Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else;
you are the one who gets burned.
They came. Fishing rods at knockdown prices. A fishing publication, now no longer with us, made an offer we couldn't refuse. £150.00 worth of rod for an amazingly knock down price of £50.00, plus a couple of tokens from the magazine. With the eagerness of a frenzied shopper on a Christmas bank holiday, I tore off tape and paper in order that I may free my new super-duper, never before used technology, bargain fish seducer. Out it came, glistening with promise, wild with wanton desire and taunting me to go 'a fishing '. I carefully slipped it from its delicate fabric house and held it out just staring at it. Obviously the sniffing came next (surely everybody does this), the bag, the rod, the cork, the wonderful aroma of newness that all purchases have. I trotted quickly out to the garden, lovingly put it together, grasped it by the handle and gave it a bit of a waggle (I was very inexperienced). I've always wondered why people do that. The anglers answer to a tyre kicker. Why do we do it? Do we gain some kind of intimate knowledge of the rod's action? No. Do we understand more about the intricacies of test curves? No. Do we glean information as to how it will respond with a fish on it? No. But there I was, rod waggling and feeling fabulous. After this aberration passed I slipped her back into her fabric bag and stowed her away with my other equipment where she'd be safe and comfortable with like-minded friends. Telephone in hand I called Rod (real name Nick but affectionately nicknamed Rod Rage for reasons that will become apparent later). He answered the phone and we both started gushing about our new purchases, with lots of ‘oh aren’t they beautiful’ followed by confessions of sniffing and waggling and finally concluding with the organisation of a trip.
It was decided that we would venture out to a well-kept fishery snuggled down in Hampshire’s sleepy Meon Valley. The date was set and we agreed to meet at the fishery. We both arrived in convoy and departed our respective vehicles, both wearing smiles that risked cutting our heads in half. Rods were carefully married together; reels lovingly winched in tight, lines diligently threaded through and all the while we chatted about the leviathans we’d catch with our new seducers of trout to which we had now attached an almost religious zeal. Casting began, fish were seen rising and subsequently cast to, some with magnificence but most not. Touches were felt and eventually I hooked one. The subject was then battled, banked, bashed and bagged, marvellous. The world universe and everything in it was perfect… … .. for some. I choose this moment to wander around the lake and enthuse with Rod (Nick) about the christening of my new rod and regale him with events leading up to and including the afore-mentioned capture. Unfortunately although Rod was figuratively speaking 'in the garden', rosy it wasn't. A few tangles were evident and expletives were reverberating around the lake. "B…..D Line, B…...D rod, you're starting to get on my f…..g nerves now", and variations of these were heard as I got closer to him. "Any thing I can do to help" I ventured. "Yeah stop this B…..D line from f……g tangling" he vociferated in a voice that could crumble granite and sit around chewing on the crunchy bits. I risked hands on intervention, resolved the offending knots and tiptoed away while peace had temporarily been restored. Finding myself a quiet spot, well out of the fall out zone, I resumed my ham-fisted casting, like we duffers do, memories of my previous victory urging me on.
With my line out I began a figure of eight retrieve watching my damsel charging through the pellucid waters wiggling its tail seductively hoping to enrage a trout or drive him gastronomic insanity. Rod was in the distance gesticulating wildly and swearing at the trout with such profanities that they were more likely blushing red than rainbow. I was luckily out of earshot. Time went by and my patients were rewarded, fish number two was secured. After disturbing the water where I had just been fishing I elected to investigate the rest of the lake in the hope of finding some rising fish. I slowly wandered round only to see Rod stomping towards me totally preoccupied in his own private seethe, wildlife quickly scurrying away and all plant life in his path wilting and dying as his wrath passed by. He didn't appear to be stopping, going home early I thought. It appeared he had taken his rod down, although from the distance I was away from him it was difficult to see properly. As fishing's own Grim Reaper loomed nearer I saw that his rod was not taken apart, but broken. If only that was true. Broken doesn't even start to cover it. Try massacred, decimated, divested of life and purpose the only inkling of its former persona being the odd piece of cork and the glint of a tip ring sadly brutalised and like the last embers on a fire, winking in a final attempt to glow before dying forever. I met up with him, "Nick, what happened?" a hint of sadness in my words. He then proceeds to tell me "It just snapped" The tone in his voice was something just below nuclear. " Snapped! Snapped! That's not snapped. Snapped means broken in half, that's, that’s, that's matchwood, it's been tormented, savagely beaten and tortured and finally ritualistically murdered, then with the remains of fly line still hanging limply in the rings, paraded around the lake as a warning to other non-compliant fishing equipment." He claimed he had fallen on it! Presumably before he had time to take the Steam Roller out of his pocket. I left Nick (see what I mean about Rod Rage) to smoulder back to the car where he could dump his £50 kindling and roar off home, swearing at cyclists, waving fists at children and driving the elderly and inexperienced off of the road and into curb-side ditches.
Not all our trips suffer this type of miss fortune, most are peaceful excursions with a few fish taken and sometimes not, either way the sole purpose is enjoyment. Nick seems to rant his way through life and has done in the 14 years I’ve known him (and we wouldn’t change him for the world) but he isn’t what he seems. Life is seldom the superficial farce we see at first glance. In the same way that although on the surface of the lake, it's blowing crazy ape bonkers, underneath the pellucid surface film, possibly exists the philosophical serenity I seem to search so hard to find.