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taleteller

Wednesday Week

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On 30/01/2019 at 20:24, BroadAmbition said:

(I was born in 1960)

Just a mere toddler!

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The penetrating aroma of a flatulent pooch, especially a wet one, can be nothing short of legendary. Compared to my rancid old tom, no competition, especially after he's feasted on a herring gull. Mind you, it might be a cat thing, how many people take their moggies on a long journey?  

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I shall not bore you with a Sunday spent on the beach, at least no more than is necessary to call back to mind those wonderful, warm sunny days. It is raining here, it has been raining here for nearly two months. In fact it has rained so much over the past few weeks I'm considering installing an electricity post in my driveway and letting it out as moorings. In recent days there has been a real change, the rain has turned cold, really cold. Did it really never rain in those long remembered summers or does our subconscious self erase the memories of the rainy days, leaving only week after week of perpetual sunshine?

Monday dawned sunny, bright and warm, of course. This was to be trials day. We must successfully navigate the dyke and back if we were to be permitted the trip to Beccles later in the week. Of course, we had no doubt that we would complete the test satisfactorily but still the anticipation was palpable. Breakfast was eaten with the urgency of a man who needs to be somewhere else. My first attempt to burst forth from the caravan and enact my impersonation of Lasse Viren was stifled by a recall in the form of mother reminding me to brush my teeth. Even todays electric toothbrushes cannot move as fast as did that chunky lump of plastic which passed for a toothbrush in those days, lashing my blob of Gibbs SR into a foaming frenzy and leaving me with the appearance of a rabid dog. A quick rinse, spit on the go and I was off, out of the traps like Red Rum on ractopamine. Along the row of caravans, through the hole in the hedge, up the driveway past the reception, up the sloping wooden bridge over the Landspring Creek, through the gateway and across Knight's Creek's hard then out onto the concrete jetty at the end of which lay the boat on which Billy lived with Aunt Mary, Uncle Jonny and his sister Claire, nicknamed chocolatey for obvious reasons.

Uncle Jonny was sitting in the wheelhouse cleaning his pipe with the small blade of his pocket knife, working the ash loose from the bowl and tapping it onto a wooden noggin before returning to work with the blade. When Uncle Jonny was aboard manners were indispensable, one never stepped aboard without first asking permission of the boat's master. Not all the urgency in the world could excuse one from failing in such manners, and so I dutifully stopped on the quayside and hailed the request as I had been taught. Permission to come aboard sir!

Billy was still eating his corn flakes, enrobed in pyjamas and dressing gown. Was he not aware of the importance of the day? Would Robin Knox Johnson be sat at table taking breakfast at such a moment. Come on down he said, there's no rush. Low on the broad isn't for another two hours, 11:27. I checked at the Yacht Station yesterday. There's a fair wind to help us up the dyke but we'll need the tide with us coming back unless we want to engage engines. We'll leave in about an hour, then we can stop for an hour's fishing at Painter's before we turn back. We'll have all of the flood behind us then, just right. Aunt Mary poured three glasses of orange juice from a bottle, a pint milk bottle in which the juice was delivered alongside the milk and offered one each to Billy, Claire and to me. I could do little but sit and wait, and drink my juice whilst Billy finished his breakfast, washed and dressed and then endured the delay of tooth brushing for a second time.

Eventually, finally, each carrying an engine, aka an oar we set off to find "Harnser" She was sat, pulled up on a small sandy beach which once adorned the southern edge of the broad, long gone now, dug out and turned into yet more private moorings.  In order to move her Billy attached a short rope to each rowlock which we used those to drag her to the waterline. Once there we switched our efforts to the transom, pushing the boat like some dysfunctional motor car inch by inch into the water. It was much easier pulling with the ropes than trying to push! Slowly that part of the boat technically known as the front, at least to an eight year old, began to float and soon we were climbing over the transom, easier said than done, and shipping the oars. We'll row back to the boat, pick up the fishing rods and get the sail up once we get out into the open water Billy said. I wondered if this was the right moment to tell Billy that I had no idea how to sail a boat, in fact I'd only learned to row during a school trip to Butlins at Bognor Regis some weeks earlier. Billy pulled steadily out onto the broad. Oh crikey, he said. Nearly forgot, we'd have been in all sorts of trouble if I had. I looked at him blankly. With seeming nonchalance he stood up, reached under the forward thwart and pulled out a Fine Fare carrier bag inside which were two life jackets. I'll swear they were ex war department "Mae Wests" which draped over your head and then tied around your midriff.

We'd have been done for sure If we turned up at the boat without life jackets Billy said, Uncle Jonny would have grounded us for a month. Billy continued to row us around the edge of the broad the short distance to the house boat and as we glided slowly towards it Uncle Jonny appeared on deck, taking Harnser's forepeak in his giant hand and guided us alongside. He lowered a canvas work bag and matching rod bag down which Billy stowed neatly along the starboard gunwale and a small plastic margarine tub with holes melted in the lid which Billy explained was full of worms. Next came a rudder, which Billy, with some effort lifted over the stern and did something which he tried to explain with gudgeons and pintles and then finally came the mast, with main sail and boom lashed to it which dropped through a hole in the forward thwart and into a block below. Next came a little reorganisation. Billy directed me to the centre thwart whilst taking position in the stern. He undid a pair of ties which lashed mast, sail and boom together then untied a knot at the base of the mast and unhooked the rope from the cleat and slowly fed that rope, hand over hand up the mast and as he did so the boom gently lowered. He took hold of it as it came down and then let go of the rope and it flew up the mast and through an eye near the top, catching it neatly as it fell back to the deck. He tied the rope to the rear cleat to lock off the boom just as the wind caught the sail and it began to fill. We'll drop the centreboard later he said, we don't need it yet with the wind abaft. We were just about to cast off when Aunt Mary appeared with a small basket covered with a tea cloth. A bite and a drink to keep you going she said.

As the melodic chimes of the cabin's mantle clock struck the half hour Uncle Jonny gave us a gentle push and we were away. 10:30 said Billy.

Perfect.

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