The Dawn Raiders
Those of you that have followed the stories of the ‘Dawn Raiders’ will know that the core group evolved around Percy. However quite some years ago there was if you like the ‘Junior Dawn Raiders’ Rob, John, Mick, Sluggy and myself (the infamous "Happy Hookers". I was the oldest of the group and also the poorest. Martin aka cloth-head sort of came along later as our boy, fetch this, fetch that and strangely even though he is in his 40’s is still treated the same. Anyway we were all keen match anglers and enjoyed raiding matches on the Cam, and Middle Ouse. If we were not in the pub we were fishing. Such was our keenness that the closed season was torture until we started raids to Lincolnshire, Denmark and Holland. One year we decided to end the season on the Broads. This was always a favourite with anglers as the fish shoaled up in the boatyards. Anyway someone booked a campsite chalet for a week and we were off. I think there were 6 of us, we had two cars and as we set off the gallons of maggots we had took priority, we carefully made sure they did not overheat. Never mind that we were frozen in the back, so long as the maggots were o.k. then everything was fine. The maggots were kept in two great big plastic trays. Now the Broads in March are quite deserted apart from the anglers and so when we arrived at the site we were the only ones resident for the week. The thing was we were staying in what was sort of like a summerhouse and was asbestos sheet clad without any insulation. Even though Mick and John were younger it has to be said that they were a lot more sharper than myself. I’m sort of a Rodney/Trigger. Anyhow when they said that I could sleep in the second bunk bed in the bedroom with Sluggy because I was the oldest, I thought they were being kind. After all the other four would sleep on the floor in the kitchen sitting area. They did snigger but I thought nothing of it. I had my nice sleeping bag, so everything was lumdy dumdy. The first night we turned in at about 1pm after consuming a huge pile of fish and chips and beers. We all just collapsed where we were to sleep, but Sluggy no – he washed, shaved and cleaned his teeth and kept us awake for another half-hour. He came in to the room and as I was half asleep I did not notice that he fully opened the window – “Do you mind” he said. “I have to sleep with the window open, I like the fresh air”. This was the beginning of March and you know we were getting those sharp frosts. I did not take it in as I had consumed far too much beer. Now this shack thing got really cold and damp. To keep the maggots lively the lads had put the trays in front of the only electric fire - that might give you an idea of how cold it was. At 3pm I awoke with a raging headache but not only that I was frozen. I was shivering. No way was Sluggy going to shut the window, so I had to drag the bed into the sitting room and kip down with the others, realising I had been set-up. Dawn was upon us and we all surfaced. Sluggy was the cook and I tell you what with all huge breakfasts tomatoes, bacon, eggs, beans, sausages, fried bread, the lot. This was to be the same all week, along with beer and fish and chips. I honestly could not face fish and chips for at least 6 months after that and a bowl of shreddies was something to die for but the first few days, it was heaven. We all set up around this marina and started to catch the odd Roach. I was told I had to cast in to the middle and so I followed the instructions. It was not long in to the session when it happened. I cast and as I did there was this huge crack. My glass fibre rod broke in to two, but sort of splintered and so after the initial cracking sound there was a sound like smashing glass. The rod sort of broke and then in slow motion fell to the ground. Everybody except me laughed and you know when one starts the others get worse. Well, Mick’s laugh has always been one of those sort of infectious dirty ones and so after about 5 minutes he was actually in tears. As I mentioned before I was poor – some say tight, but anyway I had only the one float rod so that was it for me until John came to my rescuer with one of his. I have not been let off this story and ever so often it gets told again to my embarrassment. But worse still I have never been forgiven for what I did a couple of days later. You see I could not take anymore, the cold, the food, the beer and no change of clothes for 4 days. I negotiated an escape route at the Stalham Boatyard. We met up with Lacy, purely by chance. Could I get a lift back with him? Yes. Now it was nothing personal, it’s just that I could not take anymore but as I say I have never been forgiven for my disappearance halfway through the trip and so ever since I have sort of been excluded from little events like going to Dublin this New Year aaaah bless.