I don’t know if it’s because we’re currently neighbouring the (actually very lovely) Angry Boater and his angriness is contagious, but I’ve been getting a lot of Towpath Rage lately.
Essentially the problem is that the towpath is not exclusively used by boaters. Instead, at some point in time some idiot had the stupid idea to make it accessible to the general public as well. The result being that it is now filled with people talking too loudly on their phone, overexcited teenagers, awful awful cyclists, more-important-than-you businessmen, screaming kids and just all-round morons.
Luckily for everyone involved, I have come up with a series of foolproof laws which, if everyone follows them, will make the towpath a much safer and lovelier place for me.
1. CYCLISTS: Thou shalt not be terrible people. This is just pretty good advice for cyclists in general but, if I must elaborate: A) Stop speeding on the towpath. It is not a cycling highway and you do not have right of way. If you have ever cycled too fast down the towpath then I’m sorry to break it you but everyone in the world thinks you are a bastard. B) Bicycle bells are for warning people that you’re coming round a corner, through a tunnel or under a bridge. THEY ARE NOT FOR FORCING PEOPLE TO GET OUT OF YOUR STUPID LYCRA-CLAD WAY. Again, pedestrians have right of way on the towpath so, if you ring your bell at me one more time, I will follow you around and ring a bell in your ear for the rest of your life.
2. RUNNERS: Thou shalt not act like cyclists on legs. It’s not just cyclists who seem to think they own the towpath (they don’t, FYI, I do. Hence all the laws). Plenty of runners act super impatient when regular old unimportant pedestrians fail to dive out of their way too. The other day in Victoria Park, a lady jogger ran right at me then yelled ‘HELLO’ when I didn’t move. This lady was a Bad Person.
3. PEOPLE ON THE TOWPATH: Thou shalt not talk to me while I am enjoying peaceful leisure activities on the outside of my boat. I honestly don’t mind talking to people about the boat. If I’m standing around waiting for a lock to fill up, it can be quite nice to chat to friendly and genuinely curious people. When I am reading at the front of the boat or sunbathing on the roof however, questions, cat-calling and comments such as “READING ON A BOAT ARE YA?” (or the particularly excellent “Is that your boat or can anyone sit there?”) are UNWELCOME.
4. TEENAGERS: Thou shalt not scream unnecessarily. I’ve been a teenage girl. I know that screaming is sometimes a necessary method of communication. But please, teenagers of London, stop doing it next to the canal at midnight or I’m going to have to assume you’re being murdered. I can think of at least three separate occasions when we have (Ed has) had to venture out into the darkness to make sure said screamer is okay, only to find idiot teenagers messing about on the towpath.
5. PARENTS: Thou shalt not do parenting next to my bedroom window at 7 a.m. Talking of screaming, aren’t kids just the worst? While I am a big fan of parents who don’t give into tantrums, I would prefer it if they did this at home as opposed to on the towpath while I am trying to sleep.
6. DOG WALKERS: Thou shalt also shut up. Another one on the noise offenders list, dog walkers seem to think it’s okay to yell their disobedient dog’s name repeatedly on their 6 a.m. morning walk along the towpath.
7. LOUD PHONE TALKERS: Thou shalt not shout thou’s credit card details out loud down thou’s mobile when walking past boats. I kid you not, this has happened at least three times already. I can only assume that people forget there are boaters living inside narrowboats and those boaters have ears. Luckily for these people I was too moral to note down their details and steal all their money.
8. LOUD TALKERS IN GENERAL: Thou shalt not forget that boats have ears. It’s not just credit card details, people loudly share all sorts of personal information while strolling the towpath. For example, the other night we were regaled with the tale of someone’s 85-year old grandma who had done the ice bucket challenge and died.
9. OVERLY CONFIDENT GONGOOZLERS: Thou shalt not climb on people’s boats. This really ought to go without saying but I am a little shocked at the amount of people who see a boat and think ‘Yes I am definitely now going to get on that.’ I’ve had a guy stop and ask me questions about the boat as I was tying up who then climbed aboard and took a peek through our front door while I was talking. I watched a bunch of besuited office idiots (presumably on some godawful ‘team bonding’ exercise) running up to boats, jumping on to take a picture then jumping off again. Yesterday I even watched two teenage girls climb onto the boat next door in order to sit on the roof and enjoy their Starbucks. For a while I assumed it was their boat until they finished their coffee, climbed down and left. STOP DOING THIS. It is not okay.
10. PEOPLE WHO LIKE TO SIT: Thou shalt not sit on or around locks when I’m trying to use them. Just to clarify, I’m not saying people can’t sit on or around locks at all. The canals and locks are beautiful places and should be free to be enjoyed by everyone, I GUESS.
All I’m asking is that you please move out of the way when I need to use the lock. It’s pretty awkward to have to ask people to move, especially when they’ve set up an entire lunch break picnic on the lock gate, so it would be awesome if you’d just feel my rage telepathically and move of your own accord so that I don’t have to sound like a canal nerd.