The Bridge and the Swan

by Ian H Bruce (2013)

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As I cruise the canals their needs are apparent
Locks leaking, gates creaking, towpaths overgrown
Hopes sink like an anchor, we've been scuppered by bankers
It'll take more than they'll raise from some texts on the phone

Chorus :
I won't send a text to raise money for orchards
A house for a dormouse, holes for the voles
Canals that hold water are all that I'm wanting
The birds and the bees will find their own homes

The canals built by man for industrial transport
A new dawn, barges horse drawn distribution achieved
No more rutted cart tracks, goods slung on horses' backs
As throughout the country waterways weaved

Iron horses then galloped over all of the country
Steam and smoke, coal and coke, a railway stampede
When navvies laid rail lines, canal haulage soon declined
The boatie's life vanished, beaten by speed

The canals were once saved by amateur enthusiasts
Boating pleasure, enjoying leisure, a new fashionable creed
'Til professionals' conceit, their God now the spreadsheet
Let the system decline through incompetence and greed

We're now asked to trust that the system's in safe hands
Workers disappear, more volunteers, a government con
Boaters, their views ignored, by 'friend-seeking' charity board
Reflect on the curse of the bridge and the swan

Repeat verse 1

Major disruptions to the canal system seem to have been increasing during 2013 and evidence of future problems is plain to see. The new body entrusted with keeping the system in good order, the Canal and River Trust, got off to a poor start when they introduced schemes where members of the public could text a number and donate £3 towards trees to be planted, bird boxes to be installed and habitats to be created for voles. Voles which may well be undermining canal banks and causing some of the failures. I doubt the money raised paid for the signage or the refreshments at the executive meeting where the scheme was dreamt up. These factors combined to lead to the chorus of this song and the verses followed.