Thursday, 22 August 2013

Lying, Scheming, Fishing

“A great day’s fishing starts in the mind and seldom disappoints”. This I quoted in 1973 back in the days when a fishing rod was thrown out of the bedroom window and was swiftly picked up on my way round the side of the house, supposedly on my way to school and from there the most glorious summer fishing days were had. 
I woke up this morning and the day was just such one of those types of days.  A tad humid, sunny and plainly just great fishing weather.  Work has been very full on this last two months and it is certainly one of the longest times I have gone without extracting anything from the river.  As I sat eating my breakfast I was trying to think of an excuse which would wash on why I shouldn’t go to work today.  The carpenter and the electrician surely could manage for one day, which brought me around to thinking of an excuse I had made to my mother some many years earlier.  “Mum, I’ve got a bad stomach and I don’t want to go to school today.”
“Is it that bad?” asked mother.
“It’s crippling me”, I replied.  My brothers and sister didn’t believe a word of it for the previous evening we had been playing tag in amongst all of the bales which had been freshly baled outside the house.
“There is nothing wrong with him,” they all yelled.  I just sat in the chair, slumped, slumping that much I could barely hold myself in the chair, but the look on mum’s face, I knew that the playacting had worked.  “You go back off to bed, you can have a day off school today.” I poked my tongue out as I walked past my heckling brothers and sister.  I laid in bed for a few minutes, listening to them exchange their goodbyes with mother and then I was on my own with only my mum down in the kitchen starting on her large wash day.  I put on my old clothes and crept downstairs.  Mum was always busy, she would never notice I had gone.  Out of the house and round to underneath my bedroom window, I picked up my fishing rod that I had thrown out earlier.  Ducking underneath the kitchen window, rod in hand, river bound, it was going to be great day, and so it was, for a couple of hours. 
It was a warm, sultry, beautiful summer’s day.  The calling of the Swallows as they darted about in the summer sky and the beauty of the dragon flies.  I was totally lost in the experience and I must have laid back and fallen asleep for the next thing I heard was the snapping of my rod and a grisly gamekeeper kicking me in the ribs screaming, “You shouldn’t be fishing, you should be at school.”  That bit of it I could handle, however, I did feel my lips curling up when I  looked down and saw my broken rod, but the next thing he said gave me that petrifying, tingling feeling, the type of feeling you get when you know the day is going to get decidedly worst.  He grabbed me by the ear and marched me up the field.  “We’ll see what your mother is going to say about this.” I tried to reason with him all the way to my front door but he was having none of it.  Once there I tried my getaway but his grip was too tight.  He kicked the door loudly three times, my mother answered it with a pair of washing tongs in her hands wearing a very stained apron.  Wash days then were with an old copper, exhausting work. “I’ve caught him down the river fishing, and let me remind you that you are in an estate house.”  The last phrase was just what country parents did not want to hear.  He pushed me inside the door. “Don’t let it happen again,” he shouted at mother.  Mum then gave me a swipe with the washing tongs.  “You wait ‘till your father gets in.” The whole incident was something that I regretted for a long time after.  The getting caught was unforgivable. 
A month after that unfortunate incident, we were all sat at the table having breakfast and that morning I really did have a crippling pain in my stomach.  It hurt when I sat down, it hurt when I stood up and it hurt when I laid down, it hurt constantly and over the next two days the pain got decidedly worst. “I’ve got a bad stomach,” I groaned, “I don’t think I can go to school.”
“Oh no you don’t my lad, you are not catching me on that again, you get off to school with your brothers and sister.”  It was hopeless, nothing I could say could persuade her otherwise.  I dressed for school and went out with my brothers and sister for the mile and a half walk to school.  My brothers and sister met up with the other kids in the village and they walked on chippily heckling me.  “Your lying and scheming didn’t get you fishing today did it?”  I could not answer them, the pain in my stomach was getting quite unbearable.  They soon left me far behind.  By the time I had arrived at school everyone was in assembly.  “I’d better not go in there late,” I thought, “or that would be another rollicking. I had better wait and tag on the end of the juniors on their way to the classroom and that way no one will notice that I am late.”  I went back to the school’s small cloakroom waiting for assembly to finish and tried to make myself more comfortable but by this time the pain was so acute I could not stand up.  The most comfortable position I could find was curled up in the foetal position and there I stayed for a few minutes.  After about five minutes I noticed that I was crying but I was making no noise.  This was the most severe pain I had ever experienced.  I heard the doors go and I tried to stand but could not.  The only way I could get to the classroom was by crawling on my hands and knees.  “I am never going to get there in time and join the others without being noticed,” although the not being noticed was not important anymore, I wanted to be noticed as the pain I couldn’t bear.  I started to cry out and in seconds the two teachers were trying to help me to my feet.  “Get a doctor, get a doctor,” one of them said.  A doctor promptly arrived followed by an ambulance and my mother; off we all went to Cheltenham General Hospital where my almost burst appendix was operated on and removed. 
As I left the hospital, I shall never forget the instructions to my mother and father and my brothers and sister.  “He must be treated as if he was an egg, very gently.”  And I milked this for the next two weeks to the absolute maximum.  My brothers and sister waited on me hand and foot.  

The lesson from all of this is what I have practised to this day, never make any excuse to do with health.  To tempt fate is folly beyond belief. So going back to this morning, after that flash back, you can safely say, fishing is off until this glut of work is completed.

My old split-cane fly rod. Split-cane, for me, is the only material to make a fine day’s fishing that much finer.

No comments:

Post a Comment