A fishwife takes her revenge

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The Independent Online
Keith Elliott is on holiday in India. His wife has taken the opportunity to tell the other side of a fisherman's tale . . .

THIS is my golden opportunity for revenge. My husband is away for three weeks' mahseer fishing. He sends his apologies, but he has been unable to file his article for the week. Short of chasing through the jungle after him to some outlandish place where they still headhunt, there was little to be done. It was my chance to tell the fishwife's tale.

All those years of being maligned in print, the butt of all his little jibes about how wives and fishing don't mix, how could I resist? Even the sports desk were pleased that he hadn't been able to file, sniggering at the prospect of me letting rip after years of tolerant silence. All my friends placed orders for their copies of the paper.

Now I know a lot of wives are happy to pack hubby off on business trips. But mine goes fishing on his "working" holidays, swearing he works ever so hard getting new angles on old angling stories. But he doesn't convince me.

Is lounging on a floating gin palace on the Great Barrier Reef, devouring delicious meals and running up larger drinks bills than Australians so arduous? Right now he's probably sitting on a verandah at some circuit house described in his itinerary as "a delightful relic of the Raj", sipping a gin and tonic (good to ward off malaria), and wondering how to send his column. His articles on his return read like a millionaire's travelogue.

But he has taken one trip that I thought would finish him. He went to the upper reaches of the Amazon to catch the Arapaima, the world's largest freshwater fish. Real Boys' Own stuff. No comfy beds or luxurious travel there - and no sight of the Arapaima either. The river was in flood late that year and there was none around. A fine fisherman's excuse.

He still managed to dine out on the tale for years. Until he repeated himself so often that our daughters said it was boring. This, I reckon, was when he decided he'd have to risk life and limb again in search of the ultimate fishing tale and he booked his passage to India. Well, he should have thought that if you go to a forgotten territory to find obscure fish, you are unlikely to stumble across a fax machine on the way.

You may well wonder why I never get to go. And I do sometimes ask if there's a chance that I can come along to the more exotic places, but I usually get the response that I'll only get bored while he rushes around working. I can't quite see what there would be to rush for in remote Himalayan villages.

The next trip is to the Bahamas in December, another cruise after exotic fish. Now this I really would like to do. I couldn't possibly get in the way; I'd even prepare the bait and tie hooks for him. But I know what would happen on our return. He'd start to twist the story and poke fun at me again in print. There's no winning with a writer, and there's no getting your own back either. Not even a fortnight in paradise is worth a year of being pilloried in print.