Steve Jordan: And Finally... Peace despite everything

Apr 18 | 2024

Well, it was an absolute joy. I have just returned from an utterly prosaic, yet extraordinarily inspiring week’s holiday...

Steve Jordan ... and finallyYes, you remember – a holiday is one of those things you did as a child when mum, dad and your annoying baby sister all piled into the family Morris 1000 and headed off to Scotland for a wind-battered, rain sodden week in a tent.  Oh, how we laughed.  Holidays are not common things for grown-up movers but, hey ho, you’ll be old like me one day and be able to do it again.

This was a regular jaunt. Every couple of years or so I head off with two of my ageing mates, for a week careering around the British canals on a narrow boat (7ft wide, 60ft long).  We’ve done is since we were teenagers. It’s true, you might only be doing 3 mph, but when you are driving 15 tonnes of steel, with no brakes, along a thin channel not much wider than the boat itself, you pay attention.  Just as you begin to relax, and feel you have it sorted, you meet another unguided missile, in a bridge hole.  Suddenly the closing speed of 6 mph seems much faster – and quite scary.   

Then there are the 200-year-old tunnels to negotiate, some only 8ft wide and potentially miles long, many of which leave you unable to see either end from the middle and all home to demons and terrors so easily imagined in the pitch dark, lurking to engulf you at any moment.  Hmmmm!

But it is fascinating. The history of the British industrial revolution is woven into every yard of the canals.  Their construction mind boggling. The wildlife intriguing. The chance to see familiar places, from a totally different perspective as the canal winds its gentle path through some of our greatest cities. And the locks, triumphs of engineering that still fascinate casual onlookers puzzled as to how water can be made to appear to flow uphill.  A moment’s stardom as you apparently tame the gloomy, mysterious beasts with consummate ease.

Then again, it’s not the canal, the tunnels or the locks that are the stars of the show. It’s us. Three men in a boat.  Stress banished for a whole week. My oldest friends (in every sense), joined through triumph and despair since schooldays. Put any three people in a boat for a week and you can guarantee that a spark or two will fly.  No, not a chance.  Excuse the pun, but too much water has flown under all our bridges for that. There are no secrets. No bullshit. No egos. No topics that are off limits: politics, religion, sex, relationships … whatever you like. We know we are not sexist, racist, misogynists or homophobic, so whatever we say, however much whisky we might have sampled as the evenings together draw out, will always be taken in context. Even the toilet humour, a probable hangover from childhood fascinations, is OK.  Actually, it’s very funny.

Yet I look at these chaps with whom I have shared my life and see that we have nothing in common.  Not much anyway. Both the others are barmy on F1.  I see no fascination with a bunch of overpaid prima donnas charging around in circles. I like almost any sport, they have little competitive instinct.  I challenge myself continually, physically at least.  They prefer a quieter time.  One can answer almost any Trivial Pursuit question on TV programmes – I wouldn’t care if mine never worked again. I continually pick them up on their grammar and bore them rigid with useless information. They both like trains!  We are all pedants.

But we do have one thing in common: 60 years of shared history. There are few important moments in any of our lives that we have not experienced together.  These are special people, and I am blessed to have had them around for so long.  I have often thought that we love our friends because of who they are, but we love our best friends despite who they are.  Quad erat demonstrandum.