Dawn Raiders - They Seek Him Here, There Everywhere
This story is not so much about an angling exploit, but a true tale from the banks of the Cam. My friend Percy would talk to anybody. He would stick up his hand to people in the street and shout out in his gravely voice "Hello old son" and then he would say, "Did you know him" and I would say "No". Within a few minutes of meeting with him he would engage with you and you became a friend. Most recently it has been suggested I have adopted some significant characteristics of this quite extraordinary man. Some I am not so certain I am keen on, but generally I am quietly pleased. Percy had many nicknames, "Cods Head", "Lard Head", "Percy Pickles" and "Greengrass". The latter being after the character in Heartbeat. That unshaven scruffy bloke with string around his ex-army coat. It is true, because I have lost nearly five stone, that I have been wearing old jeans that are 6 inches too big around the waist, so I have had to have my belt on the last notch and so I suppose I do resemble a scruffily dressed Percy. I too will talk to anybody; I enjoy passing the time and find it strange that some people these days seem uncomfortable to have a conversation with somebody they have not met before. This last summer I had the true privilege to share with a couple some very private moments. Part of my fitness programme is to have a walk at lunchtime and so I often walk along the Cam at Jesus Green from my office at Castle Hill in Cambridge. It's a lovely walk and I often spot Chub and Roach as I walk up to the weirs. This day was quite warm and good for people watching punting on the river. A couple walked up and said "Excuse me, but do you mind if we sit next to you" Of course not" I replied". I then started what turned out to be an hour-long conversation. They shared with me the purpose of their visit to Cambridge. The couple were in their mid-fifties and were dressed in their Sunday best. They asked if I was from Cambridge and I replied, "Yes, born and bred and proud of it, a Cambridge boy". Their son had just graduated at Anglia Ruskin with a Law Degree. They were rightly so proud and told me they had just been to the ceremony and witnessed the presentation. They had obviously scrimped and scraped the finances together to help their son. They were giving him a break from their visit so that he could go to the pub with his mates, but would go back and pick him up after lunch. The chap was about 6ft 6 inches, and he worked keeping the Golf Links tidy at an Essex golf club. The woman was small in stature but big in heart and told me all about their son's graduation and also about their daughter. They were thrilled to be at the event. We talked and talked. I told them about my daughters and about how proud I was of them and about my eldest daughter's graduation in Birmingham's Symphony Hall. I told them that as a family we were so overwhelmed because Anita my wife was taken seriously ill when my daughter started her degree and to be honest we were not certain she would witness her graduation. I told them, not only did we all go but 10 years on things are still fine. The lady told me she too had been diagnosed with cancer while her son was studying and had undergone treatment. She was due for some updated tests that week and was so pleased to be at the graduation. They were worried about their son as he had not secured a job in Law, but was helping out at his Dad's workplace. It was clear the family were hard working people, and I said I was certain that things would turn out fine and that their son would succeed. I am not sure that in these few words I have done justice to the conversation I had with this lovely couple. We shared personal things as complete strangers; I felt honoured to have been included in their special day. I shook both their hands and said I had to go back to work, wishing them all the best and assuring them things would be fine. So not an angling story but some time spent near to my beloved Cam, it was special to me. "You did good son"