- journal + blog

Previously on Friday Night at the Pub

++ august 18, 2002

Down at the Pub:
An Introduction of Sorts

When we first arrived in the village, we had to do that Going To The Pub thing.

There are three pubs in this twinned village.

One, The Hare, is just a few doors down from us and has the look, feel and age of a workman's pub: formica floors, yellowed walls (from age and smoke instead of the actual real colour of white), tattered beer posters, topless girl postacard behind the bar, plasticky leather seat wooden chairs, a pile of cribbage boards and domino sets on gouged and water-stained wooden tables. It had been refurbished in 1964 and never changed since. A very good place to hunker down with a notepad or book as there is never anyone in there except a morose bartender. some very low music pipes infrequently from a pair of speakers, some easily forgotten tune just starting up in the middle of a long silence. Sadly, or fortunately, since we moved here the long time owner sold up, and it is closing in a couple of weeks to beturned into a theme-ish restaurant pub. On the second thursday of each month, folk from nearby and not so nearby gather in the evening to sing their music, accompanied by guitar, lute, pennywhistle, earth guitar, accordion, hurdy-gurdy, squeeze-box. I have to admit that i enjoyed attending a few of them and will miss them.

Another pub is the ubiquitously named Black Pony (there seems to be one in every other village). I still haven't been in there, for the sole reason as it's on the other side of the villages. Why trek on down there when there's two closer. Besides, there's the football on, which i always hate to have going on when in a pub. From what I've gathered from the locals, it's mostly a place for the younger crowd, and was recently redone by it's new proprieter, mainly keeping the floors from being so sticky as to pull your shoes off.

The one other pub in the villages (and there used to be 17) is The Cup, an old waystation for passing coaches, run by a gay ex-couple. Billy is the gruff pubmaster who everyone grumbles about behind his back. Jeffrey is the quiet partner, who always has a little smile at small jokes or a rolled eye at a bad one. We stayed there one night testing out the village life, as there are a few hotel rooms in the back. So, it was only natural to head down there on our first Friday here and quietly 'introduce ourselves'.

A pair of men were friendly enough to take us in hand, asking about us, introducing us to the other regulars, and insisting that we continue to return on Fridays. One of them is Rick, a car parts distributor, in his mid-thirties with a burgoening young family. What has struck me most about him is an unquenchable curiousity about how things are, and the ease he has of including people into conversations and carrying the gab along when it begins to lag. The other is Carter, a mid-forties air-conditioning unit salesman, with one son about to head off to college. Opinionated and world-wise, he can puncture someone else hot air with a quick quip, and exlts about local sights and amenities. I'm one of those people who always finds it hard to fit in, to jump into a conversation, but with these two around, I end up feeling more a part of the gang, and participating in the atmosphere.


This last friday was a bit of a treat, just in that it was warm enough to hang out in a small patio outside the pub. Inside, the Cup was a sauna, and instant sweat as I went in. The bartender was already holding up a pintglass and asking 'Tetleys?". Now and then i switch beers, which is why they ask. I've always been wont to try different ones, find out which will knock me out quicker, or is a fine brew to savour for a while. Most of the people arriving, though, have their drinks ready just as they make it to the bar.

Dave and Rob were talking at one end of the bar about places below Southwold to go seabathing. Dave is an unassuming 40ish bloke who is a fan of bluegrass music. Quiet as me usually, but will give a shrug and a comment about most anything. Rob is the old guy, the one who knows all the local lore, with a strong suffolk accent. He'll come with a phrase like 'mother hold the candle while i shave the chicken's lip' (and the story behind that is even odder). He had some prostrate problems lately, and wasn't afraid to share all the particulars when you'd ask how he was. ie, "Hey, Rob, how are you?" "Ah, pretty good, pretty good, but I'm a bit worried about all the blood still coming out." When he's also telling this to cute girls paying attention to him just tickles me to death.

Outside were the rest of the regulars. Rick and Carter were there, Carter having just returned from a sailing trip and enthusing about the Les Ecroux islands below Jersey. Apparently, there are over a hundred of them, all but three covered when high tide comes in. Sitting on a 43 foot boat and watching them become submerged, he said, was one of the most memorable and calming things he'd seen. Rick's best friend Jeeves was in, along with his girlfriend, Wooster. They'd recently bought a house nearby, and were going to sleep on the floorboards that night. The envy of all the men there was apparent.

A middle-aged couple, Harriet and Harvey, were also there. These two run the newsagent next door, and are the most pleasant and amusing sorts. Harriet remembers everyone's names, and is quickwitted. Harvey has a wide sense of humour, and a wealth of stories. This time was about the exact timetables in Switzerland. He also plays lawndarts, but i suppose no one's perfect.

Scattered about were people I'd seen, or swapped a few words, but hell if I can remember names. I'm really bad about this. I suppose the secret is to always say someone's names after being introduced, but I can't grasp it. Names hold on the edge of my tongue and slip out hours later. "oh, that's their name!" And it doesn't help that I've changed all the names to protect my innocence here.

I couldn't buy another drink. Someone would keep getting a round in and add me in. I've taken to just asking for a half: one, because I'm a slow drinker anyway; two, because it just seems rude to keep getting basically free pints. So instead i get the 'lightweight' jokes, toast the fellow, and get on with the conversation at hand. Which included: handshakes in Brixton, gripes about the Cup landlord, the all night sessions at another closed pub (its former owner was among us), lobster (and how they change colour when boiled), the fine warm summer night, the recent meteors, heyoka's health, where so-and-so had gone to, how last week's car rally was, and the need for a decent restaurant in the area.

Eventually, we were kicked back inside. Fair enough, it had reached midnight, the place should technically be closed, but as usual for a friday night, drinks were being served long into the night. Compliments on my pinocchio shirt were made, and I strugled with a conversation about the NHS with a bit too drunk Frodo, Carter's underage son. Um, okay, serving after hours, serving the underage (okay, he's under supervision), there's nothing wrong with that, right? Before even more illegal activities occurred (like Christmas night, when the carols were followed by a stripper), it was time to head home. The orange moon was far under the horizon, the stars were winking and spinning a bit. The street was quiet. And heyoka was waiting for all the local gossip.

++ september 1, 2002

Friday night at the pub 2:
Of closures, departures and Cajun Food

Strolling down the hundred yards or so to the local, an orange moon winked behind wisps of smoky cloud. In the Cup, Billy behind the bar actually asked what I was having. Tetley's Bitter, as I have for months. You notice these things. Well, at least he remembered my name. Carter and Rick were holding up the end of the bar with Harriet and Harvey, so I wandered over there and greeted them.

The big news was H & H's forthcoming departure. They'd sold the shop and home and would be retiring to Lowestoft in a week. It'd been in the running for a while. They'd had the shop for donkey's years, and the morning after stock taking will be their first lie-in, discounting holidays away, since they'd begun. I think the villages will miss them terribly.

Further down the road is a Co-op shop that by agreement with H&H didn't carry many newspapers or magazines. However, a much larger shop is being built behind the current one, to open early next year, and I suspect then the deal would be off. Still, part of the appeal of the newsagent is not only being able to order in any magazine, but also delivery. Lots of people need that sunday morning paper on the doorstep. Myself, I truly enjoy my weekend wander down to the shop and exchanging a few pleasantries and jokes with Coral behind the till. (All the employees are being let go there too, as the new owners will run it all themselves. So I will also miss the various jokes and pleasantries exchanged across the till.) Along the way, there's always the familiar people and strangers who always say 'good morning'. One of the things I miss about London, and living in Soho, were weekend mornings popping down the the newsagent there for the paper, and then next door for a couple of crab-like croissant, or a pain au chocolate. It always felt both extravagent and comforting.

The Hare has shut, and I didn't get the chance to photograph what it's like now, saving it for posterity.

Ye Olde Village Shoppe (yes, that's its name) uphill also seems to have changed hands. Even though it's closer to the house, I always seem to head to the newsagent instead for the emergency milk, I think just because it's downhill. So, some days I find myself thinking, "oh, I could get that at Ye Olde Village Shoppe" and head uphill.

- - - -

The other topic of conversation was seafood, as Carter was still doling out tales of his sailing trip. Lobster, crabs, whelks, prawns, cod, salmon, and oysters. Turned out H & H had never had oysters, so we were describing the various ways of eating them. Harvey didn't see the point of not chewing them ("the thing you just swallow is pills, and that's so you don't taste thm. What's the joy of not tasting your food?"), and everyone else agreed. All the talk about oysters put me in mind of having oyster shooters at Le Bistro Montage in Portland, Oregon. For the life of me, though, I can't remember what they tasted like. worcester sauce and vodka with chopped up oysters? tabasco?

Montage is one of of those original places you don't seem to find anywhere else. It was open way late, sometimes until 4 am, a huge hall with a mostly cajun menu. You'd pile in after a franticly fun night and nurse the last ravages of drunkenness with anything that looked good, but mostly mac and cheese. You'd invariably order too much, one reason being because you're too drunk too make a wise choice about the size of your stomach, the other being that all the leftovers were wrapped in foil in the shape of some cute animal: snail, lobsters, butterfly. foilagami. Located under an overpass on the northeast quadrant of Portland, you'd then stumble home with your mates, the ubiquitous rain dripping in puddles echoing along with your laughters and chatter and overhead traffic, stomach full, lugging a foil crab, heading home or back to a party and feeling that this was the life.

++ september 24, 2002

friday night at the pub 3:
Reading, Drinking and More Reading

I made that faux pas of bringing a book with me to the pub. It's hard to break the habit of bringing a book with me everywhere, especially to coffeeshops, my favourite place to hang out. There are, of course, none in the village. The tea shop a few doors down opened for a few months in the summer and then closed suddenly and mysteriously. It had been doing well, but a blackboard announces it closed due to poor health, either of the owner or her family this is not proclaimed. A SOLD real estate sign also appeared. Given the quickness of gossip around here, one would think the real reason would be known, but no one really knows yet.

I have a thing about reading, one of those habits I share with heyoka. I read a paper or two in the morning, over coffee and a bowl of cereal, read over another cup before starting work, read during a break, read when home, read while on a walk, read on a bus, read on a train, read on the Tube, read waiting for a bath to fill with hot water, read in the bath, read before falling asleep... and the cycle returning in the morning. I usually have a few different books going at the same time: one to read for fluff, a quick entertainment; another for local information; another for a larger piece of the world whether biographical, historical, scientific or quirky; another work of fluff; and an old favourite i just have to reread again. I also read online, all the time to be literal, but a lot of the encyclopedic works on Everything2, where I spend most of my online time.

Reading is compulsive with me. Although I do find myself more and more staring into space after reading a bit now, instead of hunched over swallowing all the text, whenever there is nothing else to do I have to read.

So, by habit I had a book with me to read when heading down to the pub, just in case the regulars weren't there and I had 'nothing else to do'. I hate standing around in the pub, and I'm actually pretty bad at sparking up conversations with strangers. But I shouldn't really have worried. I got a bit of grief from the regulars about carrying a book, and later in the evening I got into a discussion with the mother of one of the bartenders, Dave's Mom. She's been Dave's Mom since he started school. Dave's Mom used to read all the time, doesn't feel she has the time for it, so I confessed the above, and recommended a few recent good books. Dave doesn't read for pleasure. Ever.

I had an Uncle who didn't either. This was the oddest thing to me. Sure, i like Movies and tv or entertainment, but the power and joy of words, of language, of tales translating from letters to images in the head, of a description of emotion recognized and felt is something I will always need. Dave's Mom said she just wanted him to read to expand his vocabulary. Dave said he'd just rather watch TV. An attempt to discover what he watched failed, so instead we teased him about his shirt.

Well, at least I met a new person to talk to down at the pub.

I've started a recent reads section elsewhere on the site.

++ october 8, 2002

Friday Night at the Pub 4:
Sparking Spicy Segues

A few weeks ago, a couple from Bury St. Edmunds moved into the village. We'd met them a few times, as the male half, Wooster, is Rick's best friend, and they would come to The Cup every few weeks. A couple of fridays ago at the pub, Carter was giving them the lowdown on Things To Do and Local Places To Patronise, which was exactly what he did when heyoka and I moved here. It was nice to now be able to second the various recommendations, and give additional information, as in Who Takes Cards and Who Takes Cheques, opening hours and half-days, and what was in season.

Their move was a series of mishaps after another, including a stove not hooked up, which prompted a search within the pub for the recommendation of a local 'sparky', or electrician. Jeeves first said he'd just get someone in from Bury.

"Bob!" called out Carter to the portly whitehaired man that props up one end of the bar all night, "Know any sparkies in the village?"

Bob came over. "What's that? Oh, a sparky!" Scratching of head, arm, pulling of tufts of hair. Lots of hmming and hawing. "Well, depends on how much work there is, oh, hooking up a stove? well..." More hmming. "I'd say, well, let's see..." Several more minutes of tuft pulling, arm rubbing, looking up at the ceiling. "No, nobody's coming to mind, nowadays, well, not anyone really reliable. It's not to say they're no good, just, well, you know." A couple more hmms, then a definitive "No, can't say as I do."

Carter then pointed out that if it was just hooking up a stove, Jeeves could probably do it himself. Jeeves explained that he probably could, but then again... "Dave!" called out Carter to the stocky shaved head man that props up the other end of the bar, "Know any sparkies for a simple job?"

Dave came over, hmmed, hawed, rocked on his feet, rubbed his chin, and finally came to the same conclusion as Bob: "No". He did point out it was a pretty easy sort of thing to do, although he hadn't really done it.

Jeeves then said, "Well, the wires were chopped off straight at the wall, so I'm not..."

"Oh, shit." said Carter, Dave, and Bob. "Better get someone from Bury."

- - - -

Later, we were talking about sticking things in the ground and growing them. Carter had bought a chili plant this spring, put it in his greenhouse, and expected a few chilis from it. Instead he got hundreds.

So, last week, he brought in a few bags. I'd shown up a bit late, just catching the last bit of Rick and Jeeves falling over laughing about some novelty singer one of them had seen and the bad Italian accent the guy had. Jeeves took off, and, while we were talking about tires with another Dave (owlish, drives a ferrari, just had knee surgery), Carter offered me a few of his chilis. I thanked him, pocketing a couple to use in a stirfry.

"No, no," insisted Rick. "you've got to eat one. Everyone here has."

"Are you nuts? I'll save them for my stirfry."

"C'mon! We've all done it, have to stick together."

I shrugged, and chewed one down to its stem.

And flushed five colours, sweated out buckets, downed a pint (which i couldn't taste), and sweated that pint out and downed another. Started hiccupping for the next half hour, feeling like I was in a sauna.

"You couldn't pay me to eat one of those raw," deadpanned Carter.

"Hey!" grinned Rick, holding out a red one. "Jeeves ate two."

++ october 13, 2002

Friday Night at the Pub 5:
No longer the Topic of Conversation + Bingo!

heyoka decided she wanted to get herself to the pub, even though she couldn't drink, but mainly to get out of the house and prove to the locals that I didn't have her chopped up in pieces and stored in the cellar, or that she was just a figment of my imagination, who only became real for a few months.

I haven't mentioned it, but she's been knocked down since June with a Mystery Illness, still undiagnosed by the doctors. Although we think it's still what we thought in the first place: the ravages of amoebas caught on her last trip to Syria. The combination of the intense pain she's been in, and the very strong painkillers she's had to take, has kept her energy too low to walk the couple of hundred yards to the pub. And if she had one drink she'd be knocked out anyway.

So this proved to them all that i wasn't an axe murderer or a master of illusion. It also relieved me of the weekly 'how's heyoka?' exchange i would have to do about five times a pub visit.

Surprisingly, even though I thought I'd be keeping silent and letting her do all the talking, I found myself actually holding conversations with other people, or back to the chiming in on what she and someone else was talking about.

The big news At The Pub is a group of guys planning a fishing trip in the sea off southwold. Unfortunately, I'm too broke to join them, because it seems like a real blast, once one got past the chumming, er feeding the fishes and the bleak weather they are bound to have. Hopefully, they will do it again in six weeks or so and I will be able to go along.

It's been about fifteen years since I went deep sea fishing, a trip in which i caught the biggest fish, the smallest fish, the heaviest fish... THE ONLY FISH. A fishtale I can always tell as it's my very own. Went with my brother, a cousin, my dad and an uncle, off the coast of Central Oregon.

- - - -

We learned an actally interesting fact this evening, as opposed to those ones you nod and smile and forget about because you kow someone is going to repeat it the following week.

It is impossible to cheat at Bingo.

We racked our brains, and supposed and queried, but the bingo hall expert proved us wrong on all regards. Safer for a gambling establishment than almost any other, Bingo guarantees a good profit for the house, and fine entertainment for the gamblers.

++22 October 2002

friday night at the pub 6:
Birds of a Feather

Bob and Dave were raring to go. Bob is about twice as old as I am, Dave somewhere in his eighties. Once I had walked in and grabbed a stool (nice comfy ones with arms that bucket around and good to kick back in and feel like a resident) and a pint, Dave asked me about the old sniper business in the states. I joked about a white van down the road and that got us all laughing.

This is a good thing in a pub. Make anyone laugh at least once an evening, and you're all right. Tips for doing so: Some topical joke heard during the week, doesn't matter if everyone has heard it already. Wry comment on the news; dry wit is very welcome in pubs. Personality joke about someone not there, or about to arrie, or just left, but couched in the sort of way that that person is just fine inspite of this personality flaw; if you capture an aspect of someone in such a way that most will agree with it, there is also bound to be a knowing laugh. Make a slight fool of yourself, but shrug it off, as everyone has done something stupid (see red hot chili episode three weeks ago). Never set up a conversation to make a joke. Never stop someone in the middle of a good story unless you've already told one: you then have the freedom to interject and clarify and bring up your own brief memories. If someone tells a joke you've quite recently told, laugh just as hard, because it is funny, isn't it?

The great thing about sitting next to a couple of old blokes, is that I can get away with being silent. I can tune them in, tune them out when they get repetitive, and when i do speak up, especially when asking a question, it's taken into the swirl of things.

After we moved from sniper to being able to shoot an intruder on your property in most States, somehow we were on eating pheasants. And blackbirds. And pigeons. And moor hens.

Apparently, they are all pretty tasty. I wouldn't really know. last little bird I ate was quail, and i think that was at a High school graduation banquet (my school didn't have 'proms' or dances, just banquets and 'get-togethers').

Yeah, I've had my fill of turkey and chicken, maybe pressed duck from a chinese restaurant, and perhaps i have eaten pigeon from a KFC. But Blackbirds? The ones who were fattening themselves on our figs and our grapes this summer still seemed a little scrawny.

"oh yeah, yeah," said Dave. "this would be a hundred years or so ago, but people did."

"My grandfather did," said Bob. "I'm in my sixties now, but I remember my grandfather shooting them with an air gun and bringing them in for his lunch. with roast potatoes."

One never really knows if the old guys are having you on. Not until much later in an evening will they confess to an exageration. But both Dave and Bob seemed pretty clear: people did eat blackbirds, but they haven't.

Pheasants, on the other hand, act like they were created to be killed. It's an old standard in the country, the pheasant on the side of the road waiting for you to drive by so it can run under your wheels. I have proved time and time again that my brakes are in good order. It's pheasant shooting season nowadays, and yes, when strolling the fields one hears the rifles blasting away ever hour or so. Last fall a large golden plumed pheasant hid in our greenhouse but seemed to be a little lost in there. took a few days before it left via the wide open door right in front of it.

The pigeons in the country are much different from those in the city, especially the 'sky rats' of london. Fat. Big. Healthy. and growing in population. They skulk in trees and then whoosh down to fields and gardens to engulf crumbs.

Rooks seem a bit stringish, too tough to eat, so i didn't ask about them, but Dave mentioned that he'd seen a walnut right at his front gate, and figured a rook must have dropped it. Seems they love walnuts and apply the same sort of methods as thrush do with snails in getting at the sweet nutmeat inside: fly up, and drop them against a rock. A parliament of rooks could just be one telling the others a new particular way of smashing a walnut open on a rock in a field.

A diversion into Dave drinking rather a lot last week (he usually has a few halfpints and heads off at 11pm) and that he felt pretty good the next day caused the two of them to move onto all the pills and water tablets they are taking, and the difficulty or not difficulty of having a good pee. This got a bit repetitive until I remembered I was supposed to pick up some medicine at the health center the next day. Mentioning this, the bartender said the center was open, but the dispensary wasn't except in emergencies. Turned out the next day this wasn't true, but I did spend a few minutes wondering. Tricky thing that: one should believe what a bartender tells you, but I've been discovering that this is only true if the bartender has been tending the same bar for decades. By then they will append possibly untrue info with "I've heard from so and so..." while true info will be given with a shrug and a 'Take this or leave it" tone with the advice. The present landlord is almost but not quite at this point.

Dave finally left, heading home at 11pm, and would be up as ever at 7 am. Bob switched from his pints of bitter to his first of many nightcaps, gin and tonic, trading off buying them with the bartender, with which he got into a discussion of domino scoring that has always boggled me.

Bob sometimes has whisky as a nightcap, it just depends how he feels. It still astounds me the amount people drink in this country. Gallons in a night. And yes, often they go crosseyed, or at least slightly weave, but most of the time, they are exactly the same. Me, a couple of pints and -woof- i'm drunk. Bob here not only drinks at the pub, but if the other pub was still open, he'd be there after closing time. And, during the day, i discover, it seems he visits old housebound friends, and --can't deny a host-- has a few drinks, gin, whisky, vodka, with them. talking over old times, old long gone friends, and making time go by. making time go by.

Friday at the Pub 7
or Fish and Chunder

'I've heard about you.'

These are the words you dread in a small village, even if you are well aware what they've heard. The problem is How Much they heard, and the opinion they formed about it, and if your own clarifications and corrections will sway them over to your side.

In this case it would be about just how green I was on a fishing trip last week.

Several weeks ago, a few of the men in the pub started congregating together and murmering things about bait and tide and money. Planning a fishing trip off the coast near Southwold. When hearing about it, I mentioned how I'd like to, but funds being what they are, count me in for the next one.

Well, hurricanes cancelled the first one, and it was rescheduled, knocking a couple of people out, so one friday down at the pub I was asked if I would like to go. A brief conference with heyoka about price and I agreed.

The last and only time I went deep sea fishing I was, like fifteeen, off the pacific northwest coast, Oregon, going after bass. Of the six of us, I caught the only fish. Also puked over the side once.

The last time I was in the sea was a kayak trip up above monterey bay a decade ago, among the migrating humpback whales. choppy waters, but the exertions of paddling, and the gaping at the magesty of these huge shapes moving up and rolling around us, able to crush us with a single thwap of a flipper, but looking so calm that there was no fear, only awe.

Last Tuesday, I glugged down coffee and met up outside the newsagent to ride out to the coast, listening to the Pogues on the car cassette player. The big news was some young man a couple of dozen miles north had won the recent ten million pound lottery, and, still tagged on prison release for drunk and disorderly, scratchd his head on the news and reckoned he might by a nice house with a lake or something, but nope, didn't really reckon his life would change.

We reached a wharf below Southwold, just next to Walberswick. "That's where you go for crabs!" i was told gleefully, twice. At the pub on friday, this was disputed. One could crab there, but one would only be doing it for the sake it, as the crabs were about as big as one children's hand.

Anyway, we were quickly off, Rick and Jeeves donning various waterproof gear and spooling thread onto fandangled poles, Bob and I just hanging out, actually hanging on to keep from being thrown overboard as the boat raced out to sea. The skipper brought us mugs of coffee and tea, that never spilled as we weaved back and forth with the leaping boat over waves, but cooled quickly in the spray. The coast receded as we sped out to slightly less muddy water.

By the time we anchored, I felt the growing pressure of morning ablutions, so asked after a loo. 'suuuuuurrrrre,' said the skipper, with a look of suspicion that i misinterpeted as 'what does this guy think, we piss over the side?' Squeezing into the confined stores at the front depths of the boat, the slurping of waves hitting the fiberglass around me, and the dim orange light, and lurching motions, followed by my rather potent dump, all combined to make me dizzy. Struggling with the pump to send my gift to the seas, I was asked after. "Fine!" I squealed, "just flushing!"

Emerging from the cabin, everyone again asked if I was ok. "Just fine! Feel better for that!" I announced weakly. Then reeled in a twitching whiting, a holographic rainbow scaled lightly whiskered guy, with a white belly, forearmed lengthed, so claimed to be a keeper, the first of the day. Picture taken of me beaming jovial like.

"Whack!" and the fish was knocked on it's head on the side of a box and tossed in. And a second trip to the belly of the cabin to contribute the morning's coffee back into the sea.

"You okay? you chunder?"

"Yes!" I shouted. "And now I feel Much better!" And reeled in a couple of dogfish, leopard-patterned sharks that curled into a wheel when unhooked. Skin as rough as sandpaper, for which they were used in the old days before sand was glued to paper.

"You look like you've got your proper colour back now!" said Jeeves, wrangling with the snarled line of a broken reel.

"Yeah." I queased.

It was decided that the tide was moving too hard for the fish we were after to be biting ("and the water won't be so rough" accompanied by a sly smile at me), so we moved closer in to shore, with a nice backdrop of a Nuclear reactor dome on the coast. Once we stopped, Jeeves turned to me and said, "You doing all right?"

"Pretty good," i said, turning to spew fluid overboard, then glugging a few sips of water. Calm, cool, coll-urp-ected.

After that it was smooth sailing, so to speak. A porpoise popped its head up now and then to check us out. warbles on the radio spoke of just catching whiting. A moment later i pulled in a healthy fat codling to the cheers of others. Rick pulled one of his own in. A few moments later, his back turned as he baited his hooks again, Jeeves was marvelling at the skin and it flipped out of his hands almost over the side, only saved by Bob's grab. This would have been the worse 'One that Got away' story back in the village.

The skipper had a cool radar that showed when the boat was passing over fish or something of a differnet movenet than the currents, showing up clumpy orange and red against the green phospher. The skipper only shrugged at my sickness, noting that everyone does, even him. Doing this for a dozen years, it didnt seem as if he would ever stop. It is the life. He was amused by my pulling in fish, as there was only once when I didn't bring any writhing creature in. "Looks like another one," he'd chuckle as the pole bent in half in my hands.

After I reeled in another codling, really barely a keeper, we called it a day, even though our catch was paltry, but the sun was quickly setting. We charged back in, followed by rain. On the coast, fireworks for Bonfire day bloomed, glowing lighthouses guiding us to port.

This was the magical part of the trip for me, going home. I did really enjoy myself out to sea, apart from the spewing. Out where the horizon was a flat line at 360 degrees, above a gorgeous sky, bleow the pointing everchanging waves, now and then turning to purple brown and gold silk in reflected sunlight. When we moved locations, gulls would following gliding at the same speed behind us, arcing back and forth, feathers ruffling, and looking damn cool. But, on our boat in, and drive home, all along the way were the flash and spatter of fireworks, sparking memories of the last time I had gone home from Southwold, a day before new year's eve, when it started snowing on the beach, and we drove through a snowstorm home, roads silent until hitting small villages where fireworks were shot into the tv static sky, greening blueing redding brightening falling flakes of snow. One point, lost down some lane, crawling along in silence, windows down, two deer overtook us, heading further down until --as if just realizing we were there-- turning to disappear into the trees.

The catch was small, only two of us caught anything out of the five including the skipper. And divided was only a couple of fish each. Yet I was the one who caught the most, by only a little, but this matters, especially when the story is going around the pub about how I was sick on the boat, diverting the fact that the experts caught less than I did.

So that's what was heard about me, and that's the real story behind it.

We'll be heading back out in a month or so, if the fishing's good. By that time, we'll need a few more tales to tell in the pub.