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When is an open path not a path? When it is a council "Health &Safety" path!

Damp is a funny thing. It makes you feel colder than you are. Makes your bones ache worse than a beating.

I met a Canadian here last year, who said it felt colder in England than back home at -30C. Given we were hovering just below zero, that was something. “Your weather gets to your bones”, he said. He weren’t wrong. It’s been wet and windy these last couple of days. You can feel your system buckling under it. I’ve piled up the fire high with spitting wood, but still bedtime in the car is no fun. Dank is the word. Well the other day temptation calls me. A fire in the pub and some ale and singing seems a way to go. In fact I went at lunchtime to the Poacher’s Catch, to lift me spirits, in every way. I walked back along the canal in late afternoon. The adventure had started earlier with a, “mood elevator,” consumed at the Naughty Fox, after collecting a full on day’s pay working, messing with Scatchy’s clapped out bus (well he does pay in hard currency). So I’ve gone from the Naughty Fox to the Poachers Catch, which is three miles walk. Taken a few and then I’m on me way home, admiring the evening light, which is all barley amber, when I bump into a fence blocking the canal’s tow path.

Frankly I was in a bit of a state, because Bashful John has had a go at me in the Poacher’s Catch. Mouthy pillock he is. That’s why I don’t go that pub often. Bashful John is frankly not a gentleman, and he’s no scholar neither. Trouble is I went to school with him and he knows too much. So I’ve had an upsetting conversation with him, and he’s reminded me of what went wrong these last few years, but I’m not going to get in trouble. I’m still alert. So I’m walking along the canal, and I begin to sober up.

Then, right in front of me, as I say, the tow path is blocked. It weren’t there the week before- a big metal fence. Stuck on this barricade is a sign saying, “right of way temporarily suspended”. Well the canal is still there, there’s water in it, so I can’t see ‘ow the path can have disappeared? On closer inspection I see that some canny bureaucrat has seen fit to close the path, due to “health and safety”. So what is going on?

I climb over the fence that has been erected. Must have cost a fortune! Crazy. I walk on and in a few hundred yards I get to the big tree that has fallen across the canal, but not the path. No , the path is clear as a whistle. Oh right, so it is really a “health and safety issue” for walkers! After continuing for a while I get to another fence that has blocked the path for “health and safety”. Block the path, when the canal is what is obstructed? I don’t get it. Spend all that money on putting up some fences and signs for something that doesn’t block the tow path (especially when they shut down the Youth Club in March because of the cuts)? So they block the path rather than chopping up the tree across the water way. Why I wonder? Because they are twazocks!

The golden lining in all this for me, was that the second fence lay on the ground beside the path in bits. Some, “publicly spirited member of the public,” had taken bolt cutters to this mini Berlin Wall and made a “citizens clearance”. So I got back safely, and chuckling to the camp a while later. Thinking about why a fence like that gets paid for and some things don’t. I had to look up at the rising moon, all ivory and sheer, to cheer myself up. It did. Keep the faith and stay dry!

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