On Tuesday morning I went over to Plymouth after dropping my girls off at school as I needed to get a new pair of hiking boots, and since I was there I thought it would be cool to drop into the Art of Fishing tackle shop down on the Barbican where my mate works. The following is a story about lust, addiction, human weakness, voices in my head, and what I swear was a packet of soft plastics winking at me. Honestly, it ain't remotely right..............
I know the shop that well by now and I have developed a pretty good strategy for getting in and out of there without too much harm being done to my wallet. I say hello to my friend Mark while at the same time doing my best not to look at the wall immediately opposite the door as you walk in. Nope, I categorically do now want to see if there are any new Nabarones, X140s, Gatarides or Sasukes in the hard lures area. Stay safe, avert the eyes, yap with Mark about something fishing related and move on down to the end of the shop to have a look at the lure rods.
I feel pretty safe down there. Sure, I like having a waggle with anything new that might have arrived (Mark did show me a rather nice Yamaga Early around 9'2'' I think it was), but as much as I have a bit of a problem with fishing rods I'm kind of ok looking at them because I bought a new one recently. How many fishing rods does an angler actually need ? OK, don't go there.
I'm fine on my way down to the lure rods as well, because on the left as you head over there is all the LRF gear, and as much as it interests me looking at all the different stuff, I don't do this kind of fishing and I am in no danger of falling for the gear. Safe as houses, mentally very tough, feeling pretty good in fact. I've had a look at the rods, and all I need to do now is do an about turn and head back to the counter for a bit of a yap with the anglers crowded around there.
"Henry" I hear whispered on the air. I look to the counter but can't see any of them turned towards me. Who said that then ? "Henry, over here". As gentle as a dandelion releasing its seeds into a summer breeze I hear a little voice imploring me to turn around and look at the racks of soft plastics. No, no, don't do it I say to myself. You don't need any more soft lures for the time being, you've got enough to be catching bass for the next hundred years. "Henry, over here, I'm new".................
I do an about turn from the rod racks and try not to look left. Where is that voice coming from ? Not in my head, surely ? But as I take that first step from the rod racks towards the counter and relative safety I see something out of my left eye. What on earth was that ? Did that packet of soft plastics really wink at me ? I quickly check the guys around the counter to see if anybody is looking at me like I'm on drugs, but nope, they are engrossed in stories of monster fish no doubt. It's just me, the end of the shop, and a wall racked out with soft plastics - where I am pretty sure a packet of them winked at me. Subtly, I will give the packet that, but winked it did.
I can't help it. I turn left. My eyes come to rest upon the guilty packet. Wink at me again and I'll take you outside for a damn good thrashing. Hang on, I haven't seen those lures before. They look nice. Nice and subtle but shiny at the same time. What I have been obsessing about recently ? Ah, that's right, soft plastic jerkbaits, and here's something called a Fish Arrow 5'' Flash-J that is new to me. Looks rather nice does it not ? No, don't stop winking at me because I think I might need you. I don't really need you though. I'm strong.
As if on autopilot my right hand goes up to the packet. A little bit of me thinks about hurling the offending winker to the floor and jumping up and down on it, but I don't. I place it gently in my hand and then my eyes go back to the shelf to look for a different colour. Why ? Well I can't just go for the one colour can I ? Gotta get a couple of different ones. Gotta feed the addiction. Do I need any more soft plastic jerkbaits ? Do bears whip their trousers down and drop it in the woods ?
To the counter I head, clutching two packets of soft plastics in my hand like they're contaminated with Ebola. I put them down on the counter and start yapping to a few of the lads in the shop. Ah, being clever are we now Henry ? Put them on the counter, forget all about them and then leave the shop with your wallet intact ? Like it my son. Good tactics. Underhand but very, very sensible. Getting one over on my brain.
A while later and I turn to leave but I hear a clunk. My wallet has somehow come out of my pocket without me knowing, landed on the counter and handed over a £20 note to Mark. The next thing I see is Mark handing me my change. What the hell happened ? In my hand are a couple of packets of lures that I didn't really mean to buy. I was that close to getting out of there without taking a hit and I failed.
But what is almost worse than my complete lack of inner strength and moral fibre is that by the time I had arrived back in Cornwall on the Torpoint ferry I had convinced myself that all along I had actually been heading into Plymouth to buy some of these Fish Arrow lures, and that needing a new pair of hiking boots was merely coincidental to me wandering into the Art of Fishing. Weakness in the face of adversity or intelligent mental agility ? If only the swine packet of lures had not gone and winked at me...............(oh, and these lures do look rather stunning in the water, plus they cast like little bullets).