"Our long vigil had begun, it continued until daybreak, and after.
The sun rose deep orange; its beams making the lake steam, nothing moved.
I was lost in a quiet world of grey, green and gold"
Lost in a quiet world, wouldn’t that be nice? Lost in a wonderful book, though, is where I was recently, Paul Cook’s delightful book to be precise, and it couldn’t come more highly recommended either. I’ll explain why this veritable masterpiece has now become my favourite fishing book.
Winter is always a time that makes me turn to one of two things, reading or writing, and in both cases the subject just has to be fishing. Frosty banks, frozen pools and muddy rivers can make the thought of grabbing a rod and setting forth too much effort, knowing that with numb fingers you’ll return empty handed and wishing you’d stayed beside the fire with a good book.
Paul Cook is one of the best know vintage tackle makers/restorers of our time, his hand built cane rods, floats, nets and float boxes are second to none, and his restoration work is outstanding. Add these things to the fact that he is a very talented wordsmith and an extremely accomplished artist and you have the makings of someone with the capacity of creating something very special indeed, and that is exactly what he has done with the charming ‘Lost in a Quiet World’.
The story follows Paul as a lad from his first thoughts about fish and fishing, through acquiring his very first rod and reel bought from saved up pocket money to the very first time he set eyes upon ‘Old School Pool’. His findings, thoughts and actions will strike a chord with every angler, from whatever genre, for those first few steps one takes towards understanding more about our chosen quarry are, in themselves, the very essence of what angling is all about. The innocence and uncompetitiveness of a child is something we should carry throughout our lives, and this book outlines exactly why that is so important.
Paul experiences carp fishing at a time when it was as mysterious and magical as it has ever been, with just him and those unseen monsters pitting their wits against each other. His progression as he learns from his mistake is beautifully details in both words and Paul’s exquisite illustrations, of which this publication boasts a great many spoiling the reader with countless wonderfully detailed drawings of fishing tackle, the fish themselves and other wildlife.
We follow Paul as he learns about his quarry, their movements, times best to catch them, how to play them and see his progressions to the ultimate carp catching tackle, a Mark IV carp rod built by his father and a Mitchell 300 reel, replacing the Mitchell CAP which he still owns to this very day. As the seasons pass we see his confidence grow and we observe a young boy with a passion become an angler with all the right qualities needed to succeed, but at the same to enjoy the whole experience.
There is great emphasis on the wildlife around him too, obviously a devout naturalist even from a very young age, and from this I saw a carbon copy of myself as a junior. The detail found in Paul’s illustrations of Kestrels and other such creatures can only be achieved by someone with a great love and understanding of all things natural.
As the story unfolds, we see both Paul and the pool become almost inseparable, the obsession grows and every spare minute is spent either at the pool, planning the next visit to the pool or preparing tackle. With a angling Father, Paul has the understanding of his parents and sole access to what can only be described at the perfect carp pool, a pool with everything from small carp to mythically huge carp, but carp that eventually become reality. Along with carp there are perch, tench and an absolute must, a classic boathouse. The words and the pictures combine to paint such a scene that you just wish you could enter and experience it for yourself.
For me, ‘Lost in a Quiet World’ epitomises everything good and innocent about angling, be it for carp, or anything else for that matter. It shows us that going back to basics can often be far more productive, and enjoyable, than over complicating things. It shows us that the enthusiasm we felt when in our childhood doesn’t have to wane, but to nurture it and to hold onto those feelings we had when a mere starry eyed youngster, is the greatest form of progression we could possibly hope for.
My favourite author, Denys Watkins-Pitchford (BB) has the ability to draw me into the story and to make me smile at the deft accuracy in the way he describes certain things close to my heart, making me feel as if I‘m there seeing it first hand with my own eyes. Paul has also managed to do this, and more than a few times throughout the book I might add.
‘Lost in a Quiet World’ now takes pride of place on my bookshelf, among such classics as those from Yates, Sheringham, BB and Venables. It is a book that I will no doubt read again several times and will urge my young daughter, Jessica, to read when the time comes. A must for every collection it is, but more than that, I see it as a journal of ‘How to do it properly’ and proof that it is possible to angle for all the right reasons and to dream of giants at the same time. I tip my hat to Paul for bringing us such a wonderful gift, and sincerely hope that another publication isn’t too far behind.