Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Zen and The Art of Canoeing

The vote was overwhelmingly in favour of Sheep. So here it is:

In my youth I was a keen canoeist. One day I came up with one of the most pathetic chat up lines ever, “would you like me to teach you canoeing?”
I almost fell over when the young girl in question said “Yes please, that would be great.” Her name was Mandy, short brown hair and slim with a slight Princess Diana shyness to her.
So we arranged on Sunday I would pick her up and we’d have a day out on the river. Sunday came and my new friend Mandy and I, parked up and untied two canoes from the roof of my car. It was already getting warm and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Helping someone get in the canoe, especially a beautiful young thing is a very tactile business, with hands guiding various bits of anatomy into various parts of the boat. So it was a good start. She seemed to be enjoying the close personal attention of her very own instructor. Oh the power of command. I was in total charge of the situation. She was like putty in my hands. So after a few basics on paddling technique we set off. We weren’t going to hit any white water on the Nene so I didn’t get her to practice any Eskimo rolls or other technical stuff I just told her how to get out the canoe if she did happen to go over.
Paddling down a river on a warm summers day is great fun, the world drifts slowly past. People wave from the bank and fisherman cough loudly if you go too near their floats. After half an hour Mandy was getting into the swing of it, she’d stopped wobbling and as long as she was going in a straight line she was fine. Occassionally I’d have to nudge her a little with the front of my boat, but apart from that it was plain sailing or canoeing. We paddled down the river laughing, joking and chatting. I was definitely in with a chance here. Find a spot and it’ll be Shagsville Arizona
Further down the river some trees were overhanging the water. Mandy started drifting towards them. I thought it was deliberate, thinking to myself that it would be fun to canoe into the darkness below the trees. She went first and disappeared amongst the foliage. I was about to follow when she started screaming. It was ordinary screaming if you can call any sort of screaming ordinary. I say ordinary because it wasn’t the gurgling “I’m-underwater” type screaming. So obviously she hadn’t fallen in. I quickly paddled toward her.
“Get it off. MIKEL! Help Get it off.”
Under the tree I found her one hand grasping an over hanging branch the other hand holding a paddle, beating hell out of a sheep that had got tangled up in the safety rope that ran down the side of her canoe.
As Officer IC sheep defences I rushed in to the rescue. The sheep was motionless. My first thought was that she had beaten it senseless with the paddle. My second deduction was that it was already dead, the terrible stink coming from it’s fat bloated body being the biggest give away, That and the fact on closer examination it’s eyes had been eaten away by small fish leaving two empty sockets. Mandy had the sheep from hell tangled up with her canoe and she was still screaming. I tried to pull her backwards to open water. But couldn’t. I told her to let go of the branch. She let go and slowly with dead sheep in tow we made it to open water. On the opposite bank a crowd had gathered, curious to know what the screaming was all about. Out in the open I could give the sheep a push with my paddle and free it from the ropes where it spun round and round slowly in the water and drifted off down stream. The crowd wandered off disappointed that the body wasn’t human. Mandy sat in her canoe, head down. “I want to go home now.” She said. Damn and I’d got a picnic and everything. Bottle of wine, sandwiches treats and a packet of three.
We paddled silently back to the car. Mandy shocked and horrified by the evil that is nature. Me pissed off because yet another shag opportunity had come and been lost.
Back at the car Mandy finally said “Do you often find dead sheep in the river?”
“No, that’s the first one.” I said honestly.
“Well it was very nice until then.” She said looking at me sideways through the hair over hanging her eyes.
“Do you want to try again then?”
“That would be nice but not today, I’ve had enough of canoeing for one day.”
“Next Sunday then.”
“Yes OK if the weather is still nice.”
THANK YOU GOD!!!!! Game on again.
We went canoeing again the following week, but that’s another story.


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