26 November 2011
I really can say that today was not my own. After my early-morning struggle with my Dragon which was in even an even more mischievous mood than normal, Harriet, the boss of Ross nursing, came round to check that all was well and to make one too fine adjustments to the jobs of her carers carried out on each visit. I can say without reservation that both Alice and I are delighted with the service we are receiving – the boys and girls come around here are fun and efficient.
After Harriet and left was time for lunch and then Craig’ the computer came round pursuant and was here until 4.00. Then my lovely came in the and a bit of a chat and so the day went by uneventfully.
Seeing the obvious thrill oF surfing in yesterday’s entry (on what incidentally I was never very good) I was reminded of my own exploits in Australia 30 or so years earlier, not in surfing but in water skiing. Having a speedboat at Barwon Heads, a favourite weekend retreat from Melbourne where we spent quite a lot of time in the summer water skiing. After a couple of years or so I became quite proficient. In fact I could waterski backwards on a mono ski, ski on a ski with no keel and do a double act with another skier involving a board and a stool. I was pretty good and knew it!
My job was such that I moved from state to state living for around six months in every state capital except Perth.When I went to work in Brisbane, in Queensland, I spent quite a lot of time in Surfers Paradise, which, in those days, was just beginning to take off as a tourist resort. I was determined to keep up with my water skiing so in my lunch hours I used to go down to a local lake where I had arranged to have half an hours skiing. In those days I wore, long white socks, starched white shorts and a short sleeve shirt and tie. Of course the temperature in the summer in Surfers Paradise was quite high, I can’t remember just quite high but nevertheless it certainly wasn’t suit weather for the office.
My practice was to go to the lake, two or three times a week, for a prearranged workout. I would removed my long socks and shoes, sit on edge of the quay, holding the end of the rope and as the boat came round, and the rope tightened, step onto the water and off I would go. After two or three circuits I would drop the rope and glide smoothly into the shore step out of my ski, dry my legs put my socks and shoes again and go back to the office. In other words I was very cocky about my skill as a water skier and was confident enough to wear my clothes believing that I could confidently believe the only thing that would get wet when my legs, below the knees.
The boys driving the boat, not too fine a point on it, got pissed off with this cocky pommy and were determined to put me in my place. On this particular day I went my usual routine, socks and shoes off, as usual stepped off the quay and started to ski. Unbeknown to me the had got a much more powerful boat than usual and instead of driving round in front of me and turned back towards me forcing me to ski away from them, in a wide circle, in order to keep the rope tight, before going on their way. Whis meant that I had to go through something like 270Â°, at around 85 miles an hour in order to get back on my line. It was so fast that my cheeks flapped, my eyes streamed so I couldn’t really see where I was going and the ski felt as though I was going across a rough concrete road. Inevitably three quarters of the way around this circle I fell off. I bounced like one Wallace bouncing bomb in the Dambusters. I must have made at least three or four bounces before I actually entered the water which, as it had been planned, was where all the slimy weeds grew. I was complete a smashed and the when the boys came back to fish me out they dumped this filthy, slimy, but contrite, pommy, unceremoniously in the boat drove me back to the shore, laughing their heads off as they went. I quickly saw the funny side of it and joined in. We became firm friends after that but in the meantime I had no choice but to go home and get some clean clothes. I had certainly learned my lesson, never to show off, again particularly in front of Aussies.
30 years or so later, in Wales, Williams William-Wynne invited son Miles to waterski. In fact Smiler had never done it before, but being young, quickly picked it up and after half an hour or so was reasonably proficient on two skis. I sat on the beach watching the young people going through their paces. In the end, before he packed up, William turned to me and asked if I would like to have a go I said, trying to look modest it looked rather fun and I would like to have a try.
Of course, I never mentioned the fact that at one stage I was considered to be quite proficient at it. My plan was to start on two skis and, as soon as I was up, drop the right ski, adroitly slide my foot into the second foothold on the left ski and surprise the youngsters by giving them a display of my skilful skiing.
The first snag came when William insisted that I wore a life jacket. I had skied for years and in my youth and would not have been seen dead in one. However, not wishing to give the game away, I acceded. After a little instruction from William I entered the water with the two skis on, grasped the rope and lay back, with the two skis protruding above the water, before giving the nod for the boat to move off. As it happened it had a powerful engine capable of 45 knots.
As William thrust the throttle forward, in attempting to get straight up, my legs parted and practically split me in two. I felt rather like a butcher’s carcass that was being cut in half with a cleaver. They dragged me out and dumped it on the shore in a considerable degree of pain, making all the usual noises about bad luck and good effort for the first time, and all that. I thought this is utterly ridiculous and after I had recovered, I insisted on having another go. I was still determined to give them a dazzling display of my skilful skiing. This time when they gunned the motor forward I wobbled my way up onto two skis and, with my bum sticking out, very shakily completed one circuit before falling off in front of the admiring crowd of youngsters who congratulated me on a good effort for a first attempt!
I never did tell them about my previous exploits as a master waterskier. What I had overlooked was that in the intervening 30 years or so, a) I was that much older and be) my muscles were completely unused to the stresses and strains put upon them suddenly after such a long break. So much for showing off. I hope I learned my lesson!.
Here is the most appropriate piece of media I have available at present reflecting this entry. Please forgive the rather coarse language but if I tone it down it rather loses the point. Click here to open it