Monday, 16 March 2015


I am thinking of writing a series of short stories for children. After giving it considerable thought. I chose the inland waterways as a suitable location for the events to unfold. Just like all good stories it will have to have the required hero or two. There is also a selection of villains and a selection of creatures of the night as well.  With a sprinkling of supporting, miscellaneous and nefarious characters thrown in for good measure.

Never-Everland: Using a suitable fairy tale name of 'Never-Everland' as I quite like the sound of the Never-Everland name. I did consider 'Malice in Blunderland' and 'Hardly-Everland' but Never-Everland seems to me to be a closer description of the way the inland waterways are administered.

The Heroes: I chose to also include a couple of principled characters who I named 'Tom Volt' and 'Bob Ache.' Normal everyday folk who have a love, determination and passion for maintaining the inland waterways. The sort of folk who would not take no for an answer and were highly likely to organise opposition and protest. The sort of people that if you were a boater would like to have on your side.

Wicked Warlock: Children's stories have to have an arch villain so the obligatory very naughty character is to be a 'Wicked Waterways Warlock' and I have chosen the name Toby. The Warlock will also be supplied with a goodly selection of 'Lost Children, Ogres and Bridge Trolls' to act as his minions.

Bridge Trolls: Trolls like to dress up in disguise so they can go out among humans without standing out too much. Trolls will try to buy up all available canal side inns just to close them to annoy passing boaters. Even when inns all over the land are already closing down. With a lust for persuading fairy-dust just to become the richest and most greedy trolls in Never-Everland. I liked the idea of Bridge Trolls as there are many of each on the waterways.

Ogres: Ogres abound in Never-Everland and can be found patrolling the towpath looking for non shiny boats to make complaints about. Characterised by their lumbering gait and limited ability in thought. Chanting under their smelly halitosis breath the mantra 'Moored boater bad must move along.'

Lost Children: What is a children's story without the obligatory lost children. Who I called Slash, Tweedle dump and Tweedle flea. This charming trio are first amongst unequal's in the bigger group of procrastinators. With a total lack of awareness of waterways life but with a total conviction that they know best.

Are you sitting comfortably – then I shall begin the outline of my story.

Once upon a time in Never-Everland there was a place where nature flourished and it was early summer all the year round. With sunshine in the day and the occasional rain would only fall at night.
It was a pleasant interconnected system of inland waterways. There were colourful boats that plied their trade, selling all kinds of wares. The towpaths were thronged with happy anglers who could be found catching large amounts of their favourite fish. Large family groups could be often be seen during the never ending sunny days. Enjoying the countryside while walking the quiet towpath. The flowers blossomed, the bees buzzed and Swallows swooped over the river. The swans - well they just swanned along and the ducks created ever expanding rings as they dabbled the water surface. The Willow trees wept, creating dappled shade over the water. Fish splashed in the shallows and dragonflies filled the air. It was a wonderful place, it could be said that life was idyllic on the inland waterways of Never-Everland.  A place where peace and solitude was to be found.

Never-Everland was also a place where a few evil people lived. Non was worse the the 'Wicked Waterways Warlock' who hated all kinds of enjoyment. Warlocks are well known to practise their evil magic. Called by some as the dark arts or even witchcraft.
Well known throughout history for being half demon, half human and villainous in nature. The Warlocks have existed since the dawn of human history and are said to be the children of Lilith. Warlocks are known to be attracted to all kinds of waterways and the inland waterways of Never-Everland was no exception.

Far away in an Ivory Tower close to the Warlocks stronghold in Milton Keynes. One particular wicked waterways Warlock called Toby was very unhappy indeed.  He was fuming at the performance of his current cohort of lack lustre villains. He was in a rage at the lack of any angst or tears on the deliriously happy boaters faces. Piqued and annoyed by the cheerful waves and smiles that the boaters gave to each other. Something needed to be done and it needed to be done quickly. Casting around, he saw that captain Hook Never-Neverlands usual arch villain was busy with another nautical problem of his own. Suitable talent for mayhem and destruction was seemingly in short supply. Fortunately there was one lack lustre group available. The dysfunctional family of Bridge Trolls and their pet Ogres.

The Bridge Trolls were known far and wide throughout Never-Everland as the 'Bridge Waterways Blaggards' So it came about that the 'Bridge Trolls' were employed by the Warlock. Soon their graffiti tag 'BWB rules OK' could be found all over Never-Everlands inland waterways. Bridge Trolls differ from other run of the mill trolls in that they do not use physical effort and avoid any use of tools. The Trolls have long attempted to cause serious harm by using their power of lack of thought and rampant indifference.

The idyllic waterscape was given over by the Warlock to be managed by the Bridge Trolls. Who would in turn, be assisted unwittingly by the lost children. Soon the Bridge Trolls set to work on their task to close all the waterways. Wasting all of the maintenance fairy-dust allowance on anything other than maintenance. The waterways started to deteriorate. Locks failed to be repaired and  leaks were ignored. Because the boats could no longer use the waterways. The Warlock issued a decree that the boaters should not use the locks. Because the boaters who could not move, did not need to use them anyway. Such was the sense and logic in the everyday world of the
'BWB rules OK' gang.

On the waterways, the happy boaters had become concerned over what was happening. Since control of the waterways had come into the hands of the warlock by way of a very evil spell. They started to talk about finding someone who could help to preserve and improve the waterways. The happy inland waterways people held a meeting at Tardylittle locks and decided that something needed to be done. They intended to try and put a stop to all the deterioration and destruction. They knew that they needed to create a group of willing activists to counter what the Bridge Trolls were doing. It was at this time that Tom Volt and Bob Ache came along. They had been observing for some time what the Bridge Trolls were doing. they decided to get organised and turn the boaters and other activists into a proactive waterways restoration group.  A group that included boaters, walkers and fishermen. Who generally came along with a lot of their volunteer friends. With Volt and Ache in charge of the organisation. The task in hand was set and they all agreed to restore Never-Everlands inland waterways to their former glory.

Soon the proactive waterways restoration group, became known far and wide as the 'Inland Waterways Activists'. The activists set their jib to thwart the wicked waterways Warlock and his evil plans given to the Trolls to close the cut. The IWA worked long and hard to improve the waterways of Never Everland. Slowly returning more and more canals into a pleasant navigation. A canal that was once more a navigation fit for boats. Their efforts turned back the clock. Bit by bit the IWA gang turned the canal into a place where the broken locks worked and the water did not leak away. Boaters returned once more in numbers and began to cruise the canals once again. The gallant efforts of Volt and Ache had not gone unnoticed. Their actions had annoyed the wicked waterways Warlock. But because the time was not right, Toby decided that he must deal with them at a later date.

Soon the Bridge Trolls were growing fat and more and more lethargic by the day. As they gorged at the fairy-dust trough of the three little pigs. It was rich diet that they feasted on - Humongous pay scales, eye watering Ogre sized bonus and Giant sized cauldrons of pension. The Bridge Trolls knew all about the gravy train and the gravy boat in more ways than one. Their usual work day started at the crack of 11am and finished late at noon. With an hour off for lunch.

The IWA continued to thwart everything that the trolls tried their best to ignore. However, now it was being done at a much slower pace than before. But under the leadership of Volt and Ache the improvements continued. The wicked waterways Warlock was not happy. Because the nature of the canal had changed from being dire. It was slowly returning back into a happy place for people to enjoy. Toby realised that he needed to motivate the troops from their self inflicted lethargy. To make them once more proactive at doing and achieving  absolutely nothing. What had been painstakingly returned by the activists to a pleasant place for ordinary people to enjoy. A place for nature to flourish once more. Was giving the Warlock daymares.

So Toby began plotting the downfall of Never-Everlands inland waterways, for once and for all time. The waterways would now to be deliberately ill-maintained and the fairy-dust allowance could only be wasted on making the bad go even worse. The waterways started to become much more over grown with broken willows blocking routes. The mud began to stink and grew ever deeper. Plastic bags and bottles and cans were strewn along the towpath in. The bottom of the canal slowly came much closer to the top. As what there was of the water was encouraged to leak away. Locks collapsed, culverts broke and a list was taken to show how their numbers were growing. What was a sad time for the boaters, was a happy time in the home of the Bridge Trolls in Never-Everland. As the Bridge Trolls returned once more to the frenzied feeding at the fairy-dust trough.

As Never-Everland waterways inexorably fell into decay and destruction. The wicked waterways Warlock who had been happy with all the changes. Now felt that there was much more that could be successfully ignored. Toby decided that rather than be in charge of a Quango he wanted something he could Trust to fail! Casting around for a new crew to help him manage into oblivion the rubbish filled, smelly, rat infested, waterways of Never-Everland. Toby came across a group of real experts. With years of experience in procrastination and navel fluff picking. Each troll was blessed with a degree in lethargy and a signed copy of 'Catastrophic Canal Management for Dummies.'

The Warlock organised a half hearted recruitment drive for the worst executive team in Never-Everland waterways history. However, time was ticking away for Hook and he has his remaining hand full of other problems. After an exhausting search to discover suitable talent. The wicked waterways Warlock was won over. He had unwittingly discovered the best team for continuing the wanton destruction. The Warlock recruited the very same group of Bridge Trolls, Ogres and lost children - for a second time. Talent such as this would ensure the destruction and demise of the inland waterways forever. As a business it was bound to fail and to fail spectacularly.

The team name, was changed once again. This time to the 'Catatonic and Ruinous Tribe' Now the graffiti tags said 'CaRT rules OK'  As the reinvigorated team fell once more back into their usual state of lethargy. But this time the trolls were slimmed down with a slightly smaller fairy-dust trough. A new era of dilapidation for the waterways was to be ushered in. Things would change for the worse and the level of deterioration would be speeded up.

The destruction now went on at a pace. It started with those rare once in a decade unforeseen catastrophes. Which were put on a monthly schedule. Soon the heavy to work locks were inscribed with more of the Warlock's spells. Spells which were cunningly disguised as poems. The CaRT were becoming more and more adept at wasting time, fairy-dust and all was achieved with very little effort. The Troll procrastinators got their second wind and after their after lunch siesta. The Ogres were set loose on the towpath and vulnerable boaters were forcibly evicted from their homes. Despair and desperation amongst boaters ensued.

Volt and Ache had previously handed over control of the Inland Waterways Activist group. Thinking that the activist leadership was being left in safe hands. The butter fingered group concentrated on polishing their boats. Growing ever older, forgetful, careless and cavalier over the future of Never-Everlands waterways. While, plotting in his lair in Ivory Towers. Toby knew now was the ideal time to settle the score with the Inland Waterways Activists for once and for all. He began stealthy preparations by collecting the ingredients for the creation of a 'memorandum of misunderstanding spell'. Round the cauldron at Trash Street basin the Bridge Trolls gathered. Now they were laughing and cheering as the wicked waterways Warlock cast his latest carefully crafted and especially evil spell. 

Hubble bubble, night soil and trouble;
Eye of the newt, and the last dead vole;
Lack of courage, and my will redoubled;
Read my message, as my words control.

Tail of mitten crab, and wart of the frog;

Cool the cauldron with, a canal bats blood; 
A black plastic bag,  with the turds of dog;

Then my spell grows, strong and good.
Do my minds bidding, and never fail me;
Your every thought, controlled remote;
Your will is broke, your minds agree;
Polish your boat, my little Judas goat. 

In a moment Toby turned the 
Inland Waterways Activists into a set of neutered, zombie, dwarf goats. The wicked waterways Warlock, then clicked his fingers. The now lotus eating, pot bellied, one time activists. Meekly rolled over to show their nanny goat bellies. Now the Inland Waterways Activists were in a place that they had never been before. No longer holding thoughts for improving the waterways for boaters. Now they were caught up in delivering division and destruction to the waterways. The new inland waterways activists leaders just smiled and nodded with vacant empty minds. The old long dead activists were to be heard throughout the land revolving at high speed in their graves.

Yet still the wicked waterways Warlock was not happy. In a flash of blinding crazy inspiration, the Bridge Trolls dispatched the Lost Children to create Waterless Partnerships. This added a further layer of disruption, to enhance the ongoing mayhem. Delay after delay, the backlog of repairs grew. 100, 1000, 10,000, 25,000 and then 50,000 the total climbed ever higher. The trolls carried on wasting the fairy dust. The once black columns in the accounts, first turned rosy pink and then turned into a deep crimson red.

But the wicked waterways Warlock was still not happy. Toby needed a new inspirational leader to replace the now clapped out Bridge Troll who was sent away with a barrow full of pension. Toby was confident that under the new inspirational leadership of an uber-leader, despair and destruction would continue. He decided to take on the services of an experienced Sorcerer. Just back from Fantasia land – he was a real Mickey Mouse Sorcerers apprentice. One that was full of wrong doing, mischief, harmful magic and evildoing. Witchcraft of a more focused sort could then be employed to improve the level of malevolence. The Sorcerer apprentice stalked the towpath nodding in agreement with everything a boater said. His sorcery was used to identify the happy people so that a suitable punishment could be carried out. Toby needed the malevolent Sorcerer, like a fish needs a unicycle. Malicious magic users can become a cause and a conductor for bad luck, impotence and other such misfortunes. Toby wondered if his new apprentice Sorcerer's magic charms, might just rub off on him. He would need to handle his newest recruit with a modicum of care.

It was at this time that the trolls and lost children under the leadership of their new Uber-Sorcerer had a moment of sublime inspiration. The towpath cyclist had always been a fairly quiet group. Who caused only occasional speed problems. mainly because of all the mud and deep ruts that had been allowed to develop all along the unmaintained towpath. The outgoing Troll master had granted all cyclists complete anonymity and threw away all of their permits. Speed limits were abolished and the requirement for even a bell was ignored. The cunning plan changed and now the towpath was to be paved over at all costs. Intended  to provide the final coup de grĂ¢ce. The annual fairy dust allowance was sprinkled with abundance on the towpath. But the trolls were carefully making sure than none fell on or near a lock. The fairy dust turned the inland waterways into a high speed velodrome and created an exquisite time trial venue.

It had been Chuck the cyclists friend from the Un Sustainable Transport chocolate factory that had provided the Bridge Trolls with a golden ticket.  Now the Lycra clad hump-a-lumpa in their little multi-coloured uniforms. Could now climb onto their cycles and the high speed time trials began. The genie was out of the bottle and Toby knew it could never be put back. He danced a jig of glee and at long last – Toby the wicked waterways Warlock could say and mean it – 'my work here is done.'

Or is it?

Well that's the working outline for the story. Am I being a bit ambitious in creativity department. Is this a story that even in your wildest dreams could never come true.

"The events depicted in this series of children's stories are fictitious. Any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental. No person should without the prior permission of the author assume or in any other way take over the identity of any character. These tales are a story that could be based on actual events. In certain cases incidents, characters and timelines may have been changed for dramatic purposes. Characters may be accidental composites, or entirely fictitious. I was helped in my creative endeavour by my friend's telepathic cat named Huxley. Huxley assumes all responsibility for any mistakes and errors."

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