If I’m doing anything at all I suppose that I’m waiting for the canal rozzers. Haven’t seen hide nor hair of a “lesser-spotted spotter” spotting for many a long day. None on the Llangollen, none hereabouts. Tis though a fine thing to spend time around Audlem, when in the mood.
The lead image is, as doubtless you will have guessed – this being England, slightly less ticketty-booish than may at first appear. A barn converted in to a cottage, a narrowboat moored immediately outside… Well, yes and no. Apparently, the conversion was done without obtaining “The Planning Permission” from the “Bureau of Petty Crats”, and hearsay has it that the farmer whose barn it wumpt afore conversion was none too chuffed either. Overnight occupation of the barn/cottage is verboten which is why the narrowboat is somewhat disconveniently placed in the winding hole. It’s where the owners sleep at night. All is rarely as it seems.
Audlem is home to The Audlem Flight; fifteen locks in a row, rising something on the order of ninety-three feet in total (or descending ninety-three feet if you’ve left the boat’s handbrake off). No, I’m not going through them this time. I’ll enjoy those later in the year. I had a few look-ettes from top to bottom, and they’re on the chaotic side of the “holiday” “season”, so thank you, no. Unless I am availing myself of the town’s Co-op or Chip Shop then it’s much more pleasant to be out and about (only) at o’gosh o’clock of the morning. We’ve had a few close shaves while moored here, but – so far, at least – not the repeated high-speed rammings of the Llangollen.
All of the locks on the Flight have character.
This one has Quatermass foam growing in the by-wash.
Some of the locks have these weird structures incorporated, reminding me of nothing more or less than H G Wells’ book (and fillum) ‘The Time Machine’. They’re breather vents for the underground by-washes and emit a constant “white” noise, much like the vents leading down to the Morlock caverns. Nothing would surprise me these days; ninety percent of those above-ground are as (unpleasantly) “innocent” as were the Eloi, and you must admit, Boris’s hair has more than a touch of the de-evolved thuggish cannibal about it.
He’s probably down there with Twhitty and Liberty-Vallance, and all of the other painful dimwits, wondering whether they can blow the sirens again and cause all of the Eloi to walk once more towards the stainless-steel whirling blades and the Soy Sauce.
Are these then “End Times”?
I don’t know, but Jebus paid me a personal call yesterday, and you must admit that that doesn’t happen very often, not even to the Archbish or the Pope.
Who would have imagined that Jebus was short, stubby, blue like a Smurf and had an engine that sounded as though it were on its last legs? Naturally, the woman on the tiller (Mary Magdalene – rhymes with Windolene?) moored Jebus H at Heavenly Mach One on a “two molecules off the Cardinal’s remaining paintwork” vector. Put it this way; it was the closest that I’ve ever come to finding Jebus by touch.
There’s some brilliode scenery around Audlem, and plenty of footpaths with which to explore it. Audlem is also not a town of early-risers, methinks that the town’s dogs mun cross their legs and wait each morning, so a chap doesn’t have to be totally super-egads o’clock to avoid most of the inhabitants.
Many of the footsie pathways are casually disguised or placed carefully off the beaten eye-line. This is a good thing.
Some of the scenery is in old-fashioned black & white (are we still allowed to call it that?)
and the clouds can occasionally appear to be less than sanguine.
One or two of the neighbourhood trees are poseurs. Coquettish…
or a la mode, which is just about the same thing, really…
Audlem is a [rare, very rare] town that loves its canal and locks.
It also loves its cemetery, and I spent a very thoughtful half hour in there at sparrow-cough o’clockery this morning.
The official entrance is most impressive, and the whole shebang is extremely well-kept.
Rather like the cat that crept in to the crypt I crept in via a side-entrance, and it was a most sobering experience. All of those folk laid out in the manner of ‘much-loved’ and ‘sorely-missed’ pilchards waiting for Jebus (and we both know that he’s already cruised on by – and with an engine that probably won’t get him back here any time soon).
What made it such a poignant experience was perhaps that – rather like Audlem town – the whole cemetery is so very well tended (albeit in differing ways). Fresh flowers everywhere, even the rabbits had been shampooed and blow-dried overnight. All of those real lives lived out and then, no matter how well-lived, they all got pegged down to the ground with heavy marble clips.
Four-fifths of the cemetery is a modern housing estate for the dead, with near-matching and presumably mandated black marble headstones. The other fifth is much older, all of the headstones of more common or garden stone and varying wildly in size and design – and also with ne’ery a fresh flower or cuddly toy in sight. Well-tended, undeniably, but also undeniably full of the long-forgotten dead.
I sat on a bench and wondered, among many other things, whether the recently deceased – and even their still-extant loved ones – so desperate to remember and to be remembered – ever glanced across at the older, unremembered portion of the estate and put two and two together in re the inevitable processes of time, and human memory – and oblivion.
It must be said, deep existential thoughts not withstanding, meaning of life and all that, if you’re going to be weighted down with marble so that you won’t wander too far too often (subsidence and rabbit-works notwithstanding) then there are much worse places to choose.
Someone in Audlem has confidence in the future; about twenty percent of the cemetery is lying fallow and awaiting them, thee, me, us, someone.
All of these frantic narrowboaters passing by at Mach Two and all of those folk wandering about Audlem, so desperate to be “relevant” and to “make their mark” and live live live… in just the way that all of those cold pilchards in the cemetery were equally desperate (albeit probably in different ways) to live live live. All certainly not wanting to so much as think about the rules of alchemy; the rules that will make their memory change from polished marble to just worn stone one day, from “fresh flowers” to just “grass neatly trimmed by the council contractors”.
It’s being so cheerful that keeps me going.
Seriously though, it’s just one of those peculiar cemeteries that invites in the living and then invites Deep Thought (and white mice) while there. Not morbid or spooky, just fascinating and quiet. Even if all – all – of the benches were sopping sodden wet through for some reason while none else in the town were; I tried them all. The pavements and the grass in the cemetery were also dry, so we can’t blame sprinklers (not that they’re used often in England anyway!) for the wet benches.
Fortunately, on the way back from Cultural Anthropology Meaning of Life 101, there was – as ever there is – this most magnificent boat, the sort of boat that the The Watery Wellness Trust Ltd despises, and the sort that real people at least quite like, if not actually love to see.
This delicious wee beastie doubtless sends C&RT Corporate & Loyal Minions into a hypoxic funk and subsequent coma, the speed of onset of which may or more likely may not allow them time to tap away at their ruggedised iPiddlyPads to check for current licence and any infringements.
Just makes me grin.
I shall give the Canal Rozzers a few more days to “spot” us here and then Carry On Regardless (of most things). Places to be, people to do, that sort of thing.