STAN THE COCK OF THE NORTH
mid Atlantic a Cock Salmon quivers then rises to the surface, the sun
glints off his blue and green scales covered in sea lice. He circles many
times until he is sure, then with one stroke of his tail he sets himself
salmon run, one of nature’s phenomenons has taken place.
salmon’s name is Stan.
shouts “I am going hame” to the bi-lingual throng who have zeroed in
on there own direction. “So are we” “so are we” echoes back.
Gradually the huge mass finding their own way thins out and Stan heads
direct north with his own kind.
dae ye come from asks Stan to the multitude along side him? The Esk, The
Earn, The Almond, The Dee, The Don, The Glass and on it goes.
one old cock swims alongside and says “You’re a Tay salmon, I can
tell! Man that’s a bonny river.” “The finest in Scotland”states
Stan swelling with pride, even though he was only telling the truth.
Stan reached the Tay Estuary at Dundee and a female joins him who seems a
bit nervous. “Would you mind if I tagged along awhile, it’s my first
run”. “Not at all replied Stan, what’s your name?”
Mhairi was the reply. “Just follow me, I am river wise, nae
pair entered the river and in no time they were at Perth Harbour, then
Stan confides in Mhairi of the dangers in front of them. There used to be
nets where we passed but no more. Be alert for otters, manys the good
salmon has been taken by those rascals, one bite is all they take but
that’s enough. Watch out for the fisherman with their false lures, know
the natural insects on the water and you will be right hen.
we go, that’s Perth City, see all the embankment walls, that’s for the
floods that come down here. There’s the Railway Brig, Stanners Island
and Auld Souters Brig, but not far from here the tidal water stops then it
is fresh water all the way. I dinnae ken about you hen but I will be glad
to get rid of those damned sea lice, excuse the french. Through the pen
and ink and Stan feels they should rest awhile.
has grown fond of Stan but her destiny is elsewhere and she explains that
once they pass Holly Island her way is up the Almond. Aye, that island,
Stan says (priding himself on his history) was where the Romans threw a
bridge across the river. They reckoned the Tiber looked like this so
maybe that’s where Tay came from and on went Stan about why they called
the town Bertha, near enough for Perth don’t you think hen?
Stan farewelled Mhairi and headed to Luncarty, waters a bit sweeter since
they done away with the bleach fields he noted. Next hurdle was Thistle
Brig, those canoeists gave me many a scar but lucks in naebodys aboot.
Into the Red Rocks, Ministers Pool and approaching Pitlochrie Pool feeling
a bit tired and peckish.
there’s a nice fly, drat I’m hooked. I should have kent better. Sink
doon, wrap the line round a boulder and wait, nae worries. I can see the
boat above but he knows what he’s aboot, slowly I am pulled up, no gaff
and landed on the boat. A Stanley voice? That’s Bob Campbell the Gillie
but the toffs are talking about conservation (whatever that is). So I’m
gently put back and I’m offski.
ken how you talk aboot how your life flashes before your eyes at moments
like that, well that dinnae happen to me. All I could think aboot was my
Great Grand Dad, Big Jimmy who was taken on the stretch by rod and line,
all of sixty five pounds if he was an ounce and would you believe by a wee
bit lassie at Murthly. If that was not enough they stuffed him, stuck him
in a glass case in the front window of PD Mallochs in Scott Street, plus a
plaque telling all and sundry aboot his demise. The indignity, the shame
of it all, och never mind that was the past.
the shallows of Duck Island, there I can see the fresh water oysters
cooried under the river stanes, in this place most of the pearls on the
Scottish crown and regalia were harvested. Up the tail race at the back
mine, there’s the start of the Lade that goes through yon hill to the
Mill. Whits that. Och it’s laddies from the village on the path, they
remind me of my cousins the broon burn troot wild and free.
am in deep water now, it’s The Linn. That big hoose wisnae there the
last time I was here, almast hame. Round the corner, there it is the wee
pool in the Kettle Mountains. Ye ken they named Stanley after some
dignitary involved in building yon mill. But the truth of the matter is
the eldest son of oor lot has always been named Stanley, we have been in
this river long before Kenny Mcalpine was a laddie, and that’s a fact.
took one huge leap out of his pool and looked around, man this is the
finest river in all of Scotland, naw the world.
that also is a fact.