I have signed copies, dust-jacketed copies. I have mentioned some here before, such as The River Within which Bill Currie (WB Currie) signed for me on the kitchen table of his farmhouse, Raperlaw, in the Borders on a fishing trip with him in late August, 1998. Going Fishing by Negley Farson, the book Hugh Falkus – recently downed from his aircraft after a disastrous Dunkirk sortie – asked for (and was given) from a Luftwaffe prison cell. (I once worked in the same newspaper office as American journalist Negley’s son, Daniel – whose grand-uncle was Bram Stoker of Dracula fame. Sadly I never asked him to sign his dad’s book.) I have a signed copy of The House the Hardy Brothers Built by James Leighton Hardy (thanks, Charlie), a signed copy of Chris Newton’s biography of Falkus, A life on the Edge, and of course Charles Ritz’s A Fly Fisher’s Life (not signed!). I even have a more recently acquired copy of a paperback on fishing by John Nott, Thatcher’s defence secretary at the times of the Falklands War (after meeting him at an enjoyable Farlows evening last year). Again, signed, but in the spirit of rigorous honesty, I’m afraid as yet unread.
So what’s next?
I’ve just ordered, from Paul Morgan’s Coch-y-Bonddu Books, The Experienced Angler, written by Col Robert Venables in the 17th century. You see, I’d just met his great, great, great, great grandson, Guy (another of Guy’s illustrious forebears – his uncle – is angling literary legend, author of Mr Crabtree Goes Fishing and co-founder of Angling Times in 1955, Bernard Venables). The Colonel was a controversial figure who went off to become a pirate (as you do, he said flippantly) and played a role in the setting up of Jamaica. But for a man who went off to earn his living via eye-patch and musket he wrote, as is so often the way with men of substance, some incisive words with a youthful clarity:
“Make not a daily practice, which is nothing else but a profession, of any recreation; lest your immoderate love and delight therein bring a cross with it, and blast all your content and pleasure in the same.”
Wise words. I perhaps try and observe that sentiment as I get older.
Now I want this [précis by Coch-y-Bonddu Books]:
“Irish and Hebridean salmon and sea-trout fishing. Chapters include; when spate meets tide; flies for specific conditions; the Point – a Hebridean day; salmon in shallow water; gillies, ghillies and boatmen; loch of a thousand salmon; seatrout in the loch – wet fly v. other methods; takes and mistakes; exceptional fish; salmon rod and fly sizes; the river mouth – another Hebridean day; when salmon ‘come on’; Pacific salmon in Britain; future stocks – how many fish?; rough weather; attitude to angling.”
What could this be?
Col Robert V talked about a cross to bear. Which seems apt on Maundy Thursday. But have a good Easter break everyone, when it comes.