Thursday 8 November 2012

Walker's Pitch

A real treat for all you followers of Dick Walker - I found this by chance when looking for another castaway on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs.

Dick Walker was Roy Plomley's castaway on Saturday 6th July 1974 - I am sure Dick would have been happier being interviewed by Kirsty Young! The programme was devised by Plomley and I was amazed to hear he presented it until 1985. I have been a regular listener and the only sour period was when the odious Sue Lawley presented for a few years.

Many anglers of the old guard idolised Dick - he was thought of as the father of modern carp angling and specimen hunting in general. He was a true all-rounder though. Just as happy casting a fly and I think in later life he prefered still water trout fishing. His angling feats were truly remarkable and he will always be remembered for the capture of the once record carp at 44lbs from Redmire Pool in 1952 - Dick neglected to tell Plomley that the fish spent the rest of its days in London Zoo after capture. I always preferred those who smelt the roses a bit more along the way such as Venables, Ingham and BB, but Dick was certainly a pioneer and prolific at that.

Of all his books I think No Need to Lie (Unwin 1964) is my favourite - probably for the lovely Reg Cooke illustrations which are luscious and atmospheric. When I bought this book, as a young lad, from a second hand book dealer in the early 1980's it really felt like treasure - I couldn't put it down and regularly pull it from the shelf today.

As a schoolboy reading his magazine articles I seem to recall I was quite fascinated by his hats. He was a regular hat wearer on the bank and the trilby was my favourite Walker hat. It is mentioned and illustrated in No Need to Lie - a magic hat indeed!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this broadcast as much as I did - he had a lovely voice did Dick, excellent at mimicking country dialects and I thought his record choices were interesting.

The highlight for me has to be Bernard Miles with one of his Old Charlie monologues.........think Stanley Holloway and Brown Boots - splendid stuff.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Goodbye light, hello dark

We had a late celebration to see in the dark part of the year at the family orchard in Gloucestershire - a few days after Samhain, but who cares, it was our way of celebrating what we have and to give thanks to what we have lost.

I guess the influence of the modern world has had an effect on many customs that until fairly recently were celebrated by many country folk. They are still celebrated, but many with a twist - pumpkins are now used as lanterns instead of a turnip, children no longer perform a traditional song or dance at Halloween, a shout of trick or treat is enough for a gift which is expected. Coal dust on the face to help blend with the spirits has now been replaced by bright and ghoulish fancy dress. At this time of year I also look forward to the Mummers plays around Christmas and the Twelfth Night wassail. 

The apple is always associated with this time of year for me - the annual harvest of Ashmead's Kernel would take place in early November and these delicious dessert apples would see us through the dark days.

This year the crop has been dire - all varieties have suffered. The seasons have been completely arse about face, we drove through snow as we dropped back down into Dorset and on our way north we were lucky enough to see the finest rainbows ever. Those apples we did harvest will keep us going for a short time at least. We spotted one lone apple blossom - It drew our eyes to it like a beacon and was taken as a good sign for the months ahead. 

We built a fire using apple wood, made a den, harvested apples, lit fireworks, ate and drank before the heavens opened. We had time to stare into the dying embers away with our thoughts and look forward to the winter ahead.  

Monday 5 November 2012

Market Finds No 4

Hardly a vintage find, but who could resist a tube of finest Scandinavian lubricant? I can hear my Allcock Sea Aerial and Hardy Altex purr with delight at the thought of a generous dollop.....................for the princely some of fifty new pence, and it's full!