freeline-20 - Page 79



Made In England
dial action ourselves. I know of a few
fishery owners who have tried all
manner of legal means, but still their
fish die – I’ll leave you to work out the
next step.
As the day became evening we
adjourned to the bar to watch the
England v Switzerland game, which
obviously elicited quite a bit of conversation, and it was during this that
serendipity stepped in again. I was
discussing the football, or lack of it,
with a guy called Steve from Wolverhampton, and was slightly taken
aback when he told me that he was
an estate manager on a private estate
in the Cotswolds. When he named
one of the lakes on the estate and
asked if that was where the Myth was
written about, I was gobsmacked.
Indeed it was, and Reg and I had only
been discussing the same lake a
week earlier. The Keeper was brought
about by the fact that the land that
‘Felcham Mere’ was on was being
developed for a very up market housing estate, and ‘Stan’ applied and got
the job as estate manager. Well, blow
me if that wasn’t exactly what Steve
did. He’d fished the ‘Mere’ up until
he’d heard about the estate being
built, but then had heard the old manager had died, so enquired as to
whether there was a vacancy, and got
the job there and then! How fact so
often mirrors fiction, because that
was the way that I’d thought out the
plot line in The Keeper.
S a d l y, a l t h o u g h t h e r e w e r e
undoubtedly two very large carp in
there when we went on there, they
don’t seem to be there now, as Steve
has permission to fish it and hasn’t
seen anything that big in the last four
years. When I asked where he
thought they’d gone, he said, ‘Otters!’
There you go again. Apparently they
were introduced into a small river,
which runs through the estate, about
ten years ago, and now they are
beginning to cause havoc in the
Water Park. With almost a hundred
lakes, most of them stocked with
good sized carp, the otters are in
heaven and nobody can do anything
about it. In the book, Old Ted took
matters in hand and then there were
no more otters. Sadly, that is what is
beginning to happen in the worst
affected areas and pretty soon I’m
sure something will happen that will
cause a huge public backlash. Steve
brought the problem to the attention
of his boss, whose response was that
no stocked fish would ever take
precedence over an indigenous
species. The fact that some of the
carp have been there for 40 years and
the otters less than ten seemed to
matter not a jot.
I chatted with Steve for most of the
evening, and gave him a copy of the
books to see if they matched up to the
Mere as it is now. He even offered to
take me over there for another look
around, which would be great. Who
knows, maybe he might just have
missed that big old common, snuck
away under those snaggy fallen trees.
Now wouldn’t that be a thing?
Despite the lack of numbers, I think
about £3000 was raised, which was
great, and all in all, it was a lovely day,
especially when Elvis came on during
the evening – all shook up, yes
indeed. Talking of charities, we’re
doing an auction for Help for Heroes
this month, and it’ll end on 31st July,
so have a look on the Freebird website and see if there’s anything that
takes your fancy. There are a number
of signed, limited edition books,
including another of the Horton
Best of the commons for Greg Alexander with a Milton Abbas 47.
FREE LINE 79

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