A Fishy Story by Clare West
The West of Ireland, with its rivers full of salmon, is a grand place to go fishing. Sinclair Yeates has been trying to catch salmon for three days, but without success. He starts his journey home, travelling by train, which in the early years of the twentieth century is an experience full of interest and surprises…
People say there is no smoke without fire. But that was not true in the station waiting-room where I had to wait for my train. There was certainly plenty of smoke but the fire seemed quite dead.
When I complained to the stationmaster, he said that any chimney in the world would smoke in a south-easterly wind. He was, however, sympathetic, and took me to his own fire in his office, where the steam rose in clouds from my wet boots. We talked of politics and salmon-fishing, and I had to confess that on my three-day trip I had not caught a single fish.
Before the signal for my train was received, I realized for the hundredth time the wonderful individuality of the Irish mind and the importance of the ‘personal element’ in Ireland. If you ask people for help, they will break rules, ignore official advice, make special arrangements – all just to please you.
I found a seat in a carriage, and the train dragged itself noisily out of the station. A cold spring rain – the time was the middle of a most unseasonal April – poured down as we came into the open. I closed both windows and began to read my wife’s letter again. Philippa often says I do not read her letters, and as I was now on my way to join her and my family in England, it seemed sensible to study again her latest letter of instructions.
‘Such bad luck that you haven’t caught any salmon. If the worst comes to the worst, and you still haven’t by the time you join us, couldn’t you buy one?’…