Wade In

Awful news over at Fuddland although I’m sure that statistically he was one of many that got mugged on Saturday night (on re-reading this sentence, it may sound like I’m belittling what David went through, I’m not). Stick that in your election fever “we’ll have more police on the streets” pipe and smoke it.

I’ve never been mugged (touches wood several times) but I have been, to use the local parlance, “jumped”. When I was 16, on a lovely summer’s evening on the banks of the River Leven.

My friend Malcolm and I used to go fishing of a weekend. Two young lads rising early in the morning to catch the first train to Balloch, or meeting up in the evening in Dumbarton, it’s fair to say we spent a lot of time on and in the river (wearing waders, not falling in …). It’s also fair to say that, whilst I did enjoy a nice cool early summer evening on the river, I wasn’t the most gifted fisherman but looking back I realise that wasn’t why I did it. Anyway, I digress.

One day we decided to fish all the way down the river. Normally we’d stick to the higher or lower ends, as the middle of the river wasn’t too great for fishing being both hard to access and too deep to wade, and because it wound it’s way through a particularly rough area, Renton. I still can’t recall the reasoning but it must have seemed like a good thing at the time, I remember that we decided to fish our way down to Renton, then walk past it and start again further down the river.

It was early evening when we got to Renton. We got out, tidied up our rods and started a fairly brisk walk along the bank. No-one was in sight, it was just me and my mate, marching along the river bank. The further we walked the calmer we became and we started pointing out rising fish* and talking about the next choice of fly.

Then it hit me. In the small of my back. Then something else hit me in the back of the head.

We stopped and turned round to see a group of 5 lads laughing, pointing, shouting and chucking small rocks at us. We turned again and marched off, briskly, not wanting to run, to show any fear. My heart was racing, pounding in my head, we could hear them coming after us, still throwing stones, bits of wood landing on the path around us.

Looking back it was probably a good thing that neither Malcolm or myself were fighters (his brother mind you, that’ve been a different story) as we were both carrying fishing knives – I was very proud of mine, it’s 5″ blade kept razor sharp. I shudder to think what could have happened.

Something larger hit me in the back again, and then they we can hear them start running, they were much closer than I’d realised as next thing I know I’m pushed in the back. I stopped to turn round but only get three quarters of the way before one of them had thumped me across the head with a bit of wood. Next thing I know I’ve been bundled off my feet and they are kicking me, and I’m covering my head, curled up, trying to see a way out, desperately seeking a weapon, a foot to grab. Anything. Survival is the aim.

Through a gap in my fingers my mate is running off down the bank (I later learn that he’d gone to get help – my thoughts are the time were something along the lines of “YOU FUCKER!!”).

Suddenly they stop kicking me, I look up and they’re running off. Malcolm arrives back with one of the fishermen we know, Big John (6’4. Both ways.). He picks me up, my legs are shaking, I feel something running down my face. After assuring him I was OK, he walks us down the river and home.

I can only remember certain parts, I know that I had a can of Dr.Pepper in my bag as they burst it. I remember that they didn’t steal anything, and that Malcolm carried my rod until we got to Dumbarton. I remember feeling my head and wondering just how large the bump was. Most of all I remember the panic, the fear and then, later the rage, the anger.

The boys were easily 18 or 19 and all much bigger than we were, they picked on two younger, smaller lads, although even if we had been bigger they out-numbered us. That’s the one thing I truly remember, their cowardice. I’m fairly sure it has contributed to a lot of things, coloured the way I think. It’s all part of the tapestry of life though, right? A rite of passage to be gone through by MEN!

What utter, utter nonsense. My post yesterday, which referenced Fight Club, wasn’t about the fighting or the swaggering machisimo, it was about not knowing where the next 30 years of my life is headed. It was about not wanting to spend the NEXT 6 years struggling to make ends meet and to continue to promise that I’ll make changes only to lack the motivation to do so.

Wow, that last paragraph kind of snuck up on me.

I’m fully aware that, having just completed my timesheet for the week and seeing the number 67 at the bottom, that this probably isn’t the best of times to be contemplating one’s future. Then again, when is?

* fly larvae hatch in the summer evenings. The larvae hatch under the water, and the fly swims to the surface where it pauses to let it’s wings dry out. Trout and salmon eat the flies as they sit on the surface, rushing up and usually breaking the surface in a small “rise” of water.