FOND MEMORIES: FISH
I can’t really call myself a metal detectorist. Metal detecting, like fishing, is what my wife calls one of my ‘imaginary hobbies’. That is to say, I have all the equipment and know-how but I hardly ever go and when I do I hardly ever find/catch anything. But I certainly do a lot of thinking about my imaginary hobbies. If ever I remember a dream, it almost always involves fish. Not colourful, shimmery fish but large, mud-brown freshwater fish, usually seen from above at the bottom of a deep pool. This comes from a childhood spent staring from bridges and banks into the river Darent in Kent.
To this day I can’t pass close to a river without stopping for a bit and gazing in.
A breakdown of my life’s statistics would show a quite unsettling number of hours – days even – staring at rivers. I find them hypnotising. And I can spot fish where other people can only see shadows.
I knew every inch of about a mile stretch of the Darent when I was growing up. I knew the shallow, pebbly stretches where you could catch crayfish and miller’s thumbs, the mysterious dark pools where the chub would lurk and I knew where the water voles and kingfishers nested.
But what I was always hoping to see was a pike. And when I occasionally did it was thrilling.
There was a legendary monster of a pike, which lived in an inaccessible reedy stretch of the river under the viaduct. I only saw it once, when it ventured upstream. It was immense, four foot long, a dark torpedo slicing through the water. Over the years, as I’ve grown, I’ve exaggerated the size of the pike to keep the story exciting. To be honest, I’m not even convinced I did see it. It might have been one of my fish dreams. Ignore this bit.
ABOVE A stretch of the River Darent in Kent, where Mackenzie Crook whiled away the hours as a child LEFT Did a monstrous pike inhabit the waters there?