Tidbits - the written word

Sail Boats and other such things…

I just overheard an interesting snippet from a morning TV programme,
“A research team has found that a 20 minute walk every day can add years to your life,”
Leaving aside the fact that most people know this anyway or at least, suspect it, it was good to hear. Confirmation that something one enjoys is good for one, is always welcome.
I have to ask though, was this research programme set up just to establish this fact or was it part of a larger programme and this gem just one of many conclusions reached? I should not mock. Where would we be without research?
In caves, I daresay.

After all, where would we be if Abi Eshu had not continued with his research after inventing the wheel, discovering the clay tablet and even an alternative coinage to the Turnip? Abi Eshu was too clever to sit back and do nothing. With some poetic licence, I invite you to imagine this scene…

It is somewhere in Ancient Mesopotamia in **3500BC or thereabouts.
Abi Eshu is polishing the wheels of his cart. These new wheels are made of iron and gleam beneath the orange sun. It is evening and he is putting the cart to bed.
He removes the day’s takings and records them on the clay tablets by the door, 4 turnips, 5 bags of potatoes, 1 pig. It has been a good day’s trading.

“Abi Eshu, are you coming in to bed?” his mother calls, “It grows late and the sun goes down,”
“Soon mother,” replies Abi, “First I must go to the barn,”
Abi Eshu crawls into the hayloft and pulls out his latest project. A pile of reeds and a small piece of cloth, lie before him.

He begins to weave the reeds together. They are many and his fingers grow numb but he works long into the night.
The next morning his worried mother comes into the barn and climbs the ladder to find him sleeping in the loft. She shakes him awake.
“Abi Eshu, look at you sleeping in your clothes on the floor of the hayloft. You will come to no good.”
Abi blinks and grabs at the object next to him.
“What is that?” Abi’s mother is wide eyed at the object her son is holding up with pride.
“This, mother, is a boat.”
“Yes Abi, I can see that but but it is so small and no use to anyone. You have stayed here all night to make – that?”
By this time, Abi Eshu’s father has come into the barn and he too casts doubt upon the tiny boat that Abi Eshu seems so pleased with.
“I do not intend to sail in it,” Abi assures them, “But when I was walking by the river the other day, I saw three fishermen each in a boat. The first boat was sitting in the middle of the river, the second boat was by the edge and the third, wedged on the bank. I asked the men where they were going in their boats and they told me they were going to row them to a place many day’s ride from here but every time they put the boats in the water, the wind lashed around their heads and the boats spun round in the water.
As I stood there, I felt the strong wind blowing my cloak. My hair was in my eyes and I could scarce keep upright. I thought, I must think of a way to help these men get their boats to sail up the river and not spin round and round.”

Abi Eshu’s parents look at one another. They are used to their son’s wild imaginings but this sounds very interesting.
They wait as Abi Eshu climbs down the ladder and strides across the parched ground to the river.

Following him, they sit on a nearby rock and watch.
Abi Eshu finds a long stick. He takes his piece of cloth and secures it to the stick which he wedges into the woven reeds.
“Why has that boat been given a curtain?” laughs his mother but Abi does not reply.
He arranges the cloth so that it forms a triangle from the tip of the stick and clings to the side of the tiny boat.
Three fisherman who have also been watching, move closer.
Abi Eshu holds a finger up to test the wind. He kneels by the river’s edge and drops the little craft into the water, adjusting the little piece of cloth until it feels right to leave it. The tiny boat bobs around in the water for a moment until a breeze catches it. Abi waits. Abi’s parents wait. The three fishermen wait, open mouthed. The little boat begins to move. It moves so fast with the wind driving behind the piece of cloth, that Abi has to run after it.

“It works!” he cries, exultant, holding up the little craft as his audience puff up to meet him.
“A wonderous thing,” they all say.
‘Will you make me such a craft that I can sail in?” asks the first fisherman. Abi Eshu nods with enthusiasm. He knows he can.
“You will need a bigger cloth,” his mother points out.
“It will need to be strong, look how the wind has tugged at that small boat,” points out one of the fishermen.
“It will be both large and strong,” Abi Eshu assures them.
“I have the very cloth!” exclaims his mother, clapping her hands together, “It is not silk, nor flimsy cotton – it is the tough sacking I weave to carry the flour in.”
Abi Eshu grins,
“That would be perfect mother and I will make sails for all the boats so that on windy days we can use the wind to take us where we want to go.”
‘And on still days?” his father asks with a grin,
Abi Eshu shrugs,
“On still days we paddle but there are very few still days on the river.”
From that day on the fishermen’s boats speed along with their sails flapping in the wind and the tradesmen carry their goods far and wide.
Even so, on still days it is good just to paddle up and down the stream and admire the countryside.

**Poetic license has been taken with this tale as sail boats were invented in around 5000BC, most probably by Abi Eshu’s Ancestor.

“The ancient Mesopotamians were a highly inventive people responsible for many innovations. These included the seeder plow, writing, irrigation and sanitation techniques, Other notable innovations included: “Pythagorean theorem,” the concept of zero, glass, and the arch, column, and dome. Around 3500 BC, they invented the wheel and they were among the first to harness the wind as an energy source by using the sail.”

On an entirely different note – being duty bound to provide a giggle or two this month, I should say that some research into a better way of pulling on your wellies when sitting in the driver’s seat would be a good idea.

This morning, arriving at the woods, I parked the car and swiveled in my seat to discard my shoes and pull on my Wellingtons.
How was I to know my left leg had pressed against the automatic switch, which causes the seat to rise and move forward? Next I knew, I was being shunted towards the steering wheel while the back of the seat, slowly but inexorably, bent forward. Imagining myself folded up and pinioned against the wheel in a most undignified manner, I came to my senses in the nick of time and moved my leg. The seat stopped its threatened progress and though I was now bent double, I was able to reverse the motion.
Extricating myself from the embarrassing fiasco, I let the dogs out and hoped no one had seen…
You didn’t did you?

The woods
Charlie and Flossie in the woods

Happy New year!

I am an Author, wife to one, mother to five and grandmother to six. I live in the English countryside in Hampshire, UK, with my husband and two dogs and am a non exec Director for Glow www.theglowstudio.com.


  • Teresa

    What a lovely picture you painted of Abi Eshu – I could see it all clearly as I read! I didn’t realise quite how much we owed to those ancient Mesopotamians.
    Must admit I had a giggle about your car seat trying to eat you, but it must have been scary at the time. I can’t believe how fast Charlie is growing xx

    • Debbie

      Thank you Teresa, it has taken me long enough to get back on board! Yes, Charlie is growing fast but still small enough to climb on our laps. i think he always will be though Flossie thinks she is too…hmmm! X

  • hilarymb

    Hi Debbie .. thanks for your wishes .. I’ll have to come back and read this properly anon …

    Please can you send me an FB friend request .. not sure which DB is you?!

    Cheers Hilary .. I’m panicking before the POSH hospital grabs me .. til it spits me out back to the DGH!! Talk anon ..

Leave a Reply