Introducing the latest addition to the Slightly Foxed Editions list, No. 63:
Of Fathers, Friendship & Fishing
‘I’m out of the underpass now . . . In front of me is a long oblong of water, perhaps twenty feet across. Its surface rocks like molten copper. As I lower my gear to the paving stones, the cold immediately begins to fold around me. This is the place.’
Late at night, in the dark and dangerous no man’s land behind King’s Cross railway station, Luke Jennings is preparing to cast his line. At this spot in the murky waters of the Regent’s Canal he senses the presence of the pike that live among the catacomb of old bikes, shopping trolleys and other detritus at the canal bottom.
Even as a child in the 1960s, Luke Jennings was dazzled by the beauty of fish and fascinated by the rivers and lakes around his Sussex home. In Blood Knots he describes how his passion for fly-fishing gradually took hold, with the help of books from the library and the encouragement of his two boyhood heroes – his father, who had been awarded the Military Cross for bravery in the Second World War, in which he had been badly burnt, and Robert Nairac, a charismatic figure who first befriended him as a teacher at his prep school.
To fishermen, a ‘blood knot’ is a common method of attaching one line to another, but here it also stands for the ties of family and friendship. Jennings’s beautiful and original memoir is not only the story of his angling life but also a wonderfully humorous account of his schooldays and a tribute to the memory of his two extraordinary heroes. As one might expect from an author who has been, among other things, the dance critic of the Observer and is the author of the Killing Eve novels (which were adapted into the BAFTA-winning BBC TV series of the same name), these two themes of fishing and friendship are woven together to produce a book of unusual subtlety that’s about a great deal more than fishing. Blood Knots is an enchanting read.
With best wishes, as ever, from the SF office staff
Hattie, Jess & Jemima