There will come a time in the life of a fishing widow when your teenaged anglers decide that they want to go on a fishing holiday with their friends, one of whom has access to his mother's car for the week. Of course they do. It's all part of the growing up process, the beginning of the severance of apron strings and do you really want them still under your feet when they're forty? You will have to bite your tongue, sit on your hands and let them go. How else will they learn how to be an adult?
The first few times, for financial reasons, will be camping jobs. They'll tell you not to worry. They are Hard. They are Men. He, of the cushy number - food prepared, laundry done, bed made, hot water on tap, free telephone and living in Liberty Hall - is going to have to fend for himself, on a beach, in a tent, for a whole week. 'Piece of cake,' he will tell you, shrugging off your dire warnings of being cold at night, hungry by day, tired through trying to sleep in unfamiliar surroundings, the possibility of haemorrhoids brought about through sitting in cold, damp places and having to shave in his morning tea.
They will set off for the wilds of Wales, early one misty morning. Four hulking great young men squashed into a small Fiesta with enough equipment around them to see them through a nuclear disaster. The tents are stowed on the roof rack together with four suitcases and a crate of tinned food, which has been purloined, over a matter of months, from the store cupboards of four households.
Water containers are forced into the boot, now empty after you have casually mentioned that they might save a drop of petrol if they fill them on arrival at their destination, rather than cart eight gallons of precious southern rainfall 300 miles, or so. Rods and reels are cuddled all the way to Anglesey.
Dave Barham (right) - The Really Mature Bloke From Total Sea Fishing!The remote field, adjacent to the beach, belongs to a farmer who is the cousin of an aunt by marriage of a friend's friend. Hardly a close connection but they speak about him as if they've known him for years and everything is going to be 'wicked.' They can't wait to get away from the monotony of three hot meals a day and a solid roof over their heads.
There will be a brief telephone call, several hours later, with a tale of the inexperienced driver travelling several miles on the hard shoulder of the motorway - until one of the equally inexperienced passengers spotted his mistake and yelled at their friend until he pulled over on to the inside lane. They are O.K. though. They made it and can't wait to pitch camp, break open the lager and get a hook in the water.
Two days later, after 6 p.m. because it's cheap rate, there will be a reversed charge telephone call from North Wales. They have run out of money, food, clean underpants and seem to have been unable to lure anything at all towards their hooks - let alone cook it and survive on fish for the rest of their holiday. They are sick of Kendal Mint Cake which is all they have left, in the store, that is edible and they'll be home tomorrow evening.
You will be pleaded with to go shopping early the following morning for the ingredients to construct a huge banquet - for four - to be ready and accessible the moment they hurtle through the door towards the kitchen. They are starving, they say. They've used all the fuel for the portagas cooker and all they have is a loaf of bread and a small amount of cheese, which they managed to buy from the farmer, with loose change gleaned from various trouser pockets.
It's extremely dark in the countryside, they will whimper over the length of telephone cable. There are no streetlights and last night there was no moon either.
'Scared? Who us?' followed by derisory but slightly nervous laughter. Later, when they are safely home, they'll tell you that they slept with the torches on, a sentry awake, waiting for the trip rope, hung with empty tin cans, to rattle in the night.
They heard strange, heavy breathing in the small hours and peered cautiously out of the tent flap, expecting to see a Welshman pursuing his lady. It turned out to be hedgehogs mating and you will be told, with the utmost glee, that they sounded just like human beings 'at it.' How do they know this? That's what worries me. It seems to have been the highlight of their trip.
Their camping trip was O.K. they will tell you, on their return, loath to admit that your warnings may have been even half-right, but next time they'll consider Bed and Breakfast as an option. It will be a while yet, though. They will wait until they can afford it and at least until the Fiesta's exhaust pipe has been replaced. It dropped off around Birmingham.