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The new book is called Narrow Dog to Wigan Pier.  It is about the loss of the Phyllis May, and two summers spent exploring the northern canals of England in the PM2.  It includes a certain amount of memoirs – (my dears, the dirt, the shame).

I.  Stone – The Grimpen Mire – Jim Francis is dead – Two whippets are a conspiracy – Jesus Christ would want me to go to Europe – The Loch Ness Monster – You are probably clinically insane – The Creature from the Black Lagoon – Time to hand in our chips – The Phyllis May began to roar like a bunsen burner – Our poor buckled Phyllis May

2.  The Mersey and Liverpool – Paradise Street – They’re not going anywhere – A serious boat owned by proper canal people – The Northerners will think I am a homosexual – Tonk tonk tonk went the Russell Newberys – One was called The Devil’s Bank – The wind blew us across the lock – Swallowing noises under our hull – I was born into a disintegrating world – Rivers of flame running down the hills – What asshole adjusts the carburettors of bombers? – You came down the Mersey on your own? – The whippets shivered as I let them slip – Paradise Street – The smoking room in the Titanic – Sunshine through the golden chain

3.  Liverpool and the Rufford Branch – The Kingdom of the Mad – Mr Morse hit Mr David on the chin – Come here he said and drew a knife – We do not mention the python – Captain Johnny with his sloops and corvettes – Blood on the leaves and blood at the root – Where was his guardian angel? – That chap can play the clarinet – The very earth was alive and flowing – You can fly with gulls and eagles – Magic texts – My God you are English! – Under the control of an alien presence – A slimy little bastard everyone knew as Slug – I was born on a boat! – In comes Adolf with the hypodermic

 4.  The Ribble and Lancaster Canal – The Glittering Path – He tried to cool his engine by throwing buckets of water – The countryside sort of lies there –You are a hooligan and a show-off – The library, the river, the pub and a staff nurse – The Tombstone Shagger – The snorting laugh, the tortured vowels – They are scum – Skin like white porcelain – Cartwheels along the rim of the waves – It goeth neither up nor down - Kipper suprėme – Change of husband if you don’t watch out – A fly pressed like a flower – They were going down like ninepins in Lancaster – Permission to step on your gunwale, Captain? – His face streaming with blood – Right out onto the Gulf of Mexico

5.  The Lancaster Canal – Further North You Cannot Go – He was a real trainee – A loser all my life – A Bolton parson telephoned me recently – Now I’m engaged to Miss Monica Ann Gell – We would have to ask the Archbishop of Canterbury – Love before dinner – Fresh green and yellow summer skins – Do you do much ocean racing Terry? – The tide was gathering speed – It looks like a cowpat ––The jewel of the Northwest coast – Like being at sea.


6.  The Leeds and Liverpool – Simon Rodia Funny Little Guy – Mid-Atlantic in the mad July gale – Outside the pub with her skirt pulled up – The Toronto Salute – The lights of Yonge Street bold as blood – A long way up for the hell of it – It begins with the creeping – The City Lights bookshop – Some gentle people there – A pheasant in a Christmas tree – Wigan Pier is among the most hopeless – You will not necessarily be attacked – El Camino Real – A million times I was wake up all night


7.  Aston – Stone-next –the –Sea – He fastened his teeth in my neck – Dad didn’t say much – The fastest narrowboat they had ever known – Old Joe Guyer pissed in the fire – Gold and silver poured from the heavens – A life-saver’s embrace – An ironic ice machine – The lights going up street by street– No-one would publish my poetry – The first jogging club in Europe – The Stone Steeplechase and the Dog Derby

8.  Willington – Sunlight CrowdingThrough Tall Windows – We will have a little academe – A mistake of forty thousand pounds – Loathsome creatures couple in the bilges – A reproach to the colours of spring – My solicitor was in gaol – How do you know I’m Roger McGough? – Plaisir d’amour – Lights for only three days a week – We will barbecue your dogs on the lawn – A sweet opiate – The cathedral of trees – Used in Northern Canada for recreational purposes – My wife wet herself

9.  Shardlow to the Tidal Trent – Yellow Fish – The moles are closing in – Make the blood green – The most interesting job in the world – I chose life, not art – We bounded over the snow – Walls of white foam – I never got to grips with Bankok – As if a gunboat lay off-shore – He answered even the damfool questions – The whorehouse Hilton, Taipie – Out with your vippets – In Nagoya little children would burst into tears – I am an old man and I will be dead soon – You are burning the furniture

10.  North to York – Bends and Meanders – Never forget your geography teacher – Fighting outside with guns – An international sportsman – We headed for Thorne sideways – Could you train me for the marathon? – The wind blew me down in the mud – It had carved up one of those whippet dogs – One day soon I will knock on the door – Pirates that run down narrowboats – Outrageous old boats – This cancer must be cut out of our economy – The river gives a town its meaning –– On the left was Mama Cass – Jim was in love – A sixty-pound anchor coming at my chest – A man shuffled towards her – Under the fence, bloody, helpless – We have her on a morphine drip

11.  Dewsbury – Demonic Love – The Queen was not seeking me out – You will get murdered for your briefcase – The loyal staff; the bastards – Put up your prices and answer the phones – Keep changing, reverse the dominance – Waiting with a revolver – I saw a sign – Bandit country – Rudd and Chubb and Tench – The dance of the kingfishers – A long time since a dragon ate anyone – The essence of the class system is exclusion – A dog that had appeared to go mad – Deadly Ernest –– Trying to shag his Auntie – We’ll be pulled down and eaten – Mr Palmer is not going to die – Last night I dreamed of Manderley again – This one will sell in six figures

12.  The Pennines – The Ghost Train – The incredible leaping producer – The Citadel of Carcassonne is beautiful and startling – I did not say a word, just dribbled lightly – Thirty tons of shit and an actor – They were starting to get worried about the esses – Let’s hear it for the guys in special effects – Crossing Moon River – I like to ambush and frustrate the reader – Rivers run down your neck – Water is necessary to the whole activity – How the nation dealt with Jive Bunny – My pockets full of water – Personally I prefer sexual reproduction – Destruction to your boat

13.  Stone – In a Somer Seson Whan Soft Was the Sonne – Big small dogs –Doing dreadful things to his maggots – I could have lost Mon and Jim and the Phyllis May – The Pain in the Arse – The sky had leaked onto the distant fields – Those waves are still coming in – I bet they lay rusty eggs – The mermaid winked at me and her bosom heaved – You work your side of the street and I’ll work mine – When Ulysses arrived at Ithaca he felt like a bloody good sit down


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