Given that my last post landed somewhere between downright scary and truly bizarre, I thought I would try and brighten everyone’s day, by telling you about the one and only time I ever went fishing.
As a child, I idolised my brother. He is fourteen years older than me, and growing up, he was my hero. He adored me just as much as I idolised him. I’m not saying this to sound big-headed or gloating, but merely to give you an idea of our relationship. He was my protector, best friend, play buddy…the one person I could get into scrapes with and know that he wouldn’t tell. He joined the navy straight after leaving school at sixteen, but whenever he came home on leave, he would make sure that a large portion of his time was spent with me. I remember one time – I think I must have been around six or seven-years-old – the fair was in town just as he came home.
“Mum, is it OK to take Stinky to the fair tonight?” I remember him asking. (“Stinky” was his pet name for me, had been ever since he was forced to change my nappy while babysitting me once)
“Yes,” Mum replied, “but you don’t let her go on any fast rides and don’t let her eat the burgers. You don’t know what they put it them”
“OK” he said, and winked at me.
Later that night, we came home after he had taken me on every fast ride I asked to go on and buying me two burgers! If my Mum ever happens to read this, I’m sure it will be illuminating to her, because we never told her to this day! (Sorry Mum)
So when, aged around six, I was given the opportunity to go fishing with my brother, I jumped at the chance. I was so excited, helping him pack up all his tackle, pulling a face at all the maggots wriggling around in the plastic bait box, and feeling a bit put out when he laughed at me for saying that he’d “already caught a feather” (well how was I to know it was called a “fly”? I was only six!)
Packed up and wrapped up (it was February and freezing!) we set off. It was a good half hour’s walk to the spot on the canal where we would settle down to see what we could catch. I was told to make sure I kept very quiet, so as not to scare the fish, and to date, I’m convinced that it’s the only time in my life that I have managed to either stay quiet or speak in a whisper for an entire afternoon.
Our catch that day speaks volumes for the kind of area I grew up in. At the end of the afternoon, we packed up all our tackle once more, knowing that our endeavours had netted us: four old boots (none of which matched), three inner tubes for bicycle tyres, two actual bicycle tyres and a shopping trolley! I know that we would have caught something else too, although I have no idea what it was. All I know is that the hook caught on something, and, unable to pull it free, my brother had to cut the line, cursing all the while that he was losing “his best fucking fly!”
Once back home, my Mum asked me whether I’d enjoyed myself. Beaming and giggling, I told her all about our afternoon, all the weird and wonderful things we’d caught, and, I said, “Alan lost his best fucking fly” To this day, I can still see the look that my Mum gave my brother for swearing in front of me. It was a look that only mother’s can give. You all know them. They’re the kind of look that can kill a grown man at twenty paces! My nanna, on the other hand, thought the whole shebang was hilarious! Laughing and giggling almost as much as I was, she sat me on her knee and said, “Fishing teaches you a lot about life, you know”
“Does it?” I asked “How?”
“Well, it teaches you to be patient, to wait for the things that you want. It teaches you to be quiet. And, most importantly, it teaches you that even fish wouldn’t get into trouble if they just kept their mouths shut.”