fishing lines; Fat chance of charity

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The Independent Online
AT THIS time, it is traditional for each sport to recognise its highlights of the past year. We pay tribute to those whose actions have achieved feats that an ordinary person can only marvel at, the unsung heroes, or those whose bons mots have encapsulated a moment of an occasion with epigrammatic grace.

Unfortunately, anglers rarely do anything worthwhile, and most of the things they say are crashingly obvious or downright stupid. But what the hell . . . .

A special award to the 22-stone Swindon fisherman who slimmed down to 20 stone and found that his old clothes would not fit him. His new-found svelteness put him in charitable mood, so he took his old clobber to a charity that was appealing for clothing to help refugees. The charity was delighted by his kind gesture, but had to reject the clothing. "We don't get many starving 22-stone refugees," he was told.

Another special award to my regular fishing companion's son Peter, who was sent by his father to a nearby shop to get 20 cigarettes while we were catching not very much on the local river.

"What if they haven't got Silk Cut, Dad?" he asked.

"Oh, just get anything," his father replied.

The lad came back with three steak and kidney pies.

My favourite fishing shop story this year came from a Reading tackle dealer who was asked if he stocked chest waders. He replied that he did, and asked what sized was wanted. "Forty-two inch chest," he was told.

Fishing is not the sport to take up if you're looking for love. You've got a better chance of finding romance in a morgue. But earlier this month, Alan and Rosemary Smith from Dagenham got married after meeting on the banks of their local carp fishery at Stanstead Abbots, Hertfordshire. The pair even got married wearing sweatshirts bearing the name of a well- known baitmaker, though it rather spoilt the lines of Rosemary's long white dress. Romance had blossomed after Alan watched Rosemary land a 20lb carp. Goodness knows where they spent their honeymoon; probably on the banks of their favourite carp water

But anglers don't just go fishing. Oh no. (I am indebted to David Hall of Coarse Fishing magazine for the following.) With their local lakes frozen and the rivers in flood, four Mancunians took the day off and went to watch Liverpool play. As befitted the festive occasion, they dressed up as Sooty, Sweep, Sue and Mr Blobby.

Sadly, their team were badly beaten and the dejected quartet trudged away from the ground. But worse was to come. When they got back to where they had parked their car, they found it had been "borrowed". There was nothing for it but to report the theft, so the four unlikely characters trudged to the nearest police station. The policeman who recorded the incident took one look at them and said: "Well, this looks like an open and shut case, but we'll put out an APB on Noddy and Big-Ears."

My personal favourite quotation came from Prescott Smith, my fishing guide in the Bahamas. We were poling through shallow, sunlit waters in search of bonefish and talking about English weather. "My idea of a nightmare is the temperature falling below 60 degrees Fahrenheit," he said.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who wrote to congratulate my wife on the columns she wrote while I was sweating my way through Asian jungles in search of mahseer. The compliments ranged from "very funny" to "much better than your husband". To all those people, I would like to say that you are henceforth banned from buying the Independent on Sunday. To the rest of you, a happy new year.