Xmas past....

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Xmas past....

Post by Pickerel » Fri Nov 15, 2019 5:32 pm

It was nearly Xmas, but 11-year-old Timmy wasn’t getting too excited. His mates at school were all going on about the new train sets they wanted, or the pushbikes, maybe cowboy outfits. Possibly one of those new transistor radios, perhaps even the latest must-have Dan Dare type ray guns, which fired plastic darts and made real laser noises.

Timmy knew that Father Xmas wouldn’t be leaving a load of shiny new presents under the tree at his house, there was a lot of love at his home, but there was precious little money. The forlorn looking Xmas tree had been dug up from out of the back garden, again, and for the last two nights Timmy had sat by the coal fire in the front room making paper chain decorations to hang round the house, and wrapping tin foil around bits of shaped card to drape on the tree.

His dad got the tree lights out of the loft and spent an entire evening screwing bulbs in and out in an attempt to get them to work. Timmy watched his dad intently, knowing that he would fix the lights. After all, his dad was good with his hands and could fix most things, and he could make just about anything. Finally the fairy lights burst into life, but no amount of fiddling would get them to flash like they used to. Still, at least they were alight, so Timmy’s dad set to and strung them round the tree.

Timmy didn’t really understand why someone with all those skills was having trouble finding a job, but those thoughts were brushed away as his dad scooped him up in his arms so that he could continue the family tradition of placing the fairy at the top of the tree. Then his mum got into the act as well, by carefully arranging the few remaining bits of bedraggled, almost bald tinsel over the otherwise bare branches.

The family took a moment to stand back to admire their handiwork. It certainly started to look Christmassy, with the reflections from the lights and the roaring open fire twinkling away on Timmy’s tinfoil decorations as they were caught by the draughts coming through the sash windows;

In the run up to Christmas, all the kids in the town spent their spare time with their noses pressed up against the windows of the local toyshop. Timmy only glanced at the brightly lit extravagant display as he walked past; his attention was drawn to another shop a little further up the street.

Standing in the corner of the general ironmonger’s store window, was the object of Timmy’ attention, a brand new, two-piece fishing rod. With its honey coloured, lightly flecked cork handle, shiny reel fittings, glinting chrome rings mounted onto the split cane with immaculate scarlet whippings and glistening varnish it was a object of beauty and the only thing he really, really wanted.

But it also had a little white ticket hanging from the ruby coloured agate lined butt ring. It might as well have said ‘Not for Timmy’ written on it, because the price of four pounds, nineteen shillings and eleven pence was way above what his parents could afford. And even if he didn’t spend a penny of his two bob a week pocket money, it would take him a year to save up enough.

Timmy loved to go fishing, but as his father had no interest in the sport, he usually tagged along with his granddad. This meant they could only go to the local canal because the old boy’s war wound would play up after much more than a short walk from Timmy’s house,

That ‘war wound’ was a subject of some debate in Timmy’s household. There was some hushed talk of his grandfather being decorated after getting shot while being a hero in the trenches. There again, another version of the story was that he just tripped over an empty ammunition box and subsequently fell head first into an empty trench

Whatever the truth, the episode was never talked about when the old boy was around, and although it had left his granddad with a limp, it seemed the more gin he drank, the less it seemed to trouble him. Still, the canal was deemed to be within walking distance, and Timmy would go along and fish with his granddad, using the rod his dad had made him out of an old garden cane with a piece of broom stick as a handle

His dad had twisted some copper wire into the shape of rod rings and taped them onto the cane, and using an old Bakelite reel his granddad gave him. Timmy was happy enough catching the odd small perch and gudgeon, but longed for the day when he could get the proper rod he needed to go after the big ‘uns.

Christmas morning came, and Timmy was woken, not by the jingling of sleigh bells, but by the sound of his mother raking ashes out of the grate. He made his way downstairs clutching the Xmas stocking he had found at the end of his bed. He might be almost 12, but he still wasn’t too old to want to miss out on little treats such as chocolate money, colouring books, a tangerine, some hazelnuts and all the other traditional stocking fillers.

He popped his head round the front room door where his mum was setting a fire in the grate. For weeks now he had hoped, wished and prayed that somehow he might get that rod for Christmas. He had been good, done all his errands when asked, and his mum had said that they would get him something for his fishing this year, but the moment he saw the presents under the tree, he knew all that wishing and hoping had been in vain.

There was no long, thin, package anywhere to be seen, just a number of small brightly wrapped boxes. Timmy knew he shouldn’t really be disappointed as he was well aware that his parents couldn’t possibly afford that new rod, but deep down he always had that faint glimmer of hope that just maybe, just maybe….

Never mind, he would not let his disappointment show when all the presents were opened after dinner, and at least he would be going fishing on Boxing Day with granddad. True to their word, his parents had indeed got him fishing gifts. He had a neat canvas and wood folding stool that his dad had made, and a matching set of knitted scarf, gloves and bobble hat in a shade of green that was exactly the same as his mothers’ favourite cardigan, the one that he hadn’t seen her wearing for a while.

His granddad bought him some hooks, split shot and floats, with the comment that as he was only a pensioner he couldn’t afford much, but ‘You can’t never have enough of them bits, boy’ so Timmy was all set for the Boxing Day outing. Mind you, the amount of gin his granddad put away that afternoon on account of the old trouble playing him up seemed to put that trip in some jeopardy.

Timmy needn’t have worried, because bright and early the next morning the pair of them were up and all set to go. Timmy was wearing his new hat, gloves and scarf, with his new bits stowed in the Oxo tin he used as a tackle box in a duffle bag slung over his shoulder. He had his trusty old rod and reel in one hand and his new stool in the other. He was just about to step through the kitchen door when his granddad pulled him back

‘You sure you’ve got everything, young ‘un? he asked.

Timmy checked and double-checked all his tackle, even opening his duffle bag and going through the bits in Oxo tin, there wasn’t much to check so it was easy for him to confirm that he had definitely got it all.

‘Don’t think so young ‘un’ came the reply. ‘You’ve left something in the front room’.

Timmy was now getting slightly annoyed, as he was eager to get off, and for him to go back into the house and search he would have to unload all his tackle and take off his boots before he could go in. Shoulders slumped he trudged off into the front room and glancing round he didn’t see anything out of place at first.

Then his eye was caught by the flash of vanish, and a glint from the rod rings of a brand new rod, stood in front of the Xmas tree. And not just any new rod, it was THE rod! Timmy was speechless as he walked over towards it. Hardly daring to touch it carefully picked it up and noticed a little label tied onto the butt ring that just said ‘Merry Xmas’

His granddad and parents were now standing in the doorway; all smiling at Timmy who was now doing a little dance and his face was beaming. His granddad told him he had better get dressed and kitted up pretty quick if he wanted to give that new rod a whirl. Timmy didn’t need asking twice and was ready to go out again in an instant, and the two of them were off.

As soon as they were away from the house Timmy’s granddad made it quite obvious that he was not to ask any questions as to how he came to obtain the rod. Timmy was certainly curious, knowing that money was very tight throughout the family, but he had too much respect for his granddad to go against his wishes.

They walked through the deserted streets towards the canal, as fast as the old boy’s worsening limp would allow. Past the almost empty toyshop window, now nearly stripped bare by frantic last-minute Christmas Eve shoppers. Onwards they went past the ironmongers, Timmy smiling at the empty space in the corner of the window where his new rod had once stood, although he felt his hand tighten on the rod bag just to make sure it really was his now.

And just before they got to the corner by the canal, they passed an old bric a brac store, which had a new item on display, a row of shiny war medals hanging proudly from their ribbons with a little white price ticket atttached.....
Last edited by Pickerel on Wed Dec 11, 2019 6:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Xmas past....

Post by NiceRoach » Fri Nov 15, 2019 6:13 pm

Splendid :tea:

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Northern Eel
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Re: Xmas past....

Post by Northern Eel » Fri Nov 15, 2019 8:32 pm

Wonderful, are you Timmy by any chance?

"Chasing frothy bubbles while the world is full of troubles"

"Simple pleasures maybe, but very real ones, which seem all the more precious in these restless modern days."

'BB' Denys Watkins-Pitchford

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Re: Xmas past....

Post by Pallenpool » Fri Nov 15, 2019 10:42 pm

Wonderful - heart warming - and nostalgically poignant for many of us I would say.

You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.

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Re: Xmas past....

Post by Pickerel » Sat Nov 16, 2019 9:11 am

Many thanks for your kind comments, it is a story that I hoped would resonate with some of the members. Am I Timmy..? Parts of the story are drawn from my own memories...

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Re: Xmas past....

Post by Loganbenny » Sat Dec 07, 2019 9:12 pm

Really enjoyed that, wonderful

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Dom Andrew
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Re: Xmas past....

Post by Dom Andrew » Sat Dec 07, 2019 9:28 pm

A lovely story for this time of year.

Dom. :Hat:

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Re: Xmas past....

Post by Ouse Wanderer » Sun Dec 08, 2019 12:33 pm

You got me Pickerel. Something in my eye I think...

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Re: Xmas past....

Post by Iasgair » Tue Dec 10, 2019 12:04 am

That was a grand story. I really enjoyed reading it very much.
Worry less about who you might offend, and care more about who you might inspire.

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Re: Xmas past....

Post by Troydog » Tue Dec 10, 2019 7:32 pm

Wow Pickerel, you have made me cry.
What a fabulous story. Thank you so much for taking all the trouble to post.......
Trouble is, the fish just don't read the books......
John Harding

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