clipped

John holds out his hands.
‘I’m losing them,’ he says, turning them this way and that. ‘It’s hell. I can’t play the guitar n’more. And I can’t fish.’
He nods over to a stack of rods in the corner of the room.
‘Where did you used to go?’
‘Off the beach, until I couldn’t keep my balance on the pebbles when they shifted.’ He folds his arms and settles back on the bed. ‘Then it was just concrete places, you know. Jetty walls, outfalls. Listen – are you going to be long?’
‘Nope. Almost done. Just got to write a couple more things on the ticket and I’ll be off.’
‘Good,’ he says. ‘I’m just off myself. Down the shops. For some food. And fresh air.’
I sign the form and tear off a copy.
‘Did you ever fish off the marina?’ I say, putting the form with the other papers on the table.
‘Used to, until they changed the management and went all Health and Safety. “Oh – it looks like rain. I think you’d best not go out there today” or “Oh – I don’t like the look of that swell. Make sure you keep away from the edge.” Keep away from the edge! We used to clip ourselves to the railings in the big storms so we didn’t get swept over. But it was worth it. Man alive! One twenty pound cod n’ you’d be made!’

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