We’ve been together for quite a while now, me and Sandra. She sort of looks after me because I’m a bit limited in the brain department, if you get my meaning, and someone has to be responsible, which is only Sandra’s way of saying she loves me. Sounds a bit soppy, but that’s the way she feels about it. Maybe she could do better for herself, but I don’t think I could get rid of her even if I wanted to, which I don’t. I can get a bit soppy myself. I might be thick, but I’ve got feelings.

We plan on taking our summer holidays soon, which is something to look forward to, as Sandra goes in for cool, summery sort of clothing. That’s just another way of saying she likes to get the sun on her skin, and that’s just another way of saying I see a lot more of her than usual, and that’s just a way of saying it takes a bit of doing, considering what she wears at home in front of a blazing good fire in the middle of winter.

Not that she doesn’t look nice in the winter when she’s dressed up to go outside. She has this sort of almost real sheepskin calf -length coat, dyed red, with a pure white furry collar that she pulls up to almost hide her face. I always reckon she looks like one of the gnomes from Santa Claus Land in that outfit, but Sandra says that she probably looks more like Mary Christmas. I can tell by looking at her that that’s meant to be a joke of some sort, but I don’t really get it, which Sandra says doesn’t give her any great surprise.

Anyway, this year, we intend to go on a boating holiday, cruising along the canals, and maybe getting as far as Stratford. Sandra says if I behave myself she won’t make me go to see one of Shakespeare’s plays in the theatre. I don’t know though. From what I hear, some of them can be pretty good, with lots of swordplay and plenty of action and blood. It’s not real blood, even I know that, but probably looks like the real stuff anyway. She likes Shakespeare, does Sandra, which I suppose she should when she teaches English Literature in our local college, but luckily I’m not the jealous type, and anyway, I’ve seen pictures of him, and he’s way too old for her, so that’s all right.

Well, we arrived at the boat hire place, and found we had got quite a nice one, that looked pretty much like it did in the brochure, which is a turn up for the books. There was a little kitchen, only I’m supposed to call it a galley, but that can’t be right, because there was an engine instead of oars, and although the boat was quite big enough for me and Sandra, I just couldn’t see where the drummer would sit, assuming he had any slaves to give the time to. As for the bloke with the whip…!

It was at that point that Sandra told me to pack it in and leave the humour to someone better equipped in the intellectual department, so I did. She gave me a little squeeze for trying, so it was well worth it, know what I mean? As it happens, it was quite a big squeeze, because she likes to show how much she cares.

Of course, there was more to the boat than just a kitchen – sorry, can’t bring myself to call it a galley – there was a sofa sort of thing that opened up into a double bed, after which I really lost interest, but Sandra said if I’m going to describe it, I’d better do the job properly. So, a double bed, another single bed, which I doubted we would have much use for, unless things got cosy, which they normally do when me and Sandra are away on holiday, and a table on hinges, that pushed up and locked in position when not wanted. I thought at the time we’d likely have trouble with that, and I wasn’t far out. Then there was a bench, a bit of a cheat really, since it was the single bed in disguise. I suppose if three people are on a boat like this they have to eat their meals standing up, unless they fancy putting all the bedding away every morning. Not much point in that, I would have thought, but that’s probably because I like to see my bed occupied and in full use. A couple of small cupboards, and that was about it downstairs, or what would have been downstairs if there had been any stairs to have a down from.

Upstairs, if there had been any upstairs, well you know what I mean, there was a tiny area at the back of the boat where you could sit and steer. I thought Sandra might do that, as I’m a big bloke, and I could see if I sat there, I probably wouldn’t get out until the end of the holiday, and there didn’t seem to be much fun in that, although Sandra did offer to come and feed me every few hours, but I could see she was joking again.
Then, right at the front end, there was a flat platform, perfect for sunbathing, and when Sandra turned her eyes on that, it was obvious what she was thinking. She likes the sun, does Sandra, and it looked as though she might get a bit browner than usual, maybe even in places not normally on display, as we intended to find some quiet spots without anybody else around.

Well, that’s what we intended, but the reality turned out to be a bit different. Talk about Piccadilly Circus! Honestly, the canal system is so overcrowded with holiday makers, none of which know how to handle a boat, and I include myself in that, Sandra said we might take our holiday next year on the Exeter bypass, where you tend to meet a better class of person. It was rather nice there last year, I know, as the jams were so bad we had time to take out our picnic table and set it up on the grass verge, where we were joined by a very friendly couple from Manchester. It seemed almost a pity to spoil the grass, as you could see it was in good condition before we had our picnic on it. Totally untouched by the hand of man, said Sandra, to which she added that it was probably virgin on the ridiculous, but it’s a long time since she was one of those, so I’m not sure she could remember what she was talking about.

All right, Sandra, I know. Leave the jokes to those capable of such intellectual feats.

Even so, we did enjoy the holiday. Oh yes, this is back on the boat now. We’re not on the Exeter bypass any more, which would be a bit difficult to do in a boat, even during the height of last summer’s floods in that area. It was great fun going through the locks, especially when one right idiot fastened the rope too tightly to the bollard on the tow path, and when the water started to sink, the pointy bit at the front of the boat went sharply downwards, causing a bit of flooding all of its own. Now at the risk of sounding as though I’m being less than modest, I was pretty fast on the uptake, which is not like me at all. What I did was to take the hacksaw that we found in the boat, goodness knows why that was there, and cut through the rope so that the pointy bit came back to a horizontal position toot sweet all in a great rush. This led to Sandra falling backwards with her legs in the air and her skirt around her neck, so it was worth the reproachful look I got from her. Well, when I say reproachful look, I really mean something rather stronger, but Sandra says she is a lady and doesn’t use language like what I put down first, even if it was a bit more accurate.

The best bit of the incident was that when we – yes, I was the right idiot mentioned earlier – discovered that all our clothes had got wet, including the ones we were wearing at the time, it meant that Sandra had to settle for wearing her new bikini until everything else dried out. Now when I tell you that she goes in for bikinis in the same way as some women go in for shoes, that is, a couple of sizes too small, you can understand why I enjoyed the holiday. As for Sandra, well, the days were warm, with plenty of sunshine, and she got the tan she wanted.

Oh yes, we went to the theatre a few nights later, and there was plenty of blood on the stage, so much I felt a bit sick like, and had to shut my eyes during the fights, but Sandra held my hand at those times, and was very understanding when we turned in for the night, so if that was a punishment for not behaving myself, I think I could really get to like the theatre.

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