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Ronan's report


Friday 11th May, 2011

In January 1973 Gareth Edwards scored a wonder try for the Barbarians against the All Blacks.

Shortly after this, accompanied by a running commentary in the manner of Bill McClaren, I decided to demonstrate Phil Bennetts jinking run that set up the breakaway. Turning to make the final pass I ran unswervingly into a lamp post and bust my nose.

Some years later, loudly demonstrating the shooting power of Malcolm Macdonald in his Newcastle United pomp to some kids in Nottingham, (and commentating, in this case, in the voice of John Motson), I broke my foot in six places by missing the ball altogether and leathering a house brick instead.

Over time, slightly less calamitous manifestations of this excess of sporting zeal over ability have occurred on a moderately regular basis and there is always an embarrassing, but not really unexpected, cluster around the beginning of the trout season. It goes without saying that the very worst are invariably witnessed by members of the general public.

This year, elated at the coming of spring trout fishing and, with a totally delusional assessment of my angling skills, I decided to begin my year by tackling one of the most difficult of the small streams in the club.

This river is left largely to its own devices. In summer the ranunculus beds are broken by foot wide channels and access from a single densely bushed bank makes picking off the fish impossibly difficult for all but the most skilled of casters. In spring it is marginally easier… and on the first day out after a six month lay off, obviously, I was totally confident that fishing here was going to be a complete piece of p*ss…. J.

A trout was rising regularly a short distance above an overhanging Alder. To make a cast here entailed squashing my very large and inflexible frame into a not very large space between the trunk of this tree and a newly flowering Hawthorn. Casting flat in the gap between the hanging Hawthorn branches and the surface of the water would be challenging on the best of days…on this particular day it turned out to be astonishingly easy, I was, however, having a little trouble breathing.

The fly landed perfectly and the fish rose perfectly to it… sadly, an entirely unforeseeable strike imperfection somehow crept in to the deal and I comprehensively missed it.

Under any sort of normal circumstances I would have worked out that the strike should be in the same low plane as the delivery cast and not, as is my habit, upwards. Nor, if you are packed in breathlessly tight beneath a Hawthorn, should you become over excited and attempt to leap to your feet……No good things can happen.

Oddly, for a passing observer, senses properly addled by the effects of six lunchtime pints of Fiddlers Elbow, and, who has not hitherto noticed your presence in the undergrowth, a sudden nuclear explosion of Hawthorn blossom is not immediately assumed to be from something suddenly rising up under the bush but from something falling into it. Only this could explain why the elderly gentleman on the opposite bank kept looking, puzzled, from me… now suffering badly from puncture wounds and completely entangled... up at the sky… presumably to identify the passing aircraft from which I must have just plummeted.

Wisdom dictates that there is only one thing to do in circumstances like these. In order to protect ones personal dignity, we should adopt a confident attitude that indicates to those who have witnessed the incident that the whole thing is all part of a well planned operation and everything is exactly as it should be.

This is quite hard to carry off if you are suspended, bleeding, more or less in the centre of a thorn bush.

"Do you want me to ring for some help" he called from the track opposite.

"Nope…no thanks…" I said nonchalantly

"…I’m just blending in…."


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