I was having trouble sleeping because a problem that had been niggling away for days had finally reached it's boiling point, the point where a resolution was required, and now.
I'd had a little scale trouble of late. I'd weighed a particular fish and the readings had come out far too low for the fish in question; I knew it was around a pound and a quarter, but the scales gave me just a pound. I jiggled them and the readings changed to a more acceptable level but not quite enough for my liking so I split the difference and grudgingly settled for a pound and two ounces.
Now I know that this all sounds rather silly, an angler fretting over an ounce, but we are talking about the weighing of roach here and roach don't get so big that an ounce here or there ever becomes an irrelevance. When a fish goes one pound fifteen or even worse, two pounds fifteen, then the roach angler really must trust his scales, and trust them absolutely...!
My problem was one of how best to check these rogue scales. You can't check one set of scales against another set of scales because they may well be out too. You can only check your scales reliably against something solid and unchanging. I had a eureka moment when it suddenly occurred to me that fluid ounces were actually exactly that - ounces in fluid form, and ounces of one liquid in particular.
I pulled on some clothes and hurried down to the kitchen, got out the measuring jug and filled it with exactly sixteen fluid ounces of water and poured it into a carrier bag. A dozen little jets of water sprang from all the little holes that Tesco's had thoughtfully provided. I found myself a cheaper bag - one from Aldi - and this proved watertight. I hooked it on the scales and it went round to exactly a pound! I put in another sixteen and it went round to exactly two.
I don't know what surprised me more; that my scales had been proved accurate or that a fluid ounce of water actually did weigh exactly one ounce....!
That fish was still more than a pound though, I am absolutely certain of that.
The scales were just having a bad day, but that's simply unacceptable behaviour, so I have decided to treat myself to a set of proper precision scales, the Salter Brecknell Model 15 brass spring balance in four pound x one ounce, specially for the weighing of the smaller species and have the other set as back up and for the weighing of larger and less pernickety fish.
Hang the expense goddammit! I just have to have em...
Can't sleep till then!