What happened when my mate broke quarantine
The following is a story about tempting fate and a shattered dream. And festering guilt.
It would make a good episode of Mr Bean.
It will also cause some who read this to arch an eyebrow and think harshly of the protagonist, because his adventure took place in the midst of mandatory self-isolation.
But be assured, he has been punished, mostly by self-flagellation.n the early days of COVID-19's invasion, Phil had been interstate and was required to stay in his flat for two weeks upon his return. By day 13 he was climbing the walls.
Having detected no symptoms, he decided to break quarantine on day 14, keen to go fishing. He rose at 3am and went to a nearby beach, planning to fish in the dark and then sneak back home before dawn replenished, Dracula-style.
He was using heavy gear and large bait, hoping to snare a trophy jewfish in the surf.
For three hours he remained poised for the strike, gulping in the fresh salt air, happy to be outside and confident he wasn't compromising anyone's safety.
But then the eastern horizon revealed itself, warning of the sun to come. It was time to get back to the coffin.
That's when the fish struck. A BIG fish.
In a battle worthy of a sequel to The Old Man and the Sea, Phil fought the beast up and down the beach for the best part of an hour.
The sun came up, early morning walkers gathered to watch.
Phil was mortified that he would be recognised. "No filming!" he beseeched puzzled onlookers.
Someone offered to take over the rod for a spell to give an obviously flagging Phil a breather, but he didn't want anyone to touch his gear for fear he had the virus.
Thinking he was about to land the fish of his dreams, Phil pushed his guilt aside and kept battling.
Finally, in the shallows, a fin. A shark's fin. Shattered, Phil cut the line and scurried home. It's only now, four months later, he can talk about it.
Originally published as Rory Gibson: What happened when my mate broke quarantine