Sunday, October 01, 2006

Played and landed in Farlow's of Pall Mall

Earlier this year I had a day in London, and with an hour to spare before an engagement decided to pay a quick visit to Farlow's of Pall Mall. Not to buy anything, you understand. Just to kill a bit of time. Just to look. Leaving the store soon after, having purchased several packets of hooks, some leader material, and the EZE-LAP diamond hook sharpener, I felt as though I'd been played and landed. Now I know how the fish feel...

Photo Farlow's rod room

The rod room... dangerous territory for the weak willed.

Having emerged from the underground at Picadilly, I went up to Pall Mall and entered the shop. The strategically placed shop assistant spotted me immediately, watching me glide towards the rods. He moved carefully from behind the counter, and worked his way over, using the excellent cover provided by the sea fishing gear. He was quickly at my shoulder, noticing my interest in the travel rods. But he made a fatal mistake when drawing my attention to the workmanship of Hardy. He foolishly let me see the price tags and the game was up: I became sulky, distracted, and quickly moved off upstairs, to the safety of the Barbour jackets.

Five minutes later I was back downstairs, this time moving steadily among the fly tying equipment. The shop assistant now showed himself a worthy angler, this time choosing to fish fine and far off, watching my progress from the front desk. He observed my interest in a spool of 4X tippet, but I refused it at the last moment, turning to admire the size 14 klinkhammers. Seconds later I was back, and when I finally succumbed to a finer diameter 6X spool, I quickly realised my mistake. What had started as looking had now become buying.

Photo of the fly selection

"...turning to admire the size 14 klinkhammers".

I moved over to the display of hooks, desperately trying to forget the leader material I held in my hand. I selected some Kamazan hooks, size 16, and the hook sharpener before darting for a display at the back where I tried to look interested in a selection of DVDs. But it was no use and the products in my hands started to sap my energy. Biding his time, the assistant waited until I drew close to the till. With cash handed over, I bundled my goods into a bag and retreated. I stumbled into the dazzling light of the street outside. Standing on the pavement awhile I paused to get my bearings, adrift in a current of bustling city workers. Having caught my breath, I moved off in the direction of the National Gallery, and away from the scene of my catch and release.