Thursday, 23 February 2012

Writing Workshop: A Bit Fishy

The small, blurry picture is like a window back in time. A 2 inch square window back to my youth. 

Back to a time of innocence.

The picture shows part of a garden. At the bottom left of the picture is a patch of well kept lawn. To the right of it are the paving stones that mark the small patio area. Across the middle of the picture is a small wall that marks the boundary between this garden and the next door neighbours. Right at the back of the picture is the garage belonging to the next door house.
Standing right at the front of the picture is an old man, my grandfather.
He's been out, its easy to tell. He's wearing a blue outdoor coat. His beige cap is at a jaunty angle, a cigarette hangs from his mouth.
He's just got back, and I have a strong feeling about this, from an afternoon out with me. My grandfather is stood there posing for a picture with a trout in each hand. He's been fly fishing and this is what he's caught. Dinner. Not for him, not for us but for his dog Judy. Nice fresh trout for her dinner.
I have a strong feeling that he's been out with me because I think the picture was taken after we'd returned from my one and only fishing trip with him.
My grandfather went fishing for as long as I remember. It was his hobby and something that he taught me a little bit about. He used to go fly fishing and he made his own flies on a home-made piece of equipment consisting of a wooden board with a long metal rod inserted into it. At the top of the rod was a small vice that the hooks were inserted into and held in place while the fly was tied.
Just like he taught me to play chess and even gave me my first magnetic chess set, he taught me how to tie flies. In fact I still have a book he gave me on how to ties flies. I've never tied flies or even gone fishing since then but I bet that I could still tie a simple fly even now 30 years later if I tried.
My grandfather taught me such wonderful skills, things that will stay with me all my life.
If he'd lived a bit longer than he did then I'm sure that he'd eventually have taught me how to drive. Now that would have been something.
As I think about those times from the vantage of 30 years and write about it I realise just how much my grandparents and even my parents taught me.
My grandmother was a strong woman. My grandfather was a strong but quiet man. Industrious.
My mother is the same as her mother. My father is very similar to my grandfather, quiet and strong.
By nature I'm a quiet, person but with a core of steel. As a friend describes me, I'm strong and sassy. I can put up with a lot but when I've had enough then beware. I'm fiercely protective of those I care for and will go out of my way to help them.
Perspective is an interesting thing. Sometimes we are so close to things that we can't see everything. Its only when we are able to step back and take a good, long hard look at things that we actually see things more clearly. Today I've done that and learnt something about myself, something that I hadn't appreciated properly, something that will affect how I see lots of things both now and in the future.

And the picture?

If my memory serves right then it was taken shortly after my grandfather had taken me fishing for the first and only time. We'd gone to the Neuadd Reservoir and spent the afternoon there. My grandfather had shown me how to attach a fly to the line and then helped me to cast it out onto the water. We'd been stood on the Reservoir wall, about 15 feet above the water.
My grandfather caught a trout, removed it from the hook and placed it in the big satchel he used to carry his catch. We'd continued fishing and eventually there was a bite on my line and he'd helped me reel in a second trout. With that one in the bag too we cast our lines out over the water again and settled down to see if we could catch any more.
His satchel was resting by my feet and from time to time it would jerk as the fish within it slowly suffocated and died. This was a bit disconcerting so every time it jerked and while he wasn't watching I gave the back a kick, doing my best to help the fish on their journey to that giant fish pond in the sky. 
We never did catch anything else that day and with the afternoon drawing to a close packed up and returned home.
My one and only fishing trip with him and something I'll always treasure, just like that photo.

This post was written for Josie's Writing Workshop. The task to take a picture and walk around it using words.


  1. It's interesting to look back and think about how much people taught us when we were young.
    I've always thought that I'm pretty much self-taught - but as I was reading this I thought back and remember being taught all sorts of things when I was a kid.
    I never did quite get the hang of fishing though ;)

    nice use of the prompt :)

  2. This is great - what really brought it to life for me was that bit about the satchel and your kicks. I love how the things we learn as children stay with us. :)