Days of our Lives

I often wonder how today’s kids enjoy themselves. I mean really have fun. In an age where every
mystery is quickly explained is there a need for Nancy Drew or Enid Blyton? Do they wake every
Saturday morning with the same plans and exuberant energy that we had when we were kids? Will
they ever describe to their kids what catching their first fish felt like? Will they forge friendships that
will last many life-times? Somehow I don’t think jumping haycocks, kiss-chasing or catching
tadpoles will ever be etched in their memories .
My memories of childhood are as vivid today as the day they were formed. My first fish – a perch
caught on the canal near Mick McQuaid’s bridge. My first trout, caught on the promenade at the
library. My first Pike was a while coming. For ages I watched my brother Ray bring home what
seemed like monster pike and I usually got the job of scaling and cleaning. My father cooked the Pike
in a light batter with salt and lots of pepper but could never really get that river taste out of it.
I tried everywhere and everything. I even cheated by hooking a long-dead pike from the slip-way at
the Castle and paraded it home dangling from the rod to the amusement of all. Amusement that
changed very quickly to disgust when the whang of rotting flesh assailed their nostrils, compounded
by my waving the carcass in their faces as I passed. Needless to say our new visitor did not last long
in the house and I was despatched to bury it deeply in the garden. My first real-honest-to-God Pike
was caught at the Shannon Queen. It was a Jack-pike, about two pounds in weight and fell to a
Voblex bait. I carried him home in a bucket of water – there was no way I was letting this one die and
rob me of my glory. On the way home though I had a brainwave – why not keep him as a pet?
Geraghtys in Deerpark had a huge water tank for collecting rain-water at their back door so after a
quick consultation with Manchin, who was a lot younger than me and easily coerced, I dropped him
into the tank. He just lay there and even ignored the worms, and sausages that we added later to his
diet. The pet Pike project didn’t last too long – he disappeared one day mysteriously, a mystery
further embellished by a strange stare from members of the Geraghty clan.
Jumping Haycocks was more fun but also more hazardous, especially if the minders in Macken’s field
caught you. “Jumping” was not an apt description as they were about six foot high and we were only
nippers but we tried! They also came in handy as changing areas or hiding places when we swam at
the red pole. The kiss-chasing was also a misnomer – some of the girls never even bothered running
which confused us no end. Some however sprinted like scalded gazelles through the long grass and
were never caught. Thank God for spin the bottle, saved a lot of unnecessary wheezing and dealing.