Canal Walks

April 28, 2012


Those of you, who’ve followed these articles, may recall mention of a friend of mine, Scouse Martin, who passed away recently?

We first met as teenagers, in the Army, but did not immediately take to each other. Both on the boxing team, both light-welterweights, with a similar number of wins and virtually the same level of ability, it was a cause of disagreement that I officially represented the first string and Pat, as those around him knew him, was the second string. With each programme produced, showing our team positions, there would be bad feeling between us. Looking back now, I feel I can understand Pat’s point of view because he had the edge, as a more physical presence in the ring, being a fighter, with several KO’s and stoppages to his credit, whereas mine were point decisions.

Our barracks were located two or three miles from the village of Frimley Green which was our Mecca for meeting girls. The road seemed inordinately long to us young Lotharios but, if one walked along the towpath of the Basingstoke Canal, it did seem much shorter. The waterway had been in disuse for many years, was thick with weed and detritus, and was only about two feet deep in most places.

One bright Sunday afternoon I was on my way to the village, idly dead heading dandelions with a stick as I walked, when I saw a couple coming towards me, accompanied by a large black dog. It was Pat, with Pamela, an ex-girlfriend of mine, and her Bouvier des Flandres, on a chain leash. Pamela was a very attractive young woman, as I recall, with longish dark hair and an eye for fashion, wearing on that occasion, a swagger coat of shocking pink. Her dog, whose name I can’t recollect, was at the top range of size and weight for his breed. He was an active, very playful, mountain of curls, made to look ridiculous, in my opinion, by Pamela’s penchant for tying a bright electric blue ribbon to his top knot.

Naturally, I pretended not to see them and attempted to walk past casually without acknowledgement but Pat stopped me.

“Pam’s been telling me about you and what you’re like,” he said, pulling the dog back on the leash to sit by his foot.
I stopped decapitating dandelions.
“And?”
“Don’t ‘and’ me,” Pat said, I assumed, in an effort to impress his recently acquired girlfriend,” Or I’ll teach you a lesson.”
“You teach me a lesson?” I knew exactly what would rile him and deliberately set out to bring it to the fore. “You’re with an ex of mine, and you don’t know why you are always second string?”

As Pat stepped forward threateningly I threw the stick to one side, into the canal, to free my hands and get into a position to retaliate when, one hundred and twenty pounds of black, heavily-muscled, cow herder launched itself into the canal to retrieve the stick, taking the self-shackled Scouse with him.

Unfortunately, for Pat, but definitely not for me, the dog’s chain was firmly wrapped around his wrist. And like Mary’s little lamb, wherever Pamela’s dog went, Scouse was sure to go. The sight of Pat, knee deep in dank, green blanket weed trying to restrain the boisterous Bouvier and maintain his balance, caused me to laugh out loud. As opposed to infuriating Pat, he too saw how ludicrous the situation was and erupted into laughter. Pamela just looked bemused.

Many times in the years that followed, when Pat and I would meet up at reunions or funerals, the canal incident would be mentioned. It differed,in one small detail only, when Pat was recounting the event.

In his version, it would be me, who went canine aqua skiing,not him.

2 Responses to “Canal Walks”

  1. Gary Says:

    Ok! I have laught at you short stories so it’s time for you to put them all in a book. You have some real treasures that need to be immortilized. Time is wasting old friend.

  2. Robert Davidson Says:

    Gary, thanks and what you say is true. Soon as I gedt back from HH I’ll get down to it.


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