I suppose it's inevitable as you grow older, but I've lost two good friends in the last year. Two blokes who were like chalk and cheese but bonded by a shared enjoyment of fishing. I met them both for the first time back in the early 'eighties when piking on various venues in the north west of England and south west Scotland.
Dave Standing was what is often known as 'a character'. Always ready with a witty (or not!) quip, always looking on the bright side of life and never known to be miserable. Nothing phased him. One time he did an entire slideshow in reverse order to an audience who didn't know him from Adam. After a few slides they were rolling in the isles!
James Holgate, who died last night, wasn't scared of stating his opinions in print, but in person he could come across as reticent and stand-offish, even humourless. He was often asked to do slide shows and always said 'no'. Yes, he was shy and quiet, but when he got to know you he would reveal his funny side (it was James who sent me the Nasty Mice picture and many more - some potentially libellously) amusing pictures and e-mails.
I owe James a lot when I look back. He bought rods off me when I was starting out in the rod building lark when I'm sure he didn't really need them. It was James who published my rig book, the royalties from which helped me out while DLST got established, and, of course, he started Pike Fisherman (which turned into Pike and Predators) opening up a whole new market for me. I am eternally grateful for that.
That James and Dave used to fish together on a regular basis for many years would seem an odd pairing (I'm sure they infuriated each other at times!) but they did. That's part of the magic of angling. I'll remember them both, often.