Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Monarch of the Thames

It was this time last year that I found Henry Williamson's old farm on the North Norfolk coast at Stiffkey - he purchased Old Hall Farm for £2,250 in 1937 and, in my excitement, I had to write a letter to my good friend Roger Wyndham Barnes. Roger, or Styx to his friends in the Golden Scale Club, was the only person I knew who would understand and be as excited as I was.

He was, so much so he called me on my return and we spoke about this and Williamson for two hours as he was too poorly to write. He told me of the time he left a letter for Williamson at his writing hut at Georgeham in Devon. HW wasn't there, but replied soon after which delighted Styx as the card included HW's owl colophon. Styx is also the only person I know who had read all the books in HW's Chronicles of Ancient Sunlight series. 

For the past few weeks I have been away again in that fine part of the world around Stiffkey - I mentioned it to Styx about eight or so weeks ago and said I would explore the saltings around the village and pick samphire where Williamson had no doubt trod. I thought of Styx as I did this - a quiet contemplative moment with the sounds and calls of wading birds and the breeze adding their own soundtrack to my thoughts. I made a mental note to give him a ring on my return.

It was around this time that my good friend lost his fight to a cruel illness and sadly passed away. It has been a difficult year with some lovely friends lost and I am sure they are all together again fishing more celestial waters. I miss them so much.

Styx was the last professional Thames fisherman with his boat based at Marlow. He was the one who understood my excitement at finding the Edwin La Dell print of anglers at Marlow and the one who understood my strange musical tastes. Styx was the one who made me a stick by Styx to help me furtle for shrooms and is such a treasured possession. More so for the thoughts of kindness behind the gift. 

The pictures here are of Styx when he was on the bill at the 2012 Port Eliot Festival - I couldn't find who they belonged to, so many apologies in advance if you took them - they are lovely. A true brother of the angle, musician, boatman, lover of all things old and creaking and fine ale to name but a few. More than anything though, just a bloody good bloke.   

I will miss the nights in the hut drinking his Old & Filthy brew and the sound of his harmonica saying goodnight to the river and lake at last knockings. I will miss the chatter with Styx and dear friend Prof who also sadly passed away recently..................I hope you are both enjoying a pint of Old & Filthy together as you wait for the float to dip........have one for me my friends. 

1 comment:

The Two Terriers said...

Never knew RWB but my good friend John Andrews did and fished with him quite often. The end of a another line and all rather sad. Another English Eccentric bites the dust.

How was Norfolk by the way?

Best wishes,