They still advertise like this…?

Every now and then, my assumption that western civilisation evolves at a more or less even tempo receives a jarring wake-up call. Today is one of those occasions.

Somewhere in Ohio, apparently, it is still 1978.

How the years slip away and Benny Hill’s face moves into crisper focus, as I watch someone called Joe Jordan and R&R Bait & Tackle combine their promotional efforts around  a single theme. And fishing.

Joe at least, might just have got away with his part of the deal, so willing was I to extend him the benefit of the doubt and assume that the bikini’d young woman who opens the clip is his wife or girlfriend. On reflection, he may feel that the part where he has to check what her name is should never have survived the first edit.

This, however, pales alongside the advertising intermission at the 33-second mark. It’s not the body of Bikini Woman number 2, holding up an ‘Open Seven Days a Week Sign’ in the floats aisle, that lingers in the memory, so much as the body language.

This is either a model, slowly coming to terns with the fact that she’s drawn the day’s short straw down at the agency, or else a long-suffering staff member mentally calculating  before our eyes what ‘taking one for the team’ will cost her employer in bonuses and free bait.

We return to Joe and his associate, reeling in bass and pike in northern Michigan, before popping back to R&R at the 4:47 point, where a young woman in hot pants (probably the accountant) wants to tell us that you can’t go wrong with Weld-craft fishing boats. Lest there be any doubt on that score, the camera cuts to a photo of the said vessel, with another woman in a bikini draped across its back end, clearly savouring every second aboard “the most reliable, durable boat on the planet”.

All told, this peek into Joe and R&R’s parallel universe runs to almost 12 minutes, and even as you hope that there might yet be some ironic, self-aware punchline that makes everything all right, the clip blindsides you once more, closing with a quote from St Paul’s letter to the Philippians – I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.

Whether it’s Joe or the proprietors of R&R Bait and Tackle whose strength needs occasional replenishment isn’t entirely clear.


Fly fishing and the dumbing-up of education

Yes, you did read it correctly.


That’s the best term I can think of when someone builds a university class around fly fishing and literature. It might be several notches up from ‘meeja studies’ but I’m still not sure it’s work as I know it.

Which is, of course, an entirely different thing from saying you wouldn’t catch me signing up in a heartbeat for easy street Professor John Orlock’s ‘Metaphysics, Sport & Literature of Fly Fishing‘ course at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University.

That’s Cleveland, Ohio, by the way, before any of you fly fishing tyros on Teesside start feverishly amending your student loan applications.

Damn, John , where were you when I needed you 29 years ago? Three years wrestling with case law and statutes when, but for a cruel twist of chronology, I could have been in your tutelage, quickly becoming proficient in the art of fishing ’til sunset, reading Ed Zern ’til dawn and calling it ‘cramming ‘ with an entirely straight face.

And, if you’ll permit me one quibble, far from just going through the motions, I guarantee our first tutorial together would have been a blast:

‘Any man who claims, “Fly fishing, like no other sport, has been responsible for a proliferation of great literature,” is a man who knows nothing of baseball or cricket. Discuss.’