MD virtual champion 2020. Golden Pie winner 2018.
- Feb 19, 2017
The Drowners go North
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Roki woke early and, slipping from under the fur blanket that he shared with his 4 brothers, pulled on his hooded fur lined parka and crawled out of the igloo. The Arctic tundra greeted him like an old friend, fields of ice and snow lay, like a silent still ocean for as far as he could see and in the distance he could just make out faint plumes of smoke from the settlement 50 miles away. The dogs, sensing adventure, began to stir and rise from their snow blankets. Roki gave a low pitched hiss to quieten them, he did not want his father to wake, as he was sure to stop him from making his journey and he had waited long enough. He pulled several hunks of Seal blubber out of the bin by the wall of his family igloo and fed the dogs, they attacked the blubber with fierce relish and whilst they were fighting over the scraps Roki dragged his sled around to the rear of the igloo and attached the harnesses ready to put the dogs to work.
“And where do you think you are going”
Roki jumped out of his skin and turned to face Kerin, his father and leader of this group of native Inuit people.
“Into town” replied Roki sticking out his 12 year old chest with bravado.
“you’re not old enough to make the journey on your own my son” said Kerin
“But father, I’m 12 now and you tell tales of when you used to make the journey when you were 10”
Kerin looked at his son with pride, he had the same strong, hawklike nose of his father and the stubborn set to his chin, of his mother. He realised then that his son was growing up, in another couple of years he would be married with sons of his own.
“Very well Roki but you must take this” Kerin handed a long oilcloth package to his son.
Roki could not believe his luck “Thank you father” he exclaimed.
“This fishing team that you keep talking about”
“The Drennan Drowners” said Roki
“Yes” replied Kerin, “are they any good”
“They are the best in England” said Roki with pride “Wise Owl can spit in a bucket and then catch a big fooker out of it”
“Invite them over” laughed his father “let’s see if they can fish against real men”
“Seriously” gasped Roki
“Seriously” came the reply.
“Be back before nightfall” said Kerin, turning and crawling back into the igloo.
“Who the fook are these” shouted Wisey “We don’t even know em”
We are once more back in Peters kitchen, all the Drowners are assembled round the table which is piled high with letters of application to join the Drennan Drowners.
“Mr Drennan said that, after the Palace fiasco, we have to strengthen the side or he was packing it in” said Lord Pomp, resplendant in a hand stitched pale tourquoise shirt which his wife said brought out the blue in his eyes, ran his hand through his lustrous locks and poured himself another shot of Peters whisky.
“Who are the best candidates?” said Neil of the Nene
“None of em” snorted Wisey
“How many do we need”? asked Lee.
“Well now that Genesis is back, 3 or 4 should do us” said Peter, casting a desperate look at Pomp who was, once more, replenishing his whisky glass.
“When are you going to bring a bottle” he whined
Pomp studiously ignored him and pretended to scrutinise the applications “I think we should go for 7 and put a bit of depth into the squad, then we can re-jig the team if anyone is having a bad run”
“That makes sense” said Neil “I wrote a piece in my blog about the depth of knowledge that can be shared amongst a squad”
“I’m sick to death of hearing about your fooking blog” snarled Wise Owl “You would be better off concentrating on your fishing sooner than wasting your time on drivel that no one is going to read”
“My blog is published” protested Neil “I have fans who rely on it to help them with their fishing”
“God help them then” scoffed WO
“So uncouth” muttered Neil and for the millionth time he wondered how he had ever got in with such a motley crew, although he had to admit that he felt a strong sense of comradeship with the rough hewn characters that formed the team.
“Here we go” wheezed Dave, still not fully recovered from the ‘bit of a cold’ he claimed to have had. He laid out a neatly typed list on to the table.
“We cannot make an informed decision without a drink” said Pomp, waving the empty whisky bottle at Peter.
“I’ve run out” whispered Peter, desperately hoping that his wife wouldn’t hear him.
“RUN OUT” shouted Dave, promptly doubling over with breathlessness from the exertion of raising his voice.
“There are 3 bottles of single malt in the cupboard darlng” shouted Maria from the next room “don’t be such a tight fooker” she added, grinning round the side of the door frame.
“Oh my god” exclaimed her husband “Wisey is rubbing off on her now”
“I wouldn’t do that to a mate” protested WO giving Maria a suggestive wink.
“Don’t start being naughty” she laughed, giving Wisey a clip round the ear. She went to the cupboard and took out a bottle of 30 year old Glen Morangie “here you are my Lord” she said, passing it to Pomp.
“Thank you my lady” purred Pomp with a bow; opening the bottle, with a flourish, he poured everyone a drink.
“The Prince Consort whisky would have been ok” ventured Peter.
“Darling when are you going to get it through that balding head of yours” she glanced longingly at PG’s lustrous waves, “you cannot serve cooking whiskey to a peer of the realm”
Peter knew when he was beaten and decided that silence was the better part of valour. He turned to the list “OK Dave what have we got?”
The list contained 12 names :-
“We need to pick seven of them” said Dave “how do you want to do it mate” he asked Peter. Although the drowners made all decisions as a collective the final choice was down to Peter.
“We arrange a match between them and we walk the bank observing” started Peter “The top 3 are in automatically and the other 4 are chosen by us”
“Good plan” said GP57 finally waking up and taking an interest in his surroundings.
“I will get Lindholme organised” said Peter
“Why Lindholme mate” asked Lee
“Because that is our ‘spiritual home’, it is where it all started” explained Peter.
“Bullshyte” scoffed WO “it’s because you get free breakfasts there”
“Well there is that” admitted Peter “and those two always seem to enjoy a free sausage” he continued, pointing at Albert and Winston who were sleeping by the fire.
“I’ll contact the 12 and let them know” said RL
“I’m meeting Peter Drennan later” said Pomp “ I will give him the news”
The meeting broke up and the drowners went their respective ways wondering what the inclusion of new members would do to the team dynamic.
Back on the Tundra, Roki was just fastening the last buckle on the dog sled, the thick leather was stiff with the cold and, as he struggled to get the buckle pin into the hole, he was thinking of how to invite his hero’s to his village and wondering if they would actually come if he asked them; after all he was just a 12 year old Eskimo and they had never heard of him. He was, however, undaunted and he knew in his heart of hearts that if he could write a good letter he would finally get to meet the fishermen whom he had idolised for the last 2 years.
His interest in English fishing had started 3 years ago when Micko, who ran the general store in the town, had given him a dog eared and battered copy of the Angling Times that a visitor had left in his shop. He had been entranced with the complexities of the sport, his own experience was merely dropping a line, with a baited hook, through a hole in the ice and fishing for food. Micko, saw how much enjoyment Roki was getting out of the AT and he ensured that he ‘acquired’ a new copy every time Roki was due to visit, which was once a month or so when he came in with his father. Once he saw how obsessed Roki was becoming with the English fishing style he had let him use the internet, in the back office of his shop, and shown him the Maggot Drowning forum. Roki had read an instalment of ‘The Drennan Drowners’ and was immediately ‘hooked’: After that, every visit would see him hunched over the small monitor, in the back of Micko’s, totally absorbed in the exploits of his hero’s, he liked them all but had to admit that Wise Owl was his favourite. The thought that he may finally meet them sent him giddy with excitement.
The last buckle was now fastened and with a sharp “gerrupwiya” he galvanised the dogs into life and sped off on the 3 hour journey to the town.
Saturday July 3rd saw the Drowners sat in the café at Lindholme, the old stagers, relaxed and micky taking, were tucking in to their ‘free’ breakfasts whilst the ‘new blood’ sat in nervous anticipation of what was to come.
“Right lads” said Pomp “there should be 12 of you but I can only see 11, who’s missing”?
“Sly” said Neil
“Anybody know if he’s coming”? asked Dave
“I’ll give him a ring” said UKZ who was absolutely cream crackered from being up since 4:00am dealing with some poachers on his club lake.
“Well where exactly are you?” the other drowners quietened down in order to hear the conversation.
“Knowing there is a telegraph pole up the road is no help” said UK calmly.
“No mate, it is very unlikely that the pole is attached to Dave Spence’s cap, that is another pole entirely” UK was now speaking in a tone of voice normally used by carers in a dementia home.
“ Are there any signs near you”?
“JUNCTION 26, 5 Miles! What road are you on”?
“No mate you should not be heading south on the M1”
“Yes I know you have a new sat nav, but have you put the right post code in”?
“The post code is the bit at the end of the address, numbers and letters”
“That’s it, now press done; what is it telling you to do”?
“You cannot do a U turn on the M1…………………oh okay then, obviously you can”.
“Yes mate I will keep your breakfast warm for you, see you in a bit”
UKZ turned back to his breakfast and bit into a sausage that was dripping in brown sauce. The others looked on incredulously.
“Well” said RL
“Well what?” came the reply
“Is the dozy fooker coming?” said WO
“Oh! Yes, he will be here in about 40 minutes”
“Does he often get lost like this” asked Neil
“No mate, only when he’s driving; he’s great as a passenger, must be the concentration required when he is at the wheel, I can’t understand it really” replied UKZ putting another splash of brown sauce where he could see the white plate showing through.
Dave looked at Peter and, in true Yul Bryner style, raised a meaty digit, Peter nodded resignedly. UKZ was in, although he couldn’t see how a liking for brown sauce was a credential for being in the team, he daren’t argue with the leader of the forum.
Sly duly arrived and promptly slung his breakfast between 2 slices of bread and munched happily whilst they made the draw, which was as follows:-
Peg 1 UKZero1
Peg 2 Chervil
Peg 3 Yosemite Sam
Peg 4 Scribe
Peg 5 Godber
Peg 6 The Landlord
Peg 7 Barbel Catcher
Peg 8 Warrington 63
Peg 9 Total
Peg 10 Sly
Peg 11 Arch
Peg 12 Tipitinmick
As the intrepid hopefuls made their way to their respective swims and started setting up Lee said to Peter, “Who’s the chap on peg 7”
Peter consulted his clip board “Barbel Catcher, why?”
“He’s using an old watercraft box, that is not even soooo last year, it dates back to when god was a lad”
“And” replied Peter
“Will he be any good” said Lee
“For fooks sake Lee, everybody knows it’s not your tackle its how you use it” Scoffed WO joining in the conversation.
“Plus” said Peter “if they join us they get a full set of Drennan gear as part of the sponsorship deal”
Lee slunk off, fully chastised, and went into the café for a cup of tea and a read of his Cadence catalogue.
Lindholme was exceptionally quiet, the drowners had not publicised their ‘trials’ so that the hopefuls could fish to the best of their ability without the crowds that were always a regular feature wherever the Drowners fished. The only exception was a chap wearing an ancient hoody who was sat behind UKZero1 on peg 1.
“Who’s the bloke with UKZ” said Dave
“looks like a big issue seller” scoffed Grapp
“UKZ don’t seem bothered, he’s talking to him” said Neil
The drowners looked over as the chap was pointing at the water and from his body language it was obvious that he was giving UKZ some advice.
The all in sounded and 10 rigs, one big quill and a feeder went into the water. On peg 7 Barbel Catcher had set up a Mk1V split cane avon rod, centre pin loaded with 12lb line and a big goose quill float. Bait was a lump of flake on a number 12. The Drowners looked on incredulously
“if he starts catching it will give the regulars something to think about” stated Dave
“What goes round comes around” replied Peter “we may be looking at the next ‘THE method’”
Their musings were interrupted by a huge splash on peg 4 and they looked up just in time to see Scribe taking a header into the lake.
“What the fook” exclaimed WO
“let’s go and see if he is ok” said Neil
The Drowners rushed around to peg 4 just as Scribe was dragging himself back onto his platform.
“Are you ok?” asked GP57
“Yeah, fine”replied Scribe “I dropped my disgorger and had to go in to fetch it back”.
“Are you packing up now mate” asked Lee
Scribe looked at him like he had 2 heads “why would I be packing up” he asked
“You’re soaked through” said Neil “you can’t fish like that”
“Just a bit damp” laughed Scribe “I’ll be okay, at least I have got my disgorger back”
“Do you want a brew fetching mate?” asked Dave who was impressed with the resiliance shown by the Drowner hopeful.
“Yes please” replied Scribe “and” he continued, “if you look in the boot of my car there are 3 pork pies, I’ll have one of those as well”
“Pork pies?” asked Dave, snapping to full mental alert.
“Yes mate, I always bring a few to a match, help yourself to one if you want”.
Dave gave a huge grin and looking at Peter, he held up 2 fingers. Peter nodded resignedly and wondered if he, the team bloody captain, would ever have a say who was to be included.
Half way through the match it was clear that UKZ was ahead of the field and was catching small carp every ‘put in’; his little ‘guru’ was still sat behind him although he was yet to remove his hood, preferring to sit in a shroud of mystery like a meditating monk.
There was not much between the rest of the field apart from Tipitinmick who was having a torrid time on peg 12 and he was yet to get off the mark. Barbel Catchers ‘big fish’ tactics had resulted in a nice double figure common but nothing else. Total was catching F1’s on a regular basis but he was struggling to concentrate as he had Neil sat on his shoulder trying to pick up some tips on how to hook the ‘pellet lickers’ and he was making poor Total explain, in detail, everything he was doing, before typing it in to his laptop.
“What are you writing” asked Total
“I’m composing a detailed analysis of how to fish for the elusive F1 for my blog” replied Neil.
“Ain’t your blog supposed to be your own work?” asked Total.
“It is, but I am adapting your advice to reflect my own thoughts” said Neil smugly
Total pondered on whether to tell him to fook off, but realised that would finish his chances of becoming a sponsored member of the team and so he gritted his teeth and carried on.
On peg 5 Godber was showing his class on the tip and using all the experience from his Port Talbot Dock matches and the tips from Clive Branson; that he had paid for in the pub. He was launching a small groundbait feeder 90 yards to an Island and was picking up a procession of medium sized carp.
In sharp contrast Yosemite Sam, with his immaculately clean and polished tackle, was catching in the margins and although his fish were smaller than Godbers he was catching at a much faster rate and it would be a brave man who would bet either way on the outcome.
On Peg 2 Chervil was demonstrating his long pole technique and was fishing tight to an Island at 18 metres, he had found an old pole section which he had utilised as an ‘add on’ to his 16m pole in order to reach the Island and was reaping the benefits with a run of skimmers.
Warrington 63 on peg 8 was fishing a solid match and by alternating between 3 different lines he had been catching steadily since the second hour and was firmly in the running for a place.
Into the last hour it was still neck and neck for second place, UKZ was still way ahead of the field, WO, who had fished with him before was heard to comment
“Fook me, I’ve never seen him fish this well, I’ve always called him a blanker”
Neil then realised that he really should get his hearing tested.
Meanwhile on the cesspit, parrotcage that was peg 12, Tipitinmick was almost in tears, he could see his chances of making the team rapidly dissappearing. His peg was absolutely dead, no sign of life whatsover, he was at his wits end, not knowing what he could do. Suddenly his attention was caught by a vibration in the grass near his feet, he froze as a hill started to appear, bigger and bigger until at last a large black mole burst through the top of the pile. Mick and the mole stared at each other and if panpipe music had started all that would have been needed was a couple of pieces of tumbleweed blowing by to make it a scene from a Clint Eastwood movie. The mole looked at Mick and with his huge front claws he flicked a small cloud of soil in the air then turning around he pulled a big lobworm out of the pile and tossed it towards Micks feet; then, with a knowing wink at the bemused angler he turned and burrowed back down the hole. Mick was gobsmacked but, he had got the message loud and clear and he quickly tied on a number 12, put on the lob, cupped a pot of soil into his left hand margin and dropped in his rig. The float settled and vanished, Mick struck and a powerful fish bored off towards the middle, “please don’t come off, please don’t come off” thought Mick as he slowly gained elastic through his puller. His prayers were answered and a double figure mirror was eventually slipped into the net. “At last” whooped Mick and grabbing another lob out of the ‘hill’, put in again; miraculously he was into another within seconds and another double joined the first. This was the turning point for Mick and in the last 40 minutes before the whistle he landed no less than 6 double figure fish.
Greg the mole returned down the tunnel to his wife and family, “what’s got into you said Sharon, his wife, “I’ve never seen you help a human before”
“It was the least I could do, that chap has been giving my cousin Morris free board and lodgings for the last year or so”
The whistle sounded and the scales arrived at peg 1. The ‘monk’, who had sat with UKZ for all of the match, bent down to help him lift his first keepnet, as he straightened, his hood fell back revealing none other than Dennis ‘Fatha’ White.
“What the fook are you doing here” asked WO
“Just helping t’owd lad out” replied the former Barnsley Blanks star “he taught me all I know, but the dozy bugger has gone and forgotten it all”
UK weighed in a very creditable 102lb 12oz, Chervil on peg 2 had took full advantage of listening to the advice being given to UKZ and he tipped 92lb 6oz onto the scales.
“That should be enough to get me a place” he exclaimed excitedly, already dreaming of future glory, the ache in his deformed feet forgotten as he mentally listed the gear he would be receiving as a sponsored angler.
“Hang on” said Lee “There’s something not right”
“what” asked Chervil nervously
Lee ran to his car and returned with a set of Cadence marker sticks and commenced measuring Chervil’s pole.
“I thought it looked too long” exclaimed Lee
Chervil, did not know whether to feel frightened or flattered, he looked on nervously, feeling like one of the many criminals he had nicked, over the years, when they were stood in the dock.
Lee finished his calculations and announced “you’ve been fishing with 17.98 meters of pole and there is a 16m limit”
“Sorry my friend” said PG “I am afraid that is disqualification”
Chervil was experienced enough to know that ignorance of the law was not a mitigating factor “guilty as charged” he said tearfully.
The scales moved on, now with all the atmosphere of a funeral procession.
“Was I wrong to say anything Pomp?” Lee asked
“No my dear boy” replied PG, straightening the creases in his new HH suit, “we have to be seen to be above all types of gamesmanship and rule breaking” this statement being punctuated with a glare at WO.
“What you looking at me for?” protested WO; Albert, showing loyalty to his dad, bared his teeth at PG.
“Black Widow” said PG simply.
“You been looking at my internet history” grinned WO
On peg 3 Yosemite Sam had fished a blinder and put 76lb 2oz on the scales, beating Scribe by a clear 5lbs. Godber had shown his class on the tip and returned 68lb, even; whilst the Landlord on the next peg had suffered with unhittable F1 bites and only weighed 26lb 2oz.
“You need to read my blog on F1 fishing “ said Neil
“Oy Ernest bloody Hemmingway; shut the fook up about your blog” came a familiar voice, the Drowners looked around and there was Genesis making his way up the bank with Peter Drennan.
“Great to see you mate” said lee
“Where you bin” asked Grap
“Sorting out a few business deals, but I’m back now and raring to go” replied Genesis
“The boys are back in town, the boys are back in town” warbled WO happily. Winston and Albert both cringed at the noise and legged it back to the café to see if there were any leftovers.
Barbel Catcher had persisted with his big fish tactics and had 2 fish for 37lb. Warrington 63 on the next peg had fished a blinder and returned 75lb 3oz. Total had managed to bag 75lb 2oz of F1’s even with Neil’s constant distractions.
Sly and Arch on pegs 10 and 11 had been sharing some very strange looking fags all match and even though they only weighed 23lb and 21lb respectively they were still having fits of giggles as they packed away. “So uncouth” muttered Neil.
Arriving at peg 12 Mick was still in shock about his encounter and he lifetd his nets out in a trance, only waking up, when the scalesman announced 98lb 14oz, he’d done it and he owed it all to Morris the mole and his cousin Greg.
Back in the café the atmosphere was electric; all the competitors had been told to stay at their pegs whilst the weigh in took place, no one knew who had won and the banter flew back and forth.
“What did you weigh Uk”
“102” came the reply
“you’ve got no chance then, I’ve heard 4 over the ton weights already”
“Warrington’s had a good match, I think he’s won it”
“Nah, I heard he blanked for the last 2 hours”
The banter continued ad infinitum, it was clear that no one had a clue as to the results.
Whilst this was going on, Dave had took himself into a corner and was huddled over his clip board. Sweat was beading on his brow as he dealt with complexities of putting the 12 weights in order.
“Peter” he whispered “is 72lb 18oz bigger than 73lb 3oz?”
“What the fook are you doing” scoffed his mate “You can’t have 72lb 18oz; there are only 16oz in a pound”
Dave got out his calculator, pen and paper and 2 minutes later with sweat dripping off his nose and a thumping headache he said “73lb 2oz”
“By jove he’s got it” laughed his best friend “how on earth do you measure up for jobs”
“Don’t ask mate; I was sorting one yesterday, a 10ft by 8ft 6” and I had to work out the area in square meters; it nearly killed me; and,” he added “I’ve not been well you know”
“Bullsheet” scoffed Peter “you had nothing more than a bit of a cold”
Eventually everything was sorted out and PD, as sponsor, announced the results;
1 UKZero1, 102lb 12oz
2 Tipitinmick, 98lb 14oz
3 Yosemite Sam, 76lb 2oz
4 Warrington 63, 75lb 3oz
5 Total, 75lb 2oz
6 Godber, 75lb
7 Scribe, 71lb
8 Barbel Catcher, 37lb
9 The Landlord, 26lb 2oz
10 Sly, 23lb
11 Arch, 21lb
12 Chervil, DNW (Disqualified)
Everyone crowded round the top 3, cheering and backslapping; it took PD several minutes to gain order.
“OK lads, as you know, the top 3 are in automatically and a further 4 will be picked by the existing team”
The hopefuls waited expectantly.
PG cleared his throat “Of the top 3, one of them had already been chosen, therefore, it is the top 4 who are in”
It took a few seconds but when he realised, Warrington 63 gave a huge cheer, passed his fags round and shouted “The Pie and Peas are on me”
“Just like the Milky Bar kid” laughed Genesis
RL looked at Peter and raised 5 fingers, Peter nodded, at least he would get to choose 2 himself, and he knew the criteria he would use.
PG continued, “we are now going to go into the back and discuss the places remaining; we will be back shortly”.
“I didn’t know anyone named Shortly was fishing” whispered Grap to Genesis.
Roki had stopped the sled, the dogs were quiet and all he could hear was the thumping of his own heart. He knew the dangers he faced as he looked at the mother polar bear and her 2 cubs that were standing looking at them 30 yards ahead. He could hear his father’s words echoing in his head;
“if you see a bear my son, don’t run, they will give chase and they are very fast. Remember, a mother with her cubs is the most dangerous of all”
Roki stayed still, but the bears seemed in no hurry to move, the cubs were playing and the mother stared at the boy and his dogs, motionless, just a menacing presence. With shaking hands he very slowly unwrapped the oil cloth his father had given him and removed the ancient Mannlicher M1895 rifle, the stock felt slippery with the sweat on his hands, with shaking fingers he drew the bolt and inserted a 50mm cartridge into the breech. He knew he would only get one chance, he did not want to kill the mother as her cubs would then surely perish on their own and he would not get a chance to get off another 2 shots.
The click of the chamber closing caused one of the dogs to snarl, that was enough for the mother; raising herself to her full height she let out a fearsome growl, which reverberated among the ice cliffs and started towards the boy and his sled with a deceptively fast leisurely gait. Roki, was petrified, but the plucky youngster raised the gun and took aim. He knew his father always waited until the bears were almost upon him before he fired but he was too young and inexperienced to be that courageous. The bear was about 20 yards away when he fired, the ear splitting boom echoed across the Tundra and amidst a cloud of smoke Roki executed a back somersault due to the recoil of the gun. He scrabbled in the snow, grabbing the rifle, which had flown out of his hands, and leapt to his feet. The smoke cleared and he saw the bears, mother and cubs, running away over the ice, he had missed the shot but the noise had proved enough of a deterrent to scare the bears into flight. In a rush of adrenalin Roki gathered up the harness and set the dogs away at full speed, the sled runners whispered over the ice as it hurtled along the track. Roki glanced back and saw the bear family in the distance travelling in the opposite direction, breathing a sigh of relief he slowed the dogs and thanked his lucky stars that they were unscathed.
The rest of the journey was uneventful and they made good time and eventually pulled up outside Micko’s trading post. He carefully checked each of his dogs for any damage to their feet, first rule that his father had taught him was, the dogs look after you make sure you look after them. He gave them all a feed of seal meat and made sure that there was plenty of water in the trough outside the store before entering the store.
The big wooden door opened with a creak and he entered, standing for a few moments to allow his eyes to become accustomed to the gloom. The shop had a large open floor, swept boards with a layer of sawdust on the floor, around the edges, nets, lines, tools, barrels of dried food and sacks of flour etc were all piled up in a haphazard fashion. A long counter stood at one end, a log burner, with a small table and two chairs in front of it was off to the side.
“ROKI” boomed the huge red bearded Irishman behind the counter, he gave the boy a huge grin and held his arms out for a hug; this was Mick O’Reilly, proprietor of ‘Mick O’s’ trading post. Roki grinned and gave him a hug “hello Mr O” he said.
“Hello back” replied Mick “where’s your father” he asked looking over Roki’s shoulder.
“He let me come on my own” said Roki proudly.
“WHAT” exclaimed Mick; he held the boy at arms length and looked at his face, he could see the toughness of his father in the set of his jaw “you are growing up so fast my boy; did you have any trouble coming in?”
Roki recounted the tale of the bear as he sipped on the mug of scalding coffee that Mick passed him. Mick was entranced “you were very lucky, that she ran away; when you are faced with a bear you must let them get close enough to ensure you don’t miss”
He reached under the counter and passed over a single 50mm cartridge
“a gift” he stated “your father would flay your hide if you used a bullet and had no pelt to show for it”
“Thank you” replied the lad; he knew his father would never lay a hand on him but the gift was welcome.
“Here” said Mick and he passed over a month old AT and a glossy magazine, “they have started printing the Drennan Drowners stories, this one is episode 4, I will try and get the others for you”
“How much is it” asked Roki
“It will cost you a promise that you will always use my shop in the future and when you have children you will bring them in to see me”
“Definitely” replied Roki gleefully.
“Father has said that I can invite the Drowners to fish in our village, but I am not sure how to write the letter”
“He must be mellowing in his old age” replied Mick, he knew that Kerin thought that people born south of this trading post were soft, pampered imitation men and It had taken 3 years of trading before, he himself had been accepted into the community.
“I will contact them for you” he said “I can probably do it through the magazine”.
“Wow, thank you” came the delighted reply.
Roki spent the $5 bill in his pocket on some chocolate for his mother, a set of hair ribbons for his baby sister and 3 new fish hooks for his father. With his purchases wrapped and securely nestled in the inside pocket of his coat he coaxed the dogs back into life and set off back home.
“Attention please” shouted PG.
The noise in the café dropped and everyone focussed on the team manager
“We have deliberated long and hard and finally reached a decision”
A tentative hand was raised and everyone turned to look at Barbel Catcher who squirmed under their collective gaze.
“What’s up mate?” asked Peter
“This is the first match I have fished for many years” he said quietly
“I wouldn’t have known; looking at your gear” snorted Lee sarcastically
“Although I have enjoyed it and love the cameraderie within the team” BC continued “I feel that I am a bit too old now to start doing this on a regular basis and I would like to declare myself out of the running”
“That’s a shame mate” said Neil in dismay; he had been hoping that Peter would have included BC as he considered him a ‘gentleman’ and his inclusion would have given him a companion to have a sensible conversation with.
“I respect your decision” said PG “thank you for letting me know”
BC visibly relaxed, he did not enjoy the limelight and was relieved, albeit, a little sad that he had been forced to be sensible, for once in his life and accept the limitations imposed by age.
“As you know” said Peter “the new members are the top 4 in the match” a cheer went up from UK, Mick, Sam and Warrington63.
“Leaving”, he continued “just 3 places left to join us; and these go to” he tailed off dramatically.
“Drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr” said WO doing a drum roll
“Scribe”, shouted Peter, everyone erupted into cheering, especially RL as he now had a constant supply of ‘meltons finest’. Scribe leapt to his feet, a huge grin on his face, swiped WO’s cap, ran down the café, ‘touched it down’ between RL and Peter before doing a lap of honour around the room.
“Does he look pleased” said Landlord to GP57
“He should look surprised” scoffed Lee
“Two places left” said Peter, loving the limelight; “the next person to become a Drowner is…………………….Total”
The cheering went up once again, Total, being the undemonstrative type, went red and stammered a “thank you” into his mug of tea.
RL looked at Peter in amazement “that’s not what we agreed” he whispered
“Captain’s prerogative mate” he grinned holding up 6 digits.
“Now lads” Peter started again “I know that some of you will be disappointed”
“For fooks sake gerron wi it” shouted Sly
“As I was saying” continued the team captain “before I was rudely interrupted, some of you will be disappointed but we could only take 7. The fact that you were invited is testament to your angling skills and; who knows, there may be opportunity to try again in the future” he looked at Lee and WO “the very near future” he finished meaningfully.
“The final place is awarded to………………………..Chervil.
The room went wild, everyone thought that the likeable ex cop had been harshly treated with his disqualification and they were all delighted for him. Chervil hobbled around the room, as fast as his deformed feet would carry him, on his lap of honour, before flopping down next to W63, saying “get the tea’s in mate, I’m jiggered”
RL looked, again, at Peter “we did not agree that one either” Peter just grinned and held up 7 fingers.
“I know what you’re playing at” said Dave “you’ve just gone for bloody southerners”
“Maybe” replied Peter coyly.
Roki was on full alert as he approached the spot where he had seen the bears earlier in the day. His fathers rifle was ready and loaded in the scabbard at his side and he had made his mind up that; if he saw the bears again he would wait until he couldn’t miss before firing. He slowed down as he travelled through the area and he craned his neck looking left and right as well as looking anxiously over his shoulder, he knew that bears would often give chase and creep up on you unawares like silent assassins. He need not have worried, the area was deserted and he made the rest of the journey home without incident. Kerin was delighted that he had scared off the bear and that he had stood his ground and not panicked, although he made a mental note to teach the boy to shoot straight as soon as possible. His mother thanked him for the chocolate before fussing over him and checking him for injury. His sister gave him a huge hug and went off to put the new ribbons in her hair.
When Roki told Kerin of the invitation that had been sent to the Drowners he laughed uproariously,
“they will not come my son; they are soft and weak southerners and they would not last 5 minutes in our climate.”
“They will come Father” said Roki with far more confidence than he felt. He made his way into his igloo and settled down to read the latest exploits of his hero’s.
“Is it really a case of help yourself?” asked Tipitinmick.
“It better be” replied Dave, “because if you wait to be offered, you will wait a long time.”
“Brilliant” replied Mick, helping himself and lowering the level in Peter’s bottle of 30 year old Highland Park by 2”.
Peter cringed but, as the missus was watching him, had the sense to keep his mouth shut.
The Drowners were at a meeting, called by PD, and were squashed into Peter’s kitchen, the new members, all keen and alert, desperately hoping they could make a positive contribution to the proceedings.
“We need to find a new meeting place now that we have a ‘squad’ rather than just a team” whined Peter, thinking of how many tea bags and pints of milk, let alone his whisky was costing. “We should have picked the Landlord, we could at least then have had a pub to meet in”
“You picked the team mate, you should have considered it then” scoffed Lee
“He wanted to pick poufy southerners” said WO, completely oblivious, that said southerners were sat at the same table.
“It’s a good idea to have people who you can talk to without requiring subtitles across their chests” said Lord Pomp.
“Ee, watsthou think ot’newuns mate” asked Dave
The Yorkshire contingent all laughed at the bemused expressions on the southern members faces.
“ORDER” yelled PD, “I have called this meeting to tell you about an idea I’ve had” The room quietened down and all that could be heard was whisky sloshing as Mick poured his third refill.
“First of all” continued PD “welcome to our new members, I trust your new kit arrived ok?”
There was a chorus of assents round the room.
“Good; I have been having some thoughts about a team building exercise to bond the new members into what is, a somewhat unusual team dynamic”
GP’s eyes glazed over and he felt the welcome sensation of sleep tugging at him.
“GRAP” shouted PG
“Er………….what……………………hey………………Use a wafter on 0.1” he guessed
“What the fook you on about” laughed WO “PD is going to make us all hold hands round a campfire after building a raft out of Nick Gilbert float bodies and sailing it over a river”
“That sounds stupid” replied GP57 feeling much the same as his comment.
“No Sir Wise” said PD “it’s not the normal sort of team building, I am sending you all to the North Pole for a holiday”
The Drowners looked at each other in stunned silence, for a full 30 seconds no one spoke and then everyone started at once:
“It’s fooking freezing there”
“We might die”
“Will we be fishing a match?” The hubbub stopped dead and everyone looked at Scribe. “Well we are a match squad” he stammered.
“See Peter, I told you what would happen if you picked anyone with more than two brain cells” announced Lee.
“I’ve only got one” said WO with a grin “but he’s clinging to the back of my head like a good un. Alright Arry” he shouted, banging on the back of his head.
“So uncouth” muttered Neil.
“In all seriousness” said PD once order had been restored “I have received a letter from a chap named Mick O’Reilly who runs a trading post in Alaska. Apparently the son of one of his customers is your biggest fan and the lad has invited you, with permission from his dad, to spend a week with them to see how they catch fish”
“I think it will be good for us” said PG “It will give the new lads a chance to get to know everyone and we can all relax for a bit”
“Wisey can’t go” exclaimed GP
“Why the fook not” howled WO
“You’ve got a criminal record” said Neil, hopefully.
“Pomp, do you keep your phone messages” asked WO
“I do indeed dear boy” replied the peer.
“Scroll back to when we went to Russia”
“Oh yes” said PG running his thumb up and down his phone screen “here it is” he exclaimed
“Tell wise owl he is always welcome to visit”
“There you go” said wisey delightedly “That’s my mate Donald for you”.
“Excuse me Mr Drennan” said a timid voice
The room fell silent and everyone looked at Yosemite Sam who sat with his hand raised.
“Who is Mr Drennan” asked Dave
“Me you pillock” said PD
“Yes lad, what’s up”
“Are we all invited”?
“of course, you’re a Drowner now”
“Wow” said Sam happily, and helped himself to some more of Peter’s whisky; after he had prised it out of Micks fingers.
“How much will it cost” asked UKZ “I’m only a poor pensioner.
“Freebie mate” said Neil
“When do we go” asked Warrington
“A week on Saturday, I will sort the visa’s and tickets; have you all got in date passports” asked PD
There was a chorus of affirmatives except for Trogg and GB.
“Ours have expired” said the two security men “we won’t be able to go” said GB tearfully
“I’ll see what I can do, being a peer has some advantages you know” said Pomp tapping his nose.
“Is everyone ok with the arrangements”? asked Peter
“You’ve not said much” said Dave to Total
“I prefer to stay under the radar mate, it’s just the way I roll”
“Are you two alright” said Genesis to Sam and Mick who were looking a bit green.
“Schertainly are” giggled Sam, “Yesh mate” agreed Mick, and putting his arm around his new mate they both slid off their chairs and under Peter’s kitchen table.
Two weeks later the squad were airborne and on their way to their latest adventure. Pomp had moved heaven and
earth and finally managed to ‘fast track’ Trogg and GB’s passports through clearance and they were now sat together on
the big Jumbo Jet. “No Russian cabin crew on this one Lee” laughed Trogg.
“Thank god” came the reply “I still have nightmares about it, and poor CarpMagic is still in ICU”
The drinks trolley came round and Mick and Sam immediately perked up “Two large whisky’s please love” said Sam.
“Don’t get drunk lads” said Pomp “We can’t afford any bad publicity”
He need not have worried, the flight went smoothly and most of the squad slept’ they were in fact quite uneasy about having an ex copper amongst them and they were reluctant to let go until they knew Chervil a bit better.
“Where do we go after we land” asked UKZ
“Apparently” replied Neil “there will be a smaller plane to take us to a place called Barow and from their our hosts will collect us in dog sleds”
“Wow” exclaimed UKZ “this jet set lifestyle is a bit difficult to get my head round; yesterday I was shooting rats at 4:00am”
“It’s surprising how quickly you adapt” laughed Neil.
“It’s here, it’s here yelled Roki excitedly as he watched the propeller aircraft making its approach toward the cleared strip of concrete laying like a black ruler against the white of the crisp morning snow.
“Do not expect too much my son” said Kerin “they are a different breed to us and they will complain and whinge about the cold and the conditions”
The plane landed, the doors opened and Roki gave a huge cheer as his hero Wise Owl stepped through the doorway dressed in Tee shirt, bermuda shorts and bright orange crocs.
“See father, Wise Owl is not soft”
“It appears so” said Kerin thoughtfully.
The Drowners shuffled out of the terminal and Roki rushed up to WO.
“Hello Mr Owl, I’m Roki” he said shyly
“Hello sunshine” replied WO and held out his hand “thank you for inviting us”
PG and Kerin shook hands “Welcome” said Kerin
“We are delighted to be here” said PG resplendent in a huge fur coat and Davy Crocket hat.
“Tell me” said Kerin “why does the one called Wise Owl not feel the cold?”
“Where I come from there is a saying, Yorkshire born, Yorkshire bred, strong in the arm and thick in the head” recited PG
Kerin tipped back his head and roared with laughter. “I like you Lord Pomp, but I do not think you will survive our climate and conditions”
The Drowners were soon settled in to various sleds and were speeding over the ice heading to Roki’s camp.
Pomp, who was in the sled handled by Kerin, looked at his host “how long will it take us to get there Kerin?”
“About 2 hours” came the reply
“Just in time for breakfast” mused PG to Peter, who was sat beside him, “I wonder what we’ll be having”.
Wisey who was sat with Dave and Roki in the front of PG and Peter turned round, “we’ll be having Vera Lynn”.
“What’s that” queried Peter
“Whale meet again don’t…….” WO warbled at the top of his voice.
“You walked into that one mate” said Dave to Peter.
“Pillock” grinned Peter.
The sleds finally pulled into a small settlement of Igloos, roughly arranged into a circle with a cleared area of snow in the centre. “home sweet home” muttered Scribe
“Like Pontefract in March” laughed UKZ
“I realise now why I moved to Oxford” shivered W63
The whole camp had come out to meet them and there was much hugging and hand shaking as our intrepid team piled their belongings in the clearing. “Where do we stay my boy?” asked PG to Roki
“You must build a snow house” said Kerin “This is the first test I agreed with your Peter Drennan, “you build your own house from blocks cut from that hill” he pointed to a large snow mound about 200 yards away. “You have about 10 hours of daylight left”
The Drowners looked at each other in disbelief “I don’t believe this” said GP57
“Well he did say it was a team building exercise” laughed Trogg “so we may as well get on with it”.
“C’mon Wisey” said Dave “this is our department, Troggy can you and GB organise supplies”
“What do you need mate”
“Something to cut the blocks of ice, a piece of string that I can use as a ‘line’ and a means of getting the blocks from the hill to here”.
Trogg and GB trotted off on the scrounge.
“The second test is to catch and prepare a meal for your breakfast”
“That’s more like it” said Chervil “Fishing at last”.
“Where is the nearest fishery” asked Total
“You’re standing on it” said Kerin and pointing to a huge auger bit attached to a big petrol engine he added “you make a hole and catch your breakfast”
“Me and Mick will go and find some tackle” said Sam
“I will do the cooking” said PG; at the mention of food Scribe immediately offered to help.
“I will make a fire to do the cooking” saiid Neil
“I’ll collect some wood for it” said UK
Trogg and GB soon returned with a couple of very long machetes, a long length of orange twine, a light sled and, of all things, a bricky’s trowel.
“Fook me” said WO “a proper tool and a Guru plumb line”
“Right” said Dave “Wisey can cut the blocks, Neil is on fire duty, UK, collecting wood, PG is cooking, Chervil is catching breakfast and Scribe is sous chef. That leaves Trogg, GB, Genesis, Grap, Total, Lee, Mick, Sam, Peter and W63 as labourers”.
“Who’s going to drill the hole?” asked Genesis
“I’ll do that” said GB “where do drill?”
“I’ll show you” said Roki, who was stood to one side.
“Good lad” said WO ruffling the blushing youngsters hair.
Mick and Sam returned with a length of line, a hook and a lump of blubber wrapped in a cloth.
“Jesus” said Chervil “this is a bit thicker than 0.1” he continued, testing the line between his fingers. “C’mon then” he said to GB and Roki “lets go and catch breakfast” the three of them set off with Roki in the lead.
“How big do you want the blocks Dave?” asked WO
“About the size of a breeze block but twice as thick”
“OK mate; c’mon lads lets go a cutting. Hi Ho, Hi Ho, its off to work we go” sang WO happily as he led the motley crew of ‘labourers’ across the ice.
Neil had managed to start a fire with the help of a tin of kerosene given to him by a young Eskimo girl who kept passing longing glances with PG.
Uk had been given a big bundle of wood by another girl, from the rapidly expanding group that was congregating around PG, she also gave Scribe a big filleting knife,
“thank you” he said shyly, thinking that he had ‘pulled’. As a newcomer to the group he had no idea of the effect his manager had on the female species.
Dave set his stall out in a space to one side of the camp, he carefully stuck a stick into the snow, tying a loop in the plumb line, he placed it over the stick and paced out 10’ of line. Tying another stick to the line, he walked around the centre stick, keeping the line taut he was able to draw a perfect circle of 20’ diameter in the snow. By the time he had finished Trogg and his merry band of labourers arrived with 50 blocks of ice, on the sled, ready for laying.
“By lads that were quick” he exclaimed
“It’s Wise Owl” said Sam “he’s got his arms going like Bee’s wings”
“That’s a first” replied Dave “I’ve never seen him start while 10 o clock”
“What the heck does that mean?” asked Total who was really struggling with the language barrier between the north and side factions of the team.
“It means”, replied Peter “that he doesn’t start until 10 o clock”
Seeing the bemused look on Total’s face he placated “don’t worry, it took me a while to get used to it”.
Before Total could reply they were all startled by a blood curdling cry of anguish which echoed around the camp. “Heeeeeeeeeeelp”
“What the fook is that” said Peter
“Sounds like GB” said Dave dropping his trowel and running towards the sound. Rounding the corner of the camp they saw Chervil and Roki flat on their backs, on the ice, their legs flailing like a harpooned squid whilst GB span like a catherine wheel on the ice drill “heeeelp, turn it off”. The bit was stuck in the ice and the engine, with GB hanging on for grim death, was spinning freely, Chervil and Roki, who the others thought had been injured, were in fact, convulsed with laughter at GB’s plight and were absolutely powerless to help their comrade.
The rest of the team, also rushing to the cry for help, caught up with Dave and co. and they all looked on in disbelief at the spectacle that lay before them.
“Fooking amateurs” snarled Trogg, and striding over the ice he caught the flying engine and stopped it dead with one hand; hitting the ‘kill’ switch he helped GB to his feet “you ok little buddy” he laughed.
“I am now it’s stopped” said GB who then started staggering around like a drunk after a night out; much to the amusement of the others.
Once it was ascertained that there were no injuries, the team headed back to their respective duties.
“Hurry up with the fish Cherv, we’re all starving” said Scribe, brandishing his filleting knife; it had been several hours since he had eaten a sandwich when their plane had landed and due to having the metabolic rate of a Rat on speed he was now starving. His belly was emititing sounds like a group of flatulant swingers in a jacuzzi and the though of fresh fried fish was making him drool. He made his way, behind PG and his adoring female fans, back to the ‘kitchen’ area.
“Ok” said Chervil, surveying the neat hole in the ice “let’s do it”. Baiting up with a large piece of blubber he carefully lowered it through the ice. Within minutes he felt a huge pull on the line, he jerked his arm up, to strike and everything went slack. “Booger it, it’s come off” he wailed. Baiting up again he once more lowered his baited hook into the depths and after a few seconds, the same thing happened. After a third re-occurrence he noticed that Roki was looking at him with a very sceptical expression on his face.
“What?” he exclaimed.
“Why are you pulling the bait out of the fishes mouths?”
“I’m not, I am trying to hook them”
“Let the fish swallow the bait completely, then they can’t let go” said Roki in the same tones that his father had used when he was learning how to fish, many years ago. He smirked mischievously.
“What yer smirking at” said GB who was now, finally beginning to see straight.
“I am teaching a Drennan Drowner how to fish”
“You certainly are sunshine” laughed Chervil, “and I will give you some advice, always listen to people who are trying to help, you are never too old to learn”.
With that sage like piece of advice still hanging in the air he, once more, dropped his bait through the ice and this time made no mistakes and a big arctic char was hauled unceremoniously onto the ice.
Chervil finally manages Breakfast
Several more followed and they took their catch to the ‘chef team’ waiting by the fires.
“whoopey do” sang out Scribe happily and with a dexterity no one, including himself, knew that he had he expertly filleted the fish and passed them to PG.
Pomp looked thoughtfully at the array of ‘extra’ ingredients that had been brought to him by the PFFC (Pomp Female Fan Club) as Neil had christened them. He had potatoes, milk, flour and a selection of dried herbs and spices all lovingly given to him by the giggling women. “How do you normally eat it” he asked a particularly attractive young lass named Katsitsanoron,
“like this Mr Pomp” she said, and picking up one of the fish not yet filleted, she bit into the belly of the fish and chewed happily. “Delicious” she exclaimed “there are eggs in this one” she said with relish.
A strange sound assailed their ears, “Phewwwwey”, they looked around just in time to see Scribes, partially, digested sandwich from earlier, hit the floor. “Sorry lads; and ladies, but that was just a bit too much for me”.
“Indeed” said PG “but we have to respect the customs of our hosts and as we do not want to show any disrespect, you should now have a bite”
Scribe paled, he knew that PG was right but the thought of raw fish and roe made him feel like a competitor on ‘I’m a celebrity, get me out of here’. He tentatively took the fish off a smiling Kat (they could not pronounce her full name) and with a resigned, sickly, expression he took a bite.
“Hmmm, delicious” he lied, “Lord Pomp, you must try this” he said sneakily.
A delighted Kat, immdediately took the half eaten fish off scribe and offered it to PG. Neil, knowing what was coming and also knowing that his delicate digestive system would not tolerate such abuse, went off to see how Dave, WO and the lads were faring with the igloo.
Arriving on site he was amazed to see a very respectable igloo almost finished, WO was busily engaged with applying a coat of powder snow render, to seal the joints. Neil watched in appreciation as the Leeds plasterer achieved a beautiful smooth finish with a bright orange float.
Dave lays the final few blocks.
“Wonderful job mate” he exclaimed appreciatively “what gave you the ide……….” His words tailed off as he looked at the float that WO was using “Is that” he stuttered “is that…………………..IT IS” he roared “that is my new Guru side tray” wailed Neil.
“Oh sorry mate” said WO in all innocence “I found it in the sled”.
Neil made his way back to his fire, with tears in his eyes, “so uncouth, so uncouth” he chanted like a mantra.
His spirits rose, however, when he smelt the huge pot that PG had simmering on the fire.
“What is that Pomp?, it smells delicious.
“My own version of Kedgeree” said PG proudly. “Poached fish, with creamy herb mash and a roe fishcake on the side”.
Scribe whistled the others and they all jogged over and tucked in with relish.
“I didn’t know you could cook Pomp” said Peter appreciatively, through a mouthful of fishcake “this is roe delicious”
“yeah; well enjoy it to yourself and stop giving me a bit” said WO who was sitting at least 10 feet away.
“Where did you learn to fillet mate” said Trogg to Scribe “I’ve not had a single bone in my food”
Scribe looked bashfull “I suppose with all the experience I’ve had looking at fish from under the water I just got a good idea of the bone structure”
All the Drowners broke out in spontaneous laughter; Peter, who had been very sceptical of PD’s ‘team building’ idea, was slowly realising that it was working; the squad looked relaxed and at ease with each other and even WO was being less scathing with his comments.
After breakfast they were joined by Kerin, Roki and three others; Amaqjuag (the strong one), Kumaglak (the fast one) and Nanurjuk (the star), the elders of the group.
“You have done well” said Kerin begrudgingly “your ice house is well made”
“well done Dave, well done Wisey” rose up from the ranks of the Drowners.
“As I said” continued Kerin “your house is well made and you have created a competent meal, even passing the test of eating the fish in such a disgusting manner” he laughed.
“What?” spluttered Scribe “you mean you don’t normally eat it like that”
“No my friend” laughed Kerin “it was a test”
“but Kat loved it” said PG
“No, she is a good actor and as we speak, she is still throwing up in her igloo”
Everyone erupted with laughter whilst PG and Scribe went the colour of a red traffic light as they raelised thay had been had.
“We had already prepared a meal and living accomodation just in case you failed but, I am pleased to say that they will not be needed”
Roki looked at his father “I told you that they were not soft southern poufs” he whispered, his language already betraying the fact that he was spending a lot of time in te company of WO.
“We will see” replied Kerin “there is still the final test” he stated, mysteriously.
“Tomorrow we fish” said Kerin
The Drowners laid out their things in the igloo and prepared to settle down for the night. “Pomp” said W63 “you have to sleep furthest from the door”
“why?” came the answer
“If any of the PFFC come calling in the night I want to make sure thay crawl over me before they get to you”
Once again the sound of laughter echoed across the Tundra.
The next day saw the drowners assembled on a huge frozen lake ready for action. “Right lads” said Peter in his captains voice, “let’s set up 20 yards from each other so that we don’t have too much pressure on the ice in one spot”
“Don’t be a pillock Peter” laughed Trogg “the ice is thicker than Lee’s skull”
“Yes but we have Scribe to consider” replied Peter
“If you put a cup of water down, he would fall in it” observed Total.
They looked up as Kerin was spotted driving his sled over the ice, drawing to a halt he unloaded a large package from the sled. “Your Mr drennan sent this for you” he explained. It was apparent that Peter Drennan and Kerin had been involved in several conversations prior to the trip and Dave was wondering what else may transpire.
Sam and Mick opened the package to find sets of tiny rods, reels and lures with a message ‘thought these might come in handy’
“It certainly beats hand lining” said Neil holding one of the rods appreciatively.
Kerin departed, the Drowners started setting up and Trogg and GB were kept really busy drilling holes for the intrepid anglers.
Everyone started catching immediately, the new gear proving extremely effective, bait and lure appeared to be equally successful, “if we had a match on here it would just develop into a speed contest” observed Peter as he dropped another big char onto the pile behind him; it had been agreed that all fish would be taken, as a gift to the their hosts, so they could freeze and dry it for future use.
“Bit like bleak bashing” laughed W63
“There should be a way of catching faster” said Neil “I will give it some thought, it could make an interesting article in my blog”
“You’re a record breaker mate” shouted WO to Neil
“That’s the first time you’ve mentioned your fookin block for 16 hours”
“Woo, Woo” whistled Mick and Lee
“So uncouth” muttered Neil.
Peter, after a conversation with Trogg, had got the Staffordshire bouncer to drill him a lot more holes and he was fishing a multi rod set up which, by his reckoning, had upped his catch rate by 50%.
Peters ‘many fishy holes’ idea
When the time came to pack up, the Drowners had mixed feelings about this style of fishing, none of them liked taking fish for the table, and the fishing itself was more akin to dangling rather than angling. Back in the igloo they were mulling over the days events when Kerin and Roki joined them.
“My son tells me that you are the best fishing team in England and that you are undefeated in your competitions” said Kerin
“That’s right said Lee “we have fished all over the world and ever been beaten” he continued, stretching the truth marginally.
“Today you discovered another method to help catch more fish”
“to help catch big fookers” said Roki, correcting his father.
“Yes, to help catch big fookers” laughed Kerin “the method you ‘discovered today” he continued, looking at Peter “is a method we already use; we call it the way of the ‘many fishy holes’”
The Drowners, realising that the camp chief was serious tried desperately not to laugh.
“From what my son has told me, you will probably come up with a new method based upon your experience and the different way of fishing in England. I have issued a challenge to my arch rival in the next village and I would like to ensure that we win it. This is the third test set by your sponsor, come up with a method that will enable my team to beat my rival”
The drowners looked at each other in bewilderment, these people had fished these waters for generations and they were expected to come up with a new, improved, method and teach it to the natives all within a week.
“How is the winning team decided Kerin?” asked PG “in England it is the team with the highest combined weight of fish”
“Not so here” replied Kerin “the victors are the team who catch the most different types of fish”
“Ah” said Neil “that puts a different complexion on things” he mused to himself.
After an excellent dinner, this time cooked and served by the camp ladies, the squad held an impromptu meeting
“C’mon lads we’re the Drennan Drowners, we should be able to come up with something to improve the catches” said Peter.
“The problem is” said Neil “you are fishing through a small hole, so you are stuck with a single line, the fish bite, regardless so there is little we can do”
“I caught better in the margins” admitted W63
“How the fook did you fish in the margins” asked WO
“I dropped my line in and held it back against the nearside lip of the hole” said W63 with a straight face.
Everyone laughed but no one was really sure if he was serious or not.
“let’s sleep on it” said PG, blowing out the blubber candle “g’night lads”
There was a chorus of good nights and people drifted off to sleep.
“Is anybody bi curious” whispered Wisey into the darkness “I’m as randy as a ship load of sailors”
“Not with an ugly git like you” whispered back UKZ “I’d sooner shyte in my hands and clap”
“what about the new lads?” asked WO
“Fook off yer poof” shouted the new bloods in unison.
Everyone cracked up and Peter smiled in satisfaction; the new squad had bonded and he could feel a very exciting year coming on.
Next morning everyone was up bright and early, breakfast, served by Kat and the other girls, comprised of fried fish, eggs and a strange burger.
“This is delicious” said Total “what sort of meat is it Kat?”
“We had a sled dog die during the night and we never waste anything” she replied shyly
“Phwaagh” gagged Total spitting a lump of half chewed burger out of his mouth. The lump of burger was pounced on by one of the huskies and swallowed with great relish.
“Surely that’s cannibalism” exclaimed Sam
“What is cannibalism” asked Kat
“It’s when you eat one of your own species love” explained Trogg
“So when my great grandfather died and we roasted him on a spit and had a feast, that would be cannibalism?” asked Kat
“Oh my god”, said Mick
The rest of the squad looked at Kat in stunned silence.
“You lot are too fookin easy” she laughed and started walking away “the burger meat is moose, by the way” she shouted back over her shoulder.
“Didn’t fool me for a minute” said Lee surreptitiously sliding one of his gloves over the half chewed burgr on his plate.
“The saucy madam” laughed Sam “these people have a great sense of humour”
The team went, once more, to the frozen lake and Trogg and GB were kept busy re-drilling holes for the team.
“Pair up lads” said Peter, “try to come up with something new; our reputation is riding on this”
The team settled down to fish.
UKZ1 and Yosemite Sam discuss tactics.
Dave and Wise Owl had teamed up and were catching steadily, but they were no nearer to finding a new method.
“I’ve an idea” said Dave “see that igloo over there” he pointed to a small structure in the corner of the ice field they were fishing in, “lets go in there, I want to test a theory”
“This ain’t owt to do with my bi curious crack last night is it” asked WO nervously “cos I tell ya now, I was only joking”.
“No mate” laughed Dave “c’mon”
They made there way over to the igloo and crawled through the entrance. It was obviously unused, the bare floor was testament to that, igloos in use always had some sort of floor covering. Leaning against the back wall was a hand drill, “perfect” said Dave. “You make a small fire mate, whilst I drill a hole in the ice”
Wisey went off to fetch some kindling and wood and Dave, after drilling the hole took a cap lamp out of his tackle bag. WO returned and made a small fire, the effect was startling, the interior of the igloo took on a golden glow and when they looked into the ice hole they could see that the light was illuminating the water to a depth of several feet. Dave dropped a lump of blubber into the hole and they watched it clearly sinking, a fish suddenly darted towards it but a big char got there first.
“I was hoping the the light might attract other species” explained Dave
“It certainly seems to mate, the problem is keeping the char away to let one of the others get a look in.”
It was then that they noticed another effect of the fire, “jeez it’s boiling in here” said WO taking off his coat and gloves.
Within a few minutes both of them were down to fishing in their underpants, WO resplendant in a pair of Ralph Lauren boxers and Dave in dodgy greyish white Y fronts.
“Dave” asked WO “how have you got a fookin skid on the outside of yer undercrackers”
“I wear them for a week and then turn them inside out and wear them for another week”
“Saves on the washing bill” said Dave simply.
“Right” said Dave handing the lamp to his companion, “you shine that down the hole and I am going to jig a little silver spoon and see if it will flash in the beam.
Wisey pointed the light into the water and Dave lowered the lure into the depths. By jerking the rod he was able to get the little spoon flashing like a disco ball, a black shadow darted out of the darkness and hit it;
“I’m in” he grinned.
The fish after a powerful fight was eventually hauled through the hole “it’s a bloody great Perch” said WO excitedly.
A delighted ( fortunately dressed) Dave with his big perch.
With trembling fingers Dave dropped in again, Wisey shone the lamp down and the little lure, once more, started its flashing, ‘BANG’ the lure was hit with a savage take, it was so fast that neither of them had seen the fish approaching. Dave heaved on the rod and slowly gained line; the fish came grudgingly towards the surface until it sulked, just under the hole. “We need a bigger hole” he gasped.
“I bet you’ve never had to say that before” laughed Wise Owl, busily working the hand drill.
The hole was enlarged and Dave was able to drag the fish, a huge pike, onto the ice. “I think we may have found the method”.
“Certainly looks like it” agreed WO.
Quickly dressing, the two Drowners left the igloo and went to find Peter.
“Gather round lads” shouted Peter.
The Drowners all huddled around the ice hole whilst Dave and WO demonstrated their lamping method of fishing.
“Brilliant mate” said Trogg “but”, he continued, “it needs two of you, one to hold the lamp and one to work the jig”
“That is not a problem” said PG “I have just spoken to Kerin and it would appear that the rules here are a little less rigid than at home”
“How do you mean Pomp” asked Mick
“As many people as you wish can fish at the same hole, you can help each other, land each others fish and…..basically do what you like”
“How many in a team” asked Lee
“as many as you wish” said Pomp, “apparently they are huge affairs where the whole camp gets involved”.
Kerin was delighted that the Drowners had ‘come good’ and instructed the whole camp to attend a practice session the next morning.
“Strewth, it’s certainly a good turn out” said Sam looking out at the multitude of people who were busily trying out the new ‘Method of Light’ as it had been christened. The method was an unprecedented success and species of fish were being caught that hadn’t been seen for years.
The whole camp turned out for practice
Neil giving advice to a young eskimo lad
“Where’s Pomp” asked Lee
“Him and Scribe are in the kitchen igloo, with two lasses, going over recipe’s for the new fish that are being caught” replied Neil.
“Yeah, recipe’s” scoffed Wisey sarcastically.
“I bet they’re as happy as hungry baby’s in a topless bar” observed Neil.
Everyone cracked up, “I’ve said it before mate, and no doubt I’ll say it again; you don’t crack many jokes, but when you do, they’re good un’s” laughed Dave.
“Thank you” said Neil. “Now if you’ll excuse me I must go and write this up in my blog”
“It’s a shame we don’t get this sort of community spirit back home” bemoaned Trogg. “We could all learn a thing or two about decent living from these people”
“Agreed” sam sam wistfully
Later that night Kerin visited them “Tomorrow is your last day with us and I extend our greatest challenge”
“What is it mate” asked W63
“The test of manhood” came the chilling reply “if you are brave enough to accept it”
“Tell us what it is first” said Dave
“You have 2 hours and in that time you must drill a hole in the thickest part of the ice, enter the ice cave and wrestle the polar bear who dwells within and then satisfy Nel, the camp nymphomaniac”
“I can do that” scoffed Wise Owl
“You sure mate?” asked Trogg “Them polar bears are vicious”
“No worse than standing in the ‘Shed’ at stamford Bridge with a Leeds scarf on” laughed the llittle Yorkshireman.
Everyone laughed but it was with a sense of trepidation that they settled down for the night.
The next morning, after a sumptious breakfast feast and several cups of coffee Wise Owl and the rest of the team followed Kerin, Roki and the rest of the camp to a large ice cliff, a cave was clearly visible about 20 feet up the face.
“Here” said Kerin “dwells the bear and the place where you are standing is the thickest ice, are you ready Mr Owl”
“I was conceived ready” came the reply.
Kerin set his watch, “you have two hours………………..GO”
Wisey pulled the start cord on the engine of the drill, fortunately it started on the first pull; “he’s always been good with a tug” laughed Peter.
The drill bit into the ice, threatening to spin the gritty Yorkshireman off his feet. WO stamped the heels of his boots into the ice and hung on grimly. The drill gradually disappeared into the ice, “fook me it’s deep” yelled Wisey, the sweat starting to bead on his brow his skinny little legs started to shake and his arms felt like two pieces of licquorice. After what seemed an eternity he finally saw a puddle of water appear in the hole and the drill broke through.
Wisey gets stuck in.
Tossing the drill to one side he, wordlessly, strode across the ice and, scaling the cliff face he turned, waved to his friends and ducked inside the cave.
The bear he had to wrestle
The Drowners huddled together sombrely as they watched their comrade go into the cave.
“He’s gonna die” sniffed GB
“Don’t worry little buddy” consoled Trogg “he’s from Leeds, if it gets difficult he’ll run”
Everyone stopped talking and looked towards the cliff as a blood curdling growl echoed from the cave,
“C’mon Teddy bear, show us what you’ve got” they heard WO shout.
The growls grew in intensity and the rest of the team looked on anxiously, genuinely worried about their mate. Kerin, with rifle in hand, started towards the cliff “I need to end this” he explained. A beefy arm was placed against his chest “give him a few more minutes” said trogg.
Kerin nodded and waited with the rest of them.
The growls were growing in frequency and becoming more and more frightening in their intensity until suddenly there was a loud howl and the growls were replaced with whimpers.
The Drowners stood, tensely watching the cave for signs of Wisey, when they had virtually given up ever seeing him alive he appeared at the entrance; his clothes hung in tatters, he bled from a multitude of scratches and sported the start of a magnificent shiner.
“Raight, where’s this fookin nympho I’ve got to wrestle” he shouted.
There was a stunned, shocked silence as the crowd digested this information; someone giggled, this rapidly accelerated into laughter, as the mistake made by the tough little Drowner finally dawned on them. The whole village was in uproar, people were rolling on the floor, clinging to each other and holding their ribs. As Wise Owl approached them, the bear appeared in the mouth of the cave with a satisfied look on her face.
One ‘satisfied’ Bear.
Kerin walked over to Wise Owl and placing his hands on his shoulders he looked him straight in the eye and said “We are men; you and I”
Turning to the crowd he shouted, "the trial is over; our English friends have proven themselves."
‘Eskimo’ Nel who never met Wisey
A huge cheer went up and the whole village lined up to shake the hand of the first man in history to ‘satisfy’ a bear.
“You OK my boy” PG asked WO “I was worried about you”
“Me n’all” replied Wisey “halfway through I thought to myself that it would be much easier to wrestle it…..trust me to get that bit wrong”
“It was a superhuman effort” observed PG
“Not really mate, if you can survive a threesome with Anne and Serena you can tackle anything”
“There is that” chuckled Pomp.
Roki with his mum and Dad
The next morning Roki stood with his father, tears rolling down his face as he waved towards the plane that had just taken off carrying his new friends home.
“I was right father” he sniffed “they weren’t soft southern poufters”
“You were correct my son” replied Kerin “they are REAL men”