Hey, Bird Brain!

That Jim Bruce had birds on the brain. Not like Stan or Jack did in On The Buses. Oh no. He liked birds so much he named a whole range of rods after them. The Mallard, Heron, Swallow, Swift, Kingfisher, Grebe, Swan & Cormorant. The man was clearly obsessed. I’ve seen a Mallard (nice rod) and been endlessly disappointed by Grebes but the one I like, that we all like, is the Avocet. Recurvirostra to the keen birder. Bit of a mouthful. Means it’s bill is curved backwards. Don’t contradict me please Professor.

I don’t know exactly when B. James & Son (Jim Bruce’s firm) first made the Avocet, but in 1952, Bernard Venables started an angling competition in the Daily Mirror. The winner’s prize was an Avocet rod. The Daily Mirror bought these from B. James & Son. Paid full whack for them. Bernard Venables did them a big favour. Here’s one of the very first, from 1952. It’s the loveliest Avocet you’ll ever see. Probably the earliest. Certainly the rarest. Look –


Avocet fanciers are pretty hard-core. It’s all about the gold transfers- ‘Built To Endure’ they whisper to each other. The split cane made by Bob Southwell (he pressed his nodes, they mumble uncomprehendingly). The spigots on the ferrules -well, what would Freud have said about those?

‘Innit marvelous?’ as Blakey would surely say if he clapped eyes on this Avocet (we’re back On The Buses again. Do try to keep up). I think he’d appreciate the austere but functional engraving style on the butt cap. Oh for heaven’s sake Reg, not everything in 1952 was a double entendre.

We’re living through strange times. You’ve bought a barn-full of tinned spaghetti, more anchovy paste than you really need and for reasons that you’ve forgotten, a hectolitre of unpasteurised ewe’s milk. You won’t starve but you’ll have bad breath and you’ll be miserable. Cheer yourself up. Call me. Don’t buy my sweet blooming lavender. Buy my Avocet!

Read all about it here.
Until next time

Edward Barder and Colin Whitehouse