Fishing’s been held up on the back burner for a while as I’ve spent the past week in Lanzarote. First visit there and maybe the last. It is certainly a strange island, rather like a cornflake. In fact I’ve seen more green on a moldy loaf of bread – or on the faces of certain individuals who haunt me on the, err, what do they call it? Oh yes, the t’interweb’ ;-p
Fantastic villa though, and the food and drink was mostly reasonably priced, but sadly the weather let us down. Windy and cloudy much of the time and even some rain. We hired a car and drove to the far side of the island for a trip up the volcano and all we got for our trouble was fog and drizzle. Oh well, I’m back now and raring to go fishing again.
A Real Treat
There was a real treat waiting for me when I returned home. Two new books lay on my doormat and I’m expecting them both to be crackers. We’re not talking any old authors either, we’re talking genuine legends of the sport who are sadly no longer with us.
First up we’ve got ‘Fishing With Walker’ edited by Peter Maskell. It’s a collection of Dick’s articles from Fishing magazine and Angling Times, none of which have appeared in book form before. Split into four sections, Catching Fish, Tactics, Controversy and Comedy and Facts About Fish.
Fishing With Walker is a 197-page hardback book and limited to just 500 numbered and signed copies priced at £26.95 + £2.75 First Class p&p.
To order copies direct, just send a cheque for £29.70, made payable to Peter Maskell Publishing Services, to Peter Maskell, Churchview House, Main Street, Wilsthorpe, STAMFORD, PE9 4PE. For further information you may Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
35 signed leather-bound copies in slipcases are also available at £165 + £7 p&p.
The other book is another collection of Angling Times articles, this time by Ivan Marks. Ivan was named ‘The People’s Champion’ for good reason. An absolute giant of the sport before folk had heard of the likes of Nudd and Scotthorne. Certainly he was a hero of mine and someone I was privileged to spend a bit of time with.
The People’s Champion runs 312 pages and is available from Calm Productions at a very reasonable £26 including P&P. Leather bound copies are £180 plus delivery and there’s even a VIP version of just 9 copies with all manner of extras at £400 plus P&P but I suspect these will have already been snapped up by serious collectors. Just go to the Calm Productions web site for more details.
I’ll tell you more about both books when I’ve had a chance to read them.
Blow me, if the postman hasn’t just interrupted me with a knock at the door trying to deliver another book. This time it’s Mick Hanson’s Along The Margins. You’ll find a bit about this one in the Book Extracts area of the web site.
In a nutshell the book covers a Northamptonshire specialist angler’s lifetime of chasing a whole variety of species. The 163 glossy pages are liberally illustrated with colour images throughout
Along The Margins is published by Fishing Booksender in a limited print run of 350 hardback copies plus 30 leathers. The hardbacks cost £29.95 plus £5 P&P while the leathers, at £175 plus £10 P&P have already sold out! For further details please visit the web site or contact David Griffiths at email@example.com, tel: 05601 972040
Giving Spam The Short Shrift
Why do we all have to put up with Internet spam? It’s an unwelcome intrusion on everyone’s life and were it not for the filters we all have it would become intolerable. Surely spamming should be made illegal, don’t you think?
I have general filters on my email, likewise on this web site and specific ones to block individuals via their IP addresses. Despite this a number still get through. I’m currently being spammed by a few persistent beggers who seem able to circumvent all the filters but I had to smile at one before pressing the delete button. The web address was:
Couldn’t help feeling it might be useful to a couple of individuals who love to diss me all the time…
As It’s Pike Time…
I promised you lot another Mole painting in my last blog and I don’t like to let folk down, so here goes.
What more inspiration do you need to dust off the pike rods and go searching for a big toothy predator? Of course Mole, or Maurice Pledger as you will maybe know him, recently released a cracking book of his own featuring lots of illustrations and paintings, not to mention some great fishing stories. If you’ve not read it then that’s definitely one for the Christmas present list. You won’t be disappointed, trust me.
But back to real live pike, Stu’s been doing okay on the Yorkshire rivers with pike to 15lb but they’re all a bit long and skinny at the moment as this girl shows.
Top Of The Hits Parade
Did you by any chance notice the web site hit counter sailed passed 120,00 this week? Probably not. That hissing noise is the dound of my enormous ego (according to some) deflating…
Worth repeating though that it’s visitors as opposed to page hits. Not bad to say it only covers the past 15 months. I’d be fibbing if I said it’s not flattering although what began as a bit of fun has gradually taking over my life. People ask if running the site eats into my fishing time but the plain truth is, having something fresh to write about motivates me to go fishing more.
And then there’s Facebook. I’m still not sure it’s a really good idea but, for now, I’ll go with the flow. I’ve only had a presence there for a few months but at roughly the same time the web site counter clocked 120,000 my Facebook ‘friends’ count passed 1,000 and still continues to climb.
Do I Get A Long Service Award?
In 6 months time I will have been writing in magazines and contributing to newspapers for 25 years. That’s a lot of articles. Even I find it hard to believe I’ve written over 800 articles for one newspaper alone and yes, I’ve kept every single one on file to prove it! You may think it’s sad but I have practically every article and feature I have ever had published in magazine, paper or catalogue stored on file. I’d love to upload every single one of them to my Scribd page but I guess life’s too short to take on a task like that!
How times have changed since the early days. Can you believe we didn’t even have mobile phones! Back then it was virtually all black and white pictures and you only needed two or three images to illustrate a whole article. We ‘developed’, if you’ll excuse the pun, through negative film, transparency and ultimately to digital images. There are no black and white magazines any more, it’s all colour.
Sadly the print media is shrinking slowly into oblivion. The Internet will ultimately take over the universe, certainly in niche markets like fishing, but it will only work if a financial model can be found to support it. There are countless fishing web sites each attracting about 0.0000001 per cent of the target audience. Seriously, some web sites only get a handful of hits each week and let’s be honest, they’re from the same folk each time. Angling’s manufacturing and retail traders will always need a vehicle in which to advertise and promote awareness of their products. It means a handful of competing mega-sites will be required, presumably available on a subscription basis, otherwise everyone’s in trouble.
The old adage that ‘computers are alright but you can’t read one on the bog or in bed’ was a stumbling block until quite recently. Not any more. And that change will accelerate as tablet computers become cheaper and enter more widespread usage.
Those who run enthusiast sites will continue to do so, but they will never compete against top class professional business sites because they will never be an attractive vehicle for advertisers. At best they only repeat second hand news so it stands to reason there has to be a commercial hierarchy.
Sites like this one can only ever hope to reach the second division when the real revolution comes. Only the big boys will get to play in the premier league because an undertaking like that requires serious funding, but mark my words, it won’t be long before many of us will be signing up to a subscription on standing order that will give us exclusive access to content and deals. News will be released daily rather than on a Wednesday, while articles will be a mixture of text/images and video clips. Why else would it not be?
And the archives will be amazing…
The role of journalists, writers and photographers will change dramatically. The top echelon will have to be adept at a whole raft of presentation skills and it will be jolly hard work! Even more demanding than it is today. Those who can speak to a camera, take a photo, write, edit video, produce, direct and also fish will be in great demand, I would guess. Maybe the focus will turn away from individuals, the ‘stars’ the papers currently create, to be replaced by teams or small groups. How else will you carry all the camera gear and tripods along with the usual mountain of tackle?
I’d love to be involved in 25 years time but sadly my time in the limelight will be over by then but at least I will be able to say I was there through some fantastically challenging and constantly changing times.
And just for the record, this is where it all began, my humble beginning: Coarse Angler May 1986
Leather Market Takes A Hiding
Returning to the subject of books, albeit briefly, I received an email from Tom O’Reilly at Little Egret Press announcing that he was reducing the number of Deluxe Leather Bound Edition copies of Len Arbery’s Barbel For Life to just 10 copies plus 25 standard full leather bindings at a more affordable cost of £185.00 and a further 20 quarter bound leather copies.
It seems an odd decision when you consider these special copies frequently change hands for remarkably high prices, as high as four figures, but there has been a glut of leather bound books in recent times, so much so that it has become standard practise to produce 50 copies of each book that is published simply because they were pretty much guaranteed to sell. Seems the sheer volume has begun to depress the market.
Interestingly he mentions in the email that when he produced the first L-E-P book back in 2001 the company not only didn’t have a web site, it didn’t even have an email address. If nothing else that’s an indication of how incredibly fast this world is changing.
Now what was I going to tell you next…? Oh yes! According to the TV newspaper round-up on Sky this morning we forget five things each day. Mostly it’s forgetting to pay a bill, or do the washing up, but with me it’s much worse. Twice, yes TWICE in the past two months I have put petrol in my van. The trouble is it runs on diesel. What an idiot!
Each time it was immediately before I was due to set off for a few days away and it’s clearly a lack of concentration. On each occasion I used exactly the same pump at the same filling station but at least this time I realised what I’d done the instant I removed the nozzle from the tank. What puzzles me is that I’ve been filling up vehicles of one sort or another for 45 years without making a single mistake.
On the latest occasion I had even donned one of those pretty blue plastic gloves to avoid getting deisel on my hand yet I still grabbed the 4-star nozzle. Fortunately my other car won’t allow me to use the wrong fuel but if this keeps up I might have to change the van!
Star Gazers Beware
If you live in southern climes then you might want to pop along to the Lands End pub at Twyford, near Reading on Saturday 19th November when Martin Bowler and Hugh Miles will be there from 12 noon to chat about their filming and writing projects over the last few years – namely Catching The Impossible and A Fish For All Seasons.
Also appearing will be Chris Yates and Bernard Cribbins, plus some other star guests who have been involved in these projects. Book, DVDs and autographs will be available.’
Scraping The Barrel
Continuing the stardom theme, has the X-Factor run its course?
It has always been the show we love to hate but, deep down, hate to love. Yes it’s predictable. Louie ‘selects’ the tallent-less crackpots ahead of any genuine singer, the sham ‘fights’ between the panel members, hopeless wannabees filled with delusion, boy and girl bands created on the spot from failed boot campers, and those dredful cliches, ‘I think we’ve found ourselves a little pop star’, You’re so current’, ‘You nailed it’, ‘Made that song your own’. Throw in the clapping seals in the audience, the gullible phone voters (who actually have no control over who stays or goes), the nepotistic manner in which guest artists are always, shall we say, ‘friends of the show’ and, of course, the manipulation of the Christmas charts as icing on the cake.
Unfortunately the talent pool is limited and pretty much exhausted. That’s why we get the surprised look on the judges faces at auditions (yeah, and like they sit through 6,000 entires…), ‘Err, haven’t we seen you before?’ Of course you have. The production team invited them back! Oh, and the heart wrenching back stories, ‘This is for my little girl who died’. ‘This is for me grandma who’s an alcoholic’. ‘I want to break out of prostitution’ (I made that one up) and kick the drug habit – yes, I’ve been clean for two days’,’ I don’t want to be a barmaid, checkout girl, unemployed, hairdresser, drug dealer, go back to prison’, or whatever.
We’re shown all this before they’ve sung a note and surprise, surprise, they get four yeses. They’re through to boot camp. ‘This is where the really hard work begins.’ It says in the mentor’s script.
The 2011 crop must be the weakest ever. The fact that Frankie ‘the cockster’ Cocozza is anywhere near the ‘live’ finals tells me everything I need to know. It’s a singing competition after all and he cannot really sing (sorry, I’m stealing cliches from Louie!) while newspaper headlines scream that Simon’s coming back to save the show.
It’ll take more than that. It’ll take a huge dollop of talent and frankly it just ain’t there.
It doesn’t help to look at the track records of previous winners and finalists, either. Where are they now? How many have gone on to become genuine artists, a worldwide brand? Very few.
The X-Factor is simply a jazzed up glittering version of Opportunity Knocks. These shows come and go. They have their time. It takes courage to put a suffering animal out of its misery but it has to be done sometime.
Last year I watched Bernie Flint performing on a cruise ship. Bernie who? You ask. Well Bernie was voted the winner of Opportunity Knocks by the viewing public for 12 consecutive weeks in 1977. He released albums and singles, made TV programmes and was popular for a while, but most folk still think he’s the guy with ostrich (Bernie Clifton). You could say he still has a career of sorts but does a similar fate await Lucy Benjamin or Steve Brookstein I wonder? Or will they simply fade away into oblivion?
But let’s close with a comment from one of the truly obnoxious losing finalists of recent years, Cher ‘the little girls are going to love you’ Lloyd. Recently she attracted about 5 million hits for her You Tube rap: ‘ You can’t stop clickin’ ’bout me, Writin’ bout me… You’re a hater, just let it go… I’m laughin all the way.’
I guess she has a point though. Fred Bonney likes using song lyrics on the front page of his blog to taunt his detractors. Have that one on me Fred. Then you will be ‘so current’. Go on Fred, ‘make it your own’!
In the same interview she rails on about cyber terrorists: ‘The internet’s an evil thing.’ She said, ‘It’s full of keyboard warriors with a license to hate’.
Pretty good comming from a chav. Hang on, is she saying I now need to get a license?
The Football Bit
Seriously, I’m trying to leave this bit out but I enjoy the moment when it all goes right so it’s only right that I tell it like it is when things go wrong. And boy, are they going wrong! One point from the last 15 (against a pretty poor Coventry side) for the Rovers and we’re now sitting firmly at the foot of the Championship table. It must surely must be giving John Ryan (the chairman) sleepless nights.
When other clubs came in for Sean O’Driscol last season he demanded a million pounds in compensation. He told both Burnley (then in the Prem) and Sheffield United that he was our man, go away. He went to the media only a few weeks ago and told them our manager’s job was safer than that of Sir Alex Ferguson’s; 36 hours later the same manager was sacked ignominiously, by text (or as the club worded it, was placed on gardening leave).
And if you think that was an act of utter madness then it pales into comparison with what broke next. A new manager was already in place – Dean Saunders. Hang on, we’ve shown the door to the manager our Chairman publicly praised as the best we’ve ever had, so what exactly makes Saunders such a fantastic replacement? It can’t be his track record: Managerial experience – 2 seasons in the Conference with Wrexham. Trophies won – none. Promotions – none. Matches won in the football league – none. Unique selling point? He has Willie McLay as an agent who is now in control of the club’s transfer policy. He rubber stamps every deal, in or out.
What?!!! You heard.
‘We’re going to try different way.’ Says the Chairman. ‘Willie and Dean have loads of contacts and they’re going to bring in a bunch of superstars on loan. I haven’t written off the play-offs this season, yet.’
Has the man lost his marbles? Or have we just opened Pandora’s Box?
A remarkable, if rather fortuitous start saw Saunders reap 7 points from his first 3 games in charge. No, that’s not quite fair. We were more than fortuitous, it was pure luck. A fluke. How we didn’t take 3 hammerings and ship in about 12 goals takes a lot of explaining. It was practically a miracle. A boxing referee would have stopped two of those games.
Then the wheels fell off. We’ve taken just 1 point from the last 15 and to make matters worse we’ve given El-Hadj Diouf, okay, twice African player of the year, a 3-month contract. Unfortunately that’s not endeared us to anyone else because his habit of spitting at fellow professionals and fans means he’s hated everywhere we go. He now plays in the team along with Chimbonda and Ilunga, and many of our injured players are returning to the squad but sadly, of the promised Diarra, there has been no news. But chin up, we’re promised more Galacticos will be arriving soon.
So why do we keep losing?
Of course we won’t actually own any of these players so we won’t be able to make any plans much further ahead than the following Saturday, but on paper the team looks good. Unfortunately the opposing managers at this level are cute enough to suss out our tactics in the first 15 minutes, adapt, set up to cancel us out and then pick us off, hence we’ve only picked up one point in a while. Saunders, or Soundbite as I like to call him, seems unable to grasp the situation and his lack of Championship level experience leaves him standing in the technical area looking like a rabbit in the headlights.
Probably doesn’t seem such a good idea now Mr Chairman, does it? A 3-year contract now looks a bit rash, don’t you think?
If we get relegated then the strategy will be in tatters and we could face ruin. Great prospect eh?
Oh well, onward and downward. League One beckons but I’ll be piking tomorrow and maybe turning my attentions to zander the day after. Life could be worse.