Caught by the River

Blood on the Matchmaker's Apron

Dexter Petley | 6th January 2008


i trust the clank is now the distant thud of an empty bottle in the recycling bin, that your apothecary has other brows to wipe, that the bream-cough has been weighed on the reaper’s own avons and returned undersized to frank barlow’s locker upstream of us, and that your convalescence involves a healthy dose of pike-fever.
my reply too is long overdue, though the all-clear sounded on arcadia’s western front the last full moon. me, i’m sound as the euro again, the bream cough a minnow’s whisper, but the rods are still bundled, the boilies in kryonic suspension, the wild boar christmas dinner gone full cycle from roast to cold cut, sandwich, curry and finally enveloped by a pastie coffin awaiting the final mouthful in a fishing bag. like all wild pigs, there is a story behind him, though it’s mostly obituary, post-execution. he was, i’m afraid to say, shot on my orders. word was passed to my local village butcher whose meat box of a shop is kept at 4 degrees. a man of steel blades and sacrificial chopping blocks of seasoned oak, his medals under glass beside the goose paté, his bravery for the trade well recognised; champion’s league tripe and a guiness book of records entry for the worlds longest sausage, 611 metres. he sends the blue ticket, the gloucester blackspot sign of the boar, to his men in the forest at verneuil. in the drizzle of a tuesday mist they shot the traitor, smuggling acorns. so i go pick him up, he’s reduced to a gigot. 3 years i’ve been buying sausages off monsieur prevost this cutfingered butcher, and i never knew he prefered fish. and fishing. an angler with his own backdoor redmire not 2 miles from here. the reason he shuts shop. islands, a sunken tree, bubbles at dawn, pike he puts back, carp who burn the paint off quills. a tough half hour convincing him of my credentials and i got the invite, money changed hands for more sausages and cup winning black puddings i didn’t need but sealed good faith. he doesn’t fish the winter. we wait till march when they’ll be buckets of bullock blood in the margins, my blue bloody butcher at the gates of dawn ushering me under the trees to pork pie corner where the carp are on champagne.
the december freeze up is a distant star:

the swim looked like this last time i saw it and now it’s a village team goalmouth quagmire, with temperatures putting the wrinkles of feeding crucians back on my pond, so monday i’m on the town pit for a flask of tea with a couple of pop-ups renewing the long awaited replay.
is that caravan photo real or a dinky covered in moss?

boyd tonkin on the bird table