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Gone Fishing

Whenever my father hung up the ‘Gone Fishing' sign on the peeling door of his corner shop, everyone knew where to find him and me too. Small as I was, I stood alongside my Dad, swamped in my borrowed waders, but fiercely determined to do my bit.

The villagers came down to find Dad, dropping coins and tatty notes into the tin balanced on a tussock. In return Dad would hand them the store key, so they could go and fill their baskets with booty. The huge iron key would be returned by Little Jimmy or Janie, clenched in a sticky fist. This routine continued throughout the long hazy summer afternoons. Nothing could drag Dad away from the river bank before the afternoon toppled in to silvery dusk.

My father always said he took more money not being in the shop than when he was. But that was then, when everyone knew everyone. Distrust hadn't bled into our village's veins.

When I was nine years old, I painted a squirmy red fish on the sign. I found it, years later, stashed in the storeroom under piles of shelving.

Packing for the fishing trips was quite an undertaking. Dad would stow his stool, thickly cut sandwiches, (wrapped in greaseproof paper and handmade by Mum), his rod, nets, hooks and the (gross, well to me) live bait into his bike's panniers.

Last of all he'd hitch me up on his handlebars. I suspected, but never dared to voice my unspoken fear, that I was the least important part of the trip.

Story by:

Alyson Faye

18 September 2017