With apologies to the late James W. Best for appropriating his image (from his 1935 Forest Life in India)

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Gold from the Forties

'Fishing is the opposite of war.' So wrote George Orwell in Coming up for Air (1939). Apropos of this, I found this treasure, called My River, by Wilfred Gavin Brown, in a second-hand book shop the other day...


No dust jacket, but I love the kingfisher. Published in 1947, it’s a ramble by the riverside, the author finding escape from wartime London by resuming his childhood hobby of coarse fishing on the rivers and streams of Surrey. He recalls sitting on his favourite stretch one evening, watching a duck fly overhead: ‘The peace was suddenly broken by a shattering roar, and from behind the dike of the reservoir three Spitfires zoomed over my head and also flew into the west, where the sun turned their wings to bronze. Beautiful birds of death, they seemed a symbol of the future when youth will increasingly search for beauty among the sun-tipped mountains of the clouds and the starlit, blue valleys of the skies, but it is to be hoped that the old, more familiar loveliness will not quite be forsaken – the loveliness of wood, hill, and quiet river.’ The line drawings by Reginald Lionel Knowles aren’t bad either…


And thanks to the internet, I won’t go to my grave wondering what the dust jacket looked like…