Nineteen year old Damien is a mad-keen, cool-dude, ‘up for it’ angler, who won’t miss any opportunity to go fishing. He has an aged uncle, an angler of some renown and a staunch traditionalist, Donald Effingham-Mudde, who spent his earlier years in service to the Viceroy of India. His family jokingly refer to him as WIMDOC, which is an acronym for the phase he uses to start just about every conversation (“Well, in my day, of course….”).

The old boy has come to stay with Damien’s parents for an extended visit, giving the pair the opportunity to go fishing together. Donald’s fishing references are impeccable as, according to him, he taught the Taylor Brothers all they know. However, both participants view the opportunity from slightly differing perspectives. Damien really doesn’t want to be landed with babysitting some doddering old fart, whilst Donald sees this as a perfect opportunity to show this young pup how to do things properly. They are bound to get on famously – aren’t they?

Carbelling with Donald and Damien – Part 1

Damien was particularly annoyed with himself. Although it was late November he couldn’t really blame festive goodwill for the state he was in. During a particularly convivial family dinner he had struck up an intimate acquaintance with a bottle of port. What was upsetting him was not the crashing hangover, which was bad enough, but coming back into focus was that three-quarters of the way through the bottle he had invited Donald along on next week’s barbel fishing session.

Now he was suffering from the blindingly white light of realisation as to just what he had done. But there was no time for regrets, Plan ‘A’ was looking for ways to try and get out of it, and as always, it was best to start with apparent concern for the old gits’ well-being.

A chance came the very next day when Donald seemed to be struggling to get out of his favourite fireside chair and Damien was there in a flash, with a helping arm and seemingly keen to show his compassionate side.

“Dear Uncle, let me help you up, is your rheumatism troubling you again? We don’t want to make it worse dragging you along to a draughty riverbank, do we?”

“Bugger off!” Came the sharp reply. “It’s not rheumatics, me cardigan pocket got caught on the arm of the chair.” Donald seemed quite insistent that he didn’t want any help. Damien wandered off; there will be other times, he muttered to himself.

Next morning, as Donald came down for breakfast he saw Damien closely examining his old fishing jacket, which was hung in the hallway.

“Seen better days has this, rather like yourself.” Damien chuckled “Bit on the short side too, we wouldn’t want you to go out and get a chill on your kidneys, much better if you stayed at home in the warm, don’t you think?”

“That jacket will see me out, laddie, another re-proofing and it’ll be as good as new. It stood me in good stead through the winters of ’47 and ’63, it’s nothing like as cold as that now, what with all this global warming.”

“Mostly caused by that pipe of yours, I shouldn’t wonder.” Damien continued, as he picked up Donald’s fishing boots and held them by the laces at arm’s length in one hand, whilst holding his nose with the other. “And as for these, the soles are as bald as a coot, don’t want you sliding down any slippery banks, do we? Damien was piling on the caring and concern, again.”

Donald sprung to the defence of his footwear “I’ll pop them in the cobblers and they’ll be right as rain. They will do you a turn when I’m long gone.” said the old boy, wistfully.

“Err…..thanks, but dead man’s shoes, I don’t think so. Anyway, I thought all you old soldiers wanted to be buried with your boots on, and you know I’m not one to stand in the way of traditions.” Damien was pleased with that reply, very ironic, he thought.

“Cheeky young pup, that’s cowboys, not soldiers, I’ll have you know ……” the reply was too late; a sniggering Damien had already made tracks to the garage to sort out his tackle. Donald followed him out there a little while later, pipe at the ready.

“Thought you said we was going after barbel, young ‘un, that’s yer carp gear strewn everywhere innit?” Enquired Donald, pointing at the piles of tackle with his pipe stem.

“Dear Uncle, things have moved on a bit since your day, we apply carp fishing technology and equipment in pursuit of barbel these days, it’s known as Carbelling, something you would know nothing about.” Damien replied, with only a trace of sarcasm.

“Don’t you be so sure, Kabul-ing you say? We used to do that when I did a turn on the North West Frontier, quick sortie over the border into bandit country, whiz round the souk in Kabul for a few bargains, and back home for tea. There was a time when I haggled some native chappie down to three camels and th…”

Damien was furiously shaking his head as he stopped Donald in his tracks “You’re winding me up. Kabul? Ka-Bloody-Bul, you really will use any excuse to mention your time in India. Why you don’t just sod off back there if it was so good.”

“Actually Kabul is in Afghanistan, don’t you know, young whippersnapper, and I didn’t really want to leave, I got transferred, so I was only following orders and ….” Donald could see that Damien’s eyes were narrowing, the muscles in his neck were standing out, and he could hear the grinding of teeth. “But you don’t want to hear some old duffer rambling on, do you?”

Donald changed tack “Anyway, laddie, about this Carbelling lark, I’ll look it up in me copy of old Izaak ‘s book, shouldn’t be surprised to find a mention of it in there ‘cos there’s nothing new in fishing, don’t yer know.”

Damien stepped in, “Ah yes, Mr Walton’s finest publication, ‘The Compleat Angler’, I’m going to take advice from someone who can’t even spell the title of his own book properly – not! At least he’s one famous angler you never fished with. You didn’t, did you, tell me you’re not that old, surely?” Damien’s raised his eyebrows in mock horror, as he continued:

“Bloody hell, that would explain a lot, makes you over 300 years old, no wonder you whiff a bit. I’ll get on to the Guinness Book of Records, and the press, make a few quid out of a story like that!” Damien was chuckling away now.

Donald seemed hurt, “Never mind how old I am, and a bit of respect for your elders wouldn’t go amiss, you young toe rag. For a start you can help me get ready and give me a hand to get my gear down.”

“Of course, uncle, anyway, it won’t take you long to get ready, I expect you’ll be using your ‘Wally’s Wizened’ rod, and that fixed spool reel that the Science Museum are interested in,” quipped Damien.

“That’s Wallis Wizard to you, a proper all-round rod, don’t you know. In my day we didn’t need no different rods for different days of the week, nor them Bitey-Runny reels like you young whippersnappers do now,” replied an indignant Donald.

Damien continued his preparations with the standard teenager’s response of “Whatever”, although he was to be slightly puzzled over the next day or so as Donald seemed to be rather secretive as to bait and tactics, but he reasoned if his hi-tech approach was to be pitted against Izaak Walton’s ramblings he really didn’t need to be that bothered about the outcome.

Who will win the Carbelling Competition? Donald or Damien? Find out in Part 2 next week