Fish Story and other Strange Encounters

Coy Koi 2


“Sober or blotto, this is your motto: keep muddling through.”
― P.G. Wodehouse


When I was in the process of taking one of the biggest leaps of faith in my life – buying the home which I am now living in…

the reality of which still hasn’t quite sunk in, still freaks this freak out…

perhaps most of all because I’m happy about it

(even with things like the damp problem which I get to find out tomorrow – an expert is being paid for a visit – how bad it might be. I’m being opti-mystical about it, in other words I’m being an optimist who gets mystical about bad news).

I’m always a bit wary of being happy…

partly because I’m used to people, those you know and those you don’t know, wanting to steal that away from you when you have it for various reasons,

and partly because it seems that every time I admit to being happy some proverbial fertiliser hits a whirligig and creates a Jackson Pollock.

It sometimes feels as though life sees your momentary happiness as a challenge. Maybe it just wants to test it and you. Maybe the point of happiness is a threshold – you’ve passed that level of the game, you have a brief period to enjoy it, then it’s time to move on to the next level.

And ego butts in to try and protect you from past pain occurring in the present and future…

remember how you struggled? Let’s try and avoid any more struggle by remembering the struggle… and creating complications using that as a template for what’s going to happen next even if that isn’t necessarily what is going to happen next…

which is sweet of it but it often tends to make more of a mess in the present and for the future by constantly bringing up what has passed.

Perhaps ego needs to learn the lesson which the felt roofing I’ve bought to recover the leaky shed roof seems to be teaching:


Shed what you Felt


Shed that pelt made of what you once felt, don’t let it stop you from feeling what is happening now because of what happened before which you never want to feel again, don’t let it make you feel something now or not feel anything now because of what you felt before which isn’t part of the now’s feeling.

Yes, it’s important to acknowledge the past and all it contained, to face it, understand it and learn from it, but there’s that and then there’s burdening the present and possible future with the problems of the past or the fear of those problems and all the pain, the chaos within and without, which they caused.

There’s a fine line between seeing the bearing which the past has on the present, how it affects it and the future, and turning your present into a fear of the future because of the dread of the past.

That was something which was on my mind a lot while looking for a house. I worried that the past, and my ego’s take on it, would cause me to make some very stupid decisions.

Funnily enough the stupid decision I worried the most about was that I’d end up buying a place for practical reasons rather than for impractical ones. That I’d end up dismissing the heart in favour of the logical mind. That I’d be too undeluded by illusions that I’d end up in a place which didn’t really suit me because it was too grounded in bleak reality.

That fear reflected my view of who I had to become in the recent past to deal with the older past resurfacing when my father died bringing him and my still living mother, and their endless dramatic fish story, back into my life after years of avoiding it and having no contact with it.


fish story definition


The previous owner of this house mentioned that the pond in the garden might have fish in it. He didn’t seem sure… yet he didn’t seem unsure either.

The previous owner said a lot of things. He’s one of those people who has many interesting stories to tell, only some of which were about this house, as he’s lived an adventurous life.

The sort of stories he told sometimes sounded like fish stories…

the story he told about the fish in the pond… well, tbh, I thought it was bullshit. The dreams borne of wishful wistfulness. A pretty idea. Icing on a make believe cake.

And it really didn’t matter if there were fish in the pond or not.

I didn’t buy this house because of fish in pond, or any of the other tales the previous owner told about this place.

I bought it for practical reasons… and now it’s showing me all the impractical reasons why this was the right place to leap into.

That fish story which I thought was bullshit turned out not to be bullshit at all. I almost fell in the pond when I spotted the bright orange beauty who lives in it (pic above).

While pondering all of this, I was reminded of a strange encounter I had many years ago while I was in full gypsy mode, certain that I’d never have a home, own a house, do anything practical.


layers - craig thompson


I met a guy…

(maybe the previous owner of this place reminds me of this guy as they both love telling fish stories and live lives of great adventure… actually, thinking about it, they’re so similar that they could be the same person but they’re not)

can’t recall the how of it… I think it was at a party but he also worked at the local bookshop of the small town I had arrived in like a tumbleweed, and I always haunt local bookshops wherever I am…

The first proper conversation I had with the guy began along the lines of him saying – the other guy you’re hanging out with is a pretentious twat.

This was true.

I had been listening to the pretentious twat wax lyrical on what a radical anarchist he was… when he wasn’t being the manager of a shop which catered to the vain and relied on them for a living.

I was one of his vain customers for a day.

On top of being a pretentious twat he was also a charming flirt with a French accent. He sold more products thanks to strategic flirting with his customers.

We became superficial friends because I called him out on his routine and he found that fun. I also spoke French – when you speak French to the French and you’re not French it’s like giving a girl flowers when she’s blue.

He was a pretentious charming flirty twat who knew he was that way, and that made him likeable. What made you likeable to him was that you’d noticed he was that way because it made his opinion of you change from condescending to intrigued as you didn’t reject him because of it.

The pretentious twat was fun to chat with and I said as much to the guy who had been eavesdropping and then interfering. The guy and I chatted… and I realised through conversation that he too was a pretentious twat which would explain his ability to recognise that in another. He didn’t have the flirty charm or the French accent… but he definitely saw himself as a radical anarchist. He thought that walking around in sneakers with loose laces was a middle finger to the Man.


the uses of a phone


When we got to know each other better as friends (it was only much later that it occurred to me that he fancied me… I can be a dolt about such things) he warned me that the CIA was spying on him and that my friendship with him would draw their attention to me.

I really didn’t know what to say or do about the whole CIA thing other than accept his word for it and privately shrug about it. My parents would have loved the idea of my being of interest to the secret services, but not because of me or the people I encountered… because of them and their fish tale lives.

My father did at one point have a warrant out for his arrest, but that was because he decided to skip town in the middle of a lawsuit which he started. That was the same case which had him hire a bodyguard to babysit me. Life in the reality of my parents… was a fish story. It’s no wonder that for a long time I refused to tell people tales of my life… it all seems like bullshit.

Living a life which when told sounds like bullshit… can make listening to the lives of others an interesting experience.

I suppose it could be true that the CIA saw this guy as a person of interest. He had quite a life… according to the stories he told me about it. There were shots fired in Mexico, trips to the Bahamas for almost famous band reasons, and child musical prodigy with very quirky parents tales… amongst other things.

Was any of it real or was it all a fish story…

some fish stories may sound like bullshit yet turn out to be true… while stories which sound like the truth turn out to be bullshit.