Thursday, 25 July 2013

Handling Life's Irritations

Are you like me, do find that certain things in life grate and irritate you. One that irritates me are the things that do not resemble the description they are given. Things which everyone knows also go some way towards winding up others. All this deliberate deception leaving you wondering if anything can be done about them. It all started in the 1930's with railway posters advertising the 'cornish riviera' with scantily clad ladies cavorting on a sun drenched almost empty beach.  The reality was well rounded ladies wearing industrial strength swimming costumes and chilblain cream.

How would you feel if you read a story about a wonderful holiday centre. However, when you arrived. You found bags of rubbish scattered around and that rats were feasting on the contents. Not only that there were biting insects of biblical plague proportions. A holiday centre where you had to struggle to open the doors and gates. Where your alfresco food also included an open invitation for insects to join in your meal.

For me one such irritation is the idyllic picture painted of a glorious and wonderful spectacle that is to be had from cruising a boat along the canal. A description that is a concocted smoke and mirrors image bearing no resemblance to reality. An image which extends to the easy lazy operation of the typical waterway lock. Some locks come with a set of gates that have been deliberately ignored and without maintenance for years.  So much so that they now require a company of 'Mainwarings home guard' to open and close. Infact because of the age profile of boaters they have more than a passing resemblance to a company of the home guard anyway.

The warped reality also extends to the house flies and especially the blue bottles. The warm weather comes along and then the maggots who until recently have been feasting on something dead metamorphose into the first wave of the kamikaze myriad. They will want to land on you then sit on your sandwich or bathe in you glass of beer. It's not until you realise that flies feed on liquid or semiliquid substances beside solid material which has been softened by their own saliva or vomit. Because of their large intake of food, they deposit feces constantly. Just one of the factors that makes the insect a dangerous carrier of pathogens. They have a tendency to aggregate and are difficult to dispose of. They are capable of carrying over 100 pathogens, such as those causing typhoid, cholera, salmonellosis, bacillary dysentery, tuberculosis, anthrax, ophthalmia, and parasitic worms. Some strains have now become immune to most common insecticides.

Later, after your temper has been frayed to breaking point their brethren from the biting brotherhood will arrive. Their single minded duty is to try and eat you alive. They do this by sneaking up when  you're not looking and probing and piercing your skin to feast on your blood. Leaving you with that very attractive looking, sore, red, inflamed and sleep depriving itchy lump. If they are the type that are not biting, then you can bet they are armed with a sting and an angry disposition. Nearly everyone has been stung by an insect at one time or another. It is an unpleasant experience that people hope not to repeat, but for most people the damage inflicted is only temporary pain. The insect is usually marked in that yellow and black striped colouration. 

In people with insect sting allergy, a bee sting may trigger a dangerous anaphylactic reaction that is potentially deadly. As a one time beekeeper I know that there is no way to stop the attack. The Honey bee when it stings also releases pheromones that prompt other nearby bees to join in the attack. Jumping into the canal is not a good idea for many reasons. Jumping in to escape the attentions of stinging bee's is certainly not a good idea either. The attack pheromones do not dissipate or wash off quickly If their target enters water, bees will hang around and resume their attack as soon as its quarry leaves the water again. 

But enough of the daylight hours, the critters also likey to single us out at night. As you lay in your bed at night, with the light out dosing off listening to the soporific lapping of water on the hull. Fighting its way through the first moments of your sleep, you hear that soft buzz close to your ear that sets your body on edge in an instant. It's the first arrival of a squadron of mosquito that can find even the tiniest piece of exposed flesh. Attracted by your life giving breath, they are after your life giving blood. The mosquitoes are a family of small, midge-like flies. A nuisance because they consume blood from living vertebrates, including humans. The females of many species of mosquitoes are blood-eating pests. In feeding on blood, some of them transmit extremely harmful human diseases, such as malaria, yellow fever and filariasis.

But it does not end there. CaRT has provided the infrequently emptied domestic waste bins which are often filled to overflowing with waste food and used nappies. Surrounded by boaters plastic bin liner bags piled high in a circle for the local fox and rat population to open and feast upon. Containing the discarded remains of meals of boaters, fishermen and walkers. Then there are the regular spots along the cut where fishermen  dispose of leftover meals and maggots used as bait into the nearby vegetation. There is another kind of fisherman often seen scattering onto the water leftover meals and maggots used as bait. Why do fishermen never take home their rubbish or place it in the nearest rubbish bin, because they are infrequently emptied and thereby completing the circle.

Rats, come in all shapes and sizes. There is no such thing as a good rat. True rats are members of the genus Rattus, the most important of which to humans are the black rat, Rattus rattus, and the brown rat, Rattus norvegicus. Rats are generally large rodents, while mice are generally small muroid rodents. Generally, when someone discovers a large rat like creature it is a rat. Rats are opportunistic survivors and often live with and near humans. Rats, can carry many different pathogens, such as LeptospiraToxoplasma gondii, and CampylobacterThe Black Death is traditionally believed to have been caused by the micro-organism carried by the rat flea.

I hold CaRT responsible for this false image and providing the stagnant water in the pools along the maintainance free towpath. The piles of dog shit from those people that have now become friends of CaRT and have been encouraged to walk their dogs on the towpath. The new cyclist friends of CaRT who ride through and spread the dogshit much further along the towpath. The unemptied waste bins, that are providing a wonderful feeding and breeding ground for the fauna. Add to this all kinds of rubbish which has been left to fester and float in the canal. Bringing to your nose the bouquet of dog shit and fly blown rotting food and tantalizing aroma of rotting corpses. 



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