Beyond a pike dream

When Brett Paterson, Panorama’s call centre and specialist sales manager, proudly announced he had made the catch of the year on New Year’s Eve, I immediately jumped to the conclusion his long-suffering partner Sharon, agency sales area manager, south for Thomas Cook Tour Operations, had agreed to tie the knot after falling for him hook, line and sinker.

I was wrong.

It was not so much a romantic achievement as an aquatic one – Brett had landed a 22.5lb pike!

Now at this time of the year, no one likes it when the needle on the scales shoots higher than you’re used to. But in this case, I’m assured, fin is not fabulous.

According to Brett, the fish represented a new personal best for him. Unfortunately, Sharon was not around to share his moment of glory, although she is a keen angler herself. It’s a case of having to be, I imagine, as Sharon has followed Brett on his angling trips.

She took up fishing to save herself from boredom and soon became hooked. (Do say when you’ve had enough of the puns.) These days, Brett informs me, Sharon out-fishes most of the men.

I put this down to skill and a feminine touch, but Brett reckons it has more to do with the female pheromones that are transmitted to the fish via the bait Sharon has touched. This all sounds rather fishy to me, but Brett is certain the fish respond.

He told me: “She’s lucky I didn’t make her sleep with the bait under her arms to help me land the big one.”

I can’t help but feel rather sorry for the large pike Brett caught – after all, anyone who has endured a piercing knows it can’t be a whole heap of fun having a hook through your lip. But Brett says these fish prey on ducklings and the like, so I shouldn’t feel too bad.

I’m told that Brett is quite a star in media circles too, having featured in the Daily Mail’s Ski and Board magazine in an article about how men in high-pressured jobs relax.

Brett’s love of fishing gets him out into the countryside, away from the maelstrom of the office. And there is nowhere quite like the office for a touch of maelstrom, is there?

Why, the merest mention of Brett’s success in front of my colleague, Rick, sent tension levels soaring. The reason? Rick couldn’t believe Brett had caught a pike that large and it took an e-mailed jpeg to prove he had. The largest fish Rick has managed to hook was a mere 8lb.

My observation that “Yours is a bit of a tiddler by comparison” was not well received.

Surely shome mishtake

Diane Denney’s website,, helps single travellers find companions to share their room costs and travelling experience. It’s a brilliant idea. But I wonder if she could extend her services to incorporate another sector of the travelling public – those in need of

Yes, there are plenty of folk leaving these shores without anyone to offer them a word of advice at times of vulnerability. Take the case Diane came up against recently.

She received a call from a cruise company informing her that a regular client, who was currently completing a trip, had been denied the transfer to a connecting flight due to his being drunk, or as they termed it, “absolutely legless.” The company had called Diane to say it was up to her to “sort it out” as he would probably miss his return flight to Gatwick.

Diane replied that, as far as she was aware, airlines have the right to refuse boarding to an inebriated passenger, but that a client on a package holiday is the responsibility of the tour operator.

The voice at the other end asked Diane for suggestions on how to move forward. She suggested coffee. Lots of it. And maybe a call to a doctor.

Later that evening, she had another call. Did she want the good news or the bad?

“The good news is that the client sobered up and, with the aid of a wheelchair, made it to the airport before check-in time. The bad news is the aircraft went technical and the client was transferred to a Lufthansa flight which will be arriving at Heathrow, not Gatwick.”

Diane had booked transport for the client and immediately rang the taxi firm. At first she couldn’t get a reply, but persistence eventually paid off and the phone was answered by a young woman who told Diane she was looking after the business while the owners were away. Diane explained she had booked a driver who would be waiting at Gatwick when the fare was alighting at Heathrow and asked if the taxi could be re-routed.

I was tempted to suggest that, if the chap was still under the influence, he might not notice where he was at all.

Gone for an early bath

There are always things other than holidays on people’s lists of how to spend their money and we have to hope that time away continues to come near the top. Occasionally, however, holiday funds get diverted.

Take the case of the old boy who popped into our office to cancel his coach holiday. You always know when this chap has been in the shop as, unfortunately, he has an odour about him that sends wild things scurrying.

Imagine my surprise, when I asked him why he was cancelling, to hear him reply: “Social Services can’t get me one of those baths with a lift until May, so I’m having to use the money to pay a private company to install one.”

What, pray tell, is wrong with a wash at the kitchen sink? And since when did he make friends with soap and water?