(Boat Sickle - posted by Cath)
As we worked up the Audlem flight I noticed a couple of youngish lads, perhaps 11 or 12 years old walking up and down the flight. They closed gates for people, and were magnet fishing in some of the lock aprons. They seemed well-behaved and pleasant boys.
There is a longish pound before the top two locks of the Audlem flight, and just as we got to it a small boat pulled out ahead of us. It had two elderly men on it, one steering, and the other working the locks.
I went up to the lock and helped them through the penultimate lock, the gentleman working the lock seemed nice enough, although a bit deaf. We then turned the lock and worked through it ourselves.
On arriving at the final lock of the flight I was staggered to see the lock wheeler of the boat ahead of us (let's call him Gentleman J) being forcibly held into the hawthorn hedge by another elderly man (let's call him Scottish Gentleman). He had blood trickling from various cuts on his face, and from a split lip. Gentleman J and Scottish Gentleman were shouting loudly at each other, and Gentleman J was refusing to hand over his windlass, which was clutched to his chest. There was also an elderly lady who was speaking animately on her mobile phone - plus the two young boys I had noticed earlier.
I took this to be some kind of disagreement about who should be working the lock, but no.
I have to be honest - I heard all of what had actually happened from Scottish Gentleman, Elderly lady and the two lads, but Gentleman J was there the whole time that they were telling me this, and he did not contradict them.
At the top of the flight is a cake stall outside the old lock cottage, you can buy home made brownies, cupcakes, flapjacks, etc. There is also a plate with some small samples on it. It turned out that the two boys were staying on a boat, moored above the locks - which is owned by one of the lad's grandparents (Scottish Gentleman and Elderly Lady). The boys had just bought some brownies at the cake stall, and the proprietor had said, "try a sample". The grandson said, "I'll take some cake", which he did.
Gentleman J then shouted, "you thieving little bastard!", grabbed the boy by the throat, flung him to the ground, banging the back of his head, and putting his windlass around the boy's throat to hold him down. Not surprisingly, Scottish Gentleman, the boy's grandfather, took offence at this, and the two elderly men ended up in a tussle, where Gentleman J ended up in the hedge, with a bloodied face. Both of them shouting insults at each other.
Granny had been on the phone to the police, who couldn't then find where this remote location was, but Gentleman J sat quietly on the back of his boat waiting for them to arrive, while refusing any first aid to his cuts. It did appear that he had genuinely thought that the boy was stealing a sample of cake, but what staggered me was the total over-reaction to this.
As a first aider I checked the boy, his face and neck were scratched and somewhat bruised. His head hurt, but I didn't think that he was concussed. I told the grandfather what symptoms to watch out for, and we went on our way.