A Ramble from the Editor [43]

By Ian Phillips

Filled with fear and dread I walked towards the restaurant. The night was warm, but I shivered almost uncontrollably. The invitation had been clear – “Hey Mr Editor, how ’bout you come and dine with the hard men – it will be laughs and joviality all ’round – we promise.” Yeah right, I thought, as I tried to source a bullet-proof vest …

For years I had read the accounts, seen the pictures and cringed at the stories of these legendary 9 foot tall boggards with their 38 foot steel reinforced kayaks, sharpened paddle blades and Kevlar socks.

I had mental pictures of these men in my head, and I armed myself accordingly – special noise-cancelling earmuffs for the legendary outbursts of the OSD; pictures of kayaks without rudders for Uncle Dave Winkworth; an encyclopaedia set to combat the super-computer knowledge base of Professor Eddy. I had also carefully removed my crocodile skin boots for fear of attack from the unsurpassed Arunas and I just plain old filled myself up with gin to go head-to-head with the legends that are the notorious Trueman & Gill.

The list went on and on… I was weighed down with ammunition and gin, my head almost touching the floor as I dragged myself through the restaurant door before collapsing on a sizeable chair in the waiting area that promptly collapsed under my overloaded frame.

The fated table was in the corner, and I carefully positioned myself in a chair near the door in order to facilitate the quick exit that I considered inevitable in such legendary company…

The ubiquitous Lambrusco was quickly slammed upon the table, and a larger table was promptly ordered to cater for the increasing number of bottles being proffered by these hard men.

I sipped nervously, dribbling vino down my shirtfront, causing me to drop my OSD earmuffs and Professor Eddy encyclopaedia.

The jig was up! I was caught red-handed and I quickly covered myself in a feeble self-defence pose, having practiced all day for this exact situation, where I feared reprisal for my deviousness against the hard men…

Cowering beneath the table I waited, and waited… But nothing happened. Unnerved I peeked above the table, fearful of a Lambrusco bottle to the head, but there was nothing – only a bunch of happy, smiling faces, joking and spraying hot chilli sauce around the table…

What WAS going on? Was I wrong about these hard men – were my perceptions slightly off-key? How come they looked and behaved like normal mortals? Was it a trick? A ploy? Maybe they were actually real people. Maybe all this hyperbole and misrepresentation was just that – exaggeration for the effect…

Who knows – I survived the night but I’m still not convinced… no sane person could eat as much spicy laksa as the impressive Arunas, well known for his attacks on peaceful wildlife, or provide as much wild gesticulation as the incorrigible OSD, well known for… well, we all know the answer to that one…

But enough of my feeble tattles I say!! Once again it’s time to forget my idle gossip and head for the high seas. Time to be your own captain, time to be master of your domain…

But before you do that, sit back, relax, and enjoy this very fine issue of NSW Sea Kayaker!

And if I’m lucky and survive the Olympic sailing in Sydney Harbour with their speeding 18 footers, I’ll see you all on the water from my customary, laid-back, post-rolling position from beneath the wake of the Manly ferry…

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