Pop pickers take the bait

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The Independent Online
Carrying out a serious review of a record about maggots is a bit like trying to explain nuclear physics to a goldfish. I had rather hoped to postulate some interesting theories about the saxophone's counterpoint role on "Maggots In Ya Catapult". But since the man who made the record, three-times world angling champion Bob Nudd, has a distinct lack of gravitas when discussing his debut disc, I'm probably wasting my time.

Mind you, a lot of heavy people are taking this pretty seriously. Smash Hits rated it the best record of the past fortnight (which is a pretty sad reflection on today's pop music). Music industry gurus are predicting "Maggots In Ya Catapult" will make the charts. And Bob is embarking on a promotional tour that most newcomers to the pop scene can only dream about.

On Friday, he appeared with Zig and Zag on The Big Breakfast and later that day he was on a children's TV show called The O-Zone. Last night he popped up on Radio Five. He has interviews with Sky, local radio and television lined up this week, when the record actually comes out. "Amazing, isn't it?" Nudd said. "I won the world championships in September and got a little publicity, but nothing like this!"

MCA, which is releasing the rap record, have no immediate plans to make a video, but admitted that pre-launch hype meant they would consider the possibility if the record is a hit. It would certainly be an unusual film if it follows the record's words, with such memorable lines as: "Comin' at yer with my 40ft pole."

Bob Nudd, pop star. The mind boggles. I know him pretty well because I wrote his biography, How to be the World's Best Fisherman, last year. You won't see my name on the cover because I felt that it was slightly less of a crowd-puller among the fishing fraternity than that of a triple world champion (the record was obviously made before Nudd won the event again last September because it features the line "I'm twice world champion").

He is a tall, good-looking, cheerful soul, born in Essex 50 years ago and instantly recognisable on the river bank by the white cap covering his balding head. He didn't start fishing until he was 24, but just a couple of years later he came within ounces of breaking the world five- hour weight record, and by 1984 he was fishing for England. (He has not been out of the team since).

In 1976, he bought a Commer van for £20, painted it bright yellow and started Pete and Bob's Hot Dogs, turning up at fishing matches and selling burgers and hot dogs to anglers. Then he would haul out his tackle and join in the competition, The stars of his record, the maggots, travelled with Bob in the van, but we'd better not go too deeply into that particular meat pie.

The business was so successful that he started wholesaling the buns and burgers, but sold up to become Britain's first professional fisherman. That was in 1986, and he has won at least £10,000 every year since then. Add to that his directorship of a groundbait company and sponsorship from a tackle company, Browning (he's just signed a new £100,000-plus deal), and you can see why he's donating some of the profits to the Heartclic charity. (You can win a day's fishing with him if you buy the record: MCA won't thank me but the answers to the phone-in questions are "Essex" and "Browning".)

Nudd has become the world's best-known fisherman. He has appeared on Wogan, been BBC Essex Sports Achiever of the Year and even came close to winning BBC Sports Personality of the Year (Ladbrokes had him down as 4-1 third favourite). He has moved up in the world a bit from that Commer van, and now drives a Mercedes with a personalised number plate.

He is refreshingly honest about the song, which he recorded for "a bit of fun" rather than claiming it was for some worthy cause such as promo- ting angling to a wider market. Its "catapult" reference, by the way, alludes to the way in which maggots are propelled up to 35 yards to attract fish. Try throwing a maggot against a strong wind (preferably with no one looking) and you will see why catapults are an essential part of the 60lb of tackle that Nudd carries to every competition.

He is not sure what will happen if the pundits are right and the record is a big success. A follow up? "Worms In Yer Waders" is being tipped as his next single. But with the close season coming up, I think he's probably working on an LP. Oh Lordie.

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