larry letdown

Following on from last months rather light hearted observation based piece on the people we fish with, it occurred to me that perhaps I had only just scratched the surface when it comes to weighing up those interesting characters that we happen upon during our time by the sea.
My morning commute to work is always a good time to think, about all kinds of things going on within our existence (especially right now) and I’m sure I can’t be alone in that.

One particular morning I found myself contemplating just how ‘couplings’ within fishing come to be and often, how they don’t, given that we often lead such hectic busy lives and our schedules seldom align. It’s rare that I fish alone nowadays, be it guiding or my own personal exploits there’s always someone alongside sharing the experience, but it does become frustrating when you’re all set for a session and your ‘other half’ suddenly can’t make it. To be stood up at the last minute (note ‘Larry Letdown’, HookPoint Magazine, October issue) in any area of life is hugely frustrating but the greatest pain is knowing you could and should be fishing. All dressed up and nowhere to go comes to mind and the settled weather coupled with a perfect tide only adds to the unshakeable despair that ends all too often in a short and bitter-sweet alcohol based mire of self pity.

The Larry character is actually prevalent within all walks of life, but when you really get to know him through those fishing trips that weren’t shelved at the eleventh hour, you come to realise that there’s often a reason behind his flakey enthusiasm. Now, in 2020 I don’t for one second wish to be branded sexist, chauvinist or any other fashionable derogatory term, but in this very instance and as much as I hate to say it, the female of the species is often at the heart of the problem. I only speak as I find, so any ladies that happen across this piece please do write it off as lighthearted cheek. You’re all lovely really.

Most anglers, at least the ones I know, have fished from a very young age. The innocence of youth is a great thing (it’s a real shame you only discover this later on in life) and when your only concern is the best way to tether your fishing rod to the crossbar of your push bike, the world is actually your oyster. You begin to live and breathe fishing, it becomes the most important thing in your life. Schoolwork and family occasions may occasionally plunder your efforts but together with your chums, you embark on many outdoor adventures.

bike with a fishing rod resting on it
A bike, a rod and not a worry in the world... how we wish we only knew how good we had it at the time

Boots are lost to the mud, rod tips chewed off by the spikes of your best friends mountain bike (true story that) and although such happenings hurt at the time they are short lived and your passion and excitement for being by the sea are dictated to only by the tides and the weather. Pocket money just about keeps you in bait and your ill-equipped tackle box is regularly topped up courtesy of the spring low water mark. Bed and board is free, you receive two hot meals a day and all that is on your mind is fishing, fishing and more fishing.

This boyhood dream that you are living out lasts for some years and you think that perhaps it might last forever. It’s all you know and it’s all you ever want to know.

The years begin to trundle by and as they do, you undergo ‘that’ change.
The girls whose hair you once pulled in the school playground and generally avoided because ‘all girls smell’ have also grown up and for whatever reason you begin to look at them in a different way.

Some time later you discover the joys of drink and realise that having a good time with your mates doesn’t always have to involve falling over on slippery rocks in the dark attempting to catch fish. Alcohol can do funny things to a young man and when members of the opposite sex are factored in to the equation, fishing, as it was at least, begins to make its way to the back of your mind. Sad though it is, we all come to realise this given enough time and before we know it, we’re settled down and no longer at the helm of our own destiny. That special someone now has dual control over the good-ship-fishing and alas, this is often how the  Larry that is within all of us comes to the fore.

No matter the time of any gap, fishing will always be there to return to

Larry the let down doesn’t want to be a let down, but given the choice of a night on the rocks with you and the threat of the draughty spare bedroom that same night, it’s rare that he neglects the lady in his life and her untimely demands to go perusing the soft furnishings aisle of Dunelm or to accompany her to the local garden centre in search of those essential bedding plants. When I actually think about the Larry situations that I have encountered in recent times, I struggle to recall a single one that didn’t involve the intervention of a woman. And I do actually feel sorry for Larry. His ‘better half’ will care not for the pound of prime lugworm that you have collected for him during the week prior to your planned trip, neither the fact that his new rod was delivered to your house just yesterday (in a covert attempt to go undetected…Who am I kidding, the bank statements never lie) and that has been responsible for him harbouring some guilty excitement shown only as a slipped maniacal grin based on giving it a damn good thrashing. No. She only has eyes for that king sized valance and those stupid bedding plants that will wither and die before too long anyway, much like that pound of lovely lugworm that some poor soul broke his back for on the other side of the country last weekend.

With the onset of further responsibilities and the continued erosion of what was once boyish adventure, Larry finds himself in a situation that I’m certain many will relate to. Add some children in to the mix and things get tougher still. Their demands on both time and money push Larry to the edge, but he’s quite literally made his bed, as we all eventually do and he has to lie in it.

But Larry will be back. He may make a couple of false starts, but he will find his way back to the fold eventually. The irony is that it will probably become a case of him being pushed as opposed to begging for some freedom, by which time, your life itself might have taken an unpredicted turn and you now find yourself in what was recently his own predicament. They say you can’t live with them and you can’t live without them, but we do and we do. The one thing that remains true is that fishing will always be there for us to pick up on when the time is right, even if the fish might not be. But thats another story for another time and I might have had chance to touch upon it had I not promised to take a look at the blocked bathroom extractor fan.


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