Tom Fort

What Goes Out Must Come In

The Swordfish and the Star: Life on Cornwall’s Most Treacherous Stretch of Coast

By Gavin Knight

Chatto & Windus 244pp £16.99) order from our bookshop

Tide: The Science and Lore of the Greatest Force on Earth

By Hugh Aldersey-Williams

Viking 464pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

Sooner or later everyone who writes about fishermen refers to them as ‘a breed apart’. I’ve probably done it myself – certainly Gavin Knight does it a few pages into his exploration of a part of Cornwall that is sometimes regarded as the ‘most treacherous stretch of coast’ in the country.

But what does ‘a breed apart’ usefully mean? Unlike, say, monks or Catholic priests, fishermen have wives and children, homes and mortgages, and bills to pay, however patchy their performance in fulfilling these duties may be. Their alleged apartness actually lies in their doing work that takes them away from home for extended periods and is extremely arduous and unsocial – but which they much prefer to any other kind of work.

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