Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Chris and Glenn, Diamond Nights and Pulling Muscles

On the Dever conditions remain good with gin clear water and reasonable hatches of fly. This time last year blanket weed was blooming, weed was losing condition, and fishing was becoming increasingly difficult; this year fish continue to be caught although many are becoming increasingly fickle. Today a seriously senior fish that sat under the trunk of a large willow opposite the bench on the bottom bends for several years, was hooked and lost at the net. What caused its error of judgement in the middle of the afternoon on a bright June day we can only surmise, in cricketing terms the fish was in and seeing it like a football having grown large after accurately picking the googlies and flippers that man had flicked past his nose. The fish has returned to its lair and weighs between six and seven pounds with a commitment to stick to sub surface feeding and may offer another chance later in the season when nymphs are permitted, but I’d put money on it’s appearance at the same venue on the opening day of next season,

Otters permitting.

Parts of this river are currently being hammered by hungry Otters.

I could go on, but will refrain for fear of offending, but fish populations are seen as little more than fodder in some short sighted quarters.

The short stretch of the Itchen that I intermittently fall in and out of, does not seem to be faring as well. Flows remain good and weed growth is ok but hatches of fly and rising fish are not what they have been during the previous two seasons.

Back on the Dever we have quite a few Pike and adult eels with a mind to spawning are beginning to make their way downstream. The European eel population has been described as suffering a collapse during the last thirty years, numbers of adult eels in this river are certainly down and fewer eels are now caught commercially from this river compared to thirty years ago. Over exploitation in freshwater is not the cause of their decline, both this river and the neighbouring Itchen supported a commercial eel fishery using methods that had not changed for hundreds of years. The decline is evident across Europe and as with the Atlantic Salmon, another animal that splits its time between freshwater and the sea and encounter the travails of international waters, Anguilla Anguilla is an incredibly complex creature that may require a little help at an international level, although reports of increasing runs of glass eels in the Severn system offer some encouragement.

Anyone visiting Romsey in the coming weeks may care to tool down to the public park and river bank where, as part of the Romsey Festival, a group of locals and an environmental artist are aiming to raise awareness of the chalkstream environment, which many in the town may have fallen out with during the winter months as their front rooms became part of the chalkstream environment.

After visiting Romsey it is well worth sneaking the back way into the New Forest. Madam and myself needed to be out of the house for a day so we headed down the west side of Southampton water, taking in Eling Tide Mill, before entering Hythe for a coffee on the waterfront and a quick deco at the train on the Victorian pier that serves the Hythe to Southampton passenger ferry. Lepe next, a bit out of the way, but a great place for a picnic on an interesting beach with country park that still entertains the idea of dogs, which pleased Otis immensely. Ignoring Exbury Gardens where Child B once mistook large lily pads for stepping stones and discovered that he could not walk on water, and is now ridiculously overpriced, to peer briefly at Beaulieu before our last stop of the day at Lymington, a place that we have visited many times over the years and whose “chi chi” factor rises with each visit but still does great chips that were eaten by the harbour. A welcome recharge and a holiday in a day, the temptation is often to drive somewhere for a few hours in order to have a day out but it is very easy to forget what is to be had closer to home.

Last week we received our annual summer inspection by village elders. A difficult crowd who I have had dealings with on several occasions, they massed on the lawn to take in a fantastic falconry display before clearing a table bearing an enormous tea. Alan, the falconry man, always puts on a good show and brought many birds, including some really interesting owls and a Falkland Isle Caracara, a funny falcon that followed Alan around like a dog at heel making a right racket.

The man whose voice I have fallen asleep to on many occasion has now retired. Tributes flooded in, most concentrated on his no nonsense interviewing style and intolerance of flim flam, particularly when presented with an oily politico. Few mentioned his passion for fly fishing or his support for angling causes. I once shared a petri dish with the bloke on a Riverfly Partnership aquatic invertebrate day a few years ago. He wouldn't remember me, but across a four inch plastic dish with a pipet and tweezers Jeremy Paxman came across as a top bloke, very bright with a complete absence of airs and graces.

Football, well punditry mainly, as two weeks of middle aged males in shirts with big collars sitting smugly with their legs open inanely opining on games that they are paid to watch are starting to give me the pip,

I shall attend to Phil Neville presently

Groovy Lineker and Forrest Shearer et al’s contribution to the BBC’s coverage offer little value to the licence payer, but well done to Rio Ferdinand for using a nine letter word following the Brazil v Chile game (delicious)

On the other side the description of the match provides a field for an interminable battle of the tenses with Glen Hoddle and Sally Gunnel’s twin Andy Townsend in the thick of the action. Fabio Cannavaro remains stuck in a Dolce & Cabbana advert ( the label on the tight black undercrackers that I purchased on the market at 3 for £5 confirms that this spelling is correct) and Martin O’Neil has been summoned from the subs bench to string some sentences together.

TV sport’s fixation with using past players as pundits and commentators is contributing to a dumbing down of sport presentation, I have not seen him present on TV, but I have heard it said that following the curtailment of his football career it was revealed that Michael Owen is crafted entirely of wood and was first plucked from Gepetto’s bottom drawer, marked “requires more attention”

Chrissy Waddle is an exception and it is now clear who was the mental powerhouse behind the Chris and Glenn eighties combo who came up with the smash hits, Diamond Lights, Cool for Cats, Pulling Muscles and Up the Junction.

Quick thinking, bold and confident in his opinion he is a diamond amongst the Coles (Andy, Andrew, Ashley, Joe, Carlton, Old King, etc ete)

And then came Phil Neville,

Embarking on his punditry odyssey during the keenly anticipated competition opener for Old Albion against the Eye-ties (there speaks one raised on “Warlord” and “Battle & Action”) Phil was keen to gain gravitas and demonstrate that he could work a syllable or two.

From this day forward he would be known as Phillip.

His delivery, in the style of a man in a mac on a late night train, leaning in to a vulnerable lady with filth foremost on his mind, drew mixed reviews.

Why make his punditry debut in this game?

Mark Lawrenson is a safe pair of hands who has operated considerably above the bar set in recent weeks, why not stick with him and give Phillip nee Phil, a few Ryman league Two games to get his eye in,


Because Phillip nee Phil, is an ex footballer whose name is Neville and has a brother that has received much attention for his football punditry on another channel, although this has primarily been built on the back of a multitude of technological bells and whistles. Never mind Phillip’s inability to carry out the task presented, lack of intonation or knowledge of how to speak into a microphone, he had the right name and that was good enough for middle management decision makers at the BBC who must now grapple with the decision of which Neville next?

Odds are shortening on Tracey Neville for the quarter finals, Aaron Neville is a “shoe in” for the semis and brief interjections of Ivor Novello’s dittys at specific points during the final should provide some high points.

You heard it here first.

On the radio, the BBC can lay claim to England’s “stand out” performer of this world cup. Tim Vickery is the BBC’s South American football correspondent and has lived and breathed South American football for over twenty years. Where Forrest Shearer remarks “that fella in the white shirt with the number ten on the back kicked it with his right foot towards the goal” (for which Forrest is rewarded with a six figure plus salary). Vickery will proffer information on the striker’s performance for his club over the last few seasons, his first choice of easy listening music and his grandmother’s favoured nightcap. He mines a deep seam of southern hemisphere football knowledge and adds colour to the piece where TV punditry offers drab and stark negative.
Vickery is not an ex player, but a great communicator with a wide knowledge of his subject. Retired professional sportsmen do not always meet this remit, no matter how good they look in a sharp shirt, tight jeans, fresh out of the gym. Vickery should be at the centre of the BBC’s world cup coverage, for the first fortnight he has been consigned to late night work on the radio, which suggests he does not possess a sharp shirt and tight trousers, has not played the game professionally or his legs did not part to the width required while uttering a few words on a game that we have all just watched. Never mind the insight that he may have been able to provide, not only on the nub of the situation but the little bits around the edge.

BT Sports foresaw the dearth of personality in the mainstream channel's coverage and pitched the Baker & Kelly show between the first two games of each day. A supreme communicator with a spectacular grasp of english language, Baker does not have a past playing career, attend a gym or don high collared shirts, although he did shift some Daz. He may drink a little wine and ruffle a few feathers now and again, but he is a prime example of skilful broadcasting. His Saturday morning show on Radio 5 is the only show to which I will gather the family around the wireless in a 1950’s kind of way to smoke pipes and feast on powdered egg for two hours,

If we are in 2014 mode and are busy, we may catch the podcast later in the week. He has won countless Sony radio awards, his absence from the daily BBC radio schedule is beyond me.

Switching sports, cricket just about gets away with the ex player thing. Jon Agnew had a career in local radio prior to his elevation to TMS and Ed Smith, comes across as a bright light who will get better and better, but Simon Mann’s skill behind the microphone shines through, vindicating his career choice of professional broadcaster over gun running following his release from an Equatorial Guinea Gaol.

Tennis on the radio is poorer for John Inverdale’s absence. Bumbling about Crystal Palace on a family day out a few years ago we took in Kelly Holmes completing endless circuits of the athletics training track as a warm up to an important race at the Crystal Palace athletics meeting. Inverdale walked by and the lady who sleeps on my left remarked that “he was no looker” to which I replied “maybe, but he is very tall.”

Height now seems to preclude professional broadcasters from presenting tennis on the radio.

Inverdale’s place this year has been taken by Marion Bartoli, height 5 ft 7in.

The testosterone level of Radio 5 live’s afternoon radio has been turned down as atonement for Inverdale’s brief burst of louche vernacular last year and long periods now pass in the manner of Loose Women.

Adjusting the balance button on my radio does not rectify this,

Is it me?

Hermit’s Beard – Check
Loin Cloth – Check
Fist suitably clenched to wave at the outside world – Check

To the cave!

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