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

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Wish I'd Written That

Do you remember the 1970s, when books worth reading were published? I grew up by the sea, and have always prided myself on my beachcombing prowess – it helps pass the time when fishing and catching nowt (a default state of affairs in my case) – so this little guide from 1972, with illustrations by Robert Gillmor, naturally caught by eye when applying the same powers of perusal to the shelves of a second-hand book shop one day:


It’s just one of many excellent titles published over the years by David & Charles of Newton Abbot in Devon since the company was founded in 1960 by David St John Thomas and the late Charles Hadfield. As for the author, of the BBC’s Natural History Unit fame, there was a time when he was almost never off our screens. You can’t help but admire his optimism. ‘Succeeding tides may uncover and reveal coins lower down the beach,’ he writes, ‘and if you choose the right place you may be rewarded with gold, or with a genuine Spanish piece-of-eight.’ On the opposite page to this pearl of wisdom is a picture of a boy and his dog looking at an old television set lying upside down in the water’s edge.