Monthly Archives: July 2011

Soul Duck

You never know who you are going to run into here in Wind in the Willows country, and this weekend was a good example. My friend Judith Edelman, who was visiting me in Windsor, was the first to spot it.

‘My God’, she exclaimed, ‘that duck looks just like James Brown!’ And you gotta admit, she has a point:

Unusual Duck in Windsor

The King of Soul

How weird is that? Like the time Prince William turned up at Sperry’s steakhouse in Nashville and  freaked out all the WAPs at the salad bar. I mean, you could understand it if you saw James Brown in Nashville or Prince William in Windsor, but the other way around just feels kind of wrong.

© Copyright 2011, Southern Dysfunction


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What is it about spiders and boats, anyway? My guess is that they get on board, find plenty to eat, no one to eat them in return, reproduce, and then can’t easily disembark. Before you know it there are thousands and thousands of spiders — and spider webs — to deal with.

My friend, the Wizard Geoff Mellor, who takes care of all of my electrickery when he is not lost in an unknown parallel universe, says that ‘spiders are very good luck. You should never get rid of spiders. If they’re on board, it means that nothing dire is going to happen to your boat. Especially when they are in the bilges.’

‘A bit like rats,’ adds Poppy, the Pirate Queen. ‘Also, spiders are the symbol of the Goddess on earth in the realms of  old Pagan beliefs.’

Great. I will explain all that to the guests who are arriving on Saturday.

I know alot of boat people in England who claim that a few conkers (aka buckeyes) will repel spiders because chestnuts emit a chemical odour that they dislike. For that reason, I have scattered a few of them on the windowsill next to Jesus, because, as you can see, he is scared of spiders. However, this method simply does not work.

My normal spider elimination technique involves the vacuum cleaner and a magazine. Poppy was absolutely horrified by this when she joined the cruise last week. ‘Harriet,’ she explained, ‘the collective consciousness of the spiders is going to give you really bad karma.’

I have to admit that when I come back, I would prefer not to be a fly, and that is where she thinks I am heading. So we have reached a compromise: the tupperware catch and release method. I have to admit, it works pretty well, and I feel better already.

© Copyright 2011, Southern Dysfunction


Filed under Thames

Calamity Jane and the Pirate Queen

‘No thanks, I can’t stand sprouts. Good source of Vitamin C though.  I met this sailor once in the Port of Sudan who lived on nothing but sprouts and bottled water. Luigi, his name was. Thin as a rake. Completely mad.’

My friend Poppy is crewing for me for a couple of weeks, and I was making lunch.  Poppy sails her boat, Free, single handed, and is currently weatherbound in Lowestoft, so I suggested that she come to Calamity Jane.  She is following a spiritual path, which means that meat, alcohol, and sex are out but chocolate and nude sun bathing are in. For that reason, we are happily moored up on an island at Cliveden for a few days, until I run out of wine and she runs out of chocolate. She is teaching me a lot about reincarnation, and in return, I’ve lent her the Stieg Larsson trilogy. Amazon days.

© Copyright 2011, Southern Dysfunction



Filed under Friends, Uncategorized