I began drafting this monologue exactly a week before the Ides of March. How fitting. Means I’ll still be able to squeeze a bit of river fishing into the next blog. 😉
The Ides, March 15th. It’s the day Caesar’s friends stabbed him in the back and the first day of the river (coarse) closed season. No doubt our ‘friends’ will be out in force soon, stabbing the back of anyone who dares suggest changing the antiquated closed season rules.
I would have been on the river today were it not still carrying the dregs of some snow water but I will be on the river again soon enough. Just depends on how much rain arrives tonight. Never can go by the BBC weather forecast.
The past week was a desperate affair. Ask anyone who attended Swordsey’s Iwan4US fish-in at the weekend. A case of going through the motions while we still can, which is stupid. Our prime river targets, barbel, chub, roach and bream, all spawn in May and June. As for the rest – who really cares? Be honest. No-one does.
For me the hypocrisy of the closed season lies in the deliberate targeting of species like tench, pike and carp when they are carrying the maximum weight of spawn. How many anglers abandon tench fishing immediately after the fish spawn. Do those anglers care about the actual fish? Hell no. They only care about pounds and ounces and a spawned-out tench is good to neither man nor beast in their eyes. It’s sad, yet cheerfully condoned.
Meanwhile those who want a closed season running throughout May and June are pilloried by the ignorant. The erstwhile editor of Angling Times finally came out this week and said the close season dates are wrong. At last, someone in a position of power who’s prepared to stick his head above the parapet.
Unfortunately the 1878 Mundella Act has been hijacked by idiots and floppy hatted, cane waving traditionalists who cling to the past and are hell bent on denying an inconvenient truth. The Act was never passed to protect spawning fish. That’s a myth. There was no scientific proof provided (or required) to justify it. It was simply introduced to stop the hoi polloi from killing fish all year long. How ironic then, that by trying to protect fish with a corrupt closed season they create the perfect scenario for Eastern European criminals to steal them using highly illegal means – well done guys, that kind of thinking borders on Merkell’s level of genius!
Can You Hear The End?
I appreciate some folk don’t read the footie bit I sometimes tag on at the end of my blog as let’s face it, not everyone’s lives are ruled by chasing after a bag of wind. But this month’s has a different spin. It includes my most remarkable blag ever where I talk my way into the managers’ seat at not one, but in two of the most famous sporting arenas in Europe. And even if you’re still not interested please note there is another essay after the footie (for a change).
You see I’ve included a Brexit piece and didn’t want to mix national politics in with the fishing stuff. I’ve tried to keep it balanced but that’s impossible. No-one else has. And it does include the most disturbing documentary I have ever watched.
Going With The Ice Flows
In the short time since my last blog we’ve had a real old mixed bag of weather – sunshine, rain, ice and snow with a bit of wind for good measure. Only in England, eh? The rivers this winter have been an absolute nightmare. Good for barbel, perhaps, but lousy for real fishermen.
I decided to give the Trent a swerve and nipped down the local canal for a change. It was iced over. Great. Fortunately a boat came along and broke up the lid but there were sheets of the stuff everywhere. That was bad enough but when you can observe your lure 4 feet down you know your chances are slim.
Judging by the match reports one or two nice perch were being caught at Messingham Sands. I gave it a go on a torrid day. Strong winds drove heavy rain almost horizontally. It was a case of find a comfy peg, hunkering down and hoping for the best. No-where was what you might call sheltered.
Trouble is, if you pole fish then the pole is going to get wet and each time you ship in and out that water ends up running down your forearms and into your lap. Not so bad if you’re catching but I struggled and couldn’t buy a bite. Then, just when I was trying to convince myself I’d had enough, the float dipped and I was soon netting a rather nice perch.
Another followed, then another and then I bumped one. Idiot!
That put a dampener on proceedings but eventually the float sank from sight again and this time not only did the elastic stretch, the whole pole hooped over. Obviously a much better fish and so it proved to be. I was determined to return and have some more of this.
Of course, the next time I went back everywhere was frozen over. I fished hard but with no success at all.
Marks Out Of Ten?
Keith Arthur has a simple rule when it comes to determining whether a fish is a hybrid or not. He looks at the picture and if it don’t look right then it’s a wrong ‘un. Rarely does this test fail him. He doesn’t need scale counts or ray counts, his first impression is invariably sufficient.
I’m a bit like that with grammar. I would probably fail every theory test ever set, happy to concede I have no idea what a reciprocal pronoun is nor the purpose of a 3rd conditional. Neither do I need to know. You see I rely on common sense. When reading what I or someone else has written, my gut instinct tells me whether it’s right and guess what? It works for me.
One area I do have difficulty with is when to use an exclamation mark. I’m never quite sure when one is warranted and no doubt I abuse the poor fellow!!!
Oops. There goes a cardinal sin. Never use more than one…
Hang on, there goes another. The three dots or ‘ellipses’ should have spaces between them (like this . . . ) unless followed by an exclamation mark(!). Brackets open up a whole other can of worms.
However new education rules have been introduced for 7-year-olds to make matters much easier to understand. An exclamation mark (!) can only be used at the end of a sentence starting with either ‘How’ or ‘What’ and it must contain a verb.
Don’t know about you but I think that’s bollocks!
Breaming Of Better Things
Back on the Trent the river was still up a foot and carrying colour. Unfortunately the water temperature was freezing. I targeted chub and failed miserably in some of the best looking feature-packed swims the river has to offer. What I did catch was bream.
Even in my nailed-on banker chub swim I caught a bream. I’ve never had one from there before, ever. And I never saw a chub. Fish may not be spawning for months yet, but I do believe as the nights draw out they migrate from their winter quarters. Not that we’ll ever really know until someone near the top of the EA wakes up and smells the coffee. A simple tweak of the law using common sense is all I ask.
In The Pink
Have you ever caught a salmon? I’m talking the Atlantic variety rather than those daft things that swarm up US rivers by the million. No? Me neither. Had loads of parr and such like but a proper returning one? Nah.
But they are around, especially in the Trent valley thanks to the efforts of those who probably never watched or read Salmon Fishing In The Yemen. But who am I to complain if someone wants to turn back the clock 300 years. At least then we could re-write the closed season rules!
Anyway, I’m on the Trent and this guy apposite is struggling to land a ‘barbel’. ‘Effin ‘ell! It’s only an effin salmon!’ – Or words to that effect. Either way, a lot of the ones he used seemed to begin with an ‘F’.
Using semaphore signals, a load hailer and clouds of smoke I managed to communicate that I’d really like to see a picture and sure enough, the following day Dave Batley managed to send me one.
Turns out it wasn’t a salmon after all but not many folk would turn their noses up at a 7lb 4oz brown trout, now would they? What a remarkable capture! And yes, he did return it alive. I watched him do it.
Some people, eh?
A Sassenach Goes Piking
‘Only wankers blank on Loch Ken!’
Talk about piling on the pressure. Here I was on my first ever pike fishing trip to Scotland being issued a challenge from the General Secretary of the Scottish Pike Anglers Association Stewart Mcmath.
I was up there at the invitation of Kriss Smith who is a Marketing Assistant up at the Daiwa factory and his Noel Gallagher look-alike mate Michael Mellors. ‘We’ll catch, for sure.’ He promised me in the lead up.
That was before high pressure moved in, the temperature plummeted, the wind dropped and this 9-mile-long sheet of water half froze over. By heck it was cold.
I needn’t have worried. We caught a few fish and suffered a number of dropped runs. They really weren’t having it properly but I learned enough to know that I just can’t wait to go back and have a crack in better conditions. Apparently the lure fishing in summer can be spectacular.
Loch Ken is stuffed full of prey fish and set in exquisite surroundings. We could see snow on the hills and who knows, while we bivvied it might well have been possible to see the Northern Lights.
I’ll never know because there was no way I was going to stick my nose outside. This was easily the coldest night I’ve ever spent in a bivvy.
What I will say is my hosts were fantastic. Generous to a fault and truly great fun.
If you ever fancy an adventure that won’t break the bank, this is one worth trying. Real fishing. Real fish. Real people.
Please Say Hello
Depending obviously when you read this, it’s the Big Un next week. Or tomorrow, or maybe it was yesterday. Let’s assume you’ve read this in time.
I shall be at the Big One show at Farnborough for the whole weekend (19th and 20th March) on the Daiwa stand. Please don’t hesitate to drop by and say hello. I’m told it gets very busy but despite what some might have you believe, I don’t have horns and I don’t bite.
Don’t let me be lonely… 😉
Mustn’t Grumble Too Much
I wasn’t short of company when I paid the local River Don a visit in search of grayling. A whole band of toilers were tidying the banks, trying to extract half-buried lorry tyres and shopping trollies from the river bed. Wasn’t quite sure if it was an organised clean-up or punishment for folk on community service.
Either way it wasn’t going to help me catch fish so I moved on to a different stretch. The river was still up a bit and pushing through but I managed to catch a few grayling, the odd brown trout, tumbled down a steep, slippery bank and smashed my landing net pole, yet still returned home by mid-afternoon with everything slightly damp from the blustery sleet showers.
The Footie Bit – It’s Unbelievable Jeff!!!
I seldom mention Scottish football and there’s a very good reason. My only real allegiance is to Livingston FC or, as they were then called when I first began following their fortunes, Meadowbank Thistle.
As a Doncaster Rovers fan it made perfect sense to follow the fortunes of a second team that were just as bad both on and off the field as we were. Short of scouring South America, Meadowbank Thistle appeared to fit the bill perfectly. They were dire. We were dire. It had the makings of a Jeremy Kyle wedding.
Eventually Thistle improved, but typical of one of my adopted strays, after finishing runners-up in in the First Division they were denied promotion to the Premiership because of a league reconstruction.
Of course things went from bad to worse from that point and the club got into financial difficulties. In Wimbledonesque fashion Meadowbank relocated to a new town and changed its name. My second club became Livingston FC. And this is where things went crazy.
The ground is currently called the Toni Macaroni Arena – I kid you not. And no, I’m not taking the Pizza!
In six years Livingstone flew up the leagues and then ripped up the Premiership, finishing 3rd behind the Old Firm. They then went on to win the League Cup. ‘Twas a bloody miracle.
Meanwhile Doncaster rose from the Conference to the Championship, beat Leeds at Wembley, won the Johnston’s Paint Trophy in the Millennium Stadium and suddenly I was living the football dream. We even built a new stadium. The resemblance is uncanny.
This wasn’t like hitching your wagon to a Manchester club, or Chelsea, or Arsenal. This was winning the lottery after a lifetime of delusion. Backing the longest-odds horse in history and it romping home.
It wasn’t to last though. Relegations and administration lay waiting in the wings and they came perilously close to complete liquidation. But my teams have nothing if not spirit. Livingston FC climbed back from the Third Division to the Championship and sadly they now appear to be heading the other way again.
Just like Donny.
Oi! Wake up at the back there!
This pointless preamble leads me to my very first visit to the city of Glasgow. A place I’ve passed through and by but never stopped. During my recent piking trip to Scotland I found myself with an hour to kill and mentioned to my hosts that I had never been to either of the two giant Glasgow football stadiums that are home to Rangers and Celtic.
Next thing we’re driving over the Clyde, destination Ibrox. Wow, from the outside it looks pretty magnificent but madness took over when we stood in front of the main entrance. ‘’Do you reckon we might have a peek inside?’ I asked.
Well the Scots have an old saying, ‘Shy bairns get no sweeties’. So I pushed open the glass doors and spent a few minutes chatting with a security guard. Now I was ever so polite and just a little bit cheeky when I suggested how incredible it would be to see inside the stadium.
He paused, thought about it and then thought a little bit more. ‘Hang on.’ He said, and walked round to the front doors and locked them behind us. ‘Come with me.’
Before I could get my bearings we were only walking out of the players’ tunnel! Here I am sat on the bench. Talk about a jaw dropper. Honestly I was pinching myself.
We duly thanked him and returned to our car. ‘You know what?’ I said. ‘Let’s go to Parkhead and do the double!’
Twenty minutes later we park up outside Celtic’s ground and run through the same procedure, ‘I don’t suppose in a million years you might let us have a peep inside (getting out my phone), because look here, they let us in at Rangers. Surely Celtic would want to be outdone by the auld enemy…’
Blow me we were told to wait until the boss returned. A bit of muttering went on and then the security person says, ‘Right, follow me! But don’t set foot on a blade of grass.’
And that was it. In the space of one hour on my first ever visit to Glasgow I emerged from the tunnels at both Celtic and Rangers, plus I got to sit in the dugouts. Can you believe that? I’m struggling to and genuinely still reeling from the shock.
One day I shall do this at Livingston FC.
The Brexit – Who’s Vote Counts?
Don’t know about you but I’m already sick and tired of being lied to by politicians and fat cats. It’s bad enough they’re robbing us blind whilst allowing their chums pay practically no tax but when it comes to the Brexit (AKA Project Fear) the amount of scaremongering and bullsh*t they’re feeding us leaves me wondering just how stupid these folk think I actually am.
Oh, hang on, they do have a point.
Incredible it may be but a large number of working class folk still think it’s a good idea to hang around and bail out whatever mess the EU has created. We in the UK are already contributing £50,000,000 each day. That’s every single day, or put another way, the equivalent cost of building upwards of 50 brand new hospitals each year. This is obviously the current figure but please don’t try and kid me that it’s not going to rise dramatically in the near future.
Of course, you can point to what we get back in return…, can’t you?
Er, yes that’s right, straight bananas and a heap of red tape.
Around 70,000 new laws have been introduced by the EU in the past 20 years. I simply can’t imagine how we coped without them! Just remind me again, how is that money well spent?Let’s stop beating about the bush. Europe is a busted flush. It is over-run with Merkell’s migrants, terrorists and rapists. It is not the safe place it once was. It is racking up bills for benefits, social care, housing, education, welfare and policing like never before. That debt will have to be paid off by the joined-up states. This drain on resources is wholly unsustainable but it is of their own choosing, not ours. Future taxes and levies will rise dramatically. There is no other way. How else can this burden be financed?
I call it the EU’s debt but frankly it was Germany, with an aging and dwindling working population, that recognised it NEEDED one million migrants to balance the books and pay pensions to its own people. That’s why Merkell was so keen on mass migration and she didn’t give a damn for the consequences to those countries south of Munich so long as she got what she wanted.
Be careful what you wish for, eh? But if Merkell is so committed to inviting a million refugees to join her in Germany then why did she not vet them? And why make them march through Turkey, Greece, Albania, Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary and Austria? Why didn’t she lay on planes and trains? It’s not like Germany has no experience of transporting a million people, is it?
It’s time to stop pretending everything is hunky dory in Europe. The economy will NOT be stronger in the future. It’s no longer a scene from an Alpen advert any more than the UK is a living, breathing Hovis advert.
Germany has failed to make Cologne and most other cities secure and free from sexual molestation. Young girls can no longer walk the streets alone safely. Children are being raped. Crime rates are through the roof. This is being replicated in other countries across the Continent, too.
But hey, let’s all turn a blind eye to a few provocative slags and children getting raped. ‘Tis probably their own fault and but a small price to pay for what ‘safer in Europe’ looks like.
On June 23rd the UK gets to vote on whether we cut our ties or not. Great. But the big question is who really decides? In my happy little world it would be simple. If you and your parents were born in the UK, live in the UK, speak English and pay taxes in the UK then fine. You have earned sufficient credits to have the right to vote on the future of the UK.
Unfortunately it’s not like that. Commonwealth migrants from 54 states – including Australia, Canada, India, Pakistan and Nigeria (who might well have arrived on the last ferry) – can join the electoral roll as long are they are deemed to be residents in the UK. Britons who have lived abroad for less than 15 years, will be able to vote, too.
I’m sorry but if you buggered off to some other country to spend a pension provision that is currently provided by UK taxpayers then that was your choice. Cast your vote in that country, not mine. If you arrived here looking for a brighter future then show a modicum of respect and leave it up to those who created your vision of paradise to decide. Keep your bloody nose out!
And when an English team (Scots, Irish and Welsh included) plays in a sporting event, that’s the team you support. You don’t cheer on South Africa, Pakistan, India, Turkey, Italy, or the West Indies, you idiot. If you are genuinely an integrated native of this great country then that’s how you prove it. The Union flag should now be your flag. England is the country you should be willing to lay down your life for. That’s the true citizenship test.
This country is the one you should be loyal to. You don’t come here to preach hate, denounce our flag, or our religion. You don’t make bombs or attend anti-war rallies. You should respect Armistice Day, Christmas and Easter and If we have to go to war let’s hear you pledge to fight shoulder to shoulder with our troops for Queen and country and not run away.
In a nutshell, pledge total allegiance to Great Britain or just admit you’re a tourist. Stop pretending to be British. Earn the right to vote like our forefathers did!
Of course, if we still had conscription then I suspect the number of those wishing to come here would decrease dramatically. Maybe that’s the answer.
What I am learning personally from all this is that I’m maybe not the nice guy I once thought I was. My politics have shifted towards the UKIP way of thinking. Faced with the utter destruction of the country and the proud values I grew up with I’ve definitely become a little Englander. Cameron has proved himself to be hopelessly ineffective at the EU negotiating table and his ridiculous ‘In’ lies mean he’s on borrowed time in the job. Corbyn is an even bigger joke. But what’s left?
Unfortunately the ‘In’ camp have their minds set. It’s no different in the ‘Out’ camp. Seems like the verdict will be decided by a tiny minority in the middle ground who currently can’t make up their minds or are not saying. Unfortunately these could easily be folk who smuggled their way through the Tunnel in the back of a lorry, are sipping Sangria on the Costas, or are from the 54 Commonwealth states.
Doesn’t bear thinking about, does it? It’s an insult to the brave soldiers who’s graves fill Europe’s war cemeteries. They gave their lives so we could be free of German rule.
Living in a country where Mosques are sprouting up everywhere, where Mohamed is now the most popularly used christian name, where white British folk are a minority in a growing number of cities including the capital, where schoolteachers need interpreters, we should take nothing for granted.
I’m reminded of the courtroom adage, ‘My future lies in the hands of 12 people who weren’t clever enough to be excused jury duty’. Well, folks, just think on. My future appears to lie in the hands of a bunch of self-serving idiots and folk who frankly haven’t even begun to earn the right to decide it.
And mentioning that future…
At the very least Cameron requires an ‘In’ vote to stand any chance of saving his career, but that probably won’t be enough anyway because his party is now divided. He’s unlikely to survive either way. Indeed the Conservatives are screwed. So, Corbyn as Prime Minister? Someone tell me that’s a joke, please. UKIP? Seriously?
This Brexit lark is not the end. It is merely the end of the beginning. Forget how we’re supposed to need them. Europe will collapse like a deck of cards without us, you wait and see. If we leave there will be a stampede for the door.
Oh, and if you dare, just set aside 20 minutes to watch the following documentary taken from news footage filmed across Europe. It is the scariest video I have ever watched. It is definitely not for the feinthearted
PS: Hope you liked the Ben Garrison cartoons.You’ll find plenty more on his web site.