Gone fishing

Today my brother sent me a photograph he had taken some time ago of our father. He was on a fishing trip, standing on the bank of some indeterminate Highland river in old tweeds and the ever-present collar and tie, landing net slung over his shoulder, arms folded and looking straight at the camera – tanned, relaxed and happy.

‘Faither’, as we called him, died nearly six years ago, two-and-a-half years after suffering a terrible stroke that left him a shadow of the smiling, healthy fisherman on the riverbank. Struggling to write something about him in the months that followed, I found myself falling back on a series of haiku, fragments of memory and feeling. Here are some of them:

I used to suck your
Empty pipe. The manly taste
Of smoked tobacco

You would say to Mum
Pas devant le petit homme
And give her a look
Lippityom I’d
Hear and think of lolloping
Hares in the big field

Your wig a curly
Scratchy animal with its
Silly little tail

After lunch, oh joy
The rustle of cellophane
Then Clarnico fudge

Stand clear boys! You struck
The match and that old henhouse
Went up like tinder

Heel, you bugger, HEEL!
As errant dogs went haring
Over the skyline

The trouserless Jock
In your car that Hogmanay
Who was more surprised?

When you played the pipes
Your strong fingers fluttered grace
Notes from the chanter

Amn’t I, not aren’t
I, you would say. Singular.
One can’t be plural

Life’s exam was
Greek to you. Living in dread
Of gamma minus

Cracking puddle ice
In dark, neap-smelling farmyards
Guns under our arms
You and I crouching
By the cold, moonlit river
Waiting for the geese

Splendid shot, old boy
Your first. Stone dead. We’ll call you
Jake the Goosekiller

Did the whiskers on
Those muckle lugs make listening
Any easier?

Split cane and greenheart
One for salmon, one for trout
Your thought conductors

Those bicycle clips
Didn’t stop you coming off
On the Langside Road

By the walled garden
You read and caught the sun and
Smelt the climbing rose

The Duke, the Duchess
And the headless man. Your first
Taste of the limelight
That bloody woman
You called her, but you knew fine
She’d done you no harm*

Was the fluoride
In Glasgow’s water supply
The edentulous
Wifie said yes. You got your
Teeth into that one**

Holyrood parade
Dressed in Archer’s green, your smile
Says it all: bullseye

Kintyre Pursuivant
Solemn in hat and tabard
No smiles at St Giles

Fae Queen’s Coonsel tae
Senator o’ the College
O’ Justice. Nae bad.
And then tae Lord o’
Appeal in Ordinary
That wis braw, wee man

The Telegraph found
Jauncey of Tullichettle
Jolly amusing
Which of these came first
It wondered – the Jauncey or
The Tullichettle

Hospitalised in
Colombo, you saw little
Brown birds in the eaves
Sixty years later
In your room in PRI
There they were again

At the end I sensed
Angels. Twiddling their thumbs I
expect, you harrumphed

* Early in his career he was junior counsel to the Duchess in the notorious Argyll divorce case
** Later he presided over the longest civil case in Scottish legal history

As I Died Lying – please help us make the Dark Angels collective novel a reality with a pledge at the Unbound site here

About Jamie Jauncey

Author, writer, blogger, facilitator, musician, co-founder of Dark Angels and The Stories We Tell
This entry was posted in Family, Love, Poetry, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Gone fishing

  1. Thank you Jamie.
    Funny how poetry helps us find
    Some sense amongst the twisted reeds of life.
    Like parents.

  2. wrbcg says:

    Some wonderful images there, Jamie. Really brought him to life for me.

  3. Mark Watkins says:

    Thanks Jamie. The variation of emotion, pace and style in your blogs always makes it rewarding to drop by. My father, too, smoked a pipe. For me, nothing can more strongly evoke the sense of being a small lad in the back of our family car than a wiff of St Bruno Ready Rubbed.

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