Sunday, 2 October 2011

by Chris Hammond

Following a mass exodus from the Pike and Predators forum to the all new singing and dancing forum that our deity Ben Aspinall has created it became apparent that the management had little regard for at least a proportion of their readership.

Whether that disregard carries over to the monthly magazine is a subjective matter I suppose, but for me personally the magazine has gone from strength to weakness since James Holgate sadly departed this world. Some of us felt there was a need for some diversity and freshness in the world of pike, and indeed general angling writing. Hence the birth of this online mag/blog, ‘The Pike Pool’.

This new venture is not going to be a place for recriminations, so I’m going to draw a line under any connection we might have with the ‘old world’ here and now. I want this facility to be the birthing pool for new and genuine writers. Hopefully with no reward but that of seeing your writing published online, and the chance to pass on interesting and informative angling knowledge and anecdotes, the quality may even eventually surpass what we have become accustomed to in the angling media.

We already have a number of good articles in the locker and will hopefully soon be attracting even more from the wealth of talent and angling experience that our brilliant new forum offers.

I have been a little indulgent in the first offering to go up on the Pike Pool. It is an old story of mine that once appeared in Pikelines (The Pike Angler’s Club’s quarterly members magazine.) Several members will probably have already read it, however I needed experience of the online publishing process and it sort of defines my outlook on, and love of, our mutual pastime. I hope those of you who haven’t read it will enjoy it, and those that have will bear with me and hang around for the next article to go up.

If all goes to plan the next piece up will be from the much respected pike fishing grandee Dave Lumb in a week or so. How’s that for a coup? I’m aiming initially to put articles up at the rate of about one new piece per week. That will give plenty of people a chance to read them and offer any feedback they might like to share before that article slips down the list. Of course they will be archived thereafter, but less likely to be read than whilst holding the frontline position.

That’s about it for this introduction. It only remains to say that I hope you will enjoy the new online reading experience and take part yourselves. After all the whole concept depends on as many people as possible contributing. I firmly believe that each and every one of us has something to offer. I mean when you think about it we wouldn’t be posting on the forum if we didn’t have something to say or were incapable of writing would we? I should also point out that we are not going to be limited to pike and predator writing either. There will, not surprisingly be a bias towards predator related stuff, but I will be publishing articles on any aspect of angling. So get writing!

Happy reading!

Chris Hammond

The old man strained his eyes to see the glossy orange tip of an old pike-bung in the milky half-light of dawn. The float sat motionless on the misty surface of the pool. Across from him a lone coot swam sheepishly from the cover of a dense reed bed, navigating the smouldering surface of the water cautiously, its suspicious eyes darting this way and that. He waited for the ripples from the furtive bird to reach his float, and still his heartbeat fluttered momentarily at the expected bobbing of the orange tip.

The pool was coming to life sluggishly on the cold December morning and he could hear mallards beginning to squabble amongst themselves behind trailing curtains of willow that overhung the margins. Excited still, with the prospect of the recently made first cast of the day, he breathed heavily feeling the clean sting of morning air in his nostrils. An hour quickly passed with no action. He alternated his attention between the float and the mob of argumentative Mallard that harangued one another, endlessly, up and down the pool.

At one point he heard another angler arrive and start setting up in the next swim, thankfully screened from him by a thick jungle of Alder and Hawthorn. The old man was glad of the privacy the shrubbery afforded him. He ‘d hoped to have the pool to himself today. Ordinarily he would have been glad of the company, most likely would have walked around the shrubbery for a chat. Today was different and he only wanted his own company and memories. Today was special.

The blue flash of a Kingfisher shot across his field of view and landed on an Alder branch. His eye’s, weakening with the passage of time, barely having time to focus on the flashing and winking of the majestic bird’s regal plumage before it was away. It stirred him and his mind drifted back to a time long ago. A mist welled up in the wrinkled old eyes as the bittersweet memories flooded back.

Jimmy and he had been inseparable all through their lives. They had lived next door to one another and much of the time during their early years had been spent hunting for bullheads, stone loaches and sticklebacks in the village millstream. There, in the gravel of the shallows they learned how to trap the prized little fish between two jam-jars, slowly manoeuvred into position until one of the wary fish would bolt, in panic, into one of the jars. The technique required consummate patience but the two boys never tired of it and would hold the jam jar aloft in triumph when a successful catch was made. The old man closed his moistening eyes and saw vividly those wonderful creatures, the sultry pug face of the millers thumb and the rainbow hues of the cock sticklebacks, in full breeding finery, gulping nervously behind the curved glass.

The boys had spent all of their spare time together, started at the old village school together, and eventually started work together on the same farm. But most of all they had fished together, gradually, as teenagers, swapping the jam-jars for fine, polished cane rods and robust, mahogany centrepin reels. The stream fish were left behind and the more noble Pike became the main quarry. With only the two rods between them they would take turns, one fishing for roach or dace from the local canal with one rod, while the other fished livebaits for pike on the second rod. Many a jack pike accepted their offerings and the boys quickly learned how to unhook the fish carefully and return them unharmed to the muddy canal.

They’d discovered the pool, as teenagers by sheer luck one sunny may day whilst searching for bird's nests. Jimmy had been adamant that a thick wood lying at the base of a steep valley was certain to be home to a sparrowhawk. An hour spent picking their way cautiously through a dense jungle of blackthorn, sometimes on hand’s and knee’s and they had been unexpectedly rewarded with the wondrous sight of a hidden pool.

The thorn thicket opened out into a narrow glade that bordered the tree-lined water. They could smell the pool long before they could see it. Meadowsweet grew thickly around the banks and its scent hung all around in a thick carpet of honied air. The old man closed his eye’s again letting his mind bathe in the warmth of that memory. He could smell the heady perfume of the wildflowers and grasses across the passage of time.

Soldier straight plumes of willow herb were dotted about, their mauve lanterns tilting away shyly from the warm May sunshine. Here and there disorganised bands of Poppies splashed vermilion over lush green carpets of Sedge and Comfrey. He remembered it had been a beautiful early summer’s day, overhead the cloudless, liquid blue sky had been broken only by the acrobatic swooping and diving of swallows and martins.

The two boys were dumbstruck. In all their explorations they had never found such a place before. The pool was surrounded by the virtually impenetrable moat of vicious Blackthorn and it was plain to see, from the untamed wildness of the banks, that it seldom saw any human visitors.

‘ Come on,’

Jimmy had urged, almost whispering for fear of breaking the spell that held them. They waded through the clinging, waist high meadow plants toward an opening between two tall poplars. Their first glimpse of the pool was breathtaking.

The water was a deep, vivid green in colour. In the still May sunlight it had the texture of velvet. Huge white Lillies, unfurled and billowing on succulent jade saucers dotted the margins, at the southern end they threatened to cover the surface completely. Tall poplars and scrubby alders jockeyed for position around the edge. In many places victims of the autumn winds had fallen, trailing branches into the water. All around the pool the air was alive with the chirring of insects and the maternal chattering and gossiping of reed warblers. Occasionally the chattering became more urgent and accusatory as the neurotic little birds spotted a parasitic cuckoo ghosting slyly into the cover of an elder.

Spellbound, the boys sat in the shade of the poplar watching the natural dramas unfold.

‘Do you think there are fish in here?’

the question echoed the thought on both boys’ minds.

‘Must be,’

Jimmy had answered.

As if to reinforce the point, at that very moment, a shower of young roach had leapt from the shady shelter of a fallen tree, skipping in short bursts through the surface layers of the pool, like a school of miniature porpoises and the water below the fallen tree heaved and boiled as some unseen predator dropped back into the safety of its underwater lair.

At every given opportunity, for the remainder of that summer, the boys visited the pool. Jimmy managed to sneak a billhook and small bow saw out from his father’s shed and they carefully cut and hacked three or four swims out around the banks. They didn’t attempt to fish the pool during the warmer months, happy just to sit in the fragrant clearings peering into the bottle green water. Or lounge on an overhanging tree branch trailing their fingertips in the cool water.

On many occasions they were privy to some spectacular aerial shows from the shoals of silvery roach. A pike would corner them against some unseen underwater barrier and send them scurrying skyward in an effort to avoid it’s merciless teeth. Apart from these sightings neither boy had actually seen a pike in the pool, its perpetually dark surface giving little away, nether the less they had little doubt that it held some real monsters. They planned to begin fishing it in October when the thick bands of lilies would have begun to die back a bit.

When they weren’t at the pool they would talk endlessly about it and the possible size of the pike it held and how they might bring about the downfall of one of them. All their other favourite spots were forgotten and neither boy could think of fishing anywhere else. It soon became an obsession with them and he remembered how Jimmy had ended up convincing both of them that the pool must hold a thirty-pound fish. Such a fish was almost unheard of those days even amongst the older pike anglers that they knew.

The first of October saw them returning to the pool armed with their assortment of tackle, fired up with excitement and ready to do battle with the monster pike. It seemed to take an age to cycle there that day the old man remembered. He had hardly been able to keep pace with Jimmy as they rocketed down the final slope. They reached the bottom and quickly and unceremoniously stashed their bicycles in the Blackthorn thicket.

The swim they had discovered originally was chosen and before long two orange bungs were bobbing in unison on the gently rippled surface of the pool. Not many minutes had passed when Jimmy’s bung, positioned close to the fallen Alder, jinked once then slid swiftly down out of sight. He paused briefly, then, aware of the tangled knot of snags and not wanting to lose his precious tackle, he struck into the fish with gusto. For a fleeting moment there was no movement from below as the pike hung in the water bemused. Jimmy piped, in a shrill voice,

‘He’s on!’

A short tussle ensued as he plied sidestrain in an effort to encourage the pike away from the treacherous snags. The pike, having woken up, shook its head violently trying to throw the nuisance fish from its mouth. Jimmy could feel the fish’s every movement pulsing through the living cane and was quick to allow the beast line when the pike, unable to throw the sharp hooks, turned and torpedoed out of the tree snags. It headed determindedly for a cluster of die-hard Lillies and the trembling lad kept his cool thumbing the drum of the whirring reel, making the fish work for every inch of freedom. Two yards from the Lillies the pike gave up that ploy and, for a short pause allowed Jimmy to make some line as it wondered what to do next. Out in the open water he was soon able to ‘dog walk the fish into submission and the net was made ready. Both boys gasped in wonder as the mottled giant slid easily into the net.

Jimmy had been shaking too much to be able to deal with the monster. He had stepped in for his pal and moved the net and its contents to a soft patch of thick grass. The net was peeled back gingerly to reveal their biggest pike ever. At sixteen pounds the beautifully marked predator looked enormous to the two boys. It had been scale perfect, with creamy coloured blotches daubed on a deep tan body and flecks of gold on its dark green back. Nothing they had caught before had been so magnificent.

For the next three years they fished the pool, never seeing another angler. Except for a fish that he’d hooked which had thrown the hooks at the net and Jimmy in his typical big hearted fashion had assured him was bigger than the sixteen pounder, they never managed to land a bigger one. Both boys though had remained thoroughly convinced that the pool held some real monsters.

The old man resurfaced from the sea of his memories. He shivered a little feeling the cold and cursing to himself the slow blood of old age. He thought he could hear the hiss of line and plop of a bait from the unseen angler next door. He waited for the subsequent ripples but nothing appeared to ruffle the ‘grave’ still surface of the pool. Damn these old eyes! He strained to listen but all was quiet now next door. Four o’clock already he told himself, his eye’s straining to see the dial of his old hunter timepiece. Only a couple of hours of decent daylight left and not so much as a sniff of a run so far.

Another hour passed by and still the bung lay undisturbed. The temperature was dropping rapidly and the effort to stave off the cold made his ancient body feel tired. Nothing, though, was going to make him leave early. He knew that this was probably going to be his last session ever at the pool. His daughter and her family were moving away from the area and without their help he would be unable to fish. The frailty of his great age had long since rendered him incapable of either the drive to the pool or the tiresome lugging of tackle to the bankside. He knew that secretly his daughter was glad, not that she minded taking him or helping cart his tatty old rods and creel across the field, it was just that she worried so much about him sitting in the cold all day on his own. Especially since, ‘ poor old mum had passed away.’

She was right of course, he acknowledged to himself reluctantly. The last few sessions had been a real struggle, regular casting alone was enough to enrage his arthritic old limbs and a tussle with a decent pike would leave him breathless and dizzy. His time was slowly coming to an end. The thought held no fear for him; he’d had a good life all in all and had lived close to nature, he knew that death was just a natural part of life.

He attempted to break the rather morose train of thought by busying himself pouring a cup of tea from his flask. He settled down on his basket, sipping the hot sweet tea and squinting his eyes to look out over the pool. The pale, watery sunshine was thinning in the sharpening December air and winter’s cold breath was rising from the gloomy green surface of the pool. A late gang of Long-tail-tits bustled about in the branches of a willow, their ‘tink-tink’ call’s reminiscent of wind chimes. He watched them work methodically round the pool’s edge toward him, eventually coming close enough for him to admire their neat pink and black tailoring and marvel at their incessant energy.

Suddenly the kingfisher shot from his left and, not noticing the still figure of the old man alighted on his rod. He held his breath and remained absolutely motionless. Very slowly he turned only his eyes to look at the bird. The kingfisher paused, its head cocked slightly in an effort to make one last check for danger, then, deciding all was well, began to preoccupy itself with preening its magnificent plumage. He watched, transfixed while it meticulously combed the electric blue feathers of its upper body, painstakingly working each quill through the serrated edges of its mandibles, leaving them coated with an oily polish. After this it teased and coaxed the buff feathers of its chest until it had a tidy apron of reddy-brown down. Satisfied with its ablutions the bird held its perch tightly and gave its wings a good beating loosing a couple of spent feathers.

The old man was stiffening with the effort of holding his body still but was determined to enjoy the privileged sight for as long as possible. And then as suddenly as it had arrived the kingfisher was gone. Once again his eyes welled up. He inadvertently reached to the inside pocket of his jacket taking out a small medallion. He turned the trinket, gingerly, in his hand. On one side, beautifully painted in bright enamel paint, was a kingfisher.

It was sixty years ago to the day. The 24th December, Christmas eve 1940. He and Jimmy had a last day of leave from their barracks, where the two young men were completing the last of their basic training before being shipped overseas to fight for King and country. This was going to be the last chance for them to indulge their mutual passion. Both men, having completed a hurried basic training, had received notification that they were to be shipped out on the 26th December. With postings to different areas of France it was unlikely that they would see each other for some time. Beyond that notion neither of them wanted to contemplate. Lying in your bunk in the lonely dormitory at night was the place to face those horrors.

They had arrived at the pool, feverish with anticipation and armed with some roach and dace deadbaits fished out of the canal during a snatched hour earlier in the week. They’d assembled their tackle at breakneck speed and with a rod each in the water sat back in anticipation. He had desperately wanted them to catch something really special that day. Jimmy had become obsessed with the idea of landing a thirty-pound pike from the pool. At times it seemed as though nothing else mattered. He remembered the frustration and tension in his friend; it was almost as though if they didn’t do it that day the chance would be gone forever.

It had been a strange, silent day he remembered neither young man had much to say. Both in truth were acutely aware that they were very much going to miss one another and the thought that they would not be able to visit their secret pool, together, weighed heavily. Not unusually, the pike had been oblivious to any idea of occasion and neither bait had been touched throughout the day. Long after they should have left Jimmy was sitting sullenly watching his motionless float, unwilling to admit defeat. It had seemed an unfitting ending to their time at the pool, facing a complete blank. He’d dearly wanted him to catch something. He realised just how important it was to his friend.

He had been on the verge of breaking the uncomfortable silence and reminding Jimmy of the time, when the other had hissed urgently through gritted teeth,

‘ Here we go!’

He’d looked over his friend’s shoulder and sure enough the previously stationary float had began bobbing on the darkening surface of the pool. He’d quietly made ready the landing net all the while watching Jimmy’s float intently and praying silently. The last wink of orange disappeared as the bung was pulled, confidently, below the surface. Jimmy, his face alight with excitement, had wooshed the rod over his shoulder, striking hard into the fish. A very satisfactory bend had been formed in the cane rod and line was taken rapidly from the churning centrepin. He had worked the big fish expertly paying and mending line as needed. Several times they had held their breath as the orange bung reappeared from the gloom only to disappear again as the pike regained the initiative. Ten minutes passed quickly as the tussle ensued. All thoughts of returning to their barracks had been pushed from their minds. At last the bung reappeared close in and this time, as her energy waned, he was able to hold the fish steady underneath them.

They gasped as an enormous pike rose silently from the depths of the murky water, flaring her gills in an effort to replenish vital oxygen. The fish was over four feet in length, marked like a tiger and looked truly awesome in the water. He’d dipped the net slowly under the surface and waited for Jimmy to make his move. He clearly remembered wondering how they were going to fit the massive beast into their humble little net. Jimmy drew the giant pike slowly toward the net. She’d come quietly across the surface until her chin had brushed the cord of the net when suddenly she’d found one last surge of energy, shaking her head savagely and snagging a loose hook-point on the mesh of the net. There had been a sickening moment as the pike now free from Jimmy’s hooks had hung in the water, bemused, almost within touching distance of them, then, slowly, and cruelly, their dream sank from sight.

He’d been unable to look his pal in the face nor find any words of consolation. Never in his wildest dreams had he imagined any pike could grow to such proportions. Minutes had passed and Jimmy had remained facing the pool, not speaking a word. He’d grown worried; he knew just what this fish had meant to him. It had seemed so unfair, their last chance to crack the pool and capture a monster and to come so very close! He remained in silence waiting for his friend to speak.

He smiled to himself. I might have known him better he told himself, remembering Jimmy’s expression when he had finally turned to face him. His face lit with a huge grin,

‘Told you there was a thirty in here,’

he’d said cheerfully. Not having known how his pal was going to react, he’d laughed with relief,

‘you were dead right. Wasn’t she something? You must be choked?’

‘We’ll catch another just as big as her one day.’

Jimmy had said, wistfully. They chattered excitedly for a few more minutes. Then realising the time they agreed they’d better make a move, they were already in danger of being put on a charge.

‘One more look at the old place.’

Jimmy had begged.

They stood at the waters edge in silent respect looking over the darkening pool. He remembered thinking how much he was going to miss his best friend and the great times they’d had together, especially here. He would have liked to say something to him but was not a great one for words and it wasn’t the done thing for young men to show their feelings. Eventually Jimmy, who had evidently been thinking along the same lines, reached into his pocket and produced a shiny medal.

‘ I want you to keep this till we meet up again.’

He’d said offering the treasured object to his friend.

‘It’ll bring you luck.’

he’d mumbled somewhat awkwardly.

The old man had been deeply moved by his friend’s gesture, he knew the medal, with it’s delicately hand painted Kingfisher, to be one of Jimmy's most cherished possessions. It had been left to him by his late grandfather and had been in his family for some time.

‘You can give it back to me next time we’re here.’

Jimmy had said, trying to cover his friend’s embarrassment.

‘And we’ll celebrate capturing a ‘thirty’ at the same time.'

he added with a lopsided smile.

The old man had thought frantically for a moment then, reaching into his tackle box he took out a small gold spinner. It actually was plated with real gold and was engraved on the inside of the spoon with some wording. It had been a present from his father for his sixteenth birthday and though it was a properly fashioned lure complete with a sharp treble, it was really more of a presentation piece and rather too valuable to fish with. The inscription read, ‘To my dear son Harry on his sixteenth birthday. With love from your father.’

‘We can swap them when we get back’

he’d said, handing the spinner to Jimmy, who had grinned nodding his agreement and offering his hand to seal the deal.

On his return from France, four years later, he had been told of Jimmy’s death. ‘Killed in action. The telegram had said. Gave his life bravely, to save a group of his fellow soldiers.’ That had been over fifty years ago and not a day had passed since without him thinking of his dear pal. For many years he hadn’t been able to bring himself to fish. Even when he’d begun to fish again, he had avoided the old pool {now a popular day ticket water.} He was always conscious of a feeling of unfinished business though and had eventually convinced himself that he must return there. He had felt an urge growing inside him to catch the fabled thirty-pound pike in his friend’s memory. The obsession had grown to become his last ambition in life and the last few seasons had seen him fish the pool as often as possible.

‘Its been a race against time and times run out.’ The old man thought grimly, looking out over the pool. He could barely see his float now in the failing light. Reaching into his pocket he held the medal tightly. ‘It looks like I’m going to let you down old friend.’ He felt a heavy weariness wash over him. The truth was he had got old and tired he admitted to himself. In all honesty the medal and his dream of fulfilling Jimmy’s pledge to catch a monster had become a burden on him. The last few months in particular had taxed his fading old body; the winter had been an unusually harsh one. He reeled in with painfully stiff fingers and packed his gear away slowly. He threw the couple of unused deadbaits that remained in his bait bag out into the pool and poured the last cup of tepid tea from his flask and sat on his basket to await his daughter’s arrival.

A moment or two passed before he heard a movement from the swim next door. He had started to gather up his tackle, thinking she’d come to help him to the car with his tackle, when an angler appeared in the entrance to his swim.


he said to the stranger.

The other angler nodded and mumbled hello. The old man could not see his features in the dusky light. Not sure if he knew the fellow and not wanting to seem rude he continued to chat though in truth he was cold and tired and didn’t have the heart for conversation.

‘Caught anything?’

he asked. The other angler replied,

‘Not for a very long time.’

The old man struggled to hear the quiet voice. It sounded vaguely familiar but he couldn’t quite place it.


The stranger asked.

‘Not today,’

he answered.

The stranger moved over to his side and knelt beside him. The old man still couldn’t recognise him in the blackening twilight. There was an awkward silence, the other angler seemed happy to kneel there quietly just looking over the water alongside the old man.

He wished his daughter would hurry up. He was really feeling the cold now and a strange heavy weariness seemed to have taken hold of him. He’d wanted to spend his last few minutes at the pool on his own, with his memories, not with some unspeaking stranger.
Suddenly only feet away from the two men the water erupted and a shower of water from the disappearing tail of a huge pike soaked them both.

‘Bloody hell!’ ‘Did you see that?’

the old man gasped.

‘It was a bloody monster!’

The other angler nodded in agreement.

‘I’ve thrown my blasted bait in as well!’

he groaned miserably.

It was almost more than the old man could bear. It was the first sign of a fish he’d seen all day and something inside him told him it might be the fish he and Jimmy had dreamed of. He sat feeling the great weight of his years. He felt totally wretched and had the other man not been there he might have broken down and cried.

From the corner of his eye he caught sight of something glittering. The stranger was dangling a spinner out in front of him,

‘Try this.’

The stranger's voice was barely audible with the blood hammering in the old man’s ears. He was feeling increasingly unwell. He gazed blankly for a moment not sure what to do. His daughter would be here any moment and he hated putting her out in any way, she had a busy day in front of her tomorrow. He heard Jimmy’s voice whispering across the pool, ‘One day we will have a thirty out of here.’ In his emotionally charged state he could have sworn the voice was real. He was losing his grip he told himself. Still the stranger held out the glittering lure. The darkness was almost total now he could hardly see the man any longer, just the inviting twirling of the spinner. Again he clearly heard Jimmy’s whisper, ‘You can do it Harry.’ This is crazy he told himself I’m hallucinating.


he said at last.

‘Lets give it a go.'

He took the bright spinner from the strangers outstretched hand. and quickly tackled up a rod and trace by the light of a small torch. He attached the spinner and groped his way forward to the waters edge. He didn’t need any light to flick the twinkling lure, expertly; a couple of yards past where they’d seen the big fish strike. He felt sick with tension, his old heart was hammering dangerously fast and he was aware of a growing cold throughout his limbs. He thought of his pal and their pledge and summoned strength to his leaden arms. He could feel the positive gyrations of the spinning metal through the rod. He bought the lure back a yard then paused it for a provocative half-second then reeled again.

The lure was hit solidly before it had travelled another foot. He bent firmly into the fish and immediately felt the colossal weight of an extremely big pike.

‘Got it!’

he exclaimed to the stranger urgently.

‘Can you get the net ready?’

The stranger said nothing but readied the net. The fight was short but torrid; the old man in agony with the pressure put on his wasted, cold, old muscles. Within ten minutes the fish was ready to net.

‘Please be careful,’

he pleaded, his breathing was laboured now.

‘You don’t know what this fish means to me.’

He said weakly.

‘Oh I do,’

was all the stranger said.

Then he stepped forward and slid the net expertly under the subdued giant.

On the bank the monstrous pike was spectacular in the light of the torch. The old man weighed her but he didn’t really need to, he knew she was over thirty pounds. In fact she was thirty-one pounds exactly. He was exhausted and only the thrill of the magnificent pike was keeping him going. After savouring the sight of her for a short while he gently lowered her into the water and held her respectfully until she was able to swim off strongly.

He sat back on his basket and tried to take it all in. His chest was hurting from his exertions. He closed his eyes and tried to catch his breath, feeling inside his jacket for the Kingfisher medallion. Gripping the little talisman tightly. ‘Well old friend you were right all along.’ He murmured. His body racked with pain now, as the chill night air seeped into his old bones. For a few moments his mind drifted as he sat trying to rest. The sounds of his own teeth chattering with the merciless cold bought him back to his senses.

He’d all but forgotten the stranger, who all along had kept silent. Realising he was still sitting there the old man turned with an effort and thanked him for his help. Realising that he’d not yet returned the fellow’s spinner, he fought to steady his shaking hands and unclipped it from his trace. He held it out to the stranger, hardly able to see his outline now. The stranger shook his head

‘ Its yours.’

He said.

Again the voice seemed vaguely familiar but the old man still couldn’t place it. He was touched by the stranger's generosity.

‘Well thanks’

he stammered, not knowing what else to say.

The stranger said nothing. They sat again in silence the old man could feel himself slipping into a whirling void he wanted to close his eyes but he was frightened that if he did he might never open them again. Something niggled at him to stay awake. He was aware that there was something he needed to do before he could sleep in peace, but his thoughts were becoming jumbled and he didn’t know what it was. He fought to stay conscious. Suddenly he remembered the stranger again he thought for a while then, his mind made up, felt in his pocket for Jimmy’s medallion.

‘I want you to have this,’

he said.

His voice was slurred and he struggled to get the words out. He was vaguely aware of the man nodding and taking the medallion. When he looked again the stranger had gone. He thought he heard a car door in the distance. He sat looking out at the pool numbly, holding the spinner in his hand. It felt warm and familiar as his fingers caressed the polished metal of the spoon. He felt the coldness and the pain ebbing from him. He was slipping peacefully into sleep. All he was aware of now was the familiar metal between his fingers. Suddenly his dulling eyes opened wide in surprise for a moment; then a smile began to form on his face.

The police officer at the desk repeated gently to the tearful lady,

‘Yes Madam, the bailiff has confirmed there was no one else fishing the pool that day, I’m afraid you have to rely on the doctors report to ascertain the time of your father’s death.’

The young woman nodded numbly. She’d been in a state of shock since finding her father dead at the pool two days ago. The only small consolation had been the beaming smile that was fixed on his face in death. She left the police station and walked towards her car. In her hand was a small gold spinner that they’d found her dad clutching in his hand. She turned the golden blade over and read the inscription again, ‘ To my dear son Harry on his sixteenth birthday. With love from your father.’


  1. You could not have chosen a finer piece or writing to kick this off. My all time favourite, pure brilliance!!!! Fudgey

  2. Still leaves a lump, even when you know what's coming!

  3. Sorry chaps only just noticed these comments. Many thanks. Now we are going to start on the proper angling articles.