On the last day of school – the last day before a mid-term break or the summer holidays or whatever, headmaster Brother Jerome made his obligatory speech at assembly about safety. Don’t play on building sites, say no to strangers and whatever you do – DON’T GO NEAR THE CANAL. Don’t go ice skating on it, don’t go fishing, don’t paddle in it, don’t throw stones near it, don’t cycle along it, don’t even look at it. Brother Jerome had a catalogue of horror stories to share about the canal. Terrible, terrible things happened to children who broke the rules and went there. Some of them died. An alarming number of them died, actually. I’m wondering if Brother Jerome hadn’t exaggerated a little to make his warnings more dramatic.
Having lived in London now for a massive 18 days, I’m pleased to report that I am building a new, more positive relationship with the canal. Initially apprehensive about it (who wouldn’t be apprehensive about it given Brother Jerome’s behavioural conditioning?), I now thoroughly enjoy crossing the canal. It’s really rather romantic. Funny birds live there. Birds that make big noises. Swans hang out there too. The tow paths are busy with cyclists going here and going there and the lines of barges and house boats berthed along the canal side add an extra colourful dimension to the otherwise quiet water. I imagine the water to be quiet. Garry says there are so many bugs living in there that there’s no way the water is quiet – but it sounds quiet to me.