When I was about ten years old there were, I recall, trips with my aunt and cousins to a nearby large town. The purpose of these excursions I can’t recall, but I do know that we used to pass by at least a couple of pawn shops. What exactly they were about I wasn’t sure at that age, but I did register that in the windows were fishing tackle, air rifles, electric guitars and other coveted items; they were like Aladdin’s Cave. With the passing of time these shops vanished, just as I came to realise how sad they were. Places where people gave over their belongings for a few quid.

These days not only are pawn shops back, but they are now in high streets rather than back streets.

There’s one on a main street I walk down regularly. It’s been there a while and I’d always been indifferent to it. But then the other day without any forethought I walked in. It felt like a spontaneous act, but it wasn’t. Not really.

What drew me to it was certainly inquisitiveness in part, but I think it had much more to do with the childhood memories of all things fishing related and the dim memories of those dusty treasures. I decided to take a quick look inside. The shop was chock full of electronica, gamephenalia and the like, but there in a corner in a glass display case were a couple of centre-pin reels and a fixed spool one.

This put me on a slippery slope. I had got Little Boot’s a new reel to go with the birthday present rod, but didn’t have one for myself. And we had identical rods, so I would need one wouldn‘t I?. There’d be one at home I told myself (by home I meant my Mum‘s house). But for some reason, I was putting off an archaeological expedition there to retrieve any remains of my tackle.

I stooped and had a closer look. An old Intrepid. The same make of reel that I remembered from my first ever fishing trip. It seemed to much of a coincidence. 

I asked the price. The shop assistant a tall gaunt geezer with wonky teeth and neck tattoos, had the bored air of someone who’d rather be at home playing computer games and doing recreational drugs. He’d pretty much done his best to ignore me, but burst into life as soon as he took the reel out.

“I thought about buying it myself,” he said. “I’ve got this old rod it’d go well with. It’d be great,” he grinned. Clearly someone who’d loved fishing but didn’t go anymore. He continued, “But I thought what if it broke? It’s an old rod and couldn’t take the punishment of a big fish.”

He handed me the reel, I gave it a quick once-over and handed him a note. Whilst his eyes still burned with enthusiasm it was overlaid with a layer of melancholy that made me wonder why he didn’t go fishing any longer. In reciprocation I told him the story of my uncle and a treasured old rod which he had managed to snap by getting carried away in demonstrating how marvellous it was.

He nodded sagely and handed me my change.

I left with my reel and bitter-sweet feelings both about it’s source and the mien of the guy that had served me. It was an odd experience.