Monday, 24 December 2012

A Black Christmas

Words cannot adequately describe the feelings of a youngster on Christmas morning. One is highly unlikely ever to have read it suitably couched in words, least of all here for Chrissakes!

The smell, the lights, the colour, the bells (Esmerelda), the anticipation, the fear, the faint nausea, the relief.

The all pervading excitement

Imagine then hoping for your first carbon rod. The one you had was top class, a Bruce & Walker 'Flyer', but carbon fibre was the great black hope, if a touch untamed and misunderstood in its early incarnations. Such a wand really would be the ultimate Christmas prize

So to come down on Christmas day and smell the oranges, the mince pies, the nuts; the sparkling tinsel & disney lights; the warm glow of the scene and to see three individually wrapped sticks each one thicker than the last. To a teenage boy before teenagers were invented; this was indescribable. Nothing else mattered nor came near, frankly no other gift around that period, apart from the ill-fated Chopper bike experience, even features in the admittedly addled memory

The feel of the rod through the paper was sufficient but of course it had to be opened. The anticipation.

Nothing could be opened before these, they were too important. As the end of the Santa-clad paper was peeled back it instantly revealed not carbon but bamboo. What was this?, a Sowerbutts pole? I already had an 18' EARC Ray Mumford model why would I need a Sowerbutts pole?, besides it would be far too heavy! No, this was no Sowerbutts pole...and nor was this one...nor this one!

No...these were no ordinary rod joints these were The Old Duffer & The Old Trouts' worst ever prank...bean sticks!!

The shock. The misery. The RAGE!

How could they do this?!


A few WWII 1:72 Airfix soldiers, orange & lemon jelly slices, chocolate smoking set, socks, hankies, shirt and tie later and the misery had not been, nor could be, quelled

How COULD they do this?

With mid-morning, dressed in the finest mostly new stuff of course for whatever reason, came the meek words "Go in the sitting room George I've just remembered there might be something in there for you that we missed", "Yeah sure"

Off I slouched, in that manner we now recognise as pure teenager, to be confronted by a bazooka-like shape. On taking-hold it tipped to one end and, on unwrapping, became a tube with end caps.
Inside - the shiniest black gloss varnished joints with superb lime green whipping, gold writing and individual stoppers to each ferrule

This was no ordinary rod, no. This was a Bruce & Walker CFR 13L. The finest float rod money could buy


...and was followed by the most eventful one hour fishing trip prior to Christmas dinner one could ever imagine; fishing the direst stretch of canal in the history of angling, a Mute swan hits some high voltage cables with an audible 'crack' and somehow survives to fall into the water having staggered through dense undergrowth in a quite literally shocked state some half an hour later to paddle away, somewhat mis-firing, down the cut such as could not have happened on any other day

No bites, no fish, and pure bliss all at the same time, words that don't usually occupy space in the same sentence

(It was still a rotten trick though)

In use. River Nene on the (then) new cutting, Northampton. 1977

With Yuletide apologies to M&S and their marketing juggernaut


  1. Haha! Brilliant - fishing on Christmas day! Loved the line "...followed by the most eventful one hour fishing trip prior to Christmas dinner one could ever imagine; fishing the direst stretch of canal in the history of angling". I fully expect another blog post in 24 hours time, letting us know how you get on tomorrow!?