Let’s kick off the new year with a classic bit of writing from dear old Swordsey. And if anyone’s thinking of complaining that it’s not quite PC, or irreverant, or Lord forbid complaining to the police, do everyone a favour and get a life. It’s satire. It’s meant to amuse and entertain, no more…
Outlaw Josie Wales. Classic.
Back to the Future. Classic.
Weird Science. Classic.
Lost Boys. Classic.
One of my favourite films from that era is “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure”, a film in which a young Keanu Reaves and Alex Winter travel through time in a converted phone box to collect figures from history in order to pass their history exam and avoid being sent to a military school.
Can you imagine how cool it would be to have a time travelling phone box with a directory that included the time space continuum addresses of every famous fishing person that had ever lived? People like Dick Walker, Ivan Marks and even Mr.Crabtree, who I know is a fictitious character created by the late late Bernard Venables but when we are talking about the possibility of a time travelling phone box I don’t suppose we should split hairs.
With the help of Bill and Ted it would be quite easy to gather a delegation of supreme anglers and with the possibility getting such a delegation in one place and at one time it would only be correct that we enjoy a days fishing together so that we could compare the difference in styles displayed by those angling masters of yesteryear.
In fact I think it was this idea, intensified and exacerbated by a copious consumption of a certain single malt Scottish export sold to me at cask strength (which is well over 60%) that resulted in me having the most florid ofdreams the other night. A dream that was so strange I feel obliged to recount the story.
Sitting quietly besides the match lake at Alderfen I pondered over the chances of me actually winning the Climax Specimen Final that would be held there the following week. I was practicing, you see, and I had taken it into my head that I would very much like to triumph against all-comers and be crowned winner, instead of being runner-up or third place as I have been in both the Midland Angler of the year and Climax angler of the year. It’s time I actually won something for a change.
Now don’t get me wrong I know I am by far the best looking bloke that puts pen to paper within the angling world but that fact alone doesn’t put much silverware on the mantelpiece. And I love a bit of silver on the hearth. So there I was, quietly contemplating my options… I decided I needed somehelp.
I closed my eyes and began to pray, “Please God, if you can hear me, I know I haven’t always been the nicest and most humble of your creations and I know that breaking all of the seven deadly sins and all but one of the ten commandments makes me a rather naughty person… And I know you like Bob Geldof… And yes, it was a horrible thing that I did with the voodoo doll I created in his image, feeding it to the American bulldog wasn’t cool, and yes, I know there are billions of other more deserving people than me… But… I would be very grateful if you could see your way to giving me what I need to win this fishing match. If you could do that I promise to try to be a better person in future”
At that moment a horse fly zipped from out of the grassy meadow at my back and jabbed me on the fleshy part of my hand with its dagger like mouthparts. Swiping it away and cursing my misfortune I threw my head back and shouted at the big man in the sky, “Bugger you then, if that’s your answer!”
Clouds immediately began to gather and darken the clear blue sky. Boiling masses of vapour coloured with vivid purples and greens filled the heavens, illuminated from within by small flashes of lightening. Lightening that intensified until it crackled all around me and the smell of ozone filled the air.
Bloody hell I am in bother now! It was time to say sorry and hedge my bets on the afterlife, “Our father who art in Heaven hallowed be thy…”
I hit the floor, my head in my hands. I heard a metallic swish. I opened my eyes and saw nothing but blackness for a second before I remember to remove the covering of fingers that were acting as an insurance policy.
Two sets of trainers swam into my vision. I looked up and made out two rather familiar faces…
“Dude, we have been sent to help you… You’re gonna have the most excellent adventure!”
By now I’m struggling to speak…, “Are you two who I think you are…?”
“Bill S Preston esquire and Ted Theodore Logan at your service, dude!”
“Am I dead?”
“Only brain dead dude. We have been sent on a most important mission – to provide you with a most auspicious set of teachers so you can triumph in your up-coming tournament.” The two teenagers began to play the air guitar. “Come on dude! We don’t have any time to waste, we have to get back to the princesses.”
“Err, what do you want me to do?”
“No dude…, it’s what do you want us to do…? We are the ones on a mission.”
“Well it would be really cool if Ivan Marks could give me a lesson in long range waggler fishing”
I began to reel off a very short list of suitable people, my brain was fried. I did not know who to suggest and so they said that they would fill the booth the most ‘notorious and bodacious’ anglers that have ever lived. Trusting their judgement I waved them off, their time travelling phone booth disappeared only to reappear a moment later. It was crammed to the rafters.
Bill and Ted stepped out wearing broad grins, obviously pleased by their efforts. They began to announce the list of the great and godlike as they disembarked.
“Here we have the master of mayhem, the writer of countless letters and a plethora of anecdotal fishing accounts…” Began Bill S Preston
“None of which counted for squat when it came to catching a 6lb tench…” Continued Ted Theodore Logan with a subtle little air guitar flourish.
“Richard “Dick” Walker!” Finished Bill
Dick Walker stepped out of the booth and smacked Ted with the back of his hand.
I stood transfixed in awe of what was occurring.
Ted rubbed the back of his head, “And behind ‘the Dick’ follows the all-time match fishing great… Mr Ivan Marks!”
The booth appeared to be crammed with folk.
“And from the pen of the revered Bernard Venables comes the creation that is known as Mr Crabtree!”
A strange monochrome man stepped awkwardly out of the booth and into the grassy meadow. He seemed a little confused by all the different colours and immediately began to stroke the grass as though it was the fur of some huge hound sat at his feet.
More than a half dozen anglers poured out from the phone booth, some familiar, like Barrie Rickards and Fred J Taylor, but many were not. A small oriental man dressed in battle fatigues hovered by the side of the gorse bushes and a strangely dressed man in puritan style garb that I figured could only be the late great Izaak Walton spoke to me of the ‘Treatise of angling for the contemplative man’.
Finally out of the booth stepped a man that could not be mistaken. He looked rather like the actor Robert Powell and was wearing a long white gown and leather sandals. He smiled at me and touched my head.
“Are you…?” I asked, already knowing the answer
“Indeed I am my child.” His answer not a surprise as I had always known he would be a white man with an English accent.
“But I thought you were a carpenter in life?”
“Indeed I was but I have always enjoyed the pastime of fishing, however for the most part I fish only for the souls of men”
It was Ivan Marks who spoke first after that.
“Right then boys and girls, this place isn’t the Welland but are we having a days fishing or what? Ten bob in the pools, winner takes all?” He had a glint in his eye and a fag hung from the corner of his mouth.
A general clamour of approval went up, notes, coins and a single silvershekel were tossed into the strange and pointy hat of Izaak Walton… The Robert Powel look-alike must have taken it from those naughty types at the temple. Fishing tackle was arranged and each man disappeared onto the complex to fish as best they could and impart what knowledge they had to yours truly.
Fred and Barrie seemed very keen to make acquaintance with the venue’s resident population of pike, Fred settling behind two dead baits whilst Mr.Rickards cast a long matuka style fly towards any semblance of cover that could be harbouring old Essox. Richard “Dick” Walker decided upon fishing a lily covered corner peg were there seemed to be some level of tench activity, tiny pin head bubbles drawing his attention. Izaak Walton began to fish but was drawn away when my good friend Danny Johnson turned up with a big tasty mega meal from Mc Donalds. This meal-in-a-box was far more of an attraction to him than anything swimming around the complex. Eventually he persuaded Danny to take him for a McFlurry and an apple pie.
The small thin oriental man sat beneath a copse of Gorse bushes and watched.
Mr Crabtree picked out a fantastic perch swim and set about catching a few small fish that could be used as live bait
Ivan Marks, Jesus and myself went over to the match lake where we fished long-range wagglers towards the reed beds, I had fished this area quite a lot during the early season with Ron Clay… Lets see if these two could better his catch rate!
Ivan was straight in. His casting and feeding was pinpoint accurate and a chunky carp of maybe 8lb was soon slipped into his keepnet.
Jesus smiled and said, “We don’t often catch those on our stretches of the Welland or Witham, do we Ivan?”
Ivan laughed “No, but that was a big roach that you had last weekend to win the match…”
“Yes the match was very enjoyable”
“You did have an unfair advantage however!”
“How so my child?” Answered Jesus
“Well I had got 300 assorted cherubs, angels and seraphim’s behind me, all you had with you were the apostles!”
Jesus smiled, “You must expect spectators my child…, what with your reputation”
Over on the specimen Lake Mr. Crabtree was into a nice perch, his tackle was old but well balanced and very soon he was in control of the situation. Sliding the perch gently over the rim of his net he let out a whoop of joy.
With that he cracked the fish across the back of the head and wrapped it in a damp towel.
Dave the owner of Alderfen, a near 7 foot giant of a man did not look at all happy to have had one of his better fish dispatched for Patsy. Mr. Crabtree…, a word if you please?”
Back on the match lake and I was still sitting between Ivan and Jesus laughing hysterically as Jesus failed to use his line clip and overshot straight into the reeds.
“That will slow you down!”
“How so my child?” At which Jesus stood up and walked across the lake and untangled his cast before walking back and sitting down as though nothing had occurred. “I do have some advantages.”
“Yes but you still struggle putting your own shot on!” Joked Ivan. We all laughed at the impropriety of the joke.
At this point Bill came rushing over, he looked flustered, “Dudes, have you seen a small oriental man?
“Not for a while…, why?”
“It seems we have made a mistake… The little yellow dude is actually PolPot and not who we thought”
“How did that happen?”
“Well Pol was born in a fishing village and all little oriental dudes look the same at a distance to us. It seems we picked the wrong dude!
“Jesus!” I exclaimed
“What?” replied Jesus “…Are you taking my name in vain, child?”
“Yes, sorry… It seems we may have a problem!”
Back on the specimen lake Richard Walker was watching his peacock quill rise slowly but surely before it lay flat on the surface and then slipped away. His strike was met with dogged resistance… A tench! Very soon a tench to end all tench was laying in the folds of Dick’s net and he did not need the scales to know that this was not his elusive 6lb fish… This one was far bigger, possibly even an eight!
Slopping on his spectacles so that he could clearly read the weight he did not notice the little oriental man at his side until he spoke.
“Herrow… Mister Walker…I see you are wearing spectacles.”
Dick jumped a little but soon regained his composure. “Yes. I need them for close work, reading, writing and such likes”
“Ahh… So you can lite Mr. Walker?”
“Of course…, I have written many hundreds of articles and journals.”
“So you would class yourself as an interwectual?”
“You know what I mean Mr. Walker. Interwectual’s are the blight of society, you must be purged!” Pol Pot drew out a small plastic carrier bag from his pocket before pouncing. Fortunately Bill, Ted, Jesus and I arrived just in time to restrain Pol Pot and removethe carrier bag from over Dick Walkers head. Pol was not a happy bunny.
“He must be purged. Interwectual’s are the blight of humanity!”
“Give it a rest Pol!” Shouted Jesus who clicked his fingers and at that very moment a small red demon appeared, as if by magic. “Tell your boss he seems tobe missing a certain individual. Now take him away!” The demon scowled but grabbed hold of Pol by the wrist and a moment later they were both gone, leaving nothing but a faint whiff of sulphur.
“I think we shall call it a day.” I said, “Lets call time and weigh in”
Fred J Taylor had taken two small pike for a little less than 12lb. BarrieRickards had one pike for13lb 12oz while Dick Walker’s tench went 8lb 1oz. Izaak Walton did not weigh in but instead started on his 4th Mc Donald’s Happy Meal. I had not fished so it was between Jesus and Ivan Marks.
Ivan pulled out his net. It was bulging with an assortment of species to specimen size. We weighed them in and gave him a total of 120lb 4oz. “Well my old chums, it looks like the pools are mine. You only had the five small fish Jesus so come on, hand over the cash!”
“Not so fast my child.” Upon which Jesus proceeded to pull in his net. 47 weigh-ins later we settled on a grand total of 1,826lb 10oz. “Would anyone care for a little bread with their fish?” He asked, smiling quizically.
“That’s bloody cheating!” Fumed Ivan.
“No my child… that’s divine intervention!”
We all laughed at the joke but then it became apparent that one of us was missing… Mr Crabtree!
Dave the owner pointed over towards the large telegraph pole near the entrance, a telegraph pole that was doubling up as a crucifixwhere Mr Crabtree was suspended by nails through his palms. Hung from his neck was a card bearing the words: “FISH THIEVES NOT WANTED HERE”.
“He’ll think twice before killing any more of my perch.” Muttered Dave through gritted teeth.
Jesus looked up at the shocked monochrome man with the 6- inch nails driven straight through his palms, “ Don’t worry Crabbers, we’ll get you down, but I can assure you they’ll sting in the morning!”
And then I woke up. My mouth tasted like I’d been chewing on a shovelful of peat, my head like it had been hit with the shovel. Of Bill and Ted there was no sign, only the empty malt whisky bottle remained, but it sure had been an excellent adventure!