In memory of John

Yesterday was a day of frustrations, a day of bureaucracy, pettifogging rules and hollow men too keen to enforce them. None of the incidents are worth repeating, it would simply raise the blood pressure.

Once on the open canal the day turned for the better. The delayed descent at the Watford flight (see above) meant we moored up short of our intended destination, a leafy cutting near Bridge 6 on the Grand Union. This placed us within walking distance of the small, hillside village of Welton. At its centre the weathered stone church stands witness to everyday comings and goings as it has done for centuries.

Overlooking the road, set high on the church wall, this bitter memorial stands as a perpetual accusation, impossible to ignore. Imagine its power when first erected.

... of John Hewitt

This is the way the world ends
Not with bang but a whimper.

T. S. Eliot

Overwhelmed by rules, regulations, manufactured news and disconnected administrations the real injustices of the world go unremarked and unnoticed.

This post dedicated to the lock-keeper with his little black book – the Watford flight, 27th May 2015.

Note to followers/blogs I follow – Internet connectivity intermittent at best for the next few weeks so apologies in advance for being unresponsive.


  1. LaVagabonde · May 28, 2015

    It seems you made the best of your frustrating situation. This is one sight you’re not likely to forget. Behind the bitterness is profound heartbreak. Enjoy your disconnection from the internet world, Robin.

    • northumbrianlight · June 4, 2015

      Thanks Julie – as expected, Internet connectivity has proved a pain but the trip has been excellent so far. I think it might suit you – a different place everyday, a slow pace and a wide variety of landscapes – rural, urban and industrial.

  2. kiwiskan · May 28, 2015

    a sad commentary that doesn’t change

  3. Livonne · May 29, 2015

    Wow.. That says it all. Very sad but so powerful.

    • northumbrianlight · June 4, 2015

      I wonder if they expected the memorial to still be speaking to us over 200 years later.

  4. SwittersB · May 29, 2015

    Powerful image…

  5. socialbridge · May 29, 2015

    Hi Robin,
    Thanks for this poignant reminder of fundamentals of life.

    • northumbrianlight · June 4, 2015

      Thanks Jean, good to hear from you – apologies for the slow response but I remain in a floating, mostly disconnected world.

  6. Beauty Along the Road · May 31, 2015

    Truly, a sad story behind this tombstone….

  7. Su Leslie · June 18, 2015

    What a terrible death to commemorate! My mind is working overtime imagining the poor little boy’s last hours. And as for Watford Lock …. my only experience of canal boating in England was meant to be an idyllic weekend trip helping a friend deliver a new boat from Market Harborough to its permanent mooring somewhere out near Heathrow. We were only doing the first bit, and had parked our car in Long Buckby I think. The boat wasn’t finished inside, and so we spent the night trying to sleep with condensation dripping on our heads. The owners weren’t all that organised, so there wasn’t enough food on-board and we didn’t stop in time for any of the pubs we passed to still be serving dinner. Oh, and did I mention that the bathroom door wasn’t actually hung, and had to be manually held in place while one was peeing! By mid-morning of the Sunday we arrived at Foxton Lock to find about 11 boats in front of us. Tired, hungry and thoroughly fed up, I jumped ship and stormed off in what I hoped was the general direction of the car. I have a terrible sense of direction, but somehow managed to walk in the right direction — which was as well really. I’d have looked a total prat if I’d had to go back for directions. 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · June 18, 2015

      Doesn’t sound like the best introduction to the waterways Su. I recommend a second outing – it is a wonderful way to slow down the pace of life, not forgetting the lunatic lock keepers and grumpy old gits of course 🙂

      • Su Leslie · June 18, 2015

        Perhaps next time I’m in England. Last time we couldn’t even manage a canal-side pub to give the boy-child a vicarious canal experience!

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