D GJust twelve more locks 'til we reach the top levelD AJust twelve more locks, then we'll stop for the night D G EmThough lock walls are leaking and paddle gear's creaking D Em A DThrough hell and low water, we'll get up this flightWe've struggled through duckweed, deep silt and tall reedRemoved poly bags and rope wrapped round the propWe've scraped and been scratched as we pushed through the bridge holesDespite all obstructions we'll get to the topIs this a song of canals in the sixties? Unfortunately not, it's a tale of todayWhile towpaths are tarmacked so cyclists can fly pastBoaters are struggling with stoppage delaysAm I bitter and twisted with glasses rose-tinted?'Cos I can't help but think how things were in the pastDereliction, restoration, a waterway salvationNow in decline, with repair list that's vastWhere is the workforce that maintained the system?Now we only see those who work for no payMore public relations and pleas for donations The responses to crises occurring most daysWith a crumbling system near unfit for purposeBoaters and boats may soon disappearHeritage in distress, waterway SOSA plea for paid workers, don't exploit volunteersJust twelve more locks 'til we reach the top levelJust twelve more locks to paint on this flightThe locks are still leaking and paddle gears creaking But the balance beams shine - pristine, black and white
The diminution of a C&RT’s permanent paid work-force, the sale of their tools and the subsequent reliance on outside contractors to deal with an increasing amount of maintenance and repairs may make life easier for the accountants running the waterways but to many this seems short-sighted. Similarly, whilst it is a fact that it was enthusiastic volunteers who saved the canals from closure in the middle of the last century, the cynical use of non-paid volunteers by well-paid politicians and managers grates somewhat. There is an increasing amount of non-paid labour being used to carry out tasks previously done by the paid work-force. To my mind this is little more than a Con trick. Assurances that volunteers would do ‘additional work’ rather than the work done previously by paid employees seem to have been conveniently forgotten. While we see many volunteers painting lock gates the locks themselves are deteriorating rapidly and only seem to demand C&RT’s attention when a canal closure is imminent.