How to tackle the boyfriend

Fishing lines
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The Independent Online
MY DAUGHTER Amber has reached the stage where boys are no longer noisy, rough creatures to be avoided at all costs. Though she's just nine years old, she knows which member of Take That is her favourite, and expresses a quiet interest in certain classmates who were formerly as appealing as a slug in a consomme.

As a responsible parent, I feel it is my duty to prepare her for the trials of adolescence and beyond. To this end, I have prepared a short questionnaire that she can use to test out the qualities of potential suitors. Readers can adapt this quiz for older offspring too. Parents with teenage daughters are advised to run every new boyfriend through these four questions. Unless the lad gets them all correct, insist that your daughter is back home by 10pm.

Question 1: A simple one to start off. It's Saturday night, and you have a choice of activities. Friends have invited you to a party in the country. Your favourite band is playing at a London night-club. Or else you could just rent a video and spend the evening together. Amber (insert your daughter's name here) favours the party, though she would like to see the band. What will you do?

2: You get on so well that you start living together. Imagine it's your turn to do the shopping. Before you go to the supermarket, you pop into a local antique shop that occasionally has interesting old items of tackle. In a cabinet is a Hardy Perfect reel. It is tiny, no more than 2.5in, and has the numbers 18373 and 612 inscribed on the face of he handle plate. As you examine it, your heart beats faster. It bears the famous rod-in- hand logo. Could it really be one of the very early Perfects? The shop owner wants pounds 100 for it. You haven't got enough money yourself but by using that cash allocated for the shopping, you could just about afford it. Do you:

a: Buy it straight away?

b: Wait until Amber gets back and discuss it with her?

c: Ignore temptation and dash off to the supermarket before it closes?

3: A tough one, this. You go fishing together on a Scottish river famed for big salmon. On the very last afternoon, after six fishless days, you hook a monster salmon. It looks nearer 40lb than 30lb. Amber is wading above you, and turns when she hears your shout. As she does so she slips and falls in the river. Wearing chest-high waders, it's almost impossible for her to swim to shore. She drifts helplessly towards you. Will you:

a: Break the line and rush out to rescue her?

b: Put the rod down to rescue your loved one, in the hope that the fish will still be there afterwards?

c: Get her to grab the line as she drifts past, and hope the salmon stays on?

d: Lift the rod high to make sure she doesn't get tangled in the line as she disappears downstream?

4: As is only right and proper, you keep your bait in the fridge. This is very important because it enables maggots and so on to stay fresh for longer, especially in warm weather. Of course, there is the occasional escapee but generally the system works well, as long as a strict limit is imposed on the amount of shopping that needs refrigeration. But a problem arises. Amber suddenly comes up in an ugly rash, which the doctor diagnoses as an allergy to maggots. What will you do?


1: No contest. Both the party and the night-club mean you'll never get to bed before 3am, and you're bound to be worn out. Tench generally feed best early morning and if you stay out late, you risk sleeping in. Get the video (preferably one about tench fishing to put you in the right mood).

2: Not as hard as it first appears. If you're any sort of fisherman, there should be enough fish in the deep-freeze to enable you to last a week without needing further food. Asking permission to spend a paltry pounds I00 on an old Hardy Perfect shows a worrying lack of ability to make tough decisions. Buy the reel and argue afterwards.

3: Come on! How many times in your life will you catch a 40lb salmon? Breaking the line is about as bad as poisoning robins. Putting the rod down and getting her to grab the line both risk losing the fish. The woman can swim perfectly well, and there's a shallow bay about a mile downstream where she will be able to clamber out. If she hurries back, she should be able to net the fish for you, too.

4: Buy another fridge, of course.