Humouring the Canal Rozzers

“El Lockdown” hasn’t, in the world of reality (as opposed to the world of politics and press), been even a glimmer of a notion hereabouts for some weeks, and especially so over the recent Bank Holidays and sunny weekends. It’s been some sort of Greek tragedy pantomime, with the usual suspects (Alpine pole-waving geriatric ramblers, speed-record cyclists, scoop-underprivileged dog-emptiers, and anglers with more tackle than a Brutish-Rail Railways Porter could handle for a shilling tip) all tottering up and down the towpath, eager to infect one another just as soon as may be humanly possible.

There’s no reliable information available. Hell’s bells and buckets of blood, there’s very little plausible information available. I don’t know if this thing is real. In the absence of data (and Data) my only logical and sane reaction must be to treat it as though it is real.

One of two things will happen now in the coming weeks. Either the whateveritis was not as advertised, in which case we’ll all be fine and it’ll take us all at least half an hour to forget that politicians lie whenever they open their mouths, or it is as was advertised, in which case there’ll be a tsunami of infections and deaths.

The Canal Rozzers, the Executive and Trustees not having so much as a single brain-gland or spinal column between them, have ordered all of we horrid, smelly boaters without a home mooring (“without”??? I don’t lack a “home mooring” – I don’t want one!) to move move move as though peace has broken out all over the land. Yes, their Corporate priorities are that skewed with an intense dislike (hatred perhaps) for non-leisure-only boaters.

Well, sometimes tis easier to flow with the go than to argue unnecessarily, and I was taught to keep my powder dry and reserved for the more important battles rather than the minor niggles, so we – the Cardinal and I – us – have mooched on a little. Also, I could not for the life of me persuade the Cardinal to reverse in a straight(ish) line last time that I called in to the Venetian wharf for wotnots, so up through the lock and away into the sunset it was.

We’ve (temporarily) left our previous moorings.



We’ve left behind quite a few of the entitled-snowflake numpties who objected to my objecting to them doing stupid and/or quite rude and/or unnecessarily intrusive things such using my windows – and in one especially-entitled case, the window right by my desk where I was sat sitting – to – I can only surmise – “urgently check their legs, check their hair and/or attend to other vital close-up reflective-surface-based needs”. Either not giving a rat’s rectum and/or trying to peer in. One or the other, those are the only possibilities, and neither is polite, is it?

Yeah, right, and these were themselves narrowboaters and who, as such, ought to know (much, much) better. Their behaviour even though they knew that my boat was then occupied.

We also had, the Cardinal and I, a most enjoyable (if very minor) cruise-ette in the rain. The only discouragement being the weed that now infests the canals, leaving the Cardinal with very little propeller in his weed-ball.

We’ve also left behind the silly-hot of the recent summer, and fallen into a delicious pit of cool and rain.

Overnight, from this


to this.


Yes, Mr Stove is lit.

Our outlook remains nicely green, if with rather less horizon than hitherto.


The towpath is wider here than most places – and somehow, Greek and Roman gods alone know how, has been mown – but the flip-down-sidery is that services are now two miles ahead, or six miles behind (two miles to the winding hole, back again and then back some more). So these are not ideal “El Lockdown” moorings, sadly.

Here’s one odd empirical datum for you to ponder. I am moored close to the A51 Chester Road. I have been moored here many times in the past. It is a road that is usually replete with sirens, both police and ambulance – although mayhap, I have observed, ten to one in favour of ambulances), something on the order of at least a dozen a day on past experience, sometimes twice that. From the “visitor moorings” (towpath filched in a land-grab by the canal rozzers to further their gentrification ideology) it was, if not actually pleasant, gratifying to observe cars and lorries scooting in a very English way out of the path of emergency ambulances on strobes and siren. I have heard one siren so far in two days here. Just one, and that a police vee-hickle.

Just the one. Singular. At that, only a couple of short bursts. There’s traffic on the road, mayhap tw-thirds to three-quarters of pre-pandemic levels, so it’s not just that their passage is easier and can be achieved without blues and twos.

Are Messrs Police and/or Ambulance taking a different route these days? Are they elsewhere doing other things? I don’t know, but the contrast is stark.

As a friend of mine recently observed in not so many words, “information society” my arse – we know less, and less reliably, what is going on even locally than did our fore-fathers in medieval times when word of mouth was the sole it of I.T.

The plan? Continue scribbling The Beast of Cholmondeston Lock, sleep a lot, and then remember to get back down the weed hatch to clear the prop again before the next early-morning scoot through the services and on to wherever I think appropriate in the light of whatever I guess to be the statistics for this whateveritis.

“Guess” being the word of import in that sentence.

Chin-chin, keep well, keep the faith and do, please, keep feeding the cat.


Ian H.


  1. Hi, Ian!

    I have a question. I got curious about whether there were canals in Devon, so I started googling. Apparently, there are a couple, the larger of which seems to be the Grand Western Canal, which is managed by the Devon County Council. I have not been able to find a map detailed enough to show whether this connects to any of the CRT canals. Do your canal maps have the answer? If it did connect, would a CRT license be sufficient to get onto it, or would one have to buy some kind of permit from Devon County?

    Thanks so much! Hope you’re having a more pleasant time of it, now that summer is almost here and you’re allowed to move again!

    All the best! Laura

    On Fri, Jun 5, 2020 at 3:06 AM The Diesel-Electric Elephant Company. wrote:

    > Ian Hutson posted: “”El Lockdown” hasn’t, in the world of reality (as > opposed to the world of politics and press), been even a glimmer of a > notion hereabouts for some weeks, and especially so over the recent Bank > Holidays and sunny weekends. It’s been some sort of Greek trag” >

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Laura. There are a few stubs of canal in that corner of the country. The main one, I think, was originally built to allow cargo to by-pass the somewhat daunting trip around Land’s End. They’re owned by the local County Council now as far as I can tell, and they don’t connect with each other or with the rest of the system – not surprising, the southern half of the main canal network barely connects with the northern half (we don’t do “joined up thinking” in England anymore!). Pure guesswork but I’d imagine that the boats on them would all be day boats/hire boats, licensed by the Council. Tis a shame – I wish that the canal network were bigger than it is – two thousand miles, but a lot of that effectively useless by dint of being in London or Birmingham or similar no-go areas. 😉

      You might get to part of the canal but to do so you’d need to brave the Severn Estuary and the Severn… and to do that you have to be either or both of two things – very, very, very brave and/or utterly insane!

      Happy to do some research if you’re looking for a hire boat or whatever for a trip on there, just let me know.

      Cheers Muskie, Ian H.


  2. I like your term ‘dog emptiers’. Round these parts they’re responsible in as much as they scoop the evacuated contents into plastic bags, but then (for reasons I’ve never fully understood) they hang said plastic bags in the branches of the nearest tree so that, given time, the place starts to resemble the entrance to Mother Shipton’s cave.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lots of that around these parts too. One trio scooped after their hound had pooped right alongside my boat, tied up the bag, announced that the bag was biodegradable and tossed it into the long grass… I retrieved the bag and left it in the middle of the path and marked by some dayglo tape for their return… They took it with them. A hint can often work wonders. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m not very surprised at people peering in. I have friends who live in the medieval quarter in Parthenay, France. The houses are all ancient. They have spent years ‘doing’ theirs up, and it’s now wonderful. But my friend said that sometimes tourists have actually opened their door and come in! When confronted, they said the ‘thought it was a museum’. Still it’s very rude, especially by people who should know better.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ye gods, it’s even less excusable in a bricks and mortar dwelling! It must annoy your friends mightily when it happens. Far fewer people seem to respect boundaries these days. Mind you, when I was knee-high to a policeman if your ball was lost in someone’s garden you had to knock on the front door to ask to retrieve it – and if no-one was home, it was a lost cause until they were!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely! I was forever going next door and asking, politely, if I could have my ball back, please. (And when I got home, I was asked ‘Did you say thank you?’ If not, I had to go back and say it.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I’ve been waiting for the spike, but doesn’t seem to be happening here. Despite a plethora of stupid behavior vis a vis the virus. But, if course we are currently in the midst of yet another racist police brutality mess. Because if one thing is more sure than another, people in power don’t like to learn a lesson and change. It’s distracted us from the virus in a horrific way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The entire human globe has slipped into insanity this year, and I’m not sure that I am concerned enough to watch it try to recover. We are not a particularly likeable species when all is said and done.

      The pandemic statistics quoted here have become more and more confused and contrived than ever in the past couple of weeks – huge arithmetical errors in nationally-quoted government figures (for example somehow “losing” four-hundred plus deaths a few days ago…). The advice is contradictory and not a word uttered by “experts” or politicians is now plausible. Aside from that, it’s all going rather well… 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Sometimes you’re better off just out of the society’s loop. The water, the sky – stuff that actually impacts – all that matters.
    The third picture from the bottom is like a movie set. Hope it’s pleasant and mild there now


    1. Still some version of autumn here today (and I am not complaining – tis far more pleasant than that baking ho tnonsense of late!). Wind, rain and dull grey. 😉 Human society at large and I never really had much going between us before this, I think there’ll be even less afterwards (if I live to have an afterwards)…

      Liked by 2 people

  6. This weather is madness, just had a terrific hail storm and it’s so cold I’ve flicked my heating on, nice to see a picture of Mr Stove though. It’s a weird idea to think of someone standing outside your lounge window trying to looks inside whilst admiring their reflection in the glass! One other question if I may ask? Q. Are there any issues related to a very tall man (say 6′ 3”) with the height of interior of a narrow boat? Asking for an imaginary friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Crazy cool this morning and, of course, uber-warm this afternoon. Ruddy England.

      The strange bods using my windows as mirrors were boaters themselves, and really ought to have known better – no-one can resist or minds the occasional peek, it’s not possible to avoid the draw, but there are limits…

      The Cardinal has 6′ 6″ headroom inside (one of the reasons why he chose me – there’s no need for me to take my devil-horns off when aboard) so a 6′ 3″ chap could manage – avoiding the occasional lower vent and door-frame as necessary. Lots of narrowboats do have much less headroom though, depending upon the design – I don’t know, but I’d guess the more traditional, perhaps the less headroom to some extent. They all accommodate your average Hooman though. Hope that helps. 🙂


  7. Regretfully re. Your last remark, after the typically un-British wevvers we have been subject to, the flesh on my back has been so well scratched that there is now no longer any fleshy sustenance for the , “cat.” Yo ho ho and all that, as we nautical types say.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No thumbs … but just wait until they evolve them though … actually they’d make a far better top-of-the-food-chain predator species than we ever could.


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