SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY
‘The clock struck twelve as I crept downstairs, trying hard not to wake the kids. The wife lay in bed smoking. “That’s the way to leave them,” I thought to myself. After saying cheerio to the dog I packed the rods and goaded the old banger into life.
It was an hour and a half before I reached the motorway. The old banger was coughing and spluttering and sounded like the engine was full of rusty nails, but progress was being made all the same. My mind drifted back to an incident at school earlier in the week involving Kath, my eldest daughter. They had been shown a film about recycling, after which various questions were asked.
“What happens,” asked the teacher, “to old cars when they are no longer roadworthy and just a heap of scrap?” Quick as a flash Kath put her hand up. “They sell them to my dad.” I don’t know if the answer came from wit or innocence but I guess it was about right all the same.
Still thinking about the kids I remembered the last time I arrived home from a fishing trip. Emma, my youngest, was knocking on the door of the house next to ours. “Excuse me but could I have a look in your garden, I think our tortoise has jumped over the fence.” The fence around the garden happens to be about six feet high!
Passing Stamford I realised I was now over 100 miles from home. The wife thought I was just going down to the local lake for a couple of days but I had, on impulse, decided to go down to a lake in Kent where I had fished the previous summer. At that time in 1969 the lake in the Faversham area produced few fish but those that did come out were usually biggies.
Feeling a bit tired I pulled into a lay-by for a cup of coffee. Reaching into the back for the flask I was shaken to find I’d forgotten it, along with my snap tin and my money! No grub, no drink and no money; hell! After frantically searching
through my pockets, the glove compartments, under the rug and behind the seats I came up with the princely sum of £1, enough for day tickets and a gallon and a half of petrol. On the rough calculation I made I thought I could just about get down there and back again on the available petrol. Still, no grub; that was the bugbear. Now any normal person would have turned round and gone home, but not me. I decided I could do to lose a bit of weight, anyway.
Eventually I made the lake around seven in the morning. Forty-eight hours and one fish later I gave up. Hunger had beaten me. I reeled in my potatoes and ate them. For the record, the fish went 18½lb, my only fish from the water, although I have somehow been accredited with at least one twenty according to local carp men.
Twenty miles from home I ran out of petrol and had to hitch-hike the rest of the journey. But I still thought it had been worth it. My impulse had paid off.’
“What happens,” asked the teacher, “to old cars when they are no longer roadworthy and just a heap of scrap?” Quick as a flash Kath put her hand up. “They sell them to my dad.”
BELOW ‘On impulse, I decided to go down to a lake in Kent where I had fished THE previous summer’
ABOVE The Blues Brothers, Millenium 2000. Rod with his mate and fellow music addict Mally Roberts: “Can you make my nose look smaller?”