A ghost, a drunk, and a bridge too far – a walk through Middlewich #narrowboat #boating

We’ve got neighbours at the moment, the Cardinal and I – and, for once in my moanfest, I’m happy with that. These are fourteen-day moorings but there’s quite a regular turnover of moored boats. I like these moorings. No idea why, they are noisy and urban. Can’t explain it any more than I can explain why I just don’t like some other, apparently more suitable places. Some I just do. Some I just don’t. There was one such v.nice mooring on the Llangollen that I moved off after just two hours, couldn’t stand that spot. Took me ages to find somewhere else that was vacant. Me is weird.

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The view from our bows, over the stretch where the bank has decided to end things, and has sunk without trace beneath the water. The red and white poles mark the extent of the remains.

That said, I could have done without the drunk who was banging on boats at about 02:30hrs the other night (I assume not just on mine, but on the whole row moored here). For the second time in the past three years I woke up, shouted ‘THIS IS NOT A DRILL’ and made good and practical use of two of the switches within arm’s reach of my deliciously comfortable flea-pit. One switch turns on a couple of “Night Sun” LED floodlamps on the boat roof, the other sounds the 120db horn…

How loud is 120db?

Actually, had I really shouted ‘THIS IS NOT A DRILL’ the way that they do in all of those military-esque Hollywooden “penny dreadfuls” then that would probably have been sufficiently terrifying on its own to make anyone run. If I wasn’t holding a drill then what the heck sort of power tool was I holding? A chainsaw? A bacon-slicer? No, I just shouted to myself in my head, as I rolled onto one elbow and reached for the big switches and flipped off the guards that prevent accidental use.

Hearing then no further disturbance I dressed – carefully, slowly, without haste – and went outside to lovingly crush the larynx of anyone still foolish enough to be within range. The drunk was something on the order of two hundred yards away, running with a most peculiar gait indeed (soggy-wet trousers?) and stopping for nothing and no-one.

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If the gap fits, we moors. If it’s just a touch too short, sometimes we still moors.

Anyway, as usual, I digress. I want to tell you about this morning’s walk-ette, my route taking me from above King’s Lock up to Croxton Flash and then back almost the same way but with an excursion through Middlewich town, to check the charity shops for any more el cheapo Linkin Park CDs (and in constant hope of a complete headbangology of Rammstein CDs, although I’ve yet to see a single one in Cancer Research or St Dingleberry’s Hospice Support et al).

The walk took me past a public dustbin – Middlewich, gobsmackingly, still has them, thanks be to Middlewich – and then on past the six locks of the town (five on the T&M, one on the Wardle) and I performed a volte-face at a place called Croxton Flash, where the canal appears to widen out adventurously, but has actually just created itself a shallow puddle with which to tempt the unwary into grounding themselves.

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Croxton Flash, methinks.

Heaven (and passing boaters or, in extremis, CaRT and/or R.C.R.) help those who don’t spot the warning signs.

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Warning – this sign has sharp edges.

On the way I spotted – and immediately covetted – this delicious wee beastie in a dealership and behind bars.

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A motoring anachronism, but I still wouldn’t mind it.

I was a complete car-freak in my youth, but now they generally just leave me cold, or worse. The world would have been so much better a place had Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot not bunged a chuffing great steam engine on three wheels in 1769, thus inventing the car. Where once I looked for roaring engines, squealies and j-turn capabilities, these days if I look at all I look for safety, comfort and cuteness factor. This Citroen Dyane-based van has little to no safety but, wow, it has character a-plenty enough for me.

The bridges I walked under had all been decorated with the usual graffiti, although there is, I confess, more thought to the graffiti in Middlewich than there seems to be in other towns. Far out to the west of town are the ‘Repent’ and ‘Abandon hope’ bridges, in the centre of town is ‘Think outside the box’ (sprayed-painted outside a “box”. and lacking only the “of” of  ‘Think outside of the box’ to satisfy the grammar-Nazi in me), while today to the north-east I walked past some sort of dancing voodoo man, and a rather disturbing message for one ‘Tyler Kerr’ whomever he or she may be. Is “Tyler” a boy’s name or a girl’s name these days? Do the Yoof of Tudday still make such distinctions?

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Voodoo?

If anyone in Interwebnetsland knows whether Tyler is alive or dead, please let me know in the comments, I do worry…

There is some sort of peculiar practice in canal-world, mayhap elsewhere too, of knitting or crotch-ett-ing things and plastering them all over the environment. I kid you not. Woollen (90% polyester) floral covers for lock-beam handles, that sort of thing. Either this little square that has been tied carefully in the towpath undergrowth is part of that trend or else the spiders around here are getting well above their station in life.

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The local spiders are getting above their station and are producing ever more grand webs.

Anyone ever seen a large hedgerow spider sporting a crochet hook, spectacles, and support hose – and toting a large basket of wool ends to use up?

No, nor have I.

Praise be to the Greek and Roman gods.

The towpath paraphernalia didn’t get any more weird than that, but it did, separately, explore “incredibly sad” and “randomly motivational”.

Sad? That would be this memorial to a canal and boat-loving dog, who died – the cause is not stated, it might have been both voodoo and crochet related – while on a cruise and was taken home by his keepers on the bow of their boat, to be planted later in the garden under a tree (and thus stifling his love of boating, substituting instead proximity to his loving family). I always get incredibly soppy about dogs, I ought not to have crouched down to read the story. I’ll be putting flowers there myself before you know it.

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Sniffle-inducing memorial to a boat-loving dog.

The random motivation was found on one of a couple of sadly abandoned buildings.

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Yuppify me.

Prime canalside property with vee-hick-u-lar access and parking, begging to be yuppified. Ditto this:

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Yep, that’s the town church in the background.

There is a spray-painted legend applied with not some little care to the right-most ground floor anti-vandal anti-squatter anti-intrusion steel door.

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I am.

Yes, I know that I am, but I still appreciate whoever it was who took the time to tell me so again in this most enterprising manner. Thank you. 😉

The ghost, I hear you cry, the ghost? Well, take ghost to be in questioning quote marks (single for quoting speech, double for indicating doubt or casting aspersions if you speak-a-da-or-write-a-da English, the reverse is the norm, I believe, if you do the American). “Ghost”. I do not suffer from religion, I do not harbour beliefs about harp-playing in some afterlife, but, in common with my sister (although not so much my brother) I have always tended to be where whoo-whoo, chain-rattling and difficult-to-explain events take place. No idea what “ghosts” are, mayhap some sort of ripple or complication in time and space, a hiccough from dimensions as yet unexplored by the human species, I don’t know. One thing I can say is that I have experienced lots of them, although I never look for them. Today’s, unlike some which I have experienced as horridly malevolent, seemed to be a playful one.

Anyway. I was walking along this morning, bright sunshine, blue sky, birds twittering, carrying my wherewithal in my uber-trendy, uber-practical and really trés butch Troop of London classic brown canvas man-bag, when – and here’s the weird bit – the strap suddenly weighed down on me like a ton of bricks, exactly as though someone was (very-) playfully tugging at the strap from the back.

No-one in sight.

It didn’t stop tugging, very heavily.

I stopped, I fiddled about with bag (normal bag “weight”) and I fiddled with the strap – not caught anywhere, not caught on anything (in any case, I’d walked quite a few yards along).

Tug. Tug, tug tug.

Tugs from a very heavy hand.

Then after five minutes it just stopped.

I am reasonably sane, I am reasonably practical and down-to-earth, I believe wholeheartedly in the laws of nature and the laws of physics even if we don’t know more than a tiny portion of them as yet, but something was pratting around, tugging at my man-bag – and there was no-one in sight. If it was a gravitational anomaly then it was a mightily specific and localised one!

Another strangeness to file away under “Huh?” Yet another one.

I tell you, it all happens on the canals, you know.

do wonder though why putative ghosts (“ghosts”) never do anything practical, such as whispering next week’s National Lottery winning numbers into my ear-ole or something. It’s all very well pushing books off bookshelves and making footstep noises and tugging on man-bag straps, but what is the point?

😉

Now, about the fund-raiser to buy me that lovely yellow Citroën Dyane van…

Chin-chin for the mo, chaps, and perhaps leave yourselves a comforting little night-light burning tonight, just to chase the shadows away…

Ian H., and Cardinal W.

16 Comments

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this tale. Gives the lie to the idea that ghosts only appear in the dark, though. Appear seems to be the wrong word, here, but you know what I mean.
    On the subject of quotes, though, I keep on having to explain to folk from the US that single quotes is perfectly acceptable where I come from! (UK).
    Keep on with your tales of Cheshire. I love hearing about my old home county.

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  2. Perhaps the tugger was Tyler of gender unknown?

    If you can’t afford a car, you can certainly afford a dog from a shelter. Good company and a good barker when drunks or mice try to invade.

    I don’t suppose your neighbors enjoy your defense of the Cardinal. I would have left my bed to remove your soul with my harangue and leave it hanging on the bow to rethink it’s choices. Get a dog. It’s less intrusive on your neighbors and more enjoyable for you.

    Signed cranky old woman who hates loud noises and is currently being buffeted by them by my neighbor fireworks “display” I have the damn 4th of July.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It wouldn’t have surprised me in the least these days to have been presented with some sort of other-worldly card machine and to have been asked ‘contactless or swipe?’ Even bridge trolls have to move with the times… 🙂

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  3. Were you anywhere near that deserted house at the time? The one in the vicinity of the church? Coincidentally I am writing a book of short stories about my own ‘ghostly’ experiences at the moment – anyway a priest once told me (he’s the one in my second story who came to bless the department I worked in up at the old Asylum to displace a few ghostly happenings, they don’t do routine exorcism these days and he wasn’t trained in it – maybe you’ll get to read it one day) that his first billet after priesting school was a vicarage he shared with a very lively poltergeist. You ask why would one accost you on the tow path, well he reckoned that it’s when someone has died and hasn’t left for whatever reason (presumably to go up or down as the case might be) their energy remains.The church near that old house would probably have a graveyard and the deserted building where they meet for a reunion, it’s probably an old souls’ clubhouse and very lively after dark. Did you try talking to it? Probably would have run a mile if it thought you could see it On the subject of the crochet web work – could someone have installed it for somewhere for the moths to go to feed? They love making holes in clothes.

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    1. I didn’t talk to this particular beastie (I was too puzzled initially to even think of that) but I have, on occasion, told a few of the more malevolent sort that they would leave before I did – had a battle of wills once, over sole occupation of an old farmhouse in Norfolk (I won). 🙂

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  4. Another fine piece of tale-telling. Despite the opportunities for a spooky tale or two on the canals there sadly seems a dearth of such. Well done for bucking the trend. Mind you the number of tugs is decreasing also so good to add a few.

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    1. Twas indeed, as these things always are, a most peculiar sensation. At least “ghosts” rarely poke a wet finger up a nostril or in an ear, or worse… Mind you, I can think of a lot of people in England (in “power”) who would benefit mightily from some sort of spiritual kick in the proverbial nuts!

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  5. Nothing is a s good as a good flood light sometimes.
    Always enjoy your wanderings (nice old car – sigh – if only the money and garage and time to enjoy as few selected rehabilitated ones…see being on a boat saves you from that HAHA)
    Oh, the weaving – there’s groups of women – some in the Rocky Mts areas – that delights in making little pieces and placing them around in nature. Started a few years ago as a whimsy. (Like nature needs decorations? HAHA)

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    1. I am all for whimsy but I do wish that they’d channel the urge into more practical uses, such as seat-pads for the benches sometimes found along the towpath (I do like a good sit down)! Perhaps even put the urge into building more benches… 😉

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      1. Or maybe warm sweaters or blankets for veterans.
        At first it was amusing, but after a few years the knitted tangles can become clutter of natural areas.
        Bench seat are a terrific idea…but probably anything useful wouldn’t interest them.

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  6. Another great post. I do wonder who was tugging at your bag. It might have been Tyler.

    Let me make one thing clear: if the spiders at my house get to the point of making webs like the ones in the photos, this house is going on the market.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Spiders are ridiculous things, aren’t they? If we need the functionality of spiders and flies and even wasps and bees then I for one don’t see why nature couldn’t have just put little teddybears out there to do the same jobs – something without stings, without buzzers and without that primitive knee-jerk reaction that insects and arachnids always produce in me! 😉

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