Thursday 24 March 2022

Walking to observe and notice

Off the beaten path

Not down the usual walking route did I ply but rather down the Ashton Canal towpath from Paradise Wharf to Islington Wharf between which mechanical cranes and hoists of history have become monuments of the industries that once thrived here. Now, we have bijoux apartments and waterfront properties, a kind of exclusivity not nearly as exciting as it seems apart from when the canal forms an aqueduct over Store Street.

The further straight on this towpath leads to isolation, but for a sunny day, many are walking in groups to and fro, a kind of busy that is usually reserved for football match days but let us not be distracted from our surroundings and the oncoming traffic of senseless cyclists. The numerous canal locks holding back water as overflows give a sense of life.

Nature in many guises

Life in ducks, geese, and birds, they all are quacking, honking, or singing, in unison, separately or a disordered cacophony, not in need of the marshalling of a choirmaster. The music of nature is more settling than the blaring of headphones in covering your ears that you are totally unaware of what or where you are. If only they could just pocket their mobile phones for a moment and see something else.

One man and his dog, that dog a beast instead giving the person a status of terror for he could earn fear masquerading as respect no other way, then another dog, fluffy and friendly being called away from a couple sitting for a quiet talk. Just before you saw the fouling of the path, and I suspect the beastly dog, for the owner at one look did not appear the civil kind, yet, I have been wrong making such judgements.

A sport to thrill

Even as I have not decided how much further I want to go, I probably will go as far as this towpath will take me, my height is many times challenged by the low arches of bridged straddling the canal, I stoop or bow as I walk keeping an eye for some who care nothing for other users of this way.

Walking at speed, I pass another couple whilst resisting the urge to eavesdrop and then to my right over the canal is the Etihad Campus, with the football stadium of Manchester City Football Club and I recall when I could not persuade my best friend, a Manchester United fan to walk into that ‘abominable’ sanctum, though he might have had considered visiting for a local derby, I’ll ask.

Love in the park

One more bridge to duck and the windy path veers off the canal and I am presented with the entrance to Philips Park and I have not been here in years, many years at that. Two men have been ahead of me all the while, interesting from my perspective and something about them suggests more than meets the eye.

Into the park, they walk, down one of the more secluded routes that goes by the culverting of the River Medlock, the handiwork of brutal Victorians, that defines the boundary between the park and the cemetery. I am not following or trailing them, but I am just slightly behind them, then they touch and hug, I knew it all the while. They are getting more affectionate and honestly, why should I be shocked?

Just as I turn to cross over the River Medlock into the Philips Park Cemetery, they are now making their way back towards the park and in a moment of overwhelming passion, they embrace and kiss, that remains for a while or it is my persistence of vision deceiving me, for in that moment, I see love and think of love, then I wonder when Brian and I will walk about again, and give this spectacle to another narrator.

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