The Best of Barlow

Fishing in the Footsteps of Mr Crabtree
5th June 2017
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13th May 2014

The Best of Barlow

  • TaskBook Review

Compiled by Greg Meenehan, published by Calm Productions. Price:£20.00

A Frank Barlow story. We were fishing a match on the Trent and I was struggling, so went for a walk. Got to Frank’s peg and he was fishing a pole. This was way before using poles became standard fare, and seeing anyone using one on the Trent then was unheard of.
“What’s that thing, Frank?” I asked.

“It’s a pole, and I’m catching on it,” he whispered. “Call me François Barlow.”
This book is full of bon mots from Frank, a rough diamond with a wonderful sense of humour, who died a decade ago. He was a top match angler, winning many, many big matches on his beloved river Trent, and he wrote 541 columns for Angler’s Mail over more than 10 years.
A chain smoker, big eater and champion moaner, Frank, nicknamed Boris, wrote warts-and-all of his weekly match exploits.While it helped to know the characters involved, it still proved entertaining to those who had never met Bob the Gob, Rip-off and The Pieman. For those on the match circuit, Frank’s exploits were required reading. Here are typical examples.
“Our Dean drew on the Wall again. He’s been there so many times they call him Humpty Dumpty.”
“I didn’t realise Paul was there until I saw everyone taking off their wheel trims and putting them behind them.”
“On the Erewash Canal I drew next to a boat where the owner is, I kid you not, a transvestite Jehovah’s Witness. He offered me a fresh cup of tea several times.”
The book has tributes from many anglers who suffered his insults and enjoyed his company in equal measure. It’s terrific value with more than 270 pages filled with his novel take on life, fishing and those he met.
There is a bit of repetition in the stories, but generally the editor Greg Meenehan has done a good job, and those who were around Boris or read his columns in those heady days will find plenty to entertain them here.