A number of my otherwise cultured, smart and perceptive pals have a curious and inexplicable fondness for harming innocent fish. They -- the pals, not the fish -- willingly travel around the world in search of spots of incredible natural beauty, only to pull on long rubber boots, wade into the middle of some otherwise perfectly gorgeous river and proceed to harass the local aquatic wildlife with sharp hooks embedded in fake food, dangled on the end of very expensive lengths of high-tech carbon fibre.
Whenever I express incomprehension at this, they look at me sadly and say "But Rupert, how can you not understand? The marvellous scenery? The solitude? The joy of pitting one's wits against the wily trout?" The marvellous scenery I'll grant them: oddly enough I don't find the vision of protean splendour that is a silver river threading through the primeval greens of a distant valley much improved if you stick a middle-aged journalist in silly clothes and waving a big stick around slap bang in the middle. Sit on the bank and look inconspicuous, man. As for solitude, how this is improved by being up to your family jewels in a mixture of cold water and mud is a mystery. And the wily trout? It's a fish. We left that particular strand of evolution behind in the Late Devonian, and frankly I'm glad.
As far as I'm concerned, if you want to best a cold-blooded animal without the wit to tell the difference between a mayfly and a feather you might as well toss a stick of dynamite in, pour yourself a stiff Oban and wait for the bodies to float to the surface. They've had their chance: we worked out nitrogen chemistry while they were busy spurting their milt over gravel. It's payback time.
But even I can see the fun in the Fishing-CAM. Designed by Koreans -- a nation with a long history of fondness for our finny friends -- it is a wireless Webcam that sits on the end of your line and relays scenes of subaquatic carnage to a pole-mounted monitor. With it, you can watch in delight as the dinosaurs of the deep bumble around and impale themselves on your barbs. Giggle in happiness as their cold, flat eyes alight on the unfortunate worm proffered for their pleasure. Get that keen thrill of anticipation as you see their gaping mouths clamp over cold steel nemesis, seconds before the line starts to tug.
But it's not enough for me to abandon my country walks for the pleasures of befuddling some zero-IQ critter. I want proper hi-tech: I want full 3D sonar linked to an auto-guided harpoon, with target grading and prioritisation. I want these ancient failures to fully realise quite how feeble their eat-or-flee hardwired reflexes are against mankind at the height of his creative technological powers.
I don't just want them beaten, even if they're displayed in full 25 frames per second colour as it happens. I want them roundly humiliated. Then, and only then, will I consider fishing a suitable pastime for a grown man.