An Investigation of Modern Physics by Brian Williams
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  • My Fight with a Prehistoric Monster.

    Posted on October 9th, 2011 Brian No comments

    When I was about 7 or 8 years old I had an experience that I have never forgotten. This was about 65 years ago.

    My mother had given me half-a-crown ( 30 old pence, about 12.5 new pence in current money), packed two shirts, two pairs of socks, underpants, a spare pair of shorts, a pair of sandals and some sandwiches into a knapsack and sent me on my way.

    No, she had not banished me, it was the high spot of the year. I was going to my aunt in Lancaster for as long as she would put up with me. I have three sisters, my aunt had four sons, what a wonderful relief to get away from my sisters for a few weeks.

    Halfpence bus fare to Bolton, eleven pence return ticket to Lancaster and 2 mile walk to my aunt’s house and my holiday had started. No problem, I had done this the previous year. Not even a problem due to the fact that my aunt did not even know I was arriving.

    We did all the usual things, walking to Morecambe to go on the beach (about 6 miles), traveling up along the Lune river to watch the conger eels, watching the divers diving for salmon (probably illegal).

    Two of my cousins, Tommy(10) and Eric(12) used to go across the weir on the river. This was about 500 yards upstream from Skerton Bridge and was about 300 feet long.  They would slide down the grassy bank onto the weir, sit with their legs across it and then inch their way across. They had shoulder bags with them and would catch eels travelling over the weir, and the best place was in the centre of the river. They wouldn’t let me go with them because I was only a kid, (cheek, I was nearly 8 years old).

    Later in the holiday I decided that I would try this myself. Following them down to the river I waited until they were almost in the middle, and then I slid down the bank onto the weir. I then inched my way out into the river. The water flow around me was just about waist height and was much stronger than I expected. It was fascinating to see the fish and eels coming up over the weir and occasionally brushing against me. By the time I had gone about 70 feet I was quite comfortable and happy with my adventure.

    I then decided that I would try and catch a fish or eel. This was not as easy as I had expected because they were slippery and certainly did not want to be caught. Eventually I spotted a small eel about 12 inches long and grabbed it.

    Things then began to go seriously wrong. Having caught it I decided to let it go because I couldn’t move along the weir and carry an eel.

    Unfortunately I was unable to let it go because it was stuck to the back of my hand. I shook my hand about vigorously but without dislodging the eel. Then panic set in and I shouted for my cousins to help me. As they had been facing the same way as me they hadn’t realized that I was out in the river. They shouted to me to go back. This wasn’t easy to do with one hand whilst waving an eel about with the other, especially when in a panic and crying.

    I eventually made it back to land and climbed up the banking. I tried to pull it off with my other hand but it without success. I then ran up to the stone wall  and started banging the back of my hand against it to try and kill the eel, but again without success. Then my cousins arrived and finally manage to kill it.

    By this time I had a huge mark on the back of my hand plus numerous self inflicted injuries caused by the wall.

    We also had the problem of how to handle the problem with my aunt. We decided we would wait until we’d dried off and I would have to keep my hand in my pocket until the circular mark had faded. The other injuries could be passed off as normal messing about/falling  injuries. (Even at this age we had learned to understand how adults thought.)


    Well, the eel wasn’t an eel, it was a Lamprey and they are creatures of nightmares and make The Alien seem like a teddy bear.

    Lamprey 3Prehistoric? They were swimming around in Earth’s waters long before the dinosaurs arrived on the scene, and don’t seem to have evolved much in this time period, indicating a very high survival capability. (Also, most readers of this post would claim that 65 years ago would classify as being prehistoric.)





    Note: I do not know if the Lamprey pictured is identical to the one attached to my hand, but at the time biological research was the last thing on my mind.

    Photograph from Google.

    Brian Williams



    6 responses to “My Fight with a Prehistoric Monster.”

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