Still Carping On
Memories... Light the corners of my mind, Misty water-coloured memories, Of the way we were.
Our longest-serving contributor takes a fond look back at the last 30 eventful years from the time of the inception of our favourite fishing magazine
Publishers and editors love landmark occasions; significant issues of the magazine, and anniversaries of the date on which it was first published. It turns out that Mick, Bev and Ru are no different! “We could do with a piece from you looking back at the 30 years of the magazine’s life, if possible.” I was rapidly digesting this unwelcome blow to the solar plexus, when Bev followed through with a lady-like right uppercut. “Oh, and we could do with you to get together with Hutchy to compile an interview looking back to 1988.” This discussion took place before Rod was torn from us, a tragedy which occurred while I was still trying to pluck up courage to tell him that we would have to do some work together. Interviews might not sound like work, but they are, or were, especially in Rod’s case. He loved to talk, but didn’t always feel like ‘work’ if that meant a degree of self-discipline in terms of ordering his thoughts and coherently committing them to tape. He was on the cover of issue 1, contributed handsomely to the success of the magazine through the years, and has to be in here, so I’ve compiled a separate tribute piece, based on as few highlights of his body of work.
Realistically interviews with Rod were a joy to tape, but a necessary labour of love in terms of converting them to the PC, and finding enough pictures to illustrate them meaningfully. Surprisingly Rod’s back-catalogue of pictures was not as prolific as an editor would have liked it to be. And taking any interview off tape can be a minimum of two days’ of pretty boring work, with constant rewinds, trying to decipher muttered interjections, and checking the spelling of any names of people or places that appear on the tape. No, it’s not like proper work, but how many coal miners are in their seventies and eighties?
Now you might think that suggesting that writing this involves much effort is a bit OTT, but I know what I am like when it comes to looking back at the past. I don’t know if it shows but I am big on research, and rounding up the right pictures for any article, and a 30-year lookback requires extra-special attention. If you have personally aspired to the lofty age of 30 have a quick think about how you would describe the events of your 30 years of life in a few thousand words, and illustrate it meaningfully. I know, your immediate thought is about personal best and landmark fish, but I’ve been there, and done that, and this reflection has to be more comprehensive than that. That is true of publishing a look-back at any time, but on a landmark occasion when Carp-talk has just been laid to rest, Hutchy has died, and Angling Publications is winding down and no long publishes Carpworld, you’re treading through a minefield in terms of trying to recognise those who have helped Carpworld achieve such a remarkable longevity for a monthly angling magazine.
For a long time I was editor of Carpworld.
Did I notice anniversaries and landmark issues? Too right I did! I was comparatively young (ha!), and keen, and nothing was too much trouble – and those around me who made the magazine possible probably told me that it was only right to celebrate our tenth birthday. So Mike Wilson was on the cover of the tenth anniversary issue and my Carp Leader bore the title ‘Ten Years On...’ Mary was still in charge, the girls still did as they were told (by Mary), and the piece acknowledged the contribution of a number of people who helped make it happen in the first place, like Kevin Nash, Sandra Proctor (Proc, with us from day two), Pip and Jemima (who would not thank me for producing the picture used then!), Tony Davies-patrick, a class act back then, and still one today, Fred J. Taylor and Dave Chilton, among others. Our tenth birthday issue was number 96, and the contents included the Hutchinson Tapes, which I will return to elsewhere. One landmark contribution to that issue was Fred Sykes’ article ‘Carp and Otters’, including graphic photographic evidence of what we now know to be typical otter damage, and based on years of bitter experience since otters first visited Fred’s water in Cumbria, ten years previously. Fred’s is a very thorough, enlightening feature. It included pictures of an otter fence, and an illustration showing its specifications. A new problem back then? No! Fred draws attention to Dick Walker and Maurice Ingham writing about problems with otters in their 1950 book Drop Me a Line, an extract I’ve quoted in a recent appreciation of Walker for a new book which is in production.
Remarkably, I have been able to unearth our twentieth birthday issue (CW 216); ‘remarkably’ because it wasn’t in a binder. Martin Ford was editor at the time, and as far as I can see there was no recognition of the fact that it was a birthday issue, either on the cover or in Martin’s Carp Leader. On the other hand that was compensated for by the fact that there was a picture of Scott
The range of subject the Tapes covered over a two and half year period through the mid-90s was quite remarkable, and even now I’m amazed at Rod’s grasp of all things carpy
Maslen in the leader, and a plug for Sonik Rods, both of which heralded the shape of things to come. Having said which, Martin was bigger on significant landmark numbers than birthdays, and had already pushed the boat out for the 200th issue, published in May 2007. My contribution to the joint-leader with Martin in that issue was ‘The Long and Winding Road (When Dreams Become Reality)’ and highlighted the roles of those who had made the journey down the long and winding road possible. Sadly Mary had been taken from us by that time, the girls were in charge, and I looked a lot older than I do now. (I think I look exactly the same, actually.) Is it really ten years since Martin and I posed in front of the picture of Mary in the Angling Publications’ vestibule?
By some strange quirk of fate (not that strange: Fordy had left for pastures new) I was editor again by issue 250. We duly pushed the boat out, and I see that my Carp Leader was again on the dreams theme, this time using Hutchy’s quote, which I had by then become seriously enamoured of, ‘Where Dreams are Still Alive...’ There were the usual tributes, and the leader included my favourite Angling Publications’ staff picture, reproduced with this piece. Issue 250, July 2011, and we had all those people on the payroll! A number of them are currently gainfully employed by some major players in the carp marketplace, and power to their elbow! The cover was a nice one paying respects to many of the carpers who had helped make Carpworld a success throughout its life.
Remarkably issue 300 coincided with the magazine’s 27th birthday, and editor Broady and the girls duly pushed the boat out. For me a joyful aspect of this issue was that, at Broady’s request, I took a look back at some of the highlights of the Hutchinson Tapes. Their significance was starting to grow on me by then, and I have been revisiting them since his death as a prelude to including something from him in this issue. The range of subject the Tapes covered over a two and half year period through the mid-90s was quite remarkable, and even now I’m amazed at Rod’s grasp of all things carpy. A special feature included tributes from Carpworld contributors Ali Hamidi, Simon Crow, Bill Cottam, Chris Ball, Arjen Uitbeijerse, Iain Macmillan, Frank Warwick, Ian Chillcott, Jim Gibbinson, Julian Cundiff, Shaun Harrison, Mike Kavanagh, Mark Walsingham, Lee Jackson, Ken Townley, Steve Briggs, and Keith Jenkins. Briggsy’s comment summed up the contributors’ consensus: “It’s amazing really that Carpworld has been head and shoulders above other mags right from the start, and continues to lead the way.”
There’s one other issue to mention, which I’m recalling out of sequence because I loved the cover so much. Broady was big on landmark numbers and birthdays, so we had a 25th birthday issue between the twentieth and thirtieth birthdays. This is issue 276, the one with the ‘Sgt. Pepper’s album’ cover, which I must modestly admit was my idea. Broady, Gary Hood and the production department did us proud with the end product, and this is far and away my favourite Carpworld cover of all time, not least because it is a tribute cover embracing many names past and present, in addition to being an eye-catcher. Right up to the last minute we were going to run with the Beatles’ uniforms from the original cover, but bottled it at the eleventh hour. We didn’t know if we would be infringing copyright in any way, which we just couldn’t risk. Imagine going to all that trouble and then have all the copies impounded, or recalled. Included on the cover of issue 276 are four Carpworld editors: yours truly, Simon Crow, Martin Ford, and Steve Broad. Rupert has joined that august list this year, but it is a remarkable reflection of loyalty to the title that there were so few editors during a 30-year period.
But a life of a magazine isn’t just about the running of the company that publishes it, and the end products. There are the shows, and the books, the get-togethers, and the parties, and the memories of some of those, are as great as the office memories. Self-indulgently, perhaps, I’ve included a few pictures of these occasions, because they presented some ‘hair down’ moments made possible by the hard work through the rest of the year.
There is one trip in particular which sticks in my mind, our trip to Mick Paine’s Zwolle show in Holland for the launch of Monster Carp. Getting ready for and going to Zwolle made for a long hard day. Up in the early hours, load the trailer at AP, pick up Thomas (Duncan-dunlop) en route, ferry, overland to Zwolle via Belgium, then unload and set up the stand. By the time you have found the hotel and booked in that evening you are whacked, so you have a quick drink, get installed in your room, and crash out. That was the theory, but that first drink of the evening always seemed to give us second wind, and certainly did so on that occasion. The bar was next to reception so our travel bags were kicked under the table and the only compromise to the drinking session in the hours that followed was a break for dinner. Silly really, but that was the hard-earned social event
Right up to the last minute we were going to run with the Beatles’ uniforms from the original cover, but bottled it at the eleventh hour. We didn’t know if we would be infringing copyright in any way, which we just couldn’t risk
you felt you’d earned after a long, hard day, and a weekend on your feet still to come. This was the first time the girls had met Tom, and they were enchanted. Tom has that effect on the opposite sex. From the age of five onwards they all want to mother him.
One more Zwolle trip, and that was for the launch of Hutchy’s Carp Along the Way – Volume Two. Now if you want a drink at these shows you undertake a five mile hike to the bar, and then queue forever because bars tend to be popular spots for carp anglers (in case the fact had been lost on you). I warned Pip in advance that Rod might want a drink at some point in the day, so we made sure we had a couple of bottles of whisky, and glasses on the stand. Fair do’s, he showed up for 10am, but had the shakes. “I could do with a drink,” was his prelude, even before saying “guten morgen”. “Coffee or tea?” I asked naively. “No, a drink!” was the sharp response. The whisky came into play a few hours earlier than I had anticipated. Rod was adored in Europe.
For some years our Christmas do was a day at the races at Southall all-weather race track near Newark. We had a box level with the winning post, with the bookies a few paces down the hall, and food and drink served all day. I loved those occasions, and we even aspired to sponsoring one of the races one year. And then at the end of all that the younger element had the stamina to go on a pub/nightclub crawl when they got back to Sheffield. I was never that silly! Fortunately, I live between Sheffield and Newark and was able to escape the revelries early evening while the others were just warming to the day and evening’s celebrations.
Memories... at the end of it all you can only look back at the 30-year life of Carpworld in gratitude, and wonder. I caught a carp by accident, was fortunate enough to be able to throw a few words onto paper now and then, managed to launch a magazine, and our modest publishing empire became a reality, made possible through Mary’s drive and business sense. It wasn’t possible, but it happened. Sadly Mary is no longer with us, and the girls have gone their separate ways, or are in the process of doing so. Fortunately, we have the magazines and books as a reminder of the publishing years at Angling Publications – and the sense of
achievement, and the memories. And to nick part of one more verse from the Barbra Streisand song quoted in the lead-in:
If we had the chance to do it all again – Tell me, would we...?
Well, yes! Looking back the timing of Carpworld was serendipitous. It was the first newsstand carp magazine, was launched on the strength of the carp-fishing boom, and was well established by the time the electronic media age started to make inroads into paper publications. It was a first, the timing was right, and it has stayed strong enough, and popular enough, to withstand the changing face of publishing. Trends suggest Carpworld won’t be here forever, but looking back 30 years is a long, long time for a newsstand angling magazine to survive, and thrive.
As we have said many, many times over the years, thanks to all our contributors, advertisers and readers for their support. Carpworld is in new, good hands now, passed on from one family business to another. Long may it continue to be ‘head and shoulders above the other mags, and continue to lead the way’, as my good friend Briggsy so succinctly put it in Carpworld 300. This is issue 335. Numerically the next landmark is issue 350, which, according to my calculations, is the December 2019 issue. Too soon for another celebration, surely? Is there enough life in a newsstand carp magazine to carry Carpworld through to its thirty-fifth birthday in 2023? Only the magazine-buying carp fraternity can make that possible so the ball is back in your court. Thanks again for making it all possible for the last thirty years.
RIGHT One landmark contribution to that issue was Fred Sykes’ article ‘Carp and Otters’
RIGHT Remarkably I have been able to unearth our twentieth birthday issue
LEFT Mike Wilson was on the cover and my Carp Leader bore the title ‘Ten Years On...’
LEFT Mr F on the cover of the 200th issue, published in May 2007
ABOVE There were the usual tributes, and the leader included my favourite Angling Publications’ staff picture, reproduced with this piece. Issue 250, July 2011: Back: James Turner, Yasmin Hutchinson, Kris Bell, Dan Proctor, Nigel Banks, Jerry Bridger, Andy Gasgoine, Gary Hood, me, Pip, Adam Firth. Middle: Tim Jnr, Jemima, Sandra Proctor, Lynda Glover, Julie Beer. Bottom: Sally Escourt, Rebecca Akers, Rachel Bell
LEFT Is it really ten years since Martin and I posed in front of the picture of Mary in the Angling Publications vestibule?
LEFT Remarkably issue 300 coincided with the magazine’s 27th birthday
RIGHT We had a 25th birthday issue between the twentieth and thirtieth birthdays. This is issue 276, the one with the ‘Sgt. Pepper’s album’ cover: The gnomes may be lost on future generations, and try as I may, I can’t find Captain Kev on here! Otherwise it is very special
BELOW Rupert has joined that august list this year
MIDDLE Zwolle and a gathering of stars on the stand at Zwolle: yours truly, Eric Smith (of Eric’s Common fame) Arjen Uitbeijerse, Lucky Lockey and Tom
LEFT At the Zwolle show for the launch of Hutchy’s Carp Along the Way Volume Two
TOP Another trip, and another book launch. Unmistakably Frank Warwick presenting a slide show in Belgium at the launch of his book Every Bit of Blue
LEFT ONE OF OUR LAST COLLECTIVE STAND OCCASIONS, LAUNCHING CHILLY’S BOOK AT THE CARP SOCIETY SANDOWN SHOW IN 2016
ABOVE We had a box level with THE FINISHING LINE, WITH THE BOOKIES JUST DOWN THE HALL, AND FOOD AND DRINK SERVED ALL DAY. I LOVED THOSE OCCASIONS