The surface of the river was calm

I’m beginning to write some of my family stories and have for a while struggled as to how to do it… here is one of my father’s stories…

Part 1

The surface of the river was calm

Before the children were even thought of, the father of the two girls woke up on the morning that he was due to attend his call-up. War had not been declared but he had been called up. His father and mother were asleep,  as were his brother and sister. It was early, early summer or maybe late spring, but more likely early summer. He got up and went downstairs and found his fishing rods and gear, and quietly left the pub where they lived.

There had been a pub on this site for nearly two hundred years; the original, the Scales Hotel had been redeveloped when the family first moved in maybe sixteen years ago. They had moved into one half of the property, while the other half was pulled down and rebuilt; they moved into the new half and the other half was demolished and then the final wing of the pub built. I was done in this way so the pub remained open, and the license  was held. The new pub was called The Portland Arms Hotel, which was what it had once been called before Scales Brewery renamed it.

The boy left the pub in the fine early morning, crossed over the junction where Milton Road, Chesterton Road, Victoria Road and Victoria Avenue met, and walked past the Tivoli Cinema and the New Spring, and continued to the bridge over the Cam by the footbridge and settled to fish just below the weir.

The sky was a perfect blue, that early morning newly washed blue, fading to a pearly periwinkle. The surface of the river was calm and he stood beyond the small lock and the lock-keeper’s silent cottage and for a few moments watched the water, his mind elsewhere. He was an active boy, a very physical boy, but he had moments of great stillness and calm.

After a while he fitted his rod together and sorted the line and the lead weights, and fastened the real and opened his bate tin…

… in a future life he would think of this… and his fishing skills had an odd and unexpected use when he was working as an analyst… there was an experiment to be conducted on tats tails. They would keep curling up as they were suspended for some scientific purpose. The boy, now a man, remembered the lead fishing weights, small balls or pure soft metal which were split with a thumb nail then wrapped round the line. He bought some fishing weights, split them and wrapped the round the curly tail; the right weight and the tail hung straight…

The featured image is of my father, at about the same age, fishing on a different part of the Cam.

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