THERE WAS RECENTLY an interesting message on the Scuttlebutt forum run by the British magazine Yachting Monthly. It was posted by a member called “jesterchallenger.” He apparently keeps his boat on a mooring adjacent to a busy waterway, and there is something that drives him mad when he’s on board. It’s not the boat traffic. It’s the damn people. This is what he had to say:
“Sitting on my mooring on a Sunday afternoon, people seem unable to resist the urge to wave at me.
“Now, I'm a polite man, but after about 20 or 30 waves it all gets a bit irritating. Maybe I'm popular, but there's a limit . . . so if I see a potential waver I try and avoid eye contact.
“Worst offenders are husbands and wives — they always wave separately, one after the other. Couldn't they have a confab and have a joint wave? Then I've only got one wave to return, not two.”
Well, I must sympathize, jesterchallenger. It’s hard to contemplate anything more irritating than an undisciplined bunch of wavers, especially if you’re an Englishman and value your privacy.
Isn’t it extraordinary how people will just presume that you want to be waved at? How are they being brought up these days? Why are they not taught manners? How would they like it if strangers just waved at them all day long without being asked? I mean, just waved, with no permission? People you haven’t even been introduced to? Great galloping gastropods, what’s the world coming to?
What gives these blighters the right to think they can wave openly at a respectable boat owner enjoying the peace and quiet of his own little craft? They’re cads, sir, unlettered and unwashed. They deserve to have their hands permanently bound behind their backs to prevent recurrences of this provocative mischief.
And as for the husbands and wives waving separately, well, I am at a loss for words to convey my disgust. I feel for you, jesterchallenger, old chap. I don’t know how you keep your sanity when they wave separately, for god’s sake. To require you to wave twice to one passing boat is simply beyond the pale and I, for one, would not blame you if you were to get out the old shotgun and blast away. I mean, how much trouble would it be for them to synchronize their waves, for goodness’ sake? Not that they should be waving in the first place, of course, if they had any sense in their stupid heads, or any vestige of the rules of social propriety.
It’s hard enough in these days of crowded anchorages and idiot newcomers to find the enjoyment that used to be part and parcel of sailing. Of course, one does one’s best to maintain a stiff upper lip, but surely it’s time that the authorities took notice of the unwarranted distress caused by these thoughtless oafs who can’t keep their arms under control. Unrequested waving should be banned by law. He who waves should pay the price, dammit. And let it be a steep one.
Hitherto shalt thou come, but no farther:
and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.
— Old Testament, Job, xxxviii, 11
A touring Brit entered a restaurant in darkest Africa with great caution. He found a table without fuss and sat down quietly.
When the waiter came, he asked timidly: “Do you still serve Englishmen here?”
“Yes sah,” said the waiter enthusiastically. “Rare, medium, or well done?”(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)