“Many a true jest is spoken in words.” (#1.)

“I don’t know why we bother”,  said Puffadder,  as dejected as all  hell.  “ God forbid that one of them should spend a fishless day on any water, but that it becomes instant and irrefutable evidence of a maladroit fishery  management”.   Poor old Puffadder.  Sometimes he takes  personally  where he must deal with all the ostentation and pretension of  every petty-hick and heckling-prick who ever went a fishin’.   Every day he sits stoically  behind the front desk at the fishing club, manning the trenches  so to speak, very much in the firing line of  every disgruntled narcissist who could not  catch a fish.   Who would be a fishery manager?  It must be the most thankless of underpaid tasks on a  planet where every second fisherman  is a self-ordained  expert,  half again,  believing themselves  divinely  exempted  from compliance with even the most rudimentary of rules - not just of fishing, but of simple decency too.  Well perhaps that is a bit unfair.  Most fly-fishers are pretty decorous, but every now and then one gets one who seems to effortlessly cancel out any amount of generic decency.  whose life mission is seemingly  to leave a lingering bad taste pervasive in their slipstream. 

“We changed the bag-limit months ago”, Puffadder lamented,  “but not one of them took the blindest bit of notice”.

 “What seems to be the problem this time?” I  solicited, though I knew  before it came what his reply might  be. The theme, after all, is  monotonously recurrent. Those few disgruntled fishermen - no more than a handful out of a membership of hundreds - expert  pub-anglers  every one,  had again been engaging  in their preferred pastime,  whingeing about ‘the club’, the lousiness of its fishing and the incompetence of its management - and as it always will with village-gossip, the whispers of malfeasant  innuendo had got back to Puffadder. The Yuppification of fly-fishing has brought with it a  thoroughly modern ugliness and every now and again it weighs old Puffadder down.   I can see why it might and as one fishery manager to another, can sympathise.  Of course, I appear to keep a far more effective barrier of insulation between myself and The Universal Public Jerk.   It  never seems to  get  me down quite like it does him,  but then again, my misanthropy is legend, whereas he,   old-world gentle soul that he is,  has never really  learned to use his scales or his fangs to full effect.

“It is so unfair”, protested Puffadder, “ attacking portfolios within the club from behind  broad,  sweeping generalisations, making expansive claims for which they are never called to account, never backing up their wild assertions with the smallest shred of tangible evidence and never confronting face-to-face those whose reputations they would malign.”

“They dare not!”  Surly Ghillie, who till now had been sitting quietly in the shadows, interjected, “for fear of having their real ambitions exposed.  Theirs is an ire fed by nothing more substantial  than petulance that  the spotlight glare does not naturally come to rest upon them, excepting only throughout the length and breadth of their natural habitat; the local drinking hole”.

“The fact of the matter”, Puffadder hissed, “ is that this undercurrent of  whispered disaffection  long ago  come to the attention of the committee. Their response was swift and to my thinking, enlightened.”


“How so?” I enquired.

“ Ha!”  Puffadder bristled, “identifying the most vociferous and articulate of their  accusers, they approached each and every one, an entire clique,  inviting them apiece to  join the committee, to take ownership and responsibility for devising and implementing solutions.  Guess what? Predictably, without exception, every big-fish-wanna-be in the pool,  outdoing each other,  declined the invitation, preferring rather to crawl back into the comfort of the woodwork, leaving nothing but  small, creative piles of sawdust at the  sites of an inelegant egress.   For a while, it seemed to be working”, he continued, “but now, the zephyrs are once again laden with an effluvia of offensive intimate politicking”.

“Get over it”, I suggested none too gently,  “ empty vessels must ring,  like  gongs... and it is only in the land of the blind that  the one-eyed might be  acclaimed as  king. Anyone with more than two brain cells to rub together, knows better that to credit their  rumblings with much credence. ”

“Yeah”, Puffadder fatly spat, ”b-b-but how many fishermen suffering from big-fish syndrome  have as many as two brain cells to rub against each other?”

Rude though it may be, I take his point.

From The Unpublished epigrams of  Surly Ghillie