This is, I'm
afraid, one of those 'a friend of a friend of a friend' stories: nevertheless,
I have checked it out thoroughly, and am certain that in most details
it is a true account of an amazing occurrence.
As must frequently be the case, some names and places have been changed
to disguise the identity of our correspondent…..
Someone well known to the Webmasters has a close relative who has,
since childhood, displayed the curious ability known as automatic writing.
This is a much-studied phenomenon, where the spirit of one who has 'passed
through the veil' appears to have returned and taken control of a receptive
person: at such times, the medium may write messages in the handwriting
of the possessing spirit.
There can be no doubt of the genuineness of many such occurrences: they
are too well documented. However, it is intriguing ( and not a little
bizarre!) that the messages received in this way are often trivial and
apparently pointless. This was not, however, the case in the story I am
about to retell……
The distant acquaintance of whom I write in fact only received messages
from a dead parent, with whom they had been very close in life. The messages
were mostly concerned with family matters, but sometimes described the
afterlife and often bade the living to have no fear of the final journey.
Some years ago, however, a different journey had been planned: by aeroplane
to the U***ed States. A large group of the extended family had planned
to holiday together, and were excitedly anticipating the trip of a lifetime:
for many of them, this would be their first taste of air travel.
The night before the scheduled departure the family were assembled so
that they might travel to the airport together. Suddenly, our correspondent's
relative slipped into the shallow trance that presaged an episode of automatic
writing. A pen and paper were fetched, and the family watched in fascination
as the instantly recognised script began to flow:
fly on the aeroplane……
perhaps, those present began to take a keener interest in proceedings!
The pen moved again:
will not reach its destination.
not fly tomorrow, I beg you!
point the pen dropped from the white fingers of the writer, who
abruptly sat upright in the usual state of dazed confusion. After
a somewhat uncomfortable silence, the group began to try to make
light of the unexpected occurrence. There was much discussion and
nervous laughter: eventually it was time to retire, and the consensus
was that the writer had subconsciously been expressing their own
fears rather than those of a departed relative.
The next morning, the family breakfasted in good heart and set off
in a convoy of cars for H**throw Airport.
With each mile nearer their destination, the writer became increasingly
agitated. By the time the group arrived at the correct Terminal
building it became apparent that nothing would induce this individual
from boarding the aeroplane. This concern proved contagious: despite
the blandishments of some of the more pragmatic members of the group,
the 727 left without them…
to crash in flames into the Atlantic Ocean some two hours later!
|As you will all remember,
I have in the past been a keen angler: I still feel the urge to wet a line
from time to time, and may lay claim to having enjoyed a degree of success.....
But the best angler I ever
knew? Well he appears elsewhere in these memoires: his name was Peter,
and you may recall him figuring in a story about disappearing wall paintings.
He had the most astounding 'watercraft' and caught specimen fish almost
at will, using his beloved ancient centre-pin reels and split-cane rods.
During World War 11, Peter flew fighter planes and never failed to enliven
a slow day with some astonishing account of the air war over France and
The events described in this story, however, took place around
1970, just before Peter and I first met as teachers at the same Norfolk
Secondary Modern School.
You should know that anglers, then as now, are always searching for some
semi-mythical unfinished or neglected lake, where the fish are heavy,
wild and totally unfamiliar with modern tackle or baits. Well one day
Peter found just such a lake! It was a tree-girt pool of around an acre
in the grounds of a somewhat run-down Norfolk Manor House. No swims had
been cut in the bankside vegetation, and a derelict boathouse gave mute
testimony to decades of neglect.
Having discovered this idyll during an exploratory close-season ramble,
it remained only for Peter to write to the owner of the Hall (more in
hope than expectation!) asking for permission to fish....
Some weeks later, To Peter's surprise, he received a somewhat terse summons
to the Hall. He arrived punctually, and was ushered into a dusty, Dickensian
drawing room. The incumbent of the Hall turned out to be a somewhat eccentric
old gent, who had been persuaded by my friend's polite enquiry to allow
him exclusive fishing rights on the lake. His instructions to peter were
"You will obtain your permit from my Gamekeeper in person on the
15th of June each year, and surrender it on the 1st of September. If you
deviate from this in any way, your permission will be rescinded!"
For several seasons, Peter
followed these directions to the letter, and enjoyed the kind of exclusive
sport of which we brothers of the angle can only dream: the average weight
of the carp was in the region of twenty pounds, and what few Bream and
Tench shared the lake with them were all of specimen size.
But there was one huge fully-scaled Common Carp that resisted all of Peter's
attempts at capture: being a veteran of the original Redmire Syndicate,
our hero assessed it as nearer 50lb than 40! Whenever he met the Gamekeeper,
Peter would mention the huge fish.
"Never fear!" laughed the old Bailiff "You'll find the
right bait for 'The Colonel' one day!"
But the elderly retainer wasn't destined to witness the event, for when
Peter arrived at the Keeper's Lodge to collect his permit at the start
of what transpired to be his final season at the lake, he found that the
old man had died during the preceding harsh winter. His elderly widow
ushered Peter into her small sitting room and offered him tea, before
handing my friend his permit and what appeared to be a wooden tea-caddy.
"I'm afraid this will be your final permit, Mr Nisbett. The estate
is up for sale, and I am going to live with my daughter. But my husband
wanted you to have one last go at the Colonel. He left you some of his
special bait to try...... There should be enough for five nights, then
whatever happens, you must cease fishing."
It was on the fifth and
final night's fishing that Peter finally hooked the Colonel right beneath
his rod-top! The box had proven to contain a coarse powder reminiscent
of whole-meal flour which Peter had made into a paste with egg yolks,
and it was a golf-ball sized lump of this that had finally proven irresistible!
Already this wonder bait had accounted for over a dozen wonderful carp
and now it seemed it was to account for the Colonel himself! But it was
not to be..... After a titanic struggle of over thirty minutes, Peter
was dismayed to feel the size 2 hook straighten and pull out of the fishes
The very next day Peter
presented himself, booted and suited, at the Keeper's Lodge. When the
elderly widow answered his knock, Peter asked if it might be possible
for one more sample of the wonderful bait and one more night's pursuit
of the giant carp.
"I'm afraid I can't help you dear," the old lady replied "
You see, the 'bait' was my poor husband's ashes. It was his fondest wish
to stay with his beloved carp somehow, and I couldn't think of any other
way to make it happen. I hope you don't think I've taken a liberty!"