After my recent late-night phone message from Carotene Half I called him back and, much to my surprise, he invited me on a fishing trip. Out at sea. The man who has never shown any interest in my livelihood. Inviting me out for a day. I agreed, but with some suspicion…
That was 2 days ago. And I was right to be distrustful. This is what happened:
Half arranged to meet me at the port at 6:30am. A very early start. I drove down with my rod and angling kit. Half was already there, on board the boat, along with another man who I presumed was the skipper.
We set off and for the next hour chugged out to sea. Half appeared relaxed and constantly engaged me in conversation, laughing about other chefs and almost gently chiding me about the Sausage. I could see why he has the reputation of being a charmer.
Once we anchored, we started fishing. It has been a while since I fished but in no time I was catching more than my host. Which is when Carotene Half showed his colours and it became clear why he had invited me. The conversation went something like this:
CH: “So, Beycope, what do you say to a little wager? A little competition. See who catches the most fish today. And whoever does…” Half paused and then said, “Whoever does catch more, well, they get the other man’s restaurant. What do you say?”
It took me a moment to be able to respond. “You mean, you want whoever loses to give up his restaurant to the other chef?”
CH: “Exactly. So, are you up for it? I mean, you think you can fish don’t you?”
I weighed him up. This was extreme even for what I knew about Half. Was he serious? Was he really asking me to gamble my entire restaurant based on a fishing competition? There again, if I won…
At that moment I looked away, out to sea, and as I did so I caught sight of the very slightest of glances between Half and the skipper of the boat.
It only took me a few more moments to decide. “Sorry, Half, I can’t do that. Even though I think I’ll win, that’s just too high a stake. Even for me.”
Half shrugged. “Fine. No problem. If you’re too chicken…”
I took a deep breath, turned my back on him and cast my line. We didn’t say anything more until we were chugging back into port an hour or so later, when we exchanged a cold if civil goodbye.
I drove home – but with a nagging regret at the back of my mind. Why? Because in end I had caught more fish than Half. I had won. But as I had turned down his bet, I didn’t have his restaurant.
But I also wonder if Half is going to give up his new pursuit. If you ask me he’s a bit of a slippery so-and-so.