The Tales of The Drowners by Dave Spence.

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Peter

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• This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

The Drowners v England invitation match.

In a humble cottage in darkest Yorkshire the silence was shattered by a telephone ringing shrilly, Winston went ballistic and launched himself from his position in front of the fire knocking over a coffee table and spilling ‘Red Leader’s’ Jack Daniels, over a pile of unpaid bills, in the process.

“Gerrunder” snarled Dave, trying to salvage his bottle from the pile of bills.

Winston took this as an invitation to play and, with his stumpy tail wagging a million times a second, dived in happily to help his beloved master.

Dave extricated his bottle and then picked up the telephone receiver.

“If you’re ringing to make me aware that I am entitled to a new boiler if I am on benefit, I will find you and rip your head off” he growled ominously, Winston sensed the tone and slunk off back to the fireside.

“It’s me mate, Peter” came the stuttered reply.

“Peter who?”

“Your best friend Peter”

“Oh ayup mate, what can I do for you?”

“You remember the puzzle that was posted where you had to work out the positions of the people in a match” said Peter.

“Oh that one where we all had different coloured caps on, bloody stupid if you ask me” said Dave

“You couldn’t do it either then” mocked Peter “anyway” he continued “I’ve just had a call from Mark Downes; he thinks it was a real match and that the Maggotdrowners are publishing their results in code so that they can only be read by members”.

“Bloody pillock” said Dave, inserting a straw into a fresh bottle of Jack Daniels.

“The point is Dave, he reckons that MD’rs are getting too cocky and he wants to pitch his England squad against the team in the puzzle”.

“Strewth” exclaimed Dave “that would be good publicity, might attract more avertisers. Tell him anywhere, anytime and then give all the people in the puzzle a ring mate; set up a meeting at your place”

“That’s seven phone calls” stammered Peter “can I claim them back from the MD kitty”

“No” replied Dave firmly “there’s hardly enough in the kitty to keep me in JD without paying for your phone calls”

Peter hung up dejectedly and then googled to see if a call to Scotland would attract international rates.

Half an hour later he had definite confirmations from Phoenixicus, Wise Owl and Breac to be at his house the following Saturday night.

He had also managed to book Breac in to an open match the day after to make the journey worth his while.

The following Saturday saw Peter, Dave, Wise Owl and Breac sat around Peters kitchen table waiting for Phoenixicus to arrive.

“Foook me, it’s cold in here” said Wisey “have you got the heating on?”

“Its May” exclaimed Peter

“I don’t give a flying fart, it’s still bloody cold” said Wisey

Reluctantly Peter lit a candle and placed it on the table, “happy now?” he asked.

Wisey and Breac looked at each other in disbelief.

“Wait till he makes the Tea” said Dave, who had been here before.

As if on cue the kettle boiled and Peter poured out four mugs of boiling water; he then extracted a tea bag, with a tag on a string, from a padlocked caddy and solemnly gave each cup three dunks before returning the bag and locking the caddy.

Suddenly Winston and Albert started growling, barking and baring their teeth at the door.

“Hello, hello” said Phoenixicus

There was a strange hush as he came face to face with Wise Owl.

“Shall we have a hug?” said Phoenix hopefully.

Five minutes later he was rubbing at the welts on his neck.
“Any more of that WO and you’re banned from the site and won’t be allowed to fish” snapped Dave.

“I was only showing him a Leeds handshake” protested WO. “Sorry mate” he said as he and Phoenix shook hands.

“Right then” said Dave “now that we are all here we can get started”

“Not quite” said Peter “the England team is six men so I have invited someone to make up the numbers.

“Is it Dumdum?” asked Breac hopefully; before Peter could reply Albert and Winston did their double act again as there was a timid knock at the door.

“I couldn’t help overhearing that last question and if you had taken the time to read my blog you would have known it was me” said Neil of the Nene stepping into the kitchen.

“Ah well, it could have been worse” said Dave with a wry smile.

“Not much” whispered Phoenix under his breath.

“Mark Downes has challenged us to a match against his England squad; we pick the venue and the date” stated Peter

“I think Lindholme” said Dave.

As no one else had any ideas Lindholme was agreed and it was unanimous that the match would be fished in July.

“Who are we fishing against?” asked Wise Owl

Peter held up a piece of paper and read

“Alan Scothorne”

“He’s a has been” scoffed Phoenix “he’ll need a nap half way through”

“Will Raisin” continued Peter

“He fluked world champion once and has lived off the reputation ever since” muttered WO

“Sean Ashby”

“He’s a decent angler” said Dave; Breac nodded in agreement.

“Des Shipp”

“He’s a thug” whined Phoenix

“Put him on the next peg, me and Albert will sort him out” said Wisey

“Steve Hemingray and Callum Dicks” finished Peter.

“Never heard of em” said Breac

“You heathen” exclaimed Neil that is six of the best anglers in the country.

“So” replied Breac “No one expects us to win so we have nothing to lose”.

“That’s true” said Dave “we may just pull off a surprise, I suggest a practice next week.”

“I will see what date we can get Bonsai for in July and let Mark know” said Peter

“I will take a laptop” said Neil “Mr Downes is sure to want to read my blog”

“Shut up Neil” exclaimed everyone.

“Tactics” said Dave

“Yes, we will need some” said Phoenix

“Any suggestions” growled Breac

“No, I’m not a match angler” replied Phoenix.

Even Winston hung his head at that and Albert covered his eyes with his paws.

“Ok” said Dave “I suggest two lines, one at 10 metres for F1’s and one down the edge for lumps”

“Sounds like a plan” said Breac.

“Can I just point out the importance of dotting your bristle down when F1 fishing” said Neil. “It needs to be right in the surface tension to be any good, I have some number 12 stotz that I have cut in half if anyone wants any” advised Neil.

“I’ll have some” said Peter, never one to turn down a freebie.

“Right” said Dave “we will meet up at Lindholme a week next Saturday for a practice”

“In the meantime” said Neil “read my blog, I will explain how to use Vaseline on your bristle”

“Has the thought of fishing against England tightened your Budgie smugglers?” asked Wisey.

“So uncouth” muttered Neil.

The meeting ended in disarray as the ‘Drowners’ made their way home, all dreaming of future glory.

In the practice Peter found that the F1’s were coming on to a maggot approach at 8 metres and he calculated that 50lb per man was possible as a target weight.

As he had been elected captain he made a round of his team to make sure everyone was ok.

He was especially impressed with Neil who, with his float barely visible, was bagging up on F1’s.

“You were right about dotting the bristle mate” he praised.

“Oh I can’t see the float” replied Neil “I just count to ten and strike”

Peter shook his head and went over to see Wise Owl. He was amazed to see Wisey shooting number 1 shot at a bean tin, on a bank stick in the next peg, with a black widow catapult.

“What on earth are you doing” he asked

“Practicing feeding single pellets in case it gets hard” said Wisey innocently.

Peter walked away; again shaking his head. On arriving at Breacs peg he was surprised to see that he was not fishing but staring at the Island facing him.

“What’s up mate” he asked

“Just admiring the wildlife” said Breac dreamily

“It’s like being a primary school teacher” said Peter to Dave “one is shooting tin cans, one can’t see his float and one is bloody bird watching”

“It’ll be alright matey” said Dave optimistically and went back to reading the forum on his phone.

Peter stopped at Phoenixicus’s peg; he had 18 Cadence rod and reels set up and was heaving huge lumps out of the margins on pieces of cat meat, “This is the method mate” he exclaimed happily.

“Don’t you read the rules, you berk” he exclaimed “all kinds of meat are banned”

Phoenix looked crestfallen “I’ll have to try the pellet waggler then”

“We agreed on maggot on the pole” said Peter starting to get exasperated.

“I don’t use a pole” protested Phoenix “I am a pleasure angler; I don’t need a pole”.

Peter walked away dejectedly; the match was a fortnight away and his little army were just not good enough.............................................
 

Peter

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The Drowners v England.......The MATCH!!
The Angling world had been set alight and the match between the full England squad and the Maggotdrowners was the news on everyone’s lips.

‘Can the Drowners do it?’ screamed the Angling Times;

‘Why did he agree to it?’ asked the Anglers Mail, the latter went on to state that Mark Downes must have an intellect lower than the elastic rating in his match kits for putting England’s reputation at such risk.

They went on to say that England had everything to lose and nothing to gain but; the general consensus was that Peters’ merry men had little or no chance of beating the England stars, although the majority of the angling fraternity were rooting for the Drowners.

The eve of the match saw the intrepid MD’rs gathered once more in Peter’s kitchen.

“Right lads” started Peter “the practice sessions have gone well and I think we are all in agreement that we fish the maggot at 8 metres and keep the margin in reserve for the last hour with the back-up plan being a pellet feeder tight to the islands”.

“Why the hell do we need to fish to a plan” moaned Breac “we are all decent anglers and we should be trusted to get the best from our pegs without being restricted by plans”.

“Having a plan is good” said Peter “it contains everything we have learned in practice”.

Phoenixicus, who had been staying on site with Neil for the week, then piped up,

“I can see that pooling our ideas from practice is a good thing, but, I don’t think it is right to say that we must use a particular method on the day. Neil and I had one days’ practice where a piece of flake at 13 metres was the method; it did not work again for the rest of the week”

Peter looked at Red Leader and received a shrug, “it’s your call mate” said Dave.

“What do the rest of you think” he asked.

“I think we should sort it out on the day and stuff em” growled Wise Owl.

“I think we should start on the plan, maggot at 8 metres, but have the autonomy to change as we see fit” said Neil; ever the voice of reason.

“I agree” said Dave, as he had no idea what autonomy meant.

The others all nodded in agreement, Peter knew when he was beaten and finally agreed that they could chop and change at will “provided” he went on “that you let the bank runner know what you are doing so that he can keep the rest of us informed”.

“Bank runner?” asked Wisey.

“Yes” said Dave, “Peter and I have invited one; he should be here by now.” He said, glancing at his Mickey Mouse watch.

There was a knock at the door and, although tentative, was enough to send Albert and Winston into a pair of whirling dervishes as they growled and barked at the intruder.

In through the door walked none other than Carpmagic “all right lads” he asked shyly.

“Steve here is going to act as bank runner for us and will also be a reserve if anyone can’t fish.”

“Have you ever fished a match before son” asked Breac having no idea who he was talking to.

“A few” replied Carpmagic.

“You heathen” exclaimed Neil “this is Steve Ringer; he has already fished for England in the feeder team.”

“We can’t fish a ringer, we’ll be disqualified” wailed Phoenix in anguish.

“He’s not a ringer” replied Dave “he is an MD site supporter”

“He just said he is a ringer”

“His name is ringer”

“What?”

“He is not a ringer his name is Ringer”

“But…..” Phoenix was totally confused.

“Never mind mate” said Neil, patting him consolingly on the back “I will explain when we get back to the caravan; I have some information on him in my blog.”

“I like your blog mate, I have picked up a lot from it” said Steve

Neil puffed out his chest, his eyes watering with pride as he muttered a shy thank you and then, glaring accusingly at Wisey said “at least some people appreciate my efforts”.

“If we pull this off tomorrow mate I will subscribe to your *****king blog” replied WO.

“Oh by the way” said Dave “I have some good news”

He reached into a bag at his feet and pulled out two Maggotdrowner doggie coats, with Winston and Albert emblazoned on the sides.

“I have signed them up as bona fide site supporters so they will be allowed to come with us tomorrow”.

“Hear that pal” said Wisey to Albert “you can be my bank runner” he said rubbing Alberts belly, a strange almost sly expression in his eyes.

Only Breac, who had been staying at the WO household all week noticed that his new BFF was plotting something, and knowing Wisey; it would be something unscrupulous, he couldn’t wait.

“Right then” said Phoenixicus to Carpmagic “as you’re the bank runner you can start your duties now and make some tea”

Peter cringed as he watched Carpmagic put seven brand new tea bags into the mugs, top them up with boiling water and to cap it all he then put the used tea bags into the bin, Peter made a mental note to retrieve them as soon as everyone had gone.

“By god lad, that’s a decent cuppa” said Dave, who was the only one that realised the anguish that Peter was suffering and he couldn’t resist rubbing it in.

They spent the next hour discussing tactics and Neil gave a power point talk on shotting patterns and the differences between hollow and solid elastics.

The meeting eventually broke up and Peter told them all to meet at the café at 7:00 am the next morning. “The draws at 8:00 and we fish 10:00 while 3:00 so if we meet at 7:00 we have time for breakfast and last minute discussions before we start. Now everyone go straight home and have an early night”.

“Time for a couple of nightcaps mate” whispered Wisey to Breac.

“Great idea mate” replied Breac, thankful that, at last he had found someone with appetites that matched his own, in fact him and WO had been on the lash every night since he had arrived a week previously.

The next morning dawned bright and clear, the weather forecast was for a hot bright day, and Lindholme looked like the site of a rock concert, it was packed with supporters and banners were being waved proclaiming

‘Up the Drowners’,

‘Neil for PM’,

‘Red leader is God’

‘Phee….Poe….fee…’ and ‘Wise Owl bites yer legs’.

Reps from all the tackle companies were busily setting up trade stands and several officials from other National teams were seeking the best vantage points to spy on the England stars.

Neil and Phoenixicus were already there but the rest of the Drowners arrived, all together, in Breac’s big grey van. A huge cheer went up and the theme from Rocky blared out from speakers which had been placed outside the café;

“Foook me” said Wisey “I feel like Robbie Williams”

“I’m shyting myself said Phoenix “this is the first match I have fished for years, what if I blank”.

“You won’t” said Neil “just take note of the advice in my blog, fish like I showed you and you will be fine.”

They parked up and shuffled towards the café,

“Can I have your autograph please” a young lad asked Phoenix.

“Certainly” he replied and signed with a flourish.

The lad turned to his mates and shouted “I’ve got it, you can rewrite the banner now it’s P-H-O-E-N-I-X-I-C-U-S”.

“How the hell do you pronounce it?” asked his mate.

“No idea” he replied

In the café Peter was overjoyed to hear that, as the match had attracted so much attention, breakfasts were ‘on the house’. “I’ll have a big breakfast please, two extra sausages and an extra egg please” he said gleefully.

The MD’rs sat around a table and tucked in, WO and Breac nursing hangovers.

“I hope you two aren’t hung over” said Peter

“No mate, there’s a bug going round our estate” replied WO innocently.

“Will you be able to fish?” asked Carpmagic hopefully.

“You just fetch another round of tea’s son” answered Breac “and leave the fishing to the grown-ups”

CM slunk off to the counter wondering how he had ever become involved in such a circus; he had missed a match at Drayton to be here and was now, seriously questioning his sanity.

“Where’s Phoenix” asked Dave

“He’s doing a tour of the stands to see if he can pick up any freebies” answered Neil.

“Will you excuse me a minute” said Peter as he shot out the door.

A round of booing broke the ensuing silence and the national anthem started up from the speakers, enter the England squad. They marched into the café, in matching Drennan jackets, Mark Downes at the head, closely followed by a chap doing an impression of Mr T with four gold medals hanging round his neck.

“Who’s the ponce with the necklaces?” asked Breac.

“Alan Scothorne” replied Neil “former world champion”.

“He’s just asked for Horlicks at the counter” said Dave.

“Typical” moaned Carpmagic “I can’t get a place and they let in a geriatric, living on past reputation; they will be bringing Bob Nudd back next” he added bitterly.

Peter and Phoenix returned triumphantly, loaded down with armfuls of goody bags containing all the poo that the tackle companies couldn’t shift.

“Where’s my sausage” wailed Peter “there was a full sausage on my plate when I left”

Under the table Albert and Winston chewed happily.

“I swear I will shoot that dog” said Peter; when he realised what had happened.

“You go anywhere near Albert, your gert will have new earrings and you will have a very high voice” snarled Wisey.

“Come on lads. Let’s keep it friendly, we are all on the same team” said Dave

“Who is that kid sat with them?” asked Breac

“Callum Dicks” said Dave

“Callum Dick!” snorted Wisey “I bet his middle name is ‘The’”

Everyone howled with laughter, Callum shifted uncomfortably under their derision,

“I don’t know if I want to fish Mr Downes” he murmured shakily.

“Don’t worry Cal, I’ll look after you” said Des Shipp staring threateningly at Wise Owl.

“What you staring at you fat Womble” snarled Wisey

The crowd, sensing blood, started chanting ‘Dezzy is a womble, Dezzy is a womble’ and the banner proclaiming ‘Wise Owl bites yer legs’ was waved enthusiastically’

The two captains parted their respective team members and order was restored,

“don’t be an idiot Des” said Downsey “Peter Drennan is outside, if you start beating up the opposition he may well withdraw his sponsorship”

The mood in the England camp was sombre; they had no need to talk tactics as they were fishing to a detailed plan masterminded by Downesy, and they were usually treated like hero’s when they turned up to a match. A partisan crowd was alien to them and they were now thoroughly rattled.

Their manager was also very despondent; he was missing his sidekick ‘the other Mark’ and the thought of a week away, to take his team to the next world championships without him, filled him with dread. He wondered how he would get through the long lonely nights without a cuddle from his deputy.

The two teams went out to the draw which was a simple affair, the two captains tossing a coin with the winner choosing odds or evens. The teams themselves would decide who fished on each numbered peg.

“We’ll have evens” said Peter, smugly, after the coin landed on heads.

Bonsai had been pegged so that there was a minimum of 20 metres between platforms and it had been agreed that the bank to the left of each angler was ‘their margin’.

After a brief chat between Peter and Mark it was agreed that, in the interests of peace, it would be better to put Wisey and Des as far apart as possible the pegging was, therefore, as follows:-

Peg 1 Callum Dicks
Peg 2 Wise Owl
Peg 3 Sean Ashby
Peg 4 Peter
Peg 5 Will Raison
Peg 6 Phoenixicus
Peg 7 Alan Scothorne
Peg 8 Neil of the Nene
Peg 9 Steve Hemingray
Peg 10 Breac
Peg 11 Des Shipp
Peg 12 Red Leader

Everyone tackled up amid an air of great expectancy and Carpmagic was kept really busy running back and forth to the café fetching cups of tea and coffee; which he was paying for out of his own pocket as Red Leader had told him that he could claim it back at the end of the match.

The whistle sounded and the long awaited ‘match of the century’ was underway. The England team all started by cupping a secret mix of pellets halfway down their margin swims, their precision was so consistent it such it looked like a synchronised angling contest.
On peg 2 WO formed a huge ball of solid white crumb and heaved it into his right hand margin.

“Oy” said Callum on peg 1 “that’s my margin”

“What do you mean?” asked Wisey in all innocence.

“You’re baiting the wrong side” wailed the youngster

“Sorry son” grinned Wisey, “I’m bisexual, so I can’t tell my left from my right, but no problem I will just go down the other side” suiting action to the words he then gently cupped half a pot of micro’s into his margin swim. Callum just stared in dismay at his ruined margin and wondered if fishing for his country was all it was cracked up to be.

On peg 8 Neil was in seventh heaven, not only was he between two ‘gentlemen’ he had been given a new lease of life by Phoenixicus. During practice he had been persuaded by Phoenix to try some glasses; it had been a revelation and he was able to finally see his dotted float with amazing clarity. He was now the proud owner of blue tinted contact lenses which, he thought, made him look even more like Brad Pitt and he had already posted a lengthy article, on his blog, about the importance of eyesight in angling.

Dave, however, on peg 12 was having a torrid time and Des Shipp was making him look silly as he netted f1 after f1.

“You do know there is a 16 metre limit on pole length here” Dave questioned.

“Yeah, I do, I’m not stupid” said Des, effortlessly holding about 23 metres of pole in his left hand whilst opening a tin of corn by squashing it in the crook of his right arm. “This is a 14.6 metre pole” he clarified.

Dave who was straining to hold 16 metres in both hands, and still falling pitifully short of the same island that Des was fishing against, thought discretion was the better part of valour and said “oh sorry, it just looks longer”

“That’s what your missus told me” laughed Des as he netted another f1 without even taking his eyes off Dave.

Dave reached for the Kleenex inside his coat; dabbed his eyes and blowing his nose loudly, resigned himself to a battering.

Suddenly a terrible howling echoed round the complex, all the ducks took to the air at the same time and the rats bolted to their holes.

“Do you wanna be in my gang, my gang, my gang, do you wanna be in my gang” warbled Wisey

“Oh yeah” chorused Breac from 8 pegs away.

“Do we really need this” moaned Sean.

“He’s just seen the Sky TV cameras” explained Peter “, he thinks Simon Cowell might be watching.

Wisey was just getting into his stride however and, still singing; he dropped out his todger and peed in a high arc straight into the lake. “Oy Ashby” he shouted “have you seen my old man?”

An hour into the match and it was clear that the MD’rs, although putting in a valiant effort, were hopelessly outclassed and it was looking like a drubbing was on the cards.

Albert, resplendent in his new green coat, jumped up as his master beckoned him over and he sat patiently at Wise Owls side whilst he unhooked yet another f1. WO whispered into Alberts ‘ear, the dog wagged his tail in excitement and shot off round the lake.

He returned less than two minutes later, Des Shipps’ bait bucket firmly in his jaws and Des himself in hot pursuit, penknife in hand, muttering that he was going to ‘skin the mangy mutt’.

Dropping the bucket at the side of his master Albert stood there with a huge grin on his face as Des arrived, puffing and panting, at peg 2.

The sky TV crew had a field day and had managed to film the whole incident, including Albert crawling, like a commando, through the grass behind peg 11.

“Bad dog” said Wisey, enthusiastically rubbing Albert’s belly and giving him and Winston, who had joined them, a doggy choc drop.

“You’re dog just nicked my bait tin” snarled Des.

Wisey looked at him coldly “sorry about that” he said calmly.

“You’re very calm considering I’ve got a knife” said Des in his best ‘Dirty Harry voice’.

“That’s not a knife” said Wisey his little legs swinging about 6 inches above the footplate of his box; the sun glinted on the razor sharp machete that he pulled out of his pocket. “This is a knife” he said as he stroked it absently against the stubble on his chin.

Des deflated like a pricked balloon, “keep him under control” he snapped as he turned to go.

“Hang on mate” said Wisey “we haven’t got off to the best start, let bygones be bygones?” he questioned holding out his hand.

Des was, underneath the bluster, actually a nice guy and he willingly shook hands.

“What do you think of this mate?” Asked WO, holding up a ball of paste “it’s my normal mix but Breac brought a special additive down from Scotland and I think it has spoiled it”.

Des took the paste and, breaking a piece off he held it to his nose, “there’s a lot of fishmeal in there” he exclaimed “reminds me of a girl I used to know”. Then, breaking a piece off he slowly chewed and swallowed “yeah definitely like my courting days” he exclaimed with a grin.

Behind the two anglers Winston and Albert high fived with their paws; mission accomplished.

Des made his way back to his peg, a strange euphoria spreading through him and passing peg 8 he said “love the blog Neil, keep posting mate”. Neil was so shocked he missed his net with an f1 he had just unhooked.

By the time Des got to peg 11 he was chuckling away to himself and thinking what a splendid fellow Dave was on the next peg, even when he stood on the butt section of his pole, the splintering carbon just seemed like the funniest sound in the world and he cracked up.

Meanwhile on peg 10 all the TV cameras were on Breac who had assembled a fly rod and was fishing a floating caster tight to the island twenty metres away. Ten minutes later, pandemonium reigned as, just as he was netting his ‘fourth’ lump Mark Downes came up with the bailiff.

“You can’t fly fish, it’s against the rules” he said.

“Why?” answered Breac.

“It’s classed as lure fishing and it’s a danger to the spectators” replied the bailiff.

Breac reluctantly took down the gear and picked his pole back up.

“You don’t like anyone showing you up do you” he said scathingly to Downsey.

Before a row could develop their attention was caught by a blood curdling scream from Sean on peg 3, hurrying over Mark found his star feeder angler almost in tears and holding his neck.

“What happened” he asked

“Stung by a wasp” said Wisey who had walked over to his peg.

Peter on peg 4 grinned to himself, he knew what had happened and he now also knew the reason for Wisey’s catapult practice. The manager of the French squad, who was watching intently, had videoed the whole thing and was already planning to issue Black Widows to all of his squad.

“There are loads of wasps around here mate” said Wisey “you have probably set up near their nest”.

Sean looked nervously around his peg “do you think so” he stammered.

“Don’t worry mate, if you keep still they won’t bother you”

Sean turned back to his fishing but his nerves were shot and he was spending more time looking for wasps than he was spending on his float.

Phoenixicus and Neil on pegs 6 and 8 respectively had managed to get Alan Scothorne and Will Raison reminiscing about how it used to be, fishing for England in the old days, so engrossed were they that they failed to realise that, both Neil and Phoenix were catching them.

Des Shipp meanwhile was making his way, still chuckling, back to WO peg. “Can I try some of your paste man” he laughed “I’ve got some big lumps down the side”.
“Certainly” replied WO with a grin and he passed him the full, Jaffa sized, ball
“That’s so cool man” smiled Des “I love you man” and bending forward he gave WO a peck on the cheek. Next second a furious ball of teeth and fur had attached themselves to his leg as Albert went in for the kill, no one kissed his master except him. He shook his head as his teeth went through Des’s trousers and into the flesh beneath, Des just laughed

“Good boy, protecting your master eh” he smiled, as he extricated his leg from Albert’s fangs.

On the way back to his peg he popped into the café, emerging a few minutes later with a bin liner full of nuts, scratchings, crisps and chocolate. Fishing was forgotten as he proceeded to munch his way through them, interspersed with bits of paste.

Dave realised that something had happened and he decided to wipe his eyes, grow a pair and start fishing to his potential.

Despite all of the incidents and five of the England squad not fishing to their best; with two hours to go it still looked like it was going to be an England victory.

The crowd were getting restless, the upset they had been hoping for now seemed unlikely and they prayed for a miracle.

A car pulled into the car park, a tall rangy man got out and lifted a large sack, which he hefted on to his shoulder, the crowd parted like the red sea before Moses and through them strode none other than Fishplate42, aka Ralph. He reached the boundary tape and shouted Steve Ringer over;

“Share this between them and tell them to ball it all in” he passed over the big sack containing his own 2 dog groundbait.

Steve checked with Peter who, as it was do or die time, agreed to the plan. The groundbait was quickly shared out and the cannonade started, the England squad looked on helplessly as the barrage lifted the water level about a foot.

Their carefully nurtured swims dried up as the extraordinary pulling power of the groundbait came into effect. Almost immediately every, other, peg came alive and the Drowners were bagging for the last hour whilst the England stars stayed fishless; it was going to be so close.

The whistle sounded and the gossip ran like wildfire through the crowd some said Des had beaten Dave, others said that Des had been fishless for the last 3 hours etc etc.

The scales finished their tour and the anglers stood in two small groups, WO and Breac singing ‘I would walk 500 miles’ at the tops of their voices and Des singing softly, in his best Bob Marley accent, “No winning no cry”, as they waited for the result.

Callum on peg 1 had never really recovered from his altercation with WO and had fished a poor match.

Neil and Phoenix had both had belters, as had Steve Hemingray for England, Peter had fished a quite match and had caught steadily throughout, whilst Dave had enjoyed a brilliant last hour and a half.

Ten minutes later, Keith Arthur made the announcement:-

“Ladies and gentleman the weights have been totalled, verified and are as follows”

“Gerron wi it ya fooking poof” yelled WO.”

“As I was saying” repeated Keith, the results are:-

“Drennan Team England 485lb 12oz”

“Maggotdrowners select 497lb 11oz”

A huge cheer went up; they’d defied the odds and beaten one of the best teams in the world.

Fishplate42 and the rest of the team were hoisted on shoulders and ceremoniously carried around the lake, headed by Rodring who, sporting a tartan dicky bow, was twirling his Tam O Shanter and throwing it up in the air like a cheer leaders baton. Arriving at the café bank all of the team were pitched into the water where the victory jigs continued, Peter took full advantage by feeling around the margins of the island and was rewarded by finding two feeders which he pocketed gratefully.

Whilst all this was going on the defeated team were despondently throwing their gear into the team bus, as the bus pulled out Peter Drennan’s words echoed across the car park

“Bloody shambles, find another sponsor” He turned around and came face to face with a tall handsome stranger.

“Hello my name is Git; Pompous Git; I am the manager of the Drowners and I think I could help you find a much more rewarding avenue for your sponsorship; step into my office”. Taking Peter by the arm Pompous led him back into the Café.
 

Peter

'Mugger'
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The Drowners v England........The Aftermath
Red Leader opened his eyes from deep within the comfort of his duvet, he stretched luxuriously, eased his hand down the front of his, once white, Y fronts whilst simultaneously lifting his left leg and letting one rip. As he held his fingers to his nose there was a frantic scrabbling, his duvet appeared to come to life and a pair of watering eyes looked at him as Winston’s head appeared from under the covers. Dave started to giggle girlishly as he saw, on the other side of Winston, his wife’s nose start to twitch. The next second her eyes snapped open, her hand flew to her mouth as she desperately tried to bite back a gag reflex.

“Morning darling” choked Dave desperately trying to hold back his laughter.

“Morning?!! You dirty, malignant little gobshyte, that is disgusting” she snarled.

Winston whined, Mrs Leader put her arms round him, “not you my precious” she cooed consolingly, “that dirty open assed so and so at the side of us. Come on let’s go and have a walk before breakfast”. Winston barked excitedly and started to raise his back leg; the look from RL made him pause, mid lift and lower his leg before scampering happily after ‘his mum’.

Left to his own devices Dave put his hand back down his pants to resume his ‘morning scratch’ whilst reflecting on the events of the last couple of weeks. Since beating England a fortnight ago none of the MD’rs had been able to fish, they had become household names in the angling world and every time they turned up on the bank they were mobbed by fans, either asking for autographs and advice or trying to steal oddments of tackle as souvenirs. They had also been kept really busy by the media; all of them had been interviewed by the angling press.

Pompous Git’s picture had been seen by an, overzealous and naïve researcher who, assuming he was in his late twenties, had invited him to take part in Alan sugar’s; ‘The Apprentice’.

Neil now had his own fan club, going by the collective name ‘Neenies’, who sported blue tinted contact lenses and fished with T shirts proclaiming:-

Neenies Grease Their Bristles!

His blog had become so popular that he’d had to employ a PA to handle all the inquiries and he was in great demand as an ‘after dinner speaker’.

Phoenixicus had been invited to be the ‘new face’ of Cadence tackle.

Wise Owl had been offered the position of ‘tactical advisor’ to the Polish national squad and Dave had been invited to the states, by Bill Gates, to look at the latest technology to help with running a forum.

The ‘icing on the cake’, however, had been an appearance by the whole team on a ‘Chase’ celebrity 6 man special. Wise Owl had turned up in full school uniform including, short trousers, cap and elastic snake belt. He then proceeded to create so much havoc, with his outlandish behaviour, that a certain female chaser, who resembled a cross between a tank and a prison guard, had taken him into a side room to “show the little tyke some discipline” as she put it. They emerged an hour later, the chaser with a self-satisfied smirk and WO with a grin that would need a plastic surgeon to remove.

Wise Owl, like Neil, also had his own fan club; going by the collective term ‘Owlet’s’ they carried machete’s and used ‘foook’ instead of capital letters and full stops during conversation.

Pompous Git had contacted all of the squad earlier in the week and asked them to attend a meeting, at Peters’ house that evening; he had, he’d said mysteriously, some stupendous news. Dave, however, had news of his own and he had asked the team to meet an hour earlier so that he could explain what he had learned before the arrival of PG.

All of the Drowners assembled round Peters’ kitchen table at 6 o clock that evening, Phoenixicus wearing a T shirt with his own picture emblazoned on the front and the caption ‘Be like me; put your trust in Cadence, the tackle of the future’.

“Fook me” said WO “I’d like one of those shirts mate”

“I’ll get you one” said Phoenix delightedly.

“Thanks” replied WO “I can hang it on the shed door, it’ll deter the burglars”

All the team cracked up and Phoenix muttered something about WO parents never being married.

“I’m not illiterate” said WO indignantly and then wondered why everyone had cracked up again. “Put the fooking kettle on Peter”

“I thought we would wait for PG before we had a brew” stammered Peter nervously.

“Get it on now, we can have another when PG gets here” said Dave maliciously.

Peter reluctantly boiled the kettle and dived for the caddy before Carpmagic could get his hands on it. He was still having nightmares from last time, when CM had used a whole, new, tea bag for each cup!!

With a mug of slightly coloured water in front of each of them the team got down to business.

“As most of you know” began Dave “I have moles in the angling press; what you don’t know is that I also have one in our national squad”

The Drowners looked at each other nonplussed, wondering where Red Leader was going with this.

“I have been informed that, if we don’t agree to a re-match the headlines in next weeks’ press will state that we are cheats”

“Fook me” said Neil

Everyone looked at him aghast; they had never heard Neil use such language.

“Blame him” said Neil staring at Wisey “he’s rubbing off on me”.

“I am not!!” spluttered WO “I only like girls”

“What about the chaser mate” said peter who was secretly jealous.

“She had girly bits” protested Wisey.

Dave banged an empty bottle on the table “come on lads I need to tell you this before Pomp gets here”.

The table quietened down and 6 pairs of eyes focussed on RL.
Mark Downes has been in touch with both the AT and the AM saying that we only won through cheating and that some of their team had been ‘nobbled’. The editors have agreed to extend the challenge on his behalf and if it is not accepted they will run the cheating story the following week.

“We never cheated” moaned Phoenixicus.

“Des Shipp has spent the last 2 weeks in rehab, Callum Dicks is having counselling for recurring nightmares and Sean Ashby has nerve damage in his neck after Wise Owl shot him with a black widow” said Dave, reading from a page of notes that he had made.

“They can’t prove that” said WO.

“The hospital removed a No 1 shot from his ‘wasp sting’ and there is a video” continued Dave “taken by the French manager which shows the whole thing; Downsey is threatening to post it on you tube if we don’t fish another match” finished Dave bitterly.

“I don’t think we need to prove ourselves” said Neil “we have beaten them once, we don’t need to do it again”

“What he said” stated WO “and fook em”

“Does the video actually exist?” asked Neil

“I think it does” said Peter “I saw a chap in a beret with a camera at the match”

“Let’s put it to the vote” said Neil “all in favour of fishing again raise your hands”

One hand was raised; Dave was thinking about the damage to the site if their ‘gamesmanship’ was exposed and he would rather face a drubbing than risk his beloved forum.

“All in favour of saying fook em” said WO, 5 hands immediately shot skywards

“That settles it then” said peter thankfully, he was still dreading his phone bill from the last match and did not want a repeat performance.

“You’ve not voted mate” said Peter to Breac.

“You haven’t spoken at all since you got here; are you alright” asked Neil.

“That depends” replied Breac, a strange glint in his eye

“On what?” said Carpmagic.

Breac turned a cold stare on Red Leader; “you froze the Fishing Republic thread…..why?”

“It had gone off at a tangent and had run its course” replied Dave reasonably.

“Balderdash” retorted Breac. Dave looked at him blankly; he had no idea what balderdash meant. “You stopped that thread because you were worried that FR would cancel their advertising account” continued Breac.

“Look mate, advertising is the life blood of the forum, if we lose the adverts we lose everything” replied Dave.

“So you are just the advertisers bitch” scoffed Breac “you’ve just lost all the integrity of the forum and I want no part of it……I QUIT” he shouted and stood up so quickly his chair crashed over backwards and several mugs of tea tipped over. Breac stormed out of the door slamming it behind him so hard that the foundations of the house shook.

The Drowners looked at each other in stunned silence; “at least we don’t have to drink the fecking tea” said Wisey, looking at the spilt mugs.

“Does this mean I can fish” said Carpmagic; ever the opportunist.

“I don’t know, can you?” teased Peter

“What” stammered CM who was not the brightest tip in the float box.

“Take no notice” said Neil “and I, for one will be proud to fish with you” he was of the opinion that the ‘gangly’ young lad was going places and it didn’t do any harm to form an alliance early on.

The conversation was halted by the arrival of Pompous Git, dressed in a pinstripe 3 piece suit, fedora on his head and pink carnation in his buttonhole he looked more like a CEO than an angler. By his side was a scruffy little chap in stained hoody and combat trousers.

“Good evening gentlemen” said PG “thank you for being prompt” he had no idea of the discussions that had already taken place. “Where is Breac?” he asked.

“He quit for personal reasons” said Dave

“You’re in then lad” PG said to Carpmagic, CM beamed.

“May I introduce Mr Peter Drennan” continued PG, indicating the chap at his side.

There was a murmur of greeting from around the table and the intrepid team waited for the news that PG had promised.

“I think a little refreshment before we start, do you have any Earl Grey Peter” he asked.

“Only Typhoo” said Peter apologetically.

“That will have to do then” replied PG.

Peter started to make the tea and PG looked at him incredulously “One bag per cup please” he commanded, “and do you have a tot of whisky to put in it, it is rather inclement outdoors”.

“I’m sorry, I don’t” replied peter cagily.

His wife, who was in the next room watching Emmerdale and could hear every word shouted, “Darling, you have that 30 year old bottle of Bruichladdich in the back of the cupboard”

“I don’t know what you mean” shouted Peter horrified.

Maria walked into the room; PG immediately stood for a lady and raised his hat.

“Ooh what a lovely head of hair” she exclaimed before looking critically at her husband’s balding pate.

“It’s here look” she said, pulling a dusty bottle from the depths of the cupboard under the sink “it was a prize from his last match win, he’s had it for so long he must have forgotten it was there” she told them.

The Drowners grinned at each other and licked their lips in anticipation.

“That is too good to put in tea” exclaimed PG; Peter looked at him with gratitude shimmering in his eyes. “We will have a large tot each, as a chaser to our tea” Peter was crestfallen.

“Chaser” asked WO excitedly

“Whisky, you naughty boy” said Mrs M, smacking him playfully on the back of the head, she had heard all about his exploits from Peter.

Pompous drained his glass and waggled it at Peter “same again my good man” he requested.

The rest of the group immediately followed suit and Peter reluctantly refilled their glasses and then stared despondently at the, pitifully low level left in the bottle.

“Now to business” said PG “Peter?”

All eyes turned to PD, who cleared his throat and said “I liked the way you performed against England and I want to offer you some sponsorship. There was a hushed silence and Neil inadvertently squeezed Peter’s thigh; Peter was instantly transported back to his public school days and he squeezed back delightedly.
PD carried on “I will supply a full set of tackle from bait boxes right through to our latest flagship pole, to all members of the team. I will pick up all bait bills for matches and practice as well as, reasonable, travelling and accommodation expenses”. There ensued a stunned silence as the enormity of what they were being offered sank in. “Most of you have already gained from the match, Phoenix has a deal with Cadence, Wisey is now linked to Poland, Dave has his forum and Carpmagic has his fingers in so many pies I want to lick them. That leaves Peter and Neil lagging behind, I can offer you £30,000 per year each, to fish exclusively under the Drennan banner; you will have to fish at least 2 matches per week and your contract will be reviewed annually”.

The image of PD blurred in Peter’s eyes as they brimmed with tears of gratitude, and he leaned over, unprompted and refilled PD’s whisky glass.

“There is one condition” said PD.

“I knew it was too good to be fecking true” said Wisey

“The condition is; that you fish a re-match against England and put up a reasonable fight; I’m not saying that you have to win, but you can’t get drubbed”.

No one spoke, they were all too stunned, PD went on “I know all about the allegations of cheating and I also know of the video, this match has to be fished ‘straight’” It was now obvious who Dave’s mole was in the England camp.

“I think that conclude business” said Pompous rising to his feet “we will leave you to discuss the offer; come Peter, I know an excellent little hostelry where we can get some decent food and they serve an excellent claret”. With that Pompous took PD by the arm and led him out of the back door.

“I think we need another vote” said Red Leader “all in favour of a re-match raise your hands” There was a whoosh of air as 6 hands shot up so fast they were invisible to the naked eye.

The rest of the evening was spent speculating on what the following year would bring, Dave dipped into the MD fund and ordered pizza for everyone and the meeting broke up in the early hours of the morning with the Drowners making their way to their respective homes in a state of euphoria.

The next day Peter arranged with Mark Downes that the match would, once again, be fished on Bonsai in a fortnights time; he had already confirmed with Neil that the breakfast would be free gratis again.

The following two weeks were a solid round of practice and all of the team, with the exception of Red Leader had took the time off work to concentrate on the match. The only changes, other than CM taking Breac’s place, was the inclusion of Grappenall57 who would act as bank runner. This had been a popular decision as GP57 was an experienced match angler and had even won a canal match at the age of 16, ensuring that he could slip into the team at a minutes notice if anyone was unable to fish.

The final meeting of the Drowners was held the night before the match and Peter announced

“We are fishing bread on the bomb”

“What’s the backup plan” asked Red Leader

“There isn’t one; stick to the bomb” replied Peter

“That’s stupid” snorted Dave “we have to have a backup

“Look Dave, all our practice, most of which you missed, shows that the bomb and bread is THE method, it may take the fish 4 hours to turn on, but that is all we need. Don’t deviate, in fact don’t even take a pole with you” he warned

Dave looked helplessly at the others; “what do you lot think”

“We have total faith in our Captain” said Neil

The day of the match dawned bright and clear, the forecast was for a bright sunny day with a slight breeze. The Drowners turned up to the same reception as before, the speakers blaring out the theme from Rocky and the crowds excitedly waving their banners, the Neenies and the Owlets were out in force and everywhere you looked you could see T shirts about greasing bristles and “fook” being heard over the hubbub of the crowd.

The trade stands were, once again, out in force and were already doing a roaring trade; apart from one, which was deserted and under a heavy tarpaulin chained down and padlocked. There were even more officials from overseas teams, word had gone around and they were excitedly contemplating what the Drowners would get up to this time.

The Drowners started tucking into their free brekkies and Neil looked incredulously at Peter “are you really going to eat all of that” he asked, looking at Peter’s triple big breakfast.

“It’s free” said Peter, through a mouthful of 3 sausages and a whole fried egg, as if that was answer enough.

The arrival of the England squad was met by the usual catcalls and boos from the partisan crowd and instead of the National Anthem, the speakers blasted out the music to the great escape, made famous by the band that accompanied the England footie squad.

In addition to Downsey and his anglers there were also 6 large chaps, dressed in camouflage one piece suits, with them.
They all went outside for the coin toss, “Heads” said Peter as Keith Arthur tossed the coin high in the air. “Heads it is” said Keith

“I will let you choose” said Peter magnanimously

“Evens” said Mark, unable to believe his luck; evens gave them an extra island to fish to.

The pegging was on the same platforms as before and once it had been sorted went as follows:-

1) Wise Owl
2) Will Raison
3) Red Leader
4) Sean Ashby
5) Neil of the Nene
6) Callum Dicks
7) Phoenixicus
8) Alan Scothorne
9) Carpmagic
10) Des Shipp
11) Peter
12) Steve Hemingray

The Drowners, with their simple set up, were ready in record time and they looked on as Sean Ashby donned a Chubby Brown flying cap with the leather sides let down to protect his neck. Alan and Will both screwed in earplugs so that they could not get drawn into conversation and Des Shipp, still looking pale and drawn from his time at the Betty Ford clinic played his ‘subliminal’ tape telling him that he was in control of his own destiny and did not require artificial stimulation.

What was disconcerting was the fact that the men in the camouflage suits were standing ominously close to each odd peg, not speaking but exuding an air of menace, suddenly the speakers outside the café blared into life with the music from Peaky blinders :-

‘On a gathering storm comes a tall handsome man. In a dusty black coat with a red right hand’

The air chilled by a couple of degrees and even the breeze stilled, as Trogg with Georgie Boy sat on his shoulder strode through the crowd like master and blaster from Mad Max. The red right hand was courtesy of a local ‘chancer’ who had asked Trogg for a £5 parking fee at the entrance.

Trogg rumbled up to the Camo man behind Wisey on peg 1.

“Move” he snarled

“No” came the reply.

Suddenly Camo man’s feet were 2 foot off the floor as Trogg held him aloft.

“Can I eat this one?” he asked Georgie Boy.

“Not yet” replied Georgie; “just put him back into the crowd but if he comes back you can eat a bit of him”

Trogg flexed his arm and Downsey’s security man hurtled back into the crowd, surprisingly all the other security faded away and stayed in the café for the rest of the match.

On the whistle 6 poles were shipped out and 6 bombs landed against the various islands. At peg 1 Albert whined across to Winston on peg 3, both of them had been subject to a new rule and were tethered by a 10 metre rope to ensure no repeats of previous behaviour.

“Don’t fret mate” said WO “we are playing this one by the book, you just relax and see if you can catch any rats.”

At the mention of rats, Albert pricked up his ears excitedly and looked quizzically at Wisey. “All right, a chew stick for everyone you catch” said Wisey

Albert then commenced to clear every rat from his 10 metre radius semi-circle.

England started at a tremendous pace and after an hour were miles ahead of their rivals who had, in fact, yet to catch.

Red Leader sat on peg 3 totally bemused, he was staring at a static tip whilst Will and Sean were catching on a regular basis. The England squad had been rattled by the loss of their security which had been bought in, at great personal expense by Mark, to ensure no skulduggery, but as the Drowners seemed so subdued they had started to relax and fish to their potential. Dave’s bemusement was broken by the sight of Grappenall57 making his way along the bank pulling a huge silver cart; he reached Dave’s peg and asked “Tea, Coffee”?

“Coffee please” said Dave, marvelling at the contraption pulled by GP57. It was a state of the art coffee and tea machine with boiling water provided via a portable gas bottle.

“Latte, Cappuccino, Americano” asked GP57

“Latte” please said Dave

Seconds later Dave had the best cup of Coffee he had ever tasted.

“By lad, that’s good, keep em coming and I will settle up, for the whole team, at the end”

“Okay” said GP “you can see my partner he deals with pricing and finances”

“Who’s your partner” asked Dave

“Trogg” replied GP over his shoulder as he made his way to WO on peg 1.

Dave’s world crumbled as he realised that he would, for the first time ever, have to pay a bank runner.

After 2 hours Mark Downs made a quick tour of his team and ascertained that they all had at least 20 pounds of fish each, once satisfied he put two fingers in his mouth and whistled. At every, even, peg a barrage of floating casters was unleashed.

Every England man had a gallon of floaters and the instruction to keep feeding once they heard Marks whistle. The effect was startling, fish immediately started topping all over the lake and the drift meant that the floaters were going over the Drowners pegs and lifting all of their fish off the bottom.

One of the crowd asked Mark what he was playing at.
“Tactics my friend” explained Mark “We knew that they were fishing the bomb and I decided that once we had 20lbs per man we could afford to make sure that there was nothing on the bottom for them to catch”.

“But you’re spoiling your own swims as well” said the spectator

“That’s why we waited until now, they will never catch up, it’s what called a master plan”

“How did you know they would fish the bomb” asked an AT reporter, notebook in hand.

“One of their members defected” said Mark smugly “a few tenner’s soon got the info”.

This conversation took place behind Red Leaders swim and he heard every detail.

“I’ll kill him” he thought menacingly; he knew Breac had been upset but he never thought that he would betray them. He dejectedly gestured to GP57 for a refill and resigned himself to kissing their sponsorship deal goodbye.

In the crowd PG stood, resplendent, in his suit; whipping his fedora off his head and ignoring the gasps of admiration that went up from the crowd he waved it at Wise Owl.

Wisey immediately started to sing……”Come fly with me, let’s fly let’s fly away” he warbled in a dodgy baritone.

As one, the Drowners, with the exception of Red leader, produced fly rods and proceeded to cast single floaters towards the islands.

Pandemonium broke out “we had this last time, it’s against the rules” screamed Downsey.

“I think you will find that it’s not” said a familiar voice, Mark whirled round to be faced with none other than Breac, “I sorted it out, with Neil, before the match, when I was giving special training to the Drowners and he made a rule change stating that fly gear is ok as long as it is a natural bait on the hook”

Mark gulped “you were a double agent” he gasped

“You didn’t really think I would betray the Drowners did you?”

“But it was you who suggested feeding floaters to stop them catching on the bomb”

“That’s what’s called a masterplan” grinned Breac who had overheard the conversation with the spectator.

Mark lost it “you dirty double crossing b*****d” he yelled and pulled back his fist to plunge it into the face of the honorary Scotsman.

The next second his face contorted in agony as a vice like grip clamped on to his hand and he was rendered powerless as Trogg twisted him round, “we don’t want any unpleasantness sunshine, do we?” then giving Mark a shake he let him go and watched as the broken man collapsed into a puddle of his own urine.

“Can I eat this one” Trogg said, hopefully, to Georgie Boy

“This one would upset your tummy” replied GB lets go and see GP57 and get you a Hobnob”.

As they walked away they passed the mystery stand, which had sat all match under a tarpaulin, just as 4 smartly dressed young men pulled off the Tarp. A huge banner proclaimed ‘Hardy Fly Tackle as used by the mighty Drowners’. Within minutes they were inundated by wannabe Drowners buying the gear used by their hero’s.

Whilst all this was going on the Drowners were, through Breacs expert coaching, fishing like a well-oiled machine and the, self-sabotaged England team could only watch in anguish as pegs on each side of them caught fish after fish.

The crowd were going wild, but, on peg 3 Red Leader sat wondering what the hell was going on, he was not privy to the fly fishing tactic and was still fishless.

He looked at Winston “what can I do mate” he asked.

Winston cocked his head and through a mixture of barks and whines managed to get a name through to his master. RL took out his phone, accessed the forum and sent a PM to Dave Spence, it read:-

Hi Dave, I will give you a Hoodie and free site supporter status for life if I don’t record a DNW. Love Dave.

Dave pressed send, his tip wrapped around and his rod was nearly pulled off the rest as a kamikaze carp hooked itself. Dave picked up his rod and the fish swam straight towards him and jumped into his landing net, shedding the hook as it did so. Dave put it into the keepnet and recast as soon as his bomb hit the water it went again and another carp was soon in the net alongside its companion.

The whistle sounded and the usual tense wait ensued, Peter sauntered over to Red Leader whilst they waited for the scales,

“sorry for the deception” he said

“I’m still not sure what happened” said Dave

“it was staged from the start, everyone was in on it, but we couldn’t trust you”

“Why not”

“Because you can’t bluff” said Peter “if you knew the plan you would have inadvertently let it out and there was too much at stake”

The scales arrived and Dave weighed in 6 carp for 52lb 12oz, all caught in the last 20 minutes.

The crowd gathered around the café entrance as Keith Arthur made the announcement

England 162lb 4oz

Maggotdrowners 712lb 13oz

The Drowners had not only won the match but they had annihilated the opposition through sheer tactics and skill and no one could deny that they had been wonderful ambassadors for the sport.

“Can I make a correction there please” asked Peter Drennan striding up to Keith. “That should have been the DRENNAN DROWNERS!!!

The team were once again carried around Bonsai, Rodring in full kilt, with blue face, leading the procession and screaming “freeeeeeeeedom!!!!”

The celebrity jig carried on after they had been pitched in to the water and Peter once again looked for feeders on the bottom.

“You don’t need to do that now” advised Neil “we are sponsored”

“By god you’re right” beamed Peter and hand in hand they climbed out of the water and went in search of Peter Drennan.

Standing in the margins Dave found himself face to face with Breac,

“Does this mean you are coming back?”

“Not sure” replied Breac “are you going to stop being the advertisers bitch?”
 

Peter

'Mugger'
Staff member
Site Supporter
Joined
Sep 18, 2001
Messages
20,518
The Drowners See Red.
Deep in the bowels of the Kremlin is a secret room, the door is solid oak, identifiable only by the discreet brass numbers, 42, screwed to the centre; this is the office where ‘sensitive’ meetings are carried out. Behind the door, the walls are panelled with maple, there is a small table with six chairs arranged, three on each side. At the head of the table, and dominating the room is a massive, ornately carved, mahogany desk. This room was seldom mentioned and if it was, it was in hushed tones, rumours abounded about fewer people coming out than going in and there was also talk about screams being heard, late at night as some poor soul was being questioned.

Today the room contained only 4 men; behind the desk sat the president, Vladimir Putitin, and he stared icily at the three men in front of him. Ivan Ripaknackeroff, head of security, squirmed under the cold gaze of his leader; Ivan was a big, bear of a man with a black eye patch and a shiny steel hook in place of a left hand. The hand had been lost during a vicious fight in a Moscow brothel, the eye, and a testicle, had been lost during the first day he was fitted with the hook.

At the side of Ivan sat Leo Liarlotski, head of international propaganda, his job was to issue statements to counteract what was being stated in the western media in order to show Russia in a positive light. The third was Josef ‘the mole’ Molevinich, chief of intelligence, nothing happened in the Kremlin without him knowing about it and he was always consulted by Leo before any statements were issued.

“Our athletes are the laughing stock of the world” said Vlad, his voice ominously low, “attempted ban at the last Olympics, banned from the winter games. Do you have answers for me comrades” he concluded, his voice becoming even more menacing.

“We have doctors working on a new serum which is untraceable and hides our ‘training methods’” replied the Mole nervously.

“Timescale?” snapped Mr Putitin.

“Olympics 2020” stammered Josef, he knew this would cause a backlash and braced himself in readiness.

“2020…..2020” purred the president “that is a long time to work in the salt mines comrade; could it not be sooner?”

The Mole recognised the threat and hastily weighed up his options.
“I will ensure it is completed within 3 months Comrade President”

“Good” came the reply “and next time comrade; make sure you give me the correct information straight away. There is always room for wives and children in the mines”, was the chilling reply.

Leo cleared his throat nervously “Comrade President” he began “In my job as propaganda minister, I make it my business to read as much as I can from the west”

“Go on” replied Vlad

“I think I have found an event where we could compete without any need for medicinal help”

“Continue” urged Vlad, leaning forward slightly.

“I have come across an online blog by someone named Neil of the Nene”

“And what does comrade Of the Nene say” asked Ivan, absentmindedly scratching his chin with his hook.

“He is in a fishing team called ‘The Drennan Drowners’ and they are beating all competition in England, including their national team” explained Leo “we could challenge them to a competition here and we would not need any artificial stimulation”

“How do you compete at fishing?” asked the president “Is the winner the one who catches the tastiest fish?”

“No comrade, they have long sticks, called poles, which have line attached by a piece of elastic” Leo explained, the others started to giggle.

“They catch fish with their little hooks” The giggling turned into laughter.

“They keep them in a net and weigh them at the end” The laughter increased.

“Then they let them swim away”

This last statement resulted in full blown hysteria, President Putitin was banging his head on the desk, The Mole had tears streaming down his face and Ivan had tipped over backwards getting his hook wedged in the back of Leo’s trousers and dragging him over with him. The whole scene was reminiscent of the Cadburys smash advert of the 70’s. (available on you tube, I couldn’t put the link in D.S.)

Once they had composed themselves, it was agreed that an invitation would be sent to the Drowners, via Neil’s blog, and news of the match would be distributed to the world’s media via Leo’s office.

“Do our people have the sticks with elastic?” asked Comrade Putitin.

“I have a cousin in a place called Ingoldmells in England, a man by the name of Dodger Sergei; he lives in England as an illegal immigrant under an assumed name. He has made a fortune exploiting the capitalists’ greed and their insatiable desire to be seen to have the best. He deals in these sticks and all of the other equipment” said the Mole “I will tell him to send what we need”.

“Comrades” said Vlad “Do not fail in this”. And with that he walked out leaving his three senior officers breathing a sigh of relief.

“We just need to find 6 people who do this sort of fishing” Stated Ivan

“I know a village where they do this” said Joseph confidently.

“I will contact comrade Of the Nene” said Leo.

“And I will ring Dodger” replied Joseph

The three men then went their separate ways.

“I tell you Peter, it was not a wind-up” stammered Neil into the phone.

“Why would the Russian, minister of propaganda be challenging the Drowners” asked Peter reasonably.

“I don’t know” said Neil, “but he sounded genuine”

“What did you tell him?”

“I gave him Pompous Gits number”

“Let’s just wait and see then” said Peter “see you at Hallcroft tomorrow”

“Okay mate” said Neil hanging up.

Meanwhile in a small office on the East coast of England a scruffy blond lad answered a telephone

“There’s no one called Dodger here mate” he exclaimed

The other man in the room started visibly at the name and he grabbed the phone off his employee;

“Who are you after me duck” he said brightly, whilst gesturing to the other lad to go and make some tea.

As soon as he had the office to himself he switched to Russian “Why are you calling me here?” he hissed, “no one in this corrupt capitalist cesspit calls me Dodger”.

“I am sorry comrade” replied Joseph “I was not thinking”

“Go and wait fer’t tea to mash duck, then nip round’t corner and fetch some fig rolls”. This was aimed at the young lad who had returned to the office while the kettle was boiling.

“OK boss” he replied.

When the door had closed behind him Dodger spoke, again in Russian;

“Sorry about that comrade, I had to clear the office”

“What was that language you were speaking” asked Josef

“It is called Nottingham slang comrade, very tricky to learn”

“I will get to the point” said Joseph, “we are challenging the Drennan Drowners to a fishing competition and we need the sticks with elastic”

“You need Poles” laughed Dodger

“No comrade, we only need Poles to work in the salt mines; we need fishing sticks with elastic”.

“I know what you want Comrade, they are called Poles” explained Dodger patiently.

“I need six sets”

“300,000 Roubles” stated Dodger; the capitalist, western, way immediately taking over when there was a sniff of a sale.

“Whaaat” exclaimed Joseph “that is 6 months wages for the average worker”

“Look comrade” said Dodger “I have to be seen to be making a profit or my cover could be blown and I have no wish to return, the life is so easy here. Now; you have about 30 seconds to make your mind up before my assistant returns”

“We have a deal” said Joseph resignedly

The door to the office opened as the young assistant came in with the fig rolls and 2 mugs of tea.

“Okay me duck, I will get em in’t post” said Dodger, reverting back to English before hanging up.

At the other end of the line Joseph stared at the dead telephone and wondered how he was going to explain the bill to president Putitin.

The following week saw the Drowners, once again, assembled around Peter’s kitchen table the only exception being Breac, who was still refusing to come back over the advertisers argument he’d had with Red Leader. One other noticeable change was the layout of Peter’s kitchen table, in the centre was a decanter of single malt whisky and a dozen lead crystal tumblers and a big pot of, ‘proper strength’ tea.

Since Peter and Neil had become fully sponsored they had been cleaning up all over the country, both had qualified for Fish O and had won several huge opens and, as they were sharing winnings had become very wealthy. The only thing that was preventing their call up for full international honours was their ongoing relationship with the Drowners. The two defeats and his personal humiliation at the hand of Trogg and Georgie Boy sat heavily with Mark Downes and he flatly refused to include Neil and Peter in his team unless they quit the Drowners; something neither of them would ever do.

“Right lads” said Pompous helping himself to a whisky “I will get straight to the point; we have been challenged to fish against a team in Moscow”

The Drowners looked at him in disbelief.

“Is that an acronym for Boston” asked Red Leader hopefully.

“No” replied Pomp, “Moscow as in Russia”

“Bloody hell” said Dave, pouring everyone a scotch, the fact that Peter didn’t cringe was almost as surprising as the news that they had just received.

“I doubted it myself” continued PG “so I contacted the Russian embassy and they confirmed it, an announcement will be released by the press tomorrow”.

“I didn’t know they fished in Russia” said Phoenixicus

“They’ve got to eat” said Wise Owl with an evil grin “where’s the venue”

“The Moscow canal” said Pomp “we will be relying on your experience Grapp”

GP57 squirmed under the pressure, and he desperately tried to recall the facts, in Benny Ashurst’s book, relating to canals. “No problem” he said with far more confidence than he felt.

“When do we go” asked Neil

“Three weeks on Saturday” replied Pomp.

They spent the next hour talking about Russia in general and debating whether to draft in extra help for Trogg and Georgie Boy as it was felt that the Russians would try some sort of skulduggery. It was decided, however, that the Drowners wrote the book on skulduggery, so Trogg and GB would be perfectly capable of managing on their own.

The following day the papers had gone mad, “Drowners see Red” proclaimed AT, East v West screamed the Anglers Mail. Even the tabloids had got hold of it and a picture of several redundant ‘Darts Girls’ appeared; the girls posing with Pompous, Trogg and GB under the headline ‘We’ve ditched the darts in favour of the Drowners long poles’. Wisey was furious that he had not been included in this picture and only Peter Drennan’s promise to get him a return on ‘the chase’ placated him.

Over in a little village, on the outskirts of Moscow, six ‘anglers’ met with Joseph the Mole to inspect their ‘sticks with elastic’ which had been shipped over by Dodger Sergei. The poles were unwrapped and the anglers ‘telescoped’ the sections through from the butt and attached the universal top two’s. Unfortunately, as they were using the poles as telescopic, the 16 metres had been reduced to around 9 metres. The anglers, however, were delighted as these poles, even at 9 metres were longer and lighter than the bamboo ones they were currently using,

“these are wonderful comrade” said Vitas, the captain of the Russian team.

“President Putitin has spared no expense comrade” replied the Mole, thankfully.

An impromptu session, carried out on a small pond on the outskirts of the village, revealed the first problem. Jorg, Vitas’s deputy hooked a catfish of about 4lb, the elastic stretched out of the 9 metres of pole and there was no way that the fish could be reached with a landing net. The whole pole was hauled back and Jorg got hold of the elastic and yanked, unfortunately the hook pulled and the wire stem of the cork bobber he was using impaled itself firmly in his forehead, much to the amusement of his comrades.

It was decided, in the interests of safety; that their line should be tied direct to the end of the pole; that incident comprised the whole of their strategy, planning and practice and they put away their new gear in readiness for the match in two weeks’ time.

Back in England, however, the Drowners were getting as much practice as they could on the Northern canal circuit. Banded pellets and Corn had been swapped in favour of 20’s, maggots and soft elastics. The older Drowners were loving it,

“proper fooking fishing” shouted WO to Carpmagic during practice on the Erewash canal in Long Eaton, CM looked boot-faced as he, once again, doubted his decision to join the Drowners and subsequently wave goodbye to an international career; he had to admit though, there was never a dull moment with WO around.

Trogg and GB had been fishing the practices and proved themselves to be very competent anglers, to the extent that Peter had asked them to fish in place of Red Leader and Phoenixicus who, by their own admission, were not ‘natural’ canal anglers.

“We can’t fish” said Trogg “We are too busy looking after you lot”.

“We can take care of ourselves” said Peter

“So if some big Russians attack you, you will fight them off” laughed Trogg

“Fair point” said Peter, and the matter was never raised again.

Saturday morning, the week before the match, the Drowners were sat in the departure lounge at Heathrow waiting to board their Aeroflot flight to Moscow. There was an excitement within the team and all talk was on what their reception would be like in the communist citadel.

“I think we will be treated like royalty” said Neil hopefully.

“Doubt it” said Trogg “I think they will make us suffer all week to try and put us off”

“No way” said Phoenixicus “the communists are honourable, they believe in equality”.

“You should go to spec-savers mate” said Red Leader “and get the rose tint off your lenses”.

“I think we will be comfortable, no more” said Pomp, taking off his Fedora and attracting gasps of admiration from several female passengers.

Their flight was called and, with the light hearted bantering continuing, the Drowners shuffled onto the plane in readiness for the three and a half hour flight to the Red Capital.

“Bloody Hell” exclaimed PG “I’ve just received a tweet from Donald Trump”.

“What does it say” asked GP57

“Good luck Drowners, tell Wise Owl to Fook it up em!! PS tell him that he is welcome in my country anytime, even with his record”

“Wow” said WO, “USA here we come”

“God help em” said GB.

As they made their way to their seats a beautiful stewardess made a bee line for CarpMagic, “let me elp you wiz your bag” she purred seductively through bright red lips. “We will be above a mile high soon” she whispered “I come back later?” she said with a suggestive wink.

“If you like” stammered CM, who was not used to female attention.

“By lad” you’re in there” said Red Leader with a touch of jealousy.

“What do you mean?” asked CM

“You are going to join an exclusive club” said Peter

“Do they have their own waters?” said CM hopefully.

“There’ll be no shortage of wetness” said WO howling with laughter.

Half an hour later, with the plane cruising at 30,000 feet, the stewardess appeared at CM’s side; “I ave ze problem at the back, could you elp me pleeze?”

She led CM by the hand to the back of the plane.
The other Drowners looked at each other incredulously,

“the lucky so and so” said Peter.

It’s a good job she didn’t ask me” said Neil.

“Why is that?” asked Trogg.

“A refusal might offend” replied Neil

“You would not refuse”

“I would, I am faithful to my Wife”

“Only cos you’ve not packed your Viagra” snorted WO

“So uncouth” muttered Neil

The interchange was interrupted by the return of CM, some 40 minutes later, his hair was dishevelled, his string vest was over the top of his shirt and his ‘George’ label underpants were sticking out of the back pocket of his jeans.

“By god” said GP57 “a man barely alive”

“We can rebuild him” continued Phoenixicus.

The Drowners collapsed in hysterical laughter.

“ Well done lad” spluttered WO “now you’ve got the cellophane off, it will be sore for a couple of days but at least now you know what it is for”

“I think I’m in love” said CM dreamily; he now knew he had made the right decision when he had sacrificed England for the Drowners.

The rest of the flight was uneventful and they landed, in bright sunshine, at Sheremetyevo airport. They collected their gear and made their way through customs. Trogg, who was delayed with a broken strap on his suitcase, was a few minutes behind the others; as he entered the customs hall he was surprised to see Neil in an altercation with 4 uniformed customs officers.

“It is a laptop containing my blog” he heard Neil explaining to one of the officers.

“What is blog?” snarled the officer.

“It is where I give people advice” stated Neil

“So it is propaganda” replied the officer

“No” said Neil “it is advice and useful tips”

“In Russia we do not give tips, I must confiscate this” said the officer snatching Neil’s laptop out of his hands.

Neil tried to grab it back but the officer back-handed him, sending him crashing into Peter, the Drowners all looked on as Trogg calmly walked up to the officer, “mine” he stated, grabbing the laptop and passing it back to Neil. The officer made a grab for Trogg, but was sent flying through the air landing amongst a stack of suitcase trolleys; then all hell broke loose.

The officer picked himself up and he, along with his 3 colleagues launched themselves on the Drennan security man; 30 seconds later the 4 customs men were lying on the floor. One sat choking with a bruised larynx, one was sprawled against a post with his leg twisted at an unnatural angle, one was unconscious and the other was doubled over, trying to breathe through cracked ribs. The whole altercation had lasted less than 30 seconds, “oh fook” whispered all the Drowners as one.

“Stop” said a voice like a bag of shovels.

Trogg whirled around and came face to face with a big man who had a shiny steel hook in place of a left hand and a black leather eye patch and he was accompanied by 6 armed guards. Trogg was a hard man but he knew he was no match for the 6 AK 47’s trained on his chest. He raised his hands, two of the men came forward and led him outside to a waiting car with blacked out windows; the car sped off leaving the Drowners standing in stunned silence.

“Welcome the Drennan Drowners” boomed Ivan Ripaknackeroff, as if nothing had happened.

“Thank you, I am Pompous Git” said Pomp stepping forward “where is our security man being taken”

“Don’t worry” boomed Ivan “he will be ok” and he picked PG off the floor in a huge bear hug.

Without the ‘muscle’ Georgie suddenly felt very vulnerable and he huddled behind Wise Owls legs as they followed Ivan out to a waiting van; their gear being loaded into an armoured troop carrier that followed behind.

Fifteen minutes later and the Drowners were ensconced into a small, but comfortable, hotel and PG immediately called a meeting in his room. They had not spoken on the journey through the city, they were still in a state of shock, but now they all started voicing their concerns.

“what will happen to him”, “like Leeds on a Saturday fooking night”, “good job I didn’t join in, it would have been a massacre”; the last comment, from Phoenix, stunned everyone into silence.

Peter was the first to find his voice “Don’t be a Pratt Phoenix” he snapped “what could you have done?”

“Bled all over em” scoffed WO; the seriousness of the situation stymied the usual laughter that this comment would normally have caused.

“What do we do Pomp” asked Red Leader

“Not sure Dave” he replied “I suppose I had better call the Embassy”

“They will never find him” stated Neil, “this is the sort of thing that you hear on the news; we will probably never see him again”
This last statement caused GB to burst into tears and he sat on PG’s bed hugging him-self and rocking back and forth.

“Why the long faces” asked Trogg as he walked into the room sporting a huge grin.

“TROGGY!!” screamed GB launching himself at his friend and wrapping his arms and legs round him in a full blown tree frog hug.

“Steady mate” said Trogg peeling GB’s arms and legs away before gently lowering him to the floor, “I’m ok”

“Did they rough you up?” asked Phoenix excitedly “did you get some rubber truncheon?”

“Why would that happen” asked Trogg

“You were arrested by the KGB” said GP57 “what else would we think”

“I wasn’t arrested” replied Trogg and he went on to tell them that he had been taken to the Kremlin where he had met with President Putitin and been offered a job as ‘deputy to Ivan Ripaknackeroff’ the chief of Kremlin security. He said anyone that could take out 4 of his customs men in less than a minute would be a valuable asset.

“Money was good” he added “4000 a week and a suite in the Kremlin, with jobs for Tank and Dian thrown in”

“You do realise that 4000 Roubles is about 50 quid” said Neil, pressing buttons on his laptop.

“You’re joking” exclaimed the big fella “the chiselling crook; I’d better tell him that I’ve changed my mind”

The others looked at him in horror; “you weren’t seriously considering it said GB” tears welling up again.

“Course not little buddy” lied Trogg, tousling GB’s head affectionately.

“Right then” said PG “I suggest we find out where they have put our gear and we check it over before dinner”

A quick call to reception revealed that their tackle was being stored in the basement and the team were welcome to go and check. The basement of the hotel was huge and along one wall were seven cubicles each containing an individual set of tackle; 6 anglers plus one reserve. The cubicles also contained a workbench complete with magnifying light and a professional looking hook tyer.
The Drowners set about checking their gear and making spare rigs, Georgie Boy, who had been inspecting one of the cubicles, gestured over to Trogg “there is a camera in each cubicle” he whispered.

Trogg nodded and went over to WO; putting his finger over his lips to stop Wisey from speaking he took off the cap, emblazoned with 2 crossed machete’s and the caption ‘No Fooking Prisoners’, that WO was wearing and hung it over the tiny lens that was partially hidden in the panelling of the cubicle. In silence, the rest of the team followed suit and hung their headgear over the lenses; in a room in the Kremlin, 7 screens went blank. Ivan cursed under his breath,

“Don’t worry” said Leo “we didn’t know what we were looking for anyway”

Two hours later, gear checked and accounted for, the Drowners trudged into the dining room and young Russian waitresses came forward with bowls of a reddish coloured soup

“What is this” said Neil, who was trying to adopt a healthy diet.

“Borscht” replied the waitress “Beetroot soup”

“Hey it’s not bad exclaimed Dave”

“Quite flavoursome” agreed PG

“It is a national dish of Russia” said Phoenixicus “it started out during the revolution……” he began to pontificate.

“Shut the fook up and just eat it” snarled WO.

The main course consisted of Chicken cooked with mini beetroots, accompanied by beetroot mash and pickled beetroot puree.

“I could murder a kebab” said Dave

“Shhh” said Peter “they will bring you beetroots on a skewer”

The one thing that they all agreed on, however, was the quality; and quantity of the vodka. As soon as their glasses were empty a beautiful waitress appeared and gave them a refill.

“This is the life” exclaimed CarpMagic; patting a passing waitress on the bottom. Since his escapade with the stewardess he had become far more confident and was actually trying to chat up the waitresses.

PG took him to one side, “look lad” he started “I am not going to tell you how to live your life, but I will give you some advice. Don’t mess with the local lasses, you don’t know who they are and you could find yourself taken away, just like Trogg but without a happy ending”.

“Okay” replied CM “I will wait till I get home to practice my new skills”

“Good lad” said PG relieved that he didn’t have to worry about an international incident.

When dinner was finally finished the Drowners floated up to their rooms, on a cloud of high octane vodka fumes and settled down for the night.

The next morning they assembled around the breakfast table, nursing an assortment of hangovers, the only exception being Neil, who had drank very little and was still in his room working on his blog.

“What would you like for breakfast” smiled the waitress

“Ten Nurofen please” groaned Grappenall57. “Each” added Peter, who was not used to drinking.

“Would you like the full English?” asked the waitress

“Now you’re talking” said GB “Full English all round please”

“Okay, help yourselves to drinks” she said indicating large

pitchers of water, Orange and Cranberry; as well as tall pots of tea and coffee.

Neil arrived, lap top under his arm, and, pouring himself a glass of water took a long draught, he immediately started to choke, his eyes watered and he dropped his laptop onto the floor.

“Aaaaarrrggh” he exclaimed “what is it”

The other Drowners, who had already tried the water, collapsed into hysterical laughter.

“It’s vodka mate” explained Peter “they serve it at every meal”.

“What sort of heathen place serves alcohol at breakfast” sniffed Neil, retrieving his laptop from the floor.

“I think it’s quite civilised” said Trogg taking a big swallow from the pint glass he was holding.

“Yeah but you’re an animal” scoffed Phoenixicus

“Can I eat him Georgie?”

“No mate; not yet, wait until after the match”

“I’ll look forward to it” said Trogg

Phoenixicus paled under the look that Trogg cast him and he knew in his heart of hearts that he hadn’t heard the last of this exchange.

“Have you seen the news headlines” asked Neil opening his laptop, fortunately unharmed, after being dropped.

‘Disgraceful Drowners’ led the headline in the Daily Mirror under the headline was a picture of Trogg holding a customs officer above his head. The story went on to state that Trogg had attacked the custom’s officers without any provocation and it quoted a statement from the Kremlin alleging that the officer had been attacked for ‘merely taking an interest in Neil of the Nene’s blog’. The statement continued , “As usual, the communist government are the epitome of reason and we realise that the English visitors were stressed due to their long journey and the matter is now closed; there will be no formal charges against the Drowners security man.

“But that is total lies” wailed Phoenixicus

“Can’t be” said Red Leader “the communists are honourable”

“Smart ass” sniffed Phoenix.

“Neil, can I get a copy of that picture please?” asked Trogg

“Certainly” replied Neil

“It will look good on my CV”

Neil sighed realising then, just how far removed his old world of high finance was, compared to the younger generation of today.

“Can I have one as well” piped up GB

The rest of the team looked at him suspiciously and GB pulled his sleeve down to hide the ‘TROGG & GB BFF’ tattoo on the inside of his forearm. “I just want a memento of the event” he said unconvincingly.

After breakfast the team were taken to a large lake for a practice session,

“I thought we were on a canal” asked Peter

“We are” replied Pompous

“Don’t look like it”

“I will make a call”

A big black sedan pulled up at that moment and Ivan, Leo, Joseph and Vitas got out.

“Good morning comrade Drowners” he boomed “is everything to your satisfaction?”

“I thought that the match was on the Moscow canal” said PG in reply

“It is”

“Why are we here then?”

“There is more fish in the lake”

“But we need to practice on the venue”

Ivan looked puzzled “why?” he asked

“We need to sort out a method” explained PG starting to become exasperated

“But you fish competitions regularly; do you not know your method yet?”

“All venues are different”

Ivan gave a great bellow of laughter “Vitas” he shouted. The Russian team captain came forward and Ivan introduced him to Pomp, the two men shook hands.

“Vitas” asked Ivan “how often do you practice fishing”

“I don’t understand comrade” Vitas replied “we fish, we catch fish, we don’t need to practice”

“See” said Ivan, as though everything was explained.

PG took Vitas to one side.

“How many different places do you fish”

“Just the pond in the village”

“What do you catch?”

“Catfish”

“Do you always fish the same way” PG was starting to understand.

“Yes, I have used same line, hook and bobber for ten years” said Vitas proudly.

“Good lord” exclaimed PG “what breaking strain line is it”
“What is breaking strain?”

“How strong is it”

“Very strong; 10 years and it has never broken.”

PG shook his head and turned back to the Drowners; “this could be dangerous lads”

“Why” asked CarpMagic nervously

“Because it looks as though this ‘team’ has no clue about competition angling, and you know what that means”

“We are going to wipe the floor with them” said GP57

“Exactly” continued PG “and if that happens I fear for our safety”

“Right” said Wisey “I suggest that CM fishes the match and leave me to run the bank”

“Why” asked Peter

WO looked a little embarrassed, his moderator training had produced a vein of reason through his psyche and he was still getting used to it. “As you know, I have spent the last couple of months going over to Poland to coach their national squad”

“And?” asked Red Leader

“I think that I should coach the Russians over the next couple of days and help them on the day as I run the bank, they are not going to beat us, even with the coaching, but it will be a little closer and at least it should help cement East West relations”
The Drowners were gobsmacked, they had never heard WO speak like this; Neil was the first to regain his composure. He walked up to Wisey, put his arms around him and said “That is a wonderful gesture, welcome to the human race”

“Fook off yer pouf!” snarled Wisey

“And he’s straight back” observed Phoenixicus.

It was agreed that WO had come up with a good plan and PG had a huddle with the three Kremlin staff and Vitas.

“Okay lads” he said “We are practicing here until Wednesday, then, on Thursday we fish the actual venue, rest day on Friday and the match on Saturday”

Wisey then told Vitas to bring his team the next morning and he would supervise a practice session for them. The four Russians said goodbye and took their leave.

The rest of the day was spent enjoying wonderful sport on the lake, all methods seemed to produce a variety of silvers, from bleak to decent roach and CM, elated with his inclusion, showed them all the way home, by catching a great net of bream on the feeder.

“Well it was a great day’s pleasure fishing” said GP57 “but we’ve learned nothing about the match.

The rest all agreed as they boarded the van to go back to the hotel.

The next day they all assembled on the banks of the lake again, the idea being to fish the feeder under the watchful eye of CM. The general consensus was that if they couldn’t practice for the match they could at least hone some of their skills.

“Here’s the opposition” observed Wise Owl as a large coach drew up. The Drowners looked on in amazement as 6 families disembarked; the Russians had all brought their wives and children and, judging by the food hampers and assorted deck chairs and blankets, they intended to make it a party with a picnic.

The Drowners introduced themselves and the Russian wives produced numerous bottles of vodka which the men insisted on having several toasts with the ‘esteemed English anglers’.

“I’m seeing three tips” moaned Peter.

“Strike at the middle one” advised RL.

“I’m going to die before Saturday, at this rate” moaned Neil

“I’ll fish for you if you do mate” said GB helpfully.

Owly was watching the Russian team in amazement as they, once again, ‘telescoped’ their new poles and tied their lines direct to the top kits.

He gathered them all together and demonstrated, using Vitas’s pole, how to set up correctly. The look on the Russian angler’s faces was a picture; they had thought the new poles were good at 9 metres but when WO showed them how to assemble them at 16 metres they were ecstatic.

Wisey, as he would not be fishing the match, gave all of his rigs to the opposition and showed them how to use them; the language barrier appearing to not be a problem and the Russians were soon hooking fish, unshipping and landing them like proper anglers.
“What the hell are these” shouted Phoenixicus pointing at two, radio controlled Drones that appeared hovering in front of the Drowners.

“Bloody spy cameras” snarled Trogg. He snatched up Peter’s landing net and deftly caught the leading drone; unfortunately, it lifted itself up, pulling the net out of Troggs hands and crashing into the bushes on an island about 30 yards out into the lake.

“My net!!” wailed Peter “I don’t have a spare”

His protestations were cut short by the other drone exploding into a ball of flame and dropping into the water. Wise owl put away his ‘Black Widow’ with a satisfied grin.

“What is that smell” asked RL as a delicious aroma of cooking wafted over to them.

“The wives are cooking the fish that have been caught” said WO taking a bite out of a huge sandwich that he was holding.

“What’s that” asked RL, the thought of free food making him salivate.

“Bleak” said WO “surprisingly tasty”

“You animal” said Dave, horrified.

“Not at all” replied WO “I’ve never had a problem with Eastern Europeans taking fish for the table”

RL was speechless, his mouth hung open as he struggled to get his head around WO last statement and when Peter walked up with a bream kebab, he thought he had lost it completely. “Not you as well” he stammered.

“When in Rome and all that” said Peter “Here, I’ve brought you one” he continued handing a sandwich to his best mate.

Red Leader looked at the sandwich in his hand, he lifted it tentatively to his lips and took a bite; the most delicious flavour assailed his taste buds and he rolled his eyes in ecstasy, “oh my god” he groaned “I’ve never tasted anything like this”.

“Yes I think we have all sold our souls to the devil this morning” said PG.

The practice session eventually evolved into a fully-fledged party, Jorg got out a Balalaika and strummed some traditional Russian folk songs and they; East and West, sang along happily, brought together by this wonderful sport of angling. There was a strong sense of camaraderie emerging and the two teams were bonding like a single unit. When Olga, Vitas’s 5 year old daughter came running up, a WO crossed machetes cap on top of her golden curls, and said “Daddies caught a big fooker;” the friendship was sealed and everyone dissolved into laughter, although Wise Owl had the good grace to look sheepish.

“We will forget the practice session tomorrow and wait until we can get on the actual venue on Thursday” said PG

“Good idea” said Peter “we should be able to walk the banks tomorrow, even if we can’t practice”

With man hugs all-round, the party broke up and the Drowners boarded the van to go back to the hotel.

The next day, Wednesday, whilst the Drowners were walking the banks of the Moscow canal; Trogg was inside the Kremlin looking for Ivan, with the intention of declining the job offer and he was hopelessly lost. He had entered the building unchallenged as all the staff thought that he was already Mr Ripaknackeroff’s number 2 so no one dared question his presence. He walked along a corridor and came to a door with the number 42 screwed to the panels. He was about to knock when he heard voices from inside; what he heard made his blood boil and he retraced his steps, found the entrance and went in search of Georgie Boy.

The other Drowners were walking the banks of the Moscow canal, very wide and featureless, the Drowners were learning nothing, no fish were topping and it was obvious from the uniformity of the bankside vegetation that it was seldom, if ever, fished.

“This is a waste of time” said Peter to PG “we may as well go and work on our rigs”

“Hang on” said WO “Peter, go and distract the guards” As soon as the Drowners had asked for permission to see the venue, although readily granted, they had been told that under no circumstances must they ‘break water’ and they had been assigned 2 armed guards; for their ‘own protection’, assured Leo Liarlotski.

Peter, Phoenixicus, red Leader and PG went and engaged the guards in conversation, English cigarettes were handed out and the guards produced the inevitable flasks of vodka. Wisey, CarpMagic and GP57 stealthily knelt down against the water’s edge. WO produced a spool of line with a 2oz plummet and a sliding locking bead. “We can at least check the depth” he muttered.

The lead was, surreptitiously swung out, and WO fed the line through his fingers.

“As it is a canal, it will probably be a consistent depth” offered CM

“You’re right mate” replied GP57 “we should only have to check this one spot”.

Wisey retrieved the line and they all gave a low whistle of amazement

“That’s about 25 feet” said Wisey.

“Back to the drawing Board with the rigs” said Neil.

They joined the others and accepted a gulp from the guard’s flasks.

After they had explained to Peter and PG what they had discovered; they agreed that they would be better off going back to the hotel and building some extra depth rigs.

The next day they had their first, and only, practice session. The work they had done the day before saved them an awful lot of time and they set about tackling their 24 feet deep swims with huge 5 gram floats and maggot hook baits. It soon became apparent that there were very few fish in evidence, only GP57 was catching with any consistency and he was putting together a string of microscopic roach using a pinkie skin on a 26 hook in conjunction with a ball of groundbait stuffed with dry crumb and a stone. His reasoning was that the stone would get it down quickly and the dry crumb would expand, causing the ball to explode into a series of small particles at the bottom of his swim. The other thing he was doing was fishing 25 feet ‘to hand’ with a length of powergum instead of elastic.

PG ordered all the team to congregate around GP57 and learn the method

“I can see why you were selected now mate” said Neil “do you mind if I explain this method on my blog?”

“Not at all” replied GP57

“Where are Georgie and Trogg” asked CM

“They said they had some security business to attend to” said PG “they will meet us at dinner”

Both teams were scheduled to attend a gala dinner, in President Putitin’s private suite, that night.

“Be careful” warned PG “if they are going to try and nobble us it will be tonight”

“Yeah” said Wisey to CM “keep it in yer pants”

CM blushed scarlet “I don’t know what you mean” he said shyly.

That night all of the Drowners, resplendent in their Drennan blazers, walked into the dining suite, “oh my god” whispered Red Leader; long tables were arranged around the walls whole roasted hogs, sheep, and chickens were on spits waiting to be carved. On the centre table huge platters of vegetables and the inevitable assortments of beetroot were arranged.

Their Russian friends were already seated and light hearted banter abounded as the Drowners took their seats.

Suddenly, everyone got to their feet, the door opened and Vladimir Putitin made his appearance, the serving girls got to work, meat was carved and set in front of the guests and they helped themselves to the veg. Everyone was having a wonderful time and when Vlad got to his feet and shouted “comrades, a presidential toast” The extra special Vodka was produced and everyone charged their glasses.

“The Party” toasted the President and everyone drained their glasses.

“Oh my goodness” choked Neil “that is strong”

“It is the Presidential vodka” explained Jorg who was sitting next to him; “very, very pure and extra strength”.

PG got to his feet, he had taken off his fedora and the serving girls had all swooned at his glorious locks, several of them leaving their contact details, on little cards, with him. PG raised his glass

“To good sportsmanship” he declared. Once again everyone drained their glasses.

The room quietened as Wisey got unsteadily to his feet and raised his glass.

“Fook em” he shouted; everyone stared at Vlad. The President looked at WO for a long second and then let out a bellow of laughter “fook em” he replied and everyone drained their glasses; much to the relief of the rest of the Drowners.

The party broke up just after midnight and the Drowners dragged themselves, wearily, back to their hotel. They were all unanimous that it had been a belter of a night and Dave was even more delighted as he had found a tray of Pork Pies, on one of the tables and he had several in a doggy bag clutched in his hand.

The next day was scheduled as a rest day and the Drowners had arranged to visit their opponent’s village. The door to PG’s suite swung open and the man himself, stood in the doorway, his suit hung immaculately off his slim frame, his Fedora was at a jaunty angle and he sniffed the fresh carnation in his buttonhole. As he walked out of his room he gave a little hop and clicked his heels together, in Eric and Ernie style. Behind him six of the serving girls lay in various states of exhaustion around his room, one was muttering dreamily, “such a long pole” she sighed before drifting off back to sleep.

The Drowners enjoyed a wonderful day at the village; they once again ate freshwater fish, drank vodka and exchanged gifts with the locals. Peter, nice man that he was, insisted on giving the Russian team a set of the deep rigs, powergum, elastic and groundbait and instructions on how to use them. Trogg and GB were, once again, conspicuous by their absence.

The morning of the match dawned and the Drowners looked in amazement at the canal; a huge grandstand had been erected on the far bank and several thousand Russians were seated and eagerly awaiting the competition. A giant screen had been erected and banks of television cameras were set up behind each peg to catch the finer points of the action; “Jesus” muttered CM “it makes Lindholme look amateurish”

A van pulled up and Trogg and GB, who had been acting very secretively for the last two days, ran over and removed 6 large parcels. “Gather round lads” said Georgie, opening the packages.
“What the hell are these” asked Dave looking at the 6 new boxes that had been revealed. The boxes were the size of the old shakey boxes but had a hole cut in the lid with a rubber ring attached around the hole, the logo on the side proclaimed ‘The Drennan Dumpster’

“Is this a joke” asked PG

“You’ve been nobbled” explained Trogg “I overheard Ivan and Putitin” discussing it in the Kremlin” he explained. “The actual participants had their drinks spiked, on Thursday night, with a slow release drug. It will take effect at 10:00am today and last for 5 hours”

“The exact time of the match” gasped Peter

“Exactly” said Trogg “and after 5 hours there will be no trace of it in your system”

“Genius” said Neil

“What will it do?” asked GP57

“You will have the shytes like you have never known” said Trogg “hence the new box; you do not need to get up and can fish without being interrupted”

“At least it won’t affect me” said WO “I’m running the bank”

“I never told them about the change” admitted PG “so Wisey has been nobbled and will be fishing and CM will run the bank”.

“There’s one other thing” said Trogg with a grin and he handed a smaller package to each of his team mates.

“I am not wearing this” said Neil holding up a large Russian skirt.

“Then you will be up on the big screen with your trousers down” said WO busily slipping on his skirt and removing his trousers and pants. “It’s quite comfortable”

The rest of the team followed suit and started to tackle up; CarpMagic was kept busy helping the individuals to set up as they were reluctant to move about too much due to their commando status.

“Look at the grandstand” said Trogg to PG.

PG looked over and saw that their friends from the village were all sat in the centre wearing ‘Neenies grease their bristles’ T shirts and ‘Fook em’ caps.

“Not a totally partisan crowd” agreed PG.

The whistle sounded and almost on cue 6 wet pharts rang out and a series of squelches and splats could be heard right over to the grandstand; it was a tremendous tribute to the scientific expertise of the communists that they were able to get the timing so spot on.

Suddenly the crowd erupted into laughter as a huge picture of Peter’s face, mid heave, flashed up on the big screen.

Wise Owl was in his element “my turds are pink” he shouted “must be all the fooking beetroot”

The crowd responded magnificently and started chanting

“fooking beetroot, fooking beetroot” as they cheered on their new comrades.

“Why are they cheering for them?” asked President Putitin.

His three trusted officers hung their heads; they just did not have an answer.

“Your plan is not working” snarled Vlad “they are catching more fish”

With that he got to his feet “my office 9:00am tomorrow” he snapped as he left.

The Russians were catching fish, courtesy of the rigs supplied by the Drowners but their inexperience was showing and they were no match for the seasoned opposition.

GP57 was showing everyone how to do it; with a fish a chuck and he had amassed about 10lb going into the last hour.

Vitas on the next peg was fishing his heart out but lacked the speed and technique of GP57. His float dipped and the pole hooped over as a big fish took the powergum to the limit of its elasticity. Vitas hung on grimly, following the fish and keeping the pole over its head; as WO had shown him.

“CM” shouted Pomp “go and help him” he ordered.

CarpMagic ran over to Vitas and gently talked him through, how to add and subtract sections dependent upon how the fish was running.

“Are you using the 26 hook” he asked

“No comrade, I changed to a bigger one and a big bait to try and catch a big fooker” Vitas admitted.

CM laughed, it was obvious that the Russians thought that a fooker was a type of fish.

With five minutes to go a huge cheer went up as Vitas slipped the net under a double figure catfish, the cheer; as big as it was, was nothing like the cheer that went up from the Drowners with regard to both volume and heartfeltedness, they were delighted that their friend had come good.

The final whistle sounded and, like someone had turned a tap, the pharts and squelches ceased as the Drowners miraculously ‘got better’.

The team had been asked to provide a cd of the national anthem so that it could be played at the presentations. Trogg, who had found a music shop whilst searching for the skirts, surreptitiously removed the cd from the PA system and replaced it with one from his pocket.

After the weigh in, top weight had gone to GP57 with Vitas, courtesy of his catfish, taking the silver medal. The Drowners had easily won the team event but that was overlooked in the light of the Russians getting an angler on the podium.

GP57 stood on the top step, gold medal round his neck and tears of pride in his eyes.

Vitas, on the next step down was in a similar position but Wise Owl who had managed third spot got the largest cheer from the crowd, they had taken him to their hearts and chants of

“supercoach, supercoach” rang out.

The union flag was slowly raised and the PA announced, in Russian,

“Please stand for the National Anthem of England”

The music started and the gravelly tones of Johny Cash rang out….

”And it burns, burns, burns; that ring of fire, that ring of fire”.

The next day all of the Russians went to the airport to see off their friends and with much hugging and tears, the intrepid team went through to the departure lounge and collapsed onto the benches.

CM who was sat beside Trogg and GB looked uncomfortable and kept squirming in his seat.

“What’s up mate” asked Trogg

“WO said my todger would be sore for a couple of days” he explained, “but it is still killing me and when I pee it is like passing razor blades”

“See the doctor when you get back, you will be ok”

Trogg sat back, a thoughtful expression on his face.

They all trudged onto the plane and the same stewardess winked at CM, “you ready for seconds” she asked.

Trogg stopped to speak to her, no one noticed the slight nod of the head towards Phoenixicus, but they all saw the two index fingers spread about 14 inches apart. To an onlooker it looked like Trogg was describing a fish he had caught, but the stewardess caught her breath and looked longingly at Phoenix.

Half an hour later, with the plane once again at 30,000 feet the stewardess walked straight by CM and stopped at the side of Phoenixicus

“I ave problem in zee back, could you elp me pleaz”.

As she led him by the hand Trogg muttered to himself “that’ll teach you to call me an animal”
 

Peter

'Mugger'
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The Drowners Face the Past.
“Start to wind it up Piers, 2 minutes to go; try to get him to say something controversial”.

Piers Morgan was sat opposite Pompous Git doing an interview for his ‘Life Stories’ programme and the time had flown by so fast that he was surprised when the voice in his earpiece had told him to start winding up.

Within the first 5 minutes Piers had realised that he was faced with an intellect far superior to his own and he had, therefore, deviated from his pre-formed questions; which had been designed to provoke PG into controversy. As a consequence they had chatted away for the best part of an hour like two mates in a pub and the viewers were already jamming the switchboard with compliments about the entertainment value of the programme.

“One final question” said Piers “Just how good are the Drowners?”

PG resplendent in a Harris Tweed 3 piece suit and his trademark fedora looked smugly down his patrician nose and replied,

“My dear Piers there has never been a team like them and there is certainly no team in England, at the moment, that would even get close to them”

“Pompous Git, manager of the Drennan Drowners; thank you very much”

“My pleasure replied PG shaking the outstretched hand of the presenter”.

“And, that’s a wrap” shouted the producer “great show Piers”

Peter Drennan walked on the set and patted PG on the back

“Well done Pomp; that should increase tackle sales”

Peter was very pleased with the deal he had with the Drowners, the cost of supplying equipment, match and bait fees and the salaries of Peter and Neil of the Nene, the two fully sponsored members of the squad, was peanuts compared to the increase in revenue that the Drowners drew in.

“Come along then Peter, I told Piers that you were taking us both to dinner and then on to Stringfellows”

Peter sighed and, reluctantly acquiesced, it was not the cost of the evening that worried him; it was the problem of keeping up with PG. He knew that once he took his hat off in the club they would be inundated with female companionship and Pomp would, invariably, invite at least a dozen of them back to his hotel suite for a party. All Peter wanted to do was soak his feet in a bowl of hot water and have a mug of Horlicks before he went to bed.

Over in Yorkshire a certain ageing match angler sat looking at the wooden box that was smashed and smoking in the corner of his living room. Coils of wire and smoking valves could be clearly seen with the remains of the Theakstons Old Peculier bottle lodged firmly inside; the label on the front of the box, which read ‘Bush 24 inch’, swung lazily in the haze like a metronome counting down the seconds before his lass burst in from the kitchen.

“You stupid gobshyte, tha can buy me anotha tellie afore coronation street tomorra. Wot the ell ya playing at anyroad, hurlin’t ‘bottle at telly?”

“Sorry Lass” said Fatha “ahl get thee another one tomorra”

“Aye, thou will and I want one of them clever uns, where’st thou don’t ave to gerrup to turn over”

“All reet” said Dennis, knowing when he was beat. “But t’was that arrogant git saying that they were unbeatable that made me do it”.
The shrill ring of the telephone interrupted the conversation and he picked it up gratefully; the last thing he wanted was a full blown row with his lass.

“Is that thee Fatha?” the caller asked.

“Aye”

“It’s Dick”

“Ayup owd lad, how’s thee doing?”

Over in another part of Yorkshire Dick sat watching the smoking remnants of his television, with a smashed bottle of Newcastle Brown sticking out of the screen.

“I’ve just watched Piers Morgan and it made me put telly through” he admitted.

“Me an all” answered Dennis

“Nip round in’t morning I’ve an idea”

“Okay” replied Dennis “But I’ll have to get our lass a new box first, so tha will have to wait till I’ve been to Cash Convertors”

“Righto” said Dick and hung up.

Fatha cleared up the mess and made his way up the stairs to try and make peace with the missus.

Back in London, Peter had been correct and the party in PG’s suite was in full swing, about a dozen of the waitresses from Stringfellows, in various stages of undress, were cavorting happily.

“Are you really a millionaire” one young lady, wearing Pomp’s fedora and nothing else, asked Peter Drennan.

“I certainly am love” Peter replied, wrapping his arm around her waist; all thoughts of Horlicks and foot soaks evaporating like the bubbles in his champagne glass.

The door suddenly burst open and, fresh from recording an episode of ‘Question of Sport’, Wise Owl burst through with an American tennis star named Serena, who had been a fellow contestant, on his arm. On his other arm was his favourite chaser, who he had bumped into whilst leaving the recording studio. WO grabbed four bottles of champagne and two tubs of strawberries before letting himself into Pomp’s sleeping quarters, the door slammed behind him, only to be opened twenty seconds later,

“how long is this room booked for Pomp?” he shouted, “please let it be for more than one night”

“It is booked for the entire week my dear boy” replied Pomp “fill your boots lad”

WO grinned happily, hung a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door and resigned himself to being tazered when he got back up north.

The next day Fatha was feeling very pleased with himself, he had got a great deal on a 28” flat screen TV and his lass had totally forgiven him; several times. He made a mental note to pick up some more ‘starch’ pills from the doc’s on his way home.

“What’s on thee mind Dick” he asked, easing himself onto one of the upturned milk crates that served as stools in Dick’s kitchen.

“I want us to put a team together to smash the Drowners”

“Who hast thou got in mind?”

“All the owd lads” replied Dick “big K, Heapsy, Kenny, Max, Deany and Thommo. We take the Drowners away from commercials and stage the match on a venue that still requires watercraft and skill”

“Are they still fishing?”

“It’s thou job to find out; see if you can get in touch and talk them in to it. I’ll find us a venue”

“All reet” said Fatha “I’ll see what I can do”

“Good lad” replied Dick “let’s show that Pompous Git how real anglers perform”

The two men shook hands and Dennis made his way home, via the medical practice, hoping his lass might still be grateful.

He got home to find her glued to a ‘catch up’ episode of Coronation Street,

“c’mere you”, she purred seductively

5 minutes later she was back to the new telly and Fatha, with a satisfied smirk on his face, started making phone calls.

It was surprisingly easy to get the old stars to ‘come out of retirement’ and fish against the Drowners; like the majority of retired champions, they all wondered if they could do it; just one more time. All of them had seen, and been incensed by, PG’s interview and they hadn’t any hesitation in accepting the call to arms.

A few days later our intrepid team were, once again, assembled round Peter’s kitchen table.
Peter Drennan set the ball rolling,

“right lads we have had another challenge extended”.

“Not fooking England again” said WO

“No” replied PD “Dick Clegg and Dennis White have put a team together”

The room fell silent, Dick and Dennis were still much respected anglers and the Drowners knew that they would be up against it. Peter got up and poured everyone a scotch,

“any idea of the team” he asked.

“Not yet” interjected Pomp “but Dick told me to expect a phone call tonight”.

Right on cue the phone rang, Peter flicked the switch to ‘speaker phone’ and Dick’s voice filled the room,

“all reet lads?” he asked

There was a chorus of greetings from the Drowners and Dick got straight to the point.

“I have a team that I think will smash the Drowners and make you look like the keen amateurs that you are”

“My good man” stated PG “as I told Piers Morgan; there is no team in the country that could take us at the moment”

“We pick the venue?”

“Certainly” replied PG imperiously

“What about a side bet?” asked Dick “or are thee not as confident as thou appear”

“What sort of bet?” asked Red Leader

“Each man has a side bet with the adjacent angler”

“How much?” asked Peter nervously, he might be fully sponsored but he didn’t like to squander his cash.

“£1000 per man” said Dick as calmly as if he was arranging a £1 on the side.

Phoenixicus mouth fell open as he stared at the telephone and the orange juice in his glass dripped onto the kitchen floor. Phoenix and Carpmagic were both on soft drinks due to the antibiotics they were taking to cure the ‘infection’ they had picked up in Russia. Phoenix had told his spouse that he had been ‘nobbled’ with Novichok and that she would, therefore, have to take the pills as well. CM had no such admissions to make and he had, since returning from Russia, infected half the lasses in his home town.

“Who is in your team mate?” asked Carpmagic

“I don’t see any harm in telling thee” said Dick “our team is:-
Kevin Ashurst
Ian Heaps
Ken Giles
Max Winters
John Dean
Dave Thomas”

There was a stunned silence broken by Grappenall 57

“Are they still with us?” he asked

PD then piped up “We accept the bet Dick; make sure you bring cash to the match?”

“You will need it” added Pompous, pompously

“Where are we fishing Mr Clegg” asked Neil of the Nene

“The Trent Embankment in Nottingham” was the chilling reply, “in three weeks’ time”.

The phone went dead and pandemonium ensued,

“A fooking river”, snapped WO “we don’t know owt about river fishing”

“It’s good on the Trent” said Red Leader “I had a few good un’s last year”

“You fished a whole week end” wailed Phoenix “there are only 5 hours in a match”

“How much” gasped Peter

“They are all superstars, we’ll get hammered” howled GP57

PG took control and brought his team together

“Look at it logically” he said, helping himself to another scotch; Peter cringed as old habits resurfaced

“Are you going to bring a bottle to the next meeting” he asked hopefully.

“They are all past their best, so providing we practice and come up with a plan, we should be OK” PG replied, deliberately avoiding Peter’s question.

“I will cover the side bets” said PD.

“I love you” sang Peter happily.

“Where is the venue” asked GP57

“Just up from the Forest ground” replied WO

“Didn’t your lot try to burn that down?” asked RL

“Fook all to do with me” said WO “it might have been my Dad though” he admitted.

The meeting broke up with the instruction to read up as much as they could on the venue.

News of the match broke the next day and the angling press had a field day, old articles were dusted off and re-ran, tackle companies launched ranges of stick floats, centre pins, and bait aprons in anticipation of demand.

‘Drowners toughest challenge yet” stated the AT

“STD is the retro stars mantra” led the Anglers Mail.

This article made great play on the comment, by Dick, that his team would; ‘Smash The Drowners’ and the paper had given away T shirts with STD emblazoned across the front.

Whilst this entire furore was going on, in deepest Stafford, Trogg eased himself into his comfortable armchair, opened a large hardback book and sighing contentedly, he settled down to read. At his feet Tank was struggling with the latest copy of Viz, his lips mouthed the words as he read about the ‘fat slags’ exploits and he wondered why he had never met a pair of girls like that at the club. Dian came in from the kitchen and placing a cup of coffee by the side of her husband she leaned over and kissed him affectionately on the cheek.

“Thanks love” he murmured absentmindedly, being totally engrossed in the book.

The next second Dian lashed out and Trogg groaned as his whole left shoulder exploded in pain and his arm went completely dead from the wrist up.

“What the hell was that for” he said glaring at his wife,

“You’re reading porn”, she screamed

“Let’s have a look Dad” said Tank hopefully.

“I am not reading porn” argued Trogg

“Don’t lie to me” replied Dian “I’ve just seen the title of that chapter; Mortimers Hole”

“You bloody bimbo” said Trogg, and then squealed again as she hit his right shoulder.

“Mortimers Hole is a famous escape tunnel in Nottingham Castle and; as we are fishing there in a fortnight, I thought I would treat us all to a hotel on the Saturday night so we could go and see it on the Sunday”

“Sorry I hit you darling” whispered Dian apologetically “does it hurt”.

“No” lied Trogg “but what did you hit me with?”

Dian raised her arm so that he could inspect the knuckle duster wrapped around her right fist.

“It’s Kevlar” she explained “not as damaging as Brass but much lighter so that you don’t lose your speed”

“Where did you get it from” asked her husband, admiring the craftsmanship.

“Tank bought it for me on mother’s day”

“Good call son” said Trogg approvingly.

Upstairs B’Lanna laid on her bed busily engaged in a face-book conversation, what she was hearing made her mouth tighten in anger and her eyes glittered dangerously. Ending the conversation, she switched off her phone and sat thinking.

“Aha, and shiver me timbers” said the voice of Captain Jack Sparrow “you need a plan”.

“Your plan needs to be cunning and brutal; use your feminine wiles” whispered Bellatrix Lestrang huskily.

“Fook em up proper Gal” screamed Ozzy

B’Lanna grinned to herself as she listened to the three voices in her head and she made her way downstairs to see why mum was beating up Dad; again!

“Not a lot to see Peter” stated PG

“No” replied Peter “nothing topping, no features and not a soul fishing”

Peter and Pomp were doing a recce on the venue for the match and they were rapidly thinking that they may have wasted their time as they stood on Trent Bridge looking down at the river.

“Where is it being pegged from” asked Pomp.

“That bridge upstream is the Brittania suspension bridge; peg 1 is twenty yard upstream of it” replied Peter.

“Let’s have a wander”

The two men strolled along the embankment in the bright Friday afternoon sunshine and agreed that the, long running, claim that Nottingham had the prettiest girls seemed to be true. Young secretaries were taking their lunch in the warm weather, business skirts being hoisted up to catch the rays and blouses loosened, exposing some delightful cleavage; PG was tempted to remove his Fedora but decided against it, he did not want to cause a scene. Reaching the suspension bridge, Peter’s eyes lit up as he saw an angler in the distance,

“C’mon” he said “let’s go and have a chat”

“What” replied PG, tearing his gaze away from a delightful young lady who was giving him the eye and positively salivating at the sight of the handsome man in the lightweight, linen suit and Fedora.

“There’s someone fishing” said Peter “please pay attention Pomp”

“Sorry, I just can’t resist a well turned calf”

They made their way towards the young man who was staring at a quiver tip pointing skywards; as they approached they saw the chap strike and his rod take on a healthy bend. By the time they reached him he was just slipping the net under a skimmer of about a pound.

“Had many?” questioned Peter

“A few” he replied

The chap re-baited and cast, his feeder flew right across the river and landed tight up against a barge that was moored on the far bank.

“By god lad that was a cast and a half” said PG admiringly.

“Thank you” said the chap “if you don’t get right to the barge you don’t get a bite”

His tip wrapped round again and a few minutes later a ‘real bream’ of about 4lbs was added to the keep net. The feeder was, once again cast, effortlessly, to the far side of the river.

“You must be casting 100 yards” said Peter

“About 80, I think” replied the chap

“What weight is the feeder” asked PG;

he realised that this could be the method they adopted in a fortnights time and he wanted as much information as he could glean.

The chap, being from Nottingham, was obviously a ‘salt of the earth type’ as are all Nottingham anglers and he pulled in his tackle to show them.The feeder itself was what attracted Peter’s attention; it was quite long, low diameter and had fins glued on the end making it resemble a small spod. The chap explained that he made these feeders himself as commercially available ones didn’t enable him to cast the distance required.

“Are the bream along the whole length” he asked.

“No mate, only under the barge”

PG got up, walked back to the bridge, and proceeded to pace out the distance to the angler.

“I reckon that the barge will be accessible to pegs 3 or 4” he explained to Peter “we need to ensure that the right man is on it”

“You got a match on here?” asked the chap

“Yes mate” replied peter “I’m the captain of the Drennan Drowners".

“I’m a big fan” the chap said delightedly and shook hands with them both.

“Now”, he continued “if this peg is included, it will be the winner; provided that whoever is on it can cast accurately. The rest of the stretch is just ‘bits’, with the odd decent roach”

“So what you are saying, is that if we can get a decent feeder man on here and get a few backing weights, we shouldn’t have any problems” said PG

“Exactly, this peg is worth 30lbs, a decent stick angler, on the rest of the stretch, could probably manage 8 – 10lbs” was the reply

“Could I get a picture of your feeder?” asked Peter hopefully.

“No chance” was the emphatic reply, reaching into his side drawer the chap produced another, identical feeder;

“you can have one”.

“Thank you” said Peter pocketing it delightedly.

“True gent” added PG.

They said their goodbyes and made their way back towards Trent Bridge.

“I saw a ‘Hooters’ bar on the way in to the city” said Pomp; “let’s have a pint”

Peter, groaning inwardly, followed dejectedly, noticing how there was an added spring to the step of his manager and how his hand kept reaching towards his Fedora; obviously, subconsciously practicing the flourish with which he would remove it in front of the Hooters girls.

A few days later, following an instruction from Pomp, all of the Drowners assembled on a park near to Peter’s house.

“What the fook are we doing here?” said WO

“Special practice” said Peter; handing the reel of a 100 yard tape to him. “Measure out 80 yards please”

WO trotted off and stopped at the prescribed 80 yards, PG then laid out a piece of red plastic sheet, a yard wide and 4 yards long.When they got back to the rest of the team, Peter had already assembled a feeder rod and he asked Pomp for the ‘modified’ feeder that the he had been given. Pomp had pocketed the feeder and had been rather mysterious about its whereabouts over the last couple of days.

“Right lads” said Peter “who’s first”

“I take it that you want us to cast past the marker” said Phoenix

“No, I want you to land the feeder on it” replied Peter.

Neil had first chuck but landed, woefully short “don’t get much practice at this sort of thing nowadays” he said ruefully.

The rest of the team had their goes, with varying levels of failure. Carpmagic, like Neil, fell short as did WO, GP57 and Peter himself, Phoenixicus managed the distance but could not achieve the accuracy and the feeder landed well to the left of the target. Red Leader stepped up; he swung the rod back and cast in one fluid motion, the feeder flew in a high arc and landed, dead centre, on the red target.

“Bout time yer found summat yer could do” laughed Wisey

“That was a fluke” said Phoenix

Dave retrieved the feeder and recast, once again, dead centre. He repeated the process a further 5 times and eventually Phoenixicus had to admit that RL had beaten him.

“Okay lads, back to the house and we will explain” said Peter “I think the missus has done us a breakfast”

“Sausages” growled Albert to Winston and both dogs shot off towards the waiting cars.

Back at the house, whilst Maria toiled in the kitchen, Peter and Pomp explained what had happened during their visit to Nottingham. After they had listened carefully to the plan PG asked if there were any questions.

“Why did you go to fooking Hooters without me” wailed WO, all memories of the Tazering he had received from their Gert, after his exploits in London, fading rapidly.

“Questions about the match” said Peter, patiently
.
“What if I lose that feeder?” asked RL “I don’t have a spare”

Before Peter could reply the door opened and in walked two men; they were dressed in dark business suits, black overcoats draped over their shoulders, black hats and, most disconcertingly, both carried Violin cases.

WO, never being one to see danger shouted “Oh fook it’s Scarface”

“Don’t call me Scarface; the names Soprano”, the taller of the two men said, ominously.

Everyone burst out laughing as they recognised none other than Soprano and Genesis.

“Bloody hell” said RL “you had me fooled there lads”

“Didn’t fool me” said Phoenixicus crawling out from under the table.

The reverie was cut short by Maria bringing in a veritable banquet of eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms and fried bread.

“If you want anything else, just give me a shout” she said as she slid two huge bowls of sausages under the table for ‘the boys’.

Winston jumped up lovingly and covered her face in doggy saliva from a huge slobbering kiss. Albert due to his shorter stature licked her ankles appreciatively. The Drowners helped themselves and sat down to eat, the latter being accomplished very awkwardly by Genesis who seemed to be permanently sore from countless examinations at ‘the hands’ of a consultant, who he was sure, was a descendant of Lev Yashin.

After breakfast Soprano and Genesis opened up their Violin cases; one contained replicas of the feeder in varying weights; peter realised then, that PG had given the original to Genesis to see if he could copy it. The other case contained several sets of beautiful hand-made floats; these floats were of a curious design and instantly caught the attention of Neil.

“I’ve never seen anything like these” he said

“They are my own design” said Genesis, proudly. “In effect, you have a stick float with a hollow bristle”

“Why is the bristle not straight” asked Phoenixicus, holding up the float to show that the bristle was offset at about 30 degrees.

“The bristle is to increase sensitivity” explained Genesis “what you have is the versatility of a stick and the sensitivity of a pole float. When you fish a stick, the accepted way is that you ‘hold back’ the float, the off-set bristle means that when you are holding back, the bristle stands straight in the water and aids visibility”.

All the Drowners agreed that the idea of the float was pure genius and they thanked Genesis profusely.

“I’ll waive the rent on a stand if you want to set one up on the day” said Peter Drennan generously.

Carpmagic, who had been very quiet and was secretly very disappointed with his performance at the casting practice, stated calmly;

“I think I had better run the bank, I’m not really a stick man and I don’t want to let you down”

Peter was relieved at this as it meant that he didn’t have to drop the lad.

“Okay” he replied.

“Do you fancy fishing Soprano?” asked GP57 “I’m more of a canal man and; to be honest I would like to watch the old stars in action again”

“Wow” said Soprano a huge grin spreading over his face “I didn’t see that coming, I would be honoured”

“You’re in then lad” said PD “I will get a set of tackle delivered”

“I feel like I have won the lottery”

“Yeah but the downside is, you have to put with WO” laughed GP57

“Ow”, he exclaimed as Albert’s teeth sank into his leg “gerrim off” he howled.

Albert, at a snap of Wisey’s fingers let go and deftly caught the sausage that his master nicked off Peters plate and threw to him, he bit it in half and left a piece for Winston; both dogs quietened down and munched happily.

Practice, the following week, went well; the new floats were superb and all of the team were consistently putting double figures on the scales after five hours. Only Dave was not fishing to plan; Pomp had decided that they keep the feeder tactic under wraps in case word got out; it was a gamble but PG thought it a risk worth taking. He was right as, over on the far bank Dick and Dennis were huddled under a camouflage net with binoculars trained on the Drowners.

“They’re banking everything on’t stick” said Fatha

“I think thee are reet, they’ll never beat our lads on’t float, we ought to up side bet” laughed Dick.

The morning of the match dawned and in the Trogg household B’Lanna was getting ready for the day ahead, after several conversations with Helena, Johnny and Ozzy, she had formulated her plan. It was a good plan, she was certain that it would work and she would be able to protect her Dad.

She dressed in a pair of camouflaged trousers, tucked in to a pair of high Doc martens; unwrapping a parcel she put on the new T shirt it contained, looked in the mirror and was very pleased with the logo emblazoned on the front

Staffordshire ‘Bone Hard China’ made by Trogg

Around her waist she wrapped a multi pocketed ‘bum bag’, which she had christened her ‘battle pouch’. Over her shoulder she slung a large ‘super soaker’ water pistol and finished off the ensemble with an oversize fleece, after checking that the water rifle was not visible she made her way downstairs and joined her Mum, Dad and Brother in the car. Trogg noticed the strange choice of clothing but made no comment; his daughter was an independent spirit and if she wanted to dress like she was going on manoeuvres then it was okay with him.

Tank had no such sensitivity “It’s GI Jane” he shouted.

B’Lanna applied a little psychology and rather than responding to her brother’s jibe she quietly asked her Mum

“Mum can I borrow your new ‘duster”

The psychology worked and Tank remained silent for the rest of the journey.

Arriving at the Embankment they were greeted with hundreds of fans, from both camps, milling about and waving their banners good-naturedly. The tackle stands were busy setting up and a delicious smell of cooking food emanated from a huge marquee that had been erected to serve as both match headquarters and café. The Trogg family entered the tent and were greeted enthusiastically by the rest of the team; GB walked over and shook hands with Trogg as they had not seen each other since Russia. Trogg looked up in surprise as his hand felt like it was being crushed in GB’s grip, looking at his friend he noticed a new look in his eye; GB appeared calm and ‘hard’ and for the first time Trogg realised that Georgie Boy was not a man to mess with.

“What’s happened to you?” he asked

“What do you mean?”

“In Russia you acted like a girl, now you’re more like Charlie Bronson”

GB looked around furtively; “come over here” he hissed, taking Trogg by the arm and pulling him to a corner of the marquee; where they couldn’t be overheard.

“I’d had a problem for a couple of weeks before we went to Moscow” he whispered

“What sort of problem?”

GB looked around to make sure no one was listening, “I was turning into a women; the Doc said it was a hormone imbalance”

“Whaaaat?” said Trogg

“Shhhhhhhh, someone might hear us. I started having mood swings and getting tearful, my skin got softer than the missus’s, my hair grew like there was no tomorrow and I ………….”

The last bit was so mumbled and quiet that Trogg had to lean in

“what was that last bit” he asked

“I was growing baps” replied GB in anguish.

“Something to play with in bed I suppose” replied Trogg, ever the voice of practicality.

“Don’t joke mate, my missus was starting to get lesbian tendencies”

“What did you do?”

“The Doc gave me a course of Testosterone and Steroid injections, they have sorted me out but the problem now, is that I have rages and I don’t know my own strength”

“I noticed” replied Trogg still flexing his right hand to try and get some feeling back.

“Oy; yer pair of pouf’s” shouted Wisey “yer breakfasts are here”.

They re-joined the team, after Trogg had sworn to keep GB’s secret and to watch and keep an eye on him if his rage started to show.
The Drowners were all sat at one long table and were kept busy with requests for advice and autographs etc. Tank was in a deep conversation with WO about machetes’, Dian was sharing a recipe for Cottage Pie with Peter and B’Lanna was talking to Phoenix about why he felt that he annoyed everyone; although she had to move away after two minutes because she had an irresistible urge to slap him.

The general hubbub stopped when a beautiful woman entered the tent and stood looking around whilst her eyes got used to the gloom.

“Blimey” said Red Leader “she is a dead ringer for Jill Ireland”

Everyone craned their necks for a look; the woman looked over, saw Georgie, waved and made her way over, smiling brightly. Pomp made the assumption that she was coming over to him and he rose and removed his Fedora with a practiced flourish. The smug smile disappeared from his face as she walked straight by, without a second glance, and placed a kiss on GB’s lips.

“Sorry I’m late darling, I was sorting out a suitable bikini to wear whilst you were tied up with the match”.

“This is the missus” said GB, proudly, to the rest of the team.

There was a stunned silence, GP57 was the first to find his voice

“You; are with him?” he asked incredulously.

“My dear” said Neil of the Nene “I have an excellent optician, if you would like his number I could write it down for you”

The Drowners, including GB and his missus, collapsed into hysterical laughter.

“By god mate” spluttered Phoenixicus “you don’t crack many jokes, but when you do they are real quality”

Neil blushed and uttered a quiet thank you.

The reverie was broken by a loud whining noise,

“what the fook is that” said B’Lanna doing a very creditable impression of Wise owl.

They all laughed as they made their way outside; Winston and Albert did a high five with their paws as they looked at the unguarded plates left by the team.

Outside, the Drowners looked down the Embankment in amazement, coming towards them in a triangle formation were six mobility scooters carrying the Retro stars. Like a gang of ageing hells angels with big Kev at the front, resplendent in one of the Anglers Mail’s STD ‘T’ shirts, leading the team at 4mph. Wise Owl saw the STD T shirt and shouted over to Phoenixicus

“Looks like you’re a gonner ere”

Phoenix, looked suitably embarrassed, and then glared at Trogg, knowing how he had been set up on the flight home from Moscow; he would wait patiently for an opportunity for revenge.

“So uncouth” muttered Neil

Big K pulled to a stop in front of the Drowners

“Now then lads are thee ready for a drubbing”

The crowd cheered, although the majority were staunch Drowners supporters no one wanted to see the Retro stars be embarrassed, they had been great champions in the past and everyone had the utmost respect for them, it was akin to the Larry Holmes fight with Ali when Ali was way past his prime.

The coin was tossed “Heads” called Kevin; the coin came down
tails.

“We’ll have evens” said Peter delightedly; peg 4 was dead opposite the Barge.

The two teams sorted out the pegs for each angler and the £1000 side bet money was handed over to Keith Arthur for safe keeping. Keith then announced over the PA system
Peg 1 Kevin Ashurst
Peg 2 Peter
Peg 3 Ken Giles
Peg 4 Red Leader
Peg 5 John Dean
Peg 6 Neil of the Nene
Peg 7 Dave Thomas
Peg 8 Soprano
Peg 9 Max Winters
Peg 10 Phoenixicus
Peg 11 Ian Heaps
Peg 12 Wise Owl

As the teams were setting up, two large coaches turned on to the Embankment, B’Lanna sighed and prepared for action.
Dick, Fatha, PG and Peter Drennan were stood at the entrance to the Marquee,

“looks like more supporters” said Dick

Trogg and GB ran over “they’re not supporters they are bloody Anti’s” Trogg told them.

They all stood in the road as the coaches pulled to a stop and about 80 people disembarked and stood in a group opposite Trogg and GB. PG and co. had melted off to the side. Tank and Dian walked over the road and joined the two security men; like a scene from a spaghetti western the two groups eyed each other.

All of the Anti’s sported the long straggly hair, sallow skin and sunken eyes, synonymous with a poor diet. At the front stood the two leaders, Justin and Tintin who were accompanied by their, obviously frustrated, girlfriends.

The anglers paused in their setting up and, reluctant to leave their gear, contented themselves with watching what would unfold, WO, however, slipped his machete into his left boot in readiness.

“Let’s just wade in” snarled GB taking a step forward

“Wait” said B’Lanna; walking in front of them she placed a hand on her Dad’s chest and said “Let me have two minutes, I want to prove a couple of hypotheses that I have and also stop you from getting locked up”

Trogg looked at her sceptically, he knew she was tough but his paternal protectiveness weighed heavily.

“Two minutes?” he questioned

“Then they are all yours” promised his daughter

“You’ve got it love”

“Thanks Dad”

“GB get ready to charge if there is even a hint of her getting hurt”

“You’ve got it mate” replied Georgie Boy.

B’Lanna shrugged off her jacket and faced the foe, Winston and Albert stood either side of her and bared their teeth.

“A little girl with Gnasher and Muttley are not going to stop us” scoffed Justin

B’Lanna looked them square in the eye and said reasonably “You are not going to prevent these people from taking part in a perfectly legal event”

Tintin laughed and, taking a large stone out of his pocket said

“and how are you going to stop me from throwing this rock at him” he pointed to big K on peg 1.

Faster than the eye could see a catapult with a purple handle and pink fluffy pouch appeared in B’Lannas hand and a small ball bearing smashed into Tintins finger. He howled in agony,

“Like that” she said

Winston and Albert hunkered down and snarled like a couple of hell hounds.

“Fooking ell” shouted Wisey its Annie Oakley

B’Lanna looked at Tintin “you made a threat, I was defending myself” she said simply.

In order to stop Georgie from tearing into them Trogg got hold of the back of his belt and held him fast;

“she asked for two minutes, lets respect her wish”.

“Are you going to leave” asked B’Lanna

“No way” sobbed Tintin, now in tears from the pain in his finger.

“You had better save these first then”

B’Lanna then loaded and fired her catty, so smooth and so fast she would have put Katniss Everdeen to shame and 12 big pouches of maggots showered over the anti’s. The result was spectacular as, amid the screams, they all began frantically crawling around trying to save the maggots. B’Lanna took advantage of the distraction to unsling the super soaker off her back, running towards the crowd of crawling Anti’s she squirted a red liquid over them, quartering around the periphery of the crowd she systematically sprayed the scrabbling mob in front of her. For ten long seconds nothing happened, then someone let out a scream of pure anguish

“It’s blood” he shouted;

what followed was like the scene from the exorcist where the young girl gets sprayed with holy water and the Anti’s desperately tried to get away from the dark red Pigs blood that was being sprayed over them. Their nerve finally went and; thoroughly routed, they fled back to their coaches like their backsides were on fire. As the coaches pulled away, wheels spinning, in a cloud of smoke, B’Lanna heard the voices in her head

“You would make a great Pirate” said Captain Jack

“Very cunning, you should be proud” husked Bellatrix

“That fooking shown em” screamed Ozzy in a Leeds accent, B’Lanna looked round as Wisey picked her up in a hug “That’s my girl” he shouted

“No; that’s my girl” said Trogg

“No that’s our girl” said Dian

“And my sister” said Tank looking at her in awe.

B’Lanna felt the colour coming up in her cheeks and she quickly turned to the anglers

“Come on you lot haven’t you got a match to fish”

A cheer went up from the crowd so loud that people thought there was a match on at the City ground and Forest had finally scored a goal.

The Troggs went into the Marquee to celebrate with a coffee.

“How did you know they were coming” asked Trogg

“I was talking to my friend Mellisa on face book” began B’Lanna

“she has a cousin who is going out with a lad who knows a girl that has a friend whose brother is dating a girl whose sister is going out with an Anti and she told us that they were coming here. Simple really”

The others looked at each other,” I think I got that” said Dian

“No matter” said Trogg, “I am so proud of you”

“Thanks Dad” she blushed

“Do you want to come and work the doors with me” asked Tank

“No thanks; I don’t like bloodshed”

“I Bet those Anti’s would disagree with that one” said her Dad.
They made their way outside and found the team huddled around PG having a last minute chat

“OK lads” said Pomp “win this one and nobody can question our superiority”

“I’m bricking it” said Soprano, the new boy.

“Don’t worry” said Peter “you have fished well in practice and CM will keep you updated throughout the match”

His phone suddenly pinged, taking it out of his pocket he read the text message to the others

“GOOD LUCK COMRADES, HOPE YOU CATCH LOTS OF BIG FOOKERS! LOVE VITAS AND JORGE”

“That’s nice” exclaimed Neil “maybe we could invite them over for a re-match next year”

There was a general buzz in the affirmative and the team made their way back to their respective pegs.

“Where the hell is our bank runner” snarled Dick

“BOB” shouted Fatha

A familiar white cap bobbed its way through the crowd,

“sorry I was signing autographs”

“Signing bloody autographs” roared Dick, “thou is s’posed to be running t’bank”

“He allus was a bloody nuisance” said Fatha

“Aye, thou’s reet there, the only reason he was in’t team was because all the Browning reps used to send their Wives’ and Girlfriends round to ‘convince’ me to keep him in.” He smiled dreamily at the memory.

Over on the trade stands Roger Surgay had found a load of old stock and he was doing a roaring trade in Brennan & Hickman aprons, Stanton Centrepins and green visors. He had also made one of his lads wrap purple tape around the handles of the Black Widows’ he had on display and pink fur on the pouches. These had sold out within 10 minutes of B’Lanna’s ‘demonstration’ and he was now desperately on the phone trying to get more stock.

Five minutes before the whistle, all was calm; the anglers sat contemplating their approaches little realising that they would be, over the course of the next 5 hours, instrumental in writing into the record books what would become known as the greatest match in the history of competitive angling.

The whistle sounded and a chorus of sharp snaps, cracks, creaks and groans rang out from each odd peg as joints and muscles made their respective owners aware that they were too old for this.
On peg 1 big Kev started out with feeding 20 huge Jaffa’s of brown crumb and leam, liberally stuffed with bloodworm and joker. The problem being was that this took him half an hour on account of the fact that he had to stop and massage his elbow after every other ball. On pegs 3, 5 & 7 Ken, John and Thommo were feeding a handful of maggots each chuck and running a stick float through at their rod ends, whilst Max and Ian on pegs 9 and 11 were casting a waggler and a big stick respectively, about 3 rods out and fishing caster.

All the Drowners were using the new Genesis floats, which had been christened, a mixture of bristle and stick, and were now known as ‘The Genesis Brick range’. Only Red leader was deviating from this plan and he sat, a solitary figure, staring at a skyward pointing quivertip.

Big K started catching on his very first cast, although he was already behind Peter, due to the length of time he had spent baiting up.

Peter cast in and his float tip pointed downstream, by holding back he brought the tip to vertical and inched it through his ‘hot spot’. The tip disappeared and a small perch was soon in the net, Peter grinned happily, he loved this sort of fishing.

Crowds had gathered round all of the odd pegs and they gazed, in awe, at the sheer artistry of the old stars. Deany on peg 5 was, literally dancing his float through his swim using a Match Ariel and an old ‘Craddocks’ rod endorsed by Dave Thomas, Ian on peg 11 was fishing further out and holding his rod vertical, thereby stopping his float dead in the water, by lowering and raising the rod he was ‘inching’ his bait through the swim and making it look simple.

“If it’s that easy why can’t I do it” one observer was heard to remark.

Ken on peg 3 was amazing everyone with his economy of movement, cast, feed, trot, strike and unhook, he fished like an automaton and never looked hurried.

“Bloody hell” said a spectator “I have just timed him at 20 seconds from casting in to putting a fish in his keepnet and casting in again.

“Sorry” shouted Ken “I’m not as fast as I used to be” much to the delight of the crowd.

After 2 hours it was clear that the ‘old men’ were ahead, catching 3 fish to the Drowners 2, they simply had too much experience, from the days when it was much tougher.

Soprano was fishing a solid match and had around 2lb of bits, he was joined by Genesis who walked down the Embankment wincing, and cursing his Lev Yashin ancestor of a consultant with every step.

“Have you packed up the stand mate” asked Soprano, striking and missing a bite

“I’ve sold out” grinned Genesis “I have made more money today than I normally make in a month and could easily have made more if I had brought more stock. I’ve got advance orders for Bricks to keep me busy for the next six months”

“That’s brilliant mate” said Soprano; genuinely pleased for his mate.

On peg 4 Dave was getting worried, he had only had one bite and had missed it;

“I’ve bought you a coffee” said B’Lanna appearing at his side with one of GP57’s special lattes.

“Aw thanks lass” said RL gratefully

“Pomp said that I should show you these” she said producing a handful of huge, pure white maggots.

“Where did you get these”

“I found a dead pigeon and bred them myself especially for the Anti’s; a you tube video showed me how to do it. I’ve only got about four handfuls left though”

Dave took the perfect Gozzers that she gave him and put them in some bran in a separate container. Reeling in, he re-baited with two of his ‘new’ maggots and recast. The feeder had hardly settled when the tip wrapped around and bream number one was soon in the net.

Going in to the last hour it was too close to call, and as all the Drowners, bar Dave, were behind, it was all resting on his shoulders. Suddenly a gasp went up from the crowd as Red Leader gave out a yell, dropped his rod in mid cast and slumped down clutching his shoulder, his face contorted in agony. PG and Peter Drennan rushed over

“What’s happened” said Peter

“My shoulders gone” said Dave “I felt the muscle rip and the joint come out of its socket on that last cast”

“They won’t let anyone cast for you” observed Peter “and you can’t risk serious injury for the sake of a match; I think that you had better pack up”

“No way” snarled Dave “I will get that feeder out even if I have to swim across to do it”

Pomp looked thoughtful “don’t do anything until I get back” with that he strode off towards the trade stands.

A crowd had gathered round and were offering words of condolence to Dave when, through them, dressed in a miniscule bikini top and matching thong, shimmied the Jill Ireland look alike that was GB’s wife.

“I’m a nurse” she stated “take off your shirt and let me have a look at you”

Peter helped Dave off with said garment and Dave added a pulled back muscle to his list of injuries as he tried to suck in his lifetimes’ addiction to pies.

Mrs GB was busily massaging the offending shoulder when PG returned clutching a large package, in his other hand he held a parcel.

“Let’s try this” he said “I’ve shown it to Dick and Fatha and they have no objections”

Pomp then revealed a remote controlled bait boat; “I’ve just bought this off one of the carp stands; put the feeder on the platform, jiggle these two handles and when it reaches the barge, press the button and it will tip the feeder into the water”.

Dave looked at PG with a new found respect “that, mate, is pure unadulterated genius”

“Just doing my job” replied PG modestly.

The boat was soon assembled and Dave, now fully dressed, placed his feeder and baited hook on the boats’ platform and pressing the starter the boat buzzed into life.

The huge crowd watched with baited breath as the little boat, steered, by RL made its way across the mighty river Trent, there was a gasp as a piece off driftwood headed towards it but Dave, through skilful use of the controls narrowly avoided a collision, a wag in the crowd started singing;

“Come on Thunder Child” from the ‘War of the Worlds’ album by Jeff Wayne and the crowd all sang along.

The boat finally reached the barge and deposited its load without mishap and everyone cheered and clapped.

Dave passed the control box to B’Lanna saying “bring it back lass, please”

With 2 minutes of the match remaining RL’s tip twitched, no more than an inch, but knowing it was his last chance, he struck and felt a good fish. Unfortunately, the strike had inflamed the shoulder again and Dave bit down against the burning sensation as he tried to fight his quarry.

The whistle sounded and Dave groaned “Fish on”
“You have 15 minutes to land it” said Keith Arthur, the referee, setting a stopwatch.

Dave knew it was going to be the longest 15 minutes of his life.
He tried his best but his shoulder just would not respond and every time he moved it the agonising jolts got worse.

“Put rod on the rest with the butt under your leg” suggested WO, who along with the rest of the Drowners and the Retro stars, had come over to watch.

Dave followed the advice and was able to gain line, fortunately, bream were not known for their fighting capabilities, if it had been a barbel, thought RL, he would have given up.

“2 minutes left” shouted Keith

The bream was now just out of netting distance and if Dave could have lifted the rod it would have been an easy matter. He reached over with his right hand and tried to lift, with a howl of pain he had to quickly lower the rod.

“1 minute left” said Keith

“Dave tried again, this time the pain was even greater in its intensity, beads of sweat ran down the gritty Yorkshiremans face and, once more he had to put the rod down.

“30 seconds” whispered Keith “it’s now or never mate” he added.

Dave looked up, leaned over to his rod and gripped the blank, above the reel seat, in his teeth. The crowd gasped as, inch by inch he drew the fish towards him.

“10 seconds” said Keith

“Go on lad; you can do it” shouted big K.

Dave gave one last gargantuan heave and there was a groan from the crowd as his teeth bit right through the blank and the broken rod fell into the water.

“Time” shouted Keith just as Dave lifted the landing net with the bream, all 6lbs of it, safely in the folds.

“He’s only gone and fooking done it” screamed WO jumping up and down in excitement.

The crowd went absolutely wild, everyone was hugging each other Pomp was embracing Peter Drennan, both men sobbing; Dave managed to cop a quick snog off GB’s missus when no one was looking and Neil and Ken shook hands warmly, congratulating each other on their performances.

“By god lads” said big K “this will be talked about for a few years to come.

Eventually everything settled down and the weigh in commenced. It was decided that Dave would be weighed in last, to give him time to calm down and get a bit more treatment from Mrs GB, it also added to the tension as it was obvious that the match hinged on Dave’s weight.

The Retro stars had fished superbly and weighed an, estimated, average of 5lbs per man more than the Drowners, the closest was Neil who had succumbed to the wizardry of John Dean by a mere 4oz; Neil weighing 7lb 12oz and Deany, a level 8lb. New boy, Soprano, had justified his selection only losing out to Dave Thomas by 12oz but WO had been battered by Heapsy, Peter had been drubbed by Kevin and Phoenixicus had been hammered by Max.

The scales eventually arrived at peg 4;

B’Lanna who had been keeping a running total in her head said

“I make it 54lb 12oz to the Retro’s and 31lb 6oz to the Drowners”

“You need more than 23lb 6oz” she said to Dave.

WO and Neil lifted Dave’s keepnet out of the water and tipped the fish into the weigh bag, everyone crowded round, the needle jumped a few times between 22 and 26lb before settling on 24lb 14oz. Red Leaders superhuman effort had not been in vain; the Drowners had done it, the crowd went ballistic, it was the perfect end, the Drowners had won but the Retro’s had not been embarrassed.

Keith Arthur jostled his way around the throng handing out the side bet money, when he reached Dave he said “this is the only bet going to the Drowners”

“Fooking marvellous” scoffed WO “we win the match but they get the money”

“I think, in a perverse way that is fair”, said Phoenix; for once everyone agreed with him.

“I think that is mine” said Peter Drennan trying to snatch the bundle of tenners that Keith had given to RL

“What you on about” screamed Dave

“I covered the bet, I get the winnings”

“No Way” said Dave and his fingers tightened in a vice like grip.

Peter had to resort to squeezing the bad shoulder to make him let go and Dave, who had endured pain beyond the limits of human endurance during the bream fight, broke down and sobbed like a girl at the thought of losing money.

“Here you are mate” said WO handing a stack of banknotes to him.

“What’s this” sniffed Dave, wiping his snotty nose on his sleeve.

“I put on two bets of £100, one for you and one for me, at 10/1, here’s yer winnings”

Dave hugged WO “I love you” he said

“Fook off yer poof” snapped Wise Owl

“Excuse me for interrupting thou foreplay, but I would like to say summat” stated Big K.

Everyone quietened down and Kevin continued;

“We’ve just been beaten fair and square by a good angling team, helped by brilliant tactics from a fantastic manager and for that; lads you have my respect”

“Hear hear” said Heapsy

“What Dave did with that last fish, couldn’t be done, but he did it. His weight would have meant nowt without the back-up weights from his team. What we all seem to forget, however, is that none of this would have been possible if it hadn’t have been for that slip of a lass (he pointed to B’Lanna) taking on a gang of full grown men. If she was a bloke she would need a wheelbarrow to carry her gonads. Come her lass”

B’Lanna walked shyly over to Kevin

“I’m splitting my winnings with you and you have my thanks”

“Me an all” said Ken

“and me” said max

All of the Retro stars gave B’Lanna half their winnings, the crowd cheering like banshees, carried the blushing girl on their shoulders and did a procession of honour up to the Trent Bridge and back.

Half an hour later everything had calmed down, the anglers and spectators had left and the only people remaining in the car park were Trogg and his family.

“Come on” said B’Lanna “I am going to use my winnings to upgrade our hotel”

they all piled in the car and the Troggs set off to explore the caves of Nottingham.
 

Peter

'Mugger'
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The Drennan Drowners…….Finale?
The tree lined avenue sparkled in the morning sun, old beech trees held their heads up as if taking a deep breath in readiness for a long summer and the daffodils were just starting
to wilt in anticipation of their long sleep. The tranquillity was shattered as a bright red van turned onto the avenue and pulled up outside an imposing set of wrought iron gates.
Beyond the gates was a long elm lined drive leading to an immaculate ‘gentleman’s residence’ with ‘Pomp House’ proudly proclaimed on the rustic name plaque outside the front door. Vernon Watchsmythe sat in the van and contemplated the letter in his hand, addressed to ‘Pompous Git Esq.’ and wondered what the heavy embossed envelope contained. In his 25 years as a postman he had never delivered a letter like this, the royal coat of arms was clearly embossed on the front and the quality of the paper was a clear indication that it was important news. Vern sighed, at one time him and Pomp had been good friends and, a few years ago he would have delivered the letter and Pomp would have opened it in his presence so they could discuss the contents. Unfortunately, Vern had once been invited into Pomp’s man cave and he had made two serious errors; one, turning up with a 4 pack of Stella Artois and two, referring to Pomp’s model railway as a ‘toy train set’. Pomp had been scathing, but willing to turn a blind eye, to the Stella but he could not accept the ‘toy train’ insult and Vern had felt the full venom of his fury, as he was banished from the man cave for life. Pomp had not spoken to him since.

With a weary sigh Vern trudged up the long driveway and, with a final wistful look at the envelope he dropped it into the letterbox.

Inside the house Pomp leaned back against his headboard and straightened his paisley pattern silk cravat whilst he waited for his wife to bring his breakfast. In the Kitchen, Mrs Pomp carefully lowered two fresh eggs into a saucepan of boiling water and set the timer for precisely 3 minutes and 48 seconds, during this time she removed the pair of Yarmouth Bloaters from under the grill and put them on a plate alongside two slices of freshly buttered brown bread. The perfectly ironed copy of the Daily Sport was placed on a tray alongside the bloaters, bread and eggs, which had been removed from the saucepan and placed in silver egg cups at the side of the tray, salt and pepper shakers’ completed the meal. Hearing the letterbox open she rushed into the hallway and retrieved the letter from the doormat, hurriedly slitting the envelope with a knife she placed it onto the tray and hurried to her husbands’ room. She pushed open the door and backed in carrying the tray carefully in her hands, she turned around and her breath caught in her throat as she gazed at her husband. He sat resplendent in a silk dressing gown and cravat, his hair hung loosely over his forehead and the sharp blue eyes peered at her with that knowing inquisitiveness. Mrs Pomp realised that she loved him as much now as she had when they first met. She knew all about his infidelities, or his indiscretions, as she referred to them but turned a blind eye, Pomp always came back to her and she felt that turning a blind eye was a small price to pay for keeping her man.
Pomp looked at his wife as she backed into the room and was consumed with an all-encompassing feeling of love, he realised how lucky he was to have landed such a beauty and he thanked god that she had no idea about his ‘flings’, as he called them, with the opposite sex.

“Good morning my dear” said Pomp “did I hear the letterbox rattle”

“Yes darling” Mrs Pomp enthused, “and you have a very interesting looking letter”

“Oh that does look interesting” agreed PG removing the heavy, embossed velum from the envelope. He held the letter in his left hand and read, whilst lifting a piece of bloater with his right. He suddenly stiffened, his mouth fell open and the piece of bloater fell off his fork, landing on his silk cravat and leaving an oily stain on the fine fabric.

“Oh MY GOD” he wheezed “Oh MY GOD”

Mrs Pomp rushed over to her husband thinking he was having a heart attack

“What is it darling, do you need an ambulance?”

PG regained his composure and smiling at his wife he dragged her onto the bed with him and kissed her affectionately.

“No my dear” he said “I don’t need an ambulance but I need you to call my Tailor”

“Manny?” asked Mrs PG

“No not Manny, the one on Saville Row that I use for special occasions, tell him to drop everything and I will be in this afternoon for a fitting” replied PG smugly “And you M’Lady will need to visit that fashion house you like in Knightsbridge”

“What on earth for” she giggled

“Did you not hear what I called you?” asked Pomp

“Yes you called me M’lady” the penny dropped and she gazed into PG’s eyes and whispered “really?”

“Yes really; Pompous Git has been given a life peerage, and that makes us Lord and Lady Pomp”.

He leapt out of bed and the two of them waltzed around the room like a couple of teenagers.

“Don’t forget you have a Drowners meeting tonight at Peters” said Lady Pomp.

“Oh yes” replied Lord Pomp “although I cannot tell them about this, the letter said it is in the utmost confidence until the listings are officially announced, so don’t go blathering to your book club friends about it until they tell us it is ok”

“Yes my Lord” she grinned.

“Any more of that, wench and I will drag you back into this bed” replied PG

“Ooh you aristocrats fink yer can do wot ya like wi us common gals” laughed Mrs PG in her best cockney accent.


That evening PG and the rest of the Drowners sat, once again, round Peters kitchen table and Peter Drennan started the proceedings with the statement, “I think we should call it a day lads”.

There was a stunned silence as the enormity of the words sank in; Neil of the Nene was the first to regain his composure; “But why?” he stammered “we are still unbeaten”; there was a chorus of assent around the table.

“Yes, we are unbeaten and I would like us to be remembered that way” stated PD “the team is now a bloody shambles, Soprano, and Pheo have got themselves kicked off the site, Genesis has disappeared into god knows where, and Carp Magic is in intensive care, has been for the last month and shows no sign of getting out any time soon”

“What on earth is wrong with him?” asked GP57

“Since coming back from Russia, he has been practising his newly acquired sexuality and he now has a combination of every STD known to man; they have the best consultants looking after him but they are still waiting for a break through”. Answered PD sombrely, he had always had a, fatherly, soft spot for CM and he was intensely worried about the lad.

“I tried to visit him last night” said Wise Owl

The other Drowners, apart from Peter and Red Leader, who knew that WO’s bluster actually concealed a very caring soul, looked at him incredulously.

“How is the dear boy?” asked Pomp

“Don’t know” replied Wisey “They wouldn’t let me see him; they have him on a strict diet of pizza and kippers”

“Good God, is that the new treatment” asked Georgie Boy

“No mate” replied Wisey “It’s the only food that they can slide under the door”

Everyone erupted with laughter, there was no malice in this it was just a way for the team to relieve the tension in the room.
PD brought them back to order and Pomp went round with Peter’s whisky decanter and poured everyone a treble.

“When are you going to bring a bottle” wailed Peter, as he looked at the decimated decanter.
Pomp deliberately avoided the question, got to his feet and addressed the team.

“Gentlemen, I have something of the utmost secrecy to tell you and I am putting myself at the mercy of your discretion. What I am about to tell you must not be repeated beyond these 4 walls” he said gravely.

The Drowners looked at him in hushed anticipation, even Albert and Winston, who were curled together by the fire, sat up with their ears pricked expectantly.

Pomp continued “this morning I received a letter from Buckingham Palace informing me that I had been awarded a Peerage for my work with the Drennan Drowners”

The silence that greeted this statement was deafening and Pomp squirmed uneasily under their gaze; suddenly Wise Owl giggled, Red Leader and Georgie Boy burst out laughing closely followed by the rest of the team.

“It’s not a laughing matter” roared PG “if the team disbands it could affect my award”.

The team then, sheepishly, all brought out identical envelopes, embossed with the royal crest and laid them on the table.

“Looks like we’ve all got one mate” said Trogg “even my little buddy here” he continued, giving GB a knuckle rub on the top of his head.

They all took out their letters and Peter made a list of the various awards given to the members, it ran as follows:-

Pompous Git ……….Life Peerage
Peter……………………Knighthood
Neil of the Nene…..Knighthood
Wise Owl……………..Knighthood
Red Leader…………..CBE
Trogg……………………CBE
Georgie Boy………….CBE
Grappenall 57……….MBE

“We can’t pack up now” said Neil “It would be throwing the awards back in the face of the Crown”.

“We are still disbanding” said PD sulkily “I have funded this team, fully sponsored Neil and Peter and what do I get, bloody nothing!” he then wiped his eyes and blew his noise noisily, unfortunately, in his grief he had forgotten to take out his handkerchief and the resulting shower of snot sprayed all over Maria’s pristine white tablecloth. PD, however, was too upset to notice and he slumped forward, elbows in the slime and rested his head in his hands.

The ensuing silence was finally broken by Trogg.

“What time did you leave home this morning Pete” he asked, with a thoughtful look on his face.

“About 8:00” replied PD

“My letter arrived this morning” continued Trogg “what about the rest of you?”

There was a general buzz in the affirmative to this question. PD looked puzzled “what has that got to do with any………” his voice tailed off as the penny finally dropped.

“How did he ever make a successful businessman” muttered Neil to himself.

“Ring home Pete” said Trogg “ask if you have any mail”.

PD made the call with shaking fingers, putting the phone in ‘speaker’ mode they all listened to the ringing tone.

“Hello” answered Mrs D

“Hello love” replied PD “are there any letters for me today”

“Hang on I’ll have a look, hmm, bill, bill, junk, red reminder” she muttered to herself. “No, sorry hon” Peter slumped down again. “Oh hang on, there is one, it had fell behind the umbrella stand” she squealed, “It looks a posh one, got some sort of crest on the front”

“Open it please” said PD excitedly

“Are you sure” replied his wife “you know I never open your mail”

“Quite sure” replied PD gritting his teeth with impatience.

The Drowners all listened in silence to the sound of an envelope being ripped open and then to the sound of sobbing. “Why didn’t you tell me you were joining the Army” she wailed.

“What do you mean?” asked PD

“It says here that you are being made a Commander of the British Empire”

A huge cheer went up from the team, everyone was hugging each other, Albert and Winston high pawed excitedly and PD took the phone into the other room to reassure the missus that he was not joining the Army.

Amidst all the merriment another chap walked in to the kitchen “Hello, hello” he grinned.

“Pheo” everyone exclaimed as none other than Phoenixicus stood before them.

“You’ve been kicked off the site” said Neil

“Not really” replied Pheo “after that air hostess incident in Russia” he continued with a scowl at Trogg “she wouldn’t leave me alone, turned into a right bunny boiler. I had to move house and change my name to get rid of her; I now go by the name Lee Richards”.

“Have you got an award” asked WO

“Yes mate, an MBE”

Another huge cheer went up and the hugging recommenced, although Neil thought Peter was hugging him a little bit too fondly.

PD walked back into the room and stated “What is all this rubbish about packing it in” the ensuing cheer nearly took the roof off, with Albert and Winston joining in with ear splitting wolf howls.

The big day, when the intrepid team were to receive their awards was announced as June 17 and the previous few weeks were a whirlwind of activity for the recipients. Pomp had his Saville Row tailor produce an exquisite 3 piece suit for his ‘suitability interview’ and an Ermine trimmed robe for his first sitting in the house scheduled for the end of May. Peter had a row with Maria because he couldn’t see why she needed to go to Knightsbridge with Lady Pomp to buy a gown; he had made the mistake of asking why she couldn’t look round the charity shops and ended up wearing his dinner. The rest of the team met up in London and went shopping together, although WO nearly got arrested for parading in the Trafalgar Square fountain wearing nothing but his new top hat.
Once the news had broken about the Drowners recognition the media had a field day, TV appearances, Press and Radio interviews and several companies asking them to endorse their products. Dave had new MD Hoodies made with their award embroidered in gold thread under their names; it was a wonderful gesture although no one was surprised when he sent PD the bill for them. When June 17 finally arrived they were all exhausted.


The team arrived at the palace in a fleet of limousines which had picked them up from their hotel, where they had stayed the previous night. WO shifted uncomfortably in his new morning suit.

”This fookin collar is too tight” he complained.

“Stop moaning” said Gert slapping his hands away and straightening his tie “there, you look lovely” she exclaimed as she spat on the corner of a handkerchief and wiped an imaginary spec from her husband’s cheek.

Things weren’t going much better in the other cars; Peter was regretting buying his suit off e: bay as it was rather ill fitting, the waistcoat had a button missing and the trousers kept bunching and giving him a wedgie.

“You look very elegant darling” consoled Maria.

“I look like an unmade bed” Peter whined back.

“Well you should have had a suit made to measure, it’s your own fault” snapped his wife, her patience finally running out.

“I couldn’t afford it after the bill for your frock” was the sulky reply.

“I give up” she sighed.

Only Pomp was relaxed, travelling in a Bentley that he had privately hired as he did not want to use the “rubbish cars” that had been provided. He sat in the backseat with his lady, sipping champagne as the car whooshed along in silent comfort.

“Your very good health my Lady” he said raising his glass.

“And yours” replied his wife “I am so very proud of you” she sighed.

“The world is our oyster now my dear” declared Pomp draining his glass.

Whilst Lord and Lady Pomp were luxuriating in the unashamed decadence of the Bentley the other cars were making their way up the Mall to the Palace. The Palace looked resplendent in the bright June sunshine and Red Leader and WO were estimating the cost of building such a place today. “A good few mill, I reckon” said RL.

“I’d want half a mill just for the rendering” replied WO

“Dum de de dum de de dum de de dum de dah dah” came from the seats behind them as Trogg and Lee, who had now shook hands and buried the hatchet, started humming the theme from Bonanza.

“Fook off, yer pair of pillocks” shouted RL and WO simultaneously.

In this light hearted mood the Limo’s dropped off the Drowners and the team were shown into a ‘small’ ante room with French doors open on to the garden. Along one side of the room there was a buffet laid out and RL made a beeline for a large pork pie which sat on a silver platter. Cutting himself a large wedge, he bit into it and his eyes closed in ecstasy, “oh my god” he exclaimed “it’s still warm”. He munched happily totally oblivious of the unset jelly trickling out of the bottom of the wedge and leaving a greasy snail trail down the front of his waistcoat.

“So uncouth” muttered Neil.

“Oy, lads come and look at this,” shouted Peter who had been out through the French doors and into the grounds.

They all walked out and stood aghast at the beautiful lake that confronted them, rows of carefully sculpted willows lined the banks and symmetrical beds of lilies were dotted, at regular intervals on the surface of the flat calm water. Several small islands featured which screamed ‘fish’ to the experienced eye but, what really caught their attention were the wooden fishing platforms spaced at 20 yard intervals along the nearest bank.

Trogg was bent down examining one of the platforms “This is actual mahogany” he declared

“This one has a plaque signed ‘Chippendale’” exclaimed GP57

“So has this one” replied Trogg

“I would like to fish this” sighed Neil dreamily.

“Ask Queenie if she does day tickets” laughed WO.

“So uncouth” muttered Neil.

The tranquillity was broken by the sound of a loud engine coming from some sheds about 50 yards away, a liveried footman opened a door and a young boy slowly drove a quad bike towards the group of anglers walking around his lake.

“Hello” said Lee, as the bike drew level “nice set of wheels”.

“Thank you” replied the lad shyly “it is not very fast though, daddy says it is limited to 4 mph”.

“Does your dad work here” asked GB.

“Sometimes” replied the lad “he is going to be king”.

“What’s your father’s name?” asked Trogg.

“William” replied the lad “my name is George, and I’m 5” he volunteered.

“Yer can’t help your parent’s sunshine” laughed WO “at least you’ve got a set of wheels even if they are too slow”.

“I don’t mind really” replied George “when I am 12 mummy says that my grandad will buy me a Land Rover out of the taxes from the great unwashed. Are you the great unwashed?” George asked RL, looking at the grease stain on his waistcoat.

“Yes he is lad” answered PD

“Thank you for my Land Rover” said George solemnly.

The whole team cracked up.

“What’s the joke” shouted a familiar voice, as Lord Pomp made his appearance through the French doors, crystal champagne flute in his hand and his Topper at a jaunty angle. They explained the conversation between Prince George and RL and Pomp doubled over with tears in his eyes, “that’ll teach you to eat warm pork pie you bloody heathen” he said between guffaws.

A young man in knee breeches beckoned them back into the Ante room where the various spouses had been getting stuck into the Dom Perignon and comparing gowns.

“Her majesty is ready for you now” announced the flunkey, “if you’d care to follow me”.

“If you’d care to follow me” mimicked WO and got a smack round the lug from their Gert;

“If you can’t behave you’re not going fishing at the week end” she hissed.

They filed in to a large state room with an ornate chair in the centre complete with a kneeling stool. The room was lavishly decorated and huge portraits of various ancestors were liberally scattered around the walls. There were various dignitaries, palace staff and several HRH’s milling about, making small talk and trying to put everyone at ease.

WO who was stood at the side of Meghan and Harry heard Meghan exclaim in an aggressive whisper, “keep away from me you ginger ass hole”.

Pomp, who was also hovering, enquired “is everything all right?”

“No” hissed Meghan “this ginger pillock says that my fanny is too big since I had a baby”

WO choked on his champagne, he doubled over, bright red, with champagne streaming from his nose.

“Fook me lass” he exclaimed “I thought I was going to have to watch my language”

Pomp was horrified “Wisey, in America, when they say fanny they mean bottom”.

WO paled “oh sh**” he thought to himself.

Pomp turned to the blushing girl, removed his hat and apologised for the language of his team member.

“Don’t worry about it” said Meghan laughing, “It’s nice to be able to speak freely for a change”.

She looked at Pomp and felt the weakening of her knees as she gazed at the lustrous locks of hair.

“Do you act” she asked breathlessly, whilst desperately trying to remember the ‘skin flick’ producer who had approached her before she met Harry.

“Never tried it” replied Pomp “but I am always willing to try something new".

“Give your number to my secretary when you leave” she replied “and please be discreet”

“Discretion is my middle name” said Pomp, pompously.

In the corner Albert and Winston stood watching the events, Albert stiffened, “Bitches at 2 o clock” he growled; Winston looked round and saw 2 beautiful Corgi’s in the ante room they had just left, they ran through grabbing a sausage each off the buffet and deposited them in front of the blushing girly dogs as gifts.

“That’s my boy” said WO and RL simultaneously.

Suddenly the room hushed as the double doors at the far end opened and the queen entered closely followed by her husband, she took her seat in the centre of the room and smiled at the assembled guests. “My husband and I take great pleasure in welcoming our esteemed guests”.

The Drowners went up in turn to receive their awards with the three knighthoods at the rear of the queue.

Lord Pomp had already been welcomed to the House of Lords and had already made his maiden speech, he therefore didn’t have a medal to collect but he was presented to the queen, who congratulated him warmly. Pomp removed his hat and the queen coloured up a shade of beetroot as she took his hand.

“Look at Gran blushing” giggled Harry to his brother.

“Nice to see the old girl still has it in her” replied William

“Twenty years ago I would have taken a damn horsewhip to him” Phillip muttered savagely to himself.

The room quietened once more as Peter went up and knelt on one knee on the footstool.

“Arise Sir Peter” said the queen after dubbing him on the shoulders with a long ceremonial sword.

“Arise Sir Neil of the Nene” repeated the queen as Neil received his award.

WO went up last and caught ‘that’ look from their Gert that said ‘god help you if you show me up’.

As he knelt at the Queens feet he saw her put down the sword that she had used for Peter and Neil and reach under a red velvet cloth that was on a small table to her left. The onlookers stared in amazement as she removed a gold machete from under the cloth and with a girlish grin she uttered the words

“I dub thee sir Wise Owl of phooking Leeds, arise Sir Wise”.

As WO got to his feet the Queen leant forward and whispered conspiratorially “I’ve read all the Drowners exploits and you are my favourite”.

“Thank you Mam” muttered WO as he turned and went back to his team mates. “What a lady” he exclaimed; “she is so posh she said fook with a P H”.

Everyone rose as the Queen got to her feet and left the room, her husband and the other royals stayed behind to chat to the guests.

“Now then young fella” said Prince Phillip to WO “are you the one that has been working with the Polish angling team”?

“I am sir” replied WO

“How the devil do you tell em apart? What” said Phillip in a clipped accent.

“What” said WO

“What” replied Phil

WO then realised that the Duke ended most of his sentences with what.

“I just call them all Eric” he admitted.

Phillip roared with laughter and clapped WO on the shoulder, “I like the cut of your jib m’lad, what” he declared and walked away muttering to himself “call them all Eric….What”.

Neil found himself in conversation with the keeper of the Privy Purse about the complexities of balancing the household budget, Trogg was having a friendly argument with the chief of security about how best to secure a target whilst on bodyguard duty and Pomp was talking to William and Kate.

“I have read all your stories Lord Pomp” said William excitedly “I like to do a bit of fishing myself, but I rarely get the time nowadays”

“You should always try and make time for relaxation and enjoyment” said Pomp “I always make time for enjoyment” he continued, removing his hat.

Kate blushed and caught her breath “I’m sure you do” she husked. Recovering her composure she went on, “My little sister used to have your picture on her wall and she would give you a goodnight kiss every night before she went to sleep”

“Really” exclaimed Pomp “Is she here today” he asked; scenting new blood.

“No she’s had to take the baby to his Yoga class”

“Shame” muttered Pomp.

Peter found Red Leader, sitting with Peter Drennan and talking about how the time had flown since the first challenge had been extended by Mark Downes and the whole Drowners experience had started.

“Glad I’ve caught you together” said Peter “I have arranged a match for us 2 weeks on Saturday”

“Who against mate” asked RL.

Peter looked smug “the royal household”.

“Which venue?” asked PD

“The lake in the grounds” replied Peter “there are a dozen platforms on what they call the garden bank”.

“That is sheer brilliance mate, you’d better let the others know, and tell them there is an emergency meeting tomorrow night”

The festivities finally broke up and the Drowners Limo’s turned up to take the team to the station where they would get their individual trains home. As the cars made their way to the Palace gates, Winston and Albert gazed out the back window and raised their paws to the two Corgi Princesses.

The next night the team assembled in Peter’s kitchen,

“Good evening Sir Neil” said Trogg

“Good evening Commander” replied Neil with a grin.

“Sounds good don’t it” said GB

Sir Peter looked a bit down in the dumps.

“What’s up with you mate” said RL “you’ve got a face like a slapped backside”.

“Maria’s not talking to me” he replied.

“What the fook you done now?” asked Sir Wise

“I don’t know” said Peter “I just asked if she was taking her gown back to Knightsbridge for a refund”

“My god” said GP57 “how have you managed to stay married so long”.

“What do you mean” replied Peter

“That dress is a memory of the day for her; it’s not just something she wore, it’s a statement” said GP57

At that moment Maria walked in and went to the kettle, studiously ignoring her husband.

“I’m sorry love” said Peter “I think you should keep the dress but we need to start going out more, that dress needs to be shown off and we should also get you a couple more; fancy the Ballet next week”?

Maria melted “that would be wonderful darling” she said happily; “don’t you lot be too long tonight” she added “my husband needs an early night” she walked out of the kitchen whispering as she walked past “make sure you take a pill before you come to bed Sir Peter”.

PD brought the meeting to order, “Right lads, Peter managed to get us a match on the Palace lake, does anyone know anything about it?”

“It certainly looks nice” said Neil “I saw several big mirrors in the margins as we walked round”.

“I spoke to one of the staff” added Lee “he told me that it was stuffed with fish, especially mirrors and Tench”

Trogg spoke up “they used to stock their lakes with carp, for food, in the mediaeval days, the fish in there are probably from the original stocking”

“Sound right up our street” said Georgie Boy.

I’ve been in touch with the Palace” said Pomp and they will not let us have a practice before the event.

“Why not?” asked Red Leader.

“Apparently we are too much of a security risk” replied Pomp.

“Their chief of security is clueless” scoffed Trogg “Me and GB would do a better job”.

“That’s right” laughed GB “Trogg and GB security by royal appointment”.

“Okay” said PD “it looks like we will just have to wing it”,

the team was decided as follows:-

Sir Neil
Sire Wise
Sir Peter
Red Leader CBE
Lee Richards MBE
Grappenall 57 MBE

“What about a bank runner?” asked Neil

“They won’t let us bring anyone in” said PD “there is not enough time for them to run the security checks”.

“Bloody amateurs” said GB “right Troggy”

“That’s right little buddy” replied the big fellow.

“What about you running the bank?” said WO to GB.

“I’ll be too busy looking after you lot” came the reply.

“You mean too busy poncing around in your aviator shades” scoffed Lee.

“No mate” said Trogg, in a serious tone “the security at the Palace leaves a bit to be desired” and I’m going to prove he thought to himself.

“PD and I will run the bank” said Pomp.

“Right, that’s sorted” said Peter “all we have to do now is come up with a plan”.

“We will think better with a whisky” said Pomp.

“Wouldn’t we be better keeping clear heads” whined Peter, he was thinking that once they started on the scotch; his scotch, he wouldn’t get rid of them till after midnight and the tightening in his jeans made him acutely aware of the pill he had surreptitiously popped and the fact that his wife was waiting for him upstairs.

“Nonsense my boy” retorted PG, and helping himself to the decanter, he poured everyone a stiff measure.

“Okay” said Peter, trying to keep the disappointment out of his voice, “does anyone have any ideas”.

Sir Neil broke the ensuing silence with “although I saw some big fish in the margins they did not appear to be in any significant numbers. However, as we all saw, there were plenty of small fish topping and I think we should keep it simple and fish maggot up in the water and try to put together a net of silvers”.

“That’s okay” agreed GP57 “but if the big fish show it won’t take many to beat us”.

“Let’s do a Downsey” said RL. Nine pairs of eyes looked at him.

“How do you mean” said Lee

“Remember in the re match” said Dave “Downsey waited until his team had got 20lbs per man and then tried to nobble us”

“We can’t nobble the royal household” exclaimed Neil in alarm “it could be classed as treason”

“No need to nobble” replied RL “each of us fishes until we’ve got 10lb and then switch to the margins in the hope of some bigger fish”.

“What if they start catching from the off” asked Peter “we would never catch them if we had wasted a couple of hours putting 10lb together”

“I can’t see them being that good” said PD “whereas you lot are the finest match team in the country; have a bit of self-belief”.

They all agreed that Neil had come up with a decent plan and it was agreed; maggot up in the water, 10lb later, corn, meat or pellet down the edge. It was a very relieved Peter who ushered his team mates out at a respectable 10:30pm, locked the doors and then pole vaulted up to bed.

“Is Peter alright?” asked PG as they walked down the garden path, “he seemed in rather a hurry to get rid of us”.

“He was on a fooking promise” cackled WO “did you not hear their Gert.

“No way” said Lee “not at his age”.

The Drowners all stopped as a raised voice echoed down to them from the bedroom of Peters modest 4 bed detached residence.

“Make thyself ready wench, for t’is I, Sir Peter and I come to astound you with my trusty lance”.

The Drowners collapsed in total hysteria, they had managed a lot of laughs since banding together but this took the biscuit. WO was on his back, his little legs flailing the air and his arms clasped round his stomach, desperately trying to get some air into his lungs.

RL and Neil were hugging each other, trying to breathe whilst wiping away the tears at the same time.

Trogg was leaned over the gate, gasping like a goldfish, whilst GB and Lee, in the absence of a hard surface, were banging their heads on Troggs biceps.

The noise of their merriment must have reached into the bedroom above because the light went on, the window opened and Peter stuck his head out “oy we are trying to sleep here” he said.

“What about yer trusty fookin lance” shouted WO.

Although they couldn’t see Peters face they could feel the heat from his embarrassment.

“I knew you were there” stammered Peter “it was a joke for your benefit” he added lamely.

“Okay mate, we believe you” laughed GP57.

As they made their way to the garden gate PG shouted in his finest stentorian tone,

“Service her well brave knight, for we know not what the sunrise will bring”.


Once again our intrepid team were all over the media, fishing frenzy had gripped the nation, the fact that the match was being held in the grounds of the Palace, and therefore not open to the public, did not deter them from congregating outside the gates on the morning of the match, waving their banners and chanting for their favourites, by 6:00am the area around the palace gates was thronged, even though the match did not draw until 9:00am.

At 5:30 the team coach, hired by PD, thundered down the M1 towards the nation’s capital.

“Come on lads; let’s have a sing song” shouted WO excitedly “I’ve not been on a coach to a match for years”

“Shut up yer poof” snapped Lee “I’m trying to get some kip”

“And I’m trying to concentrate on my blog” said Neil, hunched over the glowing screen of his laptop.

WO knew when he was beat and settled down to a game of cards with Pomp, PD and Trogg. £50 later, which was approximately 10 minutes, he threw his hand in with a “cheating pillocks, you make the rules up as you go along”.

“Don’t play with the big kids if you can’t keep up” laughed Trogg.

WO settled down to read the Angling Times. Decorated Hero’s take on the Royal Household was the front page headline. The article went on to say how the Drowners were, arguably, the best team in the history of English Angling and were calling for the current England squad manager to stand down and let Lord Pomp and his team take over.

“Oy Pomp” shouted Owly “they are calling for you to take over the England job and for us to fish the internationals”.

“They have impeccable taste young man, I’m sure we would bring the world championship home” replied Pomp, resplendent in his lightweight linen suit, a freebie from his Saville Row tailor in return for letting him put his name on his website of satisfied customers, and his trademark fedora; he was secretly very anxious to have a few moments in private with an actress, who had married into royalty, later that day.

“Don’t even think about it” said PD “we have only just scraped enough together to make a team never mind a squad. Peter, you need to start thinking about recruiting some fresh blood, it will only take one of you to be injured and we won’t have a team”.

It was a sobering thought and the team spent the rest of the journey in silent reflection, as they pondered over who they could draft in.
At the back of the bus, Winston and Albert curled up together quivering with the anticipation of seeing their Corgi Princesses again.

As the coach turned up the Mall the crowds, lining the sides of the road, all started cheering and frantically waving their banners, through the media coverage that the team had enjoyed ‘Drowner mania’ had hit the capitol. Inside the coach the various members handled the adulation in different ways, WO and Lee loved it and stood at the windows laughing and waving and generally playing to the crowd, Neil and Peter were embarrassed by the adulation and cringed in their seats, keeping well away from the windows but Pomp sat at the front with an imperious look on his face and casually waved his left hand as though this is what he had been born to do.

“Oy Pomp, why do you only wave with your left hand?” asked Lee

“Cos he’s preserving the muscles in his right wrist to help his sex life” screamed WO

“So uncouth” muttered Neil.

“Stop the coach” shouted PD “let’s go and sign a few autographs and promote my tackle”

The coach pulled over, to the delight of the crowds, and a large throng congregated round the doors, WO was first out and the crowd went wild, clapping him on the back, pumping his hand and asking him to sign anything from a Macdonald’s napkin through to weight card from a Fish O Mania final. Lee had gone to the back of the coach and fetched a large cardboard box which he now opened, inside it was full of the T shirts that had his face on the front and the slogan ‘Be like me; put your trust in Cadence, the tackle of the future’. PD nearly had apoplexy when he saw what Lee was doing, “Put that bloody box away” he screamed “we need to revisit the conflict of interest clause in our sponsorship agreement” he said to Pomp.

“Right lads, back on the bus” shouted Pomp “we have a match to win”

“One second my Lord” shouted Neil “I am just helping this young lad access my blog on his smartphone”

The coach turned through the Palace gates and drove around to the lake, “the security here is a bloody disgrace” muttered Trogg to GB “we haven’t even been challenged; keep your wits about you Georgie”

“Yeah, will do” agreed GB.

A huge Marquee had been erected and the Drowners senses were drowned with the smell of cooking breakfasts. A young chap in a liveried waistcoat, knee breeches and buckled shoes came over “welcome” he said “we understand it is customary for competitors to eat heartily before an angling contest. We hope you enjoy the cuisine”

They entered the Marquee and RL thought he had died and gone to heaven; along both sides and the back wall, long tables had been set up in a horse shoe and teams of chefs in tall white hats were busily cooking at a variety of portable ovens, hobs and barbecues. Peter knew that he had died and gone to heaven when he was told that everything was free.

They all heaped their plates with steak, bacon, sausage, kippers plus eggs (fried, boiled, poached or benedict) and sat at the banquet type table in the middle of the room. Young girls in maid’s uniforms came over to take their drinks orders. “Big mug of tea please” ordered WO “and sit on me knee while I drink it” he added.

“Would you like Earl Grey, British Breakfast or Lap Sang Soo Chong” she asked.

“Dave, what sort of tea does our Gert give me?” he shouted to RL.

“Yorkshire mate, but I don’t think they will have any” came the reply.

“We can arrange anything, for our guests” the maid replied putting a lot of emphasis on the ‘anything’.

Winston and Albert had found their Princesses waiting for them in the garden. The two Corgis’ were on leads being walked around the garden by an elderly lady with her hair in curlers and a roll up drooping from her mouth. Suddenly a head was thrust through an upstairs window and a voice shouted down “Lizzy, leave the dogs out and come up, your dresser is here to get you ready for the match”

“One is on her way” she shouted and flipping her fag out in the shrubbery she unleashed the dogs and made her way inside. Winston and Albert wasted no time and they rounded up their ‘ladies’ and took them to the back entrance of the marquee and settled down behind a chef who kept them supplied with a steady stream of sausages.

After breakfast the team walked the banks, “looks good Peter” said Neil “I wonder what the opposition will be like.”

“I don’t know” replied Peter “but I think we are in danger of underestimating them and I am frightened we are going to come a cropper”

“Yes” agreed Neil “I feel the same, I have never had so little preparation for a match”.

“Here they are” said Peter “Pointing to 7 chaps walking towards them; 6 of them pushing Barrows of tackle”

Our intrepid team gathered together and watched the arrival of the opposition.

“They certainly seem competent, if their gear is anything to go by.” Observed GP57

Their whole team was kitted out with top of the range Daiwa tackle.

“Drennan v Daiwa” observed GB “this should be interesting.

The two teams came together and shook hands. “how has the lake been fishing?” asked Pomp hopefully.

The opposing captain, obviously not prepared to give anything away, merely shrugged “okay” he replied.

Just as they were about to toss a coin for odd or even pegs a large party of people emerged from the French door which overlooked the Palace garden; the HRH’s were out in force. The household team immediately stood to attention and gave shallow bows. “As you were men” shouted Phillip “no ceremony today, you’ve a war to win”

“War!” exclaimed Lee “what does he think we are doing”

“He’s living in the past mate” answered RL “he is reliving WW2”

The sun was blocked out momentarily as a tall, younger version of Phillip, emerged from the doors and as he turned his ears cast long shadows which almost reached the water’s edge. He strolled over the manicured lawns wishing each tree a very good morning as he passed and stopping at an ancient oak tree, he wrapped his arms lovingly round the trunk and whispered “hello precious, you are my favourite”.

The Drowners looked on in amazement “fook me” said WO “the rumours about him are true”

“Ayup, this looks like trouble” said GP57 as a large horsey looking woman strode purposely towards her husband. As she got closer she was clearly heard to say “Oy Jug Ears, you promised to stop doing this, it is really showing me up”.

“So sorry Darling, but you have to admit that Oliver looks particularly beautiful in the morning sun”

“Who the phook is Oliver” she snarled

“The tree of course” replied Charles “Olly the Oak”

“This stops now!” Screamed Camilla “or you and I are over”.

Charles burst into tears “Don’t you want me as your tampy wampy any more” he sobbed.

Camilla couldn’t stay mad at him and she softened “of course I do my darling, let’s go back inside and I will prove it, they won’t miss us for 3 minutes”

“Oh are we going for the record then” sniffed her husband delightedly.

“Phook yes” brayed his wife.

The Drowners were speechless; the whole thing had played out in front of their very eyes; and within earshot.

“I got the whole thing on video” said Lee pointing at his smartphone.

“Excuse me sir” said a voice behind him

Lee turned around and came face to face with a huge man, fully 6’ 6” and about 19 stone of solid muscle.

“I’m afraid that I will have to ask you for your phone”

“Trogg!” shouted Lee

Trogg and GB trotted over, “what’s up mate” said GB.

“This chap is trying to take my phone”

“What’s happening” growled Trogg into the big man’s face.

“Who are you sir” the big man asked politely.

“Trogg, the Drowners head of security”

“My name’s Hawksworth” The chap said “Royal Protection Squad” he pulled out his ID and handed it to Trogg.

“This gentleman has been filming a personal interaction between two members of the household. I am afraid that I have to confiscate the phone and take it away to be cleared, it will, of course be returned at the end of the day”

“I’ve never heard anything so stupid in all my life” snarled Trogg.

Lee visibly relaxed and smirked at the RPS man “Nobody gets the better of my mate Troggy” he said smugly.

Trogg looked at him incredulously “I mean you, you imbecile; give him your phone or I will take it off you and smash it into a thousand pieces”.

Lee handed his phone over; “thank you sir” said the RPS officer.

“Really sorry about that” said Trogg “if you want him to sign a non-disclosure agreement I will make sure he comes to see you after the match”.

“Thank you, I will have a generic statement for you all to sign before you leave”.

Lee went off back to the team.

“It’s like looking after a bunch of kids” muttered Trogg to the RPS man.

“Tell me about it” he replied “the HRH’s get so used to being able to talk how they want in front of the servants that they think everyone has the same level of discretion”

“Must be tough” said Trogg sarcastically.

Back at the draw, Peter had lost the toss and the Drowners had been allocated the odd numbers. This did not worry them too much as the pegs all looked similar with no obvious fliers.
A load roaring startled them as an engine started; the noise came from the same shed as the previous week, the Drowners watched and as the door opened they expected Prince George to crawl through on his quad bike.

“Jesus” shouted RL as the quad bike, driven by a grinning Prince George, hurtled out of the shed in a magnificent wheelie and shot across the lawn at 40mph culminating in a series of doughnuts around his horrified parents.

A grizzelled little man, with oil and grease up to his elbows and a large spanner in his hands poked his head around the door.

“Scalper thought that the young gentleman needed some maintenance on his vehicle” he grinned.

“Scalper” shouted WO and the team, all except Lee, rushed over to their fellow forum member.

“What are you doing here” asked Neil.

“Trogg smuggled me in to show how rubbish the palace security is” he replied “I was in the boot of the coach and when we arrived I thought I may as well make myself useful”.

“Lee” shouted Neil.

They looked back and saw Lee lying face down on the grass, rushing over Peter knelt by his side

“He’s breathing” he said.

The HRH’s hurried over and called for a first aider.

“What happened, what!” said Phillip to WO.

“What?” replied WO

“What?” said Phillip

WO remembered the manner of Phillip’s speech and replied.

“Don’t know, your great grandson flew by and Lee collapsed”

William and Kate stood to one side and William, bending down, picked up a stone from the grass.

“Looks like the quad threw up this stone and hit him on the head”

“This wouldn’t have happened if his bike had not been tampered with” said Kate with typical motherly fury.

Pomp sensed what was coming and calmly said “He will be a great deal faster in a Land Rover purchased for him out of the taxes from ‘the great unwashed’”
Kate coloured up and had the sense to drop the subject.

“He has a slight concussion” said the first aider “he will be fine in a couple of days, I recommend he does not do anything physical for 24 hours”

“You will be ok to fish then mate” said WO “you don’t catch enough for it to be regarded as physical exertion”.

Lee just grinned at him sickly.

“Scalper will you fish?” asked PD

“Scalper would be pleased to help you out” he replied. “Can I use your gear Lee?”


The team gathered round Scalper helping him set up Lee’s tackle and Neil went through the team plan with him. WO wandered over to the household team, who were stood in a group listening to their ‘manager’ who, by his body language, appeared to be giving last minute instructions to his team. WO edged closer until he was within earshot.

“Right gentleman” the man was saying “appearance is everything, all banksticks perpendicular to the bank; use your set squares, rollers at 30cm height; you have rulers, keepnets exactly half way up your footplate leg, all elastic to be green.

WO mouth hung open as the list of instructions went on and on and he started to appreciate the captaincy and management of Peter and Pomp respectively. After the manager had finished and left, WO walked over to the nearest of the opposition,

“Fook me mate, that was a list and a half of do’s and don’ts”

“Tell me about it” the chap replied “kit inspection the night before a match and god forbid if you have a stotz an inch out on a rig; he insists on absolute perfection”.

“Do you fish many matches” asked WO

“Oh yes, every week”

“Always on this same lake”

“No, we fish the RAHO league”

“What’s RAHO?”

“Officially, it’s the Royal and Household Operative league, but we refer to it as the Royal and Hangers on league. We fish every week, all over the country at the various palace and stately home lakes”

“What’s your job at the palace?”

The chap looked a little uneasy and shuffled before replying “I only have to fish matches on a Sunday and practice on Tuesday and Thursday”

“What!” exclaimed WO “you’re telling me that you are, in effect, a professional angler, being paid out of my taxes?”

“Well if you put it like that, I suppose; yes, you are right”

“Do all the teams work on the same basis?”

“No we are the only full time team; probably why we are unbeaten in the last 5 years”

“Fook me” said WO and sticking out his hand he said “put it there mate, you’ve wangled yourself a dream job”.

WO went back to the team and told them what he had learned.

“Just what we need” said RL “a team of professionals”.

“Should we change anything” asked Peter.

“I don’t think so” replied Pomp “we have a plan and I think we should stick with it”.

“The problem is” interjected GP57 “our plan was based on the assumption that this team were occasional pleasure anglers and that they wouldn’t have caught much whilst we were amassing 10lb each and after that we should be able to pull away from them”.

The other Drowners looked at Grapp in disbelief, not because of his comments but because no-one had ever heard him string two sentences together and use words like amassing.

“I think we need a radical change in the light of what WO found out” sighed Neil. “GP57 summed it up perfectly and whilst I think that my plan was a good one, in the light of this new information I can’t see it working. All we will achieve is to give them the opportunity of drawing ahead while we scrat for 10lbs, after which we will be playing catch up”.

“Any ideas?” asked Pomp.

The team stood there scratching their heads.

“How do we know that the info given to WO was accurate?” asked RL “it may have been propaganda”

“That’s true” replied PD “did he seem sincere Wisey”

“Yes mate” replied the little fella “and the way their manager was drilling them made it seem realistic”

“We have to assume the info is correct” said Pomp “and we have about 5 minutes to the ‘all in’ to come up with one”

“Can Scalper make a point?” asked Scalper

“Why do you refer to yourself in the third person” asked Lee, who was starting to recover.

“It’s what Scalper does” was the simple reply.

“We are wasting time” said Peter “what did you want to say Scalp?”

“I think you are getting bogged down and allowing them to get to you; you’re already sounding like a team that has been beaten. We should stick to the plan, with one small adjustment; instead of waiting to get 10lb we should change as soon as the next peg starts picking up better fish. In other words use your experience, you are all bloody good anglers and deserve the right to autonomy”

“For fooks sake” said WO “has everyone had a fookin dictionary for breakfast?”

Everyone laughed and Peter said “Scalpers right, let’s fish it as though we were pleasure fishing and, as WO would say, fook it up em”.

“So uncouth” muttered Neil.

The whistle went for the start and 6 poles were shipped out to 14.5 metres as the Drowners began their ‘up in the water’ tactics. Twangs of catapult elastic abounded and the surface of the water, at each odd peg started to boil. Results were instant and the household team could only watch in awe at the speed fishing prowess of the opposition as they netted a procession of small roach.

“Looks like we might be okay” said PD

“It’s early days yet my dear boy” replied Pomp, furtively looking around to see if he could spot Meg. “where are all the royals” he asked, looking at the deserted grounds.

“They said they wouldn’t be out for the first hour to give the teams chance to settle” replied PD

“Nice of them” replied Pomp his tone belying the disappointment he felt.

Peter, on peg 3, was starting to enjoy himself; he had shortened to a top 2 + 1 in order to speed up his catch rate and he was hitting a tiny roach every chuck and settling into a smooth rhythm of swing out, feed, strike, swing in and unhook. Lee, who had recovered sufficiently to run the bank, quickly passed this on to the rest of the team and, with the exception of Scalper, they all followed suit. Scalper was fishing just a top 2 and was catching faster than the others, Lee relayed this back and everyone shortened even further.

“If I fish any shorter I’ll be hooking my socks” declared RL.

“Yer right mate” shouted WO “I’ve got 2 corns and a bunion in my net already”.

Behind every peg stood a liveried footman, the Drowners assumed they were acting as referees until one of the opposition snapped his fingers and the footman approached, listened for a moment before walking over the grass to the palace. He returned 5 minutes later with a mug of coffee and gave it to ‘his’angler.

"Excuse me” said RL to the footman behind him.

“Yes sir” asked the footman

“Are you here to bring me refreshment?”

“Yes sir”

“In that case, could I have a Latte and is there any chance of a piece of pork pie” RL asked hopefully.

“I think I can manage that sir” replied the footman and walked off to the palace.

Once the Drowners realised that they had a servant each the orders came thick and fast and the footmen were kept busy delivering a constant stream of drinks and snacks to our intrepid team.
Thirty minutes into the match, and PD estimated the Drowners had around 5lb of fish each, disaster struck as, almost simultaneously, green elastic streamed from the poles of three of the opposition. In a very short time 3 double figure carp had been netted.

“There goes our lead” said PD dejectedly.

“They are fishing really tight against the margin reeds” informed Lee “I cannot see the bait, it looks black and white but I can’t get close enough to be sure”.

“Keep trying lad” said PG “and make sure the team know they are now playing catch up”.

Lee hurried around the team telling them what he had found out.

“Tell them to have a go in the margins for the next hour and we will see what transpires” said Peter to Lee.

“Strewth, another one that has swallowed a dictionary” thought Lee as he hurried around the lake.

Neil was still getting a fish a chuck but he had been baiting his right margin with corn and micro’s and his left with small cubes of meat. When he received the news he changed to a small dibber rig to number 20 elastic, 0.2 line and 1.8 hook length to a size 14. He had noticed the reeds shaking and even though he couldn’t see any fish, the matchman’s instinct, built up through years of experience, told him they were there. Baiting with a cube of meat and lowering his rig carefully into the 2ft deep margin he almost stopped breathing as the float started to bob and dance. Neil knew this was just ‘carp foreplay’ and the movement of the float was being caused by the fish brushing his line rather than mouthing the bait. The float dipped again and this time he knew that it was a bite, how he knew, he had no idea, people had often asked him, via his blog and in person, how he differentiated between liners and hookers. He could never answer this question as, in truth, he did not know; it was matchman’s intuition, you either had it or you didn’t. He struck and felt the solid thump of a good fish, elastic poured from his pole tip and he plunged the top kit under the water and played the fish to a standstill before slipping the net under a lovely common of about 15lb.

“Oh well done Sir Neil” shouted a flame haired lass who was making her way across the manicured lawns at the head of the royals, who were now coming to join the party.

The flame haired lass made a bee line for Neil, “hello Sir Neil” she said

“Oh please, just Neil” he replied.

“Nonsense, you are a knight of the realm and you deserve your title”.

“And what do I call you?” he asked.

“Sarah will do” she replied “I don’t have a meaningful title since Andrew and split”.

“Anyway, enough of the formal stuff, did you know all the royal family are big fans of the drowners? We read all about your exploits and we all love your blog”.

“That means so much” replied Neil “I put a lot of time and effort into it, it is wonderful when it is appreciated”.

“Right, I am going to sit with you and you can explain your rigs and tell me why you are doing things. I often fish with Andrew and the next time I want to whip his ass” she said with a huge grin

Over on Scalpers peg, he was fishing the margins using bread, laying a foot of line on the bottom he was picking up tench on a fairly regular basis. “Scalpers doing all right” he muttered to himself”.

However, on all the even pegs, huge carp were being caught with alarming frequency; GP57 looked on in dismay as the lad on the next peg slipped his net under his 9th double figure mirror. All round the lake the situation was the same and it was patently obvious that the Drowners were being totally battered for the first time in their careers.

Over in the marquee Trogg and Georgie Boy were watching the match over a cup of coffee.

“Jeez” said GB “there’s going to be some bruised egos on the way home after a defeat like this, there’s only 2 hours left and we must 200lb adrift”.

“Law of averages mate” replied his big friend “it had to happen sometime”.

“Excuse me gentlemen”

Trogg and GB turned, the RPS man Hawksworth stood there looking business like.

“Mr Hawksworth” acknowledged Trogg

“Tony please”

“Tony; what can we do for you”

“You’ve breached royal security by bringing an extra guest into the palace, that is an offence under the Anti-Terrorism Act”

GB paled, any terrorist offences carried big prison sentences and he had no wish to spend the next 20 years in the ‘big house’.

“Do I look stupid” asked Trogg “If you read our guest list, which I supplied to your chief of staff, you will see that Scalper was on it, the fact that he was riding in the boot of the coach is completely irrelevant. All I did was to hide an official guest; your team did not even check the list. They were too concerned about someone in the boot that they dismissed all other protocol; we could have used Scalper as a diversion if we had wanted to plot an attack. You cannot blame us for the incompetence of your team”

Hawksworth blustered, went red, blustered some more and, making a noise like a fart through a wedgie he turned on his heel and went to sack his chief of staff.

“Brilliant mate” laughed GB “I was worried there”

Trogg leant down and gave his mate a knuckle rub on his head.

The whistle sounded and the Drowners dejectedly started to pack away whilst they waited for the scales.

“It had to happen sometime mate” said RL to Peter.

“It doesn’t make it any easier to accept though” was the bitter reply.

“NEIL NO!!!!!” screamed WO and Grapp to Neil who was on the verge of tipping his, un-weighed, net of fish back.

“Make sure you weigh in Sir Neil” shouted PG in a calmer voice.

“Sorry” stammered Neil “just a rush of blood to the head.”

On peg 1 WO wandered over to peg 2 whilst he waited for the scales,

“How were you catching mate”

“There’s no need to keep it a secret anymore” laughed the lad “this lake is infested with snails and the carp pick them off the lily stalks at mid water. We just hook a tare past the bend of the hook and a white maggot on the bend and it is a dead ringer for a snail; unbeatable at this time of year”

“Fookin brilliant mate” said WO, bending down to inspect the maggots that the lad had been using.

“These are the biggest maggots I have ever seen”

“We have them bred in Scotland on wild venison”

“How the other half live” laughed Wisey.

The scales arrived and WO returned 14lb of bits

“Damned bad look young feller me lad what!” said Wisey’s new BFF.

WO could not look as the scales stopped at peg 2, he stood with baited breath waiting for his drubbing to be made public.

“12lb 4oz” shouted the scalesman.

WO rushed over just as the lad was tipping a single common back into the lake.

“Where are yer fish mate” he exclaimed “I saw you net at least 8 doubles”

“They wouldn’t have counted” said the lad “our manager will only let us weigh in perfect fish, any hint of a scab or imperfection and we have to put them straight back”.

It was the same story all around the lake; the royal team were only weighing a fraction of what they had caught, the lad next to RL actually recording a blank although RL said that he’d had at least 100lb of fish.

When they reached Scalpers peg a crowd of royal’s had gathered round as, for the last hour, he had caught a tench a chuck and they were all anticipating a good weight. He lifted a net of pristine, fin perfect tench out of the water and as he tipped them into the weigh sling he turned to the crowd, winked and declared “Scalper did well”

“You did well on my phookin bike as well Uncle Scalper” shouted Prince George “thank you”.

“This is what you get when you let the children mix with the riff raff” hissed Kate to William.

“Don’t be a phookin snob Kate” laughed Fergie.

Meg sidled up to PG and slipped a note into his hand, PG walked away from the crowd and opened it; he read;

I have arranged to accept a part in Seymour Butts new film provided you play my lead.
Call my secretary to confirm
M


PG smiled to himself, thought of his darling wife and shredded the note before dropping it into a nearby bin. “Can’t have scandal now I’m a lord” he mused

A big cheer went up from the crowd; Scalper had weighed 97lb 6oz and was a clear victor. The teams weights were:-

Royal Household 148lb 12oz
Drennan Drowners 152lb 14oz
The drowners had done it.

“Good job you didn’t tip back mate” said GP57 to Neil, “that would have cost us the match”

Neil paled and realised that a valuable lesson had been learned and never again would he tip back without weighing.

For his victory Scalper was given a large solid gold medal with “Royal Angling Tournament Individual Winner” engraved upon it.

Although the team were pleased, and relieved to have won, the victory was a hollow one, they realised they had fluked it and the mood was quite sombre as they started the long trip back home.
“Come on lads, we still won” shouted WO “Let’s have a sing song, do you wanna be in my gang….he warbled”

Eventually the rest of the team started to join in and when they were about half way home the mood had lifted and even Peter gave a very credible impression of Elvis singing the ‘wonder of you’.

PD shouted for order and, once the team settled down, he made a little speech.

“Right lads, you all agree that we had the biggest battering since Harry Ramsden opened a chain of shops.” There was a general hubbub of agreement; “but” PD continued “we came out victorious, thanks to Scalper stepping in at the last minute and saving the day”

“Scalper was pleased to help” said the grizzled little man in the corner, lovingly stroking his gold medal.

“It seems that we are a very lucky team and things tend to drop into place, but,” he added “we can’t rely on this and we need new blood in the squad. I’m quite happy to continue sponsoring but I would prefer to rely on depth of talent rather than providence. My inclination is that, now, would be a good time to quit; unbeaten and decorated. I discussed it with PG but he wants to carry on,” a muted cheer went up from the drowners, “I have decided; therefore, to drop it into the captains lap”. He looked at Peter and said “you have 6 months to recruit at least 3 new members and get them into shape, if that doesn’t happen then we will wind it up”.

Peter started racking his brains for people, he thought, were not only good anglers but would also blend into the unique dynamic of the Drowners.


Some four months after the match, in the late evening, a blacked out Land Rover made its way through the streets of a Leeds housing estate knocking the wing mirrors off every parked car that it passed. The commotion roused Wise Owl, putting down his Gin and Tonic he looked out of his front window and saw the car approach, then turning into his drive. Placing his machete, within easy reach, on a shelf at the side of the front door he opened it to see none other than his mate Prince Phillip emerge from the drivers’ side.

“Hello me lad, I bet you didn’t expect to see me, what!” The Duke shouted

“What the fook are you doing here” laughed WO

“A matter of national concern” Phil said, gravely. Walking round to the back of the Land Rover he opened the tailgate to reveal two large crates; one containing a litter of Cordales and the other a litter of Coxers.

“Seems like your hounds got busy during the match” laughed the Duke “personally I don’t mind but Lizzie is a stickler for pure bloodlines and she told me to give them to you and that scoundrel…..what’s his name er, er, Dead Leader, what!”

“Red Leader” laughed WO looking at the pups with affection.

“Sykes bring the bribe” barked the duke to the bodyguard in the front passenger seat.

“It’s more a compensation stud fee sir” said Sykes

“Nonsense” exclaimed the Duke “My friend Sir Wise and I like to call a spade a spade, we all know it’s a bribe to keep the secret what!”

Sykes handed the Duke a huge roll of used £50 notes, “£10,000 there” he said and I have the same for your colleague, I am on my way there now”.

“Can I make a suggestion Phil” said WO

“Of course dear boy”

“If you take that money to Red Leader his wife will confiscate it. It is far better if you leave it with me and don’t mention it at all. I will give it to him when we are on our own” said WO crossing his fingers behind his back.

“Oh that’s the way the land lies is it, what! Alright mums the word” he said tapping his nose.

He handed over the second bankroll and got back into the Land Rover; “Lizzie and I expect you and Gert to join us for a spot of salmon fishing at Balmoral next spring what!” and with that he was away, leaving another trail of wing mirrors in his wake.

WO stood with his hand up in farewell, the £20,000 nestling in the pockets of his 501’s, until the royal car turned the corner at the end of the street.
Turning back to his house, he picked up the litter of pups, went through the door and shouted ALBERT!!!!!
 

Peter

'Mugger'
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The Drowners go North

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Roki woke early and, slipping from under the fur blanket that he shared with his 4 brothers, pulled on his hooded fur lined parka and crawled out of the igloo. The Arctic tundra greeted him like an old friend, fields of ice and snow lay, like a silent still ocean for as far as he could see and in the distance he could just make out faint plumes of smoke from the settlement 50 miles away. The dogs, sensing adventure, began to stir and rise from their snow blankets. Roki gave a low pitched hiss to quieten them, he did not want his father to wake, as he was sure to stop him from making his journey and he had waited long enough. He pulled several hunks of Seal blubber out of the bin by the wall of his family igloo and fed the dogs, they attacked the blubber with fierce relish and whilst they were fighting over the scraps Roki dragged his sled around to the rear of the igloo and attached the harnesses ready to put the dogs to work.

“And where do you think you are going”

Roki jumped out of his skin and turned to face Kerin, his father and leader of this group of native Inuit people.

“Into town” replied Roki sticking out his 12 year old chest with bravado.

“you’re not old enough to make the journey on your own my son” said Kerin

“But father, I’m 12 now and you tell tales of when you used to make the journey when you were 10”

Kerin looked at his son with pride, he had the same strong, hawklike nose of his father and the stubborn set to his chin, of his mother. He realised then that his son was growing up, in another couple of years he would be married with sons of his own.

“Very well Roki but you must take this” Kerin handed a long oilcloth package to his son.

Roki could not believe his luck “Thank you father” he exclaimed.

“This fishing team that you keep talking about”

“The Drennan Drowners” said Roki

“Yes” replied Kerin, “are they any good”

“They are the best in England” said Roki with pride “Wise Owl can spit in a bucket and then catch a big fooker out of it”

“Invite them over” laughed his father “let’s see if they can fish against real men”

“Seriously” gasped Roki

“Seriously” came the reply.

“Be back before nightfall” said Kerin, turning and crawling back into the igloo.



“Who the fook are these” shouted Wisey “We don’t even know em”

We are once more back in Peters kitchen, all the Drowners are assembled round the table which is piled high with letters of application to join the Drennan Drowners.

“Mr Drennan said that, after the Palace fiasco, we have to strengthen the side or he was packing it in” said Lord Pomp, resplendent in a hand stitched pale turquoise shirt which his wife said brought out the blue in his eyes, ran his hand through his lustrous locks and poured himself another shot of Peters whisky.

“Who are the best candidates?” said Neil of the Nene

“None of em” snorted Wisey

“How many do we need”? asked Lee.

“Well now that Genesis is back, 3 or 4 should do us” said Peter, casting a desperate look at Pomp who was, once more, replenishing his whisky glass.

“When are you going to bring a bottle” he whined

Pomp studiously ignored him and pretended to scrutinise the applications “I think we should go for 7 and put a bit of depth into the squad, then we can re-jig the team if anyone is having a bad run”

“That makes sense” said Neil “I wrote a piece in my blog about the depth of knowledge that can be shared amongst a squad”

“I’m sick to death of hearing about your fooking blog” snarled Wise Owl “You would be better off concentrating on your fishing sooner than wasting your time on drivel that no one is going to read”

“My blog is published” protested Neil “I have fans who rely on it to help them with their fishing”

“God help them then” scoffed WO

“So uncouth” muttered Neil and for the millionth time he wondered how he had ever got in with such a motley crew, although he had to admit that he felt a strong sense of comradeship with the rough hewn characters that formed the team.

“Here we go” wheezed Dave, still not fully recovered from the ‘bit of a cold’ he claimed to have had. He laid out a neatly typed list on to the table.

“We cannot make an informed decision without a drink” said Pomp, waving the empty whisky bottle at Peter.

“I’ve run out” whispered Peter, desperately hoping that his wife wouldn’t hear him.

“RUN OUT” shouted Dave, promptly doubling over with breathlessness from the exertion of raising his voice.

“There are 3 bottles of single malt in the cupboard darllng” shouted Maria from the next room “don’t be such a tight fooker” she added, grinning round the side of the door frame.

“Oh my god” exclaimed her husband “Wisey is rubbing off on her now”

“I wouldn’t do that to a mate” protested WO giving Maria a suggestive wink.

“Don’t start being naughty” she laughed, giving Wisey a clip round the ear. She went to the cupboard and took out a bottle of 30 year old Glen Morangie “here you are my Lord” she said, passing it to Pomp.

“Thank you my lady” purred Pomp with a bow; opening the bottle, with a flourish, he poured everyone a drink.

“The Prince Consort whisky would have been OK” ventured Peter.

“Darling when are you going to get it through that balding head of yours” she glanced longingly at PG’s lustrous waves, “you cannot serve cooking whiskey to a peer of the realm”

Peter knew when he was beaten and decided that silence was the better part of valour. He turned to the list “OK Dave what have we got?”

The list contained 12 names :-



UKZero1

Warrington 63

Total

Sly

Yosemite Sam

Scribe

Barbel Catcher

The landlord

TipitinmIck

Arch

Godber

Chervil

“We need to pick seven of them” said Dave “how do you want to do it mate” he asked Peter. Although the drowners made all decisions as a collective the final choice was down to Peter.

“We arrange a match between them and we walk the bank observing” started Peter “The top 3 are in automatically and the other 4 are chosen by us”

“Good plan” said GP57 finally waking up and taking an interest in his surroundings.

“I will get Lindholme organised” said Peter

“Why Lindholme mate” asked Lee

“Because that is our ‘spiritual home’, it is where it all started” explained Peter.

“Bullshyte” scoffed WO “it’s because you get free breakfasts there”

“Well there is that” admitted Peter “and those two always seem to enjoy a free sausage” he continued, pointing at Albert and Winston who were sleeping by the fire.

“I’ll contact the 12 and let them know” said RL

“I’m meeting Peter Drennan later” said Pomp “ I will give him the news”

The meeting broke up and the drowners went their respective ways wondering what the inclusion of new members would do to the team dynamic.



Back on the Tundra, Roki was just fastening the last buckle on the dog sled, the thick leather was stiff with the cold and, as he struggled to get the buckle pin into the hole, he was thinking of how to invite his hero’s to his village and wondering if they would actually come if he asked them; after all he was just a 12 year old Eskimo and they had never heard of him. He was, however, undaunted and he knew in his heart of hearts that if he could write a good letter he would finally get to meet the fishermen whom he had idolised for the last 2 years.

His interest in English fishing had started 3 years ago when Micko, who ran the general store in the town, had given him a dog eared and battered copy of the Angling Times that a visitor had left in his shop. He had been entranced with the complexities of the sport, his own experience was merely dropping a line, with a baited hook, through a hole in the ice and fishing for food. Micko, saw how much enjoyment Roki was getting out of the AT and he ensured that he ‘acquired’ a new copy every time Roki was due to visit, which was once a month or so when he came in with his father. Once he saw how obsessed Roki was becoming with the English fishing style he had let him use the internet, in the back office of his shop, and shown him the Maggot Drowning forum. Roki had read an instalment of ‘The Drennan Drowners’ and was immediately ‘hooked’: After that, every visit would see him hunched over the small monitor, in the back of Micko’s, totally absorbed in the exploits of his hero’s, he liked them all but had to admit that Wise Owl was his favourite. The thought that he may finally meet them sent him giddy with excitement.

The last buckle was now fastened and with a sharp “gerrupwiya” he galvanised the dogs into life and sped off on the 3 hour journey to the town.



Saturday July 3rd saw the Drowners sat in the café at Lindholme, the old stagers, relaxed and micky taking, were tucking in to their ‘free’ breakfasts whilst the ‘new blood’ sat in nervous anticipation of what was to come.

“Right lads” said Pomp “there should be 12 of you but I can only see 11, who’s missing”?

“Sly” said Neil

“Anybody know if he’s coming”? asked Dave

“I’ll give him a ring” said UKZ who was absolutely cream crackered from being up since 4:00am dealing with some poachers on his club lake.

“Well where exactly are you?” the other drowners quietened down in order to hear the conversation.

“Knowing there is a telegraph pole up the road is no help” said UK calmly.

“No mate, it is very unlikely that the pole is attached to Dave Spence’s cap, that is another pole entirely” UK was now speaking in a tone of voice normally used by carers in a dementia home.

“ Are there any signs near you”?

“JUNCTION 26, 5 Miles! What road are you on”?

“No mate you should not be heading south on the M1”

“Yes I know you have a new sat nav, but have you put the right post code in”?

“The post code is the bit at the end of the address, numbers and letters”

“That’s it, now press done; what is it telling you to do”?

“You cannot do a U turn on the M1…………………oh okay then, obviously you can”.

“Yes mate I will keep your breakfast warm for you, see you in a bit”

UKZ turned back to his breakfast and bit into a sausage that was dripping in brown sauce. The others looked on incredulously.

“Well” said RL

“Well what?” came the reply

“Is the dozy fooker coming?” said WO

“Oh! Yes, he will be here in about 40 minutes”

“Does he often get lost like this” asked Neil

“No mate, only when he’s driving; he’s great as a passenger, must be the concentration required when he is at the wheel, I can’t understand it really” replied UKZ putting another splash of brown sauce where he could see the white plate showing through.

Dave looked at Peter and, in true Yul Bryner style, raised a meaty digit, Peter nodded resignedly. UKZ was in, although he couldn’t see how a liking for brown sauce was a credential for being in the team, he daren’t argue with the leader of the forum.

Sly duly arrived and promptly slung his breakfast between 2 slices of bread and munched happily whilst they made the draw, which was as follows:-

Peg 1 UKZero1

Peg 2 Chervil

Peg 3 Yosemite Sam

Peg 4 Scribe

Peg 5 Godber

Peg 6 The Landlord

Peg 7 Barbel Catcher

Peg 8 Warrington 63

Peg 9 Total

Peg 10 Sly

Peg 11 Arch

Peg 12 Tipitinmick



As the intrepid hopefuls made their way to their respective swims and started setting up Lee said to Peter, “Who’s the chap on peg 7”

Peter consulted his clip board “Barbel Catcher, why?”

“He’s using an old watercraft box, that is not even soooo last year, it dates back to when god was a lad”

“And” replied Peter

“Will he be any good” said Lee

“For fooks sake Lee, everybody knows it’s not your tackle its how you use it” Scoffed WO joining in the conversation.

“Plus” said Peter “if they join us they get a full set of Drennan gear as part of the sponsorship deal”

Lee slunk off, fully chastised, and went into the café for a cup of tea and a read of his Cadence catalogue.

Lindholme was exceptionally quiet, the drowners had not publicised their ‘trials’ so that the hopefuls could fish to the best of their ability without the crowds that were always a regular feature wherever the Drowners fished. The only exception was a chap wearing an ancient hoody who was sat behind UKZero1 on peg 1.

“Who’s the bloke with UKZ” said Dave

“looks like a big issue seller” scoffed Grapp

“UKZ don’t seem bothered, he’s talking to him” said Neil

The drowners looked over as the chap was pointing at the water and from his body language it was obvious that he was giving UKZ some advice.

The all in sounded and 10 rigs, one big quill and a feeder went into the water. On peg 7 Barbel Catcher had set up a Mk1V split cane avon rod, centre pin loaded with 12lb line and a big goose quill float. Bait was a lump of flake on a number 12. The Drowners looked on incredulously

“if he starts catching it will give the regulars something to think about” stated Dave

“What goes round comes around” replied Peter “we may be looking at the next ‘THE method’”

Their musings were interrupted by a huge splash on peg 4 and they looked up just in time to see Scribe taking a header into the lake.

“What the fook” exclaimed WO

“let’s go and see if he is ok” said Neil

The Drowners rushed around to peg 4 just as Scribe was dragging himself back onto his platform.

“Are you ok?” asked GP57

“Yeah, fine”replied Scribe “I dropped my disgorger and had to go in to fetch it back”.

“Are you packing up now mate” asked Lee

Scribe looked at him like he had 2 heads “why would I be packing up” he asked

“You’re soaked through” said Neil “you can’t fish like that”

“Just a bit damp” laughed Scribe “I’ll be okay, at least I have got my disgorger back”

“Do you want a brew fetching mate?” asked Dave who was impressed with the resilience shown by the Drowner hopeful.

“Yes please” replied Scribe “and” he continued, “if you look in the boot of my car there are 3 pork pies, I’ll have one of those as well”

“Pork pies?” asked Dave, snapping to full mental alert.

“Yes mate, I always bring a few to a match, help yourself to one if you want”.

Dave gave a huge grin and looking at Peter, he held up 2 fingers. Peter nodded resignedly and wondered if he, the team bloody captain, would ever have a say who was to be included.

Half way through the match it was clear that UKZ was ahead of the field and was catching small carp every ‘put in’; his little ‘guru’ was still sat behind him although he was yet to remove his hood, preferring to sit in a shroud of mystery like a meditating monk.

There was not much between the rest of the field apart from Tipitinmick who was having a torrid time on peg 12 and he was yet to get off the mark. Barbel Catchers ‘big fish’ tactics had resulted in a nice double figure common but nothing else. Total was catching F1’s on a regular basis but he was struggling to concentrate as he had Neil sat on his shoulder trying to pick up some tips on how to hook the ‘pellet lickers’ and he was making poor Total explain, in detail, everything he was doing, before typing it in to his laptop.

“What are you writing” asked Total

“I’m composing a detailed analysis of how to fish for the elusive F1 for my blog” replied Neil.

“Ain’t your blog supposed to be your own work?” asked Total.

“It is, but I am adapting your advice to reflect my own thoughts” said Neil smugly

Total pondered on whether to tell him to fook off, but realised that would finish his chances of becoming a sponsored member of the team and so he gritted his teeth and carried on.

On peg 5 Godber was showing his class on the tip and using all the experience from his Port Talbot Dock matches and the tips from Clive Branson; that he had paid for in the pub. He was launching a small groundbait feeder 90 yards to an Island and was picking up a procession of medium sized carp.

In sharp contrast Yosemite Sam, with his immaculately clean and polished tackle, was catching in the margins and although his fish were smaller than Godbers he was catching at a much faster rate and it would be a brave man who would bet either way on the outcome.

On Peg 2 Chervil was demonstrating his long pole technique and was fishing tight to an Island at 18 metres, he had found an old pole section which he had utilised as an ‘add on’ to his 16m pole in order to reach the Island and was reaping the benefits with a run of skimmers.

Warrington 63 on peg 8 was fishing a solid match and by alternating between 3 different lines he had been catching steadily since the second hour and was firmly in the running for a place.



Into the last hour it was still neck and neck for second place, UKZ was still way ahead of the field, WO, who had fished with him before was heard to comment

“Fook me, I’ve never seen him fish this well, I’ve always called him a blanker”

Neil then realised that he really should get his hearing tested.

Meanwhile on the cesspit, parrotcage that was peg 12, Tipitinmick was almost in tears, he could see his chances of making the team rapidly disappearing. His peg was absolutely dead, no sign of life whatsover, he was at his wits end, not knowing what he could do. Suddenly his attention was caught by a vibration in the grass near his feet, he froze as a hill started to appear, bigger and bigger until at last a large black mole burst through the top of the pile. Mick and the mole stared at each other and if panpipe music had started all that would have been needed was a couple of pieces of tumbleweed blowing by to make it a scene from a Clint Eastwood movie. The mole looked at Mick and with his huge front claws he flicked a small cloud of soil in the air then turning around he pulled a big lobworm out of the pile and tossed it towards Micks feet; then, with a knowing wink at the bemused angler he turned and burrowed back down the hole. Mick was gobsmacked but, he had got the message loud and clear and he quickly tied on a number 12, put on the lob, cupped a pot of soil into his left hand margin and dropped in his rig. The float settled and vanished, Mick struck and a powerful fish bored off towards the middle, “please don’t come off, please don’t come off” thought Mick as he slowly gained elastic through his puller. His prayers were answered and a double figure mirror was eventually slipped into the net. “At last” whooped Mick and grabbing another lob out of the ‘hill’, put in again; miraculously he was into another within seconds and another double joined the first. This was the turning point for Mick and in the last 40 minutes before the whistle he landed no less than 6 double figure fish.

Greg the mole returned down the tunnel to his wife and family, “what’s got into you said Sharon, his wife, “I’ve never seen you help a human before”

“It was the least I could do, that chap has been giving my cousin Morris free board and lodgings for the last year or so”

The whistle sounded and the scales arrived at peg 1. The ‘monk’, who had sat with UKZ for all of the match, bent down to help him lift his first keepnet, as he straightened, his hood fell back revealing none other than Dennis ‘Fatha’ White.

“What the fook are you doing here” asked WO

“Just helping t’owd lad out” replied the former Barnsley Blanks star “he taught me all I know, but the dozy bugger has gone and forgotten it all”

UK weighed in a very creditable 102lb 12oz, Chervil on peg 2 had took full advantage of listening to the advice being given to UKZ and he tipped 92lb 6oz onto the scales.

“That should be enough to get me a place” he exclaimed excitedly, already dreaming of future glory, the ache in his deformed feet forgotten as he mentally listed the gear he would be receiving as a sponsored angler.

“Hang on” said Lee “There’s something not right”

“what” asked Chervil nervously

Lee ran to his car and returned with a set of Cadence marker sticks and commenced measuring Chervil’s pole.

“I thought it looked too long” exclaimed Lee

Chervil, did not know whether to feel frightened or flattered, he looked on nervously, feeling like one of the many criminals he had nicked, over the years, when they were stood in the dock.

Lee finished his calculations and announced “you’ve been fishing with 17.98 meters of pole and there is a 16m limit”

“Sorry my friend” said PG “I am afraid that is disqualification”

Chervil was experienced enough to know that ignorance of the law was not a mitigating factor “guilty as charged” he said tearfully.

The scales moved on, now with all the atmosphere of a funeral procession.

“Was I wrong to say anything Pomp?” Lee asked

“No my dear boy” replied PG, straightening the creases in his new HH suit, “we have to be seen to be above all types of gamesmanship and rule breaking” this statement being punctuated with a glare at WO.

“What you looking at me for?” protested WO; Albert, showing loyalty to his dad, bared his teeth at PG.

“Black Widow” said PG simply.

“You been looking at my internet history” grinned WO

On peg 3 Yosemite Sam had fished a blinder and put 76lb 2oz on the scales, beating Scribe by a clear 5lbs. Godber had shown his class on the tip and returned 68lb, even; whilst the Landlord on the next peg had suffered with unhittable F1 bites and only weighed 26lb 2oz.

“You need to read my blog on F1 fishing “ said Neil

“Oy Ernest bloody Hemmingway; shut the fook up about your blog” came a familiar voice, the Drowners looked around and there was Genesis making his way up the bank with Peter Drennan.

“Great to see you mate” said lee

“Where you bin” asked Grap

“Sorting out a few business deals, but I’m back now and raring to go” replied Genesis

“The boys are back in town, the boys are back in town” warbled WO happily. Winston and Albert both cringed at the noise and legged it back to the café to see if there were any leftovers.

Barbel Catcher had persisted with his big fish tactics and had 2 fish for 37lb. Warrington 63 on the next peg had fished a blinder and returned 75lb 3oz. Total had managed to bag 75lb 2oz of F1’s even with Neil’s constant distractions.

Sly and Arch on pegs 10 and 11 had been sharing some very strange looking fags all match and even though they only weighed 23lb and 21lb respectively they were still having fits of giggles as they packed away. “So uncouth” muttered Neil.

Arriving at peg 12 Mick was still in shock about his encounter and he lifetd his nets out in a trance, only waking up, when the scalesman announced 98lb 14oz, he’d done it and he owed it all to Morris the mole and his cousin Greg.

Back in the café the atmosphere was electric; all the competitors had been told to stay at their pegs whilst the weigh in took place, no one knew who had won and the banter flew back and forth.

“What did you weigh Uk”

“102” came the reply

“you’ve got no chance then, I’ve heard 4 over the ton weights already”

“Warrington’s had a good match, I think he’s won it”

“Nah, I heard he blanked for the last 2 hours”

The banter continued ad infinitum, it was clear that no one had a clue as to the results.

Whilst this was going on, Dave had took himself into a corner and was huddled over his clip board. Sweat was beading on his brow as he dealt with complexities of putting the 12 weights in order.

“Peter” he whispered “is 72lb 18oz bigger than 73lb 3oz?”

“What the fook are you doing” scoffed his mate “You can’t have 72lb 18oz; there are only 16oz in a pound”

Dave got out his calculator, pen and paper and 2 minutes later with sweat dripping off his nose and a thumping headache he said “73lb 2oz”

“By jove he’s got it” laughed his best friend “how on earth do you measure up for jobs”

“Don’t ask mate; I was sorting one yesterday, a 10ft by 8ft 6” and I had to work out the area in square meters; it nearly killed me; and,” he added “I’ve not been well you know”

“Bullsheet” scoffed Peter “you had nothing more than a bit of a cold”

Eventually everything was sorted out and PD, as sponsor, announced the results;

1 UKZero1, 102lb 12oz

2 Tipitinmick, 98lb 14oz

3 Yosemite Sam, 76lb 2oz

4 Warrington 63, 75lb 3oz

5 Total, 75lb 2oz

6 Godber, 75lb

7 Scribe, 71lb

8 Barbel Catcher, 37lb

9 The Landlord, 26lb 2oz

10 Sly, 23lb

11 Arch, 21lb

12 Chervil, DNW (Disqualified)

Everyone crowded round the top 3, cheering and backslapping; it took PD several minutes to gain order.

“OK lads, as you know, the top 3 are in automatically and a further 4 will be picked by the existing team”

The hopefuls waited expectantly.

PG cleared his throat “Of the top 3, one of them had already been chosen, therefore, it is the top 4 who are in”

It took a few seconds but when he realised, Warrington 63 gave a huge cheer, passed his fags round and shouted “The Pie and Peas are on me”

“Just like the Milky Bar kid” laughed Genesis

RL looked at Peter and raised 5 fingers, Peter nodded, at least he would get to choose 2 himself, and he knew the criteria he would use.

PG continued, “we are now going to go into the back and discuss the places remaining; we will be back shortly”.

“I didn’t know anyone named Shortly was fishing” whispered Grap to Genesis.



Roki had stopped the sled, the dogs were quiet and all he could hear was the thumping of his own heart. He knew the dangers he faced as he looked at the mother polar bear and her 2 cubs that were standing looking at them 30 yards ahead. He could hear his father’s words echoing in his head;

“if you see a bear my son, don’t run, they will give chase and they are very fast. Remember, a mother with her cubs is the most dangerous of all”

Roki stayed still, but the bears seemed in no hurry to move, the cubs were playing and the mother stared at the boy and his dogs, motionless, just a menacing presence. With shaking hands he very slowly unwrapped the oil cloth his father had given him and removed the ancient Mannlicher M1895 rifle, the stock felt slippery with the sweat on his hands, with shaking fingers he drew the bolt and inserted a 50mm cartridge into the breech. He knew he would only get one chance, he did not want to kill the mother as her cubs would then surely perish on their own and he would not get a chance to get off another 2 shots.

The click of the chamber closing caused one of the dogs to snarl, that was enough for the mother; raising herself to her full height she let out a fearsome growl, which reverberated among the ice cliffs and started towards the boy and his sled with a deceptively fast leisurely gait. Roki, was petrified, but the plucky youngster raised the gun and took aim. He knew his father always waited until the bears were almost upon him before he fired but he was too young and inexperienced to be that courageous. The bear was about 20 yards away when he fired, the ear splitting boom echoed across the Tundra and amidst a cloud of smoke Roki executed a back somersault due to the recoil of the gun. He scrabbled in the snow, grabbing the rifle, which had flown out of his hands, and leapt to his feet. The smoke cleared and he saw the bears, mother and cubs, running away over the ice, he had missed the shot but the noise had proved enough of a deterrent to scare the bears into flight. In a rush of adrenalin Roki gathered up the harness and set the dogs away at full speed, the sled runners whispered over the ice as it hurtled along the track. Roki glanced back and saw the bear family in the distance travelling in the opposite direction, breathing a sigh of relief he slowed the dogs and thanked his lucky stars that they were unscathed.

The rest of the journey was uneventful and they made good time and eventually pulled up outside Micko’s trading post. He carefully checked each of his dogs for any damage to their feet, first rule that his father had taught him was, the dogs look after you make sure you look after them. He gave them all a feed of seal meat and made sure that there was plenty of water in the trough outside the store before entering the store.

The big wooden door opened with a creak and he entered, standing for a few moments to allow his eyes to become accustomed to the gloom. The shop had a large open floor, swept boards with a layer of sawdust on the floor, around the edges, nets, lines, tools, barrels of dried food and sacks of flour etc were all piled up in a haphazard fashion. A long counter stood at one end, a log burner, with a small table and two chairs in front of it was off to the side.

“ROKI” boomed the huge red bearded Irishman behind the counter, he gave the boy a huge grin and held his arms out for a hug; this was Mick O’Reilly, proprietor of ‘Mick O’s’ trading post. Roki grinned and gave him a hug “hello Mr O” he said.

“Hello back” replied Mick “where’s your father” he asked looking over Roki’s shoulder.

“He let me come on my own” said Roki proudly.

“WHAT” exclaimed Mick; he held the boy at arms length and looked at his face, he could see the toughness of his father in the set of his jaw “you are growing up so fast my boy; did you have any trouble coming in?”

Roki recounted the tale of the bear as he sipped on the mug of scalding coffee that Mick passed him. Mick was entranced “you were very lucky, that she ran away; when you are faced with a bear you must let them get close enough to ensure you don’t miss”

He reached under the counter and passed over a single 50mm cartridge

“a gift” he stated “your father would flay your hide if you used a bullet and had no pelt to show for it”

“Thank you” replied the lad; he knew his father would never lay a hand on him but the gift was welcome.

“Here” said Mick and he passed over a month old AT and a glossy magazine, “they have started printing the Drennan Drowners stories, this one is episode 4, I will try and get the others for you”

“How much is it” asked Roki

“It will cost you a promise that you will always use my shop in the future and when you have children you will bring them in to see me”

“Definitely” replied Roki gleefully.

“Father has said that I can invite the Drowners to fish in our village, but I am not sure how to write the letter”

“He must be mellowing in his old age” replied Mick, he knew that Kerin thought that people born south of this trading post were soft, pampered imitation men and It had taken 3 years of trading before, he himself had been accepted into the community.

“I will contact them for you” he said “I can probably do it through the magazine”.

“Wow, thank you” came the delighted reply.

Roki spent the $5 bill in his pocket on some chocolate for his mother, a set of hair ribbons for his baby sister and 3 new fish hooks for his father. With his purchases wrapped and securely nestled in the inside pocket of his coat he coaxed the dogs back into life and set off back home.



“Attention please” shouted PG.

The noise in the café dropped and everyone focused on the team manager

“We have deliberated long and hard and finally reached a decision”

A tentative hand was raised and everyone turned to look at Barbel Catcher who squirmed under their collective gaze.

“What’s up mate?” asked Peter

“This is the first match I have fished for many years” he said quietly

“I wouldn’t have known; looking at your gear” snorted Lee sarcastically

“Although I have enjoyed it and love the camaraderie within the team” BC continued “I feel that I am a bit too old now to start doing this on a regular basis and I would like to declare myself out of the running”

“That’s a shame mate” said Neil in dismay; he had been hoping that Peter would have included BC as he considered him a ‘gentleman’ and his inclusion would have given him a companion to have a sensible conversation with.

“I respect your decision” said PG “thank you for letting me know”

BC visibly relaxed, he did not enjoy the limelight and was relieved, albeit, a little sad that he had been forced to be sensible, for once in his life and accept the limitations imposed by age.

“As you know” said Peter “the new members are the top 4 in the match” a cheer went up from UK, Mick, Sam and Warrington63.

“Leaving”, he continued “just 3 places left to join us; and these go to” he tailed off dramatically.

“Drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr” said WO doing a drum roll

“Scribe”, shouted Peter, everyone erupted into cheering, especially RL as he now had a constant supply of ‘Meltons finest’. Scribe leapt to his feet, a huge grin on his face, swiped WO’s cap, ran down the café, ‘touched it down’ between RL and Peter before doing a lap of honour around the room.

“Does he look pleased” said Landlord to GP57

“He should look surprised” scoffed Lee

“Two places left” said Peter, loving the limelight; “the next person to become a Drowner is…………………….Total”

The cheering went up once again, Total, being the undemonstrative type, went red and stammered a “thank you” into his mug of tea.

RL looked at Peter in amazement “that’s not what we agreed” he whispered

“Captain’s prerogative mate” he grinned holding up 6 digits.

“Now lads” Peter started again “I know that some of you will be disappointed”

“For fooks sake gerron wi it” shouted Sly

“As I was saying” continued the team captain “before I was rudely interrupted, some of you will be disappointed but we could only take 7. The fact that you were invited is testament to your angling skills and; who knows, there may be opportunity to try again in the future” he looked at Lee and WO “the very near future” he finished meaningfully.

“The final place is awarded to………………………..Chervil.

The room went wild, everyone thought that the likeable ex cop had been harshly treated with his disqualification and they were all delighted for him. Chervil hobbled around the room, as fast as his deformed feet would carry him, on his lap of honour, before flopping down next to W63, saying “get the tea’s in mate, I’m jiggered”

RL looked, again, at Peter “we did not agree that one either” Peter just grinned and held up 7 fingers.

“I know what you’re playing at” said Dave “you’ve just gone for bloody southerners”

“Maybe” replied Peter coyly.



Roki was on full alert as he approached the spot where he had seen the bears earlier in the day. His fathers rifle was ready and loaded in the scabbard at his side and he had made his mind up that; if he saw the bears again he would wait until he couldn’t miss before firing. He slowed down as he travelled through the area and he craned his neck looking left and right as well as looking anxiously over his shoulder, he knew that bears would often give chase and creep up on you unawares like silent assassins. He need not have worried, the area was deserted and he made the rest of the journey home without incident. Kerin was delighted that he had scared off the bear and that he had stood his ground and not panicked, although he made a mental note to teach the boy to shoot straight as soon as possible. His mother thanked him for the chocolate before fussing over him and checking him for injury. His sister gave him a huge hug and went off to put the new ribbons in her hair.

When Roki told Kerin of the invitation that had been sent to the Drowners he laughed uproariously,

“they will not come my son; they are soft and weak southerners and they would not last 5 minutes in our climate.”

“They will come Father” said Roki with far more confidence than he felt. He made his way into his igloo and settled down to read the latest exploits of his hero’s.



“Is it really a case of help yourself?” asked Tipitinmick.

“It better be” replied Dave, “because if you wait to be offered, you will wait a long time.”

“Brilliant” replied Mick, helping himself and lowering the level in Peter’s bottle of 30 year old Highland Park by 2”.

Peter cringed but, as the missus was watching him, had the sense to keep his mouth shut.

The Drowners were at a meeting, called by PD, and were squashed into Peter’s kitchen, the new members, all keen and alert, desperately hoping they could make a positive contribution to the proceedings.

“We need to find a new meeting place now that we have a ‘squad’ rather than just a team” whined Peter, thinking of how many tea bags and pints of milk, let alone his whisky was costing. “We should have picked the Landlord, we could at least then have had a pub to meet in”

“You picked the team mate, you should have considered it then” scoffed Lee

“He wanted to pick poufy southerners” said WO, completely oblivious, that said southerners were sat at the same table.

“It’s a good idea to have people who you can talk to without requiring subtitles across their chests” said Lord Pomp.

“Ee, watsthou think ot’newuns mate” asked Dave

The Yorkshire contingent all laughed at the bemused expressions on the southern members faces.

“ORDER” yelled PD, “I have called this meeting to tell you about an idea I’ve had” The room quietened down and all that could be heard was whisky sloshing as Mick poured his third refill.

“First of all” continued PD “welcome to our new members, I trust your new kit arrived ok?”

There was a chorus of assents round the room.

“Good; I have been having some thoughts about a team building exercise to bond the new members into what is, a somewhat unusual team dynamic”

GP’s eyes glazed over and he felt the welcome sensation of sleep tugging at him.

“GRAP” shouted PG

“Er………….what……………………hey………………Use a wafter on 0.1” he guessed

“What the fook you on about” laughed WO “PD is going to make us all hold hands round a campfire after building a raft out of Nick Gilbert float bodies and sailing it over a river”

“That sounds stupid” replied GP57 feeling much the same as his comment.

“No Sir Wise” said PD “it’s not the normal sort of team building, I am sending you all to the North Pole for a holiday”

The Drowners looked at each other in stunned silence, for a full 30 seconds no one spoke and then everyone started at once:

“When”,

“Why”,

“It’s fooking freezing there”

“We might die”

“Will we be fishing a match?” The hubbub stopped dead and everyone looked at Scribe. “Well we are a match squad” he stammered.

“See Peter, I told you what would happen if you picked anyone with more than two brain cells” announced Lee.

“I’ve only got one” said WO with a grin “but he’s clinging to the back of my head like a good un. Alright Arry” he shouted, banging on the back of his head.

“So uncouth” muttered Neil.

“In all seriousness” said PD once order had been restored “I have received a letter from a chap named Mick O’Reilly who runs a trading post in Alaska. Apparently the son of one of his customers is your biggest fan and the lad has invited you, with permission from his dad, to spend a week with them to see how they catch fish”

“I think it will be good for us” said PG “It will give the new lads a chance to get to know everyone and we can all relax for a bit”

“Wisey can’t go” exclaimed GP

“Why the fook not” howled WO

“You’ve got a criminal record” said Neil, hopefully.

“Pomp, do you keep your phone messages” asked WO

“I do indeed dear boy” replied the peer.

“Scroll back to when we went to Russia”

“Oh yes” said PG running his thumb up and down his phone screen “here it is” he exclaimed

“Tell wise owl he is always welcome to visit”

“There you go” said wisey delightedly “That’s my mate Donald for you”.

“Excuse me Mr Drennan” said a timid voice

The room fell silent and everyone looked at Yosemite Sam who sat with his hand raised.

“Who is Mr Drennan” asked Dave

“Me you pillock” said PD

“Yes lad, what’s up”

“Are we all invited”?

“of course, you’re a Drowner now”

“Wow” said Sam happily, and helped himself to some more of Peter’s whisky; after he had prised it out of Micks fingers.

“How much will it cost” asked UKZ “I’m only a poor pensioner.

“Freebie mate” said Neil

“When do we go” asked Warrington

“A week on Saturday, I will sort the visa’s and tickets; have you all got in date passports” asked PD

There was a chorus of affirmatives except for Trogg and GB.

“Ours have expired” said the two security men “we won’t be able to go” said GB tearfully

“I’ll see what I can do, being a peer has some advantages you know” said Pomp tapping his nose.

“Is everyone ok with the arrangements”? asked Peter

“You’ve not said much” said Dave to Total

“I prefer to stay under the radar mate, it’s just the way I roll”

“Are you two alright” said Genesis to Sam and Mick who were looking a bit green.

“Schertainly are” giggled Sam, “Yesh mate” agreed Mick, and putting his arm around his new mate they both slid off their chairs and under Peter’s kitchen table.

Two weeks later the squad were airborne and on their way to their latest adventure. Pomp had moved heaven and

earth and finally managed to ‘fast track’ Trogg and GB’s passports through clearance and they were now sat together on

the big Jumbo Jet. “No Russian cabin crew on this one Lee” laughed Trogg.

“Thank god” came the reply “I still have nightmares about it, and poor CarpMagic is still in ICU”



The drinks trolley came round and Mick and Sam immediately perked up “Two large whisky’s please love” said Sam.

“Don’t get drunk lads” said Pomp “We can’t afford any bad publicity”

He need not have worried, the flight went smoothly and most of the squad slept’ they were in fact quite uneasy about having an ex copper amongst them and they were reluctant to let go until they knew Chervil a bit better.

“Where do we go after we land” asked UKZ

“Apparently” replied Neil “there will be a smaller plane to take us to a place called Barow and from their our hosts will collect us in dog sleds”

“Wow” exclaimed UKZ “this jet set lifestyle is a bit difficult to get my head round; yesterday I was shooting rats at 4:00am”

“It’s surprising how quickly you adapt” laughed Neil.

“It’s here, it’s here yelled Roki excitedly as he watched the propeller aircraft making its approach toward the cleared strip of concrete laying like a black ruler against the white of the crisp morning snow.

“Do not expect too much my son” said Kerin “they are a different breed to us and they will complain and whinge about the cold and the conditions”

The plane landed, the doors opened and Roki gave a huge cheer as his hero Wise Owl stepped through the doorway dressed in Tee shirt, bermuda shorts and bright orange crocs.

“See father, Wise Owl is not soft”

“It appears so” said Kerin thoughtfully.

The Drowners shuffled out of the terminal and Roki rushed up to WO.

“Hello Mr Owl, I’m Roki” he said shyly

“Hello sunshine” replied WO and held out his hand “thank you for inviting us”

PG and Kerin shook hands “Welcome” said Kerin

“We are delighted to be here” said PG resplendent in a huge fur coat and Davy Crocket hat.

“Tell me” said Kerin “why does the one called Wise Owl not feel the cold?”

“Where I come from there is a saying, Yorkshire born, Yorkshire bred, strong in the arm and thick in the head” recited PG

Kerin tipped back his head and roared with laughter. “I like you Lord Pomp, but I do not think you will survive our climate and conditions”

The Drowners were soon settled in to various sleds and were speeding over the ice heading to Roki’s camp.

Pomp, who was in the sled handled by Kerin, looked at his host “how long will it take us to get there Kerin?”

“About 2 hours” came the reply

“Just in time for breakfast” mused PG to Peter, who was sat beside him, “I wonder what we’ll be having”.

Wisey who was sat with Dave and Roki in the front of PG and Peter turned round, “we’ll be having Vera Lynn”.

“What’s that” queried Peter

“Whale meet again don’t…….” WO warbled at the top of his voice.

“You walked into that one mate” said Dave to Peter.

“Pillock” grinned Peter.

The sleds finally pulled into a small settlement of Igloos, roughly arranged into a circle with a cleared area of snow in the centre. “home sweet home” muttered Scribe

“Like Pontefract in March” laughed UKZ

“I realise now why I moved to Oxford” shivered W63

The whole camp had come out to meet them and there was much hugging and hand shaking as our intrepid team piled their belongings in the clearing. “Where do we stay my boy?” asked PG to Roki

“You must build a snow house” said Kerin “This is the first test I agreed with your Peter Drennan, “you build your own house from blocks cut from that hill” he pointed to a large snow mound about 200 yards away. “You have about 10 hours of daylight left”

The Drowners looked at each other in disbelief “I don’t believe this” said GP57

“Well he did say it was a team building exercise” laughed Trogg “so we may as well get on with it”.

“C’mon Wisey” said Dave “this is our department, Troggy can you and GB organise supplies”

“What do you need mate”

“Something to cut the blocks of ice, a piece of string that I can use as a ‘line’ and a means of getting the blocks from the hill to here”.

Trogg and GB trotted off on the scrounge.

“The second test is to catch and prepare a meal for your breakfast”

“That’s more like it” said Chervil “Fishing at last”.

“Where is the nearest fishery” asked Total

“You’re standing on it” said Kerin and pointing to a huge auger bit attached to a big petrol engine he added “you make a hole and catch your breakfast”

“Me and Mick will go and find some tackle” said Sam

“I will do the cooking” said PG; at the mention of food Scribe immediately offered to help.

“I will make a fire to do the cooking” saiid Neil

“I’ll collect some wood for it” said UK

Trogg and GB soon returned with a couple of very long machetes, a long length of orange twine, a light sled and, of all things, a bricky’s trowel.

“Fook me” said WO “a proper tool and a Guru plumb line”

“Right” said Dave “Wisey can cut the blocks, Neil is on fire duty, UK, collecting wood, PG is cooking, Chervil is catching breakfast and Scribe is sous chef. That leaves Trogg, GB, Genesis, Grap, Total, Lee, Mick, Sam, Peter and W63 as labourers”.

“Who’s going to drill the hole?” asked Genesis

“I’ll do that” said GB “where do drill?”

“I’ll show you” said Roki, who was stood to one side.

“Good lad” said WO ruffling the blushing youngsters hair.

Mick and Sam returned with a length of line, a hook and a lump of blubber wrapped in a cloth.

“Jesus” said Chervil “this is a bit thicker than 0.1” he continued, testing the line between his fingers. “C’mon then” he said to GB and Roki “lets go and catch breakfast” the three of them set off with Roki in the lead.

“How big do you want the blocks Dave?” asked WO

“About the size of a breeze block but twice as thick”

“OK mate; c’mon lads lets go a cutting. Hi Ho, Hi Ho, its off to work we go” sang WO happily as he led the motley crew of ‘labourers’ across the ice.

Neil had managed to start a fire with the help of a tin of kerosene given to him by a young Eskimo girl who kept passing longing glances with PG.

Uk had been given a big bundle of wood by another girl, from the rapidly expanding group that was congregating around PG, she also gave Scribe a big filleting knife,

“thank you” he said shyly, thinking that he had ‘pulled’. As a newcomer to the group he had no idea of the effect his manager had on the female species.

Dave set his stall out in a space to one side of the camp, he carefully stuck a stick into the snow, tying a loop in the plumb line, he placed it over the stick and paced out 10’ of line. Tying another stick to the line, he walked around the centre stick, keeping the line taut he was able to draw a perfect circle of 20’ diameter in the snow. By the time he had finished Trogg and his merry band of labourers arrived with 50 blocks of ice, on the sled, ready for laying.

“By lads that were quick” he exclaimed

“It’s Wise Owl” said Sam “he’s got his arms going like Bee’s wings”

“That’s a first” replied Dave “I’ve never seen him start while 10 o clock”

“What the heck does that mean?” asked Total who was really struggling with the language barrier between the north and side factions of the team.

“It means”, replied Peter “that he doesn’t start until 10 o clock”

Seeing the bemused look on Total’s face he placated “don’t worry, it took me a while to get used to it”.

Before Total could reply they were all startled by a blood curdling cry of anguish which echoed around the camp. “Heeeeeeeeeeelp”

“What the fook is that” said Peter

“Sounds like GB” said Dave dropping his trowel and running towards the sound. Rounding the corner of the camp they saw Chervil and Roki flat on their backs, on the ice, their legs flailing like a harpooned squid whilst GB span like a catherine wheel on the ice drill “heeeelp, turn it off”. The bit was stuck in the ice and the engine, with GB hanging on for grim death, was spinning freely, Chervil and Roki, who the others thought had been injured, were in fact, convulsed with laughter at GB’s plight and were absolutely powerless to help their comrade.

The rest of the team, also rushing to the cry for help, caught up with Dave and co. and they all looked on in disbelief at the spectacle that lay before them.

“Fooking amateurs” snarled Trogg, and striding over the ice he caught the flying engine and stopped it dead with one hand; hitting the ‘kill’ switch he helped GB to his feet “you OK little buddy” he laughed.

“I am now it’s stopped” said GB who then started staggering around like a drunk after a night out; much to the amusement of the others.

Once it was ascertained that there were no injuries, the team headed back to their respective duties.

“Hurry up with the fish Cherv, we’re all starving” said Scribe, brandishing his filleting knife; it had been several hours since he had eaten a sandwich when their plane had landed and due to having the metabolic rate of a Rat on speed he was now starving. His belly was emitting sounds like a group of flatulent swingers in a jacuzzi and the though of fresh fried fish was making him drool. He made his way, behind PG and his adoring female fans, back to the ‘kitchen’ area.

“Ok” said Chervil, surveying the neat hole in the ice “let’s do it”. Baiting up with a large piece of blubber he carefully lowered it through the ice. Within minutes he felt a huge pull on the line, he jerked his arm up, to strike and everything went slack. “Booger it, it’s come off” he wailed. Baiting up again he once more lowered his baited hook into the depths and after a few seconds, the same thing happened. After a third re-occurrence he noticed that Roki was looking at him with a very sceptical expression on his face.

“What?” he exclaimed.

“Why are you pulling the bait out of the fishes mouths?”

“I’m not, I am trying to hook them”

“Let the fish swallow the bait completely, then they can’t let go” said Roki in the same tones that his father had used when he was learning how to fish, many years ago. He smirked mischievously.

“What yer smirking at” said GB who was now, finally beginning to see straight.

“I am teaching a Drennan Drowner how to fish”

“You certainly are sunshine” laughed Chervil, “and I will give you some advice, always listen to people who are trying to help, you are never too old to learn”.

With that sage like piece of advice still hanging in the air he, once more, dropped his bait through the ice and this time made no mistakes and a big arctic char was hauled unceremoniously onto the ice.

View attachment 32504 Chervil finally manages Breakfast

Several more followed and they took their catch to the ‘chef team’ waiting by the fires.

“whoopey do” sang out Scribe happily and with a dexterity no one, including himself, knew that he had he expertly filleted the fish and passed them to PG.

Pomp looked thoughtfully at the array of ‘extra’ ingredients that had been brought to him by the PFFC (Pomp Female Fan Club) as Neil had christened them. He had potatoes, milk, flour and a selection of dried herbs and spices all lovingly given to him by the giggling women. “How do you normally eat it” he asked a particularly attractive young lass named Katsitsanoron,

“like this Mr Pomp” she said, and picking up one of the fish not yet filleted, she bit into the belly of the fish and chewed happily. “Delicious” she exclaimed “there are eggs in this one” she said with relish.

A strange sound assailed their ears, “Phewwwwey”, they looked around just in time to see Scribes, partially, digested sandwich from earlier, hit the floor. “Sorry lads; and ladies, but that was just a bit too much for me”.

“Indeed” said PG “but we have to respect the customs of our hosts and as we do not want to show any disrespect, you should now have a bite”

Scribe paled, he knew that PG was right but the thought of raw fish and roe made him feel like a competitor on ‘I’m a celebrity, get me out of here’. He tentatively took the fish off a smiling Kat (they could not pronounce her full name) and with a resigned, sickly, expression he took a bite.

“Hmmm, delicious” he lied, “Lord Pomp, you must try this” he said sneakily.

A delighted Kat, immdediately took the half eaten fish off scribe and offered it to PG. Neil, knowing what was coming and also knowing that his delicate digestive system would not tolerate such abuse, went off to see how Dave, WO and the lads were faring with the igloo.

Arriving on site he was amazed to see a very respectable igloo almost finished, WO was busily engaged with applying a coat of powder snow render, to seal the joints. Neil watched in appreciation as the Leeds plasterer achieved a beautiful smooth finish with a bright orange float.

View attachment 32505 Dave lays the final few blocks.
“Wonderful job mate” he exclaimed appreciatively “what gave you the ide……….” His words tailed off as he looked at the float that WO was using “Is that” he stuttered “is that…………………..IT IS” he roared “that is my new Guru side tray” wailed Neil.

“Oh sorry mate” said WO in all innocence “I found it in the sled”.

Neil made his way back to his fire, with tears in his eyes, “so uncouth, so uncouth” he chanted like a mantra.

His spirits rose, however, when he smelt the huge pot that PG had simmering on the fire.

“What is that Pomp?, it smells delicious.

“My own version of Kedgeree” said PG proudly. “Poached fish, with creamy herb mash and a roe fishcake on the side”.

Scribe whistled the others and they all jogged over and tucked in with relish.

“I didn’t know you could cook Pomp” said Peter appreciatively, through a mouthful of fishcake “this is roe delicious”

“yeah; well enjoy it to yourself and stop giving me a bit” said WO who was sitting at least 10 feet away.

“Where did you learn to fillet mate” said Trogg to Scribe “I’ve not had a single bone in my food”

Scribe looked bashful “I suppose with all the experience I’ve had looking at fish from under the water I just got a good idea of the bone structure”

All the Drowners broke out in spontaneous laughter; Peter, who had been very sceptical of PD’s ‘team building’ idea, was slowly realising that it was working; the squad looked relaxed and at ease with each other and even WO was being less scathing with his comments.

After breakfast they were joined by Kerin, Roki and three others; Amaqjuag (the strong one), Kumaglak (the fast one) and Nanurjuk (the star), the elders of the group.

“You have done well” said Kerin begrudgingly “your ice house is well made”

“well done Dave, well done Wisey” rose up from the ranks of the Drowners.

“As I said” continued Kerin “your house is well made and you have created a competent meal, even passing the test of eating the fish in such a disgusting manner” he laughed.

“What?” spluttered Scribe “you mean you don’t normally eat it like that”

“No my friend” laughed Kerin “it was a test”

“but Kat loved it” said PG

“No, she is a good actor and as we speak, she is still throwing up in her igloo”

Everyone erupted with laughter whilst PG and Scribe went the colour of a red traffic light as they raelised thay had been had.

“We had already prepared a meal and living accommodation just in case you failed but, I am pleased to say that they will not be needed”

Roki looked at his father “I told you that they were not soft southern poufs” he whispered, his language already betraying the fact that he was spending a lot of time in te company of WO.

“We will see” replied Kerin “there is still the final test” he stated, mysteriously.

“Tomorrow we fish” said Kerin

The Drowners laid out their things in the igloo and prepared to settle down for the night. “Pomp” said W63 “you have to sleep furthest from the door”

“why?” came the answer

“If any of the PFFC come calling in the night I want to make sure thay crawl over me before they get to you”

Once again the sound of laughter echoed across the Tundra.

The next day saw the drowners assembled on a huge frozen lake ready for action. “Right lads” said Peter in his captains voice, “let’s set up 20 yards from each other so that we don’t have too much pressure on the ice in one spot”

“Don’t be a pillock Peter” laughed Trogg “the ice is thicker than Lee’s skull”

“Yes but we have Scribe to consider” replied Peter

“If you put a cup of water down, he would fall in it” observed Total.

They looked up as Kerin was spotted driving his sled over the ice, drawing to a halt he unloaded a large package from the sled. “Your Mr drennan sent this for you” he explained. It was apparent that Peter Drennan and Kerin had been involved in several conversations prior to the trip and Dave was wondering what else may transpire.

Sam and Mick opened the package to find sets of tiny rods, reels and lures with a message ‘thought these might come in handy’

“It certainly beats hand lining” said Neil holding one of the rods appreciatively.

Kerin departed, the Drowners started setting up and Trogg and GB were kept really busy drilling holes for the intrepid anglers.

Everyone started catching immediately, the new gear proving extremely effective, bait and lure appeared to be equally successful, “if we had a match on here it would just develop into a speed contest” observed Peter as he dropped another big char onto the pile behind him; it had been agreed that all fish would be taken, as a gift to the their hosts, so they could freeze and dry it for future use.

“Bit like bleak bashing” laughed W63

“There should be a way of catching faster” said Neil “I will give it some thought, it could make an interesting article in my blog”

“You’re a record breaker mate” shouted WO to Neil

“That’s the first time you’ve mentioned your fookin block for 16 hours”

“Woo, Woo” whistled Mick and Lee

“So uncouth” muttered Neil.

Peter, after a conversation with Trogg, had got the Staffordshire bouncer to drill him a lot more holes and he was fishing a multi rod set up which, by his reckoning, had upped his catch rate by 50%.

View attachment 32506 Peters ‘many fishy holes’ idea

When the time came to pack up, the Drowners had mixed feelings about this style of fishing, none of them liked taking fish for the table, and the fishing itself was more akin to dangling rather than angling. Back in the igloo they were mulling over the days events when Kerin and Roki joined them.

“My son tells me that you are the best fishing team in England and that you are undefeated in your competitions” said Kerin

“That’s right said Lee “we have fished all over the world and never been beaten” he continued, stretching the truth marginally.

“Today you discovered another method to help catch more fish”

“to help catch big fookers” said Roki, correcting his father.

“Yes, to help catch big fookers” laughed Kerin “the method you ‘discovered today” he continued, looking at Peter “is a method we already use; we call it the way of the ‘many fishy holes’”

The Drowners, realising that the camp chief was serious tried desperately not to laugh.

“From what my son has told me, you will probably come up with a new method based upon your experience and the different way of fishing in England. I have issued a challenge to my arch rival in the next village and I would like to ensure that we win it. This is the third test set by your sponsor, come up with a method that will enable my team to beat my rival”

The drowners looked at each other in bewilderment, these people had fished these waters for generations and they were expected to come up with a new, improved, method and teach it to the natives all within a week.

“How is the winning team decided Kerin?” asked PG “in England it is the team with the highest combined weight of fish”

“Not so here” replied Kerin “the victors are the team who catch the most different types of fish”

“Ah” said Neil “that puts a different complexion on things” he mused to himself.

After an excellent dinner, this time cooked and served by the camp ladies, the squad held an impromptu meeting

“C’mon lads we’re the Drennan Drowners, we should be able to come up with something to improve the catches” said Peter.

“The problem is” said Neil “you are fishing through a small hole, so you are stuck with a single line, the fish bite, regardless so there is little we can do”

“I caught better in the margins” admitted W63

“How the fook did you fish in the margins” asked WO

“I dropped my line in and held it back against the nearside lip of the hole” said W63 with a straight face.

Everyone laughed but no one was really sure if he was serious or not.

“let’s sleep on it” said PG, blowing out the blubber candle “g’night lads”

There was a chorus of good nights and people drifted off to sleep.

“Is anybody bi curious” whispered Wisey into the darkness “I’m as randy as a ship load of sailors”

“Not with an ugly git like you” whispered back UKZ “I’d sooner shyte in my hands and clap”

“what about the new lads?” asked WO

“Fook off yer poof” shouted the new bloods in unison.

Everyone cracked up and Peter smiled in satisfaction; the new squad had bonded and he could feel a very exciting year coming on.

Next morning everyone was up bright and early, breakfast, served by Kat and the other girls, comprised of fried fish, eggs and a strange burger.

“This is delicious” said Total “what sort of meat is it Kat?”

“We had a sled dog die during the night and we never waste anything” she replied shyly

“Phwaagh” gagged Total spitting a lump of half chewed burger out of his mouth. The lump of burger was pounced on by one of the huskies and swallowed with great relish.

“Surely that’s cannibalism” exclaimed Sam

“What is cannibalism” asked Kat

“It’s when you eat one of your own species love” explained Trogg

“So when my great grandfather died and we roasted him on a spit and had a feast, that would be cannibalism?” asked Kat

“Oh my god”, said Mick

The rest of the squad looked at Kat in stunned silence.

“You lot are too fookin easy” she laughed and started walking away “the burger meat is moose, by the way” she shouted back over her shoulder.

“Didn’t fool me for a minute” said Lee surreptitiously sliding one of his gloves over the half chewed burger on his plate.

“The saucy madam” laughed Sam “these people have a great sense of humour”

The team went, once more, to the frozen lake and Trogg and GB were kept busy re-drilling holes for the team.

“Pair up lads” said Peter, “try to come up with something new; our reputation is riding on this”

The team settled down to fish.

View attachment 32508 UKZ1 and Yosemite Sam discuss tactics.

Dave and Wise Owl had teamed up and were catching steadily, but they were no nearer to finding a new method.

“I’ve an idea” said Dave “see that igloo over there” he pointed to a small structure in the corner of the ice field they were fishing in, “lets go in there, I want to test a theory”

“This ain’t owt to do with my bi curious crack last night is it” asked WO nervously “cos I tell ya now, I was only joking”.

“No mate” laughed Dave “c’mon”

They made there way over to the igloo and crawled through the entrance. It was obviously unused, the bare floor was testament to that, igloos in use always had some sort of floor covering. Leaning against the back wall was a hand drill, “perfect” said Dave. “You make a small fire mate, whilst I drill a hole in the ice”

Wisey went off to fetch some kindling and wood and Dave, after drilling the hole took a cap lamp out of his tackle bag. WO returned and made a small fire, the effect was startling, the interior of the igloo took on a golden glow and when they looked into the ice hole they could see that the light was illuminating the water to a depth of several feet. Dave dropped a lump of blubber into the hole and they watched it clearly sinking, a fish suddenly darted towards it but a big char got there first.

“I was hoping the the light might attract other species” explained Dave

“It certainly seems to mate, the problem is keeping the char away to let one of the others get a look in.”

It was then that they noticed another effect of the fire, “jeez it’s boiling in here” said WO taking off his coat and gloves.

Within a few minutes both of them were down to fishing in their underpants, WO resplendent in a pair of Ralph Lauren boxers and Dave in dodgy greyish white Y fronts.

“Dave” asked WO “how have you got a fookin skid on the outside of yer undercrackers”

“I wear them for a week and then turn them inside out and wear them for another week”

“You animal”

“Saves on the washing bill” said Dave simply.

“Right” said Dave handing the lamp to his companion, “you shine that down the hole and I am going to jig a little silver spoon and see if it will flash in the beam.

Wisey pointed the light into the water and Dave lowered the lure into the depths. By jerking the rod he was able to get the little spoon flashing like a disco ball, a black shadow darted out of the darkness and hit it;

“I’m in” he grinned.

The fish after a powerful fight was eventually hauled through the hole “it’s a bloody great Perch” said WO excitedly.

View attachment 32509 A delighted ( fortunately dressed) Dave with his big perch.

With trembling fingers Dave dropped in again, Wisey shone the lamp down and the little lure, once more, started its flashing, ‘BANG’ the lure was hit with a savage take, it was so fast that neither of them had seen the fish approaching. Dave heaved on the rod and slowly gained line; the fish came grudgingly towards the surface until it sulked, just under the hole. “We need a bigger hole” he gasped.

“I bet you’ve never had to say that before” laughed Wise Owl, busily working the hand drill.

The hole was enlarged and Dave was able to drag the fish, a huge pike, onto the ice. “I think we may have found the method”.

“Certainly looks like it” agreed WO.

Quickly dressing, the two Drowners left the igloo and went to find Peter.

“Gather round lads” shouted Peter.

The Drowners all huddled around the ice hole whilst Dave and WO demonstrated their lamping method of fishing.

“Brilliant mate” said Trogg “but”, he continued, “it needs two of you, one to hold the lamp and one to work the jig”

“That is not a problem” said PG “I have just spoken to Kerin and it would appear that the rules here are a little less rigid than at home”

“How do you mean Pomp” asked Mick

“As many people as you wish can fish at the same hole, you can help each other, land each others fish and…..basically do what you like”

“How many in a team” asked Lee

“as many as you wish” said Pomp, “apparently they are huge affairs where the whole camp gets involved”.

Kerin was delighted that the Drowners had ‘come good’ and instructed the whole camp to attend a practice session the next morning.

“Strewth, it’s certainly a good turn out” said Sam looking out at the multitude of people who were busily trying out the new ‘Method of Light’ as it had been christened. The method was an unprecedented success and species of fish were being caught that hadn’t been seen for years.

View attachment 32510 The whole camp turned out for practice

View attachment 32511 Neil giving advice to a young eskimo lad

“Where’s Pomp” asked Lee

“Him and Scribe are in the kitchen igloo, with two lasses, going over recipe’s for the new fish that are being caught” replied Neil.

“Yeah, recipe’s” scoffed Wisey sarcastically.

“I bet they’re as happy as hungry baby’s in a topless bar” observed Neil.

Everyone cracked up, “I’ve said it before mate, and no doubt I’ll say it again; you don’t crack many jokes, but when you do, they’re good un’s” laughed Dave.

“Thank you” said Neil. “Now if you’ll excuse me I must go and write this up in my blog”

“It’s a shame we don’t get this sort of community spirit back home” bemoaned Trogg. “We could all learn a thing or two about decent living from these people”

“Agreed” said sam wistfully

Later that night Kerin visited them “Tomorrow is your last day with us and I extend our greatest challenge”

“What is it mate” asked W63

“The test of manhood” came the chilling reply “if you are brave enough to accept it”

“Tell us what it is first” said Dave

“You have 2 hours and in that time you must drill a hole in the thickest part of the ice, enter the ice cave and wrestle the polar bear who dwells within and then satisfy Nel, the camp nymphomaniac”

“I can do that” scoffed Wise Owl

“You sure mate?” asked Trogg “Them polar bears are vicious”

“No worse than standing in the ‘Shed’ at Stamford Bridge with a Leeds scarf on” laughed the little Yorkshireman.

Everyone laughed but it was with a sense of trepidation that they settled down for the night.

The next morning, after a sumptuous breakfast feast and several cups of coffee Wise Owl and the rest of the team followed Kerin, Roki and the rest of the camp to a large ice cliff, a cave was clearly visible about 20 feet up the face.

“Here” said Kerin “dwells the bear and the place where you are standing is the thickest ice, are you ready Mr Owl”

“I was conceived ready” came the reply.

Kerin set his watch, “you have two hours………………..GO”

Wisey pulled the start cord on the engine of the drill, fortunately it started on the first pull; “he’s always been good with a tug” laughed Peter.

The drill bit into the ice, threatening to spin the gritty Yorkshireman off his feet. WO stamped the heels of his boots into the ice and hung on grimly. The drill gradually disappeared into the ice, “fook me it’s deep” yelled Wisey, the sweat starting to bead on his brow his skinny little legs started to shake and his arms felt like two pieces of liquorice. After what seemed an eternity he finally saw a puddle of water appear in the hole and the drill broke through.

View attachment 32512 Wisey gets stuck in.

Tossing the drill to one side he, wordlessly, strode across the ice and, scaling the cliff face he turned, waved to his friends and ducked inside the cave.

View attachment 32513 The bear he had to wrestle

The Drowners huddled together sombrely as they watched their comrade go into the cave.

“He’s gonna die” sniffed GB

“Don’t worry little buddy” consoled Trogg “he’s from Leeds, if it gets difficult he’ll run”

Everyone stopped talking and looked towards the cliff as a blood curdling growl echoed from the cave,

“C’mon Teddy Bear, show us what you’ve got” they heard WO shout.

The growls grew in intensity and the rest of the team looked on anxiously, genuinely worried about their mate. Kerin, with rifle in hand, started towards the cliff “I need to end this” he explained. A beefy arm was placed against his chest “give him a few more minutes” said Trogg.

Kerin nodded and waited with the rest of them.

The growls were growing in frequency and becoming more and more frightening in their intensity until suddenly there was a loud howl and the growls were replaced with whimpers.

The Drowners stood, tensely watching the cave for signs of Wisey, when they had virtually given up ever seeing him alive he appeared at the entrance; his clothes hung in tatters, he bled from a multitude of scratches and sported the start of a magnificent shiner.

“Raight, where’s this fookin nympho I’ve got to wrestle” he shouted.

There was a stunned, shocked silence as the crowd digested this information; someone giggled, this rapidly accelerated into laughter, as the mistake made by the tough little Drowner finally dawned on them. The whole village was in uproar, people were rolling on the floor, clinging to each other and holding their ribs. As Wise Owl approached them, the bear appeared in the mouth of the cave with a satisfied look on her face.

View attachment 32514 One ‘satisfied’ Bear.

Kerin walked over to Wise Owl and placing his hands on his shoulders he looked him straight in the eye and said “We are men; you and I”

Turning to the crowd he shouted, "the trial is over; our English friends have proven themselves."

View attachment 32516 ‘Eskimo’ Nel who never met Wisey

A huge cheer went up and the whole village lined up to shake the hand of the first man in history to ‘satisfy’ a bear.

“You OK my boy” PG asked WO “I was worried about you”

“Me n’all” replied Wisey “halfway through I thought to myself that it would be much easier to wrestle it…..trust me to get that bit wrong”

“It was a superhuman effort” observed PG

“Not really mate, if you can survive a threesome with Anne and Serena you can tackle anything”

“There is that” chuckled Pomp.

View attachment 32518 Roki with his mum and Dad

The next morning Roki stood with his father, tears rolling down his face as he waved towards the plane that had just taken off carrying his new friends home.

“I was right father” he sniffed “they weren’t soft southern poufters”

“You were correct my son” replied Kerin “they are REAL men”
 
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