Songwriting’s A Weird Game – Keith Richards

John is currently obsessed with two ships, with John everything has to be in two’s. The ships which are currently bewitching John are ‘The S Boat & The Man Boat’
John has been obsessing about them for the past couple of months, spending lots of time downloading and printing off pictures from the computer, or sailing through rough seas on board, thanks to YouTube.

The ‘S Boat’ is the Stenna Line ship that sails from Birkenhead to Belfast, it has a very large ‘S’ on the funnel. The ‘Man Boat’ is the Liverpool to Isle of Man ferry, aka ‘The Vomit Vessel’ and has the IOM logo of three legs on the funnel. This poses the question as to why John doesn’t call it the ‘Leg Boat’ but I digress.

He must get his love of the sea from his dad’s side of the family, both his brother and uncle were ships captains, sailing the seven seas and wearing lots of gold braid.
My family have both feet on terra firma. Although it would be more accurate to say both feet on bicycle pedals, as my dad and my grandfather were postmen, cycling their way around Hoylake and West Kirby wearing bicycle clips.

It has been agreed this week, by John’s house manager, that he and two support workers can go for a trip on the ‘Man Boat’ in September. In John’s world that is a million lightyears away which means that he will not be able to focus on anything else for the next 5 months.
This could be the longest five months for all of us.

5 a.m. saturday morning John announces his arrival in my bedroom by hammering on the door and shouting ‘Man Boat song, now please mum’ and bouncing up and down on his knees slapping his head. I lay there for a moment as my sleep fuddled brain made sense of what had woke me up. ‘S Boat’ shouted John incase I hadn’t heard him properly ‘Man Boat, JohnElmo on boat’

I don’t know the ‘Man Boat song’ I have never heard of the “Man Boat song’ and at 5.00 a.m. my voice is not at its best.
‘Please stop bouncing John’ I asked, hanging on to the iron head board to avoid being bounced out of bed.
‘I don’t know a song about the Man Boat, go back to bed and we will sort it out later’

‘Man Boat song now please’ nodded John and signing ‘Boat’ spectacularly mis- reading my clutching of the head board and dazed expression as one of a woman on the verge of giving the vocal performance of a lifetime.
He pulled the quilt off me to ensure I wasn’t too encumbered to sing, and sat looking at me expectantly.

“What.?’ I asked looking at him and grabbing at the quilt.
“Man Boat song’ said John nodding and bouncing,
‘I don’t know it’ I said, now lets go back to sleep and talk about it later.
“Man Boat song’ repeated John patiently as if to say ‘I can do this for ever if I have to’

‘OK OK, I give up, you sing The man Boat song first and lets see if I know it’ ….hahaha, I thought ‘gotcha!’ He wouldn’t be able to, because there isn’t one, and so I can go back to sleep. I win yay! I metaphorically ‘High Fived’ myself. Pathetic I know but it was 5 a.m.

John’s way of singing is to hum through his nose, sounding a bit like a jews harp for most of the song adding a key word or two in the chorus. He is always in tune, hums the right amount of syllables for each word and shouts out the key words loudly when he gets to them.
I awaited his performance barely able to conceal my victory grin.

John stopped bouncing, continued to look at me long and hard before shouting ‘Abersoch seventhy seeps’ falling into helpless giggles. I smiled inspite of myself, he is so cute even at 25 yrs old, eighteen stone and bouncing on my legs. Truly he is.

I tickled him and gently suggested he went back to bed now and we would sing the song in the morning. He stopped laughing, dived into bed next to me cuddled up close and said ‘Man Boat Song’ licking my cheek as if to make his point.

He then started to sing, or rather hum, ‘row row row your boat’ Shouting the words ‘The Man Boat’ after row row row.
After humming ‘gently down the…’ instead of ‘the stream’ he yelled ‘eye o man’

So all together now….c’mon you know the tune….

‘Row row row The Man Boat,
Gently down the eye o man.
‘Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.’

Ok so it doesn’t rhyme, but I think its the best song I have ever heard.
Well done John, my gorgeous clever boy.


9 thoughts on “Songwriting’s A Weird Game – Keith Richards

  1. Bless him!! How sweet – there is a song for everything! I sort of pictured the iron bed frame stance as a Titanic sinking / Kate Winslet moment 🙂 your gorgeous boy never fails to make me smile.
    I think if “Row, row, row your boat” had been originally written as John suggested, then it would be far more popular!!

    Love, love, love your blog,
    What a super read,
    Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
    A book is what we need…

    • Thanks Chubby, I love your song too. As for the book I am hoping to have a lunch meeting with my agent to discuss some ideas.
      Thank you for supporting the blog. Xx

  2. Vomit Vessel is so true I have only been on the IOM boat once and was sick. Bless him wanting you to sing to him at 5 a.m. How clever of you to say you sing it first and I will follow, how clever of him to remember the words in the end. Another fab blog Julie in the life of you and your lovely ‘cute’ John. Lots of love to you both.

    • Thanks Lynda, john never ceases to amaze me with his cheeky ways and unique way of communicating. I am so glad you enjoyed reading it. Did you sing the song in your head? I bet you did hahaha xxx

  3. I’ve just started reading your blog. I’m a friend of Antonella’s so have known of it for a while, but thought I’d “give it look” myself. Have loved reading about your John – what a character! My grandaughter Matilda – Tilda – is autistic with quite severe learning difficulties, but she is such a blessing. At 7, she doesn’t speak – or not as we know it!! – but certainly has ways of letting you know things. Shall be reading more of you and John – thank you for sharing.

  4. Another brilliant insight into life with John. Wouldn’t it be great if we were all looking forward to a trip on the vomit boat to the IOM. Loved the wee song. Far better then the original. Good luck with the book. Big hugs to John and yu xxx

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