You've maybe heard of him? Or not.
My most recent foray into the wonders of canals and canal boats led me to the little steamboats -- Clyde puffers -- that hauled this and that on the wider canals and eventually around the Scottish coast, beginning not too long after the States ended their Late Unpleasantness and continuing as late as 1993.
You cannot so much as look at a Clyde puffer without running smack into Para Handy, dreamed up by Neil Munro in 1905. Oh, he never really existed; he's more colorful than real life ever was. And yet somehow his ship -- the Vital Spark, "the smartest boat in the trade" -- and his tiny crew and the skipper himself are iconic of the entire enterprise and uncommonly good fun besides.
Written with dialog largely in dialect (and one an American speaker of the mother tongue may find not especially permeable), Munro's short yarns paint an endearing picture without a hint of sappy sentiment. If you enjoy Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, you just might like this one.
The accent rings clearer to the ear. Of course the BBC could not overlook so ready a source of material, and produced at least three series, the most recent in the 1990s. And it just happens to be on YouTube:
As for me, I'm inspired to see how a similar tale or two might fare in my own Hidden Frontier. The Edgers are all about small-time shipping and free trade, after all....
T. R. MCELROY'S STREAMLINED TELEGRAPH KEYS
9 months ago