The BBC News programme reported from Turkey where the government have used violence to suppress dissident voices, closing down two television channels. Opinion was divided ahead of the forthcoming election and there were interviews with people on the street. A camera shot showed a waterfront and among the people shown stood a man fishing with a rod and line.
What did the man who was fishing think about the election? They didn’t ask him. Perhaps he was unaware an election was even taking place; when you are fishing, it is easy to close out the world.
Fishing occupied many hours in childhood days. My grandfather and father were keen coarse and sea fishermen, fishing in the rivers around our home in Somerset; going to West Bay in Dorset to beach cast lines far into the water; standing on the harbour wall in Lyme Regis, hoping for flatfish; trolling for Mackerel in open boats off the coast.
I strove to follow in the family tradition. My great grandmother gave me money for a sea fishing rod when I was ten. when I was fourteen, I received for Christmas the first coarse fishing rod I could call my own, until then I had borrowed one from my father.
In teenage years, I would have cycled with friends to the River Cary, on the moorland north of our village, or would have cycled from my grandparents’ farm down to the banks of the River Parrett. Not once did I ever catch anything, perhaps I was using the wrong tackle, the wrong bait, or fishing at the wrong time, or in the wrong place. Perhaps it was just a lack of patience, a lack of willingness to sit long enough on a river bank.
There have been moments when I have wished I had been the sort of person who might have spent countless hours using that fishing rod, like the man in Istanbul in this evening’s news
The night fishermen one meets late on beaches seem the most contented. Being able to walk down onto the beach for a night’s fishing suggests there is no other demand upon one’s time; no need to be anywhere in the morning; no need to worry that someone might be looking for you, or that someone might phone. To be a night fisherman means freedom, not a worry in the world.
To sit on a beach watching, feeling for a tautness in the line; slowly winding in the baited hook and weight before once more casting them deep into the surf; pushing the handle of the rod deep into the firm sand and sitting down, waiting to catch sight of movement of the rod’s tip; seems a pastime of perfect contentment.
Fishermen have no worry about elections, or the evening news, or all the ugliness that surrounds us.