A Life Less Scary
"The interesting and varied life of Scary Duck, Genius, French Cabaret Chantoose and small bets placed."
"The Way of the Exploding Fish"
"Come on you Jessies, it's not over yet!"
WARNING: “The following paragraphs contain scenes of fish filleting which some readers may find disturbing.”
My thanks to Mr.Sphinx for pointing out the obvious joke I should have used in the title. This story is now renamed in his honour.
Fishing. What the bloody hell is that all about? Sit for hours on end next to some poxy lake on the half chance that some fish will be stupid enough to bite the hook you’ve left lyng around for them. My brother loved fishing. Matt next door loved fishing. Whole swarms of kids would descend on the gravel pits of a weekend, grasping rods and icky green boxes of maggots. My dad was yet another fishing nut, and virtually threw me out of the door with a rod in my hand so he could enjoy a quiet kid-free weekend. I wasted hours waiting for something to happen. What a waste of life. I want it back.
I soon found out that I wasn’t the only kid forced down the lakes against their will. After approximately ten minutes of tedium, you’d give up altogether and go for a walk, where you’d find kindred spirits wishing they were doing something, anything more interesting. Matt, it turned out, despite his faux enthusiasm for the hobby, was one of them and would do anything to slack off. We also found John and Squagg, victims of their parents’ desire for a quiet Saturday in. Geoff, on the other hand, loved fishing. He had all the gear, several rods, keep net, landing net, stool, and a little tent thing. He represented everything we hated about fishing. He had to die.
He also had one gadget that immediately caught our eye. A ground bait catapault. It was a genuine catapault that you used to fire off handfuls of maggots into the middle of the lake to attract the fish. It didn’t take us long to see that this had possibilities...
“Dad? Can I have some money for a ground bait catapault?”
Next weekend we went to the lakes suitably armed. Catapault. Marbles. Large stockpile of French bangers purchased on a recent trip to Calais, huge double dose of maggots straight out of the vending machine at the garage. Yes - a VENDING MACHINE! How gross is that? How many customers mistook it for a coke machine and got a wriggling mass of bluebottle larvae? The mind boggles. And who, in the name of our lady of donkey poop, had the job of keeping the thing topped up?
And so it came to pass that after a token ten minutes of fishing (total catch, as usual = NIL) we’d had enough and went in search of Geoff. And sure enough, he was in is usual place just below the weir, all his gear laid out nicely and all set for a day of rollercoaster excitement that is coarse fishing. We left him alone. For a bit. No point COMPLETELY ruining his day. So we took turns at pissing in the mill pond near him before we set to work.
Pang! The first handful of maggots was shot out of the catapault and caught Geoff square in the back. The wrigglers bounded off his parka coat, and in a rather pleasing result, several ended up in his lunch box. By firing into the air from under cover of bushes, we found we could simulate a rather pleasing heavenly shower of maggots coming in from all directions. How we laughed. Geoff takes a bite of sandwich. He eats a maggot. Laughter turns to screams of horror and retching. We legged it, trying to hold onto our breakfasts.
It wan’t long before we were back, pelting him with maggots, marbles and bits of mud, but the novelty soon wore thin. There’s only so much unanswered cruelty you can hand out before you get bored. It wasn’t long before we came across Lewis. Lewis was our friendly local psychopath, who was made to go fishing in an attempt to calm him down. It was not, however, a complete success. Lewis was only interested in fishing for pike, the fishy equivalent of the football hooligan, which he then proceeded to whup over the head with a stick to kill them.
“Hey lads!”, said Lew, “Look what I’ve got!”
It was a whopper of a pike, about two feet long, huge spiky teeth and stone dead, something to do with the club hammer lying on the ground next to it. At a guess.
“D’you want it?” he asked.
A plan formed in our heads. An evil one. Of course we wanted it. We paid him in maggots, sweets, marbles and french bangers. He was pleased. We we did next was neither big nor clever, and PETA activists will hate me for it. But...
A few minutes and a short time “preparing” the fish later we returned to Geoff's fishing hole. Needless to say, the Firework Code never warned us about sticking bangers up a dead fish’s arse. So we were in the clear, then.
“Hey Geoff! Look what we’ve got!”
“Wow! That’s a beauty! Can I hold it?”
“Of course you can mate, of course you can. Could you weigh it for us while we’re here?”
Instructions for Blowing Up Fish:
I should, at this point, tell you that French bangers are nothing like the girlie ones you buy in the shops in England running up to Bonfire Night. These ones are about four to six inches long, an inch across and look exactly like you’d expect a stick of dynamite to resemble. They also produced a bang to match. In short, they were evil. And thoroughly illegal in the UK You’re running a bit of a risk trying to get them back from France without the plod finding out and sticking them where the sun don’t shine. Sideways.
- Congratulations for purchasing this Semtex Primed Explosive Fish! This fine piece of equipment will give you several seconds of enjoyment if used according to the manufacturers manual.
- Light fuse sticking out of pike’s mouth with “pretending to look hard” cigarette cadged off Lew.
- Hand over fine, yet dead, aquatic specimen to unsuspecting victim.
- Stand well back.
- Fill out guarantee card.
“Yup”, said Geoff, “she’s a real beauty. Six pounds at least...”
There was a less-than-muffled explosion as Pikey went off in a shower of fish guts. Geoff took the full force, falling off his stool to land on his arse in the lake, legs flailing around madly.
“You bastards! Just wait till I tell my mum!” he shouted through a goo-splattered face.
He didn’t need to. In one of those turns of fate that could only happen in a not-made-up-at-all tale such as this, the Bailiff chose this very moment to come round to check our fishing licences. And face it, he didn’t like what he saw. Especially if your professional career is dedicated to stopping pimply thirteen year old youths sitting up to their waists in the drink, covered in fish guts and holding onto the smoking tail end of a recently deceased fish.
That rather-too-familiar quote: “What the bloody hell is going on here?”
It was a fair cop. The Bailiff gave us a right old bollocking and took away our fishing permits, telling us never to show our faces on “his” lake ever again. Gutted, I don’t think. We’d managed to get out of the weekend fishing chore for once and for all and there was nothing our parents could do about it. But nothing could have saved us from the onslaught we got from Geoff’s mum later that day. There is just no defence against a mad forty-something battleaxe with a grudge. Especially one armed with half a fish and right on her side...
Geoff, if you’re reading this, we’re really, really sorry.
While this story is based on actual events in the life of Scaryduck, certain identities and venues may have been changed to protect the innocent.