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Ray sat in the covered cockpit of his inshore fishing boat. In front of him the Sunday newspaper in his hand a mug of strong, hot, sweet tea. In half an hour the tide would be high enough for him to cast off from the harbour wall and out into the Wash for a day’s leisure fishing.
The gulls shrieking out their warnings, the chinking of wires against metal masts and the gentle lapping of the incoming tide against the boats and harbour wall were the only noises breaking the Sunday morning silence.
In the well of the boat stood buckets of bait, peeler crabs, lug worm and cut up scraps of oily fish. His rods were secured to the side of the boat. He had lost rods overboard before and these days took no chances.
His reverie was broken by the sound of his name being called he looked up to see Ian who’s apparel told Ray that he also was away for a day’s fishing. “Best you feather a few mackerel today Ray,” he called, “I’m lighting old smoky and I’ll squeeze some fillets in for you. Herring to if you get any and fancy some bloaters or kippers.” “What wood are you using?” Enquired Ray. “Oak what else would I be using?” Replied Ian.
After a few minutes of exchanged badinage the two men parted to go their own ways.
The tide was within minutes of being high enough for the small boats to escape down the channel and out into the open Wash. Ray tidied away and secured all the bits and pieces laying around It was deceptively calm and warm in the harbour on this May morning but out in the open sea it would be a different story.
Finally he started the small diesel marine engine and waited for it to settle to a steady beat before slipping the ropes, putting the engine into gear and gently opening the throttle. Skilfully he manoeuvred his boat away from the wall and headed out into the channel.
He pulled on his navy blue jersey with the leather shoulders and elbow pads over his faded blue denim shirt. Under his jeans he wore a pair of very thick tights that no fashion conscience lady would be seen dead in. On his feet was a pair of well-worn non-slip deck shoes. To complete his attire he rammed on his head the kind of cap he always associated with Ernest Hemingway, one of his many idols.
Sheltered in the enclosed cockpit and lulled by the steady beat of the engine his mind wandered freely. He was the most happy and contented person he knew. His stone cottage facing out over the marshes. Two rooms up stairs plus a bathroom. His bedroom at the front and a studio with the all-important Northern light at the back.
Downstairs one large room, kitchen, sitting room and dining room all in one and again at the back his all-important office come work room. Behind the workroom looking out over the marshes was a small courtyard with a gate opening directly onto the crisscross of marsh paths. From the courtyard he often listened to the song of the high flying Nightingales.
High flying, he thought, once I had ambition to be a high flier. He had trained as an architect and started his own business and by the time he was in his mid twenties he was experiencing more success than he had thought possible.
It was then he met Gwen a petite, attractive, raven-haired lady whom he was later to marry.
At first she had been a delightful companion but as time passed by another side of her nature came more and more to the fore. Gwen was becoming an out and out control freak She either got her own way or she made his life a misery. She decided on holiday destinations or point blank refused to go. She took it on herself to make all the major decisions usually without even telling him. When Ray had commented that this couldn’t go on because their outgoings were too high for his business, successful as it was, to endure she had rounded on him and said it was up to him to earn more and her job to set their lifestyle. After which she had had a three week long sulk and then gone out and commissioned a new ten thousand pound kitchen to replace one barely two years old.
It had taken just twelve months for Ray to realise that Gwen had to go and a further eighteen months to pluck up the courage to start divorce procedures. He was taken to the cleaners big time but he wasn’t resentful. It was, in his opinion, a price well worth paying.
He hadn’t seen Gwen for twenty years but she still seemed to find it necessary to send him vindictive letters from time to time.
The boat was now free of the harbour channel and was pitching to and fro in the open sea. First he would go to his line of a half a dozen lobster pots. Just a hobby number given to him by a grateful client too old to tend them himself. A lobster and a couple of crabs would be good he thought but just one of either was a more likely outcome.
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