When our daughter was about eight, we hired a boat for a weekend for a canal break.
The boat we had was quite small and made of fibre glass and had a pull start engine at the back a little bit like a lawn mower.
My daughter and I were instantly nervous as her dad has an almost pathological ability to break any machine and has broken at least four lawn mowers!
Well we tried not to think about it and off we set, myself, my partner, our daughter and Annie our lovely dog who was the mum of our beautiful dog Grace.
We had a wonderful time, our daughter and Annie wore life jackets, and the locks proved entertaining to say the least, but the part of the journey where it all came unstuck was
It was a mile long, damp, cold and pitch black, and half way in ... the engine died on us.
Not the end of the world you may think, except that is when the person in charge and driving the boat all of a sudden flies into an unprecedented panic.
Well there he was pulling at the engine string like a man possessed, until, yes you guessed it, he pulled it clean off!
So there we were, stuck in the middle of a mile long tunnel in total darkness.
I could hear this very high pitched voice that I barely recognised which then suddenly raised at least four octaves higher into a blood curdling scream as he saw the light of a sixty foot long barge coming up the tunnel toward us.
That was it, he completely and utterly flipped out.
"We're dead ... we're gonna die in here .. our boats only stupid fibre glass, that thing's steel it's gonna crash into us ... sink us ... we're going to DIE!!" ... you get the picture.
Well I'm not easily panicked, thank goodness, so I told our daughter to take Annie and go below, which she did after a little conspiratorial look between us both acknowledging the fact that dad had actually gone nuts.
I then looked at my partner and thought of the scene in the Poseidon Adventure when a woman had lost it and was slapped across the face to bring her to her senses ... I considered it for a moment, but then decided it best to take control of the boat first.
I grabbed the poles on the top of the boat and thrust one at him and took one myself and clambered down the boat to the other end then shouted.
"Use it to push us to the side! "
Luckily he heard me through his panic and did as I said, his eyes wild as the barge approached.
It passed by with ample room, without touching, and without even a hint of sinking or killing us!
Anyway, as we were still alive I suggested we used the poles to push our way along the tunnel and out to the other end.
By the time we had reached daylight again my lovely partner had regained his normal demeanor and was now taking charge admirably by hailing a passing boat for a tow.
All was right with the world again and we sailed noiselessly down the river behind the kind towing family.
Well we'd survived,
and as I looked at him standing there behind the wheel, there was just one thing that kept playing over and over in my mind.
It wasn't that he'd broken yet another machine,
nor that he may have psychologically damaged our daughter for life.
the only thing that kept running through my mind,
over and over was
.... he screams like a girl!!