Sunday, October 21, 2012


He is the son of the son of a fisherman. A small man, his beard grows down to his chest, flecked with grey. I don't think I've ever seen the hair on top of his head: a beannie covers him up, or a cap, or maybe even a cowboy hat on the weekends when he isn't fishing. He wears polarized sunnies that give off a blue/green hue. I see myself in peacock colours at the truck depot unloading fish into the refrigerator trucks for the city market. He's a few years older than me. His nose looks like it has been boiled in rum. His voice is gravelly with the smokes. He wears skinny black jeans, blue flannellette shirt wide open to expose his tattooed forearms and singlet. Elastic sided boots.

I saw him stalking around his boat trailer on an early morning. He was wearing olive green waders and he was muttering. I could see he felt like shouting but no fisherman shouts when the Fisheries start going through their nets and their catch with measuring sticks.

In another life, he might have been a jockey, a racing car driver, one of those guys who change your tyres or fix the problem plumbing. But he's not. His Dad was a fisherman and so is he. He probably did his apprenticeship during primary school. He never gave a shit about getting an education or observing the social contract. These bindings of society would never have served him anyway. He was borne of familial violence and the cycles of nature. He has a code that he honours and it works for him.

We have a mutual friend. As a teenager, I used to climb the slipway ladder to visit an old shark fisherman. The sharker was in from Esperance to get the barnacles cleaned off the hull. He kept an eye out for me with his binoculars when I was training for the Avon Descent, canoeing from one side of the harbour to another after school.

"You heard ..." he said to me the other day at the truck depot.
"Yeah, I did."
"He was a great man," the fisherman said to me. "A good bloke."

When Old Salt and I are fishing in the channel, we've come across him. He will brandish a knife that looks suspiciously like the Asian machetes seized by Fisheries; the ones shaped and sharpened from car springs, the handles wrapped in string and fish leather. Old Salt grudgingly respects him, because he knew his Dad, and his Dad's Dad. He could exist in any era, I think. He could be one of the men I write about from the 1820s. Bearded, lean, tattooed, full of a stringy, muscular hunger; an anarchic, five foot tall package of a fisherman.


  1. Fishermen & witches.
    Not to be confused with sharks.
    Because there's a whole lotta schools out there in disguise that are really wolves and witch- lets.
    However, this is not to be confused with Horsea. Dysea.
    Because, if you do that , you get it mixed up with Danadelamar.
    And Dassault.

  2. This is great ST. I like this portrait idea - a snapshot of someone. It's kinda' visual'. I immediately started to think of who I would write about if I did this kind of thing.

  3. Yes, it is fun and good practise. Anaiis Nin used to do portraits. I loved reading them.

  4. I just cracked up laughing at your response to the 'Anonymous' comment. I'm still chuckling. This morning I WAS going to say WTF? But then I thought they might be a friend of yours. I'm a bit relieved that they may not be - pretty whacko stuff!

  5. Yeah the 'anonymous' comment raised and eyebrow with me too. whatever...sarah and MF just had a week of totally conceptual art stuff in adelaide at the National Region Arts Conference, very flash. But some great ideas to. I am sure you would have liked the 'language vs visual arts' debates that seem to be going around at the moment. A great time was had by all.

  6. Took me quite a few hours ... but I was bamboozled and that is my only excuse. I've gone beyond reporting it as spam. Spam is a legitimate subject around here lately.

    Good to hear of your sojourn Annie. I look forward to hearing the news from your own self!