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A break away from my fishing trip last weekend, just ordered my nieces Letter from Santa early this year and saves myself a fiver. She’s getting to the age where she’s starting to wonder if Father Christmas exists and so what better way to convince her than a genuine letter the man himself. These things look proper authentic, last year she was so excited when the envelope arrived from the North Pole. You can grab your Letter and customise all online at http://www.SantaLetter2011.com. They normally jump back up to full price £10 in Nov/Dec so its about half price and means they will be arriving first week of December or there abouts. ..Back to the trip caught my best ever catch on first cast this week came in at just over 4lbs. Good start to the week.
'INDIAN FOOD TOO HOT. RESTAURANT CATCHES FIRE' By Desmond Zwar He's only got one name: Cassey. It would be as out of place calling him 'Brian' as it is for Cassey to be seen wearing a pair of shoes. Long hair to his shoulders, unshaven Hollywood actor-style, Cassey is 44 years old and still playing soccer every weekend; the first to arrive at the newsagent's to get his UK paper and turn to the soccer results. Cassey left his London job 20 years ago as a Lloyds aviation claims broker, and then computer operator, discarding dark suit, tie and shiny black shoes, and headed for the Australian tropics to work as a computer supervisor. 'It was a small system and I was totally bored with it. I lasted 12 months. I'd been playing football in London and taking pictures every weekend so I decided to switch back to photography.' Off came the suit and tie. The shoes were tossed away to go mouldy in a cupboard. (He has put them on again twice, and then reluctantly, to fly thousands of miles south to Melbourne and Sydney to receive prestigious awards for his sports pictures, including Australian Sports Photographer of the Year). He can be seen on a Sunday stretched out in the long grass waiting for a cricket match to get to a climax when he'll be rewarded with a great shot of anguish or joy. During the week, city PR and advertising agencies have him in helicopters 'being paid lots of money for doing what tourists pay lots of money to do.' When there's a big story in the Far North of Australia and it's dangerous, picture editors grab their Filofaxes and dial Cassey. When he finally settled in the tropics he decided to take time to cook Indian food for his friends. 'I'd always loved spicy food, and when we lived in Lewisham I'd been friendly with some lovely Pakistani people who ran an Indian restaurant. I'd go into the kitchen and help them and get a free meal. While I was there they taught me how to cook Indian. 'When our weekend guest list got past 20 I said, Hey wait a minute. This is getting ridiculous! So I opened up a restaurant and called it "Thuggee Bill's".' In a township starved of interesting eating places, Thuggee Bill's' six tables quickly filled. Sir Garfield Sobers came to town and heard about it, sitting there until four o'clock in the morning enjoying seafood molee and holding court. When Spike Milligan was booked to perform at the local concert centre Cassey, knowing Spike's Indian connections, invited him to come after the show, setting up a special marquee with flares, outside under the stars. 'Ten minutes before Spike arrived the sky went black; the rain just belted down,' remembers Cassey. 'Anybody wanting to come to his table to chat with him, had to stand on the wrong side of a waterfall coming from a roof and get soaked. He just loved that.' One day Cassey took a busman's holiday and invited a young lady out to lunch at a rival restaurant. He'd left cooking oil on the stove at Thuggee Bill's and the resulting conflagration destroyed his kitchen. 'It made the national news: "Indian Food Too Hot For Restaurant."' In the hours he wasn't concocting curries he was busy - always barefoot - taking pictures for the local paper. 'About 95% of the pictures used every day were mine. They eventually asked me to join the staff because I was making so much money.' And when he wasn't working he was playing football for the Leichhardt team. 'Trouble was they were all Italian except me. They even played in Italian. I had to plead with them to speak English so I'd understand the moves.' It lasted 16 years until he recently founded his own football club, starring as its oldest player. But sports photography was his greatest love. He sold Thuggee Bill's after 10 years at the stove to concentrate his ancient and somewhat battered lenses on people playing football, cricket, baseball and tennis. His remarkable patience (he'll spend hours stalking a cricket shot), his network of informers (he sold a bungy jumping picture of Guns N Roses guitarist, Slash, world-wide) along with his pure Cassey luck, have earned him many thousands of dollars. Cassey is a renowned daredevil in an industry that is packed with them. He climbs to the top of yacht masts at full sail, has bobbed about in a truck inner-tube at sea while water-skiers jumped inches from his face; has been under a catamaran as it whooshed over him. And the luck? 'I was at the local races on Melbourne Cup Day and just before the last race a sports editor friend tried to persuade me to go off and have a hard-earned beer. I said no, I wanted to go down and take a picture of the start of the last race. Why, I'll never know. I rarely took a start. 'I had a remote control, which I hardly ever took with me. I put my camera down on the ground with the lens against a running rail post, focussed on the centre of the starting gates. 'I was standing there, chatting to Harold, the starter, while they were getting the horses into the gates. 'All of a sudden I heard this crash and instinctively pressed the remote control button. The shutter went zzzzp,zzzzp zzzp,zzzp..six times, as I saw a horse had bolted through the gate, tossing its jockey high in the air, the lens getting him on the way down. 'I got home to the dark-room and all six frames had come out. It won the Rothmans Award for best sporting series and I had to get out the old suit and shoes I'd brought from England to receive it.' He made a trip back to London a few years ago and took a portfolio of his pictures with him. 'Just so they'd know at the agencies who I was when I phoned from Australia, and not some kind of nutter.' At the biggest agency of all he was asked if he could wait for a few minutes. 'I'd just like to talk to the boss,' said one of the directors. 'He came back and said he'd had a word and they wanted to offer me the job of taking their horse-racing pictures. I said, nah; I wanted to get back to the tropics. But it was a bit tempting for a couple of minutes.'