It’s not as though you will have missed it, for Miss Georgina Ballantine stares out at you – no challenges you – from a framed photograph above the urinals in the Gents.
With the result that just as you’re going about your business in what is by definition a one hundred per cent male environment within the surrounds of a traditional, famous Scottish fishing hotel, you are presented with the clear evidence that you, as a fishing bloke, have been found wanting.
Of course the fish concerned, and pictured here, is the British record Atlantic salmon – a fish of 64lb taken from the River Tay 90-odd years ago. Never mind that you spend considerable parts of your life, and money (not to mention the goodwill of the female components of said life) salmon-fishing. It is extremely unlikely that you will catch a fish this size, or even half this size. Unlike Georgina.
All right if you fish rivers like the Orkla, Gaula, Kharlovka, Yokanga, or Alta a lot – and I mean a lot, year after year – you might catch one in the thirties or forties of pounds (okay Gaula and Alta, maybe even a shade into the fifties). But for most mortals it ain’t gonna happen.
I have occasionally (and I mean occasionally) gone into the Buccleuch & Q loo glowing with success at the capture of a salmon a tenth of the size of ‘Georgie’’s but been pulled up cold by the blistering sensation of admiration and awe even the imperfect photo of this beast of a fish engenders.
But then I’m a fisherman, and I respect it – and the captor.
Although I’ve now caught a fair few fish in the 12-14lb range my biggest ever salmon remains 14.5. (I know what a 46.5lber looks like though because I saw the monster of that weight caught last season on the Gaula in the freezer of the Norwegian Flyfishers’ Club last August.) So not huge for the old record books, not huge at all.
But finally – and I’m not going any further on the whole women and big fish question, for now at least – just who the hell did put the photo up there, in that place because it was clearly a woman (the piece de resistance are the two exclamation marks on BETTER!! – you can just see the feminine exultation in the pen-strokes). The hotel manageress, the cleaners, some late-night soul in heels or fluffy slippers, perhaps, out to prove a point as she helped herself to a G+T in the hotel bar?
But I tell you what. I bet she had a smile on her face as she did it.