Thursday, 27 September 2007

Tommy Cooper gags

I went in to a pet shop. I said, "Can I buy a goldfish?" The guy said,
"Do you want an aquarium?" I said, "I don't care what star sign it is."

I met the bloke who invented crosswords today. I can't remember his
name, it's P something T something R.

cheers Nick.

and, of course, we blanked....

..well, Jak and I did, we were after Carp. They weren't having it. Steve on the other hand had a huge bag of Roach and three Gudgeon. Quality.


Jakub took the photos.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Where The Wild Things Are

This is a stretch of the River Trent that I used to fish as a kid. Just below the weir at Beeston.Not the greatest shot but you can see how wild it is. "That's where they are" he told me. I fished there yesterday. With my Brother in law, Mike, first time in thirty odd years, and I caught my very first Barbel. 11lbs. on the nose. Lost two before that and I thought I'd killed the swim but ten minutes after losing the second, wallop!, I was in. Unbelievable. When I eventually got it to the surface, and we first saw it, man, it was a moment. The best feeling I've ever had bankside. It was huge and powerful and strong You're gonna have to believe me, 'cos..

Unfortunately, the photos aren't up to posting. Neither me or the fish are looking our best.

Got to thank Mike for giving me his swim and putting me on the fish and also being the best company all weekend. But he ain't getting hold of the camera again.

I've been buzzing all day. No work tomorrow and going to a favourite lake early in the morning (see In The Presence Of Leney Carp below) with Steve & Jakub and I know we are gonna catch. Loads. Honest. We are. I just know it.


Friday, 21 September 2007


Don't forget the Factory documentary on BBC Four tonight at 9.

Going by the director's notes (see Tuesday 18 below) it's pretty promising.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

The Three Musketeers. Cover Art by Tom Gauld.

This is great. I'm a huge fan of Tom Gauld. I love his drawings and he is very funny. Apparently the story ain't bad either.

  • Tom Gauld site
  • Tuesday, 18 September 2007

    Walking and Marking - The Art Of Richard Long

    Back in the early ‘90s, just after I’d moved to London, my dad came to town to see a Richard Long retrospective at the Hayward Gallery. Being an impoverished student, I figured if I tagged along, I might get a free lunch or at the very least a few pints out of it. At that point, my mind was very much one track, that track more than likely being some demented acid house record that probably even the person who made it can’t actually quite remember now (possibly it was me? Who knows) Anyways, greedily hanging in there, I happily let my dad pay for the exhibition and strolled in behind him, high hats fizzing away in my otherwise vacant brain, quite unready to be educated in the ways of Richard Long and ‘land art’.

    Pretty much immediately, Long’s art had an effect on my impressionable brain that was, looking back, startlingly powerful. His immense photographic work, where the only signs of human contact are patterns drawn in rocks or sand or mud by the artist himself, appeared to me like primeval landscapes - not like the kind in films where buxom cavewomen run around chased by plasticine dinosaurs, more like the kind where nothing moved, where centuries could pass and the scenery would peacefully exist unchanged, like the surface of the moon just before the first Apollo craft broke the silence. The text works on the walls struck even more of a chord – words in lists, sequences of events; descriptions of walks across different countries, walks through different eco-systems, through mood swings; from deep wilderness to log fires in isolated pubs then onwards. The words danced off the walls like poetry, so simple, so stark, so evocative of the places they described. Unadorned black and white type (Gill Sans, if you’re interested), sometimes long lists of events, sometimes just the basic distances and places, others just sparse sentences as minimal as a haiku - they each became Technicolor in the imagination. His sculpture works took natural materials from points on his travels such as slate or elephant dung and made vast geometric patterns out of them. Pictures on walls made up of hundreds of prints from hands covered in river mud, somehow both precise and childlike at once.

    From that point onwards, I’ve followed Long’s work. I’d go to exhibitions and I’d pause for thought under vast text pieces. As odd as it seems, as an impoverished student and then someone perpetually bound up with life in the city (afraid to leave in case I went away then missed something epoch making), Long’s artwork often acted as a springboard to daydream my way out of my environs for a few minutes, much like a good book or film or a piece tucked away in the travel section of the newspaper. Being brought up in the countryside in Wales, the landscapes and the materials used are familiar, hardwired into me like programming.

    In terms of recent art, of exhibiting in similar spaces and both being Turner Prize winners, Long’s artwork really is something like the polar opposite of Damien Hirst's – Long is pensive, lonely and meditative while Hirst is brash, fabulous and show-offy. Hirst’s diamond encrusted skull is as subtle as a David LaChappelle produced Elton John gig. Long is more like the acoustic solo artist playing from below a fringe at the 12 Bar Club, who knocks you sideways with beautiful soul music while you’re ordering your third pint of Strongbow.

    In the last couple of years, outside of galleries and exhibition programmes, I’ve been reminded of the subtle nature of Richard Long’s work through the writings of some of my favourite authors, both through coincidence or design. Bill Drummond’s peerless book of essays, ‘45’, and the lesser read but equally brilliant follow up “How To Be An Artist” talk of his acquisition and subsequent destruction of a Long piece. In the books, Drummond buys a photograph by Long, named ‘A Smell Of Sulphur In The Wind’, then an existential crisis about the ownership of art that sees him chopping the picture up into 20,000 equally sized pieces. He then goes about trying to sell each piece by placing adverts on road signs the length of the motorways of the UK (my girlfriend bought me one of them on eBay for Christmas last year, meaning I now own a Richard Long, albeit one not much bigger than a match). Parallels can also be seen in Iain Sinclair’s psychogeographical voyages round London on foot, specifically “Lights Out For The Territory” & “London Orbital”, books which undertake journeys mapping the urban landscape, the grime and bustle of our capital, in flowing, lyrical prose, much like the solitary walks described in Long’s text work – here, London’s side streets are rendered in the same mental colours as those seen on passages across Dartmoor or rural Ireland.

    This month sees the publication of Robert Macfarlane’s brilliant book “The Wild Places”. The book is a hugely thought-provoking travelogue around the few places in the British Isles unspoilt by ‘human progress’. Like in Long’s artworks, Macfarlane’s voyages in the book are more often than not solo missions, lonely endurance tests to document the natural world at this point in time, before climate change, that thoroughly modern mighty re-arranger, shifts all the pieces without our permission. At one point, Macfarlane talks about the history of cartography, about how in the past, prior to modern day grid mapping, people’s journeys would be governed by “story maps (which) represent a place as it is perceived by an individual or by a culture moving through it.” Macfarlane’s use of story mapping is the narrative backbone of a compelling and masterful book. In many ways, the same principal provides the spine of Richard Long’s artworks – “if we follow in Long’s footsteps, then we will physically experience his sculpture” (from

    Both Macfarlane’s book and Long’s art seem utterly timeless, out of time even; one giant step removed from the modern world and all its mundane hang-ups. These are journeys to be undertaken without an iPod, without an Oyster card,without mobile phone reception. Whether you or I ever undertake such journeys remains our choice – but the fact that Richard Long and his fellow observers, cartographers & psychogeographers are out there, mapping out the peripheries so that we can bask in them and daydream, that does come as a huge reassurance to me.

    Robin Turner

    Richard Long's exhibition, 'Walking and Marking' is on at the Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art in Edinburgh until October 21st

    Letters From Arcadia

  • click here for the latest LETTER FROM ARCADIA, a regular correspondence between angling's two most original contemporary writers...
  • Factory on TV

    Friday 21 Septmeber BBC Four

    The Director's perspective

    I wasn't supposed to direct this film. It was to be made by one of the BBC's own - Dione Newton - but it was delayed, due to Tony Wilson's announcement that he had cancer and was undergoing treatment. Dione was already pregnant, and now the dates didn't work for her. Mark Cooper - head of Music Entertainment - asked me to step in. So for me it was all a bit Factory-ish from the outset: a matter of accident rather than design.
    The initial idea was to structure the film around two interviews with Tony Wilson, the first to be done immediately, and a second to be done much later - when we'd interviewed everyone else who was willing and available to talk. But like most plans for documentaries, this wasn't to be.
    Despite his obvious frailty, Wilson went on the offensive immediately. Meeting at a restaurant with myself and Jane Maugham - Assistant Producer on the film - the night before shooting, he checked our credentials at the table by calling friends who might have seen other films we'd made (my recent film about Gilbert and George for the BBC's 'Imagine' series and Jane's film about The Fall). "Were they any good, because I'm sitting with the makers right now?" Apparently they were. Tony liked to think of himself as tough. As he said: "I'm a c***t". He wasn't.
    I interviewed him the next day in the vast industrial space that is Sankeys Soap factory - a splendid survivor of Manchester's industrial past, and the space that doubled as Factory's plush offices in the movie '24 Hour Party People'. He joyously recounted both the highs and lows of the company's fifteen year reign in Manchester - an account liberally peppered with spiky analysis, obscenities, self deprecation and child-like enthusiasm - so that a second interview seemed unnecessary. We never saw him again. News of his death came on the very day we were putting the end credits on a film he never saw. The Factory story is full of such coincidences.
    'Factory as a 'social experiment', as a cultural force, as a manifestation of Tony Wilson's ego: the kind of talk that Peter Hook calls "arty bullshit".'
    Wilson always believed that, when faced with historical fact versus legend, that one should always print the legend. Hence his fondness for '24 Hour Party People' - a Carry On version of the Factory story, in which he appears as an affable clown and which has a 70/30 myth-to-truth ratio at best.
    Our challenge was that our cast comprised the real 24-hour party people, and that the job of the documentary is to deliver the reality and facts of a situation. Luckily for us, the so-called truth behind the Factory myth turned out to be more interesting, outrageous and - in some cases - downright unbelievable than the legend. Interviewing Shaun Ryder proves yet again what James Dean-obsessed method actors and Andy Warhol knew viscerally - that there's no place to hide in front of a camera. His pauses are the gold.
    If it's words you're after, Paul Ryder's alarming honesty is every director's wet dream, as is Stephen Morris' sense of humour and delivery in the face of obvious absurdity and madness. And there's no mistaking the kind of brilliant conclusions that come so easily to characters like Peter Saville and Paul Morley - real players unafraid of viewing Factory's achievements in a pretentious-sounding kind of way: Factory as a 'social experiment', as a cultural force, as a manifestation of Tony Wilson's ego. The kind of talk the label's bands often laugh about: the kind of talk that Peter Hook calls "arty bullshit".
    I can't do a good job unless the film I'm making becomes personal in some way, and initially I had no obvious investment in it. But being only two years younger than Tony Wilson, I soon realised that I felt more a part of Factory ethos than I'd previously thought. I'm crap with money, seldom learn from my mistakes, I'm an old hippy, have a weakness for illegal substances and think it's possible to change the world - all of these things are major qualifications for being a bona fide member of Britain's most important independent music label.
    Factory's story plays like a very old, familiar drama, but with a brilliant new musical score and a fabulously wayward cast. Its star player has, sadly, died and there is no understudy able to fill his shoes. But I'm forgetting ... they hate this kind of crap up in Manchester.

    Director, Chris Rodley

    Monday, 17 September 2007

    Clean Up The Thames 27/09/07

    Urgent action needed to transform blot on the riverscape.

    A charity is marking World Rivers Day on Sunday 30 September with a four day clean up of one of the River Thames’s dirtiest beaches, and is urging Londoner’s to help. Organised by environmental charity Thames21, the ‘Cleaner Thames Challenge’ will take place at low tide on the Isle of Dogs, East London from Thursday 27 to Sunday 30 September.

    Last year, Thames21 identified this stretch of the River Thames as one of the most littered in London and have since carried out a dozen clean ups with hundreds of volunteers, removing over 40 tonnes of litter. At low tide, small and large items of litter blight the Isle of Dogs foreshore including huge quantities of harmful plastics. From this site alone, Thames21 have cleared at least 30,000 plastic carrier bags clogging up the foreshore over the past year.

    Thames21’s River Programmes Coordinator Matthew Loveday said, “Set in the heart of the Olympic zone and with amazing views to Greenwich, the financial district of Canary Wharf and the O2 centre, this littered stretch of the River Thames is a blot on the landscape, despite the improvements made. Thames21 needs as many volunteers as possible to help during the clean up and participants can do as much or as little as they like.

    It will also be a great chance for different parts of the community to come together with a common purpose of returning this river to health benefiting the surrounding community and wildlife habitats.” Water scarcity, flooding, pollution and diminishing biodiversity are just some of the problems facing the world’s rivers right now.

    World Rivers Day on Sunday 30 September marks the last day of the Cleaner Thames Challenge and is an opportunity to celebrate the world’s waterways and to encourage improved stewardship of rivers around the world – including the magnificent River Thames. Thames21 will provide all equipment including boots, Health & Safety, rubbish bags and litter collection. Volunteers should wear old clothes appropriate to the weather. An adult must accompany people under the age of 16. Bottled water and toilets onsite.
  • Register your interest here

  • or via email: or by phone: 020 7213 0160.

    Dates and timings: Thursday 27 September, 7:30am - 10am/Friday 28 September, 8:15am - 10:45am/Saturday 29 September, 9am - 11:30am/Sunday 30 September, 9:30am - 12pm.

    Meeting and Kitting Up Point Newcastle Drawdock off Saunders Ness Road Public Transport Island Gardens (Docklands Light Railway) Cycle Parking. If you are travelling by bike, there is cycle parking outside the Greenwich Foot Tunnel in Island Gardens. There are also racks on Manchester Road by the Police Station. Car Parking Ideally, leave the car at home and travel by public transport or bike! If this is not possible, and you need to bring a vehicle, be aware that the area is a Controlled Parking Zone.

    The clean up is located in Parking Zone D with restrictions in place Monday to Friday 8:30am – 5:30pm. Pay and display are available (£2 per hour).
  • More transport information here
  • Contact Leigh McAlea 020 7213 0166 / 07875 250 284
  • Thames21
  • Friday, 14 September 2007

    Letters From Arcadia

  • click here for the latest LETTER FROM ARCADIA, a regular correspondence between angling's two most original contemporary writers...
  • The Gamekeeper


    one for caught by the river - rare ken loach film at bfi tonight

    The Gamekeeper

    Very rarely seen on the big screen, this TV film from a script by Barry Hines (Kes) chronicles a year in the life of a gamekeeper working on an aristocrat's estate in the north of England. Exploring his relationships with his boss, his family, his dog and the land itself, the film is a supremely subtle, deftly ironic study in conflicting allegiances.

    ATV 1980 Dir Ken Loach
    With Phil Askham, Rita May. 80min

    Part of Ken Loach

    Fri 14 Sep

    Tickets £8.60, £6.25 (BFI Members pay £1 less).
    Buy tickets

    Tuesday, 11 September 2007

    Edwyn Collins

    "In February 2005 Edwyn Collins had a stroke.

    This is the story of his battle to walk, talk, read, write and play his music once more."

    See "To Fish The Burns" below. The guy is very special.

    Sunday, 9 September 2007

    Abbots Bromley Horn Dance

    Monday 10th September

    Abbots Bromley Horn Dance, Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire

    Suggested aural accompaniment, Euros Childs new record, "The Miracle".

    "This could be ‘the oldest surviving ceremony in Britain’, according to Charles Kightly... The ceremony takes place... on Wakes Monday, the old village feast day... After a blessing by the vicar in St Nicholas’s Church... The six Deer Men, a Man-Woman... a Hobby Horse with snapping jaws, a Bowman... and a Fool are accompanied by a boy with a triangle and a melodeon player... Over and over again a simple dance is performed around the parish - a perambulation of about ten miles."

  • From 'Abbots Bromley Horn Dance', p.3-4 of 'England in Particular'

  • Abbots Bromley site - tells you about the five village pubs

  • And for more brilliant (and bonkers) stuff happening this month...
  • Wednesday, 5 September 2007

    To Fish The Burns.

    My grandfather was a good fisherman. A good poacher. I suppose my
    grandfather taught me. To fish the burns. Brown trout. 10 or 12
    inches say, wee things. Golden and brown in colour, red spots. First
    of all, the burns. They are slippery places. The water is fast
    moving. You better watch out. You kind of move along the water's
    edge. Quickly. You carefully drop the line in, feed it out and wait.
    Three minutes tops. You've got a fish? Good. If not, move on. Once I
    got a salmon! I was fifteen. That was at Langwell Water. I was
    pleased, as you can imagine. The places I fished. Ousdale Burn, on
    the north east edge of Sutherland, Kilpheddir Burn, in the Strath of
    Kildonan, the Craggie, up Glen Loth. All rough stuff. My bait? Worms.
    Not any more, since my stroke. I'll cast from a rowing boat, on the
    lochs. That's easy. Not like the burns.

    Edwyn Collins

    The River Helmsdale at Suisgill in autumn

    Edwyn's grandfather taught me to fish too on my first visit to
    Helmsdale in 1985. Not on the Helmsdale of course, that's for the
    super toffs. Prince Charles comes up most years. Although his
    grandfather was an expert salmon fisher himself, he preferred the
    burns that come tumbling down the craggy hillsides and down in to the
    river. Rough stuff indeed. I spend more time on my arse in the burns
    than anything else. Edwyn's description is perfect. It's not proper
    fishing. It's a bit mental really. It's just rocks and really steep
    sides and getting your hook snagged in the gorse and the alders and
    getting eaten alive by the midges. The trout taste great though. I'm
    better at getting them than Edwyn because I have more patience and
    also obey the grandfather rules to the letter.

    One day when he was little Edwyn and his sister were walking up the
    Strath with their grandpa and an old tweedy toff was fishing the
    river with his ghillie. He's got a salmon on the line and grandpa's
    going "Oh dear he's an old man. He's struggling, look. He's too old,
    you see. He's handing it over....." and on and on. They run into him
    later on and he says to grandpa, "I did so enjoy your running
    commentary. Would you care for a fish?" And proceeds to show off his
    enormous haul in the back of the car!

    Grace M

    Tuesday, 4 September 2007

    Saturday, 1 September 2007

    surf, sand, sky, Leach, Hepworth, Nicholson, smeaton's, sloop and the St Ives Freshwater Angling Society

    Me and the family just back from Summer holidays in St Ives. We regularly go to Cornwall and I always try and get a few days fishing in. My Brother comes down from Plymouth and we set about finding a good place to go. It isn’t easy. I guess coarse fishing isn’t that popular when you live so close to the sea. There are lakes, one or two really well known and popular, but they are big commercials and not my bag.

    Had a result with this place this year. Didn’t actually catch much (though two Roach at just over the pound mark were fine with me), the weather conditions were against us (honest, freaky gale force winds all day) but total delight to fish. One of the most beautiful spots I’ve ever fished.

    It’s just outside of a village called Georgia, near Nancledra, five miles west of St Ives. Out in the wilds, amidst the ruins of tin mines. It’s an old china clay pit which was discovered on a farm, fifteen years ago, by a couple of conservationist anglers.

    They had a word with the farmer and took on the lakes (only one is for fishing, though the other is full of monster Bream apparently), stocking them with Carp, Perch, Roach, Rudd, Bream & Eels.

    The place is astoundingly beautiful (“you should see the rhododendrons in Spring”) and absolutely quiet. Total peace.

    It’s looked after by a great fella called Jim, who moved down to St Ives (from London) in the 60’s , as did my brother and a lot of hipsters looking for their own California. Jim stayed and this place has been his life. He loves it, you can tell.

    If you are down there, you should go look. Even if you’re not an angler. Go see the birds and enjoy the landscape. You’ll also get a bit closer to understanding why us lot do it.

    If you want to fish, call Jim on 01736 796696, he’ll tell you how to find it, how to fish it and the name of the farmer to get your ticket off (a fiver by the way).