First impressions …

I knew nothing of this place before I came, Southwold, indeed Suffolk was a mystery.  All I knew had been gleaned from the endless repeats of Coast on the BBC.  Except, for some reason, I remembered that Gordon Brown had holidayed here.  Regardless of your political persuasion, Gordon, a son of the manse, is never going to be your first point of reference for advice on having a good time.

As it turns out, according to Andrew Rawnsley, the holiday was nothing more than a PR stunt by Sarah Brown, an initiative designed to suggest that the Prime Minister was on the same wavelength as middle England.  History shows it didn’t work, not only that, “he hated every minute of it and couldn’t wait to get back to Scotland”.  Like I said, not your first point of reference for advice on having a good time.

It may appeal to middle England but it has a distinctly New England feel.  There is nothing to hate and much to like – busier than I would prefer (it is the end of half-term week), it is pretty, unspoilt and not overtly commercialised.  So far we have only spent time in Halesworth, Southwold and Walberswick but, it is already easy to imagine coming back:

Across the River Blyth, Southwold Harbour

Fish for sale, Southwold Harbour

Sheds at Southwold Harbour

The ferry, Southwold Harbour

Some like fishing, some don’t

Southwold in a sea mist

Southwold beach and distant pier in a sea mist

Postcards from the edge – 11

Returning to the theme of Halloween, I was reminded of the contents of Arachno Vino by an extract from Robert Hughes’ A Jerk on the End – Reflections of a Mediocre Fisherman.  A jerk on one end of a line waiting for a jerk on the other – one of the classic definitions of fishing.   Reflecting on the difference between ‘clean’ fly fishing and the use of coarse ground-bait he quotes a 17th Century recipe – human fat, powdered bones, “mummy”, cat fat and grave earth – everything  but a Tartar’s lips and the liver of a blaspheming Jew.  Fact is always stranger than fiction.

More HalloweenThis short book is about much more than one man and his rod.  The final chapter, Troubled Waters, is a succinct explanation of the consequences of industrial scale fishing, its environmental impact and our attitude towards conservation.   I am indifferent to the plight of the fox; if the vicious little animal didn’t look so cute and wasn’t hunted down by toffs on horseback, would so many people care about its fate.  Robert Hughes puts it plainly – It is easy to have respect for creatures somewhat like ourselves.  The real test is to feel  it for the immense majority of species that are totally unlike us.  Serious concern for Nature must begin with recognition of its otherness.  The “pathetic fallacy” – the habit of ascribing human emotions and impulses to non-human entities – is to conservation what a set of training wheels is to biking.  It gets the kiddies going, but it has to be left behind.  Otherwise, bad luck for the un-cuddly, the non-feathered, the wet, the cold-blooded and the myriad creatures that have more than four legs or none at all.

Robert Hughes died August 6th 2012; an intelligent voice sadly gone.