Sunday, 30 September 2007

The Art of Catching Lobsters

I was tearful; I’m not going to lie. It was the first time in a long time that I actually felt myself welling up. When you’re younger, crying as a form of emotional release is easy. It can be something as simple as grazing a knee in a playground that triggers the water works. As you get older it takes something devastating or remarkably poignant to get past the years of adulthood hardening.

Something poignant like Jane Drake’s deeply moving film. She captures her husband, playwright and enthusiastic fisherman, Nick and his recovery after a stroke. It reveals layers of a man who is described and I feel even without ever meeting, I can concur, “Was a good and special man.” His love for his family, his writing and the Cornish beaches he called home seemed infinite.

Someone who describes himself, “I’m no scientist but I am deeply observant” echoes my own sentiments. I’ve never been happier when surrounded by natural beauty, away from the anonymity and urban suffocation of London. Living here makes you too people centric. Your mood and state of mind are connected too deeply with the actions and attitudes of others and the bleakness of weather and grimness of the street. There is a distinct, disconnect from the natural world and the perspective it brings.

Nick and his wife Jane didn’t live a secluded life but you can see that the seemingly simple pleasure of combing the beaches of Cornwall for obscure artefacts (usually nuts from distant continents or shipping bois) and tracing their origins was enough for them. It’s less about the actual spoils of these ‘wrecking’ trips but more the quality time spent with each other and having that relationship put into context by the dramatic landscape.

Strength and the sense of humour in the face of adversity is what touched me most. As soon as Nick had recovered from his stroke he was diagnosed with cancer and the film then becomes like a last will and testament. He is filmed giving an outline of his latest play, ‘Laughing Gas’ to his friend and fellow playwright, he attempts to part as much of his fishing knowledge to his son Henry and his deeply creative and loving partnership with his wife is explored fully. They joke even as Nick lies on his deathbed.

The message I took from this incredibly honest work: if you are lucky enough to strike a balance between creativity, loving relationships with both family and friends and find a resonance with your environment, like Nick did, you will have lead a good life. I’m sure The Art of Catching Lobsters will be repeated again on BBC4, try and catch it.


Anonymous said...

Any idea where I can find or download this film. I was watching it on BBC4 the night it was shown but missed the end. I was enjoying it in the only way it can be enjoyed and would really love to see it again from beginning to end.

Bjam said...

I've tried all the usual suspects of TV-links, youtube, dailymotion etc but sadly no luck. I think due to the subject matter it doesn't fall into the category of instant rip and upload like other shows. If you do find a copy somewhere please let me know :)

Anonymous said...

You can contact Jane at she'll be able to let you know where you can get hold of a copy.

Anonymous said...

If you are in Cornwall it will be screened on Sunday November 11 at Princess Pavilion in Falmouth (14:00-16:00) followed by Q & A with Jane Darke.

TR11 4AR
Box Office (01326) 211222

phil ellery

Oliver said...

Just to let you know there's a new website for the film where you can buy copies of the DVD - it's at

Anonymous said...

Just saw the doco on TV. Your own take on it does justice both to it and to the bloke himself. What a man he was. How I would have loved to have known him.