I kept knitting away on my cowl, going with my plan to "fix" the fact I read the pattern wrongly to begin with. Then, as planned, I got to the mid point and moved the cable crossing to where it was meant to be - every 20 rows, rather than every ten. I immediately noticed two things:
1- the texture of the newer knitting was much floppier and softer
2 - it looked stupid having the two together. I ripped it back to the short cables and decided it was better just to continue with the pattern I had begun with.
It got long enough that I could wrap it around my neck, at which point I discovered that the short cables are rather weaponised. You could beat someone to a pulp with them. They sat in a sea of squishy garter stitch, all bunched up and uptight and heavy. So I ripped it all out: