Wednesday, April 12, 2006
On spotting a boarded-up pub my first thought was one of reassurance. It wasn't just us poorer areas that were being hit. I then realised what a beautiful building it was and was saddened by the idea it would be turned into expensive flats.
My first descent onto the tow path proper and I was humming away (On Top of the World) without a care in the world. The first tunnel was narrow, low and very black and I suddenly wondered whether I was safe alone on a dank day. I didn't want to end up like Dirty Den (admittedly he did rise from the dead a few years later).
But then, all change! I was taken aback by the grandeur of the houses skirting Regent's Park - both the buildings and the gardens are immaculate - with no signs of life. The original plans had the canal running through the park but the riff raff working the boats on the water would have lowered the tone of what still is a very exclusive area.
A sign announced workmen were ahead. I couldn't fathom out what they were doing but later passed a sign asking people to be careful as the “powerwashing of the pontoons” was commencing on April 10. It sounds like I had a lucky escape.
There was only one boat in action. As it approached I could see an elderly gentleman guiding at the rear. I'd decided to shout a hello in friendly greeting. He beat me to it with a cry of “how do you do?”. My heart a-flutter, I was suddenly Austen's Emma Woodhouse, I shouted back “very well, Sir. Very well”. (I then collapsed, metaphorically speaking, in fits of laughter while I tried to work out where on earth that response had come from). The water responded in his wake with a thwack, thwop, thwump.