Friday 19 May 2017

Review: The Swordfish and the Star: Life on Cornwall's Most Treacherous Stretch of Coast

The Swordfish and the Star: Life on Cornwall's Most Treacherous Stretch of Coast The Swordfish and the Star: Life on Cornwall's Most Treacherous Stretch of Coast by Gavin Knight
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cornwall is one a popular holiday destination for those wishing to stay in the UK. The coves and beaches are beautiful, the land and seascapes are breath-taking and being in the far west of the country, can claim to have some of the best sunsets going and is full of cosy cottages and quaint fishing villages. Where the land ends the Atlantic Ocean starts, bringing in the warmth of the Gulf Stream, it makes Cornwall’s quite balmy at times. It can though be at the receiving end of the might that all the ocean can throw at it, as winter storms sweep in pummelling the coast and cliffs.

There is still a fiercely independent local population who are doing their absolute best to ensure that they can still live in their county even though it has one of the highest second home ownership levels in the country, forcing house prices through the roof. Knight introduces us to the rich and varied characters that populate this place. We hear about the fisherman who battle against the seas month in month out, frequently putting their lives at risk to earn an income. They don’t always return. Those that do then have to battle the bureaucratic tangle that is the fisheries quotas and the families that dominate the markets. They guys who do this tough high-risk job day in and day out fight their own battles with drink and drugs as a coping mechanism. Artists have always been drawn to Cornwall s elemental coast, the quality of the light and the isolation that gave them the tools to focus on their work. Thankfully with broadband now there is a growing community of digital animators keeping the traditions alive.

Knight has written an honest and frank book peering behind the pasty’s and cream teas and surfboards to get under the skin of the county. It is one of the UK’s deprived areas, that most of the time couldn’t give a monkies about the rest of the UK, let alone Europe. He is not afraid to mix with the inhabitants chasing the snippets heard in the Swordfish and the Star pubs until he has a coherent story to tell us. Some of these stories of the rough justice and dangerous moments will scare you and captivate you.

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