"The cold, flooded washes at Welney are now perhaps the only really wild places left in the Fens. These bleak flat wastes, lying between three cuts in the River Ouse have a certain empty appeal, but this attraction would soon pale if we had to live here. Yet a square mile of these washes and flooded meadows has had to provide for one man a living and a way of life. And Ernie James of Welney would choose to be nowhere else..."Ernie James is the last 'punt gunner', a man who lives by the seasons with his wife and dog in a small cottage next to the Old Bedford river in the heart of the Fens. The film follows his year, showing him at work, his methods of catching wildlife and managing the rivers and dykes in his stretch of land, as well as his role in the life of his village. As the commentary points out, while it is easy to view him sentimentally as a quaint folk figure from the past, his lack of dependency on 20th Century economic systems can give him an almost "mythical" status, as the final embodiment of a folk tradition spanning centuries. His authentic Fen accent, with all the unusual intonations that have since been lost, adds to the feeling that this is an important historical record.
"There can be few pubs left now where conversation can revolve around moles, rather than football or the winner of yesterday's race. And it's precisely because Ernie can find at the pub company and conversation with people like himself who know his world and talk his language on the strange ways of the mole that he values his visit to the Lamb and Flag."However, the narrator is always quick to remind us that James is not a folksy figure using antiquated methods, but that the methods he employs to catch his living are tried and tested methods handed down through generations of Fenmen.
|Channel:||Anglia Television (ITV)|
|TX Dates:||9th October 1975|
|Duration:||38 mins, (not inc. commercials)|
|Details:||SD: Mono, 16mm colour 4:3|
|Producers:||Geoffrey Weaver, Dick Joice (exec)|