Fishing Lines: Whites only in the Baader-maggot gang

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The Independent Online
MAGGOTS ARE probably not the first weapon that comes to mind if you're planning to terrorise supermarkets and chain stores. But these loyal soldiers served Quintin and Karen Buckingham well in their campaign to dupe food stores and supermarkets. Unfortunately, they also proved the downfall of the Farnborough couple - though you can't blame the maggots.

This week Karen was sentenced to two months' imprisonment, and her husband was given a year's probation and 80 hours' community service, after their campaign crawled to an ignominious end. They had contaminated food with maggots bought from a fishing shop, then taken the food back to various chain stores. The wheeze brought them refunds and compensation. But success went to their head.

It happened when they took back a bag of crisps bought at their local recreation centre, angrily pointing out that it was full of maggots. The catering manager inspected it. They sat back waiting for him to load them up with goodies as compensation. But he pointed out that the crisps had obviously affected the maggots' metabolism in a strange way. In their natural state, maggots are white. But the ones in the bag were pink, green and turquoise. Even blaming genetically modified food failed to stop him calling the cops.

In the spirit of subversion, I thought it might be valuable to point out to other would-be protesters how to carry out a similar campaign without making the same mistake. You have to admit it was pretty dumb to buy a pot of multi-coloured maggots in the first place. Most fishing shops sell these, but they are not used by serious anglers. One tackle dealer told me: "It's always kids, or non-fishing parents, who buy the mixed colours."

However, few maggot fishers use the grubs in their virginal state. The favourite at the moment is a deep plum red. Fluorescent pink maggots, called fluoros, are very popular with canal anglers. The other shades? Nowhere. I wouldn't be seen dead with turquoise wrigglers in my bait box. Wouldn't match my Versace fishing jacket anyway.

Why do anglers use all the colours of the rainbow? Well, it's the belief that all fish have brains like Stephen Hawking and will not succumb to anything as simple as a plain white maggot. They must be tempted, like a child who doesn't like carrots. The truth, of course, is much simpler. It's that anglers, being simple souls, are attracted by pretty colours. I remember fishing with one famous angler who only used bronze maggots. "Why don't you try a red one?" I asked him. "It would confuse me," he said.

My anarchist readers must be getting impatient. First, you must be very careful what sort of maggots you buy. Obviously you want white, and only white. But it's no good wandering into a tackle shop and saying: "Give me enough of those to cost Tesco a couple of million quid."

Style is all. For example, any good store manager, confronted with a piece of steak heaving with a small maggot called the pinkie (because of its light pink hue) would know he was being gulled. Pinkies are the larval stage of the greenbottle, which only lays its eggs on fish.

Price is no guarantee, either. Buying a few gozzers may catch you bream, but they won't land you a holiday in the Bahamas. Gozzers come from a fly that is quite rare, and only lays its eggs in the dark.

The big problem, actually, is that shop-bought maggots are just the wrong sort of maggots. When they leave a maggot farm for a tackle shop, they have stopped feeding. They have reached full size and are a few days away from becoming a chrysalis, which becomes a fly, which starts the whole process again. If shop-bought food really had maggots in it (and how could they survive the additives?), they would be tiny, a centimetre or less.

Fascinating subject, eh? Of course there is a way to use maggots for urban terrorism purposes. The details can be found on my website, www.maggot- terror.com, if the supermarkets haven't come up with pounds 1m in the next 24 hours.

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