A holiday fishing tale. The girls get their first catch, and put Dad in a tangle.

January 17, 2012

Mum’s favourite fishing spot was a big, flat rock.

It looked out across the still waters, just an easy stroll from our rented home.

There were lots of rocks to fish from. All shapes and sizes. But Mum liked the big, flat one.

We would wander down there most Sunday nights. Usually after dinner. Each with a hand line. Dad carried the bucket, and the net. And one large bottle of beer.

It was always calming. If there had been anger at home, it left when the bait hit the water.

The old man spent more time sitting than fishing. He seemed to enjoy the quiet.

But Mum was there to fill that bucket. And she usually did. I can remember her catching the biggest flathead I’d ever seen. On her little hand line. A crowd gathered, and she was proud as punch.

Her ability to snare all manner of marine life wasn’t passed down to her son. I liked fishing. I just wasn’t very good at it.

My great claim to fame on the water’s edge was the gift to tangle any fishing line within reach. It was uncanny. I could have all our gear in knots before Dad had taken the top off his bottled brew.

I had this firmly in mind, when the girls decided they wanted to go fishing these holidays.

It seemed safe enough. As long as I kept away from their equipment.

Cheap rods were purchased, and armed with nothing more than a bucket, some bait, and my thongs, we ventured to a ‘secret’ spot on the river.

Daughter Two had caught a fish before. A few years ago. It was a poisonous, spike-covered thing that caused panic on the boardwalk. But a fish nonetheless.

The Teenager was yet to open her account. This was to be her year. She had a steely determination, when lines were cast.

The cause wasn’t helped when her second throw landed in a nearby tree. Local birds were suitably warned.

On cue, her sister pulled in the first fish of the evening. A tiny bream. It took an eternity for me to remove the hook, as it wriggled under my safety thong.

We had cause to reconsider our location a little later. A combination of mozzies the size of army choppers, and a nearby gathering of the local hillbilly clan. Classic banjo wasn’t far away.

The next night, we shifted spots. It was a masterstroke. For Daughter Two. She caught another one. The Teenager caught a small branch, a plastic bag and part of a newspaper.

There was worse to come. Her hook became trapped under a submerged object. She urged me to put my cool drink down, leave my camp chair and provide urgent assistance.

I did as requested, but not before issuing a lecture on the need for her to get tougher in such a battleground. Surely she could sort out a little snag.

This line of reasoning seemed sound, until I took over. The stupid hook had obviously caught the hatch of a slow-moving submarine.

I gave the line one final yank, and to my surprise, it came free. As did the boulder that had been holding it hostage.

It left its watery home, and sped missile-like towards the shore. Directly into my left shin. The scream I unleashed scared away fish in surrounding suburbs.

The following few nights were less eventful. Except for the god-awful tangle I managed to inflict on Daughter Two’s line, while foolishly trying to replace a sinker. Some things never change.

The Teenager kept trying, and eventually landed her first fish later in the week. Although it was under the guidance of the brother-in-law, who is an expert in such matters. I’m pretty sure he managed to avoid serious shin injuries.

We don’t have a big, flat rock. And as yet, no-one has caught a fish large enough to keep. But we’ve found our favourite spot. Mum would be proud.

Handy tips on how to get that first job. Be careful of fancy meats and stinky gumboots.

December 20, 2011

The teenager is in a pickle.

She wants money. Needs folding stuff. ‘Tis the season for shopping, after all. So much to buy, with no dosh to do it.

Even at this early stage in life, it’s clear the eldest daughter likes the finer things in life. A taste for the fancy stuff.

Like most girls her age, she has a passion for fashion. Apparently, one cannot have too many pairs of cut-off shorts and coloured singlets.

It is a constant source of frustration to her, that we rarely support these endeavours. She hears the word ‘no’, constantly. I’m thinking of having a card printed with it, just to save my voice.

At one stage, a suggestion was floated that she might like to do a more around the house, in exchange for an increase in handouts. We all had a hearty chuckle over that one.

What she wants, is a part-time job. Something easy, that pays plenty.

Forget Maccas. She has her sights set on a position in retail. The best of both her worlds. Cash, and cheap dresses.

Sadly, it won’t be happening just yet. She’s not old enough. Those pesky labour inspectors put a stop to sending kiddies her age out to the sand mines.

Things only got worse for the poor girl. Stories from the old days were about to be told. My first two jobs. Both spectacular failures.

My first foray into gainful employment was in a delicatessen. Don’s Deli. It happened to be next door to our local pub. Even then, I was drawn to such establishments.

Much of the trade came from those leaving the hotel. Blokes grabbing something for the missus on the way home. A little extra if curfew had been broken.

The owner had an impressive display of meats carefully displayed in his glass-covered cabinet. All different kinds. From across the world, apparently. This posed major problems for his new employee.

In our house, there were two types of cut meat. Devon, and ham. With a definite leaning to the devon. I hadn’t seen or tasted anything else.

It seemed to frustrate the customers, and Deli Don, when I constantly mixed up orders. Or stared blankly at Mrs Smith, when she asked for six slices of the Hungarian salami. Are you sure you wouldn’t like some of the devon instead?

I left the deli world soon after. Around the time that we found the boss was actually known as Dirty Don. And it had nothing to do with the shop’s hygiene practices. More about his interest in enticing staff members into the cold room.

Just when it looked as though I would return to poverty, a mate offered me a chance to work with him. You’ll love it, he promised. Except the smell.

My position at the seafood wholesale place involved some complex tasks. Like putting ice on the fish. Lots of ice. And putting ice on the oyster trays. Lots of ice.

I also discovered that prawns have spikes. There is a method to grab them, and avoid having your hand punctured. I am still unaware of what that method is.

This meant that I would wander around the shop floor, with blood dripping from ripped fingers. The Health Inspector would have had a field day.

It wasn’t all hard toil, however. I still found time to drop the odd prawn in the gumboots of my co-workers. They would fester for the day, leaving socks with a stench that Kenny would have been proud of.

Hosing was also an important part of the job. Nice clean concrete floors. On the odd occasion that I took charge of the nozzle, I would make sure my colleagues got a thorough soaking.

Not sure why, but I didn’t last long there either. And that was just fine. School was nearly done, and I was about to enter the world of radio, where they actually paid people to come up with such tomfoolery.

None of these tales impressed The Teenager. Although she did seem to appreciate the gumboot trick.

We’ll keep sponsoring her a little longer. At least until next year. Then she can chase that dream position.

One thing is certain. She’ll be way more comfortable that I was in those early workplace days. After all, she wouldn’t be seen dead in devon.