I saw an old, and sadly departed, friend of Fishing Breaks
and the One Fly last weekend as I watched To Olivia, the story of
Roald Dahl’s troubled marriage to Oscar winning actress Patricia Neal and
the death of their daughter whilst he was writing Charlie and the
If you are looking for an uplifting tale of escapism that
piggybacks on Dahl’s literary humour this is not the film for you. Dahl was
a victim of what they called back then the black dog; depression often
medicated with alcohol. However, the only truly laugh out loud moments are
supplied by Geoffrey Palmer, acting in what I think must be his last ever
role, as Dahl’s cleric housemaster from his schooldays to whom he turns for
comfort in the wake of daughter Olivia’s death at the age of eleven from
measles; this was the early 1960’s.
However, the scene descends into farce as Palmer playing the
aging, insensitive, dotty and opinionated cleric refuses to countenance a
heaven in which Olivia could play with her dog for eternity. Dogs are,
apparently, absolutely forbidden in heaven. Who knew? It is very funny but
one of those sad moments when you realise someone is gone forever
Geoffrey Dyson Palmer as the father in
Butterflies. Born 4 June 1927; died 5 November 2020
Free to fish
I am not sure I could have asked for more from Boris’ road
map on Monday. Yes, we are slightly hamstrung by the limited opening of
places to stay April 12-May 17 and if you are planning to travel from
overseas for the Mayfly best to enquire about 2022 dates, but otherwise we
are largely home and free.
We can travel as far as we like. We can fish with our
friends. We can take a guide. We can organise a group. Courses, camps and
special days are all going ahead as planned. We can even hoof it up to the
pub for lunch and a pint. To repurpose Gordon Gecko in Wall Street:
lunch inside is for wimps.
Of course, this will all be dependent on Covid receding and
Boris’ four ‘tests’ perhaps being as flexible as Gordon Brown’s five for
joining the Euro. But all in all, things look good.
Get your fishing
Dammit, I miss fishing. In the winter I get my fix by
walking rivers. I love rivers. I love fishing. Which do I love more? Well,
rivers. But sometimes a man just has to fish. And about now I should be
packing for a bone fishing trip to Grand Bahamas with my mate Doug.
I had come to terms with that until the 2021 F3T STOKE REEL
(translation: 2021 Fly Fishing Film Tour trailer) dropped into my Inbox.
Now I am considerably annoyed. OK, it is not entirely the fault of Covid;
if you recall the Grand Bahamas was wiped out by the hurricane of 2019.
Island rebuilding is hard at the best of times. The past 18 months have not
been kind for the team at East End Lodge, but God Bless they are on track
to reopen in late March. I wish I could be there.
But I will not be. So I’m living my fishing life for now
through the power of Vimeo. Watch the Stoke Reel. Check out the other
trailers. Support the many, mostly young, filmmakers by buying a Virtual
Ticket at $20. I would say enjoy, but that is hardly necessary.
The government have concluded that invasive species threaten
our native biodiversity and that something should be done about them. No,
not beavers who are fast becoming the pin up poster animals of the wilding
mania, but grey squirrels.
To be fair to the current minister Lord (Zac) Goldsmith it
has only taken the combined brilliance of the 30 plus governments since the
grey squirrel arrived in Britain since the late 1800’s for the penny to
finally drop: inserting an adaptable, resourceful creature with few
predators into any otherwise settled landscape is nearly always an
ecological timebomb. Muntjac, American signal crayfish, coypu and mink all
immediately come to mind before you even get into plants and insects.
The plan is for grey squirrels to be fed oral contraceptive;
a trial with feeding stations indicated that 90% of squirrels would ‘take
the bait’ but none are yet to be fed the contraceptive. I’m not sure it is
a slam dunk that the trial will translate into a full-blown policy. Reading
around the topic some worry about the contraceptives working into the wider
food chain and to quote one ecologist, “the physiological and psychological
effects an inability to breed will have on the welfare of grey squirrels.”
Yes, really …..
There was a trial 4-5 years ago in the Midlands to sterilise
American signal crayfish. It transpires that male signals are true alpha
males, killing any juvenile males they come across whilst impregnating all
and any females. The trial was slightly different to that of the squirrels
with trapped signal males being sterilised before being returned to their
home water to continue purposefully killing but pointlessly procreating. I
haven’t heard of this being rolled out. Has anyone?
I know I bang on about beavers too much but the
institutional recidivism when it comes to managing our countryside makes me
despair. Our ability to repeat the same mistakes again and again is a
lunacy of which I do not know the cure.
Fish in the Reads
& the Hero vs. Villain debate
Later this morning join Charles and myself with guests
Marina Gibson and Phillippa Hake, two of the best young guides in the
business, for the latest in the Hero vs. Villain debate.
What are the relative merits of fishing in the north vs.
south. Which side of the divide are you on? Who has the better
fishing? Is the divide real or imagined? Is it all about snobbery or even
inverted snobbery? How do the greats of each region stack up against each
other? What can we learn from each other? Is it really that different?
The Zoom debate starts at 11am this morning (26/Feb). Login
in to join us, add your comments/questions live via the Chat function or if
you can’t make it email me for links to the podcast/You Tube recordings.
And if you still haven’t heard enough from me Orvis are
hosting Fish in the Reads at 7pm on Thursday (4/March) when I will
be reading four short extracts from Life of a Chalkstream and
answering your questions. Tickets are free so register here.
This week questions loosely based on
anything at all to confound, dismay or delight.
1)Which is the largest lake (pictured)
in the British Isles?
2)Eldrick is the first name of which
3)What was the name of the factory in Charlie
and the Chocolate Factory?