When you see a life belt floating midstream at high tide it can mean one of 2 things – there’s someone in danger somewhere and maybe slipped through the belt into the murky depths of the river Parrett below, or some idiots just gone and thrown one in for a laugh. Either way, it was the high morning tide , it was turning and very soon the belt would be swept down stream and out to sea. And , knowing the River Parrett, swept back up again, then out again, then up again, eventually washing up somewhere near Highbridge. A fate no one deserves. Eagle eyed Westover councillor HMS Smedley on crowsnest duty (well, in a cafe) spotted the trauma as it unfolded and leapt into action.
“To me it looked a bit dangerous so I phoned Clean Surroundings for them to come and get it” said the councillor to the hordes of surrounding press. Well, to the 2 Turkish kids playing football on the Quayside “But there was no answer, and the tide was turning. This could be a disaster. Admittedly, not a terribly big one. My first port of call was a passing Canadian tourist. But I couldn’t persuade her to jump in. Then we both remembered the ex Royal Marine commando who lived on the corner of Castle Street and West Quay. Bang bang, your country needs you. Well, your council. Can you jump in the river?”
“No but I know a man who can” The Major leapt into action as the Councillor held his coat. Able Seaman Phil, who was having his breakfast, was press-ganged into the SBS for the next 10 excitement packed minutes and dangled over the parapet of the West Quay wall with nothing but a length of plywood with a paint roller taped to it.
It was touch and go as the lifebelt drifted 2cm further out to the turbulence of mid channel and potential catastrophe. With arms outstretched, pole extended and a mildly worried look on his face as the Major clung on to his ear, Phil took his chance and skillfully hooked the lifebelt from the watery depths and back to the community which probably hadn’t yet noticed it missing.
“These 2 deserve a medal” said Cllr Smedley “If they gave medals for pulling things out of rivers that people shouldn’t have thrown in in the first place, then I’d be recommending these two brave maritime heroes. Scott of the Antarctic, Horatio Hornblower, Fletcher Christian all pale into insignificance and I know of not one single incidence when any of them have been ready and willing at such short notice on Bridgwater’s West Quay. People can certainly sleep safely in their beds when we have men of this calibre around. And I would also say, if it wasn’t for me noticing the bloody thing in the first place…(continues rambling on about something”
I was taking a bath
Clean Surroundings supremo James Presdee, who came to collect the lifebelt, said “Can people not throw our lifebelts in the river please?”