On The Cusp

Mentally, of insanity.

Meteorologically, of Winter.

Imagine if you will a great Warehouse of Weather in the sky. They’ve finished their stock-take for the quarter and someone is sweeping the warehouse floor and pushing the detritus out of the loading-bay door. Bashed and broken bits of weather are covering the planet below in intense waves with periods of uneasy inactivity while the sweeper walks back for another broomful. Dull, grey nothings intersperced with lashing monsoons and silly winds. Warm, cold, wet, dry, interesting, mind-crushingly silly.

Not unlike Human society at the moment, except that I am confident that the weather will improve.

We’ve had Zombies on the towpath. Hordes of them. Were it not for their speed over the ground being limited by friction in the plastic hips causing heat build-up and medical staggeration of the Alpine Walking Poles I might have described them as a stampede.

A Zoom of Zombies.

Seriously, they’re terrifying. I don’t know if it’s the sound of waterproofed thighs constantly chafing or the aroma of mothballs, but whatever it is, it calls to the primeval. The photograph above shows just one batch (for they walk in batches), the thunder of their hooves went on intermittently for days as they crossed the great Cheshire Plains. Part of the terror is that I have no idea what the herd feeds upon.

I fear that one day Mr Stove might issue a wisp of smoke as the herd passes, betraying my juicy, calorie-laden presence. It would be just my sort of luck if most of them had their best chewing-teeth with them, too.

The “Day Boat” from Angloid Welsh half a mile ahead has been having fun. On Saturday it approached to the sound of a heated “discussion”; a chap being pressured into taking the tiller and reluctantly doing so right alongside the Cardinal. Aforesaid reluctant chap got the Day Boat past the Cardinal and promptly smacked into the boat moored immediately behind. When I peeped – as one must – out of the side-hatch, the original steerer was back at the tiller and the boat in full reverse.

The boat in the photographs here was from Sunday, and I watched from the relative personal safety of the bridge, being then upon the completion of Second-Walkies. They had developed a quite sensible if somewhat theatrical tactic to deal with the approach of any moving boat; immediately steering themselves into the armco. We’ve all been there, and there are still days when that’s my first best navigational recourse.

The method does rely though upon there actually being any free armco available as and when needed. Fine here but not something that will stand them in terribly good stead going through Nantwich, with mile upon mile of bow to stern moored boats.

In the photograph above the moorings time-restriction post is clearly visible (and the Cardinal is moored something like a yard entirely without). At the other end of the restrictions the official post rather sums up the essence of the Canal & River [Mis]Trust Ltd.

The post is rotten (in the quite literal sense), wholly detached (including from reality), and yet some civic-minded soul has leant it up agin the hedgerow, roughly in position, albeit at a quite jaunty angle. It’s totally knackered. It does though, you may have noticed, sport one of the fresh and vibrant ugh-blue new-logo C&RT signs (in its rightful place, atop all of the “verboten” and “das restricted” information).

As ever, I do not criticise in the least the indivdual grunt workers who have been ordered to so affix the new sign, merely the sick Corporate Gestalt. Sic sic sic, Gloria, in both transit and excelsis, and it is Mundi today. Tudi tomorrow, then Wendi, then Thurdi and on we humans stampede eagerly under the rules and regulations of the One True Anti-Christ: Universal Entropy.

Humans will never be comfortable in human society until we change this constant nonsense about change being the only constant.

Just my humble opinion.

We (“we”) worship constant change.

Our ancestors knew better. It was not the individual carvings and representations that they really worshipped but the stone – the timelessness and resistance to change of the stone itself. The idols and statues and Easter Island bonces were mere incidental decoration.

Humans have a maximum safe speed in re change, and society of the past decades has exceeded it.

Talking of change for change’s sake alone, it is taking not some little personal effort to get myself back into the habit, not of the nearby convent, but of feeding Mr Stove as and when he needs it, around the o’clock hundred hours GMT and when do the hourglasses go back please, someone, anyone? Mr Stove is in an eager enough mood, it is I who forgets to replenish the dish of milk and combustibles in the hearth.

Hearth is where the home is.

Absence makes the hearth grow fonder.

Walk on, walk on, with hope in your hearth and you’ll ne-ver heat a-lone…

Egads and zombies on a pogo-stick, I wonder if I’ve buttoned my cardigan up the wrong way and the blood to my brain is restricted.

Oh look – it’s raining again. How lovely.

And now it’s stopped.

Is Change really the only constant drizzle?

Stop thinking, Hutson, and de-evolve yourself back up the nearest tree.

Choose a job from the Long List of Jobs That Must Be Done, and do it. Perhaps perusing the Winter Stoppages and formulating some sort of mooching pattern to duck, dive and dodge?


Chin-chin, chaps.

Ian H.


  1. Emegherd! The Zooming Zooms of Zoomers! πŸ˜€ … I guffawed throughout this epistle. One of your best, Sir Ian! πŸ˜€


    1. We seem to have been living through travelling salesman’s box of weather samples lately. One moment monsoon, the next some sort of hybrid summer typhoon. Today began like winter but as I type this evening the ambient is knocking seventy Fahrengezundheitings, and I have a choice of slow-roast or leaving doors and portholes open and being eaten by mosquitos. The weather’s no more sane than I am.

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  2. I remember a large and seemingly never-ending group of ramblers occupying the towpath one afternoon at either end of our boat; a shuffling chain of witless sausages with alpine sticks and crag hopper boots, unaware of our boat or any other, unaware of their surroundings, all in constant deliberation with one another about how many miles their pedometers were registering, how this compared to last Sunday’s measurements, how fast their heart rates were going, how anally retentive their tiny lives had always been, oblivious to the grandeur of the nature through which they were cutting, what little point to their unconcious existence (singular for the herd). I could have danced on the cabin roof for all they noticed, their pebble-dashed minds completely sealed and occupied by competative mileage and comparitive speeds. Perhaps, if the opportunity ever presents itself again, I might. All of which proves that some of us might travel the infinite through space and, yet, cover no distance at all.

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    1. Have you noticed how it is impossible to guess at the collective nationality of these rambling groups? The sound they make is akin to some sort of goosely riot punctuated by demonic laughter and the occasional dull, damp, thud as one of them hits the deck.

      My [minor] hope and dream is to one day witness such a group meeting a gaggle of lycra-clad “serious” cyclists on the towpath – the cyclists would be beaten to a bloody pulp.

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  3. AndIi suppose some idiot told the zombies that that was healthy exercise, so out they go in the rain regardless of carching their death of cold….Modern waterproof materials must make things easier….I remember oilskins which resembled plaster casts in their lack of flexibility.

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    1. As you say, when I were nobbut knee-high to a monkey oilskins were industrial things resistant to weather up to and including a nuclear winter. There was none of this breathable alpine polyester nonsense with antiseptic mesh lining and internet connection on every sleeve cuff.

      We were happy though.

      I have not yet seen such a herd of zombies arriving on the towpath or leaving it. I imagine that there must be some sort of holiday coach affair organised, or perhaps a lorry or some such with a small but perfectly-formed crane to oik them on and off.

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  4. Ah Mr. Stove what a welcome sight. It was torrential rainshine and rainbow yesterday.The clocks change when the witches come out on their broomsticks 31st – it’s a bit like Purge and they can rampage for an hour then disappear.

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    1. I have this vague memory of there being a year in my lifetime when the clocks changed by not one but two hours for some reason, and yet I can’t find any reference to it anywhere! I know that something similar happened during WWII – perhaps I am remembering from some previous incarnation? Reincarnation is such a depressing thought/theory/notion. I wonder if there’s some sort of “Opt Out” switch as we whizz through Nature’s waiting room, screaming ‘NO! I’VE HAD ENOUGH!’ I’LL TALK, I’LL TALK – WHAT DO YOU WANT TO KNOW?’…


    1. Excellent, thank you. I shall photograph them all before I send them back. Parting is such sad, sweet sorrow, but I suppose that if it’s the law then it’s the law and must be done.

      I have never understood how they manage to move the Earth and stars twice a year, so precisely, with nought but a lever and a place to stand…

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  5. My mind sort of wandered off with the zombies reference.(NO! That’s not the same as wandering off with the zombies!)
    I shall come back and read this in daylight…

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    1. I never allow my mind to wander off – it’s far too small to be out and about alone.

      On the rare occasions when it has escaped it’s always come back in tears.

      We are, truly and quite literally, in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Just not the rather obvious sort portrayed by Hoddywood. πŸ˜‰

      See you in daylight. Take care.

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