The delightful Tom Fort is one of three speakers at a special day of BridLit events in September.
Tom wrote the quirky book The A303: Highway to the Sun. When the book was turned into a BBC 4 programme, Fort presented it from the wheel of a Morris Traveller. He drove along the 92-mile arterial route from Basingstoke to Honiton, visiting ancient and modern treasures en route.
It was heritage documentary gold. Since it was first broadcast in 2011, it’s been repeated many times.
Stumbling on the TV programme again recently, I was reminded of how entertaining Tom Fort is as a presenter. I was absolutely hooked. His slightly bemused, avuncular style is charming. And he knows so much.
That’s sure to be in evidence when he talks about his book, Casting Shadows, at Bridport Arts Centre on Monday 20 September at 2.30pm.
Casting Shadows is the history of freshwater fishing since time began, initially discovered as a bountiful source of sustenance.
Mark Cocker, reviewing the book for the New Statesman, says: ‘Fort is alive to the poetry that stirs the human soul while fishing, and is very good at evoking the beauty of the riverbank, particularly the effects of light on water.’
Since prehistoric times, people have exploited the rich food source available in lakes, rivers, estuaries, lochs, ponds and brooks – trapping, netting, spearing, noosing, stunning, tickling and luring every species of fish to be found.
The need to fish became big business and the fish a trading commodity. This business soon gave birth to the desire to pursue, outwit and catch fish for pleasure – angling was born.
Tom Fort explores the secret, silent world of the freshwater fish found in Britain and the art and industry of fishing that spans thousands of years.
He also assesses the dangers facing many species and water environments with an appeal to protect the underwater world from industrial fishing and farming.
Educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford, Fort joined the BBC in London in 1978 where he worked in the BBC Radio newsroom for 22 years. He lives in South Oxfordshire with his wife and two of his children and has been travelling up and down the A303 for over five decades.
The event is one of three illustrated talks in one day at Bridport Arts Centre, along with Lachlan Goudie and The Story of Scottish Art at 11am and Andrew Ziminski and The Stonemason: A History of Building Britain at 4.30pm. Tickets are £12 or £30 for all three.
More details here.