Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Huge Cajones and a Poor Choice of Font

Well the rugby world cup's good,

At tea time on Saturday, it was out with the turn table and on with The Vapors and a rousing chorus of

"I think I'm turning Japanese, I think I'm turning Japanese, I really think so"

Didn't see that one coming and what huge cajones (I believe that's Japanese) to go for the try with the final play of the match.

Not too keen on the Kiwi kit, which seems to channel the puritans or possibly downstairs Downton, and that font they've picked for the numbers is all a bit 1970's Atari.

The pig thing went well, and the evening passed without real incident bar the death of a pig and a pool of pork dripping on the west bound carriageway of the highway to the sun.

Fishing is slowly improving, we have had a week free from Tarka and the trout are a little more at ease. We have had some super hatches of sedge throughout the afternoon and a bumble through the long grass sends hundreds of daddy long legs into the air. The seven fish caught over the weekend all fell to a daddy on the top, but what would be considered a small daddy these days, I don't know why but artificial daddies seem to get bigger year on year. We've only a few weeks to go until the end of the trout season and fishing will only improve. The rain has imparted a freshness to the flow, and the cloudiness that has hung around for much of the season is definitely on the wane. I have been aided in my tasks for a fortnight by two rugby playing year eleven pupils. We got a lot done and they made a good job of tackling the crack willow on the mill stream, as well as learning the technicalities of attaching a pig to a spit, it's a lengthy process, the beast doesn't just run head first onto the spike. It takes about an hour and it needs to be done right because a half cooked pig falling off the spit three hours is a culinary disaster that I have heard about, but do not want to experience.

For a few days I have been dealing with some willows that gave up the ghost in the rain at the start of the week and slowly stooped towards the river. I may have made mention of it, but I spent much of last winter tackling christmas trees that fell over in the floods. These trees that have just gone over are a legacy of the christmas trees cashing in their chips, tall and leggy after competing with their bolshie evergreen neighbours, whose demise left them exposed and vulnerable to the merest zephyr. I am amazed they lasted as long as they did, and like all trees they are always much bigger when laid on the floor than standing tall and proud. My mates the mushrooms are on the up, I've had a few pickings so far and all the interesting and colourful ones that grow up the river that do not make the pan are starting to poke through. We've done ok for apples, the pears are passable, as are the plums and we have enough blackberries frozen for the next ten years. The tomatoes aren't bad either, We seem to be getting over the blight that used to reduce my crop to mush each year. Sungold remain the favourite, full of flavour each one is like a little drop of sunshine. Runner beans were a bit of a letdown, although our second crop of french beans are just coming on stream, we have a surfeit of lettuce, courgette and cucumbers but we've done the potatoes, asparagus and shallots

The garlic is the undoubted success of the year, the pulled bulbs are so strong that they can't be kept in the house, we left them in the workshop overnight, and now even my neoprene waders smell of garlic. It may be a little "niche" but if anybody is afflicted with thieving vampire wader raiders (this may be a title of a Russ Meyer movie) I have just the pair for you.

While going at other guff elsewhere, I revisited Charles Bingham's book "The River Test" that was first published in 1990. I seemed to shadow Charles as he compiled his book as for three months I was seconded to what was the National Rivers Authority, and charged with updating their river ownership and boundary records. This involved visiting many people on many stretches of river to ascertain who owned what bit and it was not unusual for someone to comment "Charles Bingham was here last week, he's writing a book about the river you know". I could go on at length about some of the people I met, and maybe one day I will, but here's a few quotes from the book written in the late 1980's:

"Water quality is of concern, the colour being rather cloudy this summer"

Maurice Jones, retired Chief Executive of Leckford Estate who'd happily chat with the lowliest student in The Peat Spade Pub.

" The greatest threat to this part of the river is increasing population and the over abstraction that results"

Fred Kemp, keeper on the Upper Test at Whitchurch where I once stood in for a month while at college when Fred and his family headed off to the USA.

"If you have big stocked fish you have no small wild ones, stocking bigger and bigger fish results in a shortage of natural browns in the future"

Alf Harper, long gone, but a bear of a man, who worked on the Test at Longparish.

"He is young, fit and resourceful"

Brian Parker - headkeeper at Bossington, part of this statement may no longer be relevant, but thanks for thinking of me all those years ago.

"Today's storms flush soil from cultivated fields into open ditches and on into the river"

Brian Parker again, and spot on, all those years ago

"We then drove to Nursling Mill on the Main River to be met by two Alsatian dogs. "Don't worry. They only bite Southern Water employees, as they taste sweeter and have fingers like sausages."

The genial Vic Foot at Nursing Mill, who kept me at his table for hours, tea in hand, before a tour of the river.

There are several employed by trusts and agencies who have since discredited the work of keepers in the last few decades and mutter darkly about "old school ways" but these statements bear a remarkable similarity to today's purported "new" way of thinking.

At home, Child B is engaged, deep cover in the world of planning, and seems to be having a great time while receiving wages in return, which is a good thing, and the denouement of Child A's MSc is upon us, and in sprinting terms she is currently dipping for the line that will bestow on her the status of most qualified person in the house.

And so to Jeremy, and how on earth did the Labour Party end up electing an unelectable leader. Donning my hat of conspiracy theories, how many of Flashy's followers paid the £3 to join the labour party in order to get a vote. Last week's Prime Minister's question time was the cricketing equivalent of milking a mediocre spinner. Labour were unelectable at the last two elections on economic policy and are unelectable at the next if they retain Jeremy Castro, my money's on another labour leadership election within the year, whatever were they thinking.

I reached once more for my hat of conspiracy theory as I took in the opening lines of the news story regarding the world's biggest motor manufacturer - Volkswagen, but was stopped in my tracks by the admission from top brass, that yes, all of their models for the American market had been fiddling the emissions test. Many, many people at the company must have known about this, at some point meetings must have been had about this being the way forward, and if this was Toyata the CEO would now be reaching for the sword, how did it stay secret for so long and what does it say about the ethics of the world's uber industries and their regard for environmental matters?

Vorsprung Durch Technik indeed,

Oh no, that's the other one with the Olympic symbol with one hoop missing on the grill,

or is it?

You can always rely on a Volkswagen............to get through an emissions test.

News just in: Flash's mob have just announced that they will make moves to limit roadworks on major motorways to a maximum length of 2 miles.

Well done Sir! I'm guessing you, or someone in your gilded cabinet, was forced to mix with the masses recently on the M3 or M1, were all the helicopters at the menders?

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