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Euro Fishing: Clint Walker - The Carp Society Winter Show

So, you fancy doing an angling show do you? A weekend of fishing and fun? Think again… I’ve been to plenty of the popular angling shows in the past, albeit from a consumer viewpoint, and have often thought that it would be great fun to spend all weekend, talking about fishing to likeminded brethren, and seeing the latest innovations and new products, whilst enjoying some bonhomie amongst friends. It must be a doddle right? It isn’t. It’s hard work, and now I know…

I was asked some time ago if I would be prepared to help out on the RAD Angling stand, and was given the option to do all weekend, or just one of the days. As it gave me an opportunity to meet up with an old Navy shipmate I haven’t seen for twenty three years, I said I’d do the whole weekend, so drove down to The Carp Society Winter Show at Sandown racecourse on Friday afternoon. I’m a northerner, and according to legend, the M25 is something on which cars park, for extended periods, for no apparent reason, whilst drivers shout obscenities at each other, so I wasn’t looking forward to the long journey, which would unfortunately encompass part of the nefarious roadway…

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Four hours later, I arrived, flustered and tired at the hotel, a chain station near a large theme park, and pulled into the car park. I called the team, and was prompted to visit the show hall to get an idea of what was expected for the following two days, have a look at stock, and new products, so I could give a fairly competent demonstration to interested customers. After that, we all retired to the hotel again, booked in, dumped bags, and went for a drink in the bar to ‘team build’ and discuss the forthcoming show. After an hour, I made my excuses, returned to my (shared) room, and did a couple of hours writing utilising a very poor WiFi connection, in an effort to maintain imminent deadlines…which wait for no man!

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After a quick shower, I drove another fifteen miles (again on the M25!) to Redhill to meet my matelot chum, had a couple of drinks, a nice meal in a friendly (yet frighteningly expensive for a northerner!) pub, before driving back again to grab some sleep ready for the morrow; I didn’t sleep well, woken by my room mate who couldn’t find the right light switch, and again by his nighty bimble to the toilet… not the best of starts to a busy weekend! Awake at 0600 (old habits die hard) morning ablutions and breakfast complete, we decamped for the show an hour before the doors opened…

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As we waited for the public to be admitted, last minute checks ensured everything was ‘squared away’ ready for the imagined onslaught, and we quickly slurped tea to lubricate the throat in preparation. The first punters eventually appeared, circling the stand like nervous cats, craning their necks to see what was on offer… “Alright mate? Fancy a look at our kit?” That was it, the ice was broken, and for the next four hours, I was constantly talking to customers who took a genuine interest in our wares. Without a break for lunch, but fuelled on snatched sugar rushes of chocolate snacks and more tea, the team dealt with sales and enquires all morning. And then at 1400, it stopped… just like that. Everyone seemed to disappear aside from one or two souls who took no interest in either the Saturday afternoon rugby, football or cricket, and remained to have a slow wander around. In truth, it became a little dull, waiting for the prescribed show closure, so we resorted to having a wander, enjoying a couple of hours ourselves to catch up with friends on other stands, and generally check out the opposition…

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Show over on day one, and it was back to the hotel. My calves were killing me, cramp had set in after being on my feet all day, my mouth was dry, and my throat sore, but it had been fun, and I had certainly enjoyed it. Initial estimates for cold hard cash (after all, that’s what it’s about) were reasonable, costs were covered, and feedback had been good, so we all met in the restaurant for an evening meal. The banter flowed, as did the beer, and we had a laugh until it was time to go to bed; sensibly, (boringly) I’d stuck to non-alcoholic drinks, so was hopeful of a good night’s rest. At 0200 however, the sugar kicked in, and I laid, staring at the ceiling, listening to the snores of my compatriot, for the next two hours…

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Day two, and we were all in good spirits as we met for a hurried breakfast, checked out, then returned to the fray. Again, an hour early ‘just in case’ we checked everything once more, topped up the sweetie hamper, flashed up the looped video, and stood by. It was Sunday, and the queue to get in was impressive, so we waited in anticipation of a much busier day… We were proved right, and it was mayhem from 0900 with the stand thronged with keen consumers. Once more, the talking never stopped, with customers keen to strike a deal, buy products, and just make enquires, and again it was great fun, with some proper ‘characters’ engaged in conversation, and a flood of sales made. By the end of a much busier day, we’d taken three times the previous day’s total, and were all in good spirits as the day wound down. Thankfully, the RAD Angling stand is a supreme piece of engineering, a trailer converted for show purposes, but cunningly designed to pack up and down in less than thirty minutes! I’d spoken to many others who had four or five hours of graft to look forward too before they could depart as they took apart their stand; for us, we packed up in a record breaking fifteen minutes, were through the doors and hooked to the towing vehicle in less than twenty, and were on the way home in less than half an hour! Brilliant!

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Sadly, the M25 was busy, and I spent at least an hour crawling around it in frustrated company. The M1 wasn’t much better, with variable speed limits enforced until Milton Keynes, then near home, I became stuck behind ‘Miss Daisy’ who thought that 30mph was a bit quick, and that we should be a little more cautious along the country lanes. As a result, I finally walked through the door at about 2030, to be welcomed with a steaming plate of ‘Sunday Dinner’ by the wife… a perfect end to a great weekend, but if you get involved, don’t expect it to be a jolly; you’ll be knackered, and probably suffer for a couple of days after. Would I do it again? Damn right I would… see you at The Northern Angling Show!

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