There is something a little mysterious and slightly scary about boathouses, protruding into  water – whenever I see one in a film I always expect something ghastly will either happen there or have happened there, or be hidden there… some secret will unexpectedly be revealed making the audience jump and gasp.

All the boathouses I have ever been in were for rowing boats and eights, and were sheds on dry land with the boats stacked inside. I have never actually been in a boathouse which sticks out over the water, but I can so vividly imagine it I wonder if I was taken in one as a child. I can imagine the sound of the water lapping, and slapping against the moorings and jetty and landing stage, and a sort of dead echo, and the distant everyday sounds from outside;  I can imagine the reflections and shadows and strange colours and lights, muted and dull but with a sudden flash or twinkle; I can imagine the smell, that particular river smell and damp wood smell, a river weed smell, a slightly mouldy muddy smell; I can imagine the brightness outside glimpsed through the entrance, or seen through dirty windows; I can imagine the festoons of cobwebs… I can hear footsteps on the wooden staging, and the different sound of feet on the boat; I can see someone tying up or untying the mooring rope, carrying things aboard or carrying them off – baskets or boxes, picnics? Supplies? Something else?

In this strange memory which isn’t a memory (provably something conjured by those films or TV programmes) I’m not nervous, or frightened or anxious, I’m just standing and observing, watching and waiting – waiting for what? To get on the boat? To get off the boat?  Or neither, but just to leave the boathouse with whoever else is there? In this memory which isn’t a memory (unless it is) I’m a child, probably between the ages of six-ish and ten-ish.

No doubt one day I will write a scene set in a boathouse!

3 thoughts on “Mysterious boathouses

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