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Ronan's report

Monday 29th October, 2012

The guy from the seat in front of me stood up to get off the bus at the next stop. Half way down the aisle he momentarily froze, patted his jeans pocket, nodded to himself and carried on his way. I'm certain he was checking for his keys, his wallet, or his phone, all of which are pretty necessary things to have on your person if you are going anywhere nowadays.

These three items are the totems of modern living in a developed country. Keys signify property rights and (if you're lucky) a car. The wallet means you have some money or credit cards to put in it. Finally a phone shows you have friends, families, or colleagues with whom you'd like to stay in touch. Life without any of these three things is not fun, but once you've got them pretty much anything is possible.

So like the bloke on the bus I'm forever checking they're there. "Wallet, keys, phone", "wallet, keys, phone". Beyond these three things everything else is peripheral, if I've forgotten something I can either buy it, go back and retrieve it from my (locked) home, or phone someone to help me get hold of a replacement.

So you'd think I'd be pretty carefree, wouldn't you? Travelling light and flexible. Breezing though life with hardly a care. Shunning plans and lists. Confident in my ability to sort out most things.

Well, yes and no.

The triumvirate of wallet, keys, phone, are an awesome safety net but if these were all I relied on I'd very soon be short of money and friends. You can't always spend your way out of trouble and relying on friends and family to compensate for your own lack of organisation isn't particularly clever.

So the checklist gets longer.

In the last couple of years I have had to add reading glasses, and in Scotland in the autumn hat and gloves become part of the deal. Then there's the diary. I'm back with a paper one after faffing around with electronic gizmos for several years, and it tells me when I'm meant to be working and when I've got time to go fishing again - which is Wednesday as it happens.

On Tuesday night, depending on river levels and the weather, I'll run through a brief checklist for either grayling or pike fishing. I have a big duffle for waders, coats, and spare clothes which goes with me on every fishing trip. Then I have a trout/grayling bag, and a nice big Fishpond bag for all things pike.

In theory I should be able to simply choose the rod I want, pick up the big clothes duffle, and then select the right kit bag and go. But somehow it never quite works like that and things mysteriously migrate between and out of bags. Wading boots might be where they were left to dry from last time out. A pike reel might have been taken out to use for a lesson. A fly box left lying on the tying table. Heavy leader material has been moved from the pike bag into the salmon kit.

So I usually end up peering into the kit bags and mentally running through the set up. It's like one of those computer generated micro-fly-through animations that you see in films, starting with the flies, running up the leader and chasing down through the rod rings to the reel.

That usually does it.

But nothing's fool proof. Things get left out. Forgotten. You know, sometimes you've been working and playing hard and things slip your mind. For instance, in the social whirl, you can mistake a Saturday for a Friday and miss your front page deadline completely, meaning you're up on Monday instead.

Wallet (check), keys (check), phone (check)... front page?



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