Wednesday, 28 October 2015
A Dream of a City beginning with A (part 2)
Along Tamaki Drive, I hear the universal sound of the marina; cable banging on mast. There are boats everywhere, preparing, it seems, for a mass exodus in a flotilla of wealth. Masters of land, explorers of the sea. Plunderers of the deep and the shallow; businessmen with professional fishing gear. Some people are taking their pleasures very seriously. Working hard, playing hard. Got all the gear, Being seen getting all the gear.
Fishing was not an activity which ever grew into more than an occasional pastime for me. As a child I clambered over rocks with my crab line every summer and all day sat contented beside rockpools while, nearby, salmon left the River Bush for the adventure of the North Atlantic, negotiating the headland of Portballintrae by swerving the dangling lines of hopeful young men up from the towns. The smell of fish was everywhere, all day all summer long.
Even at that age I went the extra mile for solitude and clung to the rockpools where the stillness of the water allowed visibility of the curious world within, until one year my father bought me a wee mustard coloured rod, and I prized myself away from the hermetic world of rockpools to casting off from the harbour. Mostly this ended in entangling the line around the spool and rod in a hopeless mess. I never caught anything until one day a fish accidentally swam into the hook. I felt the strain on the rod and carefully reeled it in with nervous excitement. But instead of the fish gorging on my wily bait, it had managed to impale the hook in its eye. Certainly it did not feel like a proper catch. In fact, I felt distinctly awful that it had been cruel fate rather than any sporting skill which had given me my first, and last, catch.
Now I imagine sharks gliding past my head like repugnant memories waiting to pounce. I gaze at them as nonchalantly as I can muster. The other fish avoid their dead, predatory eyes. Here in the tank at the aquarium, all is balanced in a precious and precarious harmony. Another shark passes overhead. Beside me, my son presses his face against the glass fearlessly. His eyes are alive with wonder as he sees this world for the fist time.