This years gathering of the gold almost didn't happen (again!). The Venue chosen was the S_____ at E_____ and when he heard about this the old landlord naturally decided to sell up and move on. Luckily the villagers had a whip round, formed a trust and bought the pub, unaware that the G.S.C. were impending.

However, it was a reasonably civilised affair and there was no in-fighting, out-fighting or rockets this year, despite the fact that the attendance was embarrassingly high. Even the Treasurer re-appeared, and as it was several years since he'd last been seen, there were many embarrassing questions for him to answer about misuse of funds, missing subscription money and his new address in the Bahamas.

The AGM proper began with the usual attempt by the chairman to resign. He was unable to attend in person but had relayed his wishes via the mysterious wire trace What he said, in effect, was that if a life term in prison does not exactly mean "life" then surely a life term in office should be similarly vague in length, being dependant, as in prison terms, on good behaviour. As he had been chairman for almost twenty years, couldn't the club now show mercy upon him and allow him to retire gracefully. The members considered his request for a moment and decided, because Dandy's behaviour had never been less than despicable, to refuse it. Not only that, his life term would be renewed as from January 2000.

Next on the agenda was an idea tabled by Isaak for a freeline whip to persuade members to organise themselves. A whipper-in was proposed and Guido Berry was sworn in. He resigned at the first opportunity (offer of a round of drinks).

The question of the clubs name was again discussed and the membership voted by a small majority to reinstate the word 'club' into its title. It was voted out in 1997 when several members complained the 'club' implied organisation, orthodoxy and stuffiness, but later a vice-president argued that it was better to be deceptive and contradictory or people might start believing that the GSC was organised, orthodox and stuffy.

The Black Gaff was awarded to the Environment Agency because of its proposal to abolish the close season on Britains canals.

The Golden Scale was awarded to the Environment Agency for protecting rivers streams and lakes.

Man of the Meeting was awarded to Dr Peter Stone, who managed to sneak out before the AGM was called to order.

Most of the agenda was met with what can only be described as a 'smokey' response but real flames were generated over the issue of club gudgeon trips.

During the past few years the popularity of gudgeon trips has led to the same kind of enthusiasm that used to be associated with the Glorious Sixteenth, when members were still energetic enough to be able to stay up all night. However the last gudgeon trip was so over-subscribed that the day began with a shoddy and uncouth scramble for the best swims and ended with a cake being thrown at Demus because he'd caught the only horse gudgeon. Even without a whipper-in, growled Polycarp, "There are far too many members attending gudgeon trips. All the associates turn up, whether they're invited or not, and some of them even bring their aunties".

"If it wasn't for the prospect of a horse gudgeon" added Fennel "There wouldn't be a problem. No-one would come at all if we fished for ordinary gudgeon!".

Therefor a motion was proposed that the fishing for horse gudgeon should be made illegal and anyone using horse gudgeon tackle with intent would be dishonourably expelled. Of course this resulted in an overwhelming demand by all the committee for an overt and brazen horse gudgeon trip the very next day.

"Why can't we all expel each other here and now" suggested the secretary, "just for thinking about horse gudgeon".

Readers of the tactile press may well recall how the Club, frustrated in their quest for gobio gobio, turned instead to the more obliging gobio d'or, or golden gudgeon of the Hampshire Avon. Such was our concern with this branch of the species that certain barbed nosed specimen hunters began to grow suspicious whenever they heard us talking in riverside pubs at the end of the day.

"Tell us about these golden gudgeon", said one such fisherman. "Did I overhear you mention a twelve pounder from that shallow run at Bisterne?".

"No, no", said Putnam, our rod builder. "That wasn't a golden gudgeon"

"What sort of gudgeon was it then" enquired the rod podder.

"that was a Horse gudgeon. And it certainly wasn't twelve pounds. We were talking in ounces, not pounds, horse gudgeon can grow to fifteen ounces, but never to a pound".

"And golden gudgeon?"

"Not as big - maybe up to half a pound. But much the better looking. Fight harder too. In fact we're always disappointed if we catch horse instead of golden. We don't count horse gudgeon".

This sort of blarney is okay in a pub, when everyone thinks everyone else is half cut, but on the riverbank it looks very silly to be fishing with a powerful rod and large landing net when you've just told someone that you're fishing for gudgeon.

But why all the deception? You ask.

You only have to realise what happened on the Medway, Gt Ouse and at productive swims on the Avon and Stour to understand why an angler needs sometimes to talk in riddles. It's not so much to protect the fishing as to protect the fish.

Of course, the Golden Scale Club is founded on a riddle and perhaps its greatest mystery is the fact that, after twenty-three years, it still exists at all. But perhaps not for much longer.

The horse gudgeon scam could be the means to finally sink us without trace. For we have now voted in the new regulation which reads: 'Because of the obsession with larger and larger horse gudgeon the GSC is in danger of losing it's identity and adopting the values of a common species group. Therefor, as from this time, the angling for horse gudgeon is banned and any member deliberately seeking horse gudgeon will be expelled'.

As an inevitable response to this, many members have agreed to meet on the Royalty before the end of the current season to fish for the biggest horse gudgeon we can find.

And perhaps next season we can put aside our gaffs and all join the Barbel Society.