whilst you were gorging on your winter harvest of fat monks me and g were punted up on blenheim for the last supper, the final cast before g tied the blood knot and got married. lost count of the false casts and pulled hooks that had led to this day but there we were the anticipation greater than ever. as best man it was my job not to forget the bait. the day was breezy, a westerly rolling in from ireland bringing scudding clouds and the threat of showers, a hint of spring but nothing more. the floods had brought the level of the lake up by over two feet, some feat when you consider its vast size. occasionally in winter the boathouse there is full of fry penned in by perch and jacks but today the water was clear of souls and we rowed out to the slope. we put the baits into eighteen feet of water and waited for marlborough’s blast on the bugle and for the fish to come over the hill. at lunch there was a shooting party on the horizon birds dropping into the water but it wasn’t until dusk that the music started. g’s float vanished and his rod looped round. it was a good fish from the off staying deep and diving for the anchor rope. after a fight of ten, maybe even fifteen minutes it was the net. what god has created let no run cast asunder. shoulders like a horse jaws clamped shut. a stout eighteen pounds. the hooks were out without a struggle and the net was thrown over the side of the punt for the staff of the house to see the evidence. centuries of them from the butler to the cook standing on the lawn with the lights from the house in the background applauding as g climbed the path away from the boathouse smiling and laughing because he knew it was meant to be.
bells ringing out on the bird table