number one, Amsterdam

Street sweeper number one, Amsterdam.

Entry to the main square, Delft complete with twin eggs or are they boobs.

Entry to the main square, Delft. Are these twin eggs or are they blue boobs?

Sitting in a boat yard in Rotterdam Noord having a couple of beers with Bob. Bob is an ex Aussie who came to Holland decades ago to marry. For more than 20 years he drove long distance trucks to everywhere from Saudi to Karachi. At home he lived above the dry cleaning shop his wife owned and operated. She died last year and at 66, Bob cut off his ass length braid and moved out of the flat to take up residence in a 13 m flat-bottomed barge he was fixing up. Together we sat in the Cafe de Waterklerk, at the edge of the boat haven that was home while we prepared Djes for the trip to the Black Sea.

Bob was a wealth of information. “Check out the tide tables, mate. They run hard up river at Rotterdam and will take you well up the wayl. You’ll save money on petrol and make good time.”

The plan was to take the Djes up the various tributaries that tangle out from Rotterdam and then move her to Papendrecht, her home port on the Noord channel.  Figured the run would be about four hours maybe five tops.

As it stood, the boat was having some minor electrical problems and in need of a few things like a new propane system, a thing of which the Dutch are very fearful. Even the big Correct store where the crew had picked up charts and a marine almanac couldn’t be of much help. They advised to get more battery power and go electrical – a cost of 300 Euro. They had hoses and couplings, but nothing like we have in Canada and I could quickly see why they had such trepidation. Most set ups were simple screw on attachments at one end and an open end at the other to just fix on some stove or heater with a universal clamp to make it secure. I passed.

Back at the yard, we spoke to Jasper, the diesel mechanic that had looked the engine over yesterday. “I will see what can be done,” he said. Indeed, the next morning the Voyager dragged his sorry ass out of the boat to find a new tank, filled with a proper coupling and regulator just sitting at the bow in the grass. “I think this is what you need,” Jasper said, refusing any payment except for a few Euro for the gas.

He then came over to make sure the engine was running properly. I had been having trouble with the start.

“Did you turn the key?”

“Yes,” we said, feeling a bit stupid.

Jasper came aboard. He took a look around and said,” This is comfortable how you have fixed. I think you will do well. I like this boat very much. It will take you where you need to go. Just remember to be gentle. Treat like you really love her and she will give it back to you.”

Over the past couple of days we had been fiddling around with wires and other things to try get the motor to fire. We weren’t having a lot of success. The key would turn, the lights would display, but there was no movement. We all knew it was something simple. And as Jasper turned the key and the engine fired to life, we were now sure of it. “You must first turn the key to make this light go off. This means the plugs are glowing. Wait one minute. Then push the key in and turn more.” We had not been doing any of this.The Djes now sat with her Swedish Volvo heart purring at the jetty. She was ready.

We ferried 75 litres of diesel from the petrol station down the road and made a few last minute goodbye’s. Bob had been helpful. For instance, beside general info he had gone to his boat and got me a new bin for food. “Save you the walk,” he said. Piet the cafe’s owner had just been a good guy. He spoke little English, but poured a fine Heineken and introduced me to the other regulars who either lived on their barges or spent their days at the yard puttering in some way or other. Everyone seemed to gravitate to the cafe and its brown wood walls and wood stove. In the small room next door was where Jasper and Peter sat when they weren’t rebuilding diesel motors or having boats painted. They had let me use the toilet and kitchen in their small office. They had helped with having my fuel tanks cleaned and new filters installed. In fact, the two had really stepped up to help get the Voyager on his way. Now it was time to push off.

Leaving is often simpler than coming. When you come you have to discover the lay of the land and build some linkages. There are people to meet and things to get done. When you leave, that’s it. And that’s how it was on Thursday March 7 around 3:00. We had been warned that the lock keepers were on winter hours and that we would likely have to wait till Friday to leave. We couldn’t accept this and the trip was a day behind as it was. So, the Voyager stepped off the dock and onto Djes. In the wheelhouse, he pushed the huge tractor-stye gear lever into reverse and backed out of the slip to meet the current. As the bow swung around the helmsman pushed the the lever forward setting this trip on course for Rotterdam and Papendrecht.

 

 

London I’m So Over You

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Easy Jet helped make the ride all the more relaxing by allowing me to wear my Personal Padding Allowance (PPA)

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The Green Parrot

 

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The Bisham Abbey Nav School, Marlow

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Winchester Cathedral your bringing me down, man.

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Some creepy gargoyle in Winchester. Actually, it was one of a pair that were guarding a door at ancient hospital of St. John

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Ahh, the canals of Winchester.

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If Liz and Phil are rockin’, don’t come knockin’

Home to the richest bishop in town. "I 'er 'e 'as gold on his 'oly boot scrappers, gov."

Home to the richest bishop in town. “I ‘er ‘e ‘as gold on his ‘oly boot scrappers, gov.”

 

Over the years the Voyager’s relationship with London has been an off again on again affair that underlies feelings that the city is a greasy old bitch. For decades he has come to the city as both a traveler with back pack and holes in his pockets and on business where he moved about in a Mercedes and dined well. Always he came with the prospect of meeting up with an old friend, only to leave with feelings of being emptied. This time was no exception.

True, the crew’s time in Marlow at Bisham Abbey Nav training was enjoyable with great people and surroundings. Training was excellent with a day spent on the Green Parrot, a Mitchell 22 with a 40hp Perkins diesel. The Thames really gave it up with rushing flood waters and manse lined shoreline. The small harbours were filled with newly acquired Dutch barges (the English have discovered you can get more foot of boat per pound sterling if you go to the continent for barges). Lovely.

The crew also found Winchester to be an idyllic small town with Roman walls, Medieval buildings galore and a stunning cathedral – ‘Winchester Cathedral, you’re bringing me down
You stood and you watched as my baby left town
You could have done something but you just didn’t try
You didn’t do nothing, you let him walk by’ (Geoff Stephens).

The crew should have left it at that and gone to Heathrow to drop the car before heading to Harwich and the ferry. Not to be. On the way a sign said ‘Windsor Castle’. Too good to resist, the crew headed off to see if Liz and Phil were home. The plan was Knock on Ginger. After ringing the bell, we would hide in the bushes and laugh as Prince Philip opened the door only to look around finding nobody. Maybe we could leave a bag of flaming poo. Disappointment awaited us as we drove farther and farther down the road. We passed Ascot and other sites before coming to Windsor, the fortress and its souvenir shops. The castle was magnificent its true, but we could not find the front door and  the gun-totting Royal Guardsmen were off-putting. Drat. Time to leave. If only we could find the car.

The curse had now returned. After such a peaceful afternoon amid the swans of Winchester the scold that is London had me and the crew fretting about the whereabouts of the car. Following the pleasant days in Marlow and Winchester the Voyager had decided to give England her due and let bygones be bygones. Now we in the weeds, lost and desperate to find the the world’s largest airport and it was proving to be a needle in a haystack. And, while it was undoubtedly another case of Voyager Stupidity™, it was wishfully  suspected that it was my irreverence to the crown that had me cursed. If only I could just accept the fact that they were given their lands and power through the magic of The Lady of the Lake and have held them over the centuries by merit I could I set my thoughts aside. Matters at hand, we had now searched the streets for almost one hour and still the VW Polo was hidden from view. Finally, we came around a corner, went through an arched tunnel and pushed back a construction tarp to find the Polo sitting right where we had left it. We were back on the road.

The delay was to prove costly. Hopelessly lost in the dark we roamed the forested roadways for another hour before finding the massive M4. Then it was another half hour to find the M25 and the road to Heathrow. The Voyager was beyond tired and the entire experience was getting to be a little too much to handle. The crew still had to find the car rental site (nb. when they say the car rental firm is in the terminal don’t believe them) and then take 100 pounds of luggage through the tube to Liverpool Street station and the train to Harwich. The signs were getting better as we drove and after  much swearing from other motorists (how many ways can one be called an arse?) the entry to Heathrow appeared and we pulled into AVIS. However, we had forgotten to fuel up. This would incur a nasty penalty from the rental co, so we set off to find petrol. An hour later (drove all the way to Runnymede for gas) we were back.

Some businesses run on the understanding that their customers have needs. Not so, AVIS Heathrow. It was close to 45 minutes to check the car over and get a receipt. Next the shuttle driver was late and then he had to use the loo. By this time it was 9:00 and I could not see how we could make the ferry for an 11:45 sailing. ‘No problem,” said the man at Heathrow’s transit information. “Take the Piccadilly line to Holborn and change to Liverpool Street. Have you there in a jif and you should be in time to catch the last train to Harwich.” We set off for a seemingly endless number of stops and then a long walk to do the change. Got to Liverpool Street and was sullenly told I’d just missed the train. “Tomorrow, mate. Train leaves at 6:38. Don’t be late for this one.”

Pulled the bags out of the ticket area and looked around at the open air train hall. Where to spend the night? Above, a sign said waiting area, so we set off to find it. When we got there they were taking all the chairs and tables away. “What’s up?,” we asked. “Station’s closing in an hour. Can’t stay here.”  Outside it was raining. We made some inquiries. “Where could we find a cheap hotel that was near-by?”

“This is London, mate. Nothing’s cheaper than 100 quid.”

Out the end of the hall we spied a well-known budget hotel brand. We headed out into the night to see what could be done.  On entering we discovered you could not book directly with the hotel. One had to go to the computers along the wall and make a reservation via the Internet. We asked all the same. The clerk said Ok and looked. 118£ was the cheapest. We explained the situation and started talking. He was Islamic and wanted me to examine the Holy Koran. We discussed the nature of the soul and need for greater compassion as well as other topics while we stood at the desk. At this point a man comes around the corner with his bags, drops his key card on the desk and says, “Checking out.” We seized the opportunity. “Why not let us have the room. We’ll be out by 5:00.” The clerk looked up and said,”You will have to be out by 3:00. That’s when I finish.” He showed us the room which was a bit destroyed from the previous guest’s sexxy sexxy fun time.  Foil condom wrappers sat crumpled on the night stand and used Trojans floated in the toilet. We were too tired to care. The clerk said good night and left us to have a glass of wine and a sandwich from the provision store in the crew’s backpack.

At 3:00 there was a sharp knock on the door and it was time to go. Had managed to score two hours of sleep. We told him we’d be right down. Grabbing a quick shower, we packed up and left. The clerk was waiting in the lobby. We thanked him and set off into the chill early morning of London’s east end. Pulling 100 pounds of luggage is not fun in an airport. Its less fun over cobble stones. We went back to the station and sat in the rain to think the day over. As the sun began to lighten the sky a cafe appears. We head over to get out of the damp. Amazing how quickly a strong latte will buoy your spirits.

At 6:00 we paid the cafe and moved across to the station for the leg to Harwich. True to their word, Greater Anglia Rail had a train ready to go and we set off at 6:38. Slow at first and then faster as the train left the grey suburbs of London behind. The day seemed to be working in our favour. We were tired, but with a seven hour ferry ride ahead and the opportunity to sit back and recharge things could have been worse. Just then, the train came to a halt and we were all asked to remove ourselves from the carriages. “What!”

I had just been speaking with Grete, a woman on her way to work in Harwich Town. She had her bike and we discussed riding in Britain. We nattered on till we were asked to leave the train. Both of us were facing a challenge. We had to catch the 9:00 ferry ad she had to get to a new job. We both went over to the rail office to see what could be done. As it turned out – nothing. The next train was at 9:00, they would not phone a taxi, had not made arrangements for their passengers and wanted us out of their offices. “Could you get your car and just drive us? Its only 15 minutes,” we pleaded.

“You must be daft. Can’t take passengers in private car. Not allowed.”

In the end the Voyager scuttled to the front of the station and hitched a ride. This proved to be a bit of a challenge. Most people drove off without even looking, some were incredulous, one was a good guy who said hop in. John was a geologist on leave who had driven his son to the station after discovering the train had not come to Harwich. As we talked fracking and tar sands he broke the land speed record between Manningtree and Harwich. Still, the crew arrived three minutes too late to make the boat and watched as it pulled away from the docks.

In the terminal, we approached the nice people at Stena Ferry to inquire about things. “If the station had called we would have held the ship for 15 minutes. We had no idea you were coming. Your booking was through Greater Anglia. You should speak to them. They are downstairs.”

We went down. The office was indeed down and the woman at the window was as grim and solemn as the grave. “Help you?” she asked.

“Yes, I missed the ferry because the train broke down and I’d like a refund. ”

“Not here. You’ll have to write them a letter.”

We complained a bit more and then left to go back upstairs to discuss with Stena. They were willing to put me on the next boat in 14 hours and eat the difference in the cost. “Thanks,” we said.

However, by this time I had enough and wanted to be done with England and her wicked snarly bits. The decision was made to fly. iPhone in hand we had found a flight for 69£ that left at 3:00 from South End. Went back to Greater Anglia and asked about the train. “Yes, we have one in 20 minutes from platform 2. I can write you a travel voucher for journey. Give me ticket.”

The ticket was handed over and she wrote a voucher for rail keeping my 59£ ferry ticket in the process. Now that the voucher had been written, it could not be refunded and returned. She could not give me the ticket back either. We left to find out about Easy Jet at South End.

Easy Jet ain’t so easy. The terminal is a tiny commuter facility that seemingly services only two airlines – Easy Jet and Aer Lingus. We had tried for hours to book the ticket on-line with the iPhone, but kept getting Easy Jet server errors, a fact that drained the battery and used up precious data time. No matter, we here now and stepped up to the counter. Behind the service counter sat three ‘mean girls’. They were 20ish sour faced binge drinkers suffered their daily hangovers. They took great pleasure in hassling the crew with details like a 26 kilo weight overage and a carry-on bag that would not fit in the Hindenburg let alone an overhead compartment. Facing a massive cost to fly, the Voyager elected to wear almost all the clothes in the bags to reduce the weight in the suitcases. Now, standing at the check-in counter, The Voyager was clad in four jackets, four pants, four sweaters and full rain gear including a bib. Fees were brought down, but the cost to fly remained high as he sweated and dripped under all the clothes. More, the Voyager’s passport went missing after security and had to take it all off and put it all on again during boarding line-up. He had to step out of line, and undress in the waiting area under the disbelieving stares of the other passengers. Passport found and off to Holland.

As the plane left the runway the crew looked out to fields and suburbs of South End London and gave it the finger. “F you London. I’m so over you.”, he said realizing that he had said the same thing every time he left yet still came back again and again to this bitch that is London.

 

 

 

 

 

Arguments are down the hall

lady in blue raises a grandmotherly stink with her racist overtones

lady in blue raises a grandmotherly stink with her racist overtones

small crowds did not daunt the Voyager

small crowds did not daunt the Voyager

25000 nuclear warheads could really spoil your day

25000 nuclear warheads could really spoil your day

Not kind to the Prophet

Not kind to the Prophet

Arguments are down the hall in the well-worn Monty Python sketch. In London they are just off Oxford street in Hyde Park along the fence. There, the fruity and the fascinating gather for a bit of shouting and rough and tumble conversation. On Sunday morning the Voyager was among them.

The crew arrived early after a sleepless flight from the wilds of Pearson airport. Jet lagged and dog-breathed the crew sat in a cafe across the way from the famed site of democratic free speech. This is a spot that saw Marx, Lenin and Orwell spout their stuff from soap boxes to Sunday morning crowds. It was here that workers were roused and the British government was forced to extend the civic franchise to all men (unfortunately women would have to wait). This morning the crew was looking for a damn good rousing and so it was a case of three espresso, a quick write of a few thoughts and then off to find an audience in the park.

What the crew discovered was a quiet state along the fences. The  early morning was freezing with a bit of wet snow in the air and people were bundled for walking or dressed in full cold weather gear for running. The horsey set who road their mounts along sandy paths were out in woolens and ear flaps and their rides were covered in extra blankets. The crew was undaunted. We set up the camera on a tripod to capture the event and then set about trying to raise a crowd. “Hey, come over here and see me make a complete jackass of my self,” the Voyager was heard to say to one group. “No, we are from Norway,” they said scurrying in the opposite direction. “Was ist mit dir. Kommen hier und hören,” another group was asked in the crew’s hastily learned German. They were from Klagenfurt in Austria and they came over looking amused. Another couple joined them and the Voyager began his rant.

Unlike the real speakers who come to the Corner every Sunday morning and early afternoon the Voyager used his notes until he could get the engine of blab going full rev. “Wake, Up! I stand before you this morning to ask you to open you eyes and ears and experience the freedom that is innate in us all. Consciousness is not a gift. Look beyond the chimera that is consumerism and seek to master your lives. Make life do your bidding,” he said as the crowd thinned to nothing. The presentation was simply too half-baked and uninteresting to people who came to watch the real show that was now starting to build.

Beyond the square along the fences, people had set up placards and stood on kitchen ladders to address any who would listen. Much more practiced that the Voyager, there was an Imam preaching his brand of religion across from a raving woman who hurled Christian-based abuse in his direction. “The prophet is an ass,” she screamed. To which a man came over and asked her quietly to stop insulting Mohammed. She began the argument with spit flying out of her mouth as she quoted scripture and received support from those near by who shook their bibles at the Islamic man. “Please, we are happy to listen to your views, but do not insult our prophet,” he implored.

In another corner a white-haired woman in a light blue woolen overcoat stood her ground amid a large group. She spoke on ceaselessly on the plight of modern England, the troubles of immigration, the uselessness of the current generation and democracy. The Voyager called her out on the sham of democracy and the need for greater consensus in our societies. “And what society is that? I hear an American accent. Don’t think you can come here and tell us anything,” she spit back. The Voyager offered that in truly free societies the minority is not shut out, but has respect and a voice. “What minorities?”
she barked. “This is just the problem isn’t it. Too many damn minorities trying to tell us all what to do,” she said missing the point completely.

Along another fenced area stood a young Irish man. Hooded and clad in jeans and leather, he spoke on the rise of nationalism in the modern state in the face of globalization. Far from nutty he was more like Daniel O’Conner, the 18th c. father of the modern Irish state. He was reasoned and respectful of his audience and in true Irish form he was able to quietly bring his arguments around through anecdotes and homespun wisdom. His was an address that sneaked up from behind and surprised you into agreement.

To be sure, the Voyager was outgunned and outclassed in every regard no matter how loony the other presenters were. Really, the crew was operating an abuse service this Sunday morning where people were more terrorized than pleased by the sight of an unshaven man in a puffy parka spout a bunch of gibberish and half-baked prattle. In the face of the Voyager’s sorry ability to communicate people were left like those in the Monty Python skit to go down the hall for a really good argument.

Check out this you tube to see the lady in blue hassle the crowd:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouj2kl0UxEs