There’s a story behind why there are no flies on me. It is all to do with fishing and I know I have said before, that I am not a lover of fishing. My Dad was a keen fisherman and would often take me along on his day out fishing, but it just wasn’t a day I would enjoy. If you’ve ever seen a grown man struggle with an eel, I found it traumatic.
Starting a new job in my late teens, I found that most of the guys I was working with were getting on in years. All had served their time in WW2 and smoked like it was going out of fashion, but this was a time when smoking seemed more popular than not smoking. Of course, they all loved fishing and had their very own fishing club. I was into my guitar, but it seemed all yahoo to them.
It wasn’t long before I was asked if I would like to join the works fishing club and before I could protest the idea, my name was on the list for the next outing somewhere along the River Severn in Worcestershire. I told them I had no transport or means of getting there, but they insisted that they would sort something out and someone would pick me up and drop me back.
Meet Mr Barrett
I can’t recall the date, but it was obviously sometime during the coarse fishing season. The top man at the company, Mr Barrett came to see me and said some of the guys had told him I wanted to join the fishing club. He was very keen for me to become a member as said something about it being a great team-building exercise. This was Mr Hire & Fire himself and after asking where I lived, he said he would pick me up at 10:00 am on the Saturday of the fishing outing.
I had to explain to him that I only had a simple rod and reel and no idea what I would be doing. “No worries, Sonny Jim, the guys will look after you. Oh, and by the way, there’s a fishing tackle shop around the corner from where you live, you can get yourself a pint of maggots on Friday evening. If you tell them Jim Barrett sent you, they’ll let you have a discount too.” So, there was no getting out of this day out for me.
Fishing day out eve came along and off I went to the fishing tackle shop to buy a pint of maggots. I thought they came in bags and had no idea the things would be alive. I even had to buy a Tupperware type of container to put them in. I told the guy about Mr Barrett and sure enough, he gave me a 10% discount. On the way out he called to me and said, “You can keep those things fresh by storing the tub in the fridge overnight.” Yeah, I could see my dear old Mom putting up with that. So I put them outside in the garden.
Off To Worcestershire
The next morning, Mr Barrett arrived, bang on time. I grabbed my single fishing rod with reel, a bag of assorted hooks and a tub of maggots from the garden, loaded them into the boot of his car and away we went. “You get your discount off your maggots?” asked Mr Barrett. “Yes, and thank you.” We then made our way to a place called Hampton Loade in Worcestershire, which by all accounts is a popular fishing spot. The other guys were already there when we arrived in the car park. Mr Barrett and I got out of the car and he opened the boot. To our complete horror, the lid was off my tub of maggots and the contents seemed to have made their way into parts of the vehicle that only maggots could reach.
You can imagine the language from Mr Barrett and my feeling of total embarrassment. There wasn’t much that could be done apart from rescuing the few maggots left rolling about the boot space and putting them back in the tub. I felt less like fishing now than ever before, although the other guys thought it was all very funny, especially when Mr Barrett was out of earshot. “C’mon Cocka,” said one of the old boys, “have a go with what you have left and try and enjoy the day, you’ve given us all a great laugh!”
I Caught Something
I did take part, but I felt dreadful. Believe it or not, I caught a few fish, Chubb. When the guy arrived at the end of the day to weigh up who had caught the most fish, they walked past me. They thought as the new boy I wouldn’t have anything in my net especially as I had very few maggots. I did call him over, he weighed my catch and lo and behold, I came second out of about a dozen fishermen. I was even presented with a small cup which I still have today. It reminds me never to go fishing again!
Legend In My Own Lifetime
The story lived on for the 15 years that I worked for Mr Barrett. For what seemed an age afterwards, on the days I didn’t manage to avoid him, I would hear Mr Barrett calling out to me, “I’ve still got bloody flies in my car!” I laugh about it now, but on the day he opened the boot of that car, part of me wanted to laugh out loud, but a bigger part of me just wished I could have faded away. Tip, if you do take up fishing, make sure the lid of your maggot tub is fitted properly.
If by any chance you would like to take up fishing, here’s a good website