My recent output on this site has, as you may lately have noticed, been reduced to roughly one posting every two weeks.
This is mainly because I’m doing a “proper” full-time job again for the first time since approximately February 2009 when a big chunk of the company I used to work for got sold out from under me and it became only half a job!
As a result of having once again to drive 25 miles each way every day , and working with computers while I’m there, I find myself a) completely knackered and b) unable to summon up any enthusiasm for firing up any of my own computers and writing stuff when I get home.
So while I very much regret that your reading pleasure is being greatly curtailed for the moment it will not stop completely because I am required to take a full hour for lunch and there isn’t really much else to do in this office during that time other than to pop my “at lunch” sticker on my work computer screen and knock out stuff like this on my personal laptop!
That is not to say that you cannot read more of my stuff in other places – I am frequently given to comment at some length on the output of my friends whose links appear on my “Blogroll” in the right-hand sidebar (just as they sometimes do on mine) and a quick run through some of their postings will yield more of my brilliant witticisms.
Indeed, one of them “Cy Quick” has taken to elevating my comments to front page articles on his blog making me (and others) contributing journalists on what has now become something of a communal effort. Towards the bottom of his sidebar he has a list of categories which include “Alfie” so you can go and read those too if you’re feeling starved of my work.
I, however, am FAR too egocentric to do anything like that with other people’s comments and, besides, mine is a different type of blog and it wouldn’t look right.
The preceding 350 or so words have rather got away from me – I intended briefly to explain my absences to you and then go on to write the piece which actually ties in with the title. I’m sure that’s been bothering you!
So let’s begin again.
One of the OTHER reasons that you haven’t been seeing posts from me lately is that I’ve been getting ready for an event! It is one I have mentioned before (on 30th August 2009) and the journal I write about it has its own entry in the aforementioned “Blogroll” under the title of “Gone Fishing”.
Yes, I know the last mentioned one is two years behind – I’m working on it!
I am indeed referring to the Barclays Bank Inter-District Sea Angling competition that I have taken part in every year since 1984 making the one I have just done Number 27 – not bad for one who professes regularly to be (internally at least) only about 26 years of age!
I have detailed the history of the event in both the Journal and the August posting so won’t be boring you with that again. What I will do, however, is quickly summarise my own involvement.
As I’ve said I started in 1984 fishing for the Barclays Chelmsford District team and in 1987 formed my very own Barclays Bank Trust Company team. This grew to two teams from 1995 onwards.
We gathered a few Runners-up trophies but the big one always eluded us until 1997 in Great Yarmouth when half of my team managed to draw the only productive area of the entire beach and we scraped into the number 1 spot! At my fourteenth attempt!
The following year was the last that I was able to fish as an eligible Barclays employee and since then the trend has been for each year to see more and more of the competitors turning up as “Guests” to the point where there are only a couple of employees (but a few more eligible Bank Pensioners) left.
What we now have is a single team competition with the highest placed Barclays team winning the old Bank trophy and another cup for the highest placed non-Barclays team.
Due to various matters having to do with organisation and economy eleven out of the thirteen matches since my 1997 victory have been fished in Dover Harbour, either from the hated (by me anyway) Prince of Wales Pier or the more adventurous Southern Breakwater – the long freestanding wall across most of the harbour area which can only be reached by boat.
As we approached this year’s match the weather forecasts for Friday 26th November got more and more dire and right up until the 25th when we actually arrived, it looked and felt as though the wind would be too strong for the ferry and we would be stuck on what I call “The Bloody Awful Prince of Wales”.
I did feel slightly better about that though when I managed to draw a team peg right at the end of the pier (or furthest from the boat if we did get on the Breakwater). Teams in that position on the pier usually have a better chance due to a) fishing into slightly deeper water and b) being on the end of the line and therefore only having half the chance of some plonker casting over your gear just as you’re reeling something good in.
Despite copious amounts of Guinness, a large curry and a few more drinks back at the hotel we were all down in the hotel restaurant for 6.30 breakfast and details of the 5.20 am Shipping Forecast which was to determine the venue!
Surprisingly the wind had all but disappeared and the ferry was ready to make the three trips necessary to get us all out to the breakwater from where it was a very long walk from the landing steps to our designated position.
And it was worth every painful, heavily laden step along the cobbled top of that massive wall!
With all the other teams away to our right we were able to cast into the areas to the left of us as well as straight ahead and enjoy a tangle-free session of a kind we’ve never experienced before. The four of us started catching straight away and didn’t really stop until the final hooter, sometimes hauling them out three at a time!
I have never worked so hard at what is after all only a hobby and it would have felt really unjust if we hadn’t won it – but we did!
So that’s Match 14 – Win; Match 27 – Win! By my reckoning that pattern should mean that we should also win Match 39 which will be in 2022 when I’ll be 69 years old.
Perhaps they should have THAT on a beach somewhere – I’m not sure I’ll be able to manage the stone steps up the side of that wall by then!