Part 10

We had made a decision. We would sort out the front third of the boat, make sure we had sleeping and bathroom facilities, and then we would move onto Misterton whilst the rest of the work was being done. I agreed that I could live on a building site as long as we could sleep in comfort and get clean. The good old British blitz spirit would help see us through.

The first priority needed to be getting the front third warm and dry. As we had taken off the fiberglass insulation we had noticed electric cables in places where there were mini waterfalls wandering down the side of the hull. We quickly came to the conclusion that we would need to remove the current electric cabling and start anew. I was full of my newly acquired electric knowledge (see part 9) and felt happy to have an opportunity to join in a technical conversation with limited knowledge. I sounded convincing to myself and Simon smiled at my obvious delight in sounding slightly sensible. Simon did decide to keep the cable, the system may be wrong but the cable could still come in useful. I sensed a hoarding theme emerging but nodded my head in what I hoped was an agreeing manner.

The steel surface of the hull was now free from linings, but the steel did not look remotely like anything I had imagined. It was ravenous rust right in my eye line. I looked nervously at Simon and then delicately touched the damp, dirty side of the boat. To my horror and dismay the damp, dirty side dropped to the floor and the side of the boat appeared to be crumbling away at my touch.

‘We’ll need to scrape the rust off the surface to get the steel clean beneath, and then we can put rust converter on it,’ Simon confidently announced. ‘Here I’ve got you your own rust scraper.’ Simon handed me a scraper that I have seen on building sites being used to hold putty, and in my dim, distant youth I vaguely remember seeing my father using something similar to mix concrete in small batches.

Inside I was having a major crisis, Simon appeared happy with the state of the boat. All I could see was the wall disintegrating in front of us both. Surely if the metal had got rusty and we scraped it away then there would be no metal, thus no hull, and therefore Misterton would sink? I could not fathom why Simon was still smiling as he set to work scraping our way to the bottom of the canal.

I had to trust him and decided if we were going to sink then we were better sinking together and started to scrape as well. I had put on very thick protective gloves as I did not want to ruin my hands so close to the wedding, and I had even had the presence of mind to buy special cream that builders put on their hands to stop them getting rough. I was surprised that modern builders are so in touch with their feminine side, but delighted as it would mean my hands would still be soft for the big day. Thank you to vain builders everywhere requiring the product to be made.

As I started to scrape a strange sensation came over me; pure, unadulterated, personal satisfaction. As I placed the scraper onto the rust, with the gentlest of pressure huge sheets fell down, leaving a visibly smoother surface underneath. The only other activity I can relate this too is the delight I derive from a good manicure. Nails often get little chips or breaks leaving rough edges, using a nail file can quickly restore a smooth and polished finish and leave a hand that looks professional and cared for instead of a hand that belongs to someone who cannot afford the luxury of personal hygiene on a regular basis.

I contentedly continued to scrape way at the side of the hull as sheet after sheet fell to the floor leaving a cleaner looking surface underneath.

My mind reflected on the Misterton metaphor being revealed to me through this simple task. Life often throws challenges in my path; these often appear to be massive mountains requiring me to put monumental effort in, to manage to keep breathing the thinning air. The accident on the bike ride, leaving college with a great honors degree and not finding work for twelve months are two examples of mountains I had faced in the past. Each of these mountains I climbed and kept breathing and when I finally hit the summit over the other side was a view I had not expected but provided pleasure I could not have dared ask for, and a path I had never thought to tread. Post University I spent six amazing months working in the south of France and post my bike accident I met Simon and now we were getting married. Life needed to hit rock bottom occasionally, but rock bottom was just a way of finding a different path as the one that had been followed had run out. I looked at Simon who was scraping rust with me and knew that by scraping rust together no challenge thrown at us would be greater than the combined force of the two of us.

‘I’ve finished my section look how clean it is,’ I stated with pride.

‘That’s great for removing the surface rust, we’ll get onto the rust layer beneath next time.’

I was horrified, that was just the beginning? I better hold onto the Misterton metaphor as it was going to be a long journey, inside I knew the path on the other side would be amazing, I just couldn’t quite see it – yet.