Thursday, 13 August 2009

Danny champion of the locks

I have to admit that we were both suspicious of the lad walking along the towpath, cap down, beside the boat in Stoke, speeding up when we did, slowing down as we did to keep pace with us. I almost knew what he had in mind when we stopped at the coming lock.
Except I didn't. Danny just wanted to help. On school holiday, bored, enjoying the boats (he'd even lived on one for a while) he wanted to hold ropes, work a windlass, help open and shut lock gates.
He helped us through the last three locks en route to Etruria and then stopped for a cup of tea, some biscuits and a chat.
A thoroughly nice lad, in fact.

And then while we sitting on the boat, we heard shouting. Some other lads, Danny's age, were throwing apples at an old lady walking along the towpath - and had hit her. We shouted at them to leave her alone and they did – only to come back an hour later and bombard us. Reasoning, shouting and ignoring didn't get rid of them and when we threatened to call the police they just laughed. So we did. And, amazingly, a policewoman (quite a stunner I'll whisper while Starmwoman's not listening) was round within ten minutes. There'd been other complaints; they were in the area so they came round, knew the kids and were going to talk to their parents.

Moral One: don't judge every kid on first impressions and Moral Two: don't be afraid to complain if you do get a problem.
The shame of it is that those kids were not that different to Danny; all they needed was a bit of guidance, probably from parents, to get them on the right track.

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