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Made in England
I recently saw something on the telly
about a disease that was affecting the
British amphibians; a sort of fungus.
This fungus was being spread by an
African clawed frog, not a native to
these islands, obviously, but one that
had been brought over in the 1930’s
for, wait for it, a pregnancy testing
aid. The premise was that, as the hormone balance was similar to humans,
by getting a possibly pregnant
woman to pee on a frog it would
cause it to ovulate if the woman was
pregnant. Now, at first I thought this
was remarkable, but then I thought,
who the hell thought of doing that,
122 FREE LINE
and why?
Algernon and Cedric were pondering the possibility of a pregnancy test,
but in what form.
‘I know,’ says Algie. ‘How about
utilising the obvious biological similarities of amphibians?’
‘Spiffing idea,’ agrees Cedric. ‘What
have you got in mind?’
‘Don’t know really. How about getting the gells to lick a salamander?’
‘Sounds plausible, old boy,’ agrees
Algie. ‘You try that out and I think I’ll
try inserting a newt into them.’
‘Good idea. Smooth or Great
Crested?’
‘Smooth I think, or maybe Palmate,
I’ll see how it goes.’
Three months later, the results.
‘So, how did the salamander licking
go, Algie?’
‘Inconclusive, I’m afraid, although
that gell from Torbay’s reaction was
quite startling. I’ve never seen vomit
projected so far. What about you,
Cedric, any good news?’
‘A procession of dead newts, I’m
afraid. What now I wonder?’
Algernon rubs his chin and then
suggests, ’How about getting ’em to
pee on a frog?’
Beats me.
But this brought to mind something
that happened in Thailand. Stuart told
us about one of the arapaima in his
lake, called Mad Max. They’d been
called up by someone from a large
shopping mall, and told about this
fish. It was being kept in a concrete,
ornamental pond that was far too
small and dirty for the fish, and it
looked like it would probably die if not
removed. Stuart and Sean went and
had a look, and took out an emaciated
fish of about 40 to 50lbs. They took it
back to the lake and slipped it in,
assuming that it would pop up dead
in a matter of days. Well, about three
months later, someone lands a fish
and, on inspection, they recognise the
fish as the one from the shopping
mall, now weighing about 60lbs. As
they go to put it back it nuts Stuart,
then nuts another guy in the wedding
tackle, before charging off strongly. Its
next capture a month later sees it
larger and more ornery, and so they
dub it Mad Max. Now, unrelated to
this at the time, Stuart had been chatting to a guy with some knowledge
about arapaima, and part of the con-
(Top left) Now there’s happy for you –
Clair Perry with a PB 28lb common.
(Below) Not quite The Eye, but a huge
PB for Dean Boutwood.

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