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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Sometimes when one is night fishing, feeling a little vulnerable, it's not a good idea to drink too much cognac to help you sleep and keep the cold out.

Submitted: December 01, 2016

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Submitted: December 01, 2016





It was a very rare occasion when pseudo transvestite carp anglers Jed Cleminson, Will Spring and Rick Western didn’t fish as a trio. The Friday evening of October 17th 1975 was one of those rare occasions. Jed Cleminson was attending his brother Aaron’s stag night, foolishly arranged for the night before the wedding; bad heads and poorly tummies ensued. Will Spring took his wife out for a birthday meal, and a Van der Graaf Generator concert after at the Cambridge Corn Exchange as a special treat, a treat for him, not for her. His poor wife endured a deafening torture of cacophony for 90 minutes, which people of a previous generation would have drawn comparisons to ‘The Blitz’. The pleasant side-effect from this assault of the faculties for his wife, was that the lead singer looked a bit of a catch. Consequently, Will hid all record albums and photographic evidence of Peter Hammill when they got home, so she would swoon no longer. The next year, Will attended a Van der Graaf Generator concert by himself, he told his wife that Peter Hammill had left the band and been replaced by an old, grey and balding singer called Alfred Bumble, so that she wouldn’t be interested. What Will didn’t take into account, was that the band would finally split up and Peter Hammill would perform solo concerts. Three years later, Will’s wife and her childhood friend Susie, a mutual fan of David Cassidy and any singer who was good looking, saw Peter Hammill supporting the band Brand X. Both Girls went to the bar during the interval, bumped into Peter and obtained his autograph. Not exactly grounds for divorce, but that needled Will for a long time after. Dishonesty has a habit of biting you on the bum sometimes.

Back to October 17th 1975 then…

Rick Western found himself fishing the night on Spigworth Pond, very alone, apprehensive, vulnerable and slightly scared. Scared, mainly because it was the first time he had fished in drag on his own. There was safety in numbers when a gaggle of Max Factor bootleg transvestites, or in Rick’s case, Boot’s Number 7 and any other cheap cosmetics he could muster up on his stipend, fished the night on Spigworth Pond. This night though, he was in the minority; and particularly worried as Will and Jed told him that a rival carp angler Biff ‘Bollock Basher’ Brown was in town, and that he fancied a pop at the notoriously difficult Spigworth carp. Biff was a force to be reckoned with; he was a man’s man that detested men who wore makeup. Rick took out a bottle of cognac from his Paisley patterned rucksack to give him Dutch courage, he took a big swig, then another, and another for Double Dutch courage, and eventually incoherent mumblings.

At six ‘o clock, with the dusk turning rapidly dark, Rick was still alone. As the darkness grew, he became a little more relaxed and confident, partly due to the cognac, and partly because he thought it unlikely that Biff would arrive to set up his tackle in the dark. He needn’t have worried; Biff didn’t go night fishing because he was afraid of the dark. Jed and Will knew of Biff’s nyctophobia, many people also knew. It had been a hushed rumour for quite some time, a rumour which stemmed from a story told on the banks of Stanshall Pond in the club’s three pond complex Brimbrook. Apparently, Biff, who had been working hard on the building site, went fishing after work and duly nodded off to sleep. When he awoke, he was in complete darkness and became very frightened, screaming for help because he couldn’t see where he was going. Other anglers rushed to help him and took him to his car; he was a gibbering, shaking, crying baby of a wreck. It was a weird trade off, Biff threatened to bash anyone’s bollocks if they told of his phobia, in return his rescuers threatened to tell everyone of his phobia if he went anywhere near anyone’s giblets with his boot. Stalemate there I think. Nevertheless, Biff suffered severe paranoia for some time whenever he walked the banks of any Spinfield Coarse Anglers Club fishery. People would test their torches in his presence before settling down for the night; which made Biff suspicious that they were poking fun at him. In reality, the torch testers were doing what they had always done before nightfall. If one had an accident in the darkness which needed first aid, a torch with batteries powerful enough would be necessary. Somehow Rick missed out on the gossip, so didn’t know about the farce. Anyway, enough of Biff, the silly sod.

Rick began to feel very tired and slowly nodded off to dream. He dreamt that he was fishing on Spigworth Pond, which oddly enough he was doing anyway. It was a bright summer’s day and the Sun shone brightly on the pond, making everything seem silvery and far too bright. The pond was flat calm; tench, terrapins and the odd hippopotamus porpoised to break the surface of the tranquil water. Rick watched as alligators swam in front of him, with Sooty, Sweep, Sue and their other puppet friends taking advantage of the transport. Sooty was trying to say something to Rick, but with no Harry Corbett to translate, could not make his voice heard. Rick didn’t try to reason or question the spectacle, he just accepted the situation as if it were normal. Rick heard footfalls behind him, it was Walter Wigmore, the renowned expert on catching very little, even on a good day.

“If you need my advice Rick, I would suggest casting your bait just in front of that overhanging willow!” said Walter.

“Er, thanks Walter, but I think I know what I’m doing thanks.” replied Rick politely.

“If you want to succeed, I’d take his advice son, ha ha ha!” advised David Bowie, who had just arrived to do a bit of bream fishing on his day off. David was dressed immaculately as always, in a Zoot suit, with orange hair covered by a trilby.

“Oh hello David, I didn’t know you were into fishing.” said Rick timidly.

“I’m not into fishing actually, I’m just working on a new project about weird people. I think anglers are very weird, ha ha ha ha. Anyway, someone ought to teach you a bit about makeup, you’ve got no idea darlin’.” Said David.

“David’s right, you don’t have a clue about cosmetics.” Said Walter as he applied a dab of rouge to his cheeks whilst looking into his compact mirror.

“Look, if you don’t mind, I am actually into fishing, and I have come here to catch fish in peace and quiet!” snapped Rick.

“Ooh, get you missus!” said Walter and David in unison as they turned and walked off arm in arm, with a slight skip.

“Flippin’ David Bowie coming here and thinking he knows everything about fishing and makeup; I’ll show him the cockney nitwit.” mumbled Rick.

Across the other side of the pond, Rick noticed a disturbance in the margins. A cyberman surfaced and crawled up the bank to sit in a deckchair. The deckchair, possibly left behind by the dreadful Mopkin family, was glowing as though it could burst into flame.  The TARDIS arrived with Doctor Who making an appearance, sporting a nice red low cut ballgown and a sparkly tiara. The Doctor took out his sonic screwdriver and proceeded to dismantle the cyberman, placing each part into a silver suitcase. The Doctor closed the silver suitcase and carried it into the TARDIS, closed the door behind him and disappeared into another time in space.

Normally Rick would accept what was going on in his dreams. However, in this dream, he began to analyse every bizarre incident. Why would David Bowie visit Spigworth Pond of all places? As delicate as Walter Wigmore was, it was doubtful that he would wear makeup, not in public anyway. Doctor Who dressed in a red low cut ballgown and a Cyberman visiting Spigworth Pond had to be the silliest vision, and one which needed more analysis.

Rick felt a cool breeze on his face, the breeze picked up, rustling the leaves in the trees behind him. The leaves began chiming like little bells, giving off sparks as they rang. The sparks turned into tiny fairies with grotesque reptilian faces. One by one, the little fairies landed around Rick and in his lap to sing him an unusual but very sad and beautiful song which had never been heard before. When the song came to an end, their fairy faces turned from grotesque to extremely beautiful female faces. Rick sensed a strong, bright light above him and looked upward. A larger fairy descended from the sky and landed at Rick’s feet. The fairy had the most beautiful face ever; Rick was dumbstruck.

“I am the Queen of the Tree Fairies. Thank you for listening to and enjoying our song. I grant you one wish of your deepest desire!” said the Fairy Queen.

Normally, Rick’s deepest desire would have been to make sure his wife and whole family were financially comfortable for as long as they lived. This time, Rick was still dumbstruck and could not even think the words he wanted to say to the Fairy Queen.

“You have 2 minutes to make a wish, after then you will have lost your chance.” said the Fairy Queen.

“I-I-I-I… w-w-w-would l-l-l-like to see…w-w-w-world p-p-p-peace forever!” stammered Rick loudly.

“There is and never will be such a thing, you poor foolish mortal! The human soul is made of part good and part evil. The knowledge of good will always recognize the awful imbalance of evil as an adversary. You have wasted a wish.” said the Fairy Queen sadly.

It was the most honest desire Rick held in his soul. Rick shed true tears of grief.

“But wait! I cannot leave you without this, a gift for a fine and gentle man!” cried the Fairy Queen.

The Fairy Queen took flight and hovered toward Rick’s face. She planted the most sensual and wonderful kiss on his lips. Rick experienced a fuzzy warmth slowly growing from his feet, and rising up his body. Eventually, the sensation reached his head, climaxing with a loud bang and a flash of blinding white light. For a moment, all Rick could see was bright whiteness, then visions of familiar faces slowly began to appear. The whiteness turned to mist, eventually clearing to reveal people Rick had known as a child. His grandfather Richard Western walked toward him with arms open wide.

“Allo son. How ya doin’? asked his grandfather as he put his arms around Rick.

“I’m fine thanks granddad. How are you?” asked Rick.

“Ooh, mustn’t grumble son. This ‘arp ‘n’ wings malarkey ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.” said grandfather with slight sadness.

“How do you mean?” asked Rick.

“Well, ya do feel much more alive than when ya was alive matey, but yer granny ain’t up  ‘ere wiv me, and that makes me sad, I do miss ‘er!” said grandfather.

The Fairy Queen appeared again and asked Rick if he was sure he didn’t have a wish.

“Go on son, give her a wish.” said grandfather.

“I can’t think of anything.” said Rick.

“’Course ya can son. There must be summink ya want?” said grandfather.

Rick could think of nothing.

“Come on son. Cor, I know what I’d wish.” said grandfather with a chuckle.

“What’s that then grandad?” asked Rick.

“I’d give anything to see yer granny again matey, just for an hour!” said grandfather.

“Would you wish that for your grandfather Rick?” asked the Fairy Queen.

“If only for an hour, that would be lovely.” said Rick.

Another bang and a flash of bright white light exploded, leaving Rick once again temporarily blinded until the white mist that followed slowly cleared; he was back at Spigworth Pond. Rick could hear the voices of his grandparents in conversation to his right side. Turning his head to the direction of the voices, Rick saw an old monochrome television. He saw his grandparents on the television screen, relaxing at home in their living room, as they used to. Grandfather was in his usual position, sitting in the armchair by the fire, a Senior Service cigarette smouldering between the fingers of his right hand, and his favourite glass of Mackeson on a table to his left. Grandmother was sitting on the sofa, with the usual tick – tick - clack – clack of her knitting needles as she knitted something woollen; most likely an ill-fitting jumper for some hapless child at Christmas. It was definitely Rick’s grandparents on the television, but they appeared to be much younger somehow, much like the photographs he had seen of them in an album taken before his father was born. A small boy ran into the living room wearing a Red Indian headdress, brandishing a homemade wooden tomahawk, whooping and hollering like Indians did on the Wild West films at Saturday morning pictures. Rick recognised the small boy as his uncle Freddie who he had seen in the photo album. Freddie died very young from complications caused by Scarlet Fever, which was before Rick’s father was born. Grandfather took a nice slurp from his glass of Mackeson, looking through the television and raising the glass to Rick. “Thanks son.” Said Rick’s grandfather with a lovely smile. The picture on the television became fuzzy. Rick attempted to tune the television in to see more, but the picture closed down, turning black with a fading white dot. Rick heard his grandfather’s voice once more “Thank you son.” The television vanished suddenly, leaving behind on the ground it stood on, a copy of the Radio Times television magazine with a cartoon of Ronnie Barker as Norman Stanley Fletcher from the comedy show Porridge on the front cover. A light breeze turned some pages of the Radio Times to settle on Sunday 19th October. Rick picked up the magazine to read to see what was on the television. He noticed that if he stared at a programme on the page, it would come to life as a moving picture. He watched beret donning Frank Spencer make a fool of himself in the programme Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em for a while until he grew bored. The magazine was snatched suddenly from his grasp by an unseen force, and the magazine flew away flapping its pages like wings of an awkward bird. The magazine disappeared into the distant sky which turned from blue to pink. Another flying creature came into view, coming closer and closer to reveal itself as Dumbo the elephant. Apart from the familiar gargantuan ears which Dumbo was famed for, Rick noticed that the baby elephant’s trunk resembled a giant red and white spiral striped drinking straw. Dumbo landed on the opposite side of the pond, immersed his trunk into the pond and began to suck water in at an alarming rate. The more water Dumbo sucked in, the bigger he got. Eventually, Spigworth Pond was drained dry. Rick was amazed that there were no fish writhing about on the soggy silt pond bed, there appeared to be no life of any description.

“Why did you do this?” Rick asked Dumbo.

“Because I can!” said Dumbo.

“Anyway, do you like Battenberg cake?” said the elephant with irrelevance.

“Yeah, what of it?” enquired a very puzzled Rick.

Suddenly a causeway of pink and yellow paving stones, arranged in a Battenberg cake pattern appeared in front of Rick. The causeway stretched across the pond bed to the opposite bank. Rick walked the causeway to meet Dumbo; he could see every contour, depression and gravel bar in the pond bed, which in the past he had only imagined the features of when he had fished over them. As Rick got to the other side of the pond, Dumbo filled the pond back up with water, as he did, he reduced back to his normal size. After every last drop of Spigworth Pond had been replaced, Dumbo flapped his ears and flew off into a magenta sunset.

Rick stood on the pond bank and surveyed the pond; he could see himself asleep on his camp bed on the opposite side of the pond. He became aware of music in the reeds to his right. He could hear The Everly Brothers singing Wake Up Little Susie. Walking over and peering into the reeds, Rick saw a little Dansette mono record player with a 45rpm single rotating on the turntable. The record player’s stylus became stuck in the groove. ‘Wake up little Susie wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up.’ over and over. Rick took the tone arm off the record to stop it sticking, but he could still hear the repetitive ‘wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up.’ In frustration and anger, Rick picked up the little record player and threw it into the pond. Yet still he could hear the words ‘wake up’ over and over again. Rick felt the sensation of his body being shaken as he heard someone else telling him to wake up.

“Wake up, wake up Rick!” said a voice as Rick stirred from his dream.

“Urgh! Who is it, where am I?” slurred Rick.

Rick was shaken awake by Badger Bill Parsons the Fred J Taylor fan, who had hoped for a peaceful night tench fishing.

“It’s me, Bill. I had to come over to see what you were up to. You were singing Wake Up Little Susie and going on about Dumbo or something.” said Bill.

“Flippin’ ‘eck I had a really daft dream. Thanks for waking me it was getting really weird.” said Rick with relief.

Rick made himself a coffee on the stove, which was most unusual for him as he would normally save that for first thing in the morning. He didn’t want to go back to sleep in case he dreamt another dream like the last one.

The following morning after an uneventful night of the angling kind, Rick returned home to be greeted by his wife with the sad news that his grandmother had passed away during the night, peacefully in her sleep.

© John Saunders 2016







© Copyright 2019 Vernham Chronicles. All rights reserved.

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