The Stone-Walker Letters
The Stone-Walker Letters
During the summer of 1996 I spent quite a lot of time fishing several gravel pits in the Oxford area. I was put onto the fishing there by my old friend Peter Stone.
One day we decided to have a morning’s tench fishing together. I picked up Pete at his little house on Elmthorpe Road in Wolvercote and we headed for Whitney, to the Bypass Pit, a water full of good tench.
We tackled up, cast out our float gear and sat together and talked.
I asked Peter if he had any plans to do any more writing. He told me he was very busy on a new book. He had collated all his letters he had received over the years from Dick Walker and was linking them by comments of his own. Unfortunately Peter’s own letters to Dick had been lost.
It is most unfortunate that Peter never lived to see the culmination of his work which was finally put together by Medlar Press in this very well produced volume.
More than anything, this book gives us an insight into the mind of our greatest angling writer – Richard Stuart Walker. It tells of how he encouraged Peter to write. The advice he gives Peter on how to plan and put together a saleable article is spot on and still valid today.
It tells us of the discussions that took place between Walker and Stone on many angling subjects, notably legering, fly fishing, float fishing; and photography too. There are differences of opinion between the two, especially on the subject of the Waggler Float. Walker could never get his head around the popularity of a float that was locked on the line with two shot. And on this subject alone, Stone thought that Walker was wrong.
The book is also full of humour. It is well known that Walker was a mickey-taker of the highest order and there is no person he spent more time extracting it from than dear old Stoney. Throughout one of Walker’s letters he talks about the beastly slimy smelly bream that Peter fished for.
But Peter took all this in good heart. And often gave back as good as he was given, especially by fishing Walker’s pants off on occasions. And by playing a rather back handed trick on Walker, which he probably deserved anyway. One aspect of Stone’s character that Walker liked was the fact that Walker could criticize him honestly, frankly and openly without Peter taking umbrage.
One shame about this book is that most of Walker’s letters are undated. This gives the reader the impression that there is a big gap between 1963 and 1976. There is also reference to Dick Walker’s death being in 1983. It wasn’t. It was in 1985. Peter would not have made a mistake like this. I feel it must have been a misprint.
But these are minor points.