Went to Southend yesterday with Gladys for the Southend Pier Race organised by Lower Thames RC. Started late due to failure to hear 1 minute warning signal or see the flag that should have alerted us that the race had actually started.
The first leg of the race from Old Leigh to the pier was a long, hard, three-mile slog against the tide and a brisk easterly wind to Southend Pier. We kept our spirits up with the expectation that the wind would push Gladys's big behind and give us a boost when we finally turned. At the pier, the tide turned and the wind dropped so we had a long, hard, three-mile slog back.
We came in last.
At the finishing line we changed sides to make the final paddle back to the slipway a bit more comfortable, and I noticed the handle I passed to the new stroke was bloodstained where it had rubbed the skin off my thumb.
By the time we got back to the slipway the water was slipping away and there was a queue of motorboats behind so we rushed. And I failed to secure the ratchet on the winch properly. And the handle whacked me upside the head.
Hearing 'ringing in the ears' is not just a figure of speech, I discovered. It was like putting my head in Big Ben for a minute. A very odd sensation.
By the end of it I looked like something out of Curse of the Mummy when we had to get up and be presented with the Southend Pier Wooden Spoon.
What a great day. The weather was cracking, everyone put their all into rowing that great tub Gladys, easily the largest, heaviest and slowest boat in the unhandicapped race. Everyone was wonderfully friendly. And I got to be the centre of attention with sympathetic ladies bandaging my fevered brow.
Even the bloody oar was the most stylish trophy on the table.