Do your grandchildren ever delight in hearing your stories of yesteryear? From time to time I am asked by some of mine, “please Grandpa, tell us another story of what you did in the olden days”.
It was in the late summer of 1966. The cool winds had already begun to blow. This is how it is in Lancashire, North West England. I had just graduated from Art School, near Liverpool. The cool air reverberated with the ever-increasing sounds of the Beatles. I prided myself for being able to sing every song that they had released up till then. Life was full of excitement anticipation and song.
Back then it was customary for graduating students to conjure up and then participate in all manner of mischievous public pranks. The more outrageous and attention grabbing the better. It was seen and tolerated as our rite of passage, and in many instances would even bring a wry smile to the faces of many of the hardened and struggling locals. The local authorities disliked this practice immensely and would even warn us in advance to not over-step our marks. Naturally we ignored their warnings.
Picture a group of students with Beatle-style haircuts packed tightly into a delivery van together with all manner of hardware materials – wood, wire, rolls of black plastic, nails, hammers, etc, heading north out of Blackpool towards the wilds of Scotland singing our hearts out…she loves you yeah, yeah, yeah…she loves you… I was in that van. Loch Ness was our destination.
Upon arriving on the southern shore of the mysterious Loch we encountered a group of photographers and others gazing out over its frigid waters. I asked them what were they doing and was told that this was a permanent camp set up for Loch Ness monster adherents, photographers and researchers. They told us that they had had a recent sighting on the other side of the Loch. Upon bidding them farewell we set out for the northern, other side, of the Loch.
When we arrived at our final destination on the other side we feverishly began to assemble our bits of wood, wire, black plastic and more into a very large, black, slimy and somewhat familiar-looking monster shape – a large head with three smaller separate humps all attached together with ropes and floating devices (watertight tin cans). We launched it. It floated. It was Nessie!
Next we had to decide who would tow Nessie far out onto the Loch in the dead of night in our small rubber inflatable. It was a dark cold night. To cut a long story short it was I who was chosen since I was from Australia and the only one who could swim – I was now regretting the times I used to boast to my fellow English students about my recently-acquired Australian Bronze Medallion Lifesaving medal.
Not surprisingly, as I rowed far out onto that dark cold Loch towing a large, black, slimy and ghastly looking monster all manner of thoughts passed through my mind: but I won’t go into them here. Suffice to say that I was terrified and I wouldn’t recommend it.
Morning finally yawned and dawned early and we all rushed to the water’s edge.
Alas, to our great disappointment our Nessie was nowhere to be seen. What ever happened to her during the night we will never know.
Maybe, just maybe she will reappear again someday.
“Please Grandpa, can you tell us another story?”