Neville Nuttall was big enough to write in his 1947 book “…….gentle chastisement is good for the soul. I was beginning to fancy myself as an angler. That evening restored my distorted perspective”. In his preceding lines, Nuttall takes a few hard swipes at three anglers: Popjoy, Peabody and The Oaf.
Popjoy is accused of cutting in front of fishermen on the river, and catching all the fish he can.
Peabody is acknowledged as an accomplished angler, but chastised for his foghorn voice and the fact that he just won’t stop talking.
The Oaf is condemned for eavesdropping on news of a once-in-a-lifetime fish, and then sneaking in to get it for himself.
Now, you may have noticed that my blog has been quiet for a while. The fact is that I have been busy investigating the above miscreants. To be more accurate, I have been investigating their re-incarnations.
In a world in which the Facebook Boys are quick to condemn the picture of a fish lying on the grass; in which all us mortal souls are equally vulnerable in the face of a pandemic; in which I too have been quick to dismiss an angler akin to Popjoy; and in which all is not as it seems…… taking a moment to understand the back story seems like a charitable and humbling endeavor, worthy of some investment. And so I have invested some time, and a lot of imagination, spending a full season with Popjoy, Peabody and The Oaf, and chronicling their journey.
It stared with an article about them, that first appeared in issue number one of Fly Culture magazine in the UK in 2018.
Now it is a book.
A book which started much like the preparations of an angler. It started with ideas in the man cave, and scribblings in a journal. Like the sourcing of rods and lines and leaders, its beginnings were a private thing, undertaken as much in the mind as they were in actions. Then, like the tying of flies, and a searching call to a farmer to ask if you can fish his water, it began to grow wings. Like a fishing venture, it was stalled by too much work, by the stresses of life, and by simply not having the mental leisure space to engage in the venture. Then it bubbled to the surface again. With furtive “I must get back to it” admonishments to myself, which gathered in number and frequency. The process got back on track, and like the preparations of the angler, it proceeded to something akin to casting practice on the front lawn.
This developed into a manuscript which was sent to a few experts who were invited to pass comment. Their comments absorbed, and with time back at the keyboard, this thing has taken shape. A number of generous artists have contributed sketches. A charity was nominated to receive the net proceeds. Now I am nearing the water’s edge, and with not just a little trepidation, I will soon be making a delicate presentation.