11. May, 2017



Knowing of my family background in the North Sea fishing industry, people are surprised that I have no interest in either sailing or fishing.

Because of that background I believe that nobody in their right mind would do either for anything but money. I can remember cold days during the Home Fishing, waiting with my mother on Gorleston Pier for father’s boat to get in after a heavy storm, good men lost. I also remember as a seven year old being taken out as far as Scroby Sands on father’s drifter on a trial run. On tying up on the quay, wasn’t I the man with the fisherman’s roll?

Dad promptly gave me a clip round the ear with the warning…”If you ever set foot on one of those bloody things again, I will give you a REAL leathering!” (Not that he would have but he had made his point). I was left with no uncertainty- the so-called Romance of the Sea was no more that fishermen’s talk at the bar.

HOWEVER, I did go fishing once. I won a consolation prize in a draw for a week’s fishing up in Scotland, complete with all the gear and a day’s tuition. Determined to make the most of my prize, I went.

Three days out I found myself sitting on the bank of a river, on a black afternoon, the rain pouring down, frozen to the skin and fantasising about a single malt or three back at the hotel. After a whole day spent there, my catch bag was totally empty.
I was on the point of packing up when suddenly there was a tug on my line. Full of hope I I reeled in but there on the hook was the smallest fish imaginable.

Swinging there, turning its eyes to me and in a pathetic little voice it whimpered,
“Please. Don’t hurt me!”
I was so shocked I very nearly dropped rod, line and keep net into the river.
“You can talk!” I stuttered.
“Yes,” the little fish replied, “my name is Rusty!”
“My name is Derek,” I stuttered
“Hello Derek,” replied Rusty, And then we settled down to a really interesting conversation and became good mates. After that, how could I possibly not throw him back into river? We said our goodbyes and with a flick of his little tail and a quivering dorsal fin, he was off.

On my return to the hotel who would have believed me? I kept the meeting with Rusty to myself. Had I imagined it, anyway?

I pushed the experience well to the back of my mind and for two years did not think of it again until I found myself back in the same spot of Scotland at the same time of year.

For old time’s sake I hired some fishing tackle, obtained a permit and took myself off back to the river.
This time, however, it was not long before I felt one huge tug on my line. I eventually managed to land a huge fish. As it lay there in the keep net, it turned to me and said,
“Hello again, Derek!”
“Rusty?” I asked, adding, “By heck you’ve grown!”
“Yes,” said the fish, “but since I saw you last I have been three times round the world!”
“That’s fantastic, Rusty! Did you swim all the way?” I asked.
“No way,” he replied, “ I went on “The Titanic.”
He then continued, “They were fantastic voyages on the Titanic-a fantastic ship… unbelievable comfort, amazing food, brilliant entertainment and as for the places we visited…”
“So you were highly impressed,” I asked.
“Oh yes“, replied Rusty, “I was so impressed that I wrote some poems about my experiences!”
“Amazing!” was all I could say.
“And,” continued Rusty, “ I have had it published in a book.”
“ That is fantastic. You have got a book published! I will buy a copy of that, “ I was quick to say, “but what’s the title?”
“It’s easy to remember” He replied, “it’s called “The Titanic Verses of Salmon Rusty!”