Friday 27 November 2015

Felicity Frost, Immolation and Toast

The PC brigade did for Al Jolson and his associated minstrels back in the day.

Their silence ( the PC brigade not Al Jolson, he had plenty to say) on "Black Friday" speaks volumes, and I wear the boot polish on my face today as a symbol of defiance to their meddling ways

Ok, my mistake,

Here goes with some more despondency and doom,

But first, here's Bob with the weather

Why are we now attributing a name to every low pressure system that sweeps across the Atlantic?
Will banks of fog and frosty mornings receive similar treatment and how far are we from Fred Fog and Felicity Frost? The disneyfication of the countryside in recent decades signalled a disconnect from reality, now we have the disneyfication of meteorology and a similar disconnection from reality.

The UK should be subject to wind rain and cold through the winter months, bands of low pressure sweeping across the Atlantic provide welcome succour to much diminshed aquifers and river systems, so could somebody in the media concerned with weather actually come out and say so, and stop spooking Joe public over a few damp days and a gentle zephyr.

The river is in reasonable condition and after twenty four hours without rain runs clearer than it did in July and August. I don't think I can remember a season with so few fish on the spawning gravels, there is a dearth of sexually mature brown trout in the river for which we have implementation of The National Trout and Grayling Strategy and a plethora of otters to thank. There are many small brown trout in the river, it remains to be seen whether this will still be the case in five years time. Grayling fishing has been ok, with the few anglers that have arrived putting reasonable numbers of fish on the bank on both dry flies and nymphs and we still have sedge hatching in the last knockings of the day.

Trotting on Sunday afternoons has yet to produce any roach to my rod, although a few have been caught to just shy of two pounds by others, and I have had pike to four pound on both the fly, and a wobbled sprat. The weather hasn't turned cold enough for any unusual avian visitors to turn up yet, although a few nights of frost served as a full stop to much flora and fauna that last year is over and time now rejuvenate through sleep tin preparation for next year. Otis put up the first snipe of the winter at the weekend while skirting the common before bumbling back down the hill into the village. My eye was caught during descent by multiple ziggurat learing through the verdant fringe of the village.

I'm sure they are very nice, and seven figures for five bedrooms replete with sweeping drive and a view of the field will be value to some, but a cuckoo's egg in the nest of a tit sprang quickly to mind.

Well done to the two local purchasers of the "affordable" option.

Freedom for Tooting! come the revolution..etc etc

The River!

but soft, another "R" word


Cheltenham last week and countryside day at the November meeting. It sometimes serves as a bellwether for festival horses a few years hence and can draw quite the crowd. I don't think I've had a duff day at Cheltenham yet. Ok, the ledger is inevitably coloured red at the denouement and sometimes in November it rains (take note TV weathermen and radio presenters) but it is a great atmosphere, and all the more impressive this year for the opening of the new stand and viewing area around the parade ring, which is stunning , user friendly with a top notch sports stadium feel (after Alan Partridge)

The river,

Sorry TV, and the excellent TV series -The Big Fish.

Aired on BBC 2,

and well done BBC for that,

it is hosted by Ben Fogle and Matt Hayes. Anglers were presented with a variety of angling challenges in order to determine all round angling ability. I no longer possess the intensity to fish in that way and am too easily distracted by other things, but well done BBC for putting the show together (on quite a budget judging by the locations) and displaying angling as a positive life skill.

Other TV highlights, in what is always the best time of the year for TV, include The Dancing (a given, and all hail the genius of Winkleman) The Jungle (a given and all hail the genius of Ant & Bee) Catastrophe (a more givens ed) Catastrophe is really good, catch it if you can, and what must be the highest end hour of comedy since Alan Partridge served as warm up for Phoenix Nights (albeit on different channels) just after the turn of the millennium. It takes place on a Tuesday when the final series of The Peep Show is followed by Toast of London ( Bainbridge lite from the Boosh) and the genius that is Mary's lad, Matt Berry (enough geniuses, ed)

Sorry Ed, you can never have enough comedy geniuses, and Matt Berry is one.

The river,

The requirement for a replacement tractor is currently being addressed. The previous implement, whose seat is shaped to my own, and is twenty three years old, is like many a wayward twenty year old, smoking and banging a bit, and is on the cusp of entering agricultural Valhalla. It has done great service and will sit at the right hand of Odin, several seats higher up the salt than Thor. It has served as my own "hammer of the gods" in many situations in the wood and on the bank, and tears will flow when it is cast away burning on to the water to make its way downstream to the Test Valley Valhalla, which with a nod to Hogwarts can only be reached via a magical hatch that leads to an enchanted carrier stream that ends at Asgard, a little known beat on the middle river and its magical hall/fishing hut, where all the river keepers and their equipment that are cast into the river end up.

Reading this bit back, I may have dreamt that last few hundred words, but if there were an Asgard on the middle river it would be full of pole scythes and spectacles, because surveys will confirm that these are the two most popular items that are accidentally flung away into the flow.

There are many trees to attend to on the river bank, and some bends will have quite a different appearance come the spring. A bridge must be attended to and fen must be fired, and then there's the pheasant pen to sort out. We seem to have acquired some more tame ducks, and these must also be housed and then there's the fish, the silt, the bits of bank that are maybe starting to encroach a little, Oh yes and the paperwork, because yes paper crops up increasingly in this line of work, when the chap from CEFAS turns up to inspect records and contingency plans, that for form's sake, must now be written down, because yes, if fish start flashing on the bottom or look a little "gilly" I will resort to reading what I wrote down rather than using my brain to remember what I did the last time such an event occurred. He's a top bloke the CEFAS man, as were the few others who have visited during my time here, and protocol requires that they don't get too chummy during their visits, which is tricky, as bonds are formed over time. They are a beleaguered bunch, who have been subject to significant cuts and do great work in keeping some nasty fish diseases at bay that are rife a few miles away across La Manche.

Last week I had a haircut. It doesn't take long and styles are limited. I used to go to a Turkish chap in Basingstoke who didn't do conversation, but surprised me on my final visit by striking a match without warning and burning off my nasal hair and ear hair. I just sat there in a state of shock, violated,

nay immolated.

I never went back, despite being two stickers away from my free hair cut, the bad dream in which I suffered torture by fire from a mute Ottoman with big scissors proved a clincher.

In recent times I have given myself up to another eccentric (and cheap) coiffeur who likes to open proceeding by swinging his scissors around on his index finger, gunslinger style before asking me how I want my hair (like he can do a range of styles) He's not from this country, and I think I can say with some confidence that I have not had my hair cut by someone from the mother country for some years. Even on the barest of bonces, he is one for a flourish and signs off the briefest period of clipping with a waft. He doesn't do conversation, but sings, in both of my ears, and thankfully my head of hair only gives time for a song and a half of warbling, but as the business of attending to what remains of my fringe approached, he ceased his serenade for conversation, Which began:

"What about this front bit then? there's not a lot there. I don't know what I can do. You know Wayne Rooney had a bit put back in, but that cost thirty five grand, you don't look like no footballer and you ain't got that money no? Ok I'll do what I can for ten pound"

If there is an award for comedy barber, please can I make a nomination

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