Tuesday, 10 March 2009

The Salmon - A Retrospective

There exists in the world today an 'obscure collective' who pursue the pleasures of the little known art of 'fish love'. I was contacted by 'persons unknown' to write a series of articles about the secretive world of these 'misunderstood' individuals for a small press publication called The Satanic Salmon. The first article: The Salmon - A Retrospective, appeared in June 2002; New Light On Old Trout in September 2002 and The Pike - A Pilgrimage in December 2002. Unfortunately the publications no longer exist and there is little hope of any copies still being in circulation, thanks to the 'fish protection act, section twelve'. The articles are reproduced here:

The Salmon - A Retrospective
Barry Van-Asten

I invite you into a world in which water holds no fear for mortal man. A world where the notorious salmon reigns above all; where the rare and beautiful wonder of fin and gill still holds us spellbound!
It was the ancient Babylonians who first encountered the splendour of the salmon in the form of the great salmon god Ururus. Little is known about the manner in which the god was worshipped but it is assumed from archaeological findings that the tribal elders draped themselves in salmon entrails and devoured their offspring. Strange as it seems, the custom seems to have died out after a short period, along with the Babylonians!
On our own shores, one could see druids copulating by moonlight, their long white robes richly decorated with intricate salmon designs. But the salmon also played its own part in the sacred rites of the druids. After sunset, the salmon would be ritually gutted and placed upon the erect members of the chief druid and his assistants. There would be a great salmon dance, culminating in a nightmarish fish duel, often to the death! But the salmon was much more than a primitive form of contraception and ancient ritual weapon.
The River Widens

During the seventeenth century, the notorious salmon molester known as 'old Moll' published her unabridged diaries under the title 'Romancing the Salmon'. The book gives us a fascinating account of old Moll's aquatic activities and it was to be a significant leap forward in bringing the delicate art of 'fish wooing' to the attention of the public. In fact, its initial appeal escalated beyond comprehension and the 'sport' soon became a major recreational pursuit. But it wasn't until 1854, when the groundbreaking 'Erotica Aquatica' by John Percival Belcher was published that the subject was approached in a scholastic manner. The book promoted 'safe' freshwater intercourse and offences such as 'chub-worrying', 'pike harassment' and 'salmon-stretching' became a thing of the past!
In Scotland, the ancient custom known as the 'salmon's knock' is still practiced to this day! During the 'game' the salmon is thrown high into the air and hit with a bat. It was the reverend William Macalister who had the imagination and foresight to replace the bat with a length of wood and the salmon with a leather ball, thus giving us the game we know today as cricket! His ingenious invention sadly gave the salmon an air of authority which would be its downfall, but the new rules did help to preserve the British bat population, sadly in decline!
The Tide Changes
Queen Elizabeth I brought salmon to the populace by wearing them at state occasions;but it was not until the publication of 'The Sartorial Salmon' by Mary O'Gibbon in 1890, that the wearing of salmon became a ubiquitous fashion accessory and to be seen without one's salmon was surely a faux pas in fish etiquette!
Alarmingly, in more recent times, a public house in Kent named The Frog Frigger's Arms, regularly organises events in which salmon are ritually abused. 'The Satanical Salmon' by Joss Newmann (1968) gives a complete guide to this obscure and dangerous practice which has depleted the salmon reserve for England and Wales! Let us keep our ponds and streams free from this menace!
During his incarceration, the Marquis de Sade found the lips of the salmon a delicacy and when not digesting them he could be seen proudly wearing them upon his manhood. Some say it was to enhance his performance, others argue that they were purely decorative. The adorning of 'fish bits' became a popular pastime after the publication of his 'Labia Solomonica Salmonalica', known colloquially as the 'malleus bellius' which translates as 'stomach of discontent' or the 'hammered intestine' which begs the question: salmon - fish or dish?
As you can see the salmon is a remarkable creature and part of our national identity. For centuries we have adored its magnificence and we shall go on adoring it, for we stand on the brink of a brave new world, a world in which fish are our equal! We are greatly misunderstood and the story of the salmon is never-ending, but unlike the salmon, I reach
the end.

Further reading
The great salmon plague of 1874. Samuel Quillp.
The salmon debate: a question of ethics v morality. Jonathon Gilby.
In love with the river. Jane Williams-Hart.
Of church and salmon. Rev. Peter Asquith.
Sexuality and the salmon. Ian Heinriche.
The salmon: a study. Louise Davidson.

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