Back Along The Way - Part 1

Carpworld - - CONTENTS - - Tim Paisley

Hutchy’s friend, Tim Paisley, takes an in­depth look at the life of one of carp fish­ing’s gi­ants, in this first of a two part trib­ute

Rod has been so much a part of Carp­world over the years that I was go­ing to get to­gether with him to tape some ma­te­rial for this 30th birth­day is­sue of Carp­world. Then, trag­i­cally, he fell ill, was taken into hos­pi­tal and died sud­denly the week be­fore I had a trip across to Louth planned to see him. His pass­ing was a shock to ev­ery­one, and has left a void for fam­ily, friends and the world of carp fish­ing which can never be filled by one man. He was charis­matic, in­flu­en­tial, larger than life, and has left be­hind such a body of work that to do him jus­tice in print is im­pos­si­ble. He was a tal­ented, in­ven­tive, per­cep­tive, in­tel­li­gent carp-fish­ing pi­o­neer, and I hope his writ­ing will be ac­corded the place in his­tory that it de­serves. His writ­ing was in­spi­ra­tional, and in this is­sue, and next month, we’ll re­visit some of his work in his own words to il­lus­trate his re­mark­able an­gling mind, and his ex­tra­or­di­nary sense of hu­mour.

Pub­lic fig­ures, ac­tors, film stars and writ­ers live for­ever in the pub­lic psy­che, and aware­ness, be­cause their aura and their body of work never go away. Sadly, we’ve lost Rod Hutchin­son but his pres­ence will al­ways be with us through his achieve­ments, and his writ­ings, which I have be­come very fa­mil­iar with over the years through work­ing with him on in­ter­views, fea­tures and books, and pub­lish­ing his last three ma­jor ti­tles.

My first in­volve­ment with Rod on books was in 1982 with The Carp Strikes Back, which I proofed and helped col­late. I have two strong mem­o­ries of that book. One is sit­ting on Rod’s spa­cious liv­in­groom floor at Marsh Chapel cre­at­ing or­der from Rod’s dis­or­ga­ni­za­tion, and com­pil­ing the files for each chap­ter. The sec­ond is that he didn’t have a ti­tle for the book un­til late in the day. He wanted a play on a film ti­tle, and I’m pretty sure it was daugh­ter Emma who came up with The Em­pire Strikes Back as the film ti­tle Rod wanted to re­flect.

By the time Carp Now and Then was near­ing its fi­nal stages in the late 80s Rod’s do­mes­tic cir­cum­stances had changed and he was with An­nie, and living in Union Street, Louth. I re­call go­ing across with Mary to do the fi­nal proof read­ing, which means there is an anom­aly here. Ac­cord­ing to the lead pages Carp Now and Then was pub­lished in 1988, the year Carp­world was launched. As Mary and I didn’t get to­gether un­til 1989 that pub­li­ca­tion date must be in­cor­rect. It must have been pub­lished in 1989.

There was a pe­riod in the early 90s dur­ing which Rod was wrapped up in his busi­ness, and his an­nual mag­a­zine, Carp­scene. I wrote for Carp­scene, but I’m not sure I saw a lot of Rod in the early 90s. I think we were just ships that passed in the night for a few years, a course we were both well ca­pa­ble of sail­ing down! Even­tu­ally we got our act back to­gether for the Hutchin­son Tapes, which ran for two and a half years in Carp­world, com­piled in Rod’s lat­est – and fi­nal – spa­cious living room,

at Leg­bourne. Dur­ing these years he was col­lect­ing ma­te­rial for a trib­ute book ded­i­cated to his heroes; those who had in­spired him down the years. Ear­lier this cen­tury he asked me if I could help him with that book. I was will­ing to try!

He was living at Leg­bourne, near Louth, with part­ner Co­ral by this time. I went across and came away with boxes of pic­tures, hand-writ­ten ma­te­rial, and type­scripts. I was stunned by the con­tents of the box. It in­cluded ma­te­rial from Rod’s in­spi­ra­tional heroes Mau­rice Ing­ham, Fred J. Tay­lor, Brian Mills and Jim Gib­bin­son, among oth­ers, but at that time there wasn’t enough ma­te­rial for a book of the ilk that Rod had in mind.

To my com­plete and ut­ter as­ton­ish­ment, in that box was some ma­te­rial hand-writ­ten by Rod which he hadn’t even men­tioned in con­nec­tion with the trib­ute book. I read it in amaze­ment and went back across to see him about it. “Oh, that?” he shrugged, “I wrote it in the six­ties when I had as­pi­ra­tions to be a writer and it’s been ly­ing around ever since.”

As it had been writ­ten al­most 40 years ear­lier, and had ar­rived at Leg­bourne via Hud­dle­stone Road, Grimbsy (an ad­dress I used to write to in the late 70s with some re­ally dumb ques­tions, which he al­ways pa­tiently an­swered), Marsh Chapel and Union Street, Louth, it was a mir­a­cle it was still ‘ly­ing around’. It was au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal and in re­al­ity it was only partly to do with fish­ing, but I thought it was mar­vel­lous and needed pub­lish­ing. The prob­lem was that it cer­tainly didn’t fit with the trib­ute ‘in­spi­ra­tions’ con­cept, and wasn’t re­ally carp or an­gling mag­a­zine ma­te­rial, so where to from there?

That was how the Carp Along the Way books came into ex­is­tence. Rod’s writ­ing had al­ways been in­spi­ra­tional. Among his early ‘carp life’ ar­ti­cles, ‘Along the Way’ and ‘Fur­ther Along

the Way’ had hooked me as a lover of Rod’s writ­ing. His ma­te­rial made you think, smile, and fre­quently laugh out loud. His one-line punch lines could be epic, and some of them had stuck in my mind 30 years on from when they had first ap­peared in print. “How about we re­visit those ar­ti­cles and cou­ple them with the ‘re­dis­cov­ered’ au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal ma­te­rial from the six­ties?” He liked the idea, but was slightly re­sis­tant to the ‘Carp Along the Way’ ti­tle, which I’d ac­tu­ally dreamt up for my next book. He still wanted to use the ‘Some­where Along the Way’, or ‘Back Along the Way’ idea, but the pub­lisher in me wanted ‘carp’ in the ti­tle, so Carp Along the Way it was. To me it re­flected the idea that carp were fairly in­ci­den­tal to the gen­eral tenor of the ma­te­rial, a fair re­flec­tion of much of Rod’s writ­ten work.

In fact the lost ma­te­rial, which grad­u­ally mor­phed into carp ma­te­rial with Rod’s grow­ing ad­dic­tion to carp fish­ing – and then the dis­cov­ery and in­spi­ra­tion of Pine­trees Pool – com­prised the first 21 chap­ters of Carp Along the Way – Vol­ume One. It was ma­te­rial that had been ly­ing un­seen for nearly 40 years!

We started work­ing to­gether on his books in 2006. Carp Along the Way – Vol­ume One was pub­lished in 2008, Vol­ume Two in 2009, and, a mere 17 years on from its in­cep­tion in Rod’s mind, Carp In­spi­ra­tions in 2011. They were years dur­ing which my moods var­ied be­tween frus­tra­tion, near ner­vous break­down, and eu­pho­ria at the qual­ity of the ma­te­rial I was deal­ing with, and the end re­sults. On re­flec­tion the eu­pho­ria pre­vails. Rod was charis­matic, and larger than life, and to have worked with him over such a long pe­riod of time, and with such re­sults, is a mat­ter of con­sid­er­able pride.

To make any at­tempt to sum­marise, or do jus­tice to, Rod’s writ­ten body of work is im­pos­si­ble. In the event I’m go­ing to in­clude some ex­tracts from his book ma­te­rial in the hope that will alert some of you, who don’t get it about Rod, to the scope of his tal­ents. I’ll start with the one-liner that hooked me on Rod’s ‘life’ writ­ing, which ap­peared in a Coarse Fish­er­man ar­ti­cle in the early 80s. His car has bro­ken down for the umpteenth time dur­ing a Nor­folk hol­i­day with wife Sue:

They were years dur­ing which my moods var­ied be­tween frus­tra­tion, near ner­vous break­down, and eu­pho­ria at the qual­ity of the ma­te­rial I was deal­ing with, and the end re­sults

BE­LOW Early lo­cal suc­cess for Rod, the emerg­ing carp an­gler

LEFT Rod, book and mag­a­zine sign­ing, dur­ing the Carp­scene years of the early 90s

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