ISMISM: New concepts for the Nineties

No.10: reelism

Share
Reel (old style) n 1. contrivance for winding and unwinding line as required, esp in fishing. 2. lively Scottish dance of couples in lines, describing circular figures.

Once there was fishing, using a rod, reel and line, also known as angling because of its popularity with Anglo-Saxon races, their colonies and dominions. People caught fish, bragged about their size, took them home and ate them, or had them stuffed and joined clubs to boast to other members about their size.

Then non-Anglo-Saxon races took it up and reinvented it as trawling (from the Latin tragula, meaning "sneaky, unsporting, typical-bloody-foreigner dragnet"). With this they traversed the oceans of the world, removing several million halibut from the watery doormats of once-proud Anglo-Saxon dependancies, who blithely went on with their innocent "reelist" pursuits of lively dancing and describing circular figures (mostly large plaice).

Something had to give. Eventually a "fish war" broke out between Canada (reelist) and Spain (trawlist). Canadians, incensed by the sight of piratical foreigners pinching their fish (even though they were doing so beyond the laughably notional "200-mile coastal limit"). Canada complained that the Spaniards were, enragingly, catching the small fish which were by rights Canadian, a perverse inversion of the true angler's compulsion to boast.

Things got sillier. The EU fisheries people said Canada was acting "like a self-appointed Wild West sheriff" and its cutting of Spanish nets was an "act of international piracy". Huge, burly fishermen in Cornwall raised the Maple Leaf flag on their boats and talked about "the Spanish fishermen raiding our fishing grounds" back in the 1550s ...

It was the classic reelist dispute: grizzled Anglo-Saxon frontiersmen, close to nature, bearded, woolly-hatted and bovine versus smart-alec, garlic-scented, aria-singing sensualists of the Mediterranean, who'd steal your pollack from under your nose with the same alacrity with which they'd pinch your wife ...

It was time for the British government to step in. It was time for reelism. Priding itself on rationality, reason, logic and common sense, the Government refused to deal in lurid metaphors from boys' comics. Instead they said nothing. They wouldn't agree to sanctions against Canada. They wouldn't penalise Spain. Mr Major helpfully remarked that the preservation of fish stocks was an important objective for the world. The dispute was finally settled by Brussels.

Thus reelism: the nostalgic belief that fishing is a romantic pursuit for gentlemen rather than a matter of national livelihood and international asset-stripping; and that "realistic" attitudes to complicated disputes requires no more than sitting (in waders) on a comfortable fence, dangling a maggot.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Recruitment Genius: PA

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A PA is required to join a leading provider of...

Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - London - £43,000

£35000 - £43000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior IT Support Analyst...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The digital world is incredible – but it’s human bonds that make us who we are

Joanna Shields
A mother and her child  

50 signs that we need to stop spreading the myth of the 'ideal mother'

Victoria Richards
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness