Tuesday, 26 February 2013

angels on the wall

It has been a while since I last posted. I just haven’t felt to do so. Any way I was about to launch in to a savage attack on the latest Con-Dem travesties but then I thought give ‘em a break from the irksome, Kafkaesque machinations of government. 
So here is a small tale not a tall tale. The River Adur is situated in West Sussex and stretches from Henfield to Shoreham-by-Sea. The watercourse was once a major trade thoroughfare, serving the thriving medieval villages of Steyning, Beeding and Bramber. Its mouth forms the ancient harbour situated at Shoreham, which has pre-Roman origins.
Now Shoreham is part of the urban sprawl and is joined to Brighton and Hove. The area has a unique and interesting character from the mostly crumbling Georgian splendour that Brighton is famed for to the industrial activities in and around Shoreham Harbour. 
There a man steers his dredging boat around the harbour incessantly. He keeps the harbour navigable by clearing the sand washed in by the tides. He wears a captains hat and waves cheerily to any one who looks his way from the harbour wall. I wonder how he came to be there. He is a master of his own vessel and a captain that never leaves port. I wonder if he screwed up big time on a nautical adventure, like the Italian captain of the Costa Concordia, but not quite so badly. Another possibility is that the good captain of the Shoreham harbour dredger is doing the job he always wanted from boyhood. I hope it is the latter.
A few years ago I was in the area fishing with a friend. We were staying near
Arundel and after a frustrating time lure fishing for pike on the flooding river we headed to the coast for some sea fishing. Shoreham harbour seemed worth a visit so we headed there and parked in a nearby car park. As we did a couple of guys arrived and parked near to us. They began to drag some very old and battered fishing gear from their old motor. We said hello and they set off for the harbour wall while we began to sort out our sea fishing gear from the fresh water lure fishing gear. We were soon set up with light gear and headed off to the wall. On the way we came across our captain of the harbour dredger. My friend went back to the car for some reason and I fished on in a stiff westerly breeze. The harbour wall is high and so you are casting out from it with out being able to see when your lead and bait is going. In spite of this I soon caught a tiny schooly bass which went back instantly. I saw the guys we had met earlier. They were ensconced at the far end of the harbour wall where they were sheltered in the curved end of it.
 I approached them with my rod in hand and they both began to make jokes about the quality of my fishing gear and how I must be much richer than them.  They were very funny and some how completely charming. My friend arrived and they began to make fun of our “proper clothing” and “smart rods”. We both laughed as the jokes continued and included “the posh Toyota Avensis “ we were driving. There gear was ram shackle and rusting. They were fishing with pale balls of some strange substance the size of a tennis ball. I told them I had caught the little bass on mackerel and rag worm. They looked at each other as though I had said moon dust. I asked what their bait was and they said they couldn’t tell me. I assumed this was some secret killer bait so I asked what the fishing was like there. They both laughed and then with a completely straight face one of them said he didn’t know. They had never caught a fish there. I was astonished. I asked how long they had been coming to the harbour to fish. Every year, once a year for thirty years they travelled there by car from London was the reply. With out a fish I asked. With out a fish was their answer. They didn’t fish either. I mean they just sat chatting and left their lines where they were. It turned out one was a retired fireman and the other a retired electrician and one had heard of the EBB.
The previous days had been low key and some how a bit flat, with few high lights. Now my friend and I were mesmerised by these old boys who would have fitted right into the TV series Last Of The Summer Wine. What was it about these guys and why were they really there? My friend and I have spoken about this many times. These guys filled us up with good feelings and good vibes. They made fun of us in a gentle way and they were warm and thoughtful.
It is impossible to fully describe the impact this odd couple had on us. Why did they come all the way from London to fish at Shoreham once a year. They didn’t know why, when asked, but said words to the effect that they just did it. They didn’t really fish and that bait was well weird. During world war two I would have probably contacted the coast guard or the home guard in order to have these two checked out, especially had they any trace of a German accent. In fact they were very English and extremely charming.
Do you ever get the impression that, very occasionally after meeting some folk, you are left with a feeling of being filled right up with good stuff? I honestly felt totally rejuvenated and re-programmed.
We didn’t fish much after we began chatting with our new friends and eventually we all left and headed for our cars. On the way back we watched a couple of young guys on BMX bikes. They were jumping over walls and I was just about to scream DON’T at the one about to jump from a ten foot wall. Next second he was sprawled face down on his face with his bike crashing on top of him. My friend rushed off to our car and came back with the First Aid kit. The lad was soon patched up but we suggested he needed to be checked over at hospital. He was very grateful for the help and we made our way.
Later that night after our strange afternoon we caught so many fish off Brighton Marina wall that we actually got bored with it. There was a moody full moon and the night was magical. The magic persisted until it was time to go back to real life. We have never forgotten our encounter with the old guys. We refer to them as our angels. Can’t really say why but things changed after that afternoon on Shoreham docks. Things really began to look up and I began to work out where I was headed and why. It took me a while to figure where the path was but since I found it I have never looked back.