‘A Song for a Herring’ by Stephen Perham
I lifted the marline end of the board net revealing the fish, steadily hauling back, finding hundreds of startling silver herring enmeshed and gilled throughout its length. We only had four nets out, half of what we carry, yet still the fish were filling the boat, hanging from the meshes in heavy bunches. Once we had them all on board, I sculled back to the harbour and lay the boat on the beach where, with the help of others, the nets were shaken of their catches, which were then boxed ready for my customers.
As far as anniversaries go it was a little muted; no parties, no big announcements, just the raising of a glass of Late Bottled Vintage. Ten years ago ‘Little Lily’ came into my life with her beautiful fine entrance and apple-round bilge, gentle tumble home and high wine glass transom; an elegant picarooner and worthy companion. For over thirty years I have continued to fish for herring and for the past ten, I have pulled my way up along the shore with ‘Little Lily’. Together we have caught thousands of fish and sung hundreds of Christmas Carols: “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” is by far the herring’s favourite.