Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Saturday 14th November 1936

Ready for the journey home with an hour or so to spare, I went down to Frank’s and asked for a skiff. He thought I was a bit mad but let me have one. How the flood whirled me downstream when I pulled out from the bank! The Witchery backwater was swollen to the former size of the river. Everything seemed different, with the trees and bushes bare; the water brown instead of green. Desertion!

An arduous pull upstream. Then I tackled the Colne, which was comparatively easy.
Bell Weir pool was a boiling saucepan. The little islet of reeds was submerged.
I paddled about here sometime, the boat rocking, cross currents twisting me to and fro. Eventually an eddy took me towards the spouting, turbulent falls. Suddenly realised it was too rough to adopt my usual plan of cutting across into the downstream current just below the falls. I went into some bushes with the upstream current on my beam. I smoked three cigarettes whilst struggling to get out of that position! No space to swing my sculls and I dare not approach the falls with sculls shipped. It would have been a space of seconds between pushing off and going upstream into the falls. Yes, I was afraid.

Eventually, (twilight) I managed to turn and reach the lower end of the pool. Then I drifted downstream, steering with a scull over the stern.

(1982 : That was the last voyage!)

Arrived at the digs about 5:15. Left for Ealing within 10 minutes. Nice that I did not have to do a weekend’s packing. Had time for a cup of tea at the station and travelled cosily (GWR), reading a naval thriller.

Returned by the 10:10 down. Supper, and bed about 12 o’clock. Within about 5 minutes of getting into bed, toothache began and lasted until daylight – about 6:30. Hell!
When I was called, soon before eight o’clock, the tooth ache was gone!

Thank Heavens!


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