something to tell them back at the Malindi club anyway," I observed
Hamish brought us
home without any ugly encounters, and we were well back in the queue this time.
The three of us hauled the fish up the slippery steps to join the line in the
yellow flare of the lamps. Mike had not been the only pollack snatcher of the
day. Boxes and sacks of the little fish littered the pier. There was a lot of
mysterious activity as men bent over their catches, but no one appeared to be
actually weighing fish.
I watched Mike
trying to work out whether anyone had beat him, when a man came along with a
short piece of wood. "These your fish?" he asked Mike. "You'll just
have to check them for size."
inquired Mike, his modest smile dying away as he acknowledged ownership of the
"Rule 14 of
the Scottish Federation of Sea Anglers," said the man. "Minimum size
for pollack is 14 inches. From the tip of the nose to the cleft of the
Some forms of
humiliation you shouldn't watch. Like Mike Leith-Smith in his sailfish gear
kneeling in the rain and measuring off small pollack against a pencil mark on a
piece of wood.
I wandered away.
Other men were measuring, as well. "Was there any measuring done last
night?" I asked. "With the lady's catch?"
not," said the man, in the tone of one in whom the wells of emotion had run
dry. "The attention of the committee wass drawn to the rule when the boats
came in tonight." I didn't need to ask by whom.
Already a stream
of outmaneuvered, baffled, savage Orcadians were making their way across to the
Stromness Hotel. Over the loudspeaker I heard an announcement. "M.
Leith-Smith, 16 pounds, three ounces." I turned and saw M. Leith-Smith
looking for somewhere to dispose of the few fish of his catch that
Maybe we should
both have attended the presentation ceremony that evening. It would have been
the sporting thing to do. But you can only ask so much of a man, even a
200-pound Rugby player from Nairobi. Besides, we did have our packing to do,
even if it was an act of faith. We had flight reservations next day.