Friday, 31 August 2007

You Really Should Get Out More

The reviews of this book and accompanying articles have caught my attention this week. I hadn't come across the fella before. Looking forward to reading it. Still got several hundred pages of Jon Savage's "Teenage" to go first though. That's one serious book. Really interesting stuff.

It appears Robert MacFarlane was very close to the hugely inspirational Roger Deakin, someone that I came to only recently, and whose books "Waterlog" and "Wildwood, a Journey Through Trees" are great reads. Whilst reading up about him today, I came across this from The Guardians site. I love Raymond Carver and really like this;

Back to the source

Raymond Carver was a late convert to the transcendent power of nature, writes Robert Macfarlane

Saturday April 9, 2005
The Guardian

Moving water, mountain air, sea skies: these are not what we think about when we think about Raymond Carver. We know him as an urban writer - the laureate of what one critic called "Hopelessville". His habitat is low-rent suburban: motels, back-yard sales, gas stations, night cafés. The indifferent white glare of the drinks fridge opened at night: this is Carver's light, not the high blue light of the ocean. The reek of cigarette ash: this is Carver's smell, not the resiny tang of a pine wood.

Article continues

Yet, as those who have read Carver's late work will know, during the last 10 years of his life he wrote poem after unexpected poem about river, sea and forest. That final decade, indeed, was an unexpected one for Carver: he called it his "second life". By early 1977, alcohol - whisky, mostly - had corrupted Carver's family, his writing, and his liver. On June 2, somehow, he stopped drinking. "I guess I just wanted to live," he said later. Four months after giving up, Carver met a poet called Tess Gallagher, also a fugitive from a wrecked marriage. In 1978, they began living together, first in New York, and then in the Pacific North-West. In the 10 years left before Carver's death, they published 25 books between them.
Rivers ran through this extra decade of Carver's life. After he went dry, they rehydrated him. "I have a thing for this cold swift water," he wrote in a late poem, "Just looking at it makes my blood run / and my skin tingle ... It pleases me, loving rivers. / Loving them all the way back to their source. / Loving everything that increases me."

And cold swift water was all around Carver. From 1984, he lived in what Gallagher called her "sky-house": a custom-built property perched above the Juan de Fuca Strait, on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state. Most days, Carver wrote in Gallagher's glass-walled study, looking out over the Strait. He also walked and fished the rivers and streams that ran off the Olympic Mountains. Gallagher remembered how she and Carver would often wander:

"along Morse Creek, sorting out the end of a story. Always we found release and comfort in noticing - that pair of herons, ducks breaking into flight upriver, the picked-over carcass of a bird near the footpath - the very kinds of attentiveness which bind his poems so effortlessly to our days."

The unexpected excellence of such instants, their unstinted beauty, bowled Carver over. In "The Phenomenon", out river-walking, he describes experiencing a "sudden swoop of feeling. / Once more I'm arrested with the beauty of this place. / I was lying if I ever said anything to the contrary."

Carver's early poetry took earth as its element: the dirt roads and wheat-stubble fields of central Washington, where he grew up. Later came Fires (1983), the collected poems of the middle drinking years, poems "alternately hell-bent and penitential" as the critic William Stull finely described them. And then, eventually, the late collections: riparian, oceanic. Their titles tell of the sea-change: Where Water Comes Together With Other Water (1985), Ultramarine (1986), and A New Path To The Waterfall (1989). In the course of his writing and his life, Carver left earth behind, passed through fire, and ended in water - and of these elements water was the greatest.

It seems to have been the autonomy of moving water that most moved Carver. Time and again in the poems of those last volumes, water's non-conformity, its independence from predictable patterns of human design, calls out happiness in Carver, or at least the hope of happiness. This should not surprise us. Water remakes itself constantly. Its textures - silk, foam, varnish - ceaselessly vary. This versatility is water's most distinctive quality, and why it is bound up with baptism, with rebirth, and above all with hope. And hope was a concept that increasingly fascinated Carver as he neared death.

What is distinctive about hope, theologically speaking, is the special manner of its origin. It is an infused habit, which is to say it comes from outside the individual, rather than being the outcome of effort on the individual's part. Hope is given, and not earned. It can be thought of as a movement of the will towards a future good which, though hard to attain, is possible of attainment. Put simply, hope is a given glimpse of a better way of being. It is for this reason that hope is so important as an ethical idea, for it solves one of the great paradoxes of morality - namely that in order to become good it may be necessary first to imagine oneself good.

Millions of people have found hope not in God but in landscapes. So it was for Carver and his rivers. Being near water offered him brief hints of alternative states of feeling: states towards which he could then move. In "For the Record", he writes of how he and Gallagher saw "two herons sift down the Cliffside / as they did for us earlier in the season / so we felt alone and freshly / put here, not herded, not / driven." Places like the rivers, creatures like the herons, prompted in Carver those efforts of imagination which have such important cumulative results.

In 1987, Carver was diagnosed with lung cancer. It did not come as a surprise to a man who once described himself as "a cigarette with a body attached to it". Two-thirds of a lung was removed. The cancer spread to the brain, and then in June 1988 recurred in the lungs. He and Gallagher travelled to Nevada, and got married "in high tacky style" in Reno, before going on a three-day gambling binge. Then they returned to the sky-house, to put together Carver's A New Path To The Waterfall in the weeks that remained.

The poems of that last book are fearful, but never self-pitying. Water recurs as a substance that both consoles and entices Carver. "Oh how I wish / I could be like those Chinook salmon," he writes, devastatingly, in "Those Days", "Thrusting, leaping the falls, / Returning! Not chunks and flakes and drift / drift". He noted down Czeslaw Milosz's line that "when it hurts, we return to the banks of certain rivers".

After he died, Gallagher wrote a memoir which she called Carver Country (1991). If we were to spend time walking in that country, we might come back having understood the following lessons. That we should accept beauty freely when it is given by a landscape, but never demand it. And that certain landscapes can, in ways that are difficult to articulate but unmistakable to experience, offer us hope, and help us to reconsider ourselves. We might also have jotted down the lines from Carver's poem "The Fields": "I can stand there quietly / under the great balanced sky, motionless. / Amazing! to walk that opened field-- / and keep walking".

Near to his death, Carver marked out a passage in Milosz's Unattainable Earth (1988), where Milosz wrote of a "philosophy of freedom" he had come to espouse, a philosophy "which consists in being aware that a choice made now, today, projects itself backwards and changes our past actions". This was what the water, with its ripples, eddies and unpredictable turbulence, taught Carver - that we can, if we are lucky, not just atone for, but remake our earlier selves. That we can work back against the current, and in so doing find a new path to the waterfall

Letters From Arcadia

Monday, 27 August 2007

Catching The Eight 30


wouldnt mind a soaking to fish a river like the kennet, though here the huisne could do with a roving by the likes of you and that perfection. you might get to take the same picture again, plenty of undiscovered chub under the parsnips. i'd coached mike walker in the art of pursuading you over here with talk of carp like pumpkins, but your tea kettles and bread punches must've gone to his head, or you spotted the hook. cant get bob on a boat neither. ten years of tea and lies and postal orders but the nearest he's got is a passport form which he's rolled his boilies on the last 5 yrs in any case. so your leave is really cancelled? well if it means the london book will get to print, then i'll put up with empty rodrests in the swim next door come november on walker's pitch. your waterlog "white house" article, and all your london gospels, is enough to stop the olympics. bob's right when he says you're the only contributor to waterlog who's doing anything important. the rest of them are just your tributaries flowing in all directions. your london book will turn even sinclair and ackroyd into lost becks disappearing down a thames sewage gully.
work has had me in snags all week. 7 days between outings, watching the rain dribble down the window, going outside like getting a slap with a wet cloth. by thursday, all fighting waterproofs wounded and down to the reserves, i found myself doing battle again. completely ambushed by a delivery of stair rods early afternoon, laure phoned with a get-out clause: could i drop her sproggs at the nogent swimmer and she'd pick em up later. well, if they wanted to get wet twice... the carp rods were still in the back of the vehicle, so in the downpour i left them there, squeezed the kids round the fishy pong and dropped them off. by rights i should've driven home again, but "the rods were with me". the way home goes past the gravel pit. my baits were rotton from the week before, the windscreen was a bathescope, but i'd left the logic at home. short shopping detour, a bag of frolic from leclerc to bait up with, and a little zip up case for my new digital camera, and i parked up beside the church and walked the mile round the pit in my t-shirt: best to keep the dry clothes in the rucksack for later. low-down anti-gypsy barrier means i cant get the land rover into the lane anymore, let alone down to the carpark; nearest slot's beside the church, an extra 400 yards walk.
fucking sick of waterproofs that melt like pva, and pva more water resistant than my army poncho. set the rods up squelching, then stood like a marsh duck till the five o'clock downpour began to ease off around 8. till then the morale was no fitter for the purpose than the pva. i put the dry clothes on, born-again, running on instinct at least. for 3 seasons i'd seen a good fish top in the same place 20yrds out, always the first up of an evening, always about 8 o clock. saved up this swim till i needed it, and today seemed right to put a bait there. i was just doing the settings on the camera when the run came at 8.30. 35lb mirror. didnt jump this time:

lit the stove too that night, but not for the first time. all the summer's corks long burnt and up in smoke through stove-pipe hat, the summer of rhumatics and trench foot and carp blowing water spouts like whales one over the plimsol line. i must've caught that carp as it was putting it's clock forward, half way through its tail turning orange.
it's the time of year too when i have to bushwhack into my caravan, the vegetation up & over, way into row F:

feel like a castaway in the wind in the willows myself, till the first cold snap will me unpacking the moleskin long johns and the weasel fur mittens.

goretex gift voucher on the birdtable


Friday, 24 August 2007

Wind In The Willows


parsnips on the bird table - dig for victory. every car boot here is like a harvest festival. deformed roots and cans of baked beans left by the altar. a feast in a time of famine. lost time, lost fish, the theme of the season so far. having bumped that common at bushy i went to the wasing estate on the kennet as a guest of roy, who has a weakness for good floats and a nose for barbel. never fished that stretch of the kennet before. what a contrast to bushy, a private estate rather than a public park, a wildwood with downed trees, reed beds, water meadows and moss covered bridges. no sawdust specimen hunters here, just the wind in the leaves. the river twice the width of the loddon with half the depth in places. didn't know whether to trot for dace, or weedle out chub with breadflake and lobs. went for the chub and lost a good 'un in the tree roots. then i lost the afternoon as the rain came down in a deluge. put up my b james kennet perfection, a john richardson avon and managed a perch, my first fish of the season, only a few ounces but celebrated nonetheless. in the swim with the fallen tree, then a chub no bigger than my little finger, a fat headed circus freak gudgeon that swallowed a lob and after that a couple more perch. it rained and rained and rained. a few claps of thunder. roy had a barbel and lost another. the river came up by a foot and by the time we left in the gloom the track was flooded. corsa just made it through and i never wanted a land rover so much in my life. a pint in the pub by the railway crossing and then the drive back into town. took three days for my gear to dry out.

mick walker came to the stall yesterday for a cuppa - good to meet him, he was trying to persuade me to get on the ferry but i've got pieces to write and an autumn of auctions. not to mention the london book. reading sinclair's edge of the orison, 'in 1841 the poet john clare fled an asylum in epping forest and walked eighty miles to his home in northborough. he was searching for his lost love, mary joyce - a woman three years dead.' the new victorian big emptiness. just like bushy park once the holidays are over and the carp's fins are turning orange. tell bob to look out for the stove pipe hat. northerlies for three days here, first fire of the autumn last night and august isn't out, old coal and the summer's corks.

phoenix on the birdtable


Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Napoleon's Eyewash


the last week has disappeared like an old master under new daubs, a clean sweep like your long shingle beaches. in other words, lost time, lost photos, lost fish. from your ballad of the back-roads i can't believe our bumpers didn't cross. except for the mackeral, we were in the same kind of land-warp. 2 friday teatimes ago me and laure took off for the loire on impulse, packing the streamlined version of the 4-day kit: tent, rods, box of matches and a corkscrew. we made beaugency by 8 under skies like a mafia thug's windscreen. the loire was high and belting and we pitched our tent on the embankment ridge and drank napoleon's eyewash from a green bottle. the next 3 days we navigated the dead arm of the loire, a basket weavers dream, a wadi of whicker saplings and ridged tracks where only land rovers dare to tread. we bucked in low box for miles alongside a wild river still running at spring levels. chub who haven't seen a fishing box since genevoix's day and carp rolling mid-stream who've never even seen a chub.

we chilled the wine in the landing net and laure gathered driftwood and built the fire in a rondel of stones. she sharpened roasting sticks from saplings and we ate grilled sausages and baked spuds. the sun came out and bomber harris spotted the smoke and sent faith, hope & charity in jospehine's montgolfiers as i trotted for dace in an evening feed.

came home to cold rain and dropping temperatures, the pit carp on autumn pay, only turning up for piece work on night shift now. took a hit-and-hold leather from under the trees on penelope pit in a big wind the other night, but blanked on the town pit after running into fellow poachers at midnight, fording the margins with buckets and nets, crayfish mafia as suprised to see me as i was to see them. a man and his 2 sons, an upbringing to save the world from your cider mutants. we swapped notes and passed like herons in the night back to our business. there were carp shelling the margins like lazy artillary from the ridge, but nothing on target.
still on photographic ration pack: the good camera turned up 3rd time lucky off ebay but with the wrong battery. former good one came back from kid's summer camp broken beyond repair, and the cheap substitute which took the above is no more: it went for 10 euros at a boot sale in the rain. i'll be sending in sketches of my fish, chalk outlines on the murder mat.

first parsnips on the bird table


Nelson's Blood


poacher's pond looks a goer, well worth getting on a lysander but don't wait for me, get in the reeds and get the eels in. i could be over in the autumn but the big push might be in the spring. must be a few wildies laid up in the silt, too. perfect for corn on a size six. after bushy park i took flight up the A11 to north norfolk, big skies, wide marshes, long shingle beaches and ancient oak woods. village after village with one pub and a pond full of crucians. bookshops and barrels of ale. grass growing down the middle of the road, colonies of sparrows. stayed for three days and mapped estate lakes for the winter, climbing red brick walls and taking the back roads. yellow corn fields against black skies, thunder storms on the beach, driftwood fires and mackerel boiled in a bucket. drank nelson's blood in burnham thorpe, then to the beach at cley in the dusk to take mackerel on a single spoon, the sniper's supper, the one eyed admiral's feast.

lady hamilton on the birdtable


Saturday, 18 August 2007

Max Roach, January 10th 1924 - August 16th 2007

The Mighty are falling, and you gotta pay your respects, even if we are reading more like Caught By The Reaper of late.
No words, just music. This is the one I’ll be playing today….

Down in Cornwall at the moment. Got two days on old china clay pits tomorrow and Monday. Old boy swears the Perch go 4 plus. Out for lobs tonight, will report back.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Tony Wilson, Factory, Manchester

very sad news this.

I was told of Tony’s passing on Friday night and he’s hardly left my thoughts since.

It wasn’t a surprise, he had been ill for sometime and I was told recently that he was coming to the end. Still shocked me mind.

I knew Tony and I liked him very much. I worked for him for a while. I had a company called “Capersville” that handled press for bands and labels. We looked after Factory from mid '88 - 1992, starting with the Mondays best album “Bummed” , then New Orders best “Technique”. It was a great job. To be in Manchester so much at such a very special time for the city was a real buzz especially as I was hanging out with a lot of the folks who had made it happen.

I’d known about Factory since their first record was released, A Factory Sampler in 1978. I would have been sixteen. It was the time when the punk singles you were buying became post punk singles. I bought it, my mates bought it. We liked the stickers and the sleeve. I wasn’t sure how much I liked the music but, you know, it was interesting.

I followed Factory forever and that was pretty much always my feeling towards their records. The Distractions; YES. Joy Div; OF COURSE; ESG brilliant; I loved the Life 7”; that great run of club records around “82 (Marcel King / Yashar / 52nd St / Quando Quango); “Everything’s Gone Green, Ceremony, Temptation….shit, I even liked The Stockholm Monsters. Plus a lot of yeah whatever. Still, it was always there and always evocative of it’s birthplace. I liked that.

I went to The Factory a couple of times. Went up from Nottingham to see The Human League in ’78 and also saw Dexy’s there for the very first time (supporting The Specials). It was cool, especially to a sixteen year old in a nightclub out of town for the first time. I saw Pete Shelley at the bar. It was fucking brilliant. We used to have to walk the streets all night or find an all night café before getting the first bus home in the morning.

I liked the atmosphere of the city. It was old and dark and imposing and it looked like everyone had left there years ago. Very melancholy.

A year or so later I thought of living there. I got a bus up and bought the local paper to look at jobs and flat prices. I walked around the city looking at posters on walls. THE FALL plus support LENNY BRUCE FILMS at The Kim Philby Club. That one sticks with me. what a cool name for a club. Who was Lenny Bruce? I’d heard the Fall and the jury was out, in fact I’d seen them the previous year and thought they were rubbish. Had to check out Lenny Bruce. Shit, I loved him. Read everything I could. Huge influence. . Wasn’t ready for the move mind, felt lonely already.

See, this was all Wilson. Him and his mates. The records, the Factory club. The Kim Philby was them too. So I got tons to thank that man for and that’s before he gave me a job.

The first time I met Tony was at my interview. It wasn’t really an interview but I didn’t realise that until I left the office.
86 Palatine Rd. An address I knew by heart. I had it on so many record sleeves. That’s where I went to meet Tony and fellow directors Tina Simmons and Alan Erasmus about the job.
Dave Harper took me. He was about to be the ex Factory publicist, on his way to RCA (Dave now co manages, Goldfrapp, The Shortwave Set, among others). He recommended me. Knew I loved the label and knew I really loved the Mondays.
So we got to to the office, said hello to Tina and Alan and waited two hours for Tony to turn up. It was OK for a while, sat looking at great posters (Leigh Festival) and rare records (“have you got Rob Gretton’s dental records here?”) but fuck he was late and I was a bit nervous.
So, he arrives, “Sorry I’m late darlings”, he says. Quite an entrance. Chucks his coat down, sits in front of me and proceeds to tell us all about his day. Whilst making a huge spliff. Which he smokes himself. He asks me about about myself, a little bit, then he’s off. The most unorthodox job interview imaginable. Fucking brilliant.
I so wanted the job. Couldn’t believe it was happening really.
On the way back in to town I asked Dave when he thought I’d hear anything. “What about? The job?”. “Yes”, “Oh, you’ve got that” he said.

So, that was the start of a very amazing adventure. During which I saw Tony in fantastic full effect on a regular basis.
He couldn’t shut up. Or keep still. He was full of ideas and theories and was determined that they had to happen.
He knew that the Mondays were important. As a band, Sean as a poet. For the city and for progress.
I’ll never forget being with him when he had just picked up the artwork ideas for the “Madchester” EP. “Madchester”, for fuck sake. He couldn’t contain himself. I think Pat & Matt at Central Station, Ryder cousins and artists responsible for Mondays artwork, had coined it, but he loved it. It was like a great big plot coming real. A fuck you, to everyone else, especially London. His dream come true. And it did.


Friday, 10 August 2007

Record Of The Week

I never listened to Edgar Jones Jones’s first solo album when it came out. I read all the reviews, I saw it on lots of the end of the year charts, people i love and trust kept raving about it. It was even nominated for the Mercury, wan’t it?
Still, i didn’t give it a chance. For some reason – even though I knew and had dug Edgar’s previous work in The Stairs and as a brief member of The Saint Etienne Live Experience – I was convinced that Edgar’s solo album was gonna sound just like The White Stripes. Why? Propbably just because everyone kept mentioning them in the reviews of Edgars album.
Almost a year later, listening to records pretty late one night in a friends house in Kensal Rise, the host just said ”have you heard this?”.
And he put it on. Jesus.
This was something else. It sounded like nothing around. It still does. And so does his new album.
From the Bo Diddley beat of The Way It Is to the rocksteady riddim of Mellow Down Pussycat and the new groupversion of that oustanding timeless groove of More That You’ve Ever Had. Who else would even dare to go so deep into some of the most beautiful and intense music created in New Orleans, in the Sly Stone mansion in the Beverly Hills, on the outskirts of Kingston or those fingeclickin’ doo-wop harmionies on a street corner in Chicago?
It’s about time Fats Domino, Mac Rebbenack and The Meters open an embassy in Liverpool.
As Nick Lowe recently said – anyone can Rock, but very few know how to Roll. We’ll do anything to find the Roll. M.I.A and Lethtal Bizzle both looked to The Clash to sample some Roll to their new albums.
Edgar ”Jones” Jones doesn’t have to sample anything. He already has the Roll flowing through every bone of his body.


Thursday, 9 August 2007

Cider With Mutants


your dawn dispatch took me jolting over the ruts down memory bus-lane, the summer dawns in a london park. there is no city scum more stiller or the need of a fish more depressingly urgent in the world than in a london park at 6.30am as the sun comes up to sour the stomach. and to come so close to going home for breakfast john. hooking dogs and ducks and having hyperactive commons fed on burger buns tailgate old mens' floats is a great part of the game and i'm pleased to see you've kept that tradition alive. you did very well to get a take first time on. i want to see your float as much as a fish on your mat.
bb's words are gospel here too, engraved on the rod butts. more If than but, i'm not a dawn angler. unless the wind is slapping the boards, i can't fish through that sense of diminishing hope you get after the early morning bubblers have dispersed and the fry huddle the margins for the day. your photo fixes that classic atmosphere beautifully. the rising sun sours my stomach and blears the eyes and suddenly the rest of the day has to be endured at half-mast. i like getting to the water after tea with the wind at full flight, an hour away from a nice shade, hopes building as the fish start showing and smelling out the groundbait. unlike the mornings, time is on your side and every blank hour means the next hour only brings you nearer that first pull on the tip. my whole life is based round avoiding other anglers & kids & dogs(no cider mutants in france) and that's another fact which makes evenings my domaine. the world disappears into a black hole till that little red light comes on...
the last two trips to penelope pit didn't pan out like that. the solitude was there but the fish were turning on sixpences. cast a yard wide and they won't play. yesterday afternoon i tried getting there before six when they give away their positions for the coming hours. only there was an air raid and i just got the anderson up in time. must have been bomber harris come back to finish off the snipers. a hundred thousand tons of ballbearings hit the water just as i got the second rod out and had my feet up:

h2o bombs or a leak from a lead research factory which even downed a few swallows attacking from below. the anderson was still leaking after the last air raid but i managed to get the pva saftely away so it didnt fall into enemy hands for a meltdown. trouble is, a straffing like that kept the fish in hiding, probably till dawn when you should've been there to take over the quill watch with a chick-pea. by midnight i was in full winter gear, 2 carl-forbes under fleece and thinsulate and gortex and dri-plus and just the gloves missing. i drove home scattering rabbits and knowing i should've put the right hand rod 3 feet to the right just before black-out.
with autumn just over the hill i'm taking one more 3-day trip with laure on the off-chance this friday, rods in back and mais in bucket, over the loire & just beyond, before watching the local leisure waters empty of their campers and become fishable in solitude again after august 15. this is your cue, of course. i've given up trying to get bob over to france. i've added one intriguing little water to the list. this one is half a mile down the lane from me, a poaching job, an acre of rush fringed pool owned by some parisian git who comes for 2 hours a year just to walk his dog round it for ten minutes then phone up the garden care to cut the brush back and mow the grass. this could be the lost moat from roger deakin's garden. i've long thought of poaching it, thinking it maybe a rudd haven. so i sat by it the other night at sunset to see how the land lay, seeing as the pond is visible from the lane(following spy-photo taken mid afternoon in drive by shooting):

as the moon rose red, so did the carp. double or quits. i'm putting in the mais for a week down by those rushes where even bomber harris wouldn't find me after dark. the dummy run on that red moon night was accomplished with avon wrapped in a groundsheet and done up with bale twine, worms in pocket. twice had to throw the rod in the ditch and whistle on my way down the lane as the local farmer stopped to shake hands and inevitably said: taking a stroll? ten minutes with silver paper and a size 10 in the margins produced a little rudd. i'm thinking of putting an dead rudd eel rod out too. something tells me there's an elephant's trunk or a teenage mutant swimming round this place. what do you think? worth getting on a lysander?

black out drapes on the bird table


Sawdust Specimen Hunters


finally made it down to bushy park yesterday, to the leg of mutton. left home at half five and was on the water by half six. an august mist coming off the bracken and the water like a stew. carp all over the place. the sun hot even at seven. i fished chick pea on a goose quill that john richardson made - copper wire and all. think the carp wanted to take the float more than the bait. got plenty of liners. was tempted to fish on the top but there wasn't a ripple in sight. just good to sit by the water and drink tea. by ten the wind had got up and the fish had gone down. i switched to a leger - 1/4 ounce arlesley and long tail and had storming take. back-winding for jesus, bottle top butt-ringer. a good fish, a common probably set off down the other end of the pond running the clutch. not wanting it to cross the lines of the two old boys fishing next to me i clamped down and the hook pulled. that was it for the rest of the day. the only unhooking i got to do was taking a size 4 out of a dog's jaw - a discarded link tied to an 1 ounce lead. the owner was fairly sanguine when he had every right to be furious. despite the legion of rules the baliff didn't show up and by the time i packed up it felt like shooting apples in a bucket - a cheap fairground ride. i committed the cardinal sin of staying beyond midday and the pond filled up with kids on holiday - sawdust specimen hunters developing boilie related psycosis, name dropping the big carp in the heron and teenagers out of their heads on cheap cider. i vowed not to go out of the house for a week and sit in the garden reading bb - confessions of a carp fisher. he had it right when he said, 'early morning and late evening will find your carp addict abroad - during the midday hours he is not visible, having left the waterside. so then after a long apprenticeship, he takes upon himself something of the character of the carp - he is most active at sunrise and sunset, and the midday hour knows him not'. i'll be back there over the coming weeks but the midday curfew will be observed. i just wanted to fish but the place i should have fished was really the moat in roger deakin's garden. i remember my visit to his house in eye in suffolk a few years ago. the moat was like a medieval stew pond. you could have fished it forever and blanked for eternity. it would have been paradise. he left the house unlocked and we went inside - i was with his friends paul and sarah - the kettle was still on the stove and there was an unfinished manuscript on the table. probably the book that's just been published. there was an abandoned railway carriage in the garden. no sawdust specimen hunters, no teenage mutants, no dog snares. nobody at all.

a dream of solitude on the bird table


Monday, 6 August 2007

Penelope Pitstop

commiserations that blighty has its foot in its mouth again and your chub get the knock-on. all the more reason to go bushy tailed down to the heron pond where it's all mouth in margins when it rains, bob reckons. and i should've guessed dcarl-forbes wanted those copper fittings for his tench rod and not his home-perm salon. you're right, he was a man after my own heart. his "small stream fishing" was meant for my childhood on the kent ditch.
i write in haste to get back to the swim pictured below:

i call it penelope pit because it's a scruffy ex-ballast hole about 12 acres beside a route nationale like whacky races. full of neglected carp because the small town the other side of this 24hr lorry race is all but underwater itself, in a contained way, with a canal, the river and about 10 other pits all more conducive to french leisure angling. it's like bomber harris missed the V2 launchers and left 20 holes at random which filled up with water from a standpipe leak, one pît for every street, fishing under the streetlamp instead of bouncing a ball off the wall. penelope pit is free and unpatrolled so i can fish undetected several hours after dark. when lorries come off the roundabout i light up like a roman candle for two seconds in the glare but the fish are used to it. these are dexie's midnight runners. the one below gave me one bleep at 12 by the church clock in a deep margin the other night. called it i-leeny:

photo quality has hit an all time low since laure's 11yr old girl took the good camera to holiday camp and i had to buy a cheap 20 quid 1mega-pixel stand-in at the supermarket on the way fishing, 3 battreries per shot. you can see i've got the carl-forbes roll-on up to my neck. fish might've gone 25. i've ordered 2 proper cameras off ebay recently and both were knicked in the post. got a refund and ordered a third. in the meantime, expect carp that look like holiday snaps from dan dare's paradise lake on mars.

mutley on the bird table


Roger Deakin

In praise of... Roger Deakin

Monday August 6, 2007
The Guardian

A cool, damp British summer, of grey skies, floods and high humidity, has been kind to gardens and wild plants, if not to farmers or householders in the north and west of England. Hedges and trees have sprouted in profusion, a sight that would have pleased Roger Deakin, an individualist, environmentalist and writer, whose book Wildwood has recently been published.

Deakin, who died last year of a brain tumour, is much missed. But his spirit will live on in his two distinctive books: Wildwood and its predecessor, Waterlog, a narrative of wild swimming across Britain. To read his descriptions of swimming in rivers and ditches - from the Helford river in Cornwall to the backwaters of East Anglia - is to feel the sharp cut of fresh water and the smell of wet vegetation, what Deakin called his "frog's eye view" of the world. He wrote, as few naturalists do, of mankind not as an enemy of nature but as part of it, a creative (and in recent times sadly destructive) force.

In Wildwood (which is not the easiest of books to read) he describes woodworkers and foresters, as well as forests. He also had a special tie to the land on which he lived, in Suffolk, an intense localism that led him to help found the charity Common Ground. His writing can thrill, as it did in one memorable description of nocturnal waters: "In the night sea at Walberswick I have seen bodies fiery with phosphorescent plankton striking through the waves like dragons." After reading that, who would not want to swim out under the stars?

(see also;

Cake, Death and A Requiem For One Of The Greats

Lee Hazlewood, an Obituary and Record Guide
  • Taken from New York Night Train

  • Yesterday we lost one of post-war America’s coolest, most prolific, and secretly important pop artists/composers/producers. While Lee Hazlewood will perhaps always be best remembered for his work with Nancy Sinatra, writing and producing “These Boots Were Made For Walking” as well as their hit duet “Some Velvet Morning,” to his growing cult, which definitely includes me and a number of my friends and acquaintances, Lee Hazlewood is an everything man of pop music - up there with Phil Spector, Brian Wilson, and David Axelrod in terms of visionary production, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, and Leonard Cohen in poignant songwriting, and Scott Walker, Johnny Cash, and Serge Gainsbourg in distinctive delivery.

    I had the good fortune of seeing the man speak at an Anthology Film Archives presentation of his films about a decade ago that featured a documentary about his Las Vegas stint with Nancy, a collection of videos from his under-rated and flawless Cowboy in Sweden album, and an odd collection of late 1970s videos in which he interpreted the songs of Harry Chapin. He showed up wearing cowboy boots with his beautiful younger wife and blatantly disregarded the theater’s request that he not smoke. A short man with a big voice, Lee was everything in person that you would have expected from his recordings – a heroic rebel, a friendly mensch, and a badass in general.

    And this charming combination of contrarianism, humanism, and cool, when combined with his brilliant aesthetics and poetic imagination, are exactly what distinguishes Hazlewood from the greatest generation… of contemporary pop. His work, a synthesis of the rustic and the urbane, chock full of signifiers of both high art and populism, evolved across the years through his battles with the music industry – remaining, for the most part, give or take a Chapin cover, uncompromising, unique, and even timelessly hip all the way up until his self-conscious swan song Cake or Death last year.

    There are a number of documents of Hazlewood’s early career as a producer and songwriter that are well worth checking out. Born in Oklahoma, and raised primarily in Texas, after serving in Korea, and DJ-ing on Armed Forces Radio, he wound up in Phoenix where he wasn’t only a disc jockey, but started writing and producing tracks for his own Viv Records imprint. Sanford Clark’s 1955 country hit "The Fool" not only exhibits Hazlewood’s trademark work in the echo realm, but also hints at his ability to throw together a melodramatic pop song early on. In the later 1950s you hear Hazlewood’s unseen hand in the sound of the super-reverbed-out guitar tone of Duane Eddy (literally in a grain silo). The success of Eddy’s “Rebel Rouser” made Hazlewood a bit of a name in the industry and brought a young Phil Spector to Phoenix to check out his game. Some of Spector’s earliest productions wound up on the label he co-founded with Coaster’s manager Lester Sill, Trey Records, and both were early partners in Spector’s Phillies imprint. As Spector’s star rose, his mentor’s fell.

    Despite a lack of recent commercial success in his productions, Mercury funded
    Hazlewood’s first solo album, Trouble is a Lonesome Town (1963) – a sort Western take on Our Town bristling with rustic narration. The next year found him scraping the pop charts a couple of times with the singles "I'm a Fool" and "Our Time's Coming." His next albumN.S.V.I.P. (1965) was yet another surprisingly likeable portrait of a small town’s grotesques.

    During this period he recorded Dino, Desi and Billy, including Dean Martin and Desi Arnaz’s kids, wrote Dean Martin’s stellar hit “Houston” (with the line “I’m so hungry when I walk I squeak”), and reached the commercial pinnacle of his career writing and producing the Nanci Sinatra’s mega hits "So Long Babe" (1965), "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" (1966), and her
    duet with her papa "Somethin' Stupid.” While these productions amounted to some of the better pop music of its time, the quality solo material he recorded in these prolific years exceeded them all.

    In addition to Friday’s Child (1966) the next couple of years saw the release of two albums that introduced the Hazlewood’s golden age of cinematic, highly orchestrated, extremely stylized Western-tinged pop, Very Special World of Lee Hazlewood (1966) and Lee Hazlewood-ism: Its Cause and Cure (1967). The baroque arrangements are courtesy of session guitarist Billy Strange, who later went on to produce the Partridge Family Album and many other sweet delights. These two classics were only the beginning of an artistic winning streak.

    A Nancy Sinatra B-side from this period, the duet with Lee, “Some Velvet Morning,” became a flip-over hit sensation - resulting in Hazlewood’s brightest moment in pop culture, an album that is universally regarded as one of the best albums ever pressed on wax, the million-plus seller, Nancy and Lee (1968). Creating an odd intersection of the lush crooner pop he was producing, the country vocal stylings of his roots, the beat literature on his mind, and the surreal psychedelic pop of its time, all bounced through his trademark echo, this unforgettable collection includes a number of other rubies for which Hazlewood's typically best remembered - including "Sand,” "Summer Wine," “Greenwich Village Folk Song Salesman,” and “I've Been Down for So Long (It Looks Like up to Me).”

    The quirky yet patchy next one, Love and Other Crimes (1968), includes a couple of exceptional somber classics "Pour Man” and "Forget Marie." Then, once again working with a gorgeous blonde celebrity, but with less success, Hazlewood's excessively baroque The Cowboy and the Lady (1969) features the fine “Sleep in the Grass.”

    After this bit of a lull, our hero moved to Sweden and entered the 1970s with some of his finest hours on record – most of which weren’t pressed in the United States until Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley re-released them on his Smells Like Records imprint in the late-1990s. The first, the hazy masterpiece, Cowboy in
    (1970), doesn’t have a dinger in the bunch and includes the superior impressionistic flights “Pray Them Bars Away,” “Leather and Lace,” “Hey Cowboy,” “No Train to Stockholm,” and “For a Day Like Today.” Never has he sounded this good or had such perfect production – in terms of both utility and invention. A definite contender for his best work ever.

    Despite somewhat hokey spoken intros a‘la Trouble is a Lonesome Town and his homespun sense of humor, Requiem for an Almost Lady(1971) is his saddest hour on wax and another one approaching perfection. Hinting at a more sophisticated version of Barry Maguire or Mamas and Papas,Requiem includes “I’m Glad I Never,” “L.A. Lady,” and “I’ll Live Yesterdays.” Poet, Fool or Bum (1973) is another canonical near-perfect collection.
    They’re all good - the title track, "Heaven Is My Woman’s Love," “Kari,”, “Feathers,” “Nancy and Me,” “Wind, Sky, and Sand, etc. plus covers of Leonard Cohen’s “Come Spend the Morning” or Tom Waits’ “Those Were Days of Roses” ("Martha").

    Hazlewood had a number of other albums but after this point I get a bit lost on his catalog. While he seldom
    performed live, and is truly one artist I regret missing, he appeared with Nancy on her 1995 comeback tour. He also made a pair of lovely final albums - the eclectic oddball Farmisht, Flatulence, Origami, ARF!!! Me...(1999) and last year’s and Cake or Death (2006).

    Lee knew that he had cancer, was still smoking, was ready to go, and had an incredibly philosophical outlook in interviews from the last couple of years. Let's use his death as an opportunity to go back through all of his outstanding catalog and explore his many avenues we’ve yet to travel... Let's also use his life as an example of uncompromising artist who not only
    managed to find a wealth of adventure, experience, and even happiness in this world, but also of one of the rare birds who persevered and continued to produce vital work until the end - dignity intact.

    Jonathan Toubin
    Soul Proprietor
  • New York Night Train
  • So, They Can Be Caught...

    Jakub cracked it. 9 1/2lb. What a fish . Doubtless, never before caught. Been pretty hard over there thus far this season. I've had five visits and it's just Bream. Bloody big uns though. Smallest in at just under seven. More anglers on there this season. The word is out but can see the frustration kicking in. There are great Tench in there too. A fella had three last week at, 4, 5 and 6. Still, my boys have sharpened up their skills. In the patience and practical departments. Danny caught a 12ozs Rudd last week and coped with it himself, that was cool. Joining us all up to "The Barnes & Mortlake Angling Preservation Society". Only want the badge for me parka.
    They got a nice, small pond over Barnes, plus a park lake Feltham way and a stretch of either the Brent or the GUC in Brentford. The pond is pretty (see "Bloke Of The Day"), with what they call an "extension" that is dark and windy and snaggy and totally Perchy. Good obstacle course as part of the boys training.

    Got a visit to the Hampshire home of the Crucians planned for tomorrow but have to cross the Surrey border near Guildford and fear that foot & mouth could have put paid to that. Have to find an alternative as I'm going with my mate Steve who hasn't fished for a few years and he's fit to burst so "another time" isn't an option. Kids came along, got busy at work, then fell foul of pissed off soon to be ex wife of mate who apparently "don't give a shit if some of that tackle is yours, it doesn't leave the garage 'til I fucking say so". And I thought it was his boozing that got him a new address...

    Leave the Hawley tickets with me but remind me again closer to the date.

    cheers for now


    The Carl Forbes Kent Copper Ferrule Roach Perfection


    thanks for the despatch. the ghost of david carl forbes has cast its shadow over the whole week with giant roach swimming down the flooded streets. they rescued a shoal at worcester cricket ground. have you still got the chit dcf signed? did it make it onto the wall of fame in the caravan? he's a hero in all senses, a man after your own heart - sturdy says of him 'he cared passionately about such things as the desirability of organic farming and over fishing the sea by ruthlessly efficent deep sea fishing. his son carl recalls that he learned a lot about the desirability of natural farming methods whilst going fishing with his father who knew at least one local organic farmer with land adjacent to the edenbrook in kent. in these convictions he was perhaps somewhat ahead of his time'. perhaps your barn is not as empty as you think.

    great shot of your land-rover, built for road trips. landscape like the lea valley before and after the olympics. you serious about buying the boat shed? shame you didn't meet my scouse mate tony crosbie at emma peel lake. he lives in japan and has just named his new born son elvis liverpool crosbie. probably feeds him on boilies from a vending machine as well. how's the 600 page edit coming along? i'm trying to clear the decks and buy myself some time to fish in august and september. bushy is on hold until my new permit comes through - which will hopefully be monday and now the foot and mouth which threatens to shut everything down. was up at woodys of wembley last night dropping off a couple of rods for restoration and they had a great 8 ft carp stalking rod - split cane, intermediates - benwoods of london for a oner. you ever heard of them? they're a new one on me. was sorely tempted by the rod but cash tight as ever. might have to go back there.

    in my search for the history of the thames professionals mark the zim put me onto some footage he shot. it's amazing - bream like you've never seen before - go to you tube and type in 'underwater thames weirpool'.

    fire on the horizon, dead cow on the bird table