Friday, May 25, 2007

Big game fishing more than sport really - DoctorShoot

I balance, supple at the knees as instructed, and curl the 13 foot thrownet across my right shoulder. Balancing in the prow of the dinghy I take up most of the white knotted fabric in my left hand, with the last ten weights clustered in my right, like a Russian bride engulfed in a giant sagging heavy wet veil. I coil to the left ready to cast.

As I look back across my right shoulder waiting for the flickering colours of yellowbellies coming to the bread crumbs I spot a leg sticking out of the distant opposite bank. The leg of a cow discarded by a sated crocodile. An old withered leg poking out of the mud with a bit of dried skin hanging limply off it. In the oppressive wet season heat it is lit oddly by a spotlight of sun shafting through a hole in the clouds. Not a breath of wind.

A crack of thunder brings old William Ezekial to mind. His bellowing laugh across the concrete floor of my office. His skin so black it is blue and grinning like a movie star he wants to know if I can buy a barge. From King Ash Bay to Bing Bong he is Yunyuwa, with more than thirty words for dugong and fifty ways to cook a turtle alive. He sits beside a map of the outstations for whom I am trying to find sustainable avenues of economic survival. An area as big as Wales with islands, estuaries, mangroves, mountains, plains and hidden canyons, and marked with red dots for the 27 outstations.

Can I organise the buyout of the local barramundi man for half a million? I want to laugh back, with him, but he is too far ahead of me, too old, too smart, and too embedded in an ocean of culture in which my little European colonial vision is humbled. I cannot see that far but promise I will try. I am his net.

A yellow flash and I swing into my cast. A great circle floats from my arms and settles gently into the swollen highway of ancient trade that is the Macarthur River. My circle disappears into the deep water. Smooth washed pebbles and casuarina forests watch me from the bank as I step one pace sideways in the boat to balance against my cast. Or try to at least. I can hear the sea eagle laughing from above as I topple sideways, leg caught in the netline.

One assumes that floating to the top is easy but in the silty murk river which hungrily enfolds me all is a half light of wet gloom. I am suspended in the silt. My shorts have come off and I have to work out which way is up. I free my leg and pull on the rope as water forces into my nostrils. The end of the rope passes by me coming down. At least I have discovered the way up.

“We don’t fish” William had told me, “we just live and enjoy. You blokes fish. Sometimes the fish come after us. It’s like a game.”

Something brushes my leg as I leap from the water back into the boat. How did I do that? I check my leg and it still has all it’s flesh intact. The thrownet is gone forever or at least until a big dry when it’s picked out of the riverstones downstream and comes alive in safer hands.

My companion in the boat is an eight year old girl I have been minding. She reads a book and sucks her thumb through pink pre-raphelite lips. She looks up and smiles and goes back to the book. Not my game really, fishing for sport. Best get back and see about that barge.

15 comments:

offside said...

Doc,

actually, Mouth was right. Put all the bits together, join the dots, and there's a novel in it. A damn good one too.

Oh, and remind me never to employ you as a baby-sitter.

DoctorShoot said...

offside
your constant support is very reassuring,
and
I looked after her for several years but that is another story...
unlike mimi's tapir which was dished out to...

zeph said...

I want to read the book, please, Doc. Lovely.

DoctorShoot said...

thank you poeta
i have been working on it these past fifteen years and will continue to do so, though it tends to keep writing itself around me whilst I am still reaching to shape prior material....

mimi said...

please move on from the tapir - it wasn't mine in the first place!
Doc - this seems like a chapter in a book. There is so much more for us to hear, but why, oh why is Wales always used as a measure of scale? Surely Luxembourg, the cantons of Switzerland or Belgium could be used as an international comparison? It's always sodding Wales, isn't it?

DoctorShoot said...

perhaps dearest mimi
because wales is so evocative of beauty and tense grandeur steeped in history and blood...

mimi said...

Too much blood, too much history. It's a sad and sorry tale, the subduing of the Welsh princes. The English are a violent and cruel people who have used the most appalling ways of conquering their neighbours.

MotM said...

It is a book Doc - and if I have to read it a post at a time, I'll be happy.

DoctorShoot said...

mouth
if only I could take a month and get organised...
but perhaps some organisational skills in existing time allocations...where is Pepp when you need her?
happy birthday Mouth anyhow. there's something for you in the taproom fridge

DoctorShoot said...

mimi
in australia the processes of oppression and dispossession continues today, which is really the sub plot of most of my work I guess...

mimi said...

Doc: if i described what was done 600 years ago to the Welsh hostages taken by the English, you could find any number of examples of the same behaviour going on today. In the name of democracy, freedom, or security. It is the stupidity of mankind that we have learned so little, and basically nothing has changed.

file said...

bit late,

really dig it all doc, like stepping into a frame, maybe the 500 word chunks are a good thing

I'd buy the book (unless you sent me a signed copy for free), can't you print off these blogs and take 'em to a publisher and say 'look, me mates say it's really good...'

can I say one thing? humbly

to me it's a sharper picture when you don't name it, the 'European Colonial vision', when it's as visible (tho b/ground) as William Ezekials' grin...

just a thought, in the interests of constructive-ism, probably don't need my little butterflies in your creative storm!

zeph said...

Doc, I know you have your own excellent blog, but if you have any pieces which are not sporting they could always go on this offshoot site as well:

http://pseudstuff.blogspot.com

which I've set up, just to have a place for anything else people might write.

Not expecting a flood of stuff, but I thought it was a good place to have.

levremance said...

I'll echo the comments of others Doc in saying this is another excellent read. And you should buy the barge:

http://www.upfromaustralia.com/ntmusandartg.html

DoctorShoot said...

Zeph
I cannot resist your invitation but may take a day or two to gather the courage...your melancholy and beautiful spatial opener is incredibly beautiful and sets the bar high...Pie Jesu, pie Jesu
Qui tollis peccata mundi...

Levre thank you...
we bought the barge after stunts and strategy and ATSIC's forbearance....and william turned it to his use after onselling the licence...a great laugh for all and an excellent outcome....back when ATSIC existed of course....

Tweet it, digg it