Fishing Lines: Advice on an angling affair

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The Independent Online
I DON'T often write 'How To' columns. But recent circumstances have revealed a pressing need for advice on a subject never tackled by angling books or journals - the issue of how to slope off fishing and make your wife think you're doing something harmless, like going out with another woman.

A baffling chemical reaction takes place inside the female body when she marries a fisherman. This same woman who once encouraged you to 'Get out in the fresh air' and said: 'I think it is important for a man to have hobbies' suddenly manipulates every planned fishing trip to coincide with mother's annual visit, the car's service or your daughter's birthday party.

The avid angler must watch for more subtle sabotage, such as the mysterious disappearance of one wader, his wife's car jammed tight against the fishing tackle and her keys nowhere to be found, or his sweetcorn bait cooked for supper.

What is it about fishing that provokes such extremes of behaviour from an otherwise charming, gentle and lovable woman? There are several plausible explanations, but the most probable is that the angler appears to be having much too much fun from something that should not be fun at all.

How can someone spend all day catching nothing and still want to go again the next day? What could possibly be pleasurable about standing in a freezing river up to your waist in water? There's something he's not telling me.

Some women try joining their husbands on fishing trips. But they soon find other things to do. If they find fishing itself boring, then watching nothing happen is doubly dull. An angler deep in concentration soon loses patience with a garrulous wife, especially if she throws stones in the river to demonstrate her restlessness.

Some anglers wilt under the strain and give up the sport. They become a shadow of their former selves. Their work suffers, they lose weight (no more Little Chef breakfasts), they fill the house with aquariums and peer longingly over bridges.

Others are made of sterner stuff, and resort to more subtle ruses to pursue their obsession. The most effective way is a network of business acquaintances who will insist on 'meetings at the Macclesfield office'. They should not own mobile phones.

You can pretend to take up other sports. It's amazing how cricket, golf or pot-holing are acceptable pursuits, but fishing is not. That essential social drinking enables you to explain away why there has been no improvement in your fitness, but don't forget to drop all clothing in a puddle on the way home to make it look suitably dirty.

Other time-consuming activities such as door-to-door charity work are also excellent. Part-time firemen, outward bound courses and rebuilding dry-stone walls are other time-consuming pursuits where the participant is impossible to contact.

But don't forget to hide your tackle with a good friend, and wash off that smell of fish before you get home. If you've had a good day, the only remedy may be to sprinkle cheap perfume on your clothes, though if she knows you really well she will say: 'You haven't been out with another woman at all: you've been bloody fishing]'