Day 3 – walking into Hebden Bridge, I went along the towpath. A mistake as like walking the Lea Valley towpath it’s a magnet for cyclists. Most cyclists (unlike Beardy Ted) are polite, give walkers right of way and say thank you when you step out of the way for them etc. but my trouble is I’m lost in thoughts and then when they ring their bell to let me know they’re coming, I instantly panic, and can’t work out which direction the bell has come from. Half mad from exhaustion coming into Hebden Bridge only exacerbated this.
Then a young guy on a bike came slowly past drawling in an sinister Oasis style Manchester sneer, ‘Are you alriggggght mate?’
‘Yes fine’ I said and carried on.
A bit further on, he’d stopped his bike and was sitting by the canal. He said again, ‘Are you alriggggght mate?’
‘Yes ok.’ I said, and he said, ‘Have you had a nice waaaalk?’
‘Yes hot, but ok.’
‘Where you headed?
He shrugged as is if he’d never heard of it despite living round here.
‘It should be about a mile up here.’
‘About a mile you say?’
‘Right.’ he said shrugging again.
Probably nothing just push on. I’d been walking a couple of minutes and he came past again, this time saying,
”’ere maaate. My cousins’ going to be coming along here in a minute.’
‘Ah, right’, I said, and he carried on.
Who was his cousin? What could this mean?
I kept looking but no-one came for ages. Then finally a teenager with blond hair, round head and little round glasses, looking a bit like Richard Attenborough as Pinkie in Brighton Rock, came slowly past saying an identical, ‘Are you alriggggght mate?’
This was getting weird.
Up ahead the first one was stopped, and now his cousin was stopped a bit further up. I went passed the first one who nodded at me. I’d have to go round the cousin towards the water and I thought, ‘he’s going to push me in.’ My fevered brain thought, 1) when he pushes, grab him and pull him in too, followed by 2) as soon as in the water release rucksack and ascertain how deep it is.
I walked past him tensed and ready and of course… nothing happened at all.
Not sure how much was due to me being half-mad, and how much was due to them genuinely being wrong’uns!