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Isaak Walton's "gleanings and observations" on the "contemplative man's recreation" are, he explains, in The Compleat Angler (BBC, 1hr 50mins, pounds 8.99), as much "a picture of my own disposition at such times as I have laid aside business and gone a fishing" as an effort to "make a man that was none to be an angler by a book!" The absurdity of the idea recalls a glorious age when practice made perfect, and self-help manuals were unknown. This tape is wonderful listening, full of "innocent, harmless mirth" as well as tall stories about the love-life and morality of fish and fowl. It is read by Richard Johnson, who enters into the spirit of this most engaging of literary companions with marvellous mellifluity.

Christina Hardyment