You’re going to need some time to read this, so go and make a cup of coffee.
Oh, you’re back. Good.
By way of introduction I have some thoughts for you. You’ve got to thank God that your country doesn’t have tiny things that fly and make you bleed, sun that doesn’t cause you to vomit if you don’t wear a hat and friends that don’t scream about fruit in the morning. Bear with me, it’ll all make sense.
Since I turned 40 I tend to think a lot about my younger days. About the events that shaped me into the person I am today, and the advice I’ll give my daughter as she leaves our home to interface with wider society.
One of the first things I’ll whisper in her ear is; no weekends away with people who share Dad’s organisational abilities, no camping, no small riverside motels, no fun weekends. Absolutely not, no. If Dad’s friends suggest the hills or mountains, head for the coast. Just run, fast. Downhill is good, the sea, that’s the thing, build a raft, set sail, a life on the ocean free, aargh me hearty. I’ll buy you a parrot, just get the hell out of Dodge.
It seems that my personality as of 2009 can be directly linked to humiliations suffered, not at the hands of cruel fate, but at the hands of those nearest and dearest to me.
I’m thinking of one particular friend of mine, a fine man of outstanding values, keen judgement and a fine swimming stroke. Also I have been led to believe that for a man of his size he can run like the wind in the face of an explosion (but that’s an entry for another time, trust me I’ll get to it).
Let’s call him Anthony, because that’s his name. I strive to protect the innocent at all times but in this case innocence is in the eye of the beholder.
Anthony is nothing if not a firm friend, a gentle soul who has always done his best to support me in hobbies and pastimes while steering me clear of the more unbalanced fancies that take me from time to time.
So, being the understanding man that he is, after weeks of my begging he agreed to accompany me to the Crocodile River for a weekend of Fly Fishing and lager cocktails.
Those of you with more foresight than me will immediately think ‘Crocodile River’ WTF?.
At the risk of spoiling the rest of the tale, there were no sudden lunges from the toothy stream and no one was dragged screaming into the dark depths to be devoured by reptilian monsters.
There was however howling pain, convulsions and fruity embarrassment.
So there we were, two heterosexual males (the SO will back me up) checking into a prime honeymoon destination (as we were later to find out) confirming a chalet built for, uhmm… more athletic nighttime pursuits than we had anticipated. To be fair we had thought about some night time activities, but more along the lines of beer, staggers, singing and shortly unconsciousness. The bar next to the check in was enticing, tables with flower arrangements, candle settings and padded seats.
Lovely, until we were told that there was actually no bar service and what we saw was a room set up for a wedding the next morning.
When a good friend places his trust in you in expectation of a weekend filled with urbane conversation, good wine, silly hats and fishing and you are faced with a situation like this there is only one escape. Lie, lie to yourself, lie to him and hope to God that what you have experienced is just a single instance of bad planning. After all the deposit was already paid.
Well, the chalet was attractive, fruit basket (apples, banana’s, grapes, pineapple) in the entrance area, comfy chairs and in the main room, a king sized, four poster bed and as an afterthought, a pine bunk suitable for the youngsters placed against the South wall, with a thin sunflower embossed duvet covering.
Now Anthony is a well proportioned man, six foot four and big with it, while I, although not petite, come in comfortably under 5.9. Feet. So in the interests of not being beaten to death with a 5/6 fly rod I surrendered the four poster bed to my good friend, who after a couple of celebratory resilience testing bounces, suggests that we investigate the lunch menu.
So picture if you will two virile young(ish) men placing an order for a picnic basket, replete with strawberries and cream to be eaten in full view of the honeymoon couples strolling past on their way down to the river (I’m cringing as I write this).
There was a small dog that ate the remains of the lunch, a couple of beers, some Champaign (and strawberries and cream remember, seriously, we threw some of the strawberries to the dog), conversation, etc.
So to the fishing.
Back to the chalet. Rods, fishing vests. Selection of flies. Beer, more beer.
Stumble through the bush toward the stream. We had been assured by the owner, who had thoughtfully served us with our strawberry filled basket, that that we should be aware that deadly snakes (I am not making this up) had seriously inconvinced a visitor some weeks ago.
And so to the riverside, very, very carefully.
Now I will not make light of the terrors of, for instance the United States, where everything is bigger and better. All I will say is this, they have Bobcats, in Africa we have Lions. In America they have cows; in Africa we have the Cape buffalo, one of the most dangerous animals in the world.
When I say to you that African horseflies are a different breed to those found elsewhere in the world, I am not exaggerating. Those buggers can take a piece of skin the size of a postage stamp off you. Due to them you can have a sip of beer, bleed, scream, fall off a rock, catch yourself behind the ear with a number 3 Mrs. Simpson, take three large gulps of water, almost choke to death, see a friend convulsed with laughter and still stand upright and curse the day that you took up fishing.
So there we were at the riverside. Tomorrow I’m going to tell you about bananas, sunstroke, the runs, nakedness, fright, vomit, poo and indignant neighbours. Anthony has threatened me with legal action if I do.
But I’m going to, Look to his comments (come on Bro!) for further information. Keywords: Kill, Legal, no holiday ever again.
Oz, wait until I write about the Midlands. Keywords, Chess, Snoring and TV tipping. I have the pictures.
The rest of the story in the next couple of days. Log in, you’ll love it.