Caught by the River

Coldwater Revival

Dexter Petley | 15th November 2007


your great british pike bungs are the true symbols of the fallen leaf, the design classic to rival the mini, the land rover of the float world. they should be hung down oxford street come christmas. they should be the olympic logo, the lamb street runners, the ice queen’s earrings, the acceptable fesse of obesity, the billy bunter bribe. they should be signed by the entire cast of the waterlog christmas panto & cast into hornsea mere on new years day. when i flung jack spratts into the rother as a kid, i bought my bungs in the village sweetshop. a quarter ounce of acid drops and a pike bung please mr pullin. pike bungs should be made compulsory in primary schools, “only two pikers at a time” signs on the corner shop doors. but oh, the inconvenience we suffer for tradition: the land rover, the applemac, the barbour, the mitchell 300; burdens of beauty, out-performed every time by cheap modern rivals. i never caught jack nor pike on a gazette bung and snap tackle. the land rover snaps a half shaft if it has to tow uphill; the applemac burns its motherboards when doing the quicktime; barbours break your back and turn to rigour mortis in the cold; and your life is in your macerated hands if you hook anything over 20lbs on a mitchell 300. dreams and beanos, the old tackle is the the studs on the shin we used to get in the east sussex league 1972, when ex-pro trainers only had the one bung in the tactics box: “go for the man”. the pike bung went for the throat. by the time it went under, so was the pike; under the wet towel in the bottom of your whicker basket. but in france the principle is alive and well. you can buy them in the supermarkets, you can find them hanging in the alders. i’ve even seen old resistance men fishing potatos on a treble hook six feet under pike bungs for the carp you only find in flooded bomb crators.

maybe i should’ve got the bungs out yesterday. the town pit in its winter patina:

skies which rushed through their dozens tasks both sides of rain:

an hour before dark a scattering of carp nudge surface out of range, moving in but not on my schedule. sitting out the two hours after dark is an endurance now, the lugging of clothes instead of bait makes the mile walk back easy to postpone. the church clock strikes eight on the moth-balled fleet. upping sticks, gloves off on a november night, puts spring a long way off. smoke from chimneys drifts over the lake and twists of it rub the windscreen as i turn the headlights on, like special effects from a zombie set. home to air cooled vouvray and the kind of email i never got from a publisher before: waterstones are gonna 3for2 my novel in january. makes blanking feasible, the 1 for 10 of winter carping.

book tokens on the bird table