My blog isn't just about boats, or potplants for that matter. It IS about my toys - the old Fiat, the old motorhome, among other things - but it's mainly about the writing process, and BRINGING OUT THE BOOK IN ME, a lot of which was written aboard a dilapidated old boat, renovated and turned garden, that became my BOAT FOR MY POTPLANTS
How this blog began: Boat, garden, party venue and writer's retreat.
I'll be writing some pages for a major boat magazine. What a privilege it is to have been asked to do this, and I am really looking forward to putting pen to paper. The editor has suggested I include certain elements about the unfolding story so far, and I've already been thinking of some words to include...
Wivenhoe: Fantastic. Quirky, Beautiful
People of Wivenhoe: Interesting. Fun. Creative.
Boats along the quay: Historic. Different. Loved.
A Boat For My Potplants: Anything and Everything.
It had been a challenge set a long time ago - when I'd first been offered the wreck that became the Boat For My Potplants.
'I've had an idea!', I had said to Mark and Greg after a few too many Guinness's had been consumed. 'I could start a pirate radio station on the boat, and then I could play whatever music I like. It'll beat trying to get a request played on Steve Wright's Golden Oldies.
And so the seed was sown. And when I finally brought the half-renovated vessel and parked it outside the Rose And Crown, I even daftly allowed myself to be interviewed by Jason of the rather excellent Wivenhoe Forum, during which I outlined my plans for The World's Smallest Pirate Radio Station.
There - I had said it. In black and white and glorious technicolor for all to hear - so it had to be done and I couldn't back down.
It was bonkers. It was fun. We raised some money for charity, and we added to the Wivenhoe myth of being a 'nice place, but a bit quirky'. We made it in the press, and I got to choose some songs to play on my very own radio show.
And a bright future beckons. More radio madness will surely follow. But I mustn't forget the true raison d'etre of the boat and its potplants.
And that is to use the boat as a boat. So the next challenge for me is to sail to Brightlingsea for an onboard sleepover, and return the following day. It might sound simple enough for experienced boat-people, but for me it'll be the scariest thing I've ever attempted.
We made it in to the papers, and we're doing it all again this evening at six.
Mark Wesley, the world renowned ex-Radio Luxembourg dj and ex-proper radio pirate came down and joined in with the mayhem.
I rang him the other day to ask if he'd like to take part again. He said something about not thinking that his broadcasting career could have gone any lower until last Friday, and then the line went dead.
So instead, this week's special guest will be none other than John Yates - Mark's next-door neighbour.
It was just a slip of the tongue when I announced 'the next record is Radio Ga Ga', when I meant to say 'Lady Gaga' - but I think I got away with it. When my friend Neil offered me his father's boat to renovate, I didn't envisage this happening. Or perhaps I did.
On Friday evening, The World's Smallest Pirate Radio Station went on air for the first (and very possibly the last!) time. The Jolly Rodger was hoisted up on the aerial mast (actually my decorator's pole from B&Q), on top of the newly named Los Amigos.
'Good evening the World. It's six o'clock in England, one o'clock in Montreal and nine o'clock in Moscow'. We were off.
I had one of those "Oh, F**K" moments when I glanced up from my "studio" inside The Boat For My Potplants and saw literally hundreds of people on the quay who had gathered to witness The World's Biggest Cock-Up. The next time I have a bright idea, maybe I should keep it to myself, I thought.
But in fact it all went swimmingly well, and the four-hour show went by in a flash of mayhem.
Able Seaman Martyn sauntered around looking for nice ladies to interview on his roaming microphone.
Jerry from Radio Wivenhoe kept things steady-as-she-goes inside the "control room" on top of the kitchen (er, galley) sink inside the cabin.
Folks sat at the pub's tables with their transistor radios adorned with skull and crossbones stuck to their aerials.
And 'Erindoors became 'Eroutdoors, as Jane went round with the bucket, doing a fine job collecting money for The Wivenhoe Royal British Legion, as people paid for their favourite song to be played.
In the vein of Radio Caroline's MI AMIGO, I've decided to name my boat the LOS AMIGOS, at least for the duration of The Barnacle Bill Show coming live from the boat this Friday, and next.
But LOS AMIGOS also truly does mean 'the friends'.
Wivenhoe is full of them. It's a friendly boat indeed, and certainly a friendly place. I'm convinced that the boat attracts them.
Take, for example, Richard, who runs "Clear To See" - Print And Graphics Centre in Brightlingsea. I met him a few of weeks ago. I told him about my Boat For My Potplants, and a smile came to his friendly face.
I emailed him up a few days ago (on a Sunday), not sure whether he'd remember me, and asked if he could supply me some LOS AMIGOS stickers in time for the daft and bonkers radio show. He replied immediately, and as if by magic, the graphics arrived quickly, indicating a level of customer service that I thought had gone out the window many moons ago.
Thanks Richard, mi amigo - a song for you is on the turntable ready for a spin.
My hat goes off to top chap and another Quay Character, Phil. He managed to bring me down to Planet Earth with his wise words of wisdom last evening, while I was down at the boat trying out the equipment for next Friday's Barnacle Bill show.
Just as I was thinking it's all just another fine mess I've gotten myself in to, and generally flapping about with little radios that didn't work properly around the pub's tables, Phil calmly said 'if it brings a smile to a few people, it will be worth it. And if it raises a few pounds for a good cause, then even better.'
After all, I'll be in good company; my mate Mark Wesley (ex Fab-208 dj) is coming down. Jerry from Radio Wivenhoe will be holding my hand on both the decks (boat and record). Able Seaman Martyn will be wandering around on the quay getting people to choose their favourite tunes in return for a donation to the Wivenhoe Royal British Legion (the better the song, the more it will cost; eg Donny Osmond = 10p, Led Zep = at least a quid).
And of course Phil will be the bouncer, holding back the hoards of people trying to clamber on board The Boat For My Potplants.
I wouldn't want to pick an argument with Big Phil, so with that in mind, I stopped flapping, and decided to lap it all up.
The World's Smallest Pirate Station will hit the airwaves on August 17th, after years of planning (or at least several days). Following too many Guinness's down the pub, the spectacular show - surely putting the Olympic Ceremony in the shade - is actually coming together.
The Boat For My Potplants, the Wivenhoe equivalent of Broadcasting House, will be home to tired and weary disc jockeys from across the country, encouraged by huge payments from major record labels to play the latest poptastic chartbuster.
Listeners who had been looking forward to a quiet pint at The Rose And Crown's quayside tables will be able to tune in and hear their favourite tunes from a selection of vinyl 45's left on the pub's tables.
All they'll have to do to hear their favourite tune is to walk the plank and throw the record through the hatch. They chuck it, and I'll play it.
And if you're further afield than the Boat For My Potplant's 50 feet not-terribly-powerful FM range, worry not. You'll be able to listen via my blog on the WWW.
It could be a bit of fun and I'm sure Johnny Walker could teach me a thing or two about how to play some old records. It's all a bit bonkers.