Saturday, 13 October 2012

Do you know what Hell is really like?

I mean, do you? Do you think that it's all white hot coals and sulphurous smoke?

Or, maybe you have a more earthly concept for Hell such as being locked in a room full of accountants or estate agents (or Clifford Longley) - pretty terrifying but far from the real thing, I'm sure.

G.E.M. Skues (who he?) had a view as to what Hell was really like and, before I go further let me explain that George Edward Mackenzie Skues was a great and famous authority on fly fishing - a British gentleman, lawyer and author of many books with titles such as 'Minor Tactics of the chalk stream'

Skues was not, as far as I am aware, a Catholic and he died in 1949 at the ripe old age of  91 years.

One tale that he left behind was that of the dry fly fisherman who, having died, went before St Peter.

I shall do my best to recount it from memory but let me first say that the thing that fisherman love most about their sport is its unpredictability.

You never know if you are going to hook a half ounce minnow or an 8lb brown trout.

So the old fisherman arrives in front of St Peter who gives him a warm welcome before consulting his ledger.

"Ah, yes" says St P: "I've found your entry, just follow me if you would be so kind"

"Oh, St Peter, I would be so very grateful if my reward could include a little fly fishing" utters the fisherman.

St Peter halts mid-stride and looks the old chap in the eye and replies that he has exactly that in mind for him.

Throwing open a gate St Peter shows the fisherman a beautiful portion of typically English mellow countryside complete with a swift flowing chalk stream.

"Wonderful, wonderful" cries the old man as St Peter thrusts a 9 foot Hardy split cane rod into his hands - "I can't wait".

"Here, then is your mark" says St Peter, indicating a few yards of bank and, as the angler approaches the spot he sees with great joy, a fish rise near the far bank.

Without further ado he makes a cast to the spot and is instantly into a 2lb trout which he lands with little bother.

Feverishly, he recasts to the same place only to find that, within two seconds, he is fast into another fish.

Landing it he sees that it is another 2 pounder. By now he is in an advanced state of excitement and he casts again only to catch another fish of 2 lbs and this is then repeated all afternoon.

"By Jove" says the old man, "I think I've had enough for one day and I have to say it's getting a bit boring catching exactly the same size of fish over and over again".

"Oho! booms St Peter; "You can't pack up now, the fish are still rising".

Wearily the old man catches a few more before throwing down his rod in a state of exhaustion.

"No more" he cries. "That's it for today"

"But you cannot stop" responds St P, "You have to do this all day and all night"

"What?" Shrieks our brave angler, "You mean that I have to do this continuously for all Eternity?"

"You've got it in one old chap" says the Saint.

"Oh, hell!" said the fisherman.

"Precisely" replied St Peter.


  1. I realise Hell is no laughing matter, though I loved this story!

  2. A pastor, wanting to save money, repainted the parish church with a thin whitewash. When the first rain sluiced away the whitewash, the pastor wailed "Oh, no! What should I do now!?"

    A thundering voice from above cried out "Repaint! Repaint! And thin no more!"

    A popular old wheeze in East Texas.

    - Mack

  3. Mack, we share the same sense of humour. Terrific!