Bigots, bores and know-it-alls don't have to make your life as miserable as theirs.

I did as I always do when arriving to fish; I sat and watched the world go by. It helps to concentrate my mind on the task ahead. I watched the ducks preening themselves on the bank, the swans gliding slowly along the far shore shepherding their, by now, large offspring and the last of the swallows swooping and diving for their last meal before their flight south. My quiet contemplation wasn't to last long.

He came from nowhere arriving like the first cold wind of autumn. He was the type that seems able to find me be it in a pub, on top of a mountain or on the bank of loch or river. As soon as he saw me he launched into his spiel; "Your first time here?"; "….what you want to use is…"; "I've fished here there and everywhere." "….caught this here…….that there…." "…….hundred fish….all over two pound…." I listened for the first few minutes then let his droning voice pass over me; he never let up; I never spoke, just the odd nod or grunt as if I was listening.

The wind meanwhile had dropped to nothing, the sun was warm for September and the odd late bee was buzzing round the last of the flowers. Every now and again a zephyr would rush across the water causing small ripples and swirls to form, probably coming from the mouth of my new companion. He was now onto the state of the country, the foreign nationals coming in and taking all the jobs, the government, his wife and anything else he thought I might be interested in; still I nodded and grunted; he never noticed as he was by now into full flow.

His views became more and more extreme. "…kick all the migrant workers out….", "…..get rid of the Asians, blacks, Muslims etc.…" What had this to do with fishing? He was beginning to annoy me now. If he had just kept to fishing I would have sat and listened for longer but I know people from the groups he was targeting and I didn't need some stranger spouting off half truths about them.

I slowly rose from my sitting position, excused myself, and walked to the water. I had noticed the slightest movement some ten yards from the shore. Casting into the general area I slowly retrieved, I could feel my new 'friend' watching me with some amusement. The fish came up and gently took the floating nymph on the top dropper, hardly breaking the surface. "You won't catch anything there" called my 'friend' from behind me. I raised the rod tip and the water exploded, there was spray everywhere, the fish jumped once, twice, three times then bore deep bending the rod and taking line. Eventually I had it under control and brought it into the bank; a fish of perhaps a pound; I unhooked it and let it go.

I turned and my new 'friend' had gone.

Maybe it was something I said.

2007 Alexander Birrell

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