By Paul O’Grady
Lawrence Dormady was one of life’s characters. He once took his girlfriend to a restaurant and asked the waiter for a pint of wine. On being told by a snotty waiter â€œWe don’t serve wine by the pint sirâ€, he said â€œOk, I’ll have a glass of wine please and a pint glass.â€ The waiter came back with the wine and the glass. â€œI’ll have a glass of wine pleaseâ€ said Laurie and off went the waiter again. This of course was repeated until the glass was full. â€œThat wasn’t hard was it?â€ said Laurie caustically.
He was also an excellent angler. He had to be because when he went fishing, it was important that he caught fish. That’s what he went fishing for, unlike me who doesn’t care at all if I don’t catch as long as it’s been a good day in nice surroundings.
As usual, there were four or five of us on that Sunday morning, fishing for Pike on the Military Canal near Appledore, literally on the Kent/Sussex border. We all lived in London and went Piking every Sunday. The format was simple. Get down there and tackled up for first light. Fish hard â€˜til 12 o’clock when the pub opened. If we’d had a good morning, we would go home from the pub after consuming a few bevvies. If we’d had a bad morning it would be a couple of swift ones and back to the fishing.
This worked very well and we all enjoyed the craic, even if you had to endure the ribbing from Laurie in the pub if you were blanking thus far. He invariably had caught fish and took great delight in taking the Michael if you hadn’t. We all suffered Laurie’s jibing at one time or another but it was all given and taken in fun so no-one minded really.
Then, on one brilliant sunshiny Sunday the â€œLaw Of Averagesâ€ caught up with him. We had to drag Laurie to the pub because (you guessed it) he was the only one who hadn’t caught anything. You can only imagine the tongue lashing he had to endure that lunch-time. The whole pub was ringing with taunts and laughter. We had been doing this for so long, we were on first name terms with most of the Red Lion clientele and they joined in.
Laurie was not amused and as soon as we’d got a couple of pints down our necks he said â€œCome on then, let’s get back to the fishingâ€. It was such a nice day and we were all in such a good mood that we let him persuade us to go back to the canal.
So there we were, Laurie fishing like a maniac to my right about 30yds away, Paul Nicholls to my left about the same distance. There was a line of water lilies and other plants that grew parallel to the far bank and we were casting into the gaps where the swims were on the far side. We were fishing sprats, sink and draw style and every now and again I would leave it on the bottom for a while. I can only assume that something picked up either mine or Laurie’s bait and took it along the back of the weeds. All I know is I started to reel in and, out of the corner of my eye I saw Laurie spark into the pose that says â€œthat was a takeâ€. He took the bale arm off and waited. I gave another twitch and his response confirmed that I had him. I half whispered to Paul to come and watch. What happened next couldn’t have been scripted better. I reeled in to simulate a running fish. Laurie waited, then closed the bale arm on the reel and struck. His rod bent double and he started running off at the mouth about â€œYou’se bunch of ****s with yer free samples. I’ve got the f****** plug ereâ€ and many other words to that effect.
Paul and I were convulsed with laughter. I was flat on my back, with tears streaming down my face trying desperately to hold on to my rod which was in danger of being pulled out of my hand.
I won’t repeat what he said when he realized what was happening but you can imagine he wasn’t a happy bunny.
Laurie never did catch anything that day and had to suffer again all the way back to London.
I suppose this is what the yanks mean when they say â€œwhat goes around, comes aroundâ€.
Sadly, Laurie died while quite young of a brain Hemorrhage and although this all happened a long time ago, I still miss him a lot. I’ve no doubt that, wherever he is, he’ll enjoy re-living that day with me here. He won’t be laughing out loud but there will be an up-turn to the corners of his mouth.
Paul O’Grady -2003