The second dispatchfrom author, printer and dealer in 'Vintage Fishing Tackle for the Soul' John Andrews (a.k.aAndrews of Arcadia). Johnisone of the six working men photographed by Neil Gavin for our spring/summer menswear collection. The photos here are by Jim Eyre (@scribblebag).
In the month of March the first thing I notice is the difference in the hours as dawn gets earlier, it seems, by an hour a week, although it is only a quarter of this in reality. As I step out of the van after the 7 O'Clock News there is light in Hanbury Street and for the first time in five months I will be able to load the trolley in something akin todaylight. The feeling this brings on is slow realisation that days at the market will get slowly warmer and brighter. It is a hope that you do not realise gets buried by the winter months.
Loading the trolley is a ritual that can be done in the dark so systematic has it become, a meditation of stacks and knots, but it is slower and more definite in the light. A large green homemade seatbox gets tied on first. It belonged to an unknown angler who has long since passed and whose effects I bought and sold with solemn respect. I kept the box for its colour, one absent from the modern palette, a shade of green from Pantone Obscura an non-digital tone applied liberally in the decade known as the fifties and sixties to shed doors, corrugated iron panels, favourite floats and seatboxes, the throne of anglers all. On the side of this I sprayed my own legend via a stencil cut from an old cardboard box. It reads 'FISHING TACKLE WANTED'.
Another angler, since passed, told me that anglers were defined by their 'boxes' in the post-war years. These were the days of fierce inter-club and regional rivalries when to be picked to fish in your club side for 'The National' was the summit of all ambition. Anglers from the north, and by the north I mean above a line demarcated by the The River Trent, sat on wicker baskets made at Glennex the Burnley factory for the blind. Wicker baskets were objects of ridicule to anglers from the south, as comically totemic as a pair of clogs. Southern anglers and in particular 'Cockneys', were equally cut down to size as they sat on boxes they built themselves from wood, the brightly painted heavy varnish singling them out as they sat on a riverbank in distant counties which seemed a long way from home.
After the box, two old fruit boxes are stacked, the latest of these from H.A HOLLANDS & SONS of WEST MALLING. The contents of these change every week and are ceremoniously filled with the better bits from mixed auction lots, anything that will look good on the velvet. They are topped with another advertising board, one painted black with the white legend - 'Old Fishing Tackle Wanted - Cash Paid'. Its predecessor used to hang above my stall on a pair of butcher's hooks but was bought by a friend's wife and now hangs in his study. Finally, on top of this goes the cabinet, its mahogany slope faced with old glass and finished off with a secret drawer. A talismanic piece it was given to me as a wreck when I first started dealing by an auctioneer who had no more need of it and my brother, a cabinetmaker to kings restored it. I could have sold it several times over, I have dropped it once in the street but still it survives, a centrepiece for the stall. It is wrapped in a velvet cloth and the whole stack is tied off. I am ready to walk to the market.