Bullies along the canal

Kim and Andrew and Gwyn out for lunch

Kim and Andrew and Gwyn out for lunch

Now when I think of a bully I tend to think back to those children’s books that make out that the bully is bigger than the one being picked on and is somewhat overweight. Often they are portrayed as a loner who seeks and gets the approval of a group of hangers on, who probably feel safer with the bully than standing against him or her. Also I used to wonder if there was an element of cowardice about the bully, but perhaps that is what the “happy ever after” stories would have us think.

Now you may be wondering what has this to do with boating. Well, quite a bit lately. The bullies are about on the water way. I heard of one boater with the scars to prove it, I met another who showed me his wounds, and I witnessed their activities and their bolt hole.

When I say bolt hole, it was not so much as they were hiding away in the bolt hole, more that it was actually a bolt hole. A hole in a lock beam where a bolt had been and was now the entrance to the bully’s lair.

Yes summer is here and the yellow and black stripped jerseys of the bullying wasps abound.

Most of the thousand of insects that we live amongst get on with their own business and leave us good folk alone. Granted, there is a bit of mutual annoyance but we tolerate our differences. But not wasps, no they can not keep their noses, and stings out of our affairs. They are after all the most contrary creatures. Take last year for instance. They kept coming into our house roof space, wandering through the cavity walls, appearing in every room and attacking us and stinging because they could not find their nest. Why did they think it was our fault that they couldn’t find their nest? The daft creatures had come into our roof instead of the neighbour’s where their nest was, just because the houses look similar, can’t they read house numbers!

And as for their choice of a lock beam for a home, I ask you! The thing is in daily use, why build there if they really did not want to be disturbed. And why choose that part of the beam between the paddle winding mechanism that must give the “poor” queen a headache every time someone tries, ill-advisably, to wind up a paddle?

No, I think they choose it purposely so that they would have an excuse to swarm out and start stinging the poor boater. The poor boater who is standing ten foot up on a narrow brick promontory and has the escape routes of ten foot fall down the wall, twelve foot drop into the canal or a suicidal dive into the frothy waters of the lock. Even if they don’t manage to kill the boater during the escape the wasps can instead watch with that bully’s pleasure as the boater beats himself black and blue with the windlass handle as he tries to swat the wasps on his body.

No, as far as bullies go, these are not bigger than the bullied and they certainly are not loners but they are by far the most common, sadistic, contrary and downright annoying bullies that I have come across on the canal.

Rant over, I’m off to make a jam sandwich. Did I just hear a thousand tiny giggles?

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