11 JULY 1931, Page 10


In an attempt to have the Colne Oyster Fishery rated, the Essex County Valuation Committee—hot-headed as ever— raised the controversal question of whether an oyster was a fish. Feeling immediately ran high. Sharp words were exchanged. Someone, in a fit of passion, went too far and referred to the oyster fishery as an incorporeal hereditament. All this might have been foreseen ; we are distressed, not so much by the whole discreditable flare-up, as by the failure to avert it. Inability to learn from experience explains, but does not excuse, this lack of foresight. In these islands, divergence of opinion on fundamental matters of dietary nomenclature almost always has regrettable consequences. The nation will not easily forget the atrocities at Stoke Poges last year, when a whole flower-show was disrupted by an argument as to whether the rhubarb (Rheum rhaponticum) was a fruit or a vegetable, as a result of which a Mr. Goole, a seed-catalogue editor, was compelled by eight enraged market-gardeners to eat his hat. The Committee in Essex "Would have done well to consult this hideous precedent before embarking on a contro- versy which is likely, according to the Shell-Fishers' and Clam.. Fanciers' Weekly, to have international repercussions.

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