Tuesday 29 January 2013

THE QUIET WATERS BY. (Chapter 1, excerpt)


In the late 70's, as soon as the first 'tring' of an alarm clock peeled I would scurry to the bottom of the bed under the covers in a  futile attempt to get a high temperature and thus escape going to school. It never worked.
It signaled the need to adorn a rotten stuffy tie, a stiff collared itchy shirt and donning short trousers regardless of the weather. I then had to cycle uphill for 2 miles to catch a bus for the privilege of  listening to some old duffer talk in a monotonous drone for six hours, only interrupted by a bottle of warm milk, stifling guffaws of laughter because someone had farted or by a piece of chalk thrown at someone for falling asleep.

Looking back in reflection to that seemingly longer journey home, I'm visualizing that young lad trudging up the path oblivious to the fact that he had any benefited from any education at all that day. If you'd have asked me at the time, 'What did you learn today'? I undoubtedly would have replied ... "Nuffink!".
 In fact, suffice to say if it wasn't for telltale stain of ink either on my hands or in the corner of my mouth and a grazed knee you would question whether I'd actually been at all.

However, Saturday morning alarms where another thing and would be met by a whoop of delight.
How I never broke a bone whilst flying down the stairs wrestling into a t-shirt, or hopping in one shoe while fingering the other over my heel in my haste to the shed for 'champion' (didn't everyone name there bike?), Or eating toast while riding  one-handed as I sped down the lane to the village store to collect my paper round deliveries. And how I'd envied those American movies that showed the delivery boy's tossing rolled up papers into gardens! But alas, such behavior would have resulted in a 'thick ear', a slapped leg or worse still, no tip at Christmas! Taking a lollipop offered by the newsagent for my trip home I would speed 'like a streak of lightning flashing across the sky' aboard my 'wonder horse'.
The reason for my haste was for one reason and one reason only... I was going fishing.

The next half hour was spent mixing up flour and water, pilfering a tin of 'green giant, ho,ho,ho!' if there was any, lashing my fishing rod to the frame of my bike and stuffing bits and bobs into my school satchel. Whose contents of schoolbooks, a geometry set and a tennis ball were upended onto my bed to make room for my more important tackle.
 After letting the tap run for ten minutes to ensure the water was good and cold, I would make up a bottle of squash and be away.
 In one pocket I would have stuffed with blackjack's and fruit salads to chew on the way and in the other...? Nothing!
I always had one pocket  purposely left empty for things I might glean from my fishing trip like 'conkers'. That or just because more often than not it had a hole in it, such were the perils that plagued small boys with pockets.

Saturday 26 January 2013

THE QUIET WATERS BY. (introduction/foreword)


During my teens and early adult life I fished mainly ponds and lakes and was joined by several friends and family members along the way. From either lack of time, interest or just convenience I was fishing commercial waters. The fish that I caught from these lakes whilst magnificent, would have a look in their eye which, at the time, one might mistake for disdain. Only now do I realise that the look in their eyes was from their loss of freedom, and was reflected in my own. It is my belief that the inclusion of others was in some way to mask what I was to lose from fishing, replacing that sense of freedom and adventure with good company or adding a competitive streak that was not in my nature and against my principals.
Undoubtedly the places I fished were stunningly beautiful. Most lakes reflected the transformation of the trees through the seasons and the air was filled with skylarks busily bragging how high they were in the summers sky through song. But the lakes were designed for convenience to both the owners and the needs of the anglers. Trees were felled, brambles and nettles were removed and grass was mown to a lawn like length. Not to mention the inclusion of running hot and cold water and toilets on some lakes.

 One in particular that springs to mind would facilitate a kitchen with television and armchairs and freezers and fridges to store bait and drinks in a cabin on the lake. There was an extensive  breakfast menu and it was not uncommon to see the owner wander round with mugs of tea and bacon sandwiches and delivered to the swim of the hungry fisherman. This would cause me to much tutting,  shaking and scratching of my head. With the comforts of home and the shelter of bivvies along with electronic gadgetry signalling fish activity and delivering bait by a boat to precise spots in the lake, for me anyways, would signal what was wrong and what was missing from my fishing. These so called anglers were in all intents and purposes camping in their own gardens and running to mum at mealtimes or at the first clap of thunder.

Whilst fishing during this time I had the pleasure of teaching and introducing friends, brothers, children, nephews as well as reacquainting my father after his long absence from the sport, although not nearly frequently enough  to either of our preference. I was witness to that rekindled magic again but my pleasure was obtained from seeing it in their eyes and not my own. This realisation or mid-life epiphany, call it what you will, would rekindle a spark which in turn would ignite my enthusiasm, eagerness and excitement before I had chance to recast and wet a line.
I needed to break from the comfort of familiarity of lakes and ponds and fish alone on our wild flowing rivers and streams. Whilst this would leave me in unfamiliar territory it would create a hunger for knowledge only sated by getting out there and exploring.
 The teacher would once more become the pupil and the man would become the child again. Another bonus of being a now responsible adult living out his childhood would dissipate the perils of angry bulls, barbed wire fences, hiding from farmers and bailiffs and hopefully avoiding unnecessary dangerous risk taking.
 This time around it would dispel  general consensus of opinion that if I was missing I was probably up to no good.