Never mind smelling the flowers, don’t forget to take time out to see the satirical side of fishing life and grab a laugh along the way as well. So here’s a regular column from Kevin Perkins to remind us that life is for laughing at, or taking the p*** out of, whenever we can. But he does have a serious side occasionally…….
AT IT ALL THE TIME?
Graham was kind enough to publish an article of mine covering my early years as a tyro fisherman. I was going to sit down and do a piece about ‘The Next Ten Years’, covering those difficult teens to mid twenties. But I thought back and seem to remember it being patchy (with regard to fishing, I seem to recall there were plenty of other distractions!) and wondered if it was/is the same for other anglers.
Is it a bug that is with you forever once you are ‘hooked’, is it possible for to you put it down and pick it up again, sometimes much later on? If you do, is it is easy or difficult to catch up with changing methods. Or do you just carry on doing the same as before?
I know as my teens progressed it became harder to find kids to go fishing with. What used to be a boisterous day out for up to ten boys at a time on their bikes slowly dwindled to three, sometimes two, and more often than not would just end up as just one (me!). Fishing wasn’t seen as ‘cool’ and you certainly never got to take girls along – “uuurrghh, slimy fish, yeeuukk maggots,” etc. As the main preoccupation was girls at the time, I suppose you can see why an interest in anything that didn’t attract their attention seemed a waste of time.
The painful teenage ‘dating’ years come flooding back. Why, when the most attractive girl(s) in your class always went out with boys at least one year older, did the girls one year younger not look at you either! Why do girls go out in pairs, usually dressed like twins, except that one has glasses/braces, is unnaturally taller/ shorter and/or two dress sizes off the optimum ?
“Why me? Life is sh*te!”
As a teenager I did a lot of swimming. In fact I used to go almost every day after school. This led to broad shoulders, a toned physique, bleached hair, and permanently chlorine-reddened eyes! It also gave you the opportunity to legitimately view girls in bikinis, which was several steps up to furtively viewing the underwear models in the pages of your mum’s catalogue book! (No? Just me again then!) Anyway, during my trips, I began to notice two girls from another school who seemed to appear every time I went. Amazingly, the pretty one was always smiling at me, and would sometimes secretly give me a little wave as well. I did what any red-bloodied, hormone rampaging teenage boy does in this situation – nothing!
This went on for several days until a (female) classmate come up to me, pointed in the direction of the two girls and said ”Would you like to go out with Rebecca?” I looked across, received the obligatory smile and wave from the gorgeous one, and must have managed to mumble an answer that my school friend translated as “Yes”. She dashed off, all three went into a huddle and she came back with a rendezvous for the weekend. I was to meet her at the local train station, take her to the cinema and then……
You must know the anguish of wanting something so much it hurts, balanced by the pain of fear of failure. The anticipation as you can’t wait for the time to pass, the dread of the event approaching. All this and a lot more I went through, but at last the moment had arrived and I was on the platform when the train pulled in. Palms sweating, I hovered by the ticket gate, scanning the passengers. Almost the last person off was – the plain one! She walked nonchalantly up, smiling sweetly as she approached. I was gutted, I’d been stood up, and even worse, she had sent the plain one to tell me!
“Where’s Rebecca?” I spat out the words, (I know they say don’t shoot the messenger, but if that’s all there is, who else can you rant at?)
She looked up at me, big brown eyes filling with tears and bottom lip trembling, as she sobbed, “I’m Rebecca!”
Now, if this was a Mills & Boon story (as opposed to true life) I would have gallantly taken her in my arms, apologised, taken her out, cursed myself for being so shallow and superficial, seen her for the wonderful warm person that she was, got married, had kids and lived happily ever after…..
But when you are sixteen, you take her out a couple of times in an attempt to save face, and then try to go out with her stunning best friend (whose name was Kay) and of course, get nowhere because she wouldn’t dream of upsetting her Rebecca by going out with you, and if you dare dump her mate to clear the way, then you are an even bigger rat. These days we philosophically call it a lose/lose situation, back then it was “Why me? Life is sh*te!”
Several hundred beer tokens later…
Back to fishing, if it manages to survive incidents like the one above, there is an almost guaranteed way to get girls to take an interest in your sport – get engaged! Once you have done the ritual weekend sport of noses pressed up against jeweller’s windows, you get to empty your bank account of several week’s worth of wages and go inside to purchase a gold band containing a chip of a fragment of a sliver of a piece of an off-cut of a diamond, which needs the Hubble telescope to see it in all its glory. You may have noticed that when you do finally get dragged, kicking and screaming into the jewellers, that there is no ‘musak’ tinkling away, but instead there is a distinct hummmmm. That sound is produced by the industrial grade sewing machines in the background, getting ready to stitch you up good and proper!
Now you have several hundred beer tokens on her third finger, left hand, she will go into nest-building mode and will happily accompany you on your fishing trips. Your intended will quietly sit under your umbrella, and read poetry, crochet doilies, maybe take up knitting. (Watch the latter, if the item produced is a very small cardigan or, worse still, little yellow bootees!)
Enjoy these halcyon days, because once wedding plans have been formulated, any adoration of your sport will disappear like the morning mist as soon as you become a ‘couple’. You will have to go out socialising as a ‘couple’ with other ‘couples’ and you may not be surprised to learn that ‘couples’ don’t often go fishing! After the marriage, some newlywed wives seem to take exception to the new husbands going off and leaving them for days at a time, some seem to not mind at all. The only advice I can give here is whichever way you thought it would be, it will undoubtedly turn out to be the opposite!
However is turned out for you, a true angler will always manage to keep the spirit alive, and find ways to keep going fishing. It’s a lot like herpes, you never get rid of it, and once the itching starts, you just have to scratch…..