The woman in front of me is worried about her shoes. Or rather the muddily grassed area that is our new mooring spot, and the damage it might cause to her shoes.
In view of the damage to one of our boats, caused largely by poor preparation of the berth, my fellow boat owners and I find her shoes not at all concerning and I tell her this. She glances at me. Distaste flickers across her expertly made up face.
'My dear,' she begins, her voice exaggeratedly patient. I quickly explain that even her elevated position as head of a local council doesn't entitle her to patronise me. The mug of tea in my hand lurches and I walk away, aware that although hurling the contents would bring momentary satisfaction, it would certainly worsen the situation.
I glance over my shoulder and see that she has been persuaded to overcome her worries and is picking her way across the grass to inspect the damage. The circus of people in high viz waistcoats continue to argue and blame each other for the fiasco, drawing back and parting to allow her to pass. Alert to any deference, however slight, her back straightens a tad, giving her a regal air.
Two minutes later she is safely back in her car, muddy shoed.
Feeling slightly sick, I look away from the sight of my lovely home being dragged across the water. My boat pauses in the middle of the river. Its sleek lines are blurred and it is ungainly, helpless, surrounded by smaller boats peopled by men shouting and tugging on ropes. I feel oddly invaded and when it is safely moored up again, I snap at one chap taking a well earned rest on the deck.
The move has been traumatic. Seismic in its power to shake and destabilise. I try to be grownup about it, to pull myself together. I still have a lovely view, I tell myself sternly. It is pretty here. Better, in some ways.
When everyone has gone, I climb aboard and start to tidy and replace objects on shelves. But the boat is tilting as it settles in the mud. Uphill. Suddenly all the early terrors are back. I try - and fail - to push away an image of the boat executing a lumbering backwards somersault. I can almost hear the screeching of steel as, Titanic like, it slowly implodes. Tears of fright and self pity sting and well, and I mourn my lack of Bob with renewed vigour. He would have made everything safe, somehow. But now I feel unsafe and, shaking with outrage and fear, I scramble off my boat via the wobbly gangplank, swearing at it and giving it a final kick.
Several hours later, after a stormy visit to a friend, I am back and my boat family is there, reassuring, adjusting ropes, coaxing the boat back slightly, so that it sits better, making the gangway secure, pouring wine. One, having listened to my unreasonable rant about muddy boot prints on the decks, brings me a bright red mop and bucket.
When the tide goes down, the scary uphill tilt is rectified. Now I am tilting slightly to one side, but I and the other boat people are used to that. And it's quite fun to put down a glass on the worktop and watch it slide gracefully towards the river.
The next day I use my lovely new mop to swab the decks until they are pristine blue. Then I spend an hour using Bob's saw to cut a green-stained pallet in half, creating a seat for the deck. I work methodically, carefully, oiling the teeth of the saw when it sticks, remembering to extend my forefinger, guiding it. I am polite but chilly in my rejection of an offer from a passing dog walker to 'do that for you.' His reply is drowned out by the noise of the saw.
It is a meditative exercise and the end result is satisfying. Wide and low.
I sit on my new seat and drink a cold beer, staring at my new view. I stretch my legs out in front of me, watching my feet do a little pitter pat dance of triumph. I think of my sister and her funny river dances and I smile as I picture her leaping around our kitchen, her shrieks of laughter mingling with the music.
I feel calm. And safe. The sun comes out unexpectedly and I tell myself that this is a good omen.