There’s a pool I know. Get into the river by the bridge, and go past the grey tree. The water deepens and is slightly brown and opaque. Look for the shopping trolly in the mud by the broken wall, and the orange traffic cone twenty yards further on. Take a look around you. The fresh green leaves, the twinkling new spring sunshine. Feel the early breeze pinch at your face.
Now you’re close.
Find the bush which wears the supermarket bags as leaves. Bright red and blue, a flash of the rainforest in the central belt.
Now you’re very close.
The water is clearer here. It gurgles and slides around two jagged rocks, then slows and dives a little deeper. Glance upstream. A little blue thunderbolt streaks across your line of sight. A deepening furrow in your brow. Kingfishers, here?
A bus thunders along the road, beyond the trees that hide your river. A thousand engines churn in neutral. Two million people take a breath, exhale, and continue their work. You feel like a sneaky twelve year old truant going into town, peering past the school gate whilst everyone else learns to conjugate verbs. The furrow is a smile now. You know a secret, and it’s very, very close.
The pool. It’s the best one anywhere on this river. It’s like ten pools really, full of streamy seams and pockets and little bathtub hollows. It’s the kind of place that might take two seasons to explore. A true hidden gemstone, in between crumbling walls and flowing through an unknowing city. There are trout here. Wild brown trout with red spots that eat dark olives, kebabs and grey dusters. You gratefully oblige and tie on a size 16. A favourite fly, perfect for searching the foamy runs. If things get desperate there’s a good chippy a hundred yards along the road. The urban river is an amazing place.
Happy new year.
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