A slow heart

‘Put your slow heart to one side for a day and take a boat out for a while to go fishing.’


It was the first bright day of summer, a few days into June, and I was stood by the wall in Arundel’s garden at the top with the grass leading down the steep slope to the rocks and the sea. The tables and chairs were empty but Patrick Cutter was asleep on the grass. He had taken his shirt off to cover his face from the sun. He had kept his vest on and the white skin between where his shirt had been and the vest finished was turning red in the sun.

I had a pint in my hand and next to me the man with a black beard was drinking cider on ice.

‘It helps to cut off some of the heat from the sun’ he had said.

It was late afternoon and the tide was coming in and the sea was almost coming over the small group of rocks to the right of Owen Island. There was no wind and sun shone brightly off from the water so that we had to squint as we looked out. There were three boats that had gone off from the pier an hour or so earlier.  Two of them had continued out into the bay and were now out of sight but one of them had kept close moving slowly across the gap between the point where Luke kept his boat and Owen Island.

We watched it shifting position. There was only one man it in. He cut off the engine when he had found his spot and we could just see him moving round the boat, putting in his lines and hauling them in. Even from where we stood half a mile away the air was clear enough so we could see a quickening in his movement as fish were caught and their glint and magic as they came out of the water.

‘You have been here a day and you have not been out on the water’ the man said.

‘You’ll still be tight up from your time away from here and how much time have you here now. Is it just a week? If you want to catch fish you want to be out there and not drinking pints with me.’

He finished his glass and rolled it in his hand so the ice made a noise inside of it.

With the engine off the boat drifted slowly from left to right. After a while that movement would take it away from where the fish were shoaling and the man would pull in his lines and put on the engine to take the boat back again.


‘Well if you are here tomorrow the sun will be shining again and you can have your fish then.’


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