whilst you were away with the travelling circus, juggling whisky bottles and walking across the tightrope high above la morinais i was with g concocting a counter plot to november 5th. we met in the priest hole under the stairs at the cheshire cheese, took the stone steps down into the cellar and walked through the labrynth of underground passages past lost toshers a hundred years high on brick dust and rats’ livers, ignoring their shouts and echoed yells til we found the grimy path to sunbury. the boatyard at wilsons the same as it was in the early summer, the green punts lying up on the lawn, mr wilson saying not to come too close because he’d caught something from the river, the dizzy sickness he called it. g and i fished the swims next to the lawns and the sheds, their green soft for one last morning before the winter would steal it for shades of december brown. trees in yellow leaf as vivid as sulphur, the water murky but gentle not giving away any secrets. church bells every hour, the hands on the clock eager to fall back one hour at midnight. we followed our floats down familiar runs and trots but to no avail, not a bite to be had. the toshers had all the silver fish tied up in a sack and were getting drunk on gin in some distant drain. snarling terriers in their pockets wanting rats.
we fished tiny penny sprats off the weir sill in the hope of a pike dressed in a frock coat and laid out in a wheelbarrow until the gas lamps were lit but we wentï¿¼ without a touch. afterwards we drank best bitter in the magpie and sloped back to town.
i went back a few days later and mr wilson was in hospital, the fever turning to a rash. they say he should be alright. i fished the same swims but with little heart and spent the day watching the leaves come down.
prayer for one of the river’s originals on the bird table