There I was, a toddler in the company of three other local lads, we were just crossing the canal bridge on Wilford Street, and one or two of the lads stopped to watch a boat going through the lock.
A gang of youths approached, and without delay they picked us up and threw us into the canal! Damned delinquents!
Now you must be aware, to fully comprehend this story that I was, and always have been scared to death of two things – women and deep water. Some would question if there is any difference?)
I somehow came up from the depths of the canal, and managed to grab hold of some thick rope hanging from one of the British Waterway barges, and there I stayed, scared I’d lose my grip, unable to utter any sound or word – through shear fear and panic – and watched as passers-by fished out the other lads. Convinced if I shouted out, I’d lose me grip on the rope for some reason?
An ambulance and police arrived and they took me mates away – me, confused as to why I wasn’t rescued, still hanging on for grim life to the rope, getting colder, weaker and more and more scared than I ever thought possible!
Eventually, someone did spot me, and came across on a rowing boat (Still don’t know where the boat came from, but I thanked the man and God for it), and dragged me ashore. He even took me home in his pushbike-sidecar. I couldn’t thank him properly as I was still struggling to find my voice, and shaking like a leaf throughout the sheer terrifying ordeal, that has left me a phobia, if that is the right word, a dread, trepidation, and panic of deep water, that prevented my ever having learnt to swim – natural really, as before I could learn to swim, I had to conquer my fear of water, but could never do that, despite several periodic attacks of bravery and visits to the baths in an effort to master my fear, all failing miserably I’m still afraid of deep water. (Tsk!)
You’d have to understand the meaning of real fear, anxiety, dismay horror panic… call it what you will, that was my deepest sense of distress in my life.
Still it got me ready in a way for what was to follow I suppose?
They say everyone has their Achilles Heel – in that dirty canal on that fateful day I confirmed mine, definitely deep water!
When I eventually arrived home, thanks to the Good Samaritan, I was so pleased – that was until the Samaritan left, and daddy was kind enough to belt me about a bit for coming home late and with wet muddy clothes.
That night I went to bed bewildered, confused, dysphonic, sad, shivering and bruised, but the bruises caused by my falling into the canal were the least of my pain!
Getting another, good belting for getting my clothes wet, did not help my future sanity.
To Follow: A Nottingham Lad’s True Tale of Woe – Part Seven
The Anxious Trip to the Empire Theatre