Friday, June 15, 2007

What is a Lock?


A lock.

Be afraid – be very afraid. A lock is a watery tomb. Here the dominant life forms are slime-based - enthusing in their multitudes across surfaces, awaiting a faltering foot.

Then there’s the ghosts. Every lock has a dark story – victims swallowed whole. The tortured souls of working boat boat-people, some of whom slipped into sleep from toiling night and day, then dropped into this gushing grave. Modern boaters fetishize their hard lives with high-tech paint jobs costing thousands and boastful talk of the system covered so far, lives lived with time to spare, they know nothing of their freezing toil and torment – another victim perhaps?

Those locks without one dark story have many. The young woman who died here 200 years ago, lovelorn, lonely – not for her the bright lights of clubland, the constant party preparation of MSN and myspace, fighting the boys off. For her a chance encounter maybe once a year, a chance to chat while unloading or exhausted smiles exchanged as craft literally slip past in the night. Then, just a couple of years ago…a whole party of happy holiday boaters , drunk and brash – all drowned as quickly as kittens in a weighted bag.

There are tricks and knacks to this sedate ride - but get it wrong and the world tips up quickly the pleasant splashing becoming a murderous torrent. The lock’s next victims are those who worry least - too flash, too complacent.
So pay respect to the knacks and the mechanisms, the ghosts and their toil reinvented as leisure, to the slimes who live light and dark far quicker than any rock-pool goby - and who await the next slip. A lock can open a gate into the next world, or is it the eternal void?

So look after yourself – and be afraid.

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