OK, OK I have a confession to make....
In a moment of weakness I went on one of my infrequent sojourns on Farcebook. To a forum that is becoming more widely known as NUGgets-R-Us.
It seems that some of the NUGsters have become aware that there is someone spray painting graffiti on the Inland Waterways. I can only assume that some of them must have gone to Specsavers and obtained for the first time a pair of non rose tinted spectacles. There was an immediate outpouring of angst and foot tapping. However the conflagration flames were quickly fired, to incandescent levels.
In 'Groundhog Day' scene, resembling the hand to hand fighting in the Bore War - 'Pump-out -v- Cassette' - altercation. The usual entrenched battle lines were quickly drawn and the sniping began prior to the main heavy artillery exchange of a salvo of smoke and mirrors.
On one side was the First 'Curtain Twitching' Division of the IWA. (Independent Waterways Army) The ground troops included the 'your boat is not shiny enough' brigade. Who immediately identified the graffiti culprits as - disgruntled boaters, who had been refused a boat licence.
How you can be a boater without a licence never entered into the accusation. Which was proven beyond any unreasonable doubt. Using the same Kafkaesque logic that – it must be train drivers - that are spraying graffiti on the railways infrastructure.
It should be remembered that CaRT have also spent money carving poetry on lock gates. CaRT have also spent money on 'Artistic Graffiti' competitions on waterways walls.
On another side was a small detachment of the common sense brigade. However, as the battle commenced. And being hopelessly out numbered and outgunned. The small common sense detachment fearing for their sanity. In a scene reminiscent of Dunkirk, evacuated the arena.
The second group of participants in the battle were the well entrenched commandos of the canal bridge trolls. Who added nothing to the conversation but helped by adding extra vitriol whenever the flames died down.
The final group of participants in the battle were the CaRT apologists - who as usual - loudly harrumphed several times. Then from a lofty position - said that cleaning the graffiti was money being wasted out of the CaRT maintenance budget.
The argument that this is money that could be spent on canal maintenance is a spurious one. CaRT deliberately underspend by about 50% on maintenance year on year. Nigel Johnson, CaRT's ‘Legal Director' made a sworn statement to the high court that in 2013/14 ‘The cost to the Trust of maintaining the inland waterways is approximately £130m per annum'. Have a look in the annual report for what is actually being spent.
This is not reducing the number (50,000 plus) of repairs. This £130 million figure is to reach a steady state where it gets no better or no worse. This is a continuation of the years of BW underspending – which went on for well over a decade prior to CaRT.
As for another widespread held delusion that CaRT is only taking miscreant boaters to the High Court – it should be remembered that CaRT has lost more than it has been successful with.
All that aside – graffiti encourages more graffiti – just as dumped rubbish encourages more fly tipping. Boaters would be far better if they were united against such practices. Rather than making sweeping generalisations that do more to fragment the waterways communities than anything else.
I could not help but think that the nuclear fallout will be around for a while - so my brothers in arms - take care out there - its a jungle.