Messing about in (with) boats….
Ever wonder where the expression came from ?
`Nice? It’s the ONLY thing,’ said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. `Believe me, my young friend, there is NOTHING–absolutely nothing–half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,’ he went on dreamily: `messing–about–in–boats; messing—-‘
`Look ahead, Rat!’ cried the Mole suddenly. It was too late. The boat struck the bank full tilt. The dreamer, the joyous oarsman, lay on his back at the bottom of the boat, his heels in the air. `–about in boats–or WITH boats,’ the Rat went on composedly, picking himself up with a pleasant laugh. `In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter.
Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not. Look here! If you’ve really nothing else on hand this morning, supposing we drop down the river together, and have a long day of it?’
Kenneth Grahame [Childrens story writer – Scottish, died 1932]