Granddad And The Fish

Mike Rowley

Normanby, New Zealand

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I didn’t get to know Granddad very well. He died when I was only 9 and for most of my life we lived away from him but what I did know I loved. He was quiet spoken and much put-upon by my Grandmother so he spend a good deal of his life in the workshop making fine furniture of out fishing.

When I first saw this photo as a very small child, I thought the fish was real. I didn’t say anything for a long time but then asked him if it was hard to catch.

He lit his pipe and smiled then came up with a yarn about how difficult it was to get into his small boat. I was enthralled.

Only years latter when I saw it again on Gran’s bedside table did I realise it was a fake. My uncle, a commercial artist, had made it from polystyrene for a fish shop contract. They posed the photo as a gag.

Once, as a kid of about 6, Grandad let me steer the boat. We were heading up harbout under the Auckland Harbour Bridge and hr let me take the tiller while he got the fishing gear ready.

This was serious fun for a young kid. I pushed the tiller this way and that watching as we always turned in the opposite direction then, while he had his head down sorting out the hooks or something, I steered us towards the Chelsea cliffs in Little Shoal Bay. I was going to fool him. I was going to keep heading in this direction until he looked up then I’d swerve to safety.

But he didn’t look up and I kept heading for the cliffs.

And still he didn’t look up. The cliffs are REALLY big when you are right under them! Suddenly Granddad saw that the water had changed colour and looked up.

In his whole life he never swore – until that moment. He rushed back and grabbed the tiller, swerving us around just before we ran aground. (Who knew the would be rocks under the cliff?)

And we caught no fish.

No need th tell anyone how often he let me steer after that.

Granddad died in 1964. He was moving the boat by hand and died of a heart attach.

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