Well the snow hasn’t stopped and I am trapped indoors so I may as well finish this mini epic!.
I have read all I can read and practiced ’till I was blue in the face (Charlie Drake, for those of you not old enough to remember), spent endless hours talking to myself in a public field and had to put up with startled glances and a few humorous (not) comments about not being any fish out here mate, I’d like a pound for every time I have heard that!. The occasional drunk who stumbles over from the club house demanding to know what the f*** I am doing. Actually I don’t mind those, I often give them the rod and give them a quick lesson and afterwards they stagger back to the club house my new best mate.
Anyway, I am as ready as I am ever likely to be but just to make sure I take some essential reading for the flight up to Scotland and don’t bother to read it, I enjoyed the view out of the plane window instead.
Once off the plane at Edinburgh I catch a bus into the city to catch a train to Dunkeld. Just as the bus gets into Princes Street my phone rings, it’s Ben Dixon, who has organised the CCI testing, ”where are you Mike?”, when I told him he said to jump off the bus and catch another bus to something or other road, he would meet me and we would spend the afternoon casting on a lake in a park, so I jumped off the bus and looked for the right bus stop, which I eventually found the other end of Princes Street! and it’s a bloody long road with a bag weighing half a ton but the sunny weather, the view of the castle and the trees in blossom sort of made up for it. I eventually find Ben and his mate, Will (a fellow CCI candidate) and we do indeed spend the afternoon casting on a duck pond! much to the consternation of the ducks, dog walkers and mums taking their kids for a stroll round the park.
Ben finally puts me on the right train and I arrive in Dunkeld around ten at night. As I walk up the High Street I nearly fall over someone coming out of the local Indian restaurant. It turns out to be a friend of mine and he invites me in to join him and a couple of other ‘loopers and as I hadn’t eaten much all day I was more that happy to accept. I think I went to bed around midnight, tomorrow was the big day.
We were very lucky with the weather, just a slight breeze and a lovely sunny day. We were tested on the banks of the river Tay in beautiful surroundings and I think I volunteered to do my test last out of the three of us being tested. We set up a practice court well away from the testing area and spent the time just practicing the casts while the tests were being done. Will went first and a while later he was back with a huge smile on his face, 1st pass. Kevin went next and the test seemed to take longer but he came back with another big grin, pass number 2. My turn. Our examiner was Lasse Karlsson who had come over from Denmark for the occasion. Paul Arden assisted Lasse for Will and Kevin but because I know him he went off somewhere else for a while, probably a good thing from my point of view, I’m sure he would have given me a particularly thorough going over. Lasse is a nice guy and immediately put me at my ease. After the first element it all sailed smoothly along with me almost forgetting I was being tested. Although I suspect Lasse got a bit pissed off by me leaping in the air screaming ‘excellent’ after he passed each task, infact I seem to recall him saying something about it but I couldn’t stop myself, hey, I was happy.
Task 18, had given me a few headaches. How to explain and demonstrate casting wide to narrow loops. I could cast them no problem but explaining it was proving a pain. Out of desperation I discovered a way of demonstrating not only task 18 but also went a long way to help with tasks 19 and 20 as well, result!. When I did it on my test Lasse gave me a very odd look and asked me who had shown it to me, when told him I had discovered it for myself he said he had never seen it before and seemed really impressed. I hadn’t assumed that I had come across something unique so I was surprised as well. That was the birth of the Pencil Trick. I will explain it in more detail in another peice sometime in the future.
Pass number 3. I don’t remember too much about the rest of the day apart from finding myself with a pint of Guinness in each hand and another on the bar later that evening. I don’t normally drink so the next day isn’t too clear either.