Legends from our own lunchtimes

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Snakes alive! -
Montchanin to Montceau-les-Mines

The locks in this neck of the woods are automatic, but potentially  so unreliable that they need a lock keeper to attend most of them while transit is happening, which is much nicer from our perspective than waiting for the inevitable breakdown to occur, and then having to wait for a response.

This is a great idea in theory, but in practice, it requires a little more discipline than we find natural in order to arrive at the first lock at the appointed time.   We did exceptionally well to be at the first lock at exactly the appointed time we thought, even if three-fifths of our number were compelled to walk that distance.

It wasn’t long before we found our first delay.   The lock keeper seemed relieved to see a troop of Australians arrive, after all they know about snakes he thought, and would surely be able to give some advice as to how to extract the sleeping monster from his nice warm electrical controls.  Calling on the vast depths of Jack's electrical experience, we were able to suggest that if he was to go poking around in a live electrical bus bar, perhaps he should turn off the electricity before he did anything else.  He immediately concurred and told us that last week he had the firemen out to solve a similar problem and if they’d turned off the power first it may not have taken ten hours to fix the damage that was done by the subsequent electrical short.

Wisely he let us through the lock before turning off the power.   When last we saw him he was armed with a pair of tongs designed for picking up rubbish, and protected by a set of washing-up rubber gloves, with his off-sider walking hastily in direction “away from the snake”. 

Our hero though had upon his countenance the sort of large grin and sweaty brow that one imagines gladiators may have worn as they entered the lion’s arena, full of adrenalin and bravado.   We didn’t hear of any lock closures, nor did we hear any sirens, so we can only presume that the fire truck was spared its outing.

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