Friday, 13 March 2009

The Pike - A Pilgrimage

Barry Van-Asten

Of all the fish that inhabit the British Isles, it is undoubtedly the pike that stirs the unbridled passion of the waterside onlooker. It is indeed a fish of fine proportions and symbolism; its phallic beauty and potency recognised throughout the developed world and through all ages. It is plain to see why in medieval England the 'pike's intestines were dried beneath the sun before being ground into a fine powder and mixed with mead as an aphrodisiac'. [Herb-lore. Anna Morrison]
The pike has a long history of associations to the male member which can be seen in depictions and comic tales of 'husbandry' to the offensive terms of abuse used by everyone from the poor to the gentry. In 1876, the notorious murderer, John Graham, was 'deprived of his skin for the love of a fish'. In fact, a pike named Herbert whom John secretly married in a ceremony held at Chichester. The marriage remained unconsummated, due no doubt to the pike's lack of enthusiasm! At his trial for pikeslaughter, Graham, in a state of great unease, broke down with fits of sobbing, feverishly repeating 'that damned and devastating pike!' [Pike and Sexual Revolution. Janet Steadman. p.104]

Pike And Poetry

In Pope's poem, The Midnight Pike, a young maiden is ravished by a young and energetic pike:
Maiden, let me sit a while
And pluck thy fruit, for see,
The moon doth descry
Thine self to mine eye,
And thy rapturous smile
Shows thy promises to me!
Pope referred to the pike in his diaries as 'that most sweet, most humble of fish: the pike', and he was later 'named and shamed' as a 'profiteer in pike porn'. [The Pike on Trial. John Livery.]
In Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, there is a reference to pykinge, a colloquial term for the sexual act. Modern readers will be familiar with the term to 'poke', from the old English pokynge which is a corruption of the word pykynge. In his book The Lost Art of Piking, Phillip Weston gives an excellent critical study and history of many such words derived from the ancient vocabulary of old English.
In 1753 Izaak Walton published his The Complete Angler to great acclaim. The chapter on the origins of pike and pykinge is of most interest to the modern day enthusiast and those wishing to discover the long lost art for themselves. It is by no means forbidden to study 'the art' from the educational aspect but I am not in a position to promote its practice and therefore I can be but a guide upon the safe waters and it is for each of you, pike lovers everywhere, that the waters run deepest where there is danger!
Pikecraft And Priesthood

During the year 1803, a misses Mary O'Hanlahan of County Galway, gave birth to a twelve pound pike! The Roman Catholic Church hailed it as a 'miracle birth' and the pike was duly ordained Bishop of Galway. The Bishop was later discovered to be an ingenious hoax and after a public outcry, the fish was defrocked and excommunicated. His last wish was to serve the poor, and so, on a November's morning in 1807, he was served to the poor, along with a generous helping of potatoes, peas and bread, and a glass of wine! Nowadays, the Roman Catholic Church seems loth to talk about the 'miracle birth of Galway'. [see A Fine Kettle of Fish: of Priest and Pikecraft. Stanley Martin.]
Pike And Royalty

George III once crowned a pike King of England and it was said to have been a happy and long lived monarch until it met its end in a sad incident concerning the King's physician and a lowly wench by the name of Matilda Carhume, who, in her sexual abandonment, mistook the 'Royal Fish' for a 'wooden John', a carved male sexual organ used for pleasuring women. The fish was said to have died of exhaustion in a particularly excruciating manner and George resumed his rightful role as King of England once again. But it would not be the last time that a fish took the throne of England!
Queen Victoria had nothing but praise for the pike and she found it a 'most charming and agreeable fish, and had it not been for Albert, I would have surely accepted its fin in marriage'. [The Pike Under Victoria. Gerald Thorpe-Pierce. p.92]
Questions are still unanswered concerning the scandal of George IV and his infamous 'liaison' with a pike in a seedy quarter of Paris. [see Pike and Pomposity. Helen Saunders.]
In fact, the pike has been associated with royalty right up until our present Queen Elizabeth II, but there is a wealth of information available on this subject from many outstanding authors (see Further Reading list).
Pike And Pornography

On a cold grey winter's day in 1974 a new law was passed which stated that anyone in the possession of images and references to the pike in its natural state of arousal would lead to confiscation of said material under the pornography act of 1880 and to the prosecution and conviction of those involved. It was a sad day for pike lovers everywhere! Despite constant appeals to the House of Lords, the law stands as it is and an organisation was set up to help 'police' the harmful material in circulation known as the OTFL (Offensive To Fish League). It is thanks to such people as those authors mentioned above and myself that the lost art of piking hasn't vanished from our shores into obscurity altogether. We ask only that future generations may discover and enjoy this art, and may the law see sense after all!
Further Reading:

Pike: myth and legend. Stanwell Fothergill.
Pike and pikability. Trever Cobbworthy.
The complete nonsense pike. Elizabeth Silhurst.
Pike: a revolutionary history. James Madmanham.
Beyond consciousness: the new pike. Sally Keane.
The peculiar pike. Steven Rosenberg.
Pike and promiscuity. Gerry Dullweather.
Pikecraft: touched by madness. Mark Adams.

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