Maybe spending a few hours on the river would be a relaxing way to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet?
It’s been a hectic, noisy spell at work recently. At times I’ve been as battered as a chip-shop haddock and as stressed as the chap tasked with advising Blustering Boris on his public appearances. I call him “Sandy Storm” because there’s always a lot of wind, heat and eye-watering irritation but it’s usually pretty pointless.
It’s a huge, although generally popular, gamble for Westminster to ditch its Covid restrictions in 10 days’ time. It terrifies me to think that after the facemask requirement is removed, we might see the likes of Michael Gove appearing in public without one. Speaking personally, I think he, and probably me, too, look considerably better with masks on.
Still, the chance to get away from tragically upsetting world news, such as the potential disaster of an imminent shortage of Haribo sweets in shops due to transport delivery problems from Germany, was too good to miss.
A day’s fly fishing with my angling buddy is an all-too rare treat. He’s a delight to watch and regularly successful, too, although all fish are always returned to the water. I, on the other hand, seem to have inherited a devilish machine for instantly tangling line and hooks, aka my fishing rod.
Determined to improve this time, I set up beside a lovely quiet pool, round a bend and out of sight, and flicked my first cast. It was greeted with raucous laughter from behind me. My second cast received the same reaction. Somewhat hacked off, after a while I realised that my frayed nerves were not actually hearing laughter but rooks cackling in the trees. It was an uncanny imitation.
My next cast became tangled, inevitably, and my attempts to unravel the unholy mess, and my unholy language, were greeted by loud booing. Harsh, but probably fair, I thought. Looking round, I saw the culprit peering over a nearby fence. I know cattle are supposed to moo, but a bunch of bullocks were definitely shouting boo instead. It was spooky.
“Boo, boo”, they hollered disapprovingly as I fumbled with a muckle bourach of line and flies. I fully expected a volley of rotten fruit to arrive simultaneously in response to my incompetence.
But then, I jumped. My phone was ringing, except that it wasn’t my mobile but a starling that exactly mimicked the sound of my office phone. This was getting silly. My peaceful day on the river was starting to sound like a classroom of dastardly delinquents on day one of a new school term.
Before I cast again, the last straw appeared – a singing dog. Well, not exactly a musical one, but a canine that could bark the theme to EastEnders. And it did, repeatedly. “Bow-wow wow wow wow, wow wow”, it sang, over and over again. It was almost as annoying as the programme itself, although I’d probably rather listen to a farmer’s dog than watch an episode of it on TV.
I reached the only conclusion possible; it was me going round the bend, not the river.
I was about to give up the battle when I remembered the excellent and exciting plans to create a new Scotland’s Wildlife Discovery Centre at the Highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig. A big windfall of National Lottery funding announced this week should see the ambitious project completed by 2023.
It will consist of three hubs featuring “immersive experiences and digital technology” to inspire learning and education. The park is a brilliant place for an outing that we’ve visited regularly for many years.
Perhaps an added attraction to the new initiative could see an area named the “Fyne Centre” and be dedicated to wildlife that can apparently sing, laugh, shout, mimic and generally demonstrate that they’re considerably more astute when it comes to analysing an awkward angler’s attributes than even the most experienced Highland ghillie.
It became an enjoyable day on the river and thankfully I managed to avoid any “immersive experiences”. We left late-on to a continuing cacophony of cackling laughter, loud booing and TV theme music.
Today, in contrast, my work seems positively peaceful.