My mother doesn´t look anything like a trout, which is rather unfortunate for me but probably rather fortunate for her. This observation becomes particularly relevant now that my brothers and sisters, widely scattered throughout the world, have decided to run an art competition and the subject we are asked to paint is no less a person than our mother.

Unfortunately the only thing I have painted over the last few years are fish in general and trout in particular, and people have been kind or charitable enough to suggest that they bear a passable resemblance to the real thing. So you will understand that I am quite nervous at the prospect of diversifying my portfolio and showing that, outside of my comfort zone, I am basically crap at art. And nothing, it appears to me, is as difficult as a portrait.

My first instinct naturally was to keep a low profile and hope this art competition idea would simply go away. I thought it had until my sister Carole in South Africa, the self-proclaimed judge of the competition, resurrected the subject again the other day.

Fly fishing has given me an instinct for conjuring up reasons why I have not been successful or for reneging on commitments, but even with that advantage I was struggling. I knew that my best excuse to abstain (that I was terribly busy) just wouldn´t wash. They all know that I am stranded alone in the back of beyonds and have plenty of time on my hands.

Revealing a glaring lack of innate talent is only partly why I feel so reticent. The other is that I don´t want to submit a picture that looks like Homer Simpson and for my mum to ask “who is this supposed to look like?” and then me having to say “you mum!”. Or worse still one of those Picasso style works where the woman has three eyes and half of her face is upside down. My mum managed to raise six kids who have come out normal (mas o menos) and the last thing I want to do is suggest to her is that she looks like a warthog.

I have actually made a start on the painting. It has a long way to go but it has the potential to be something better than a disaster. If you don´t mind, I will defer from sharing the photograph of my mum on which our efforts are to be based and, out of respect for her, will not share my final portrait if indeed it does ever see the light of day.

Instead I will show you a picture of a trout which you can use to prop yourself up in these difficult times and to help remind you (and me) of the beautiful things nature has hidden away and that she might reveal once we are freed up once again. This particular trout was taken by my brother Sean on Lough Arrow last year.

The trout, for what it´s worth, looks like a trout. My mum, as I mentioned before, does not.

Believe me.

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Here is Sean´s big trout lying on the seat of one of Finny Dodd´s boats. Shortly after the picture was taken Sean slipped it back into the lough. I imagine a few pints were consumed to celebrate later.