As I drove into work the other day I observed a bumper sticker that said “How do I drive?”, and I thought it was a bit late to be asking for such guidance.
In front of me was a truck full of waste. I wondered if it was headed for recycling, and then I spotted a punnet of rotten fruit pressed against the bars of the load-bed. It had a supermarket sticker saying “50% off”. It looked to be 75% full.
Then an armoured vehicle labeled “Asset protection” violated just about every traffic rule I know, pulling across the traffic, and a solid white line to push in front of me. I wondered how well, with actions like this, he might be protecting those assets…..
All this helped me to appreciate the levels of cynicism building within me after a long week dealing with the drudgeries and stupidities of business.
It made me think of a Shakespeare line quoted in Tod Collins’ recently published book: “I would challenge you to a battle of wits, but I see you are unarmed” , and I imagined when I might unleash that one on a colleague….
All of this , I mean the cynicism and penchant for unleashing cruel and derogatory comments, signals the need for time spent “just being”, and that is the topic for the aforementioned book of Tod Collins. He called the book “The Art of Being an Awful Angler”, but the title is a clever self-effacement, behind which sits a solid argument for the carefree, for the arcadian, and for the tranquil. In the book, Collins, by example alone, builds a case for the untroubled, sedate and contented state of an angler with no point to prove. The exploits on which he reminisces, are by no means dull or unadventurous. On the contrary, his tales are spread across continents, and situations and they bear testimony to an intrepid spirit. They are however mixed with both nostalgia, and a broad interest in all outdoor matters that one encounters as a fisherman. That being people, and places and birds and everything in which an observant and appreciative angler of modest intellect might immerse himself. He throws in references to literature and history while he is about it. The fly-fishing obsessed who have little regard for life beyond their tackle and their quarry will be skipping pages for sure. I am reading most pages twice. The stories are laced with people and places which I personally know, to the point that he mentions a few people by first name alone, and I know exactly who he is writing about. Coupled with the fact that I know many of these people, is that he relates to them with a decorum and civility that you would expect from their doting headmasters of yesteryear, and their family vicars.
In a world of fly-fishing literature, videos, blogs and magazines, in which angling pursuits are conducted in either environments pristine or exclusive , or in which everyone is cool (or trying a little bit too hard to be cool), this tome of bygone hue is as refreshing as it is unique for goal-driven times.
And I haven’t even finished reading it!
If I survive the retribution to my Shakespearean aspersions on my colleague’s wit, I will complete the book (slowly, and reading each page twice), and continue my praise in due course. In the meantime, and fearing damage to my typing hand, I thought I should punt this lovely publication.
When two publishers turned James Gilbraith down, he showed them the finger, and published his book himself.
I am thankful that he (through his highly esteemed “Guild of Reason”) did that, because had he not done so, I would have been deprived some snortingly good laughs. These typically happened in public places like coffee shops, where other patrons looked at me sideways.
That would be fitting, since in his book, Gilbraith manages to touch on, and fittingly describe, many of those thoughts that we have, but which we somehow don’t feel we can express publicly. It is no coincidence that this is the trait of many a comedian, and this little gem of a book is a comedy of note!
“Boo” as he is known, cleverly describes a single Salmon season, but does so in a way which gives you plenty of background, and lore, and build up to this point in his fishing life. He and his fishing buddy “Lamont” have an annual award, which is bestowed on whichever one of them manages to catch a Salmon while ducking some or other responsibility. The art of mastering sick days from work is key to their mischief, and these two average guys bring colour to life, by throwing themselves at the quest for Salmon. It is a deeply ingrained addiction that many of us identify with, but in this little book it is described like you have never read before.
Gilbraith is delightfully self deprecating and reckless and crude, as only the British can be. Moreover, he is not some snob, producing a catalogue of theory and advice. He merely has a good chuckle at himself, his mistakes, his blank days on his home water, and his frustrations. There are no high end exotic locations, and there is no name dropping. Almost all of his adventures take place on a good old common, “second rate” water: The river Ribble.
Add to that his outlandish descriptions and expressions, and you have a truly delightful tale. You will read it inside of two days, and be disappointed that it has come to and end so quickly.
Here’s hoping he writes again soon!