Monday, October 29, 2007

On sailing ...

This is a true story, nothing has been changed to protect the innocent.

Something like ten years ago an old schoolfriend of mine (who sometimes reads this blog, we'll call him Richard - hello Richard if you're reading today, for that is his real name) rang and asked if I'd like to go sailing on Lake Windermere with him.

Bear in mind that I'd known him since he was 11 years old, I had to declare my suprise that he was even the slightest bit interested in the art of sailing, he wasn't he replied, but he knew someone who was and they'd sort of established this annual jaunt to the Lake District where eight of them hired a 40 foot yacht, just like the one in the picture, without the sunshine and the totty in the bikini - they had a spare berth, for he spoke in nautical terms, and would I like to make up the crew ?

I accepted his Kings shilling and we made off for Bowness on Windermere and the start of a long weekend of drinking lots of beer, sipping of soup and trying our damnest to scupper a £100,000 yacht that we had hired for just £80 a head (x 8) being that it was the first week of the winter season in November and no-one in their right mind hired said yacht at this time.

The only reason that we could hire the magnificent sailing craft was that one of the group had a yachtmasters licence and so we merrily sailed up and down Windermere for three days, mainly drunk, mainly stopping at every pub which had a landing place on the lake, and at those which didn't have a jetty we'd hoist out the tiny little two man dingy and row to shore, four at a time, three standing as there wasn't room to sit, holding onto each other as if our lifes depended on keeping the smaller-than-bathtub sized craft from turning over, all of this achieved while being drunk - it was great fun.

It came to pass that one of our party was a schoolteacher and because he had a school to teach he couldn't travel to The Lake District on the Friday morning with the rest of us but sped up there in his little schoolteachers car as soon as the school bell hit 3pm, he assured us that he was out of the school gate long before the bell had stopped ringing and long before any of his pupils.

But because he had been in such a rush to join us he had forgotten to go to the bank and in those days there was a serious lack of cash machines to withdraw your weekends spending money on a Friday evening, no matter though, we all chipped in and lent him the money, he was a schoolteacher, we trusted him.

Saturday evening came around and it was voted upon to ajourn to a chinese restaurant in Bowness where an eight person buffet lasted all of the night and consisted of several dozen courses, and beer, it sounded fun, we did it. Table for eight and late at night with bellies distended by at least twelve courses of rice with something different each time, and beer, we all withdrew our wallets to pay the bill which was of a proportion sufficient to blow the whole beer budget for the weekend, not to wory though, for our schoolteacher had a plan.

His plan was to use his credit card to pay the bill, take the cash from the table that we had all contributed as our share to the bill and use the cash to pay us back what he owed us. It sounded fine as a plan and repeating it to myself all of these years later I still think that as a plan it sounds fine - we all paid our share of the bill, he paid the whole bill with his credit card, he paid us back the money he owed us with our own money that we'd paid the chinese bill with - see, its ok, there is no con there, even though it sounds like there should be.

All was well, we had a magnificent weekend and we parted late on Sunday with vows to do the same thing again next year - drive off into the winter sunset.

A few weeks later I received a call from him, he sounded very sheepish, the conversation went something like the conversations that Chris Tarant has with the "phone a friend" people on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire", there was no small talk, he simply said to me that the next voice I would hear would be his wife and that I should answer truthfully and honestly and not try and be funny or make up silly jokes.

At that point his wife snatched the phone off him and asked in a very abrupt voice what it was that we had done on the Saturday night in Bowness, I thought for a moment and then decided against dropping him in it, "we went to a chinese restaurant" I told her truthfully and honestly, she asked if that was all and I confirmed yes, that was all, she slammed the phone down.

The following week I saw him in a pub and he thanked me for telling the truth adding that his wife had made him dial up all seven of us and tell her what it was we'd been doing on the Saturday night.

I didn't understand what her problem was until he took out his credit card bill for that month and showed me the entry where he'd paid for the chinese meal on the Saturday night - £140 credited to "The House of Pleasure".

And him a schoolteacher too...


Anonymous said...

Loved that!

Is today Wednesday ?

Grannymar said...

Great story Gary.

Did the teacher ever live it down?

Gary said...

Did he ever live it down ?

You don't think that we would let such an opportunity slip do you ?

Anonymous said...

Il semble que vous soyez un expert dans ce domaine, vos remarques sont tres interessantes, merci.

- Daniel