Review by John Andrews.
until the last surviving thames professional roger wyndham-barnes untied his punt at shiplake and took anglers downstream to his favourite weirpool, the best thing to have come out of the berkshire town of twyford was the fauna records label. the brainchild of ted fletcher, fauna’s most sought after release is this, ‘a year in fishing – volume 1′ winter pike’, a 33 rpm long playing lp, the record of a conversation carried on between two of the 20th centuries most influential anglers, dick walker and fred j. taylor. recorded on location using a lavalier condenser and mixed using an alice ad52 these committals essentially eavesdrop on a couple of day’s angling between two friends. in the grooves of this rare piece of vinyl you can smell the mud of the thames in winter, see the silouhette of dead reed beds beneath the surface and feel the gravity of the drop from the dam wall at tring. this is a world of d-i-y and homespun philosophy, a box car, backwoods manifesto for hinterland towns and villages that were swallowed up as London expanded. this is post war british folklore committed to a piece of plastic. a world confined in the 21st century to the archive of the car boot cardboard box and the attic sale. these are the conversations ted fletcher wanted the world to hear before they were drowned out by the drone of bait boats and the rancid whooping of robson green. an ordinary world populated by ordinary people, a lawnmower engineer from hitchin and a country boy. symbolized by a duffle coat in a garden shed, a booble hat by the fire in the quarry. listening to it you soon forget that the men captured here are giants of the post war angling world, published authors, recognised print journalists and occasional broadcasters, as their conversation is the conversation that we all have when we go fishing for pike be it with each other, with ourselves or just with the water. how many times have you said ‘he’s lively, fred’ or been prompted to mutter ‘good job i brought that big landing net, innit?’. this lp is a treasure. you might find it at wood lane car boot or in your local charity shop. looking for it will give your life some purpose. and before too long you’ll be saying to people on the bus ‘lean and mean, don’t he?’ with a straight face and a herring in your pocket. dressed in a duffle coat or a woolly bobble hat. in the meantime you can listen to it here courtesy of the archivist at caught by the river. brought to you by another man in another shed in another town in another century. this is winter as it should be lived. at 33 revolutions per minute. beautiful.
Further reading; excellent article on Walker in the media at the Angling Heritage website