The first 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 February all journeys to my stall at Spitalfields begin on the edge of the Heath at the un-Godly hour when only gangs of foxes are abroad, scattering the contents of rubbish bags as they scavenge, play-fighting gaily in the middle of empty streets like ghosts of London children past. Through bleary eyes I dare not look at the clock for it will tell me to go back to my warm bed, as even the birds have yet to wake and one's senses are aware only of being surrounded by an utterly dense and inky stillness, akin to the end of everything, a blackout curtain thrown over the unwashed face of the city just before dawn.
To lift this veil tea is brewed in strict Arcadian fashion, 'Trawlerman Style'. On September 30th 1937 the Scarborough Evening News printed a headline 'NO TEA FOR NAZI'S'. Underneath it were the words, 'Afternoon tea is described in the official organ of the Nazi Storm-Troopers as a 'degenerate British Custom' which all good Nazi's should renounce'. Not a year later on September 15th 1938 under the headline 'TEA FOR TRAWLER MEN' the same paper reported that the Chairman of the Port of London Health Committee had noted that 'It is quite frequent for a trawlerman to have a pot of stewed tea as many as 8 times in 24 hours.' And so, as an act of defiance against those who say our old customs are degenerate and in honour of all those at sea, the first of my 8 pots of the day is stewed in an enamel teapot as the crows begin to stir in the Sycamore outside and the cat joins me in the kitchen, keen for scraps and company.
With the last of the boxes stowed into the van, down the hill I roll to the tones of the Shipping Forecast on the radio, a metered prayer, to which I imagine other skippers in faraway sectors listening intently to each outlook and in particular to theirs, whilst I check the temperature on the dashboard and glance over the brow of Highgate Hill to the city lying below in a bowl of gloom. Sodium lamps wink through it, like those in the mist of a distant shore, beckoning, full of promise. Towards them I pick up speed down the Holloway Road past a sign announcing the day's diesel price, pausing at the lights by The Nag's Head as the empty doorways on each side of the road fill with dust and newspaper blown inunforgivingly on a wind coming straight off the Dogger.
Past the hangman at Highbury Corner and down New Road to Old Street and the Silicon Triangle and then on into Shoreditch proper. A neon sign glows on the outside of The Golden Heart on Commercial Street, spelling out T-R-U-M-A-N-S, the name of the brewery in whose old works I park, in the same space every week, having parted with my £12 and asked Solomon on the gate whether the night was particularly cold. I am a creature of habit, a dealer in Vintage Fishing Tackle for the Soul, and on Thursdays I drive to the market.