Friday, 24 February 2012

Collective Insanity

One of my many habitual thoughts is ”It's a funny old world” as I observe some facet or other of life. In the main the thought is triggered by some imbalance between what I consider to be acceptable and unacceptable. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not espousing some personal moralistic attitude. Its more of a generalisation than a crusade about what some people will accept with blind indifference and what boundaries some people are prepared to exceed.

If you are like me, you believe the oft quoted mantra “The world is essentially corrupt and each person is out for whatever they can get.” Then whatever life throws up is acceptable and you are never going to be disappointed. But there is another group that behaves is a similar way. However, its hard to understand what they gain from what they do. Generally we think of them as being morally corrupt, selfish and spiteful.

There is this inbuilt checksum in our personal “I’m morally outraged” gauge. It seems to work on some inbuilt complex formula that I find difficult to even begin to comprehend. Let me provide you with an example. Its the sport or pastime we call Angling, that’s it. That is all you need to know.

Now you may or may not take issue with Angling for any number of reasons. For some its seen as a relaxation where a man enters into a battle of wits to outsmart a fish. It says more for the metal faculties of the fish! Now as a sport I find this battle of wits is a bit biased towards the bipeds.

As we bipeds come in first position in the food web, I can see why we might want to catch and eat a fish. Seemingly done just because we think we are smart enough and we can. What I find difficult to understand is why we would we want to catch and then release the fish again and again.

That’s my position on Angling. Now the live-and-let-live checksum for me is that where fishing is conducted the water habitat and quality is generally well maintained. Fishermen have a vested interest in maintaining water quality and depth. Wildlife gets a boost and all is generally well with the world.

I know that fishermen are a bit lackadaisical when it comes to keeping the towpath clean and tidy after one of their events. On a scale of one to ten, Fishermen come in at around the three mark. In mitigation the Memsahib says that my personal tidiness quotient come in at around the three mark as well. We have an untidy roof and I tend to keep my tools close at hand at all times on the boat!

Take my local British Waterways marina. For years a small group of Anglers with varying degrees of disability have been using the secure car park to off load their wheelchairs and the occasional use of the disabled facilities provided in the sanitary station. Its a win-win situation for the disabled.

The marina has a boat club, its not a big boat club as boat clubs go, in fact its a tiddler. As the Marina has about 35 moorings its always going to be a small fish in the grand scheme of things. But as the majority of boat owners in the marina choose for whatever personal reason not to be members. The boat club has little cause to make any claim to represent the majority of boat owners within the marina. But the boat club membership has big pretensions to boxing above its weight.

Now operating under the guise of the marina boat club, a fishing section has been created. Ostensibly to manage the fishing within the marina boundaries. After being awarded the contract to manage the fishing. The fishing section take it upon themselves on behalf of all boat owners to ban all fishing including the fishing places that were used on a regular basis by the disabled. Who would benefit from such a change?

The reason given for banning disabled fishing – it might cause damage to boats. Now call me old and cynical but there is this belief on the canals and rivers that boating is something of a contact sport and that regular maintenance is expected to be carried out. Especially after cruising around for a while. With the best will in the world, I can't imagine a scenario where my boat is at threat from the normal activities of the fishing fraternity.

Then there was a change of heart, in a magnificent gesture. Boat owners in the marina would be allowed to fish from their own boats. There would be a day ticket charge, but you could fish off your own boat if you wished. The boat owners who do fish in the marina precincts, voted with a single finger salute. None of the self appointed boat club bailiffs has had the intestinal fortitude to demand payment so far.

The boat club bailiffs have however had the strength and fortitude to call out the police to eject a disabled fisherman in a wheelchair from the marina precincts. To their eternal credit the police washed their hands of the whole can of worms.

However, there is previous form leading up to this stand off position. The boat club had previously organised to change the locks on the Sanitary station. After a stink had been kicked up – so to speak, the sanitary station was returned to waterways key access once again. Now ask yourself why would anyone want to do that. Not only would it disadvantage any licensed boat owner from using the facility when passing through. But it would also prejudice any other legitimate inland waterways users from access to facilities. Who would benefit from such a change?

Other little boat club foibles have included the chopping down of magnificent mature trees until ordered to stop by British Waterways. That others would want to see and enjoy the trees and the wildlife they would attract does not enter into the timber felling equation. Who would benefit from such a change?

There is a compound “managed” by the marina boat club, that boat owners can use to store items. You only have to provide a small shed for yourself. Now, there is just about enough room for each berth in the marina to have a shed space allocation. Yet for some reason, some individuals have more than one shed and in some cases its two, in other cases its three and there are others with a coal bunker as well. I will leave to your imagination how the places are allocated and who has what. Who would benefit from such an arrangement?

Recently the boat of the boat club members have been moving around in the marina. A bit like musical chairs, with boats. They have now moved themselves collectively into a single location as close to the disabled fishing point as its possible to get. Its a waterways version of siege mentality – like the old wagon trains seen crossing the desert in cowboy films The few remaining boat club members have now drawn themselves into a metaphorical circle. Who would benefit from such a change?

British Waterways has not covered itself in glory – metaphorically British Waterways has covered itself in something of a soft beige consistency, that is normally distributed with the aid of a fan. Now we are at the point where most people would stand back – view the resulting aftermath – apply some common sense and Eau de Cologne - then restore the facilities for the disabled. Manage the compound to the benefit of all boat owners. Bring some sanity to a stupid situation. After all who would benefit from such a change?

It's a funny old world


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