Fishing Lines: On the march with the Esperanto veggies

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The Independent Online
I SEE that the Campaign for the Abolition of Angling has revealed a sinister new weapon in its battle to outlaw fishing - a vegetarian Esperanto branch.

Normally I wouldn't bother to give publicity to an organisation whose numbers are said to be in the high teens. But this new move makes it plain that fishermen have been underestimating them.

At first I thought the whole thing was designed to brighten up the dull life of CAA supporters. But the editor of the CAA's unfortunately named Pisces magazine is notably lacking in humour. Some while ago he reprinted a lighthearted article I wrote on mink, taking seriously my suggestion that the bloodthirsty beast would soon be mugging pensioners . . .

Pisces says the CAA has chosen Esperanto because 'it appeals to all races and nationalities, and is quick to learn'. The news will be a tremendous boost to the memory of Ludwig L Zamenhof, who invented the language in 1887, not as a subversive tongue to undermine fishermen but as 'an international auxiliary language'. It has no irregular verbs and, if we are to believe textbook sales, Esperanto has at least a million adherents.

When I started phoning round my angling friends, it soon became clear that this was a smart move by the CAA, whose aim is to 'spread the ideas and principles of animal and human rights'. For not one fisher could even say 'Good morning' in the Warsaw philologist's mixture of Latin, English, German and the Romance languages, let alone order a pint of maggots. Even my Apple computer was baffled by the word 'Esperanto'. Did I mean 'Aspirant'? it asked.

Now you start to appreciate the CAA's cunning. How can 4 million anglers hope to fight against a stalwart band clever enough to learn a language that was dead before it even became popular?

There are further implications. You're fishing away, not a care in the world, and hear the chatter of Johnny Foreigner behind you. In sporting fashion, you doff your hat - only to discover that it is not a gaggle of Japanese tourists clicking away at this quaint English sport but the rat-haired harridans of the CAA planning their campaign in Esperanto. Anglers everywhere will be caught unawares, you mark my words.

So far the doughty battlers for roach rights have used relatively crude tactics, such as throwing bait in before an angling contest starts 'to fill up the fish so they won't take an angler's hook'. Unfortunately this was not only expensive (you wouldn't believe the price of maggots nowadays) but had the effect of encouraging fish to feed more avidly.

Other stratagems have included supergluing tackle shop doors; 'infiltrating' angling clubs (where a shaven-headed woman in Dr Martens is about as inconspicuous as an elephant wearing a green hat trying to hide on a bowls lawn) and shouting, generally in Mancunian, which proves incomprehensible to both angler and fish.

But this latest ruse is far more subtle - especially the quite brilliant twist of limiting membership to veggies. At a blow, this will stop anglers, carnivores to a man, from turning the tables and trying to infiltrate the infiltrators. Any right-minded fisherman would be easy to spot because he would become violently sick if forced to share Quorn sandwiches, soya patties and nut roasts.