Diary

Mike’s Fishing Tackle Shop

08 June 2018 | Diary

Look! Look! It’s Mike’s Fishing Tackle Shop!

You know when you’re on a train or something and you zone out for a little while and just stare into the abyss? Only it’s not the abyss at all but the crotch of an old man who just happened to be sitting there minding his own business?

Well, that’s what happened to me on Portobello High Street the other day. Except instead of the abyss or an old man’s crotch it was Mike’s Fishing Tackle Shop.

You do know the significance of Mike’s Fishing Tackle Shop don’t you? Mike’s Fishing Tackle Shop is where, in 1993, Simon Munnery bought the worm that he’d execute with a miniature gallows on stage at the Fringe Club to a furious audience.

I told you all about it in my 2012 book, You Are Nothing. In case you weren’t paying attention, here’s what I wrote:

The invertebrate itself had been acquired from a fishing tackle shop called Mike’s Fishing Tackle Shop. Little is known about the shop but we can assume it sold fishing tackle and that the proprietor was called Mike. Actually, there’s nothing mysterious about the shop at all: it remains a thriving business on Portobello High Street in Edinburgh. I personally think English Heritage should consider Mike’s Fishing Tackle Shop for a blue plaque. But they can’t. Their authority, passed down from King Arthur, is not recognised north of Hadrian’s Wall.

Am I not a funny boy? And also a half-decent reporter of facts?

Sadly, Mike’s Fishing Tackle Shop is closed now. Even worse, according to that sign, the word “Fishing” was never actually in the name. But never mind. I will continue to erroneously call it Mike’s Fishing Tackle Shop.

When we planned this little trip to the seaside a couple of weeks ago, I remembered the significance of Portobello High Street and what could be found there. I thought briefly that it would be fun to visit Mike’s Fishing Tackle Shop, perhaps telling Mike about the execution of one of his worms to see what he’d make of it, and then buying a worm to ceremonially release into freedom only for it to be inevitably snatched up by a seagull. That’s how it would all happen, I thought. But then I forgot all about it.

Back in reality, Samara and I spent a nice day, rolling around on the beach and feeding chips to pigeons. We went into an arcade and played “the two pee machines” and a really terrible whack-a-mole, on which even I was unable to achieve a high score on account of it being utterly knackered.

It was only when we geared up to come home that the miracle occurred and I found myself staring at the birthplace (in a way) of all the comedy I like.

We shouldn’t even have seen it at all. It was fate. We arrived too early at the bus stop and decided to walk along to the next one. It was here where I zoned out and stared at Mike’s Fishing Tackle Shop for about five minutes before realising that it was in fact Mike’s Fishing Tackle Shop.

“It’s Mike’s Fishing Tackle Shop!” I said.

And it was. It was Mike’s Fishing Tackle Shop. Well, it was “Mikes Tackle Shop,” anyway, all closed forever and offering no chance to liberate or murder a worm.

At least the frontage was still intact and I was able to take a quick photograph of this historic landmark before the bus came and we got on board and I shook my head in wonder all the way home, saying “Wow, Mike’s Fishing Tackle Shop,” over and over and over.

It is my new mantra.