Sunday, February 24, 2019


Sometimes you know you have to buy a book even if you don’t know why. I was walking past a secondhand bookshop that had a couple of tables of books outside, and one of them just sang to me: Photographing Wild Life Across the World  by Cherry Kearton.  I’m interested in photography, not so much in wild life, but I’d never heard of Cherry Kearton, but something told me I needed this book.  The price was cheap enough and I snapped it up.  Alas, mine does not have this wonderful book jacket.

The book is over 300 pages long and contains just 84 photographs, some very small, and not very well reproduced, but then the book was published in 1923, an updated of a 1913 edition, so much can be forgiven.  This is one of the better pictures (though my scan is pretty shoddy):

It turns out that Cherry Keaton and his brother Richard, a couple of Yorkshiremen, more of less invented wild life photography and cinematography.  They took the first photograph of birds nests with eggs in them, in 1892.  I assume Cherry didn’t eat the eggs, though I could be wrong:

And now that I’ve been started reading it, I understand why this book was singing to me – it’s right there on the pages 116: “As a rule the only part of the hippo which a white man eats is the foot.  Personally, I think that hippo foot ranks with ortolans, caviar, and one of two other things which make you glad that you have to eat.  You boil it steadily for twelve hours – it looks like a lump of sinew at the outset – then let it set into a jelly.  It is impossible to describe the delicacy of its flavour.  You must have tried it in order to understand.”   Well yes, I suppose so.

He’s also very keen on hippo fat, “It is excellent for frying purposes and it makes the best pastry in the world. Hippo-fat shortbread would be impossible to beat.”  I would love the chance to find out.

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