England’s second city, Birmingham, has recently been spending vast sums of money regenerating its canal-side areas.
These waterways, originally meant to shift raw materials like coal and metal ore from mine to warehouse to factory are naught like those you’d picture at mention of the word “canal”.
No gondolas, no Italian flavour, no architectural marvels and you’ll only hear mention of “Cornetto” is someone starts reading aloud the ice cream wrappers drifting downstream.
The council can shout their claim at the top of their lungs for as long as they want. Birmingham isn’t and never will be a “Venice of the North”.
Lower lying population centres, on the other hand, are quite a different matter.
Weeks of rain has left much of Central England underwater, in floods, the likes of which, have not been seen in generation.
Roads, MAJOR roads, are submerged, towns are completely cut off, whole caravan parks are floating down the Thames and the price of potatoes has gone up by 16%.
I live in the Midlands, but I can be quite smug as I live on a hill……and I don’t eat potatoes.
My place of work is also on a hill, allowing me to sleep soundly knowing that months of artwork are not going to be a damp and soggy mess when I return to them the following day.
Unfortunately, said hills are not part of the same ridge, meaning I have to commute across an area of lowland.
Water likes lowland.
Now, I ride a scooter; a nimble little thing that can clock up a whopping 45mph (going downhill. Its usual speed is around 35. 30 if riding into a stiff breeze) and it’s great to bomb around on, so long as you stick to the quieter roads. I venture out onto anything larger and I have a tailback of 10 cars behind me in as many seconds, the death-merchants that drive them all willing the petrol tank to explode under my arse.
As I’d rather not test the psychic abilities of irate BMW and Landrover drivers, I make a point of taking back-water routes to and from work.
At least I do when said “back-water routes” aren’t living up to their name.
Last Friday it had been raining for at least 10 hours and to traverse my usual path home I’d have needed a Jet Ski, not a Honda Lead.
Forced onto the main roads I was slightly terrified to find that they were not in a much better state: I ploughed into 4 huge lakes spanning not only the tarmac but the farmland to either side, I was sprayed by huge trucks travelling in the opposite direction and, of course, I had the people of the tail-back willing brain-cancer on me.
So, who can I blame for my discomfort? Who is to be held responsible for this random act of nature?
I guess I’ll just do what everyone else does and blame the government.
Can’t blame god, he might make things worse…..