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And one of those privileged and carefree pastimes which the prime minister particularly enjoyed, even as the storm clouds were gathering over Europe, was fly fishing. As such, this mounted display of 13 large and fully dressed salmon flies, which belonged to the statesman was considered one of the highlights of Mullock & Madeley’s sale of fishing tackle in Winchester on April 18, conducted live on satellite television and the Internet in conjunction with The Auction Channel and Sky Sports One.

If not quite in the same league as Nero’s fiddle, the Chamberlain flies were keenly sought after. Indeed the measure of the association was the difference between the bid of £180 tendered earlier in the sale for a comparable set of eight very large and fully dressed flies and the quadruple-estimate bid of £1100 (plus 12.5 per cent premium) for this set (albeit mounted and larger in size) by an Irish collector bidding live through the Internet.