The passing of the years has seen innumerable other transitory interests. Stamps, cricket, football, girls, astronomy, photography, and computers in rough time sequence. I have played - no, make that endured - golf. But always undimmed and uninterrupted the obsession for fishing.

It started with Crabtree, progressed through the writings of Walker, and the quill of Yates. It continues today through the gentle pages of Waterlog and the less prosaic content of Coarse Fisherman. A plethora of electronic text and images are but a mouse click away. Never has so much practical advice been available to enable us to catch the fish of our dreams, despite the loss of river habitat and anti-angling zealots.

My home is filled with a treasury of tackle, a multitude of magazines, an anthology of angling books. My fascination for modern tackle is exceeded only by my ardour for the traditional. Shimano baitrunners rub reel seats with Aerial centrepins. High tensile graphite stands shoulder with exquisite Barder timbers and magical Chapman wands. Enough hats and clothing hang ready to equip an expeditionary force, whether to Arctic or Amazon.

My fishing has usually taken a highly mobile approach. Initially this was of necessity through the absence of trifles, such as a permit. I judge it may now be safe to return to the banks of the little and once lovely River Eden in Kent, and I daresay the unconscionably irascible gamekeeper at Hever Castle may now be rearing pheasants of the celestial variety. Apprehended several times as a youngster while climbing the fence to fish a private lake in Crystal Palace Park I duly became a respectable member by the simple expedient of paying a subscription. Funds were found for a Thames Conservancy weir permit and memory recalls sunburnt calves after a day with rolled up trousers standing on the sill of Molesey weir, awaiting the thump of a plump roach or chub grabbing weighted silkweed, cast diagonally across white water from a horrible cheap centrepin attached to a section of tank aerial.

I am now a very experienced but by no means an expert angler. I have been tantalisingly close, but am yet to bank a two pound roach or twenty pound pike but several double figure barbel have graced my net and retina in recent seasons.

Each season I meet old friends, sometimes human sometimes not: a spectral barn owl quartering a cow pasture at dusk, the startling iridescent flash of a kingfisher, a grass snake slipsliding across the river. In recent years I have seen otters and buzzards in both Hereford and Suffolk. Last year was memorable. A fine haul of pristine tench tenting my red-tipped peacock quill up through a blanket of dawn mist; stunning two tone bronze and ochre Andalucian barbel, river carp and black bass in Spain with John Bailey and Peter Staggs. Good fishing, good memories and wholly deserved skullache in the morning. The undoing of the Germans at football. The wonderful jolt of a six pound chub from the Little Ouse, and then spotting three substantially larger chub in a small stream which shall remain nameless. Even a sterile grown-on genetically-modified rainbow trout of over six pounds impressed with its powerful acrobatics.

For ten years I have been a member of Norfolk Anglers Conservation Association (NACA), and have been privileged to fish a born-again stretch of the Wensum. Last year I had only fished there twice but on the second occasion was delighted to introduce a friend to the wondrous obduracy of his first barbel.

A dull September morning subsequently found me at a Wensum millpool with that familiar tingle of expectancy while tackling-up. I had decided to try a static method foreign to my usual style, employing a hemp and caster loaded feeder and two or three casters on a size twelve hook to eight pound line.

After a couple of hours a couple of dace had been my only reward. In quick succession two roach were then landed. The first was a perfect fish of about twelve ounces, the second an obviously older fish of around a pound and a quarter, the hue from its brilliant red fins suffusing into the body like a blood orange. A period of inactivity followed only to be broken by a short encounter with a dace-snatching pike of seven or eight pounds before a bite-off. An hour slipped by punctuated by tea and a sandwich.

Touch legering, I knew the subsequent wrench could only be from a barbel, which bored low and hard for several minutes. My swim overlooked a foot deep shallow gravel ledge, extending perhaps eight feet out to a drop-off into deeper water. I had stepped out onto the ledge fearful of the line being abraded over its lip. At that moment the mobile phone chirruped its unwelcome presence. Ignored at first, its insistent tone continued unabated. I make no apology for its presence; as a surgeon it allows me mobility and freedom but the ability to be contacted. The plunging barbel paid no heed as I wedged the offending device between right shoulder and ear.

It was my son who told me that two aircraft had flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre and other aircraft were unaccounted for. As he spoke I could hear the television broadcast very loudly in the background and the ghastly unfolding drama. The barbel, perhaps seven pounds, came reluctantly to the net and despite its dogged struggle swam off very strongly after a short recovery period.

I packed up straight away and drove home. To have continued would have been both ridiculous and profane.