A diary of one man's utter failure, depression, frustration, cock-ups, and poverty, starting in August 1947
For three years, I actually took a proper holiday away, fishing with three mates from the Robin Hood Angling Club - Bill Bates, and Jock Kirkpatrick, and Mad Ken.
Here's how they went:
We'd rented a cottage in Lockerbie for the week. We filled up with the fishing tackle, baits, and fodder we thought we'd need and set off in the Austin J4 van, and got just over the border before we got lost.
We used to have a little bet between each other each day we fished, £1 for the biggest fish caught, £1 for the most fish caught, and £1 for the biggest weight of fish caught.
We arrived (2 hours after the ETA), found the owner, and ensconced ourselves in the cottage.
We agreed I'd do the breakfasts and snap, Jock would do the evening meals, Bill would do the cleaning, and Mad Ken would do the driving.
Next morning, after breakfast, we went on a recce, to find the Lockerbie Loch to suss out the fishing. We asked a local resident, sat on the verge with a bottle of Iron Brew, which direction the Loch was in, and I think he said, "Right straight up the hill, carry on, it'll be on our left!"
After about five miles, we thought we must have passed it somewhere, and spotted a chap ambling along the lane, we stopped and asked him. His reply was double-dutch to Bill, Ken and myself. As we drove off none the wiser, we asked Jock for a translation, and he said he's no idea what he was talking about! We got the map out, and decided to carry on to Motherwell instead. A further ten or so miles on, we saw the sign for the Loch!
After five days fishing I had yet to get a bite, let alone a fish, and was out of pocket on the bets.
We found a pub called the Midland Hotel out in the wilds, and visited for a pint and a game of dominoes. The landlord came from Derby. At ten o'clock, he told us to go into the bar side, and drinking will continue in the cellar! And he was serious.
We went into the absolutely packed out bar, and within a few minutes, everyone was filing through behind the bar, and down the steps into the cellar, which proved to be a fully equipped bar, with tables chairs, and piped music! Around about midnight a pair of legs appeared walking down the steps from above, they were wearing black boots, and a black pair of trousers... as it came down, it revealed the bottom of his tunic, his torch, and the shiny buttons on his uniform - yes it was a police officer.
I thought "Bloomin' 'eck, we're for it now.
But no, he spoke to no one, just walked to the bar, grasped the pint that had been poured in silence for him, belched, turned and disappeared up the steps. Amazing!
The electrics played up on the van, and with Mad Ken the only one with any knowledge of the engine and mechanics of vehicles, he toyed with it for ages, and sure enough, he got the lights back on.
My turn to drive us home, and I tried to followed the three sets of verbal directions being given me, while attempting to read the map.
We set off, and in the middle of the wilds... splutter, jump, jerk.. stop! We had ran out of petrol, but the fuel gauge read half full, the electrics playing up again?
I was elected to walk to the village or whatever it was we could see in the distance. It took me about an hour to get there, there was three cottages, a big house, and thank heavens a garage! I enquired if he could assist us, and judging by his body language (I could not tell clearly what he was actually saying with his accent), he wanted me to join him on his Landrover, and we went to the lads waiting in the van.
We were towed to the village, and the chap had a look at the van, and decided spare parts were needed, and told us he could get them in a few hours, and then it would take about 2 hours to sort the panel out. He kindly said we could pay his missus, and she'd provide a meal for us while we waited, and led us to one of the cottages. As we walked down the path to the house, the door opened, and the man's wife ducked to get through the door, and came out to greet us.
She was about 6'5" tall, muscular, wide, and scared the shit out of us. But needs must, and we went in and settled in the front room, while she conjured up a meal for us. She came in with a massive plate each, fully filled with fodder. The only thing I could recognise in the offerings, were the tatty-scones, as for the other nourishment on the plate, well I've no idea, but it tasted okay to me.
We were away in our now working van by about 1900hrs, and by 1925hrs we were lost again.
When we eventually arrived back in Nottingham, I dropped Bill and Mad Ken off, then took Jock and myself back home. (We lived in the same terrace of two-up two-down hovels)
The house had been burgled in my absence, and there was three bills lying at the foot of the letter box than needed paying!
A disappointing holiday to say the least.