I've been racking my brains all week for a sparkling idea that will pull punters to my game-fair stand. Trouble is, a site selling subscriptions for a magazine on antique fishing books and tackle tends not to be the first stop-off for visitors.
The three-day show is expected to attract a crowd of at least 50,000. I can think of just six – loony Ken, plus my brother, sister, wife and two daughters – who will make a beeline for the Classic Angling stand, and I'm not too sure about the last four.
Anyway, this year I've decided that the prospect of admiring old copies of the magazine and meeting me isn't quite the stuff to have them queueing round the block. I had visions of building an amazing stand, full of angles and walkways and neon. Sadly, the cost exceeded the value of my house. Anyway, it wouldn't have fitted into the back of my old Sierra Estate, my beast of burden for exhibitions.
It's been tempting to try that old car-show trick: glam women in skimpy outfits draped across blown-up copies of the latest cover. I wanted the sort of women with bodies that could form the basis for a new worldwide religion. But then I realised that I didn't know any women like that, and approaching those I thought could be suitable in the street was likely to be hazardous, to say the least.
Many of the best ideas had already been snaffled. The Salmon and Trout Association have a giant tankful of British freshwater fish; John and Judith Head bring along about 20,000 fishing books; the Fly Tyers' Guild have experts whipping up dozens of size 20 Blue-Winged Olives in less time than it takes me to get the hook in a vice.
Even my plans for an exhibition of antique tackle were thwarted when I discovered that two of the major collectors, Chris Sandford (best known for playing Walter Potts in Coronation Street) and Neil Freeman, who is my consultant editor, for God's sake, had been recruited by the Salmon and Trout Association.
Time to call in some old favours. I've been phoning round and several fishing celebs, such as Bob Nudd, Clive Gammon, Keith Arthur and John Bailey, have agreed to come to my stand to sign books and autographs. Alcoholic bribes are involved, so get there early if you want to be able to read what they've written.
Big names in fishing, maybe, but not a lot to do with Classic Angling. Fortunately my friend Chris the Stuffer has come to my rescue. He has become almost famous recently because of the British record brown trout, a 30-pounder from Loch Awe. He mounted the fish and it has just sold at a Phillips auction in London for £5,800, a world record for a cased fish.
Though we share the same surname, we're not related, although when I lived in London, Chris shared my flat. Chris is coming along to taxiderm, or whatever the verb is, a fish before your very eyes. I guess the sight of him skinning a trout or inserting glass eyes may appeal slightly more to the male audience, but at this stage, I'm grateful for whatever support I can get.
You'll be able to find our stand easily. It will be the one with all the flies round it.
Old Warden Park Game Fair, near Biggleswade, Beds; 27-29 July, 9.30-6.0.Reuse content