Caught by the River

Napoleon's Eyewash

Dexter Petley | 22nd August 2007


the last week has disappeared like an old master under new daubs, a clean sweep like your long shingle beaches. in other words, lost time, lost photos, lost fish. from your ballad of the back-roads i can’t believe our bumpers didn’t cross. except for the mackeral, we were in the same kind of land-warp. 2 friday teatimes ago me and laure took off for the loire on impulse, packing the streamlined version of the 4-day kit: tent, rods, box of matches and a corkscrew. we made beaugency by 8 under skies like a mafia thug’s windscreen. the loire was high and belting and we pitched our tent on the embankment ridge and drank napoleon’s eyewash from a green bottle. the next 3 days we navigated the dead arm of the loire, a basket weavers dream, a wadi of whicker saplings and ridged tracks where only land rovers dare to tread. we bucked in low box for miles alongside a wild river still running at spring levels. chub who haven’t seen a fishing box since genevoix’s day and carp rolling mid-stream who’ve never even seen a chub.

we chilled the wine in the landing net and laure gathered driftwood and built the fire in a rondel of stones. she sharpened roasting sticks from saplings and we ate grilled sausages and baked spuds. the sun came out and bomber harris spotted the smoke and sent faith, hope & charity in jospehine’s montgolfiers as i trotted for dace in an evening feed.

came home to cold rain and dropping temperatures, the pit carp on autumn pay, only turning up for piece work on night shift now. took a hit-and-hold leather from under the trees on penelope pit in a big wind the other night, but blanked on the town pit after running into fellow poachers at midnight, fording the margins with buckets and nets, crayfish mafia as suprised to see me as i was to see them. a man and his 2 sons, an upbringing to save the world from your cider mutants. we swapped notes and passed like herons in the night back to our business. there were carp shelling the margins like lazy artillary from the ridge, but nothing on target.
still on photographic ration pack: the good camera turned up 3rd time lucky off ebay but with the wrong battery. former good one came back from kid’s summer camp broken beyond repair, and the cheap substitute which took the above is no more: it went for 10 euros at a boot sale in the rain. i’ll be sending in sketches of my fish, chalk outlines on the murder mat.

first parsnips on the bird table