Cut-backs at The Independent have seen the ending of the newspaper’s longest running column: Keith Elliott’s weekly Fishing Lines.
Elliott’s final column appeared yesterday, after 22 years and an estimated 750,000 words, covering a wide range of (often obliquely) fishing-related subjects from the memory span of a goldfish to trimethylaminuria; from the death of Elliott’s springer spaniel to George Melly.
Begun in September 1986 for the then-broadsheet daily’s dummy issues a month before launch, Elliott has faithfully filed 50 weekly columns every year since, attracting a loyal readership not only of anglers, but also many other readers who simply enjoyed the column’s engaging and entertaining writing.
The regular angling column – aimed squarely at the sport which claims the largest participant numbers of any sport in Britain – was intended to help differentiate The Independent from other newspaper, offering coverage in an area of sport virtually ignored by other dailies.
In his valedictory column, Elliott wrote:
Sadly, I’ve become a victim of the bean-counters. Being the paper’s longest-serving columnist (leastways, I don’t think anyone else can claim to have written 50 weeks a year since September 1986, a month before the paper even came out) is no hedge. If you count beans, you count very small ones, too.
So where now? I guess it’s time to work on that much-delayed book of these columns. Maybe I’ll also write those articles I’ve still got on file and put them on my antique fishing magazine website (classictitles.com, for those who can’t live without the column). We’ll see.
The end of Fishing Lines comes just months after Roger Alton, the former sports chief sub at The Guardian and Observer Editor, took overall charge at The Independent.
“I didn’t want a goldfish watch,” Elliott told sportsjournalists.co.uk, “but as the paper’s longest-serving columnist, a note of thanks from the MD or editor ( especially as I’ve worked under both of them) might have been nice.”
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