The fish were probably not biting or rising to the bait or whatever fish are supposed to do and Peter's thoughts began to wander... It is some time since the second letter to the Corinthians had appeared and much water had flowed up and down the Crouch since then... And here we have it - the third letter to the Corinthians. Are you sitting comfortably?
And lo, the people of Burnham did approach Peter and did say - "Where is the next letter to be seen, as the first two contained fruits of great wisdom and did also engender a degree of amusement, by chronicling the acts of one idiotic in the ways of sailing?" But Peter was downcast, as the muse had deserted him – and yet…
At the time of the last epistle, it will be recalled that the mighty vessel Coriander had been transported to the Great Blue Shed of Rice and Cole with a severely leaky bottom – which, despite his credentials as a senior gastroenterologist, Peter was unable to fix. And the assembled company did inspect the said bottom, and noted two large streams of bilge water descending at the rear of the keel, originating from a pair of ancient copper plates or tingles affixed to the hull in that area.
So Peter instructed Nick of the Boatyard – known in common parlance as Old Nick - to remove these said tingles and to ascertain what lay beneath. And the following week Peter did return to the Great Blue Shed and did enquire: what was the wood like below those plates? To which one of the boatyard imps replied: "What wood, Doc – there was just two great big 'oles."
And in that instant there was a small flash and a subdued hint of brimstone, and Old Nick appeared, saying – "Well, thou must have at least a couple of new planks, and some of the ribs are worn and will need seeing to as well, and while we're at it, she could do with a couple of bulkheads to stiffen her. Go now to the lands of milk and honey, and acquire bushels of shekels, for thou shalt surely need them."
So Peter wept, wailed and gnashed his teeth, girded his loins, checked his bank balance and instructed them to proceed. And in the fullness of time, the ribs – all thirteen pairs, one more than God needed to make Eve, as Peter pointed out – were replaced, the planks were fitted and the bulkheads fixed in place.
But then Ian, the rigging sprite, did make report that the ropes and wires of the craft were not in a fruitful condition and did advise that they should be replaced with cordage seemingly spun from the hair of the Queen of Sheba herself, judging by the cost, while the blocks, tracks and other such devices required throwing away and refitting with tackle fashioned from exotic materials and encrusted with rubies and pearls.
But it had come to pass that by this time Peter had retired from the NHS and had acquired his pension lump sum which was summarily diverted to the coffers of Rice and Cole, where no man can know what reserves of silver and gold do reside. And in the fullness of time, Coriander did rise again like a phoenix and did return to the troubled waters of the Crouch.
And there were many new pieces of string with curious names, and Peter knew not what they should do. But on divers occasions, while sailing with the gullible and credulous, he did pull and tweak these said pieces of string in a vain attempt to give the impression that he had become wise in the ways of racing.
And last weekend, lo there was a near miracle, as Peter very nearly did catch up the Melville, Grand Panjandrum of the River. And when the race was completed, Peter did hold congress with the Melville to point out that, while Peter did appear to be improving, the Melville – at the age of 95 – might well have peaked too soon...
Here endeth the third lesson of RCOD ownership.