While Emily has been on holiday in England, I’ve been on holiday too. I’ve not been thinking about smoking bans. I’ve not been thinking about global warming either. I’ve not been thinking about anything much at all.
So yesterday we went to Goodrich castle. But we didn’t find the lost Roman road and bridge that it once guarded. It is in the nature of lost things that they are usually difficult to find. And we didn’t really try to find it at all.
Instead we adjourned to the nearby scenic Old Ferrie pub on the bank of the river Wye, to watch boats and ducks and swans, drink beer, smoke cigarettes, and eat olives.
The Old Ferrie lived up to its name, because there actually was a ferry across the river. For there was a steel cable stretched across the river, with a boat attached to it. And since there seemed to be some sort of engine with lots of cogs to which the cable was attached, I speculated that it was used to haul the ferry boat across the river, probably making a loud clattering sound as it did so.
I was, however, mistaken about how the ferry worked. For after a young couple had climbed into the boat, a young man appeared, took a handful of coins from them, unmoored the boat from the shore, and ferried them across a river in a rather surprising way. For all he did was to slide the rope that attached the boat to the steel cable along it, with deft flicks of his wrist, as the boat swung to and fro like a pendulum downstream of the cable.
It was all very, very simple. So simple that I wondered whether a 10-year-old child could have acted as the ferryman. I’d never seen a ferry like it before. No need for engines. No need even for oars.
And before there were such things as steel cables, I supposed that there had been a tall sailing ship’s hempen rope stretched across the river, perhaps rigged by sailors from the Royal Navy.
It crossed my mind also that this ferryman could be Charon ferrying the souls of the dead across the river Styx in his “rust-coloured skiff.” According to Wikipedia:
In Greek mythology, Charon or Kharon (/ˈkɛərɒn, -ən/; Greek Χάρων) is the ferryman of Hades who carries souls of the newly deceased across the rivers Styx and Acheron that divided the world of the living from the world of the dead.
All of which reminded me of Bocklin’s Isle of the Dead:
Greek allusions pursued us at our next destination, a nearby garden maze which included a museum of mazes, in which we heard recounted the story of Theseus and Ariadne, in which Theseus escapes from the labyrinth of the Minotaur using a ball of thread provided by Ariadne.