I hadn’t been fishing more than twenty minutes when my head was turned by the sound of female giggling. Such a phenomenon is rare on any water even in 2019 but to find that its source had actually settled into a swim just thirty yards to my right with her boyfriend was something of a shock; with a good mile of free bank-space it was an imposition to say the least. Not to worry. As long as they’re quiet, I thought.
Well, they were; very quiet indeed. The reason for this became clear when curiosity overcame my usual single-mindedness to discover the pair of them in near-coital embrace. Naturally, I averted my eyes and re-trained them on my float, but all they saw was writhing limbs and acres of thigh. Somewhere in the midst of this image was a red-tipped quill, now pink through the haze before my eyes. Gradually, my self-discipline brought the float back into focus and I was able to concentrate again…to some extent. That is, I was able to recollect my former train of thought for a few seconds before peering thirty yards up the bank to my right. They seemed to have settled down a bit, the girl pawing at her fella’s wispy chest as he put his rod sections together. Thanks heavens for that…now, where was I?
Do other anglers have non-fishy thoughts when they’re fishing? I’m sure those shelves that need putting up and that back room that needs decorating are common enough concerns, but are there others out there who sit within the bosom of Mother Nature on a glorious mid-summer day contemplating the absurdity of religion or the possible benefits of the New World Order? The real absurdity is that I think about these things more and more, yet the imperative should be on making the most of my time. Not even the present group of Bilderbergers will be around to see Global Government so why should they even care? Perhaps the whole thing is bullshit and Alex Jones, David Icke and their like are simply barking up the wrong tree…but there seems to be so much evidence. Why else would a non-elected parliament nobody ever heard of be allowed to dictate the laws of formerly sovereign states? And how come ‘Her Majesty’ added her signature to the Lisbon Treaty? Wasn’t that, technically, treason? No…wasn’t that treason?? Have I not read on more than one occasion that a British Bill of Rights from sixteen-something-or-other states that NOBODY can cede territory or legal rights to a foreign power?
A dip of the float banished thoughts of super-serfdom and soon a decent tench was in the net and straining to bite its tail. Turning to my tackle-box for the forceps I found myself up-close to a pair of shapely bare legs; I followed them up past the impossibly brief Levi cut-downs, past the feminine 6-pack and the under-tied boobs, and on to a pleasant but unsmiling face. It spoke in Chavanese.
‘S’cuse me, but ‘ave ya got a lit’l screwdrivah or sumfink? Mah boyfriend’s screw’s come loose in ’is glarsiz’’.
Immediately I saw scope for more than a few jokes within her words but I kept it clean and dignified as you would expect of a Fishing Magic Man. ‘Will this do?’ I proffered a tiny yellow-handled electrician’s screwdriver, ‘they don’t come much smaller!’ She finger-pecked the item from my palm then managed to abbreviate the abbreviation ‘ta’ to a less than fleeting (though lexically longer) ‘tuh’. Off she went to Lover Boy with the good news and back I went to my fishing; a ragged disc of flake was swung out beneath the fixed quill and allowed to settle before tightening-up, then it was time for tea. It was a good Kelly day: with just the right movement in the air, the kettle was soon snapping and banging its hollow tune. Once this would have been a time for rejoicing; of immersing one’s self in the simple pleasure of self-sufficiency and the prospect of hot tea from a few twigs and a tin can, but I found myself compelled to wonder if the EUSSR (as it is commonly called) would one day deem sport-fishing ‘inappropriate’ or ‘oppressive’ or other such nonsense. Stranger things have already happened. Only the previous week I’d failed the MOT for having an immovable driver’s seat; the adjusting cable had snapped, rendering my seat perfectly and permanently positioned for my personal use but that wasn’t good enough: a bunch of bureaucrats in Brussels had so finely-tuned their demands of motorists that they’d even been delving around the sweet-wrappers and lost coins under our driving seats. Maybe I liked it that way, knowing that some lanky streak of a thief wouldn’t be able to jump in it and take off. And what next? A ‘fail’ because the ash-trays are full? What’s even worse than these diktats is peoples’ readiness to implement them: do they not have the spine to refuse? I lost a good job a couple of years back for refusing to cut out ‘Brummie’, ‘Cockney’, ‘Geordie’ and the like from my vocabulary. They gave me the option: I refused. I lost my job but I sleep o’ nights.
Without warning the float laid flat and I was faced yet again with that age-old angler’s dilemma: to strike or to wait for the float to sail away? I struck and missed. Next time I won’t be so impatient, but then we all know that the flattened float will very likely remain that way until you eventually reel in to re-bait. But that’s the joy of angling: there’s no set formula and – you carp boys – you don’t always succeed. Do away with any chance of failure and you do away with the reason for fishing.
The bare legs appeared again. I was just replacing my tin mug when I caught their final couple of steps. ‘Fanks for that’ she returned the driver. ‘Ah don’t s’pose you gotta plarsta or sumfink ‘ave ya? Mah boyfriend’s cut eez finger innit’.
I delved around the three hundred pockets that populate my jacket and eventually produced the mini first-aid kit I’d won in a raffle. ‘There you are. I knew it’d come in useful at some time’ I told her, ‘put some of the antiseptic on first, ok?’
She turned and I watched with great concern as she wove her pale, long-legged way back through the thistles, alternate hints of bum-cheek winking back in thanks. So that was where she kept her brains.
I found myself thinking of Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, and wondered why. Often when seemingly random thoughts enter my head I’m able to retrace minor events, words or sightings and come up with the cognitive link: could it have been the bum-cheeks, mooning and all that? Whatever the trigger may have been, the true enormity of what those guys achieved hit me – though only very briefly. For a fleeting moment I felt closer than ever before to the reality of stepping onto another world a quarter of a million miles from Planet Earth, and then I felt profoundly grateful to have been around at that point in Human history, July 1969. Generations since the first moon-landing have grown up with this fact and have only a second-hand understanding of how the world watched in awe, and virtual reality games have surely imparted an air of casual acceptance. Sadly and somewhat frustratingly, the miraculous new technology available now at Dixons, Currys, PC World and all good electrical retailers for just £49.99 has also given rise to young conspiracy theorists denouncing the three bravest men in history as fakes; they seem to think that because we can simulate just about anything now it must have been a hoax then, but every normal Joe around at that time knows the knuckle-whitening truth of it. Well done, Buzz, for socking that idiot ‘investigative journalist’ on the nose.
All this time there had been a guy of middling years opposite me, well blended with his surroundings and particularly unobtrusive. I saw him cast only twice. On each occasion he’d sent out a chunk of bread-crust – led by a long paternoster – to the fringes of a bush, then he’d sat back to await events. I knew the method and I was really very surprised to see another angler using such a rig; as far as I knew it was my invention or, at least, my adaptation. Getting a crust to rise up through deep water was always a pain in the backside – particularly at distance where the task is nigh on impossible.
Anyway, that’s what this guy was doing and I sat willing him to catch something…then GA-BLOOSH!! I sat up straight, startled and angry all at once. Lover Boy’s line could be seen falling across the water as a large and ugly floating rocket delivered its payload of tutti-frutti boilies to the depths. Against the sun, I saw a nodding ‘spod-rod’ retrieve the missile for re-loading and, opposite, a silently outraged Brother of the Angle. I felt his fury and tried to convey my sympathy but at a hundred yards he’d have to stew alone. Another launch and another hideous, noisy entry to the formerly placid lake: did the lad have no respect? Did he possess nothing in the way of decorum or consideration for others? I inwardly wagered he’d told his teachers to fuck off at some time and stomped up through the thistles to remonstrate with the thug – but he was mystified, genuinely mystified, and this ‘innocence’ compelled me to calm down and reason with the lad. He had all the gear, about a thousand quid’s worth of stainless steel and carbon that ‘messaged’ him through a pocket-receiver – handy for when you’re distracted I thought, eyeing the bed-chair. Fair enough he listened, but my fundamental point about the need for respect and for maintaining the calm of a glorious golden morn was clearly lost on him. I returned to my swim and sat questioning myself as to what had gone wrong in the world of carp-fishing but I concluded that it couldn’t have evolved any other way: top quality bivvys and bed-chairs coupled with amazing bite-alarms and ready-made baits attracted those who – I think it fair and factual to say – would normally have spent Saturday night down the boozer, or playing paintball. Now, you could get a few lagers down your neck, a big fish and a good night’s sleep: hardly fishing I’d say.
But perception is everything, and if the great majority say you’re wrong about something, you are, in fact, wrong; the new norm is naturally seen as right, so any amount of preaching formerly irrefutable sermons – in this case on angling – will always fall on uncomprehending ears: but choose your own sex? Give me a break!
But at the end of the day if anglers are genuinely happy to ‘target’ one particular fish-with-a-name at an overcrowded lake filled with ready-grown monsters, what can you say? The more I ponder this subject the more I am forced to concede those points made by the notional carpers in my head: they’re not breaking any laws; they’re out in the fresh air; their pitches are well-kept as a rule and they’re really enjoying life! One day I’ll learn to stop twisting the modern carp scene around in my head and just get on with things – just don’t cast a spod into my swim, please, Lover Boy!
The sun was past its zenith and the bites had slackened off. Any Kelly-water I had left would be reserved for late afternoon and evening when the fish should come back on feed. I reeled in, hooked-up and reclined with Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’, one of so many good books I’d neglected to read over the years. With the tragic Tom Robinson about to get a grilling from the prosecution the legs showed up again.
‘You gotta pin or sumfink?’ I glanced thirty yards up the bank to see Spod-Man fiddling with a Camping Gaz stove.
‘Blocked jet?’ I ventured.
I’d confused her, but then ‘Oh yeah. It must have dust in it or sumfink’
A quick finger-probe through a tin of odds and ends produced the very thing she needed. ‘There you go…a gen-u-ine Camping Gaz hole-pricker!’ I announced, but I was far more impressed than she.
‘Tuh’. The Legs took the pricker from me and went on to make Spod-Man a cuppa. She was back with the pricker within fifteen minutes. ‘Tuh. You ain’t got one o’ them funny screwdrivers ‘ave ya?
‘You mean a Phillips? The type with a sort of cross on the end?’
‘Yeah, one o’ them. The ‘andle’s come off ah saucepan.’
I passed her my Swiss Army knife and told her to make the most of it. ‘Got a horse with a stone in its hoof? That’ll get it out. Need to open a bottle? Cut some paper? Pick your teeth clean? Vasectomy? It’s all there ok?’
An hour after the knife’s return the pair packed up and left without ceremony. That I had provided them with no fewer than four specialist items on request hadn’t raised so much as an eyebrow.
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