Fisheries Officers came a-calling this morning, their four wheel drive lurking quiet and sharky along the bottom track. They got out and walked down to the beach. One of them walked back to the chain gate gate. Selkie started barking. 'Is your dog okay?' He asked. 'Yes, she's all good, come in.' I should have called her I guess but he knew within four steps that she was delighted with the company and someone else to pat her.
'Is that your boat on the beach?'
'And is that your net in your boat?'
'Yes. Is there a problem?'
Selkie sat on his boot and leaned against his thigh.
'Oh I think Matty wants to talk to you about it.' Nice deflection there. Poor Matty. Or maybe Matty's the superior. I don't know.
Matty appeared at the bottom track and started up through the bracken to my verandah. The sound of him crashing through the bush set Selkie off again, and he asked the same question, got the same response and before long the dog was sitting on his boot instead.
'You've gotta put your ID on the buoys,' he explained almost apologetically. We've been through this before. 'And bring that net up to the house when you're not using it please?'
'Why is that?' This particular grievance annoys me because it's a silly law against leaving nets on the shore. If I haul the net out of the boat, it gets all twisted and then I have to pull it over the transom, float by float, and it's a bastard to straighten it all out.
'Well, because you have all the equipment and could set it at any time.'
I burst out laughing. Perfect. 'Hey, have you heard that story about the fisherman's wife and the fisheries officer?'
Both of them shook their heads and then glanced at each other.
I couldn't believe Matty had just handed me this joke on a platter.
'Well, the fisherman's wife took her husband's boat down the river one day, to read a book in the sun. She's lying on a pile of nets, reading, when along came a fisheries officer who told her he was charging her with poaching. "Why?" She asked, shocked. "I haven't done anything wrong."
The officer pointed to the nets heaped in the belly of the boat. "You have all the equipment and you could start at any time."
"Well, in that case, I think I'll charge you with rape then!" She said. "You have all the equipment and could start at any time."'
The two men on my verandah didn't really laugh. But I did. I was just falling apart. Still, I guess I should get those nets out of the boat, dammit.