It’s that time of year again. It’s easy when it’s cold and drizzly and miserable to charge through your inbox and manically type out reports. It’s not so easy to type when the sun streams in through your window and there’s a pleasing combination of freshness and mugginess to the air. Any fisherman knows that on the river right now flies will be surfacing and dropping and trout will be rising. It’s agony but it’s also blissful because I am reminded why I love England so much.
The physicist is now a Tier 2 Migrant Worker. It sounds so dodgy doesn’t it. Despite being an American with a shared language and history he is navigating the nuances of this country. In England, you are instantly pigeon holed by your accent, your dress and indeed by what supermarket you go to. People in England are even judged by their carrier bags. God help you if you are seen with a Lidl or Aldi bag, indeed you are judged if you have any carrier bags. I know that our jute bag with the name of a vegetarian restaurant in Brighton instantly screams “sodding, vegan, yoghurt-slurping hippie”. Equally, my Jockey Club canvas tote bag marks me out as a toff. I also admit that I enjoy going on the number 16 bus carrying a Christies carrier bag pilfered from work. I like the thought that people might think that I actually shop there. I wonder also whether this marks me out as a target for thieves.
What I am saying is that the English are frightful snobs. So it is entirely unsurprising that when my husband and I went fishing together recently, we would get into trouble. I am a girl and therefore a rare and weird occurrence on the river, I also never wear nasty over priced fishing gear. My husband, new to the sport, doesn’t own any. So, as it was threatening to rain, he sensibly wore his warm, black leather jacket. We must have been a sight, as my husband is rather tall and very blonde. The lovely bailiffs mistook us for a pair of Eastern European poachers and came charging up to check us out. It also didn’t help that I filled out the book wrong. It was soon sorted out and I admit, I felt like saying, “Don’t you know who I am! Don’t you read my blog?” Then I realised that I haven’t written for so long that I am now anonymous in the fishing world.
It would be easy to get grumpy. However, this weekend we went to our fishing club’s open day. My husband tried out three shirts and wore his tweed jacket to establish himself as a decent country gent. I helped on the tea stall and baked cakes to show just how perfect an English housewife I am. I also learned that a mere teaspoon of insecticide leeched out into the water can destroy all fly life in the river for thirty miles. Our rivers are so precious and delicate and the bailiffs were really just looking out to protect the waters they have been charged with guarding.
There is an election on Thursday and the main talk is about immigration and each party is claiming to be more patriotic than the next. Some talk about preserving England from foreigners. I have to say though that preserving England has less to do with preventing a few more languages creeping in on my commute. England is green, dotted with fluffy lollipop trees, scored with clear rivers filled with trout and bouncing with flies. That tiny teaspoon of poison and the frightening amount of phosphates leaking into our rivers is a far more dangerous threat.