‘What?!!!’ I hear you say, to the background sounds of stamping feet, ‘Only one blog in the run-up to Christmas? That can’t be true, Surely.’
Well, I realise you’ve kinda gotten used to me pouring out four and sometimes even 5 mammoth blogs each month but when you can’t get out on the banks then the inspiration wanes a little. Perhaps I’ll compensate by dropping in a couple of articles instead. I give you there’s still lots to talk about from the wider world but how much of that do you really want to read from me?
Snow Joke Out There Folks
I’m guessing you don’t need me to tell you that the weathers’ been pretty much impossible this past week. Certainly we’ve seen record low temperatures and the heaviest snowfall I can recall at this time of year. Winter’s arrived with a bang alright and although I’m sure I could nip out and catch a few grayling I really think it would be reckless of me to drive anywhere for a day or two.
Fine if you’re on the main roads but as you can see from the pictures, even the main road through the village I live in is treacherous. This is a bus route, by the way, not a side street.
I’ve been getting up each morning and marvelling at the sights in my back garden. The snow you can see piled up un top of the table is just what fell overnight on the first day. We’ve had several inches more since this image was taken as much of the country ground to a halt.
Saying all this, if things stay as they are I’ll definitely be hoping to have a little fish soon. There’s a bit of decent grayling fishing, albeit for smallish ones, right through the centre of Sheffield and down through the Meadowhall corridor. The roads in that area will be pretty much open now, the only problem will be parking as the mounds of snow are piled high in the gutters and there’s no way of knowing whether you’re on a yellow line or not.
Of course, that won’t deter a traffic warden, will it?
I could even have a little dabble on my local River Dearne which looks a picture in the snow. Catching much in these conditions would be a quite an achievement I guess.
Dreaming Of The Next Adventure
Once Christmas is out of the way I can really start dreaming of the next big adventure that Stu, James and I have lined up. We’ve done mountains (the Himalayas), deserts (Sahara) and jungles (Africa) so this time we’re going to do something completely different. We’re going sea fishing for what we’re promised is the most amazing opponent, the giant trevally.
I became sold on the GT’s as those in the know call them by a bunch of guys I coached on the River Wye. They’d just decided to come along for a boys weekend, mainly because they lived in different parts of the UK and chill out together. The fishing was pretty much a bonus for them.
So I just had to investigate. To cut a long story short we’re off to the Indian ocean in March. Pound for pound they have a reputation for being the hardest fighting fish around and they run up to 100lb or so. Richard Foster (Foster’s Tackle) has just been out there and by all accounts had a whale of a time.
Listen to this: He reckons the 20-30 pounders gave a good account of themselves but those over 50lb are in a different league. His mate was using a £750 carp reel with 4lb test curve cat fishing rod when he hooked a proper biggie. The reel lasted 3 seconds before the bail arm was ripped off which then caught in his butt ring. With nothing to give the rod exploded!
The main method of catching is popper fishing which involves retrieving huge surface lures at high speed using 80-130lb braided line. The reel drag has to be screwed down as hard as it will go. Casting and retrieving looks hard enough work but the fights are something else.
It would be easy to imagine these tales are a little apocryphal but take a look at this short video clip. Make sure you watch it to the end though…
Bring it on, I say!
At The Waters Edge – Martin James
Five minutes ago the postman knocked on my door and asked me to sign for a copy of At The Water’s Edge, Martin James’ new book, and obviously I haven’t had a chance to read it yet but one flick through its glossy pages has got me drooling. At over 360 pages, liberally illustrated with over 200 mostly colour images, I simply can’t wait to get stuck into it.
Dedicated to Dick Walker and Bernard Venables the book features a number of guest authors including Len Arbery, Will Carter, Martin Salisbury, Mick Holgate, Phil Chun, Gary Newman, Scott Richmond and Trevor Bross.
Sadly it also contains obituaries for Bernard Venables, Fred J Taylor MBE, Ivan Duxbury, Andy Robbins, Terry Mansbridge and James Holgate – a reminder to all that an opportunity to go fishing tomorrow is not a given. Grab it with both hands!
Anyway, enough for now. I’ll do a proper review the moment I get a chance but in the meantime you can purchase copies direct from First Nature for £25 plus P&P and no doubt the usual retail outlets.
If a copy of this turns up in your Christmas stocking I doubt very much you’ll be disappointed.
Giving Panasonic A Panning
A quick update on my television situation. Hitting Panasonic with an unwelcome blast of negative publicity seems to have at least drawn a response from Chris Swatridge, the Customer Care Advisor. Your negative comments have helped, too, and it’s nice to see the power of the Internet having a small impact on a such a large corporation. Be in no doubt that your voices definitely count.
As I say, I received a reply and were I a bit gullible I might have thought they were offering to help but it’s another measure of if’s, but’s and maybe’s when you read closely. Here’s the email I received:
ISSUE RESOLUTION: Dear Mr Roberts,
Thank you for your e-mail enquiry.
I would clarify that Panasonic are not seeking to delay you from claiming this gesture of goodwill. In order to request cost assistance from Panasonic the unit would need to be inspected by an engineer from the authorised service centre and then the engineer would forward a copy of the repair estimate along with a copy of the proof of purchase to Panasonic for consideration.
Once inspected the service centre will send us a detailed repair estimate and the date of purchase, prior to the work being undertaken, for consideration. This is not only due to the fact that, through this, a greater level of assistance can usually be provided, but also since it provides us with an opportunity to liaise with the service agent and ensure that they are able to completely remedy the fault.
Please be advised that you may initially be charged an inspection fee by the service agent. In addition, if there is no assistance forthcoming and you elect to proceed with the repair on a chargeable basis, any repair charges will be payable by you.
I trust that the above information will be of assistance to you. However, of course, if you should have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact me and I will endeavour to assist.
Chris Swatridge, Customer Communications Advisor, Panasonic UK Ltd
To which I replied…
Dear Mr/Mrs/Ms Swatridge,
(Not wishing to sound impolite but the name ‘ Chris’ is not gender specific – care to enlighten me for future reference?)
Thank you for your reply but after reading it I am no wiser as to what commitment Panasonic is making in this matter.
In paragraph one you suggest Panasonic will make a gesture of goodwill. In paragraph two you suggest this is a consideration rather than an offer, whilst in paragraph three you state, if there is no assistance forthcoming…
In other words you lay down good intentions at the outset and then progressively backtrack. At no point are you committing to funding a repair or replacement of this clearly faulty product.
Let me re-iterate the crucial issue here. This TV was faulty within the first few months of purchase, probably since manufacture and only the security of that sham 5-year warranty delayed me from making a claim sooner. As we stand I am being expected to pay one of your partners to write a report with no written assurance that you will recompense me in any way.
That is NOT acceptable!
You will already have seen my description of the situation in my blog: (link) And the response from the reader who commented, “I was considering purchasing one of their plasma screens, I for one won’t be purchasing a Panasonic now.” Please trust me when I say that is a genuine response and not a set-up.
How many others among the silent majority (several thousand already) have thought the same but not bothered to post their views?
I’m sure you will not be surprised to learn that I’m already working on my next blog post and that Panasonic will feature, let us say ‘creatively’ in it, as they will in all further blogs until this issue is resolved. Of course, your name will be exposed in there, too – after all you are my sole point of contact and represent the company.
But I am not an unreasonable man. I am quite happy to remove all references to Panasonic from my blog, even going so far as to state the problem has been resolved amicably, but first we have to reach that point and until we do I intend to wage a very public negotiation. Obviously this correspondence will feature in my next blog.
So please, let’s try and resolve the matter quickly and with as little bitterness as possible. What exactly is Panasonic’s position? We both know that a repair will cost something like £650, plus the engineer’s report, say £700. Are you offering to pay all this, part of this (if so, how much), or nothing?
If the repair cannot be guaranteed to completely remedy the fault are you prepared to replace the set?
These are very simple questions that you should be able to answer by return. If you will provide me with a straight answer then I can take the TV to Martin Dawes immediately. If you cannot then I have no choice but to take alternative actions.
I’m struggling right now to find an email address for ‘Mike’ Yoshiiku Miyata (* see below) because I really would like to share my frustrations and my intentions with someone at his level. Of course I will probably have to use conventional mail unless you will be kind enough to supply me with his email address…?
Either way it’ll be on his desk next week.
I shall be emailing BBC’s Watchdog programme as I’m sure it’s the kind of visual January Sale type item they pray for at this time of year, Christmas ruined at the Roberts household, etc – you know how it works (link) I’d say the timing is perfect so it’s surely better for you that we resolve things quickly. I’m sure Mr Miyata will be less than pleased to hear this is my intention.
So, this is where we are. The clock’s ticking and you can see clearly that I’m losing patience. However I suspect from the tone of your email that goodwill is in the air and we don’t have to escalate the matter in a way that may result in Panasonic potentially losing even more customers or your professionalism being questioned, or indeed the entire integrity of the Panasonic care team.
Please get back to me as soon as you can…
(Footnote: * Yoshiiku Miyata is the Panasonic EU Chairman)
Four days have passed and I’ve not heard a peep from Mr Swatridge but I reckon he now realises I’m on his case. The Sunday Mail (Judge) has advised me I should report the matter to the Consumer & Trading Standards Department. It also suggests the Government-funded Consumer Direct is worth contacting.
Oh well, that’ll keep me out of mischief this morning!
I’ll keep you informed as to developments. Meanwhile, here’s a rather unhappy Panasonic customer who grew frustrated with Panasonic Customer Service Department over in the US. Maybe upsetting customers is a Panasonic company policy?
Sounds like it’s not just Panasonic plasma TV’s that fail to satisfy customer requirements.
Are you listening Panasonic?
A Special Christmas Card
Each year I look forward to receiving my Christmas card from Peter and Francis Drennan. It’s one of the first to arrive and they always come up with something quite special. In the past there have been images of cased fish, vintage tackle and a painting by Bernard Venables, but the latest is a belter. It depicts Martin Bowler displaying dedication (or delusion) while filming his new series, A Fish For All Seasons. Martin had been fishing the last small patch of water but woke up to find himself snowed in and the lake completely frozen…
What on earth will they follow that with next year?
Thank you P & F, and all who toil at the Drennan works. Keep up the good work.
Fancy Coming To A Charity Show In Sandy?
I realise it’s a little way off just yet but I’ll be doing a rare live show in March in aid of Sue Ryder Care. It’s hoped that we can pull in at least 250 guests and raise at least £3,000. The event has been running for a number of years now and has proved very popular in the past.
My show comprises two bespoke 50-minute films that feature a number of out-takes from the Barbel Days And Ways DVD filming, footage shot in England, Canada, India and Africa. I give a running commentary over the footage and can pause the film whenever I like to emphasize a point. It’s a technique I’ve developed over the past four years and takes slide shows to a whole new level.
If you live in the Bedfordshire area then please do come along. Anyway I’ll remind you all nearer the time.
Now That’s What I Call Music…
Deep joy. La Senza have come up with a rather splendid bit of advertising for their wares with a seasonal twist in the form of The Cup Size Choir. Seriously blokes, you ought to have a play on this! The models are laid out as a piano keyboard and, well I won’t spoil it but you use your computer keyboard (or your mouse)…
Takes a few seconds to load but well worth the wait. 😉
I can finally confirm the dates of the fishing course I’ll be running on the Wye next summer as Sunday 7th through to Thursday 11th August. The four night format proved hugely successful last year, so much so that quite a few of last years pupils have said they would like to come again. If everyone’s true to their word then all the places might have gone by the time you read this.
Oh well, that’s what happens when you offer fantastic value for money on a great river and a truly friendly angling hotel.
Click on the front page to see if there are any places left.
May The Farce Be With You
Well the fab four are through to the final. It was plain to see from the start that Rebecca, Matt, One Direction and the odious Cher would make it through to the final, after all, the judges have the final say, don’t they? Why anyone bothers voting is a mystery to me.
On Saturday she was somewhat petulant when Dannii suggested she would have liked to have seen her sing a ballad instead of another third-rate parody of a rap number. Cher sneered back, ‘I’m not changing my style for anyone. I have to be true to myself, this is who I am!’
Well that may be but it doesn’t impress the public who dumped her into the sing-off again. The public doesn’t recognise this stellar talent that the judges apparently see, ‘You’re the girl who represents every teenager out there…’ Fawned Simon.
And guess what, the tearful little trollop only went and sang a ballad, without any rap, in the sing-off. Hypocrite? More faces than a town hall clock I’d say.
But seriously, last week Simon pronounced, ‘Now we have a singing competition!’
Well, if that’s the case, how come the judges put Cher through to the final? Mary sang her heart out with a gutsy, defiant rendition, but she knew her time was up. Like last week, it was a forgone conclusion, a done deal. Cher could have refused to sing, done a tap dance or read a poem and the judges would have still thrown out Mary. I’ve seen straighter FIFA delegates.
As it was, a refusal would have spared us the agony of listening to a flaky, stuttering, off-key rendition of a Britney Spears number (or that’s what they told us it was).
One thing’s for certain, I can reveal exactly who’ll come out of the final the bigest winner. Yep, that’s right, Simon Cowell and his Syco Records.
Meanwhile, in a country pub just down the road from here there’s a hand written A4 sheet of paper on the wall announcing an upcoming evening of entertainment, admission free, featuring a former X Factor finalist. I guess it doesn’t work out quite the same for everyone, does it?
Hitchhikers Guide To Forming A Babel Fish Society
I make no secret of the fact I absolutely loved Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy and I don’t mean the Hollywood film. I mean Douglas Adams’ books, the BBC Radio series and that vaguely Blake 7 version on the telly back when colour TV was still a novelty.
Hitchhikers gave us the babel fish. A fish that, when stuck in your ear, enabled you to decipher any old rubbish being spouted no matter what planet the broadcaster was on. You could also communicate back using the babel.
Hitchhikers gave us some great lines like, ”Don’t Panic’, ‘I never could get the hang of Thursdays’ and most appropriately, ‘So long! And thanks for all the fish’.
In one of my favourite scenes our derring duo Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent find themselves getting a lift on a spaceship where the 573rd meeting to discuss colonisation is taking place.
The ship’s captain reveals to Arthur how his planet was doomed so the entire population was packed into three giant spacecraft that would set off in search of a new future on a planet less doomed (You’re getting ahead of me already, aren’t you? ).
All the the brilliant leaders, scientists, great artists and achievers would sail on the A Ark while all those who did the actual work would sail on the C Ark.
The B Ark would contain all the unwanted hairdressers, management consultants and telephone sanitizers.
The ship on which they’d hitched a ride was the B Ark, the first to leave the doomed planet.
So Arthur asks: ‘But what was wrong with your planet?’
‘Well it was doomed,’ Said the Captain, ‘Apparently it was going to crash into the sun.
‘Or was it the moon that was going to crash into us?’ Interjected his Number One.
‘I thought it was that the planet was more or less bound to be invaded by a gigantic swarm of twelve-foot piranha bees.’
‘No, no, no.’ Cried Number Three, ‘That’s not what I was told! My commanding officer swore blind that the entire planet was in imminent danger of being eaten by an enormous mutant star goat. We were just hoping that the ship we were going in would be ready in time.
‘But they made sure that they sent all you lot off first anyway?’
‘Oh yes, everyone said, and very nicely I think – that it was very important for morale to feel that they would be arriving on a planet where they could be sure of a good haircut and where the phones were clean…’
‘Oh yes! Well I…, I can see that would be very important. And er…, the…, the other ships followed on after you did they?”
‘Ah! Well, it’s funny you should mention that. Because curiously enough, we haven’t actually heard a peep out of them since we left…’
Good luck to all who sail in her but doesn’t something in this sketch seems awfully familiar? Is it me or does it appear to parody a certain new angling group? Could it be the ABoF is B Ark-ing up a similar tree?
And in the interests of accuracy Conrad has personally advised me it’s NOT the AoBF, it’s the ABF. Unfortunately he went on to call it the AoBF himself before his phone call ended! Come on Conrad, I think you need to vote on what you should call yourselves. Anything less than a poll called ‘What Name?’ would be undemocratic, surely?
So, to everyone, especially those who obviously feel alienated from those on the A Ark, may I direct you to the advice writ large on the front of the Hitchhiker’s Guide itself – Don’t Panic! When the B Ark eventually reaches its destination there will be lots and lots of meetings, and speeches; democracy will be observed and best of all the lines of communication will be spotless.
So there we have it. Looks like peace and harmony will be everywhere among us this Christmas.
In fact to celebrate I think I’ll form my own group, Team Babel. Anyone who wants to join is more than welcome, just stick a fish in your ear…
A Cup Of Little Cheer
By the time you get to read this blog I expect FIFA’s decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar will have been thoroughly exhausted. The voting was a sham. We sent along a Prime Minister, a future King and a huge celebrity to grovel on our behalf yet we were never going to win and the £15m or more that we spent on the bid was simply money down the drain. We were lied to and humiliated by what amount to a bunch of crooks.
It should never happen again. The next event we can even bid for is 2030 so in reality there’s a good chance I’ll not see the World Cup on British soil again in my lifetime. Do I regret the Panorama programme? Or the Sunday Times and News of the World exposures? No I do not. If the day ever dawns when the British press is afraid to expose corruption then I would not want to live in the UK any longer. In any case, citing these as the reason for our failure is hiding from the truth. The deal was done long before that.
I also believe the price of hosting a World Cup was too great. Were you aware that had the bid succeeded our Government would have had to underwrite tax free status for FIFA profits? We are all having to tighten our belts in this recession. Creating a tax haven for the billions the cup would have generated and then watching it being shipped out to Switzerland is too big a price to pay, especially when we would have had to foot the bill for all the infrastructure improvements.
England were shafted. As were Australia, the USA, Spain, Portugal, Holland and Belgium.
We can hardly walk away from the global ‘football family’ but the first thing we should do is introduce goal line technology here at home and tell FIFA if they don’t like it they can go to hell (and so can UEFA). We wrote the rules of football, we now need to take them back and drag the game into the 21st Century. We must also tell them where to stick all future meaningless friendlies against third rate nations. Manchester United don’t play against Frickley Colliery, do they?
We should then let the media’s best investigative journalists loose on FIFA and turn them over properly until every single crooked member is exposed and seen to be disgraced. We should never again grovel to these self-agrandising individuals. We must set the agenda and make all the rules from now on and if FIFA don’t like that then let them run football in Qatar and Russia, in Africa and every other dark corner of the globe, but they should never again be allowed near those places where it matters.
Indeed we should consider whether we even want to be part of the next two World Cups. We managed without it in the past, we can damn well manage without it in the future. Without us it is nothing anyway. We fill the grounds, we create the atmosphere and it’s time we stood up and told FIFA where to go.
If you’ve not already given up the ghost. Folk appear to be going soft on BFAMWY.
Has Christmas come early or something? You lot are going soft!
Cheers guys 😉