Still waiting for news on my laptop and now doing this on a second hand borrowed old machine held together by pieces of sellotape and hope. Still seems to work though which could be something to think about if the news on the laptop is bad.
In the meantime in half anticipation that all has been wiped and my failure to back up comes back to bite me I have started to revisit what I think is the last hard copy of the book about mackerel. Leafing through it would be no bad thing if I was forced to sit down and write the whole thing out again. There are a lot of rough edges and some defenestration would no doubt do it some good. You never know there could be a chance to give the man with a black beard some kind of voice in it. I am reasonably sure that so long as he got fed the occaisional pint he would have something to say on most of what’s in there.
There was the summer almost nine years ago when Galen was six. He was being a nuisance in the kitchen and in exasperation got sent up the pier to look at the boats. The Ahakista equivelent of ‘Go play with the traffic!’ He did what he was told and came back 10 minutes later holding a large brown crab and asking ‘What do I do with it?’
Later in the pub I asked the man with a black beard if he could tell me how he cooked his crabs.
‘The crabs that come in from the bay. All they are good for are the claws.I know its bad and there ‘s those who say its a waste but the rest of them is nothing but water. The meat in the claws is good though. And there is so feckin’ many of them out there there is no matter how many you catch they are still clambering to get into your pots.’
‘But the best crabs to eat are the ones you get down the pier.’ We looked out of the window. The two fishing boats were tied up at the end of the pier and there were a dozen other boats of different colour and size lined up behind up to the slipway. It was early evening and there were two childen down by the bottom of the slipway peering into the water lines in hand.
‘They are doing it now. You want to keep them busy then give them a line and some bacon. No good stuff mind. Or a piece of old meat. Tie that to your string and put it down there into the water by the wall. Now the skill, the skill of it is pulling them out the water. It is easy enough to watch ’em taking hold of your bait but then you need to tease them out of the water. And once you get them out of the water pull them up fast or they’re dropped off and gone.’
We pulled at our pints thinking on those crabs lost back to the water.
‘The shit that those little crabs eat. You’ve seen the dead fish that gets thrown into the water there. They get fat on that. It doesn’t matter what those crab eat they still taste good. Are those yours out there?’ He pointed to the two small girls at the slipway. ‘You get them to fill up that backet. Give them a washing in some clean water and then boil them up. They are green and dirty now but in two minutes they will be bright and red. You leave them to cool for a while and you can eat them then. There’s no need to peel them. Take a good bite and you can pull out with your tongue all that is good.’