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The Cliffys, 2nd place


Robin Fitzherbert’s My Childhood Kitchen was a big hit with the judges for our inaugural Cliffy Awards, a short story writing competition in honour of the Diary’s founder, Cliff Green (pictured). We hope you enjoy it ~ the Diary team.

MY CHILDHOOD KITCHEN – by Robin Fitzherbert

It was blue and cream, all wood with a wooden plate rack on the wall over the sink. In the corner of the kitchen was a large brick fireplace where the old slow combustion stove used to be. Mum had removed the old stove because Grandpa nearly burned the house down a few times. He’d leave the furnace door open to get more heat, but being deaf he didn’t hear logs falling out onto the wooden floor, where they would smoulder for hours.

A new GE electric stove was installed under the window facing the side fence. It wasn’t the best place for a stove, but it was the only place available. The curtain near the stove was always charred along the bottom where Mum had been a bit careless with the cooking.

In winter, Mum did most of the cooking in a pressure cooker and the ceiling above the stove was splattered with stains as the pressure cooker exploded with regular ferocity. I was scared of the pressure cooker and when Mum was using it I tried not to go into the kitchen until the noise and spluttering died down. It occurred to me, many years later that Mum didn’t really understand quite how pressure cookers worked. I have never owned one as I’m still scared of them.

The other kitchen window faced up the front path and I loved this window because you could sit and watch the world go by. Our road was the main road and all cars, buses and delivery trucks in and out of Warrandyte going to and from the city passed by our house. My Grandpa bought this house specifically because the bus stopped just outside. As we didn’t have a car until 1955, it was necessary to have public transport handy.

Bill McCulloch was our postman and he rode a large white horse called Silver to deliver the mail. Sometimes he rode down the driveway and down the steps to the front porch before he blew his whistle. As this gigantic white horse loomed ever closer I hid under the blue laminex table, just in case he had a mind to bring the great thing into the house. Fear and fascination gripped me in equal measure.

Our laminex table was the hub of our kitchen. Everything was done on this table from preparing meals, dining, mincing left over cold roast meat, cutting sewing patterns, dressing wounds, playing cards, doing homework and anything else you could think of. Grandpa had bought the latest chrome chairs that didn’t actually have legs. The chrome was bent into an “S” shape and the chairs were very bouncy. My brother and I loved to rock back and forth on them, even though we weren’t supposed to. We spent many hours sitting at this table as we were not allowed to leave until our meal was finished – every last over pressure-cooked morsel.

The windows were hung with curtains that were thick enough to keep in the warmth in winter and the heat out in summer. The material had a cream background with a blue jug pattern and they were hung on big blue curtain rings over a wooden rod.

Mum and her friend Kath would sit on hot summer days, with curtains drawn against the heat, playing cards while I played on the floor. Through gaps at the edges of the curtains shafts of sunlight would strike the walls or the fridge and I marveled at the patterns they made. It was the most peaceful of times.

On the other wall at right angles to the stove was the sink with some bench space on either side. One bench was charred and black with a crater in the centre where the kettle had burned out more than once. High above the sink were built-in cupboards. They were so high they could only be reached (apart from the first shelf) by climbing on a chair and then onto the bench. My brother and I became mountain goats and no matter how much Mum tried to hide goodies in the top shelves, we always found them.

My brother had a real sweet tooth and maintains to this day that he was sweet deprived as a child. He would eat packets of jelly crystals. I don’t know why Mum bought them, as she never made any jelly. She didn’t approve of such “junk” food. They were probably for “just in case”. That was Mum’s usual reason for having anything that she considered out of the ordinary.

The Christmas when I was nearly 11, Mum bought a new fridge. This was not just an ordinary fridge. This fridge came with a Christmas hamper. A few weeks before Christmas the fridge arrived, and with it a large cardboard box, marked “Christmas Hamper”. What jubilation.

My brother and I gathered around Mum as she opened the box. She pulled out a tinned ham, a Christmas cake, biscuits, bottles of wine, lollies, soft drinks, toys and so much more that I cannot remember. But the thing I remember the most was the Christmas pudding in the blue earthenware bowl, which I still have – just the bowl, not the pudding.

Christmas puddings were fraught with angst in our house. Mum was a fair to good cook, but she couldn’t make Christmas pudding to save her life. It was the fault of that stupid bloody pressure cooker. The last Christmas pudding Mum ever attempted came out literally, hard as a rock. My brother was mortified because it was stuffed to the gunnels with threepences and sixpences.

However my brother came up with a creative solution that is now folklore in our family. The pudding was placed in the chook pen and he spent the next week sitting with the chooks, watching and waiting for the next coin to be revealed as the chooks diligently pecked away at it. My brother has always had patience when it comes to money.

Mum was pleased too as she never liked to waste good food.

Times are changing

‘There’s never been a more exciting time….’ is an oft-repeated quote by the current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. With a double dissolution election looming and a very long election campaign ahead, perhaps not many would agree with him.

While much can be put down to hindsight and history, for me the most exciting time of change was back in the 1970s. The ‘60s had seen major shifts in attitudes overseas and it seemed by 1970 that Australia too, with its increased prosperity and changes in migration, was on the cusp of a transformation.

Think 1970. Warrandyte was a small rural township out on the north eastern edge of Melbourne. The suburbs had not yet reached out to encircle our village and it was surrounded by orchards and open space. The Warrandyte Diary had commenced with a four page black and white edition, Potters Cottage had opened its new restaurant to complement its pottery gallery, a State Park was proposed but not formalised, the Warrandyte Environment League was active, and the post office still operated from the old post office in Yarra Street.

Some proposed subdivisions were proving controversial but more houses were being built and young families were moving into the town. Think Australia still involved in the Vietnam War with large demonstrations held in opposition to the war and conscription. The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer was published in 1970. The emergence of the Women’s Liberation Movement and the Women’s Electoral Lobby meant the role and treatment of women in Australia was coming under increasing debate. For many women this was heady stuff.

At that time Australia had been governed by a Liberal Government for 23 years, firstly with Sir Robert Menzies for 16 years from 1944-1966, then with Harold Holt, John Gorton and Billy McMahon in quick succession. Meanwhile, Victoria had been ruled by Sir Henry Bolte’s Liberals for 15 years. However, views were shifting in Australia and there was a mood afoot for political, economic and social change in both areas of government.

Forward to 1972 and the It’s Time Labor campaign. Labor opposition leader Gough Whitlam put forward a socially progressive program of measures. The campaign was borne along with Gough’s much vaunted oratory as well as the advertisements and It’s Time jingle. Celebrities of the day singing in the advert included Bert Newton, Graham Kennedy, Bobby Limb, Jackie Weaver and Little Pattie. It proved to be a winner; it didn’t mention Labor or Gough Whitlam but suited the mood of the moment.

There was a real fizz and buzz around the campaign.

Warrandyte was, at that time, included in the Federal seat of Casey held by the Liberals. It was the most marginal in the country so received a great deal of attention being considered a real litmus test for the election. Unlike today’s broad-based media political campaigns and social media, then it was local meetings and face-to-face contact to ensure voters met the candidates.

Warrandyte had an active branch of the Labor Party with Fred Davis (who later stood (unsuccessfully) as a Labour candidate in the state election of 1976) encouraging locals to attend some meetings.

Gough Whitlam received a rock star welcome at a Ringwood meeting and it was an exhilarating experience. Artist Clifton Pugh was an active Labor supporter and held a meeting in his house at Cottlesbridge where his pet wombat provided an entertaining diversion rubbing his back against one of the pew seats.

At the election in December 1972, the Whitlam Labor Government was swept into power with its reformist agenda. The pace of change was amazing and its many achievements included ending conscription, supporting a wide range of women’s issues, introducing universal health care and free university education and many more.

It has often been said it tried to do too much too quickly. It ran foul of a hostile Senate and eventually in 1974 called a double dissolution election, which it won. But it was plagued by a number of scandals and a deteriorating economy and following further hostile Senate action was dismissed by the Governor-General in November 1975 and then subsequently defeated at the next election.

There can, however, be little doubt that it changed the face of Australia at the time.

Meantime, also in 1972 in Victoria, the long Liberal government of Sir Henry Bolte drew to a close with his retirement. He was replaced by Rupert Hamer (later Sir) who won the state election in 1973 with the slogan ‘Hamer Makes it Happen’ and a socially progressive agenda to modernise and liberalise government in Victoria. It was another rewarding and productive time. He was the first premier to establish an Arts ministry.

His commitment to the environment led to the declaration of Warrandyte State Park, protection of the Yarra River and the Green Wedge concept. His government strengthened environmental protection laws, abolished the death penalty, decriminalised abortion and homosexuality, and introduced anti-discrimination laws amongst many others. He was personally both environmentally aware and supportive of the arts and remained in power until 1981. His legacy remains today through many of his environmental and art initiatives.

It is hard to encapsulate the profound transformation these two governments, one Labor and one Liberal, achieved, and the effect they had on Warrandyte as well as on individuals. For me at the time, the protection of the environment and the changes to women’s roles were the most important personally. Since then, though, it has become apparent just how transformative the changes were, and how following governments and the community generally have continued to benefit from those achievements. Of course everyone will have a different take on ‘there’s never been a more exciting time…..’ However, Australia does appear once again to be standing on the brink of change with a looming Federal double dis- solution election and two ‘newbies’ who have not yet faced an election as leaders.

They face enormous challenges such as climate change, increasing refugee numbers and greater globalization, and in an ever-changing world. It is to be hoped that perhaps someone in 40 years time will look back at this election as one of those that became a transforming force for good. But then history and hindsight can be a wonderful thing …

Meet our Von Trapps

WARRANDYTE youngsters Bronte and Kayla Muir are doing their hometown proud after being cast in the Melbourne revival production of The Sound of Music.

Bronte (13) and Kayla (8) beat out over 1000 other Australian child performers in their auditions to snag the roles of Louisa and Marta Von Trapp, two of the most coveted roles in the musical.

But the Muir girls are collected and composed when talking about the audition process, making it sound like a walk in the park.

“There were 1000 kids and they teach you songs and you sing the songs. And then you either get a call back or get kicked out. So then we learned some dancing and then there were more call backs, and more call backs and more singing…but it was really fun,” Bronte told the Diary.

“I was excited. They make it a really fun environment. They prep you up and they play games with you before you go into the room. They make it really fun and relaxed.”

At 13, Bronte is already a seasoned performer having being cast in the musical Annie! at the Regent Theatre in 2012. She says that after a while you “start to miss being up on stage”.

“Annie went for about four months, and after Annie finished it was really sad because we had made a family. My cast still catches up, which is really nice. But you miss being back on the stage and all that.”

The sisters are looking forward to performing at the Regent Theatre together, which they think is a “really cool” venue and will be a part of rotating child cast during the shows run, as to not miss out on their schooling opportunities.

As for their characters, Bronte and Kayla are excited to be playing Von Trapp sisters and getting to explore each characters individual personality on stage.

“Marta loves pink like me, and she’s really nice,” Kayla says, while Bronte is excited to explore Louisa’s “cheeky” side.

“Louisa is really cheeky. In the movie, she’s the one who puts all the toads in Maria’s bed. She’s the jokester and she likes to play tricks on people.

“And my favourite song is The Lonely Goatherd, it’s the one where they’re yodelling. It’s really fun to sing.”

The sisters are ambitious and have long and interesting careers in the performing arts ahead of them. They’re gaining experience and skill in a highly competitive industry that will certainly pay off in the years to come.

But at the moment, what’s most important to the girls in the friendships they’re making and the fun experiences they’re sharing.

“I think it’s going to be really cool, because we’re playing a big family with lots of brothers and sisters … so it’s going to be really fun having other brothers and sisters and dancing with them on stage.”

The Sound of Music is playing at the Regent Theatre from May 13. Tickets are now available from soundofmusictour.com.au

Social Injustice

Facebook is fabulous but it’s flawed. That’s the general consensus. One thing is certain, it touches the lives of most of the Warrandyte community for better or worse. In a special series, this is the first part of a conversation ‘we needed to have’ as editor Scott Podmore gets the ball rolling. We invite readers to write in with your views in a bid to make our own social media community a happier and less damaging space.

SOCIAL media (noun): websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. That’s a simple definition with a complicated reality. One I can’t fit onto this single page when it comes to how awed it can be and the distress it can cause.

Social media can be fantastic. We can stay connected with old friends, romances are sparked for the lonely, humane causes can achieve peaceful or inspiring outcomes. We can express ourselves. A great example of the positive power of social media is when Facebook and Twitter became invaluable tools for millions of people caught up in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake five years ago and lives were saved. We’ve even had our own terrific examples of community pages helping those in need, tracking down a lost pet, as a communication tool when bush res strike, or to even have a laugh at a family of alpacas trying to catch a bus!

But the sad truth? An evil lurks within, and don’t we know it.

We’ve all had moments on Face- book when emotions get the better of us. Over the coming months I’ll speak to experts (real ones) in social media about shining a light on the darkness. It’s designed to catch your attention in the hope we can all find a way to achieve a goal together: and that is to be a little kinder on Face- book. It’s about creating an awareness around a very important topic that’s affecting us in different ways.

We need to start in our own back- yard here in Warrandyte in taking responsibility for our children, families, neighbours, schools and businesses with regards to what we post. There must be an ethical teaching behind it all, so let’s tap into some

substance when it comes to being responsible for our comments and behaviour and what we’re teaching our kids in what’s appropriate and what isn’t.

Most of you reading this right now know exactly what’s triggered this. It’s the elephant in the cyber room, or rather, elephants. We’ve seen it on our own community social pages, including the Diary’s. Without digging up too much detail, one example is the disgraceful personal attacks on conscientious people trying to create a constructive page to “ x the bottleneck” at the Warrandyte Bridge. Yes, the line was blurred in a few certain areas on freedom of speech or what some may call healthy cyber debate, but the bare facts of disgusting, threatening behaviour are there for everyone to digest and feel sick about; if you have a conscience, that is. It wasn’t designed to be the mouthpiece of the community or offend anyone, but rather a platform to have a discussion with the aim of achieving a positive result for one and all.

There are plenty of others that most of us know of. Local food outlets have been tainted by immature or irresponsible comments (just ask Grand Hotel Warrandyte manager Peter Appleby how funny the breadgate issue was and you’ll be met with a furrowed brow), and another young girl (who won’t be named) was so traumatised by attacks on a community page she became so depressed she refuses to be seen in public. At 14, she’s undergoing counselling and she’s not in a good way. Read that again. She is 14 years old. It’s not about whether she should be able to handle the comments, either, it’s all about how it makes her feel and the fact is she’s not in a very unhealthy and sad mental and emotional state.

This isn’t about who’s right or wrong and social media will never be a perfect science. But it’s about creating a positive ripple effect in moving towards a healthier state of social media behaviour in our own community.

Facebook, in particular, has clearly become a breeding ground for hatred, where emotions can explode and serious flaws in human behaviour unravel. It’s become a platform that can cause incomprehensible emotional anguish and distress. Comments in the heat of the moment so hurtful friendships are ruined forever. Businesses damaged because of one little bad moment. Marriages breakdown. Even worse … paedophiles using it as a tool to groom. A child even lmed the act of committing suicide and posted it on social media to send a message to those who mentally tortured him. It doesn’t get any more serious than that, just in case you thought for a second this may be an insigni cant topic. What if that happened to your friend? Or your child?

Every action of yours contributes, for better or worse.

Social media is in its infancy, constantly evolving and while there are some incredibly clever, effective and socially responsible workshops, causes, books and policies being borne, ultimately we’re the ones who need to take responsibility and tone it down. So take a deep breath, Warrandyte. Cyber-bullying and a downright nasty spate of personal attacks are happening right here in our own backyard. It’s up to us to fix it and that starts by thinking before you post and simply showing a little bit of respect for our fellow man.

Let’s share some thoughts from our community page or group leaders who have seen it all so far.

Bambi Gordon, of the Warrandyte Business and Community Group, says “people should behave on Facebook as they would if they were in a ‘real world’ situation”.

“You wouldn’t, in a real life situation, listen into a conversation and when you hear something that you don’t agree with just jump in and tell the person ‘You’re an idiot’ – and yet it happens on Facebook. Social Media is a tool for people to communicate – and that needs to be done with respect. We won’t all agree with each other. Just look at some of the infrastructure and development issues around the greater Warrandyte community and the wide variety of passionately held views for and against.”

Warrandyte Second Hand Page creator Debi Slinger says there’s a serious responsibility that comes with running a social media page or group.

“With close to 4000 members and running for three years, the WSHP has never tolerated rude, disrespectful or bullying behavior,” she says. “We regard our members as part of our community, our family. When you buy and sell, you have to remember that you’ll probably see these people at the IGA, your son’s footy match, your daughter’s netball game or at a local social function.

Yet Debi admits the page has encountered the “ugliness”.

“Worst examples include people telling us to f— off because we don’t know what we’re doing, saying ‘I know where you live!’ to which I replied, ‘That’s great, come over and we can have a cuppa together’. I try to diffuse things with sarcasm, humour or use my law background to legal speak them into understanding what they’ve done.

“Being nice to someone should be the default position for people – if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it online. Freedom of speech is one thing – online trolling is another.”

The ripple effect of Facebook negativity can quickly take hold of a person’s frame of mind, even when they are perfectly jovial without a harmful bone in their body like my friend Josh Langley, author of Turning Inside Out. He told me how he chose to go 30 days without Facebook because of how much it was affecting him.

“It was another stupid post on Facebook that tipped me over the edge,” he says. “I can’t actually remember exactly what it was, it could have been another ignorant racist ‘F- — off we’re full’ kind of comment from one of my FB Friends or it could have been some joke that had been doing the rounds for the past two years and someone had only just discovered and thought it was really funny or it could have been one of those thoroughly annoying bait click articles designed to get millions of likes with headlines such as ‘watch this baby do something incredible with a hammer drill, brought tears to my eyes, best thing you’ll see all year!’

“I could literally feel the anger and annoyance rising up from my feet and my whole body started to tremble with fury,” Josh points out.

“I had a love-hate relationship with social media and Facebook, especially. It pushed all my buttons and I would find myself getting angry at the stupidest things and I’d have to pull myself back from the brink of pounding the computer to death and say ‘hold on, this isn’t real’ and sit back and take a chill pill.

“While I never attacked anyone or posted nasty comments, my mind was full of not so nice thoughts about how stupid most of the content was and that people didn’t have a life. I soon realised I was the one who didn’t have a life and I needed to do something about it otherwise I was going to be bitter and twisted just because of another cat meme.”

Social media is here to stay, but in its current state is not healthy. We need to clean it up and that starts with each individual being mindful of their own social media etiquette. It’s time to lead the way.

I welcome letters to the editor for a mature discussion about how we can make it better. It’s time to throw the negative crap in the toilet and ush it and focus on positive, constructive ways we can all alter our behaviour and set some smart, effective policies in place. While I haven’t been able to include all the feedback I’ve already received, I appreciate it and thank those wholeheartedly for their contributions via email and Facebook so far.

NEXT MONTH

We talk to Kirra Pendergast of Safe On Social, a team of collaborating consultants with specific industry expertise and a focus on Social Media Security, Privacy and Risk Management solutions and training services.

Antony wins Cliffy

AT the end of last year the Diary launched a short story competition in honour of the paper’s founding father, Cliff Green.

Stories had to be 1000 words or less and about 30 entries were received, several of them fabulous tales by school-age writers.

Judges narrowed the field to three finalists who were recently announced at Warrandyte’s Grand Read: Robin Fitzherbert, Laura Wellington and Antony Pollock.

Before the big reveal, the Diary disclosed the winner of the competition’s encouragement award: 8-year old Keira Edmonds, for her story The Show.

(Keira will receive a $40 book voucher, plus free entry to an up- coming Eltham Bookshop writer’s event featuring Melbourne-based author of more than 90 books for kids and teens, George Ivanoff.)

The Diary is pleased to inform readers that the winner of the 2015/2016 Cliff Green Short Story Competition was Antony Pollock. He received a $200 book voucher and was also given the opportunity to read his entry The Hermit, about an old man who finds himself in a moral dilemma following his battle with a giant fish.

The Diary learned Antony had written the core of the story, which was somewhat poetic in style and rhythm, when he was 12.

“I’ve been at work on something with words my entire life,” said The Cliffy winner. “I initially trained and worked as a journalist on the Daily Mercury in Queensland, so got good experience there in writing stories.”

Adding, he’d had a “romantic view” of being a full time author for many years:

cliffy award“You know, the room above the bread shop in the old quarter, drinking coffee at an ancient sidewalk cafe while I produce the great novel,” said Antony. “But doing a PhD thesis in Classics at ANU shattered that myth for me. It took me seven years to do and was the hardest thing I have ever written. I now know writing full time is really hard and discipline is required.”

Antony said he is trying to use his thesis experience to produce fiction in a substantial way, but confessed he was still feeling his way as a writer.

“Writing is like a physical muscle: I am learning to write and am not very fit, so shorter stories are good for my level of endurance. Having said that, the story I am currently working on is five chapters and counting.”

The successful entrant described his win as “surprising”.

“It is the first writing competition I have ever entered, let alone won. Warrandyte is such a creative place, so to win here is something I think,” he said. “I was very humbled and honoured, to be honest.”

A relative newcomer to Warrandyte, Antony (who works in a Commonwealth department in Melbourne) said he moved here almost 12 months ago from Canberra with wife Jacinta and their two-year-old son.

“So we are Warrandytians now and I just love the alternative feel to the place, the small village like atmosphere, the friendly neighbours … the even friendlier possums!”

And we just love that Warrandyte has another would-be author in its mix of talented writers. See his award-winning short story below …

THE HERMIT by Antony Pollock

In the forest lived a hermit. He had lived in the forest for as long as he could remember and there was never a time when he did not seem part of the meadows and streams. He was an old man with skin as wrinkled as a prune and hair as white as the clouds which drifted across the sky. But his eyes remained young and were as blue as the sparkling sea. He wore a long robe which was as old as he was and he leaned on an old crooked staff when he was tired.

He lived in a small wooden hut beside a gurgling stream and drew his water from an old well nearby. But sometimes the water in the well froze over during winter and the old man knew then that times were indeed hard. He fed the deer and other forest creatures which left the woods to drink in the long summer twilights. In winter the deer gathered close to his hut looking for food and he fed them too. But some days, food was scarce and then both deer and the old man went hungry.

One day, the old man travelled high into the hills. A cold wind whipped through the trees and snatched at the old man as he gathered his cloak around him. Winter was coming and a chill ran through him. He walked for a day and a half, further than he had ever walked before. He spent the night wrapped in his cloak in the leaf litter beside a small fire and set off again in the misty dawn, leaning heavily on his old staff.

Presently he came to a small pond pooled like a glistening jewel in the hills. He had walked for a long time and was tired, so decided to camp by the pond. As he knelt to wash his face the old man saw a huge fish lying motionless just below the surface in the centre of the pond. It was an old fish with many marks and scars on its faded body and fins notched and torn. But his gills still pulsated powerfully and his flank rippled with muscle. Because he had travelled far and because he was hungry the old man decided to catch the fish.

So he drew from his pouch a line and his finest lure and cast it upon the water. There was a wet plop as it landed and the old man jiggled and teased it along the surface. No fish ever known to him could resist that. But resist it the old fish did and try as he might, the old man could not catch him. He tried every trick he knew. He cast the line long and drew in fast. He cast the line short and drew in slowly. He weighted the lure and let it sink before pulling it back to shore. He changed his lure then changed it back again. He fished and fished until the shadows lengthened and the late afternoon chill passed through his thin clothing and entered the marrow of his bones. He fished until he was spent and in his frustration and hunger waded into the water to shout at the fish. But nothing worked.

Soon the old man stood exhausted and empty by the pond, his lure and twine hanging limply from his hand. Twilight was fast approaching and the old man, dejected and defeated, looked at the fish. It was then that he noticed something he had not noticed before. The eyes of the fish were milky and stared into nothing and suddenly, like a flash of summer lightning, the old man knew. “He’s blind! He’s blind!” he shouted at the trees. And so it was with shadows lengthening and evening drawing close that the old man discovered the secret of the fish. In its old age it had gone blind. He could not see the fine lure case before him let alone see to bite it.

In the end, it was simple. The old man replaced his lure with a fat grub he dug from the soil and let it sink slowly in front of the old fish. The fish smelt the grub, bit and was caught. In his agony he thrashed on the end of the line. He dived to the bottom of the pond and leapt high into the air trying to dislodge the awful hook. But try as he might he could not release himself and soon lay gasping on the ground, his long life finally ebbing away in the twilight.

At first the old man whooped with savage joy. But then as he watched the old fish dying on the ground, his flanks heaving and quivering, he was overcome by deep sadness. For years this creature had lived peacefully in the pond growing blind in his old age. He had seen many winters and each passing of the season wrote another chapter on his body full of scars and crevices. And he was killing him.

Suddenly the old man could not stand it and he reached down and twisted free the hook from the great head. He lifted the fish and plunged it into the pond, moving him gently through the water. At first nothing happened and the man was afraid he had killed him. Then a fin twitched, then another. As evening fell the fish slowly revived and as he watched him swim away the old man felt a deep release and sighed with pleasure.

That night he slept peacefully wrapped in his cloak under a thousand twinkling stars. In the moonlight in the centre of the pond the old fish hung motionless in the water as he had for countless nights before. In the morning the old man made his way back up the trail and by the time the sunlight hit the surface of the shining pond, he was far away. Not once did he look back.