There’s a restful, peaceful pastime that offers one of the best reasons in the world for throwing a ‘sickie’. Bosses shudder when the weather is set fair. A myriad of maladies surface when the day dawns bright. Stu’s, flu upset and poo, Cuthbert’s dribbly bug - a modern-day Trumpton of make-believe. My manufactured malady was unpredictable discharge.
A croaky phone call to Human Resources and the day is mine.
Now what does one do with a day off? Naturally nothing has been planned but if, and it’s a big if, I happen to show some improvement after breakfast, I need to occupy my time with purpose. Somewhere secluded where I won’t be spied upon and dobbed in. I must find something that promotes a speedy recovery while offering the slim chance of a little pleasure.
Can’t go shopping, can’t mow the lawn, build a shed or decorate the lounge because I might be spotted. Can’t really go for a drive or a cycle-ride due to ‘unpredictable discharge’. Tuh! Of course – I can go fishing. I can sit under a thick bush with a shovel and roll of lavatory paper to mollify any sickie-patrol-man. Carpe Diem - Fish Day.
Although I haven’t been fishing for 25 years I recently bought a pile of tackle from a neighbour’s garage sale. He was selling up to live on a boat in an estuary somewhere down south. I had the urge to re-kindle my lost passion - having seen a TV programme (found at 2.00am somewhere 8 or 9 pages down the Sky TV listings).
The show's host, a bloke in sunglasses and camouflage wellies, was reeling them in left, right and centre. Easy. Chub, tench, pike, bream, carp, catfish, Nile perch, marlin - the list is endless - I’d have to have a go at this. I’d never realised that modern equipment could make such a difference. Not sure the gear I’d bought was exactly state of the art. But, like riding a bike, you never lose the basics, so the equipment shouldn't matter.
My purchases had been dumped in the shed in variously shaped canvas sacks, probably originally green. The assortment looked so motley that it had been recently ignored by a choosey burglar. A chainsaw and a broken flymo had gone. They’d even nicked a half-bottle of Grouse secreted therein for the aftermath of a ‘domestic incident’. But the tackle was untouched.
The first bag obviously doubled up as a seat and looked interesting but when I picked it up the aluminium frame parted company from the canvas. Strewn across the floor were lead shot, floats, hooks, a pair of rusty scissors, a catapult, bits of tangled line, a couple of reels (that on further inspection were stuck solid), a mouse-chewed copy of Carp fishing for intermediates and a ‘hook-getter-outer’. The hooks were barbed and the lead shot was real lead (now both illegal apparently) and only one float, a huge one, out of eleven had any means of attaching it to the line. The inside of the bag was so vile that you wouldn’t have let a rat near it. All this lot was destined for the wheelie-bin.
I surmised that the two long, thin sacks contained rods. The first had three sections from three different rods which didn’t fit together. The second was a beautiful two-piece cane affair with five of the eight eyes missing. I was down to making a bow and a set of arrows out of the rod bits or shooting the fish with the lead shot and catapult. There wasn’t a chapter on either of these in my book. Maybe they were to be found in Carp fishing for Crusaders.
I have witnessed the amount of tackle required by the expert angler so fully re-equipping was not an option. I may as well spend my money on purchasing a fishmongers. I thought about an insurance claim but wasn’t convinced that the loss adjuster would actually recognise my jumble of rubbish as fishing tackle.
A reserve bottle of Grouse was brought to the shed and after a consoling nip I was soon sound asleep. I slept the sleep of one genuinely poorly and dreamt of fishing under a bush. I was angling with a three-foot, one-piece, one-eyed rod. My one serviceable float was so over-size that a trawler wouldn’t have dragged it under so I had resorted to firing volleys of lead shot at passing trout with my catapult.
“May I see your licence please.”
“The one that allows you to fish this stretch of water.”
“I wasn’t aware I needed one. Besides I haven’t caught anything, I think its empty.”
“There is a £1000 fine if you are caught fishing illegally. It is the act of angling not your competence that is the issue. Licence fees pay for the upkeep of the waterways”
“Now look here my lad.” I yelled. “I may be accidentally fishing without a licence but this bush hasn’t been touched for years, it’s a bloody disgrace, and this river’s too deep. I’m thinking of joining the World Wildlife Fund as I present no danger whatsoever to any living creature.”
“May I have your name please”
“Jesus” I replied standing up…. “Oh bloody hell” – I’m back in the shed surrounded by debris, a large damp patch on my pyjama bottoms where I’d spilt my drink. Scotch on the rocks. My wife was standing at the door
“Have you gone mad?”
“I’m throwing a sickie”
“You’re not kidding.”
“Look at all this crap we bought at the garage sale last year”, I muttered.
“That’s the least of your worries. Look at the state of you. What’s the matter with you anyway?”
“I can see that”
“And dry mouth, headache and slight nausea”
“Well, surprise surprise”.
Now feeling considerably worse than when I awoke, I showered and dressed. I couldn’t go to work because I was half pissed and didn’t want to go anywhere else because I felt dreadful.
I turned on the TV and watched a painting programme. The artist had mass of frizzy hair, a big beard and flared pants. Looked like Leo Sayer’s dad. Now that looks easy, perhaps I’ll have a go at that instead. Whatever, I’ll be fit for work tomorrow.