Sticking Plaster Nation

There’s a game we play on England’s canal system, and it involves cruising everything that you own under bridge after bridge like this one. A couple of posts back you all thought I was just moaning as usual ad infinitumski when I featured Bridge 2 of the Middlewich Branch. Well, have a look at another sample; Bridge 7.

Neither side of the bridge is particularly healthy.

I didn’t have the angle but there’s lots of daylight visible through these cracks, too.

Those chunks of parapet brickwork, the ones that are now beginning to bulge out over their foundations and over thin air, they must weigh what? At least a couple of pounds if not a whole kilogrammatical apiece. They’d probably give a chap a headache for an hour or two, should one of them fall on his head. They might even scratch a boat as they fell, with a melodious plop, into the water.

But silly me. Everyone knows the science; that, having moved thus far, no bridge ever moves farther into collapse, partial or otherwise. Once you can see daylight through the cracks the driving force of the damage has been spent, and all is in balance and well again. Nothing to see here.

Yes, of course. Just for the record, I also stopped believing in Father Christmas when I was age thirty-two and three-quarters. Father Christmas had stopped believing in me many, many years before that. Should we meet socially these days we simply hiss at one another.

Hissing at one anther might sound bad, but it is better than my relationship with the Tooth Fairy, whom I kick in the balls at each meeting. 2/- 6d doth not compensation for a molar make.

Ten years the Canal & River Trust Ltd have had total control (and putative ownership rather than mere custodianship for the Nation) of the canals, and enjoyed a property portfolio knocking one American “billion” quid. They’ve just about got a grasp of the necessary inclusivity and diversity, and run some great “Introduction to Angling” courses (for which they close long stretches of moorings to boaters), and they’ve sacked almost all of the old in-house expertise and experience – but not yet quite finished filming ‘Outsourcing Nineteen-Nineties; The C&RT Sequel – A Comedy of Errors’.

The Canal Company Ltd employ a regiment of chaps to walk up and down this canal and all others – but their job is to note boat names, numbers and positions, so that we may be sent dire warnings about how we ought to cruise farther and wider, and threats of the consequences should we not. Their job is not to notice or report to HQ bridges unfit and not safe for trolls to seek brief shelter beneath. Hashtag priorities, hashtag skewed. In years and ownerships past, when for whatever reason someone gave a rodent’s rectum about the canals qua canals, there used to be employed chaps whose responsibility it wam to walk the same towpaths looking for just such damage and for any infrastructure problem that, with timely attention, might require only a ha’peth of tar, not an entire rebuild. Lengthsmen.

As with people, look at what the organisation does, not what it says it does. Therein you will find the true nature of the beast.

That which does get done on the system gets done by a small army of volunteers and a tiny but industrious mob of as-yet-unsacked chaps with grubby fingernails – all hail to both groups.

The canals are a microcosm of England, and of English politics.

Money for bung a-plenty, money for bling, money for vacuous showboating – but nobody’s cleaning out the gutters or oiling the hinges, and another Winter approacheth. The arse do hangeth out of our collective charity-shop trousers.

We have clinical morons in every “high” office. Puppets, with tangled strings. Puppets convinced of their own divinity, and convinced of their ability to defecate rose petals and glitter. Diane Abbott MP is beginning to look like the bright one.

Interesting times, happy days. May the Greek and Roman gods help us all.

Winter showed us its face a while ago, but didn’t stop for tea, and Autumn currently holds sway. Today is dark, blustery, and raining like a raining thing. Tis but a short leap now in England – even for a political moron – to realise that the provision of Weather is something that must be licenced by government and that we peasants must be charged for it, under some Keynesian “public/private, but mostly private-for-profit” “Agency” arrangement.

Rainbows extra.

Only those in the Home Counties will be able to afford the double-rainbows. This is as it should be. God – I won’t use a pronoun, since I would likely guess incorrectly and cause Criminal Offence – loves the South.

I, on the other hand (the one you’re not watching while I wave papers about The YooKrane/Hamster Flu/Shortages/Prussian Gas/The Size of Liz Truss’s Willy/Peace For Our Time/Whatever It Is Today in the air to distract you), I love the way in which the rainbow – and a rainbow is a meterological wonder, not a trans-Atlantic politicised symbol of anything – appears to “land” between me and the tree-line. Yes, I nipped out, over the barbed wire, dug a hole and no, there wam no pot of gold. Damn it.

Mr Coolie Hat [AWOOGAH – You have been fined four Citizen Credits for Cultural Appropriation, and four more for misgendering an item of ironmongery] is presently engaged in stopping the monsoon [Awoogha – &etc] rain from slashing straight down the flue. I am currently in heated debate – ironic or what? – with myself in re whether to spend some coal nuggets by lighting the stove. It’s not really cold enough, but it is a bloody miserable day. If I procrastinate long enough it’ll soon be tomorrow and today’s cheer from Mr Stove [Awoogah – third offence and final warning…] will be moot.

The Erg-onomics of modern boat life, eh?

Anyone else remember ergs? They were wiped out, I think, by “joules” and suchlike. It’s time that they were re-introduced. Talking of which, some bright spark has “re-introduced” beavers to English waterways. Absent for some four centuries, apparently we are in desperate need of them now. Can’t wait for the first legally-untouchable beaver-dam across the Weaver or the Trent or the Shropshire Union, or the first report of bite marks in the wood of some lock gate.

It’ll make a change from their blaming “boater vandalism” for all ills.

Perhaps beavers will undertake the woodland management that a certain Canal Company has utterly ignored and failed to address to date? Maybe this year there’ll be fewer “vegetation incidents” id est fallen trees in the canal? Yes, yes, I know.

The same genus of genius is working to “re-introduce” wolves and feckin’ bears to the wilder wildlife of this Septic Isle. A swift interwebnet search will reveal unto thee all manner of sources, government and otherwise, in re this, but please accept this article from The Scotsman as an example, because it has nice photomagraphs and is not the BBC*. Beavers – tick. What’s next on the list, Tarquin?

*British Bullsh*t Corporation

Walking in the countryside – and on half of England’s towpaths – will become slightly more … interesting … should (when) they “succeed”.

‘Look Mummy, there’s a teddybear looking at us from the hedgerow…’

‘Shut up, Chantelle Margot Brooklyn Fizzypops, I’ve told you before that you’re not allowed to call it a ‘hedgerow’! It is a wildlife facilitation installation… and you and I are about to be eaten by wildlife diversity.’

In the matter of Wild Boar I would submit that there is no need for action – we have those aplenty, near two thousand of them may be easily found loitering around the toilets of two houses in Westminster alone.

It was on this stretch of towpath some years ago that at SIlly O’Clock in the middle of the night I came face to face , nose to nose, with a very wet, very ungruntled badger. I don’t suppose that Mr Brock was too pleased to see me, either. Conversation was certainly stilted and we had no difficulties with the required pleasantries of parting. The badger snorted, I shat myself* and that was that.

*Not really, but it was a close encounter by torchlight**.

**Electric torchlight, not flaming brand***.

***The brand of the torch was ‘Maglite’****.

****’Lite’ is, incredibly annoyingly, missing the necessary letters ‘g’ and ‘h’ for it to make sense.

So, I’ve moaned (you expect it) and I’ve rambled semi-coherently (I am being generous to myself in re the “semi”), so what else?

Not much. We’ve comestibled and bunkered. We’ve mooched on, mooched on, with hope in our heart (there’s a song in there somewhere) and you’ll ne-ver wa-lk a-gain… Now we’re awaiting developments, which is slang for sitting on our gluteus, staring into space, and waiting for the link canal to Mars to open.

Mars Bars are far smaller than they used to be, and much less satisfying than I remember. Doubtless the canals of Mars, when I reach them, will be similarly degraded.

Right, I can’t bear this drivel any longer, I’m going to prepare something to wolf down for lunch. Please badger me in the comments, and I shall beaver away at answering you.

Dinosaurs have only been missing from our environment for sixty million years, ought not we to “re-introduce” those too? We might begin with the raptors, there’s plenty of grass for them to graze on outside Parliament, and they’d be absolutely brilliant for tourism. Wildlife’s Better By Water. Wellness Through Weird Wildlife. Arbeit mit wildlife macht… no, no, Hutson, don’t go there gf.

Anyway. Enough of me being cheerful.

Remember; wherever you go, there you are, and if at first you don’t succeed then you’re probably not a parrot.


[Random obscure dialogue for Widdershins: ‘I’ve succeeded in computer-generating a parrot. It squawks. …’ I’ll give you twenty minutes, MAXimum, for that one.]

Chin-chin, Muskies.

Ian H., &etc.


  1. It’s the way of the world today for the highest paid and lowest worked to blame the harder-working, the underpaid and the system itself rather than said idiots who created said system and are now creaming it off for themselves – (blaming the War in the Ukraine and the pandemic and the general laziness of the working classes for the current record profits enjoyed by the Gas and Electric services/cost of living crisis for everyone else, for example). That was a long and complicated sentence. It made sense to me. I hope it did to you.

    The CaRT are currently strapped into their band wagon, joyriding over their wage payers. Having said that, I’m hoping to rejoin the narrowboating fraternity next year with another secondhand home (I never learn) so I’d better watch what I say about my future bosses, otherwise the clockers will be after me before I’ve relaunched.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It made perfick sense to me, and I agree wholeheartedly. Even in the status quo there’s one massive, glaring, unsustainable influence – ABC/Anglo-Welsh and the other big hire companies having physical representation and direct power in the C&RT Ltd “Boardroom”. Their “ยฃall you can eatยฃ” feeding and then running away before the bill comes in is not going to change soo, not without a coup of some scope and sort.

      Even if the canals have to be commercial (which in the main, they don’t – they ought to be “heritage”) I have never in my long working life before seen a company with an openly-stated and obvious business policy of pleasing and catering for everyone who is -not- a customer and who -doesn’t- pay at the expose of those who are and who do! [See large company influence mentioned in previous paragraph!]

      The canals are akin to a supermarket in which every aisle has been turned over free of charge to ramblers, dog walkers, cyclists, and local motorists, while the actual shoppers (boaters) dodge about for their lives (and are the only ones who must exit via the till queue).

      Great gnus about your intended re-floating – the best of serious luck sir. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The first duty of anyone who invents time travel is to go back – bearing documentary evidence – and explain to a lot of newly-weds how their offspring will behave, should they breed… Shown the evidence I am sure that a lot of people would choose to have a couple of dogs instead of a couple of children!

      Come The Revolution, when I am Emperor Lord High He-Who (Must Be Obeyed), contraception will be legal for up to 110 years after the night before … and won’t necessarily have to be administered by the parents of the unwanted adult. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Not lately. I sent you one a couple of days since – will email again. All swelligant in the Land of the Bolts? ๐Ÿ™‚


      1. Nope, nowt. Checked spam and nothing. I sent you one yesterday and got that Mailer Daemon thing. All’s well that’s pig swill in Bothelton

        Liked by 1 person

        1. B’ger – my email is run by a foreign company (aren’t they all?) – Messrs Herr Geshmilunemailenvonbastardredbaronski Ltd or whatever, and once in a while, when they feel that they need to Liebensraum at the office, they take a dump on my email in and out – without actually kommunkating. If I could find better, I would… I shall try (all things) again, sir. ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. Thoroughly enjoyable , as usual. (Note to other commentaters: I am not paid to endorse this drivel. I just have a weird sense of humour)

    The reintroduction of old-style wildlife looks nice on paper, but I’m afraid we’ve missed that boat, by letting human reproduction get totally out of hand (“stop that, Johnny-you’ll go blind!”) And I don’t suppose culling, by old-fashioned methods like cross bows and spears, even a 410 guage shotgun would be allowed.
    Best, I think, that they let all the chooks out and see how soon those buggers can re-wild the place.
    (Chooks are what we Colonials call domestic fowl/chickens.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right, right, and right again there. The folk who “Plan” these things also tend to live exclusively in the heart of some large city (London, hereabouts), and have no concept of “countryside” except as some sort of “unused land”. Certainly they don’t have a notion of people living in it! The world human population has nigh-on tripled since I was knee-high to a cow. Once upon a time it was something that we talked about and worried about but these days it would appear to be illegal to even mention it…

      The chooks would all be shot each Winter by the toffs and wannabee toffs in their tweed-clad shoots, mistaken for pheasant!

      Liked by 1 person

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