Monday, 29 October 2007

..a state of mind.

So, we’ve made the point that it’s about being "Caught By The River". It’s a state of mind. A very personal moment…
Take a look at the post below this. It sums it up.
When I first listened to “Miss America”, everything stopped. It was just released and it happened to a few of us, not many mind, not enough. It really did come out of nowhere. Chris says it better below but I want to say how made up I am to have Chris write this for us.
He was, obviously, one of the few. When the record came out he was writing for the Melody Maker, a weekly music paper. I was a music publicist. We did some work together and we drank beer together. We talked late and long about records and stuff. We talked about ‘Miss America”. Since then Chris has continued to write about music and has been, consistently, one of music journalisms best, most interesting and entertaining writers.
I saw Chris a couple of weeks ago, at a Shack show. I told him about the site and threw out the suggestion of the piece. It was in my in box this morning. It means a lot.
If you have the record, go put it on and have a read. If you haven’t, go get it. The Rough Trade stores in London will have it I’m sure. Otherwise it’s up on Amazon.

Mary Margaret O’Hara’s "Miss America”

“Every time I told a friend I’d called it Miss America, they laughed”, said Mary Margaret O’Hara in another lifetime, in another place, to another me. She’d made this album, in Toronto and Wales. It was 1988. She spent about four years working it out (when she wasn‘t painting); about two weeks recording it. It wasn’t like anything else. It was Al Green and Patsy Cline and W B Yeats and yet none of these. It was soul and blues and country but it wasn‘t. It was a war against cliché. It made feelings felt.

The kind reviews said “A constellation is born” and “as deep a shade of delirium as I‘ve heard since Astral Weeks“. The unkind ones said, “Dementia’s not something you expect of a singer-songwriter”. I didn’t just make that up: they really said that. The day after meeting Mary I went to see Niagara Falls and although it was pretty good - I imagine it probably still is - it didn’t have half the impact Miss America had on me. Mary said, “I have a long history of being told I have no rhythm, and of people saying they’ve heard chickens sing better.”

Remember, this was 1988, before it all went dead.

She was one of seven children. Her sister Catherine is a successful comic actress; you’ve seen her in movies and stuff.

Miss America gave you something to cry about. It wondered why it is that as soon as you know you’re happy, you can’t be happy. Its body was in trouble, but it lifted you up by insisting you would be loved again on a new day.

“Electric”, she told me, explaining how her mind worked. “Busybody”, she added. Then she said, “Buzz”. She was better than articulate; she was really funny.

There were unforgettable, nerve-jangling live shows, which threatened to implode while her voice tried to correct things it hadn‘t got wrong. You couldn’t look away. She was the underdog, the outsider. There was almost a sort of career - the thing spawning monsters with Morrissey, the Christmas E.P., the Apartment Hunting soundtrack eleven years later. Effectively, though, she was gone like blue smoke on a lake. I expect she’s happy away from any kind of glare. But the legend feeds on this one hairline fracture of a record, this wild-eyed absent-minded priestess, this Crazy Jane‘s emerald, this jazz poem, this tactile prayer for something beyond love.


  • youtube
  • Saturday, 27 October 2007

    The Summer is Over (Clocks Go Back Tonight).....

    Louise Wolfson, antique clock restorer

    There's happiness in clocks. It's to do with restoration, repainting, keeping an old thing alive. I didn't take a course. I learned on the job about the types of movement in clocks, the cogs, and how to diagnose a clock, how to listen to a tick. You can tell various things when you hear an uneven tick - it means there's something wrong. I don't particularly care for quartz. A wind-up clock is a living thing. The tick you hear today is the same tick someone in the past heard. It's not a recording. It's an organic sound. Plenty of people don't like a tick. There are people out there who might prefer silence. But I think it's hypnotic. A good, even tick makes me happy.

    Restoration is bringing something back to life. Keeping the past alive is a joyous feeling, because you're in the past in a way, and intimate with it. Inside a clock, you've got quite delicate gongs with tonalities that are very pleasant to the ear. It's never a harsh sound. Different clocks belong in different rooms: grandfather clocks in the living room, cuckoos in the kitchen.
    Clocks aren't my only source of happiness. I write country songs, paint and walk in the countryside. I've got my mum and brother. The passing of time is not something that makes my looks any better, so that is a little unfortunate and makes me unhappy. My wise grandfather said the secret to happiness is not to do what you like but to like what you do. I like what I do. Every eight days you have physically to turn the keys of an antique clock, so in a way you're interacting with time itself. You're switching on time like a magician.

    Interview by Craig Taylor
    Saturday October 27, 2007
    The Guardian

  • The Guardian
  • Thursday, 25 October 2007

    May Day

    May Day - May Day. Our new landscape-format poster shows a glimpse of the rich range of local distinctiveness we stand to lose if we do not answer this call for help. Blandness and uniformity in town and country are the indicators of a deeper malaise as nature and culture struggle under habitat loss and careless developement. A2 (420 x 594mm).

  • common ground
  • Fishing in Middle Earth


    As we stepped out of the plane in Stockholm Arlanda, we were greeted by a beaming sun, and happy user friendly clouds, a lungful of silver air….. After many months of smog filled endurance my thankful lungs breathed a sigh of relief. We were back in the land of Volvos, slow driving, pine veneer, public efficiency, and overpriced beer. All of these elements make the land of the long tall blonde worth more than 5 minutes of any sane individuals time, but me and my long suffering brother were here for the fishing…Tens and tens of thousands of vast crystal clear glacial lakes, rivers of burnished mercury, mirrored mountain tarns- all stuffed full of fish. Silver fish, spotty fish, psychedelic fish (the artic char), mean green fish, stripy fin –fish etc etc… All of this for mostly under a tenner a day, not a stock pond pasty in sight, and most definitely no “out and out pellet waters”. After a uneventful flight to Ostersund (look it up) we were met by my good friend, the young Mr. Digby, and his wife, Mariann. In contrast to my last visit in snow -bound march we would not be staying in their “Stuga” (glorified log hut).After a bit of local research,Tom (Digby) had decided it would be a wise choice for us to reside in the “Ammerans Fiske camp” a purpose built location specially designed as a wilderness quarantine camp for fishing junkies such as ourselves.. As I had already spoken to our host for the next 14 days, the ubiquitous Mr. Ajax and discussed tactics and terms, I had high hopes and expectations. After a brief stop in town to stock up on provisions we arrived in the camp. Nestling in the base of the valley where the smaller Ammeran River meets the mighty Indalsalven River.
    The first impression was that we had made the right choice. In a clearing in the forest, slap bang next to the river lay a modest farm house (red pine wood)complete with numerous (red pinewood) outhouses and the camp itself. The red pine theme had been dispensed with to be replaced by a collection of 5 huts (plain pine) whose appearance wouldn’t be out of place in a Nordic take on Hansel & Gretel. To the clamorous sound of baying hunting dogs, we swiftly un-packed our mountain of luggage into our designated Hansel hut nr 2. Then it was straight into the farmhouse to meet the mysterious Mr. Ajax… Birger (pronounced somewhere between Borg and burger) turned out to be a warm, gregarious, highly knowledgeable mountain man, with a shared addiction to fishing and all things Nordic and natural. We had already made a rough, if some what ambitious plan as to what we wanted to fish for during the next 14 days, and so we discussed with our Nordic yoda the logic/lunacy of what we wanted to achieve - my special need of tangling with one of the long ,green fighting machines that inhabit the depths of the Indalsalven ( “Indus –Elvefin”) After a lengthy discussion, we concurred that a short expeditionary boat trip on the river would be in order to investigate likely looking spots …. And so to bed.
    I awoke the next day after a silent night sleeping the sleep of the travel weary, and stumbled out of my stuga, to explore the surroundings and attend to matters urgent. The weather was again doing its fluffy clouds, happy sunshine bit, but with an added autumnal freshness. The river was a stones throw away, so I went down to the waters edge and un-ceremoniously stuck my head in to wake myself up… yep, all vital signs functioning. After an artery hardening breakfast, we meet up with Birger to explore the Indalsalven River. Surrounded by steep sided hills covered in semi-deciduous forest, touched by the first golden hues of autumn, our first view of the Indalsalven was breathtaking. That serenity can go hand in hand with danger was made all too apparent to me as Birger casually pointed out the jagged point of a barely submerged rock. We had just reached the point where the Ammeran River flows into the Indalsalven. Our eyes, confirmed what we could see on the echo sounder – a jagged drop falling steeply to 18 meters could spell disaster for the unwary….

    to be continued

    Robin Adair

    Wednesday, 24 October 2007

    Maggots as Fishing Baits part three

    Hey Jeff,

    Here it is. The machine is located behind the Shell station in Brandesburton in the badlands of East Yorkshire. This was taken 2002 and as far as I know it's still there. It's where the local heads stock up before heading to the nearby Hornsea Mere for mega bags of roach and bream.

    Pic Credit David Titlow



    Letters From Arcadia

  • click here for the latest LETTER FROM ARCADIA, a regular correspondence between angling's two most original contemporary writers...
  • Tuesday, 23 October 2007

    The Nearest Faraway Place.

    I’ve just finished reading a book. ‘The Wild Places” by Robert McFarlane. I really enjoyed it. I found it comforting. It’s basically the journal of a guy, 30, English, who sets about looking for (and sleeping in) “wild places” in the UK. Woodlands, mountains, coastlines. It’s reflective and brilliantly written and his quest is inspirational.
    This came after reading Roger Deakin’s “Wildwood, a Journey Through Trees” which came after his earlier book “Waterlog”. Both great reads, especially “Waterlog” (a frogs eye view of the country. He swims throughout the land).
    Before those books I read “England Have My Bones”, which is not by Morrissey, but the journal of a country gent, T H White, from 1934. It’s mostly about him having flying lessons. He is very funny, though I’m not sure how intentional that is. At times I was reminded of the country pub sketches in The Fast Show and wondered if Paul Whitehouse had read it.
    “England Have My Bones” I came to via Chris Yates. For those that don’t know, Chris Yates is an angler. A very good one at that. Good because he really enjoys going fishing and is also very good at expressing why that is, via his books (check “Casting At The Sun” Medlar Press) and a, now rather old but never dated, TV series called ‘A Passion For Angling” that is a must have on DVD (see links). I read that this was Chris’s favourite book so I found a copy.
    These books referenced other books. I made a note and bought some of them. So, I close The Wild Places and what do I pick up? Is it “Findings” by Kathleen Jamie or is it “Between The Woods and The Water” by Patrick Leigh Fermor? Is it “Beechcombings” by Richard Mabey, a book (more trees) that has just come out to great accolade in the broadsheet press?
    All of these promise great things and all no doubt have the power to take me out of the inner city places where I spend the most of my time (i.e. when I’m not fishing or on holiday). Shepherds Bush (home) and Soho (work) claim me. I’ve been in both for a long time now and I love them. But, I need to escape, even if it’s just temporarily, and these books allow that to happen.
    But, I feel in need of a change. I want to sense the city.
    A mate of mine, John Niven, is about to have his first novel published. It’s out in January. I just got a copy and I read the first chapter the other night, in a cab home after a couple of pints. It’s set in the music business, which is my line of work, and the central character seems to be a metaphor for the evil, self obsessed cliché purported to walk through it’s halls of shame. I’d already had it described to me as making “American Psycho look like kindergarten” and just one chapter in I get that. Shit, it’s brutal. John’s a real good writer. He had a book published earlier this year, a novella I think you’d call it, ‘Music From Big Pink”, a fictional account of a guy hanging around Woodstock with The Band during the making of that great album. Really recommend it. This one, I’m saving. The time just isn’t quite right.
    But, the dark side is calling and I’ve just bought “The Devil’s Home On Leave” by Derek Raymond, for me the greatest London Noir writer of all time. No one comes close.
    It’s the second of the so called “Factory Series”, originally published in 1984 and just reprinted by Serpents Tail.
    This is more like where my usual reading matter goes. I love Jim Thompson, Charles Willeford, some James Crumley and on the lighter side, a lot of Elmore Leonard’s books, and if I think I’m gonna need redemption at the end of it my timing is good. I’m fishing my old haunts of the River Trent, this weekend, with family.


    Greetings From Argentina

    I took it in this amazing tackle shop in Villa Gessell in Argentina. I couldn't speak a word of Spainish and the guy there spoke no English but through the international language of fishing I managed to buy three Paternoster Rigs, some Aberdeen No 6 hooks and a bunch of fresh bait.


    Saturday, 20 October 2007

    Waterlog - a quick history

    Despite popular myth, Waterlog has been around in many guises since the splendid (and highly collectable) first issue, published on January 8th, 1855 (as Waterlogge). This makes it without doubt the longest running angling magazine of all time. Founded by a pair of itinerant drifters and shad anglers (only one was ever fully identified), the magazine grew from humble beginnings to dominate the angling scene of the late nineteenth century.

    It stayed in the same format for over ninety years, when, with government blessing, it was re-launched during the Second World War in 1943, in a new paper-saving style. It certainly kept the home fires burning!

    By 1964 Britain was booming and it was on November 7th that Waterlog resurfaced in new clothes yet again. This time though, the name was changed (in an obvious and pathetic attempt at gaining more market share) to Waterlog Gazette & Sea Angler.
    It was a disaster, and the magazine limped on until January 1969, when it was rescued from ignominy by an unknown financial backer and published for the first time in colour. For the next twenty-seven years it followed the downward spiral of ‘how-to’ magazines flooding the market and eventually lost its way. The editor left rather hurriedly in 1994 to an ‘unknown African destination’, taking with him any remaining profits and the company secretary.
    So, in 1996, just when the magazine had all but disappeared (along with the burbot), two more itinerant drifters picked it up out of a ditch. Then, with a dedicated, skilled, and dare I say, penniless band of helpers and contributors, they once more set Waterlog on the very long, very damp road to angling immortality. And if you believe that, you’ll believe anything . . .

    Autumn 2007 issue (no. 61), with contributions from John Andrews and Dexter Petley, is out now.

  • subscriptions
  • Friday, 19 October 2007

    Thursday, 18 October 2007

    Maggots as Fishing Baits cont'd


    on the subject of maggot vending machines, the anglers' space-ship, a life saver. i am putting together a national map of their former whereabouts. important government work etc. official secrets act. the manufacturer's name for them was 'rotomatic'. they were launched in the sixties and promoted by sid james who put maggots in barbara windsor's knickers as a courting ritual. rotomatics offered everything from maggots to lobworms. there was one on tollington park road in finsbury park and i had an e mail from somebody who saw one in southend. they were invented by a company in eastbourne because the sunday trading laws meant tackle shops were always shut on sundays and saturday workers could often not get bait. some shops got round the law by opening up and selling apples and sneaky half pints under the counter. a fully working one is worth about three hundred notes but is essentially priceless. rumour has it sid james was buried with one.

    i kid you not.


    Tuesday, 16 October 2007

    The Magical World Of...

    "Write something about Shack for Caught By The River," asked Jeff many moons ago, and out of respect for the site, Jeff and the Head brothers I agreed immediately. Since then, nothing. I've been dry. The drought still isn't over. It's not Shack, it's me. I've written the piece so many times. In 1995 I was writing about Waterpistol for NME, imploring readers to seek out this true lost gem on Marina, sure that when people heard it there'd be universal agreement that this was what the world was waiting for, more so than Oasis or Blur or whoever. How could the universe not be seduced by those great, stoned, majestic melodies, by Mick Head plucking diamonds from the ditch? The world spun on, unaffected, but we, you and I, we knew. Since then, I've written profiles, bios, sleeve notes, album reviews and more about Shack, all the time trying to spread the word about Mick and John Head. Yet the magical world of the Heads remains an exclusive enclave, like Monaco, a tiny, underpopulated land where everyone is nevertheless wealthy. It feels like I've repeated this story too many times, about Mick wringing romance and poetry from everyday street hassles, about the lush, mystical power of their songs, about John's guitar, Mick's Voice, and, increasingly, John's voice too. What more could I say?

    "Write about the Heads rather than Shack," suggested Jeff. Good advice. I started thinking about the Pale Fountains, about my circumstances when they first hoved into view in the early '80s. Marooned in a foreign land - Paris, actually, but it may as well have been Beirut to this 14 year old Londoner - those early singles (Something On My Mind, Thank You, Unless, Start A War) literally kept me alive, doing a different emergency shift to those served by Dexys, The Jam, the Smiths, Joy Division, Fall, Orange Juice, Josef K. Maybe it was because, unlike all the other music I was devouring, none of the English boys at my school liked them. Girls, however, liked the Pale Fountains when I played them to them, which is always good, and a couple of French kids saw my Paleys badge at the bus stop and we started talking about music (it may not have been a bus stop, and it may not have been a badge, but, forgive me, I did make French friends via The Pale Fountains somehow).

    So those early Mick Head songs were my ambassadors at a time when diplomacy was otherwise failing me. Certainly more diplomatic than my clothes, hair or scowl, which ensured only harassment and fights. These Scouse kids who were sucking in Bacharach and Love and blowing out ornate, wistful pop in order to paint the streets of Kenny a different colour, were in turn enabling me to paint my own circumstances a brighter shade. I remember standing in the empty disco of a churning cross-channel ferry in early 1985, on the way back to London for a much needed intake of QPR, when Jean's Not Happening appeared on the video screen. I decided there and then that I needed some leather on my back. It still looks good:
  • Jean's Not Happening

  • My head swimming with nostalgia as I write, I went hunting for Pale Fountains to listen to. I came by the single for Thank You, something I'd presumed long lost. The sleeve depicts four young men messing around in boats on a sunny river, the scene pastoral, golden, dreamy, and light years from their routine heavy manners in Thatcher's Liverpool. Totally Caught By the River, in other words, even then.

    Shack have a best of, Time Machine, out now and play Bush Hall on Weds and The Hospital on Thursday. See you there.

    Ted Kessler

    For those who like The Wire and some Gris Gris with their R & B......

    NEW YORK (AP) — David Simon has made the streets of Baltimore famous with gritty television dramas such as "The Wire," "Homicide: Life on the Street," and "The Corner." Now he wants to take on the Big Easy.

    The next series he hopes to produce for HBO is about musicians reconstituting their lives in New Orleans, he told The New Yorker for its issue hitting newsstands Monday.

    Simon, whose dramas are known for their authenticity and detail, has been spending time there researching the music scene.

    "This show will be a way of making a visual argument that cities matter," Simon said. "'The Wire' has never done that. I certainly never said or wanted to say that Baltimore is not saving, or that it can't be saved. But I think some people watching the show think, Why don't they just move away?"

    A goal of the show will be to celebrate the glories of an American city, and "why we need to accept ourselves as an urban people," Simon said.

    "At the Macy's parade, when they show New York, they gotta get the dancers from Broadway shows out in the streets doing a kick line," he said. "In New Orleans the musicians are already in the streets."

    The fifth and final season of HBO's "The Wire" begins in January, this time focusing on layoffs at The Sun — where Simon once worked — and how newspapers fail to capture certain complex truths. Previous seasons of the acclaimed drama have featured drug dealers, struggling longshoremen, city politicians and inner-city students.

    The drama is actually about "the decline of the American empire" and the failure of postmodern institutions, Simon said. He is also working on an HBO miniseries called "Generation Kill," based on the 2004 book, about a Marine platoon in Iraq.


    While we are here, we should pay respects to Willie Tee, a real favourite musician / singer of ours and one of the New Orleans legends. Willie passed away last month.

    Wish I could put some music up here (we're working on it) but instead, trust me, and go find "Walkin' Up A One Way Street", "The First Taste Of Hurt" and "Teasin' Me".

    When I heard the news I reached for a record by someone else, the great Harold Battiste. Check "Me & Willie Tee" on his album "Next Generation" (it's up on U.S. webstores) . It's a killer slice of N.O. jazz from the mid '90's and a fitting tribute.
  • Willie Tee from the Times Picaynne

  • and from the UK Times
  • Monday, 15 October 2007

    Totally Caught By The River

    This "remark" was made by a Gentleman called Stephen Graham, in his book "The Gentle Art Of Tramping" (1923);

    "As you sit on the hillside, or lie prone under the trees of the forest, or sprawl wet - legged by a mountain stream, the great door, that does not look like a door, opens"

    It does indeed.

    (I came upon this in "The Wild Places" by Robert MacFarlane. A book I really enjoyed.)

    Sunday, 14 October 2007

    Maggots as Fishing Baits

    Browsing the web this morning, I came across this. I know that they used to exist but this is a pretty current site (last post 2005). Please let it be true.
  • Mag-It

  • Maggots as Fishing Baits

    "Show me maggots and I immediately think of fishing bait. A fly, specially bred as the parent of our fishing bait, lays its eggs on liquidised meat and fish. Five to ten days after hatching the maggots are drinking only liquids at which stage they pupate for 14 days. After the first day or so the pupae is of no use as fishing bait: it now floats rather than sinks.

    Development of the maggot can be retarded for up to six weeks by refrigeration. Hence English coarse fisherman can buy maggots (natural shade or coloured) from "Mag-it" vending machines:

    Cambridgeshire and Norfolk

    Essex, Hertfordshire and Suffolk

    Kent and Northants

    NB A link to suitable fishing sites for the areas served by these "Mag-it" 24 hour machines is on each page."

    So, you can't buy Beech Nut chewing gum or fags on the street anymore but you can still get the fishermans friend. Please, someone, send us a photo.

    Wednesday, 10 October 2007


    this one's for you. a cutting from the fishing gazette 29th june 1877:

    'the lakes of osterley park, were, by permission of the earl of jersey and the duchess dowager of cleveland netted on tuesday last for the purpose of increasing the stock of carp in the 'city' waters - the result of this netting was that 100 fine healthy fish were turned in the river at sunbury and 12 more at teddington'.

    i saw the descendent of one of these carp by the lilies opposite wilson's boathouse when i was last at sunbury. they are hunted by bivvied up afc wimbledon fans. i'll show you the haunts when we get punted up.

    saw 'control' last night at the everyman - not as great as i thought it would be - i had been looking forward to it for months. always the way i suppose. should have gone to the rio in dalston, more raincoats.

    my photos for the latest letter are upside down but i'm sure robin will right them.

    keep the faith


    Wednesday, 3 October 2007

    October In Particular

  • common ground

  • October the eighth ... ?

    Like September, October has moved along the order of months. It was the eighth month in the Roman calendar, but they later added some extra months over the winter period where there hadn't previously been any, so October moved to tenth, while confusingly keeping its 'eighth' name ...