The outlandish sport of ratting is imbued with character and purpose by the square-pegged pen of British novelist and sportswriter Plummer.
Reared in the mining squalor and poverty of Wales, the youthful Plummer found little solace at home, so he took to rat hunting in the great raunchy outdoors, amid maggot factories and trash dumps: "On a clear day, when they were not burning bones or rubbish, you could actually see the splendour of the near-by sewer beds." He learned a thing or two about ferrets (jills are best for the hunt, as hobs are a tad burly), ratting dogs (Sealyham blood for strength, some Bedlington blood for agility, a spot of bull for that extra something, as rats don't go down without a fight), and the good, old brown rat, with its mysterious origins and doleful history. Read this as a ratting primertips on feeding rats to ferrets in socially tenuous settings; the wisdom of tucking one's trousers into one's socks while hunting; whether a Lakeland, border, or Jack Russell is best (favoring Jack Russells despite their blend, he goes on to note, "No, `blend' is the wrong word, for it implies judicious eugenics. I think `hideous hotchpotch' is more accurate"). But that would be to deny the book (originally published in England in 1978) its neat dissection of the British class system; its law-unto-itself effrontery; its baleful delineation of landscape and Plummer's own part therein, regarded by some as an anachronism and by others as lunatic; it would be to deny the book its soul-felt grace.
Plummer coaxes nobility (he would cringe at the word) from his craft, for as a rat hunter he is shrewd, encyclopedic, beneficent, and mesmeric.