Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Pulling Pike out of the Thames

Occasionally the William Morris Society has organised boat journeys up the Thames from London to Kelmscott Manor in honour of those Morris and friends made in The Ark in the early 1880s, and which Guest, Dick Hammond and Clara make in 'News from Nowhere'.

However, to truly honour Morris's passion for the Thames, should the Society not also be organising fishing trips around Kelmscott? Here, for instance, is Morris on a piscatorial expedition in February 1877: 'We got a few small perch & 3 pike, Ellis a big one 9 1/2 lbs, at Goblin Reach - he was so happy - Ellis, not the pike'. Or, on an even better day a year or so later, 'Edgar got three smallish pikes: on the other hand Ellis captured a monster under the willow on the Berkshire side of the Old-Weir pool: he weighed 17 lbs'. Morris even on occasion managed to rope his wife into these fishing outings. Writing to his daughter in August 1888 he notes: 'your mother went with me (walking) and my fishing-rod to the infallible hole near Buscot, & sure enough I got 3 perch there'.

So there we are! My suggestion for the next Morris Society expedition is, accordingly, pike fishing at Goblin Reach and the Old-Weir Pool and some serious detective work to establish what Morris meant by his 'infallible hole near Buscot'. The rewards? Monstrous pike every bit as eerie and scary as those celebrated in the famous Ted Hughes poem on the topic.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes indeed, Morris was a passionate angler! This is an important, and so far mostly neglected, side of his life, and connects to a whole wider territory of Victorian angling literature and culture. It deserves a whole book, not just a single blog entry!

Makiko Minow