Monday, 31 December 2007

Shadows & Reflections; Jeff Barrett

2007: Lots of good fishing. Having more confidence. Not necessarily catching more fish but realising that I do know what I'm doing.
Special company & memorable fish; Jan 3rd, the Kennet at Barton Court, Matt's 2 lb 9oz Perch. Happy New Year; The first visit to a lake in Hampshire, with Justin. Not really knowing what was in there and he caught a crucian within ten minutes. I like surprises like that; Jakub getting a carp out of Osterley Park lake in his first season fishing there. Not easy. His face was a picture (it’s up on here somewhere). A truly joyous moment; my Brother in law, Mike, putting me in the swim that gave me my first Barbel. The gesture of a gentleman. This had added resonance by it being from the Trent, the river of my childhood; Backgammon at dawn, in a caravan on the banks of the Dorset Stour with Andrew, back in July. Woken up by rain on the roof. It didn’t let up the whole day but Andrew was insistent he would catch a Barbel, from a cauldron below the weir. Top marks for attitude, but it wasn’t to be. I didn’t have his belief and following a tip I left the rapids for a (semi) sheltered bay where float fished lobworm gave me two perch at 1 1/2lb, my first ever at over a pound. I was soaked through and smiling;

With (John) Andrews of Arcadia and other good mates at The Old Mill at Aldermaston. The River Kennet. More good perch from the mill pool and an impatience to return; Carp into double figures for the first time. A common just under 11 and a mirror just under 12. Shame they were from a Colne Valley pit, next door to a recycling plant, and not from a haunted estate lake, but coming as they did after a 5lb tench it made for a cracking afternoon. A day on the Thames in Oxfordshire with my best mate Martin. His first day fishing since Punk. We caught Perch and Roach and I got Martin a rod & reel for Christmas. We went out yesterday and he was the only one of us that caught.

On reflection, I should be surprised at just how big a part of my life fishing has become. I mean, shit, I’m even writing about it. It’s funny. But, I absolutely love it and, as I hope you can deduce from the above, the time that I have with my mates and the experiences that we share, well, I just know that I am very lucky.
Fishing begat Caught By The River. Already another big part of my life. Starting something from scratch again feels just like it did with our record label all those years ago. The New. Thinking differently. Relishing the challenges. Even just learning how to work the Mac for things other than i tunes, e-mail and the internet has been fun. And the writing. I’ve still a way to go in the quality department but getting a lot of pleasure doing it and tons more from reading the contributions.

The way the site is evolving is amazing. I spent the first few months of the year rolling the name around my mind waiting for the definition to drop. From the moment that Andrew told me his great idea, which was that we should do a fishing website and that it should be called Caught By The River, I knew that he was on to something but I wasn’t sure what exactly. It started to come to me in April.
We were in Dorset. Wendy (my wife), our two boys and me. We were staying in a caravan on a site near to Christchurch. It was the Easter holidays and I wasn’t even supposed to be there. It was a three-day break for Wendy and the kids, I was expecting to be busy with work so planned to stay at home. Unfortunately, in the weeks prior to this, Wendy’s Mum had been very ill and she had to spend a lot of time at her parent’s home in Lancashire. It was a very sad period and when the short holiday came along it was much needed. I decided to join them. It was a time to be family.
Against all odds we got lucky. It was mid April, dressed up as July. It was warm and dry and sunny. The caravan was fine and the site was on the bank of the Stour. The Dorset Stour. A beat or three down from Throop. It was closed season so I couldn’t fish. But I could look and learn and dream about going back after June 15th. (As mentioned above, I did go back in July, with Andrew).

We would drink tea on the bank in the mornings, and then in the evenings, on returning from a day spent on the deserted beaches of Studland Bay we would take a bottle of wine and go sit and watch the water. It was a good place to be with loved ones and it provided me with the inspiration that I had been looking for. I lay on the bank and realised that, although, at that moment I was indeed Caught By The River, it was in fact a metaphor. It was how I FELT at that moment.
So, the “fishing website” became a reality. It wasn’t gonna be about rigs or records, it was gonna get straight to the point and deal with the feelings that you get from special experiences. You can read about fishing, either in the genius that is Letters From Arcadia or the daft, enthusiastic ramblings of us and our mates but you can also discover why certain records, books, film, art or, as in Ted’s “Shadows & Reflections”, football, have the power to stir a passion.
As Andrew mentions below, through the site we got to meet Chris Yates, a man we greatly admire. If you don’t know, he is an angler and a writer. The best. He has written many great books. Have a read. Go back to May, you’ll find the intro to his last book. If you like it, go buy “Casting At The Sun”. We spent an afternoon with Chris and it was very special. He is a man who still believes in magic. He’s got knowledge and stories and wisdom and he is happy to pass them on. Seeing him sat at the bar of the French House, our local, is a treasured picture. Chris is going to be writing something for us early in the New Year and is taking us fishing on a secret river. Unbelievable.
This year, there has been sadness in my family life and uncertainty in the music business but Caught By The River has been good for me. I hope it lasts forever.

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Shadows & Reflections; Music

This wasn’t the plan. It wasn’t even the question. We didn’t really want “lists”, we wanted thoughts, reflections, reminiscences on the special things that have happened this year. They have been brilliant too and I think, they give a real insight into the character of the contributors. I have written something about my Caught By The River moment, it will be up in a couple of days, but I got a bit carried away with the music so I think it’s best this runs separately.

Music; lots of Jazz. I’d banked it. Been deep sea diving for pretty much every other kind of music all of my life. But I banked Jazz. Nothing against it, just so much of it. Save it for later.
I’ve been dipping the last few years but this year was the big one. The one when I fell in love with Lester Young, especially “Pres & Teddy” (Verve), the Clifford Brown & Max Roach record (Verve), the Clifford Brown Memorial Album on Blue Note, Duke Ellington meets Coleman Hawkins on impulse, plus some great music from some great films; Miles Davis’ soundtrack to Louis Malle’s “Ascenseur Pour L’echafaud” (Fontana), Duke Ellington’s “Anatomy of a Murder” (my issue, Columbia / Legacy with a whole heap of great bonus tracks including some cool Duke dialogue), Quincy Jones’ “In The Heat Of The Night” (my version on Ryko as a double with his score for “They Call Me Mr Tibbs”) , Johnny Mandel’s great noir arrangements for “I Want To Live” (Ryko) played by The Gerry Mulligan Combo. All killers, all on heavy rotation. I did my homework and learned my Bill Evans from my Gil Evans. Both of whom were played a lot. I especially enjoyed Bill Evans' "Waltz For Debbie" and "Moonbeams".

I reckon that it’s Gil Evans who is responsible. Him, James Oldham and the Head Brothers.
It happened in a bar one night, of course it did. James played a fantastic piece of “what the fuck is this” music. “Where Flamingos Fly” he said. “Gil Evans”. Next thing, might have even been the next day, I hear that Shack (Mick & John Heads band, who I love) have called their new record “Between Miles & Gil”. Such a fucking cool title (with it’s “Forever Changes” ref too). Worlds collide and pennies drop. So, on goes Miles only this time I get it with Gil. Jimmy O sends me off to get “Out Of The Cool”, a record he writes so well about on these pages, the one that contains “..Flamingos..”, and boom, I got a habit.

Another reason for the Jazz could be down to my not being touched by much “new” music this year. I keep putting it down to age but I’m not sure it’s just that. To a degree, yes, of course. I mean, I’m not in the clubs any more and music radio doesn’t get a look in. But it is my living, so in my position I do listen, but,…….still, there are a few records that I’ve liked; the beautiful and mysterious “The Bairns” by Rachel Unthank & The Winterset (Rabble Rouser), took me a couple of plays and made me work a little. At first I thought that it was gonna be too trad folk and do my head in, but it worked it’s, not inconsiderable, magic and I really do not know how to define it. That is probably my record of this year.
Big surprise is the Robert Plant & Alison Krauss record, “Raising Sand” (Rounder). I’ve never been a fan of the bloke so when I was asked if I’d heard it I was kinda “why would I?”. But then, one afternoon, in the Rough Trade shop on Talbot Road, this big sound disoriented me. A warm, live, cavernous, haunting sound. Great drums. Rock ‘n’ Roll, kind of old time. Then this guy and this girl start to sing, together, and it’s good. And it’s them. So I bought it and I like it a lot. T Bone Burnette produced it really well.
Also, got a real surprise from the “Very Best Of Ethiopiques” set (Union Square). Soul, Jazz, Big Bands, Funk. From Ethiopia, ’69 – ’78. If I had been played it blind I would never have guessed the time or the place. That isn’t a western prejudice, it’s just music with a genuinely unique sound. Hugely recommend it.

I love “Rockferry” by Duffy. That is my single of the year and I am blown away by the new Aretha Franklin record made up of demos and outtakes. Andres raved about “Sweet Bitter Love” back in November and he’s not wrong. The "Aretha Arrives" outtakes are amazing too.

Loads of (other) brilliant comps of music from the past, tons in fact, but I’ll choose these three as my favourites;
“The Mercury New Orleans Sessions, 1950 – 1953” . Wild stuff. Some proper, bar room, melting pot stuff on this. Highlights being the early Professor Longhair tracks, recorded as Roy Byrd & His Blues Jumpers.

“The Roots of Rock ‘n’ Roll, 1946 – 1954” a three disc set on Hip O Select and it’s the real deal. From, “Hey! Ba – Ba – Re – Bop” to “(I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man” The greatest jukebox ever. It’s from the States but unlike most of the Hip O releases you can get it on Amazon. It’s no dough, £20 or thereabouts.

“The Cosimo Matassa Story” (Proper); four CDs of Matassa (and the genius Dave Bartholomew) recordings from the birth of New Orleans Rock ‘n’ Roll. Fats Domino, Little Richard, Smiley Lewis, Bobby Charles. Still dangerous. Still a load of fun. And it costs about £12.

One more, sorry; “Twinight’s Lunar Rotation” part of the “Eccentric Soul” series from Numero. There’s a Numero post below (last month) for reference.

As I have mentioned previously, we are yet to work out how to get audio on here. The only way we know how, right now, is to pull a clip off of YouTube. This isn’t something that we really wanted to do, but if we are gonna crap on about music it’s daft that you can’t listen as you read. Did it for Ike, so let’s do it again;

I think this is something special. It’s coming next year. Duffy singing "Syrup & Honey" in the studio, with her producer Bernard Butler. ( JB)

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Shadows & Reflections; Andrew Walsh

It’s good to take time out and reflect. That’s one of the reasons why I go fishing. 2007 has seen the birth of Caught By The River and that has to be the years highlight. I suggested the idea to Jeff sometime early in 2006 but it was left dormant as we got on with the day to day task of trying to make a living. Besides that, we didn’t really know what we wanted to write about or even whether we had the ability. Then, remarkably, Jeff found the time to start documenting our fishing trips and with the help of Leanor and Robin we started a blog. A large dose of Jeff’s boundless, contageous enthusiasm and before you know it we’re getting contributions from great writers we admire (including real ones who actually do it for a living). On top of that, Jeff (not previously known for his computer prowess) is actually posting pictures up there. Its all gone mad. Evidence of this was the final great Caught By The River moment of the year, when after a series of fortutious coincidences, we find our selves in a London restaurant, nervously awaiting the arrival of Chris Yates. (for those none anglers amongst you, appropriate equilavelents would be Pele, Lennon, Dylan, Jesus – you get the picture). A voice from Arcadia hailed it as a greater coup than meeting Bin Laden. That’s one for the birdtable. Meeting your heroes is often disappointing, and its great to report that this wasn’t. In fact it was brilliant. And even better, he’s offered to take us fishing. I can’t wait.

Below are the books, films & records that I enjoyed this year. They may not all be from this year, but at Caught By The River, we don’t change our hairstyle to match the times but we do believe in quality footwear;

Chris Yates ‘How To Fish’
Mark Haddon ‘A Spot Of Bother’
Richard Dawkins ‘The God Delusion’
Francis Wheen – anything he’s written

Soulsavers ‘Its Not How Far You Fall, Its How You Land’
Nas ‘Illmatic’



Sonny, Grace & Danny at Osterley Park. taken by Wendy.

Friday, 28 December 2007

Roger Deakin

The moat at Walnut Tree Farm in Springtime

If Roger Deakin was alive today I hope that he would like Caught By The River. I would be trying to contact him, asking if he would write something for us. imagine if he did, wouldn't that be something. Both of his books, "Waterlog" (1999) and "Wildwood" (2007), have made a huge impression on me. I love his spirit and his gentleness, I'm awed by his sense of adventure and his independence. and he makes me laugh. It's easy to say he was eccentric but I think that just says more about the times we are living in. Let's not confuse passion for eccentricity. That is all too common methinks.

I'm writing this at 4 am. I woke early and can't get back to sleep. Dave is picking me up at 7.30 and we are driving over to Martin's place in Oxford, the plan being to have a couple of hours fishing on the Thames. Unfortunately, all signs are that the weather will be against us. The forecast is saying a lot of rain. I'm hoping it's a lie 'cos I'm desperate to fish, I haven't been in weeks.
I've got a bit of time until then, so I will make some tea and read something by Roger. "Lords of The Fly" from "Waterlog", I think. The chapter where he goes to Stockbridge, to the River Test and tells of the history of The Houghton Fishing Club and the "Fellowship of The Anglers". He tells of it's great tradition, how they own the river there and how exclusive they keep it. Which, with respect, does not of course stop him from getting in and having a swim.
So, today, if the rain does come and I find myself soaked, then I will think of Roger Deakin, who would no doubt have undressed and entered the water to get a frogs eye view of the rain on the Thames and that will make me smile. And later, as we dry off in the pub, we will raise glasses to the the man and toast him as a true free spirit and a real inspiration. (JB)

here are links to two more fantastic Roger Deakin radio programmes in the Radio 4 archive;

  • the house

  • the garden

  • Waterlog
  • Caught By The Reaper

    Tony Wilson, Factory Records, Manchester, February 20, 1950 - August 10, 2007

    Tony was a journalist but will be forever remembered for his antics in the music industry, a place where his intelligence, wit and anti establishment attitude were not always tolerated but did actually make a difference. He was also someone that I knew. This is what I wrote at the time;

    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. and 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 myself, a little bit, then he’s off. The most unorthodox job interview imaginable.
    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.


    Thursday, 27 December 2007

    Caught By The Reaper

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

    When you think of bebop, your first thought is probably those fast horn lines hurtling past your ears faster than you know how to process them. Listen again though and you'll hear the other sound, perhaps the more important one - and that's the speeding hiss of the hi-hat.
    Now there are three great men - Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey and Max Roach - who are credited with forging this rapid new rhythm, and of blowing the respectabilites of swing out the door, but only one of them was king, and that was Max Roach.
    First and foremost that was because of his genius playing - check his work with Bird or with Miles on the 'Birth Of The Cool' recordings - but it was also because of who he was as a man. He was a radical, a militant, an innovator, who ricocheted through life, adapting along the way just like the music he was making.
    His early records as a leader, in a quintet with Clifford Brown in the early '50s, are mesmerising examples of the rapport and fast attack of post-bop. When Brown's life was tragically cut short by a car accident in 1956, Roach took that as his cue to explore elsewhere.
    In the early '60s, he became immersed in the civil rights movement and made the extraordinary 'We Insist! Freedom Now Suite', a radicalized, epically percussive masterpiece that had a massive influence on the political urgency of the avant-garde New Thing that was to follow. Two years later 'It's Time' followed on Impulse - a brash, choral, psychedelic headrush that still startles every time it floods from your speakers.
    For Roach, such adventures and experiments were what it was all about. It was something he kept up throughout his life. One of the last times he played London, he had to be carried on stage by two friends, but when he got behind the kit, he immediately shed decades.
    He died in August of this year, aged 83. If you don't have one of his records, you should. Roach was a one-off.

    James Oldham

    Wednesday, 26 December 2007

    Caught By The Reaper

    Bryan Pearce, July 21, 1929 - January 11, 2007.

    Stephen Barrett remembers St Ives artist, Bryan Pearce, who we lost in January ;

    My first recollection of Bryan Pearce was outside the Sloop Inn in St Ives, about 40 years ago.
    I was around 21 and had escaped the city to breathe the fresh air of Cornwall.
    The tradition of Sunday evening in St Ives meant the Salvation Army would play sweetly to those that listened; this was the place that this quiet unassuming man seemed very happy as he sort of hummed the tunes that flowed from the horns pointing skywards as the evening drew in.

    My journey in St Ives often took me into tiny back-street galleries, artistic institutions and friendly kitchens, where we drank either cups of tea or sake, made by the students of the Leach Pottery. These homes were magical places, many full of colourful paintings, pottery and sculpture and vibrant postcards depicting the beauty of St Ives and Penwith. Some of the postcards were particularly dazzling, original and naïve. This was the work of Bryan Pearce.
    I was immediately drawn to this innocent naïve style of painting and naturally collected the cards and when I could afford would purchase a limited edition print and later a much-treasured water colour. I saw Bryan Pearce every day in St Ives, often walking on his own seemingly making mental notes on the days events. I noticed he would often be looking up! Then down, then long, long gazes towards Godrevy lighthouse and the blue horizon that is St Ives bay.
    Exhibitions were created and his work was duly lauded, often being compared with Alfred Wallis the celebrated naïve painter discovered by Kit Wood and Ben Nicholson some thirty years previous. Bryan though was different as he suffered an illness as a child that rendered him a very slow learner, the mind being trapped in a simple form one which appeared to be beautifully child-like and pure. Painting what appeared to be simple two-dimensional pictures were the result, but you know what, they made you smile, made you feel warm, made you feel good to be alive.
    Bryan was in good hands as his mother guided him through the artistic maize with deft skill. He never knew about the politics and business of art. Never knew about the prices his work was making, never knew anything other than his beloved town, his playground.
    On one of the rare occasions of a conversation with Bryan I remember him saying he had knowledge of one of his recent paintings being sold. This was reason to celebrate by purchasing a Salvation Army record from the local shop, to play no doubt just like we all did in the privacy of his room.

    His work has found fame around some of Europe’s finest galleries and institutions, often representing St Ives and its rich cultural Cornish heritage.
    Bryan died in January 2007, but left a legacy of simple beauty; Go find!

  • website

  • Stephen Barrett – Christmas Day 2007 - restaurateur and angler

  • Stephen's website
  • Tuesday, 25 December 2007

    Monday, 24 December 2007



    And if that isn't possible, try this; half an hour in the company of Roger Deakin as he takes a canoe down the River Waveney;

  • A Cigarette on The Waveney
  • Letters From Arcadia

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

    Shadows & Reflections; Edwyn Collins & Grace Maxwell

    In which, as the year comes to it's end, our friends and collaborators look back and share their moments;

    Edwyn on Mary Wilson Macintosh;

    I loved my Granny. Sometimes she was a little monkey. Sometimes she was quiet. Sometimes she sang for me. “The sun shines bright on Charlie Chaplin.” From the First World War. She liked walking, always with a stick, striding out. I recollect her home in Glasgow, 12 Merrylee Road. Nice and cosy. I stayed there a lot.
    She liked fishing, catching salmon and trout on the River Brora, in Sutherland. Many fish she caught. She was taught by her father, Grandpa Wilson. He was a tremendous fisherman.

    Grace on Mary Wilson Macintosh;

    Edwyn would recite one of his Granny’s many familiar mantras on the road north to Helmsdale. “The Dee, the Don, the Deveron…” …all the rivers you cross on the journey. There is a photo of her in waders, shirt and tie, bobbed hair, in the middle of a river, taken in the twenties. Granny gave Edwyn her beautifully illustrated copy of The Tour of Doctor Syntax, which he named his last but one record after. She introduced me to Turgenev. She sent me a copy of Fathers and Sons when I was laid up in hospital. Mary was the most erudite woman I knew. She died aged 97 last week. Edwyn sang at her funeral on a freezing blue morning. And the last piece of music they played he instantly recognised, although it’s been many years since he heard it. Schubert’s “The Trout.”

  • Edwyn's myspace
  • Saturday, 22 December 2007

    Shadows & Reflections; Dexter Petley

    In which, as the year comes to it's end, our friends and collaborators look back and share their moments;

    there are two winters in a year. they open for one life as they shut on the other. for the scavenger they calibrate instinct & drive metabolism. for the novelist they slam the laptop lid & kick me outside for 6 months till recall-day on the first red moon. i rely on this organic clock to engrave memory, give everyday tasks perpetual elemental echo and an animal life & death importance. as such, excluding highlights, every minute too intensely present, unforgotten. i pluck at random. this year was:
    no first winter. a warning shot, 2007 would be unpredicable, bushwhacking for victory. i recall the fear because the pond never froze.
    the days of january weeding.
    strawberries in march.
    april, gathering sticks in the forest for the coming of the garden one afternoon, me and laure sit down on a log with our flask of tea; half a dozen wild piglets scarper from their bluebell picnic.
    the cuckoo on my bird table like a fat milk-maid, its song in a twist like two legs down one knicker-hole.
    the renewing of the forests, for me as close as a healing scar on my own flesh; changing daily like they're covering their tracks, the layers take their turn, like a gala or traveling players, somehow all their spores and bulbs and roots and seeds all occupying the same space till their time comes and they rise, die, stand aside for the next act. model societies, my chosen community. but there's vandalism too:
    in june i'm sitting in the cabin doorway five o'clock in the afternoon watching hailstones big as tangerines blasted by hurricane through 3 months of hard gardening, 6 months food torn up. a poplar tree ripped in half, thrown on top of the chicken shed, a dozen eggs uncracked inside.
    the reaper who took my potato crop without so much as snapping a twig, coming back for the tomatoes a week later.
    my birthday bottle opens with elliott smith singing "half right" through a headache, time-stopping just for the line "broken sink for a face" our wine froze in the glass at smith's controlled hysteria from the moment he begins it like a dripping tap till the last note when you think he must've gone home and stabbed himself, like it was the song he recorded when they were
    sweeping the studio floor round his feet and he didnt know the tape was running, nick drake did it once, swept out with the dog-butts...
    then the loire in summer, a sunday of upturned white buckets and fishwives in housecoats fishing whips and pinhole floats in the margins, bleak whipping for tea while the men turn up on bikes and take solemn place shoulder to shoulder on the big girder bridge 100ft above the women, lowering their swinging floats and waiting for the freshwater herrings, the hotus, beaked-carp or nase someone has told them are on their way upstream in their millions.
    for the carp i went eyeball to eyeball with, who brushed my line, then sank from sight and made a fool of me, stood me up in the rain.
    for the coming of the printed "one true void" in a publisher's jiffybag after 20 years writing it, a species of moment anticipated every day of those years. a book is always a ghost. this time i held it like i'd survived a missed punch, a lousy cast when the float for once tweaks off the branch...
    and for the reaper who had that stockhausen, a-clashing as he was back there when i was 17 and lost in the real "one true void," pushing me to dissonate for the avant garde instead of goal-poach for the village second team.
    and now for the second winter, writing with ice, the orange suns and tilted moons of advent. waking under slit-eyed moonlight to hear the boar snouts under the window. and for the hens still a-laying after a week of ground so frozen i have to pick-axe the door open every morning, eggs iced solid soon as the hen jumps off 'em.
    and straightening my beret, a special mention in dispatches to finish on, one for the road: the getting of arcadia's ja back to camp after presumed missing in action,chasing the grim reaper across a minefield he was, for which i nominate him for a literary vc.

  • letters from arcadia
  • Friday, 21 December 2007

    Not Caught By The River

    The piece below is written by a proper old friend of mine, John Niven. He's a funny guy. He makes me laugh. Actually, he makes me cry. Actually, he makes me piss myself.

    Just recently this has happened on several occasions. The first occasion was page 80 of his new novel, "Kill Your Friends", the second time was page 238 of same book. When it next happened I was stood outside of The Dog & Duck in Soho. I’m having a fag and a pint and John bowls up. Now, I love John’s writing as well as his stories so he was one of the first people that we asked to contribute to Caught By The River. He said yes, but, it's seven months later and he still hasn’t given us anything. Which is a shame because what I suggested to John to write for us was something about a book, a book that, when I was reading it I thought that he would enjoy. “That sick fuck will find this hilarious”, I thought. The book, by the way, was “A Fan’s Notes” by Frederick Exley. (Hunter S. T’s favorite book, apparently). It's a masterpiece and well worth tracking down, tho' I'm not so sure you are meant to laugh.
    So, it’s a Wednesday night and John is full of bullshit apology and excuse. I’m trying to rack up the guilt, enough to at least get him to the bar, when he asks, “have I ever told you the Salmon story?”. He hadn’t. I didn’t know the story. So he told it and he got me. “You have to write that up for us”, I said. So he did. I received it yesterday and although it is pure tragedy, I just couldn't help myself (JB);

    "He seemed like a ‘big boy’ to us at the time although, of course, looking back now, he was just a kid. Thirteen or fourteen. Wearing one of those green army jumpers with patches at the shoulders and elbows. How he cried.

    My little brother and I had come along the bank of the river Irvine, in Ayrshire, thirty miles south of Glasgow. We’d been spinning for sea trout up at the weir. The serious fisherman went for the salmon with flies further up river, in the shadows of the great Victorian railway bridge. I remember it being a cold spring morning, incredibly sunny, maybe the Easter holidays then. When we came around the bend towards the bridge there was already a good crowd there, maybe a dozen or so fishermen, old boys and some kids our own age, just, or not quite, into their teens. They were all watching as this kid – his rod bowed into an upturned ‘U’ - did battle with something huge. There was an air of real excitement, and you got the feeling that this had been going on for a while.

    The kid was flanked by a couple of the men, both giving him advice – when to play out some line and let the fish run, when to lock the reel – but neither touching the rod or interfering too much. They were going to let him catch it himself.

    I remember his trainers slipping and skidding on the greasy boulders of the bank, the great anxiety and fierce determination on his face. The fight went on for a long time, an hour or so, and for a long time nothing seemed to happen, no one seemed to be winning, and then one of the old guys said ‘Christ’ and everyone was piling up behind the kid, straining to see down into the water. We got a glimpse of white belly as something turned fast a few feet from the surface. The kid saw it too and suddenly he looked scared, as though he knew for sure now that he had the fish of a lifetime on the hook. His legs were shaking, his hands trembling as they changed position on the rod.

    Then, suddenly, with a rush of foam, it broke the surface, leaping clear of the black water. A great gasp went up.
    A big salmon, plump and perfect in the Scottish sunlight, the proud hook of its lower jaw.

    More people gathered – other kids fishing nearby, people walking past, a crowd maybe thirty strong watching now as the battle went on. There were many moments where it seemed certain the line was simply going to break and it would all be over. But it didn’t. The kid was good. Patient. The fish was tiring. Finally one of the old guys clambered down into the water with a green net. There was a terrible moment as he tried to get the net under the fish, one hand on the twanging line – taut as piano wire – where we were sure the line was going to snap. Another man scrambled down there and it took two of them to swing the fish up onto the concrete wall. Everyone jostled to look.

    The salmon lay quite still. The enormous swell of its milk white belly, the iridescent perfection of its colour – blue and silver and flecks of rose and pink, the great head the size of a man’s fist and almost black. The kid leant down over his prize, exhausted and triumphant. The salmon was almost as big as he was, over three feet long. Maybe thirty pounds. Worth fifteen or twenty quid easy at the fishmongers: an unthinkable sum for a teenage boy in a recession-hit, early 80s Scottish town. (I remember vicariously picturing the looks on my parent’s faces if I had staggered in the door holding such a prize.) And there, in its jaw, was the boy’s red and gold spinner.

    In the outside of its jaw.

    Everyone saw it. The kid looked up hopefully at one of the old guys who had helped him land the fish. ‘Snagged it,’ the old boy said sadly. The fish had not taken the bait. It had been hooked illegally. It had to go back. The kid looked at the salmon. He looked at the old guy. The old guy put his hand on the kid’s shoulder as he leaned in with the pliers.

    It took two of them to lift it back into the river. It didn’t swim off right away. It turned slowly in a figure of eight in the shallow pool for a moment – as though showing the kid all that he had lost, all he would never have. Then, with a nonchalant flick of its great tail, it vanished into the depths. The kid – physically exhausted, emotionally destroyed - burst into tears. The old guy folded him into his arms and held him while he sobbed. ‘C’mon son,’ he said. ‘There’ll be other fish.’

    We all stared at the river in silence. Finally someone said ‘Whit a boot in the fucken baws,’ and you were powerfully reminded that you were in Ayrshire, where bad is expected, where defeat is met with cheerful understatement, and where tragedy is routinely rebuffed with humour.

    A fine part of the world."

    John Niven

    Thursday, 20 December 2007

    Shadows & Reflections; Ted Kessler

    In which, as the year comes to it's end, our friends and collaborators look back and share their moments;

    Despite this year's unspectacular personal vintage, there have still been Caught By The River moments to strip from the mind's eye and stick in the scrapbook. Cycling across Walthamstow Marshes with my wife as the mid-summer sun set over the River Lea. Snorkeling off the coast of Belize and gliding alone through walls of rays and darting sharks. Convincing three teenage muggers on the Euston Road shortly before dawn that they should remove their hands from my pockets...

    But as time passes, these memories will blur with those of different years and I'll be unsure what happened when. And that won't matter because they become timeless. Yet there's one date I'll remember with certainty, one Caught By The River moment in time: September 1 2007. It's tied intrinsically in with one of my Caught By the River moments from 2006.

    On November 27 of that year, I was in the upstairs bar of the Bushranger pub on Goldhawk Road celebrating Jamie Woolgar's birthday. We were doing so in the best possible fashion: in front of a pull-down screen showing our desperate QPR battling for a draw away at table-topping Cardiff City, live on Sky. Against all form, Rangers were holding their own as the game entered the final quarter, though it was tense and, as always, despair loomed larger than joy.

    Then suddenly, in the 88th minute, we broke from our half. Nick Ward swung a hopeful ball across the six yard-box and, boom!, sliding in at the far post was Ray Jones, his long left leg prodding the ball past the Cardiff keeper and home. The pub explodes! Jamie comes running from the toilets, swings round and, catching the replay on the screen, starts leaping around the room arm in arm with some other herbert in a hooped top. Snap. That's the 2006 moment. And there, up on the screen, Ray is running over to the gurning, furious Cardiff fans with one cheeky finger in the air. Ray Jones: 18 years old, 6 foot 4, strong as a middleweight boxer, as nimble and deft as a dancer. An England youth centre forward whom QPR plucked from Sunday league battles on Hackney Marshes and who was subsequently the subject of rejected six figure offers from various rivals, including Colchester who, ironically, turned him away as a youth. The greatest young forward I've seen play for QPR since Kevin Gallen stepped from the youth team into the Premiership in 1994.

    And then, then there's this year's Caught By The River date: 2:50 PM, September 1. I'm standing in the Upper Loft at QPR and I'm clapping, I've been clapping for 10 minutes, maybe more. The teams, QPR and Southampton, emerge slowly from the tunnel, forming a circle in the centre of the pitch, all the QPR players sporting the same name on the back of their shirt, that of their mate, Ray Jones. Ray's family are here too, huddled together for protection and support in the middle of the pitch. All the staff are lined up on the touch line too, clapping along. We're singing his name - Ray Jones! There's only one Ray Jones! - and I'm crying, everyone is. I'm welling up as I write now. For Ray Jones died suddenly a week earlier, on August 25. Driving his brand new Volkswagen Golf through his native East Ham, the newly qualified Ray Jones collided with a bus, two of his old school mates dying by his side.

    Cynically, you could say this was my Princess Di moment as well as my CBTR moment, I suppose. The death of people I don't know personally doesn't usually impact on me at all, even if I love their work. Arthur Lee was a hero, his songs illuminating the darkest times, but his passing this year merited little more than a raised glass in the bar. Maybe I'm cold. But this, this violent, premature end and the denial of such promise, alongside the communal out-pouring of grief was shocking and touching. All those emotions pouring through a packed stadium impacted on me in a way that I'll never forget. Watching the video of the afternoon below brings those feelings instantly to the surface again (I apologise for the mawkish soundtrack. Diddy was on repeat in the stadium pre-match. Unbelievably, it was Jones' favourite tune. He was a footballer at the end of the day, Brian).

    Now, though, the only concrete thing left is this simple stat: 37 first team appearances, six goals. That and the enduring memory of that half an hour before the game on September 1, his name carried across the Western skies by 15 thousand choking voices. The unbearable lightness of being, indeed.

  • September 1, 2007

  • And his goals. You'll want to turn the sound off for this, though. It's almost an insult:

  • goals
  • Wednesday, 19 December 2007

    Greetings From Down Under

    hey Jeff

    greetings from Down Under.

    just spent the last few days in Hyams Beach, couple of hundred clicks south of Sydney. Unexpected and very weird highlight on the way down was a stop my brother planned in Austinmer, just near Woolongong (the names are great, right?). Stopping in for lunch (barramundi fillets and chips and a few schooners of VB (worth a drop in to the nearest Walkabout for a bottle or two), I clocked a board featuring the record catches for local fishermen. Thought it was worth sending you guys to see if we should maybe plan out a Caught By The River away day (month?) one day in the future.



    Shadows & Reflections; Dave Bedford

    In which, as the year comes to it's end, our friends and collaborators look back and share their moments;

    Being happy and healthy, still doing what I love and being with the one I love, other than that the high point by miles was stepping back onto the bank.... I used to fish once a week without fail until I woke up one day and changed the things that were wrong in my life. The cost of the separation was the loss of all of the records, books and fishing equipment I had collected over the years, held to ransom while things got stupid. So five years pass, some days I would drift off and dream about fishing but never dipped my float. Then it all got settled and I was loading the car with all the gear, dusty and musty from years in a dark cupboard, but I had it back. I spent the next two days cleaning, sorting and thinking about the first trip.
    I cant really describe how exciting that was, Steve and I set out at 5 am and drove to Waggoners, not only was I back on the bank but it was in beautiful surroundings with Leney's hidden in the lake. It rained from the moment we set up, nine hours of solid pounding rain, no bites but it was one of the best days fishing I have ever had, just being back. Since then the theme has continued, being on the bank for the first time with Jeff, Jakub and John. Fishing a river for the first time and what a place to start, Aldermaston. Hooked my first Barbel there, still have not landed one though but that can wait for a while, it will come.

    When I fished before I was lucky to have access at night to a superb lake that no one else fished, caught loads of good fish and on the odd frozen night, if I blanked, I would be frustrated. Looking back I had actually forgotten about the pleasure of being there and sharing the time with friends, it is so good to be back, I cant believe I went for so long without it......

    Other high points, the last Prince show at O2, Gallows at bar monsta, The Posies at the borderline and seeing Zeppelin again after 32 years. Low point being lack of great new music, maybe there has been some but I have missed it. What else...drinking some great wine especially a 76 Corton Charlemagne by Voarick, I bought a case at auction in 96 and drank the last two this year, it was worth the wait, also some more Dujac, especially the 88 + 89 Morey st Denis, it was genius. Looking forward to more of that, I need to work out what to drink next summer at Aldermaston when the sun is shining and what to toast my first Waggoners carp with? Discovering Medlar Press is costing me too much but is worth it, Casting At The Sun was genius and the Dick Walker book too. We have lost many to the reaper this last year but the two that came to mind straight away were Ahmet Ertegun and Rayner Jessom, there are too few of their like left sadly. Here's to 2008, I cant wait.....

    Tuesday, 18 December 2007

    Shadows & Reflections; Andres Lokko

    In which, as the year comes to it's end, our friends and collaborators look back and share their moments;

    listening: Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba. Burial. The very best of Éthiopiques. Skull Disco Soundboy Punishments. the Tectonic Plates comp. Pacific!. Anna Järvinen. Brazil 70. Holy Fuck. Studios remix of Brown Piano by A Mountain Of One. Battles. Aretha Franklins demo of Sweet Bitter Love. Weatheralls Sci-Fi Lo-Fi comp. Euros Childs The Miracle Inn. The Good, The Bad & The Queen. Robert & Alfie Wyatt. Edwyn Collins Home Again (live at The Arts Theatre). This is Lovers Rock on Greensleeves. The Proclaimers Life With You. Chaz Jankel My Occupation comp. both the George Jackson tracks on Kents Can’t Be Satisfied compilation. Tea & Symphony. R Kelly. Bill Brandon On The Rainbow Road comp. Jim Ford Sounds OF Our Time. The Pastels & Tenniscoats at Triptych. Any Lindström DJ-set. And both The Fire Engines and Young Marble Giants finally compiled.

    reading: Philip Roth. Tracey Thorns lyrics to Hands Up To The Ceiling. David Peace Tokyo Year Zero. Paradis Magazine. Fantastic Man. Roger Deakin (thanks Jeff!). Ian McEwan On Chesil Beach. Paul Gilroy Black Britain. rediscovering the awesome short stories of James Salter.

    watching: the fist two episodes of BBC4s Jazz Britannia series on BBC4. The Street. Control. the opening shot of The Darjeeling Limited set to The Kinks This Time Tomorrow. And, obviously, The Wire.

    Monday, 17 December 2007

    Shadows & Reflections; Robin Turner

    In which, as the year comes to it's end, our friends and collaborators , look back and share their moments;

    "My Caught By The River moment of 2007 mainly came served in a pint sized glass. It was filled to the brim, gently foaming and always mildly intoxicating. It came in various hues, various strengths and was delivered in various locations up and down the country. It was drunk in lounge bars and living rooms; in gardens and fields; at weddings and funerals. At times, it was calming, relaxing and meditative. And other times, was the 28 Days Later rage virus in a glass. Yep, this year I was truly Caught By The Liver (copyright Andrew Walsh - genius). It was the year I finally made the transition from lager drinking gig going teenager to card carrying CAMRA member facing down rapidly approaching 5th decade; from nightclub goer to snug bar sitter - pipe, slippers, Guardian crossword and all.

    It helped that I ended up spending pretty much the whole of 2007 landlocked due to a crippling fear of flying (no amount of valium can stun me these days, though I still give it a damn good go). This year, I got the chance to explore the British Isles for the first time since I was a kid. Family holidays in the 1970s saw myself, my brother and my Dad touring Wales in a tent. Usually we’d be joined by a few of my Dad’s mates (the most notorious of which being ‘Uncle Klaus’, 6 foot 6 high and wide, an Estonian refugee in World War 2, a man who had actually taken the time to work out how much his beer belly had cost him – over one hundred thousand quid - in old money). Those holidays were memorable for the fact that each time we moved on the tent would be pitched in the beer garden of a pub (note – familial theme emerging here). Me and my brother would be stuck under canvas as it inevitably pissed down outside. Dad, ‘Uncle Klaus’ and their mates would be inside, getting demented on ale in front of a roaring log fire. If we were lucky, Dad would remember we were there and bring us a bag of crisps every few hours. These were the days before kids were allowed to run free in public houses, also the days before these kinds of parental acts were labeled ‘child abuse’. Let’s call them the Good Old Days.

    Anyway, back to the present, where 2007 saw me traipsing around the UK one beer at a time. Thankfully the tent in the beer garden had been traded in for train, hotel, holiday rent and guest house. By the middle of the year, outside the windows our green and pleasant land had become a rotten bog. Shit, even the Cotswolds flooded – The Daily Mail’s very own Hurricane Katrina proved that God wasn’t just on an anti-Glastonbury tip last Summer. Inside the various Lambs and Flags and Coaches and Horses and Dogs and Ducks and Queens and Kings, the weather was just fine.

    So, this year, after deciding to swap the Med for the Medway towns, I travelled the UK in a pint glass. A trip to Adnams country in March took in Southwold and meant Broadside, Regatta, Explorer and their exemplary Bitter. Three separate jaunts to Cornwall meant Doom Bar, Tribute, Eden, Tinners and HSD. Hay On Wye? Hereford Pale Ale and Dorthy Goodbody’s. Glamorgan? Cwrw Haf, The Reverend James and the legendary Brains Skull Attack. Back home in the Smoke and the country seemed to come to town like a pissed up farmers market – London Pride sits alongside Summer Lightning, Exmoor Gold, Deuchars IPA, Caledonian XPA, Milton’s Sparta and Timothy Taylor’s Landlord. To a booze hound who these days is less Fear & Loathing and more Last Of The Summer Wine, this reads like a roll call of the greats. And the list grows yearly as breweries try out new combinations of water, yeast, hops and sugar. In a way it’s like something like stamp collecting – you’re constantly on the look out to try new things, trying to tick all the boxes and try everything but the breweries just keep on making new ones. It’s what keeps you interested. And also drunk.

    Anyways, without trying to get too Whittingstall about the whole thing, there is a vaguely important point somewhere in this beery blur. These days, people in the know talk about seasonal foods and becoming more aware of and sensitive to your environment via the food it produces, about food miles and local distinctiveness. Real ale is one of Britain's finest homegrown products – seasonality and locality are key factors in production. It’s also unique to this country – it doesn’t get exported, it stays at home and waits patiently for you. People say beers don’t travel very well from their place of origin – where I’m from in Wales they say that the beers that Brains brew don’t really taste any good outside of Cardiff. Perhaps in a way they are intrinsically linked to where they are brewed, the ingredients they comprise of make sense when you’re breathing the air they grew in. This means that real ale can take a unique high and mighty pedestal in the boozer alongside Scottish and Irish whiskeys, like mud caked organic box next to the mange tout flown in from Kenya. The rest of the bar, from the keg lagers to the optics - well, it’s pretty much the same the world over.

    I know I sound like a horrific alcoholic here. Probably I am one and possibly I’ll be writing a blog from The Priory in a year or two, evangelical about my newfound clarity after a healthy period smashed up, living the Snort By The River dream, all the while seething with boredom and milk eyed nostalgia at my former life. Until then, there’s a book to write (The Rough Pub Guide, something myself and Paul Moody have been working on for a few years, due out through Orion in the Autumn of 2008) and whole lot of beer to be drunk. If by any chance you do catch me by the river bank, make sure I don’t fall in – I’m bound to be somewhere well past half cut.

    By the way, I’m not joking about being in CAMRA - my Dad got me membership for Christmas. Their monthly newsletter is called Beer, a name so brilliant it’s almost Gonzo in its simplicity. Check it out, it makes for a far better read than the NME these days.

    Beer’s Morrissey piece was fucking fantastic too.

    Other things that made me pause for thought this year – “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy, “Dandelion Gum” by Black Moth Super Rainbow, “Blades Of Glory”, Aussie tv show “Summer Heights High”, “Atlas” by Battles live at The Green Man festival, Barrafina on Frith Street. “The Wire” series 4 and “Beautiful Burnout” off of the new Underworld album".

  • socialism magazine
  • Sunday, 16 December 2007

    The River's Voice


    The River Meander must be a wonderful sight, its Turkish curves so tantalising that it has given the English language a verb and a noun. King Tantalos, up to his neck in Phrygian water that receded whenever he bent his head to drink, gave us the teasing verb. Intricate language and stories hang in the air, condensing when needed to enrich another place. Springs and great rivers - and all those bournes, becks, burns and brooks in between - not only provide us with our basic requirement for life, but have helped us to explain and to share knowledge of the world around us.

    The real rivers, which may terrorise or delight us, are intriguing for their particularity. The variegation found in a single river valley and the differences among catchments are part of the great workings of nature, time and geology, and the efforts that we humans have made to control and use water for our own ends.

    Even in England, where we had learnt to share the power of the stream with wild creatures and plants, leating it to drive mills, diverting it to flood meadows, damming it to pacify and to please, some of our activities are having profound implications. Through two centuries of industrialisation we have turned our back on the city river; in only five decades, intensifying farming practices have filled the country river with chemicals; engineering has straightened the meanders, rendering the river more, not less, unpredictable. Fashions in fear and development, have conspired to push running water away from our everyday experience, increasingly reducing streams to ditches and finally to culverts. The explosion in the working and domestic use of water is depleting aquifers, those of ancient water, and causing the drying up of streams. And the selling of common water into corporate hands is retreat of the millennium.

    We are united in our need for water, but are increasingly divided by its scarcity; its profusion - or big ideas for its use.

    Think of Aral, the biggest lake in central Asia, which is now dry, and of the huge dams along the Hwang Ho; contemplate the impact of shrinking polar ice caps and retreating glacier in the Rockies and Himalayas. Then look at the spring, stream or river that is the reason why your settlement is where it is.

    At the very moment when we need the closeness of water to feed our humanity and imagination, we seem to be denied literal contact, and. have lost sight and sound of its magic.

    Our aspiration in bringing together mainly twentieth-century poetry in this anthology is to demonstrate a richness - seen and heard by keen observers with the capacity to distil ideas, language, and stories - which continues to offer a route to our own imaginations.

    What the poems also show is our willingness to be inspired by the particularity of actual rivers. One simple observation links ancient wisdoms with fractal science, aesthetic observation with the seepage of language and names: 'All rivers, small or large, agree in one character; they like to lean a little on one side.' (John Ruskin,The Elements of Drawing, 1857 ). Common Ground's work is based upon an idea of getting there better in the long run by going the long way round.

    by Susan Clifford and Angela King, Common Ground, October 1999

  • contents

  • buy the book
  • Saturday, 15 December 2007

    Shadows & Reflections; Jon Savage

    In which, as the year comes to it's end, our friends and collaborators , look back and share their moments;

    "I’m currently obsessed with Blind Willie McTell’s “Statesboro Blues”. I’ve had a taste for this kind of music ever since Paul Oliver put out his great “The Story of the Blues” comp in 1969. After listening to Mississippi John Hurt and Blind Lemon Jefferson, the British and American blues bands of the day didn’t seem quite so hot. Well they didn’t anyway but this confirmed it for me.

    There’s been an explosion in the release of prewar material in recent years, and I would wholeheartedly recommend the recent Revenant comp, “American Primitives Vol II” and Old Hat’s “Good For What Ails You” for the really out-there, spooky stuff. Otherwise the fact that this stuff is well out of copyright has resulted in several labels specialising in detailed, well annotated reissues: Catfish and Proper to name but two.

    I found this on a 4xCD set “The Classic Years: 1927-1940” on JSP Records. “Statesboro Blues” has been well known since the sixties, so much so that the Allman Brothers trampled all over it on “Live At the Fillmore West”. In contrast to their galumphing treatment, McTell’s original version is elusive, fast moving and complex. His voice is high, well matched to the 12 string overtones that dominate the sound: it could almost be a woman singing.

    The whole feel is multiphrenic. The music shifts around and the lyrics are sampled from several other (female) artists: Sippie Wallace, Ivy Smith, Bessie Smith. As Michael Gray points out in his excellent biography, “Hand Me My Travelin’ Shoes: In Search of Blind Willie McTell”, many bluesmen were not, in fact, out of their time Luddites but up to date artists who celebrated the modern world.

    So McTell is simultaneously singing about his family psychology, his yearning for the lover he had who treated him like a king, how pissed off he and all his extended family are to be stuck in nowheresville (in this case, Statesboro, Georgia), how hard it is to make the break, and how great it feels to be travelling on that ‘big 80’ out of Savannah, free, breaking right out of the 19th Century.

    “Statesboro Blues” contains one of the greatest of all blues lines, echoed in Gray’s title: ‘reach in the corner mama and hand me my travelling shoes’. The whole song makes you want to travel back in time to see and feel what the hell was going in a world that could produce such a sound. Rarely has the excitement and insecurity of a society in deep flux been better caught in song.

    It’s been a big year for 45’s around my house and one of my recent favourites is “The Orange Rooftop of Your Mind” by the Blue Things. Released on RCA in the US during December 1966, this is very much a single. The structure is taut and there’s a lot packed into 2’46”. It captures pop music on the cusp of mid sixties disci-pline and full on, balls to the wall post Revolver psychedelia.

    The Blue Things were a folk rock group out of Kansas, who re-leased a number of good 45’s and one well regarded lp in mid 1966 before taking the Beatles/ Yardbirds pills and psyching up an acoustic number of singer and leader Val Stecklein’s, originally called “Coney Island Of Your Mind” after the famous Lawrence Ferlinghetti poem that features in the lyrics.

    The lyrical theme is our old friend false consciousness. Well, it never goes away, does it? and the dense allusions (‘I heard them say the dogs are coming/ Once again they’re saying blame the saviour’) are sonically backed up by high pitched fuzz guitar, McCart-ney-style pumping bass, snake-charmer organ, wild cross channel fades and deep drum crashes. It’s all too much.

    The flip is called “One Hour Cleaner” and is even more reminscent of “Revolver”. Think of a mix of “Taxman” and “Dr.Robert” with added effects (a backwards count in, weird electronic bleeps) and frayed, end of the tether vocals. This nightmare trip to an exploitative psychologist/ druggist was echoed in real life: after this single, an exhausted Stecklein quit the group.

    You can hear this extraordinary compression on other 45’s from 1966: the Yardbirds’ “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago”, Love’s “7 & 7 Is”, the Stones’ “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby Standing in The Shadow”, and the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations”. It’s this tension between the weight of emotions and techniques and the pop discipline of the single that give them their extraordinary power.

    Fast forward one year to my final choice: “Easter Everywhere”. I’ve been transfixed by Paul Drummond’s biography, eight years in the making: “Eye Mind: The Saga of Roky Erikson and the 13th Floor Elevators, The Pioneers of Psychedelic Sound”. The story of how these good old boys became the psychedelic vanguard in near total isolation is just extraordinary.

    The Elevators formed out of two local Austin groups, the Lingsmen and the Spades in late 1965, snake year. But they were born under a bad sign: within weeks of forming and recording their classic ver-sion of “You’re Gonna Miss Me” they had attracted the attentions of the local police: the first of many busts and near busts that followed the band over the next few years.

    From the police’s point of view, their attentions were understandable. The Elevators were explicit in their acid evangelism. They aimed to play most of their shows on LSD, while the band’s jug player and spiritual leader Tommy Hall gave the keys to the quest on the sleeve notes to their classic first album, “The Psychedelic Sounds Of….”: ‘recently, it has become possible for man to chemically alter his mental state and thus alter his point of view.’

    While controlling and programming the eighteen year old Roky Erickson, Tommy Hall also dealt pot and acid, and one of the fascinating things about this book is that you can see the journey from revelation to criminal duplicity etched in his face and body posture as the photos go from 1966 to 1967 and 1968, during which time the drug culture also turned from transcendence to oblivion.

    The group’s drug consumption was Herculean, and their already fragile state of mind was not aided by the extremely repressive nature of Texas in the late sixties (producer Lelan Rogers had to routinely vacuum their van for seeds and stems before the police did), by the ineptitude of their record company, International Artists, and by the constant line-up changes that marked their brief life.

    In all the chaos, it’s amazing that “Easter Everywhere” is such a coherent higher key statement. If “Psychedelic Sounds…” was a tough, garage record with psych overtons, their second album – recorded in September 1967 - was pulled back, subtler. The cover is just great, a charm to drive away the bad vibes clustering around the group: a blazing Tantric sun on a background of gold leaf, the colour of the divine.

    There’s a couple of headlong, ecstatic rockers that really take the top of your head off if you play them LOUD: “She Lives (In A Time of Her Own)” and “Levitation”. Guitarist Stacy Sutherland reinforces his status as the soul of the group with another rocker, “Nobody To Love”, while Erikson duets with Hall’s wife Clementine on the achingly pretty “I Had To Tell You” – a necessary pause of tenderness in the onrush of words and impressions.

    The group’s power really becomes apparent on “Earthquake”, a deep and dirty rollercoaster of tension and release. But it’s the opener, “Slip Inside This House” that is the album’s centrepiece: ten incredibly dense verses that summarize the esoterica of several world religions interspliced with killer choruses, great, tough breaks, and a lucidly transcendent guitar solo. As the track reaches eight minutes, it fades into a deep, cthtonic rumble.

    The lyrics are wild: ‘Four and twenty birds of Maya/ Baked into an atom you/ Polarized into existence/Magnet heart from red and blue’. Or this final verse: ‘One-eyed men aren’t really reigning/ They just march in place until/ Two-eyed men with mystery training/ Finally feel the power fill/ Three-eyed men are not complaining/ They can yoyo where they WILL/ They slip inside this house as You pass by/ Don’t pass it by’.

    And then consider Hall’s explanation: ‘one-eyed men are people who are in power, who are forced to just manage the thing going forward, without an awareness of what they are doing….what they’re doing is just automatic. Two-eyed men are just ordinary people. It’s like the last possible chance that the people have to be able to take over, because material has completely (gained control)…it’s a culture war’.

    This was inflammatory stuff but the authorities needn’t have worried, as the group were scooting downhill fast. By the time the re-cord was released six months later, the 13th Floor Elevators were in serious disarray. The vision of an LSD based revolution was unrealistic and unsustainable, as speed and smack came in and singer Roky Erickson buckled under the pressures of being a psychedelic figurehead.

    Their subsequent fate is both dramatic and sad: all the three major players, Stacy Sutherland, Tommy Hall and Erickson were incar-cerated in the late sixties on drugs charges. Sutherland kicked heroin but turned to alcohol before being shot by his wife in 1978. Tommy Hall was near destitute for several years and now lives in one room in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District.

    The Elevators were pioneers. They went right out there without hesitation and they paid the price. But with time their story has turned around from despair to hope. After many years of mental illness - including a horrific spell at Rusk State Hospital for the Criminally Insane - Roky Erickson is now fully functioning and regularly playing live. For updates, go to

    Unlike many first wave San Franciscan bands, the Elevators came out of Texas and so were programmed to rock: their roots were in surf, the Who, Buddy Holly, Bo Diddley, James Brown, and Blind Willie McTell and rather than folk. They had an earthiness and an attack to their music that made them cult favourites in the punk period and that makes their psychedelic sermons all the more powerful today.

    Their small body of work has an existential severity and has become recognised as the ultimate psychedelic catalogue with their second album as their zenith. I bought “Easter Everywhere” when I was 18 and it terrified me at the same time as it drew me in because it was so absolute: there was no press, no context, just the weird, almost homemade cover and the challenging music. It still astounds me thirty-five years later".

    Friday, 14 December 2007

    Shadows & Reflections; John Richardson

    In which, as the year comes to it's end, our friends and collaborators , look back and share their moments;

    "The first day of the trout season at Farmoor Reservoir, near Oxford, a 250acre concrete bowl fed by the Thames. A day when you experience all the weather variations nature can throw at you, you being the word because I am the only trout fisherman on two and a half miles of bank. The sun shone, it was cold, the wind blew, it rained sometimes and finally over the Cotswolds the sky was the colour of lead while I was in sunshine again.

    Fishing a small black and red lure very slowly on the bottom I finally had a gentle pull. The fish did not fight like a rainbow so I was convinced that it was one of the native brown trout that are in the reservoir. When I saw the fish I was amazed to see it was a big perch and, when landed, it measured seventeen and a half inches from the nose to the fork of the tail and I couldn't get both of my hands round the shoulders of the fish. I don't know what it weighed but if I ever catch a bigger perch I will be delighted.

    The black cloud from the Cotswolds finally arrived, heralded by a massive squall and snow blowing horizontally. All that was missing were 'The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse'. A failure in terms of trout caught but a great sight. Just why do big perch look bigger than they are?

    Fishing the Kennet with John Andrews and finally getting amongst the roach. Lifting a small perch out of the water at Farmoor and seeing a hole appear under it. Clay pigeon shooting in a snow storm and seeing the shot make a tunnel through the blizzard, an effect that would have had Turner reaching for his watercolours. Clouds and any weather, fishing or not. Walking the two terriers, Ruffe and Minnow, with Sue. Good beer. Tea. The smell of printing ink. The gift of 'angler's optimism'. Fishing over Christmas. American detective novels".

  • the two terriers press
  • Thursday, 13 December 2007

    Caught By The Reaper

    Damn, he just got Ike. Remember him this way;

    and a decade or so later, this one came along. A very funky and very militant record. One of my faves;

  • buy here (trust me on this)
  • Shadows & Reflections; Neil Thompson

    In which, as the year comes to it's end, our friends and collaborators , look back and share their moments;

    Hey Jeff,

    Son, what have you done?

    Well, the year began with hauling silver bars of bass out of the South Atlantic off Villa Geschell then chasing immense brownies across the ten thousand lakes of Patagonia feeling a billion miles away from the grinds of Babylondon... a very long way around the sea via Gotham and back to tha endz. Here are just a few other moments I felt struck by the holy shakes, on the precipice of epiphanies, feeling the vertigo of wonderment... for what it's worth...

    Mr. Elliot Smith (RIP) singing 'St Ides Heaven' "When I walk between parked cars, with my head full of stars"; Fraisthorpe Beach, Bridlington in Febuary watching Taz the Huntaway eat up my leftover bait at an arctic five in the morning; talking carp with Russian hoods in a mob bar in the cold and slightly scary Chisinau, Moldova; seeing that the trees that I remember so vividly outside my primary school have grown taller and taller as I've grown older and older over the thirty years since I last saw them; riding the Echo Park night shift with Officers Flotsam and Jetsam in Wambaugh's Hollywood Station; sitting with my grandfather in his house as he finally slid away and then photographing him; revisiting McCarthy's 'Blood Meridian' "Infatuate and half fond they rode towards the red demise of that day, across the bloodlands of the West and into the distant pandemonium of the sun..."; realising that I actually find the sound of police helicopters above SW9 comforting – almost like the lapping of an ebbing tide – and deciding there and then never to leave this city again; happily noticing that the RZA continues to be perpendicualr to the square; the elegance of the Leica Digilux 2 and the beauty of the 1989 SAAB 900; being saddened to hear that no one sleeps on the beach any more at Coney Island; the endless bottles of Sagres with my best unbeaten brother at Cafe Sintra, 130 Stockwell Road; spending Good Friday watching Watership Down while feeling edgy and junk sick ("the Joy Divison album of animated rabbit films" as Mr. Stuart Braithwaite once brilliantly put it); the utterly Shakespearian and tragic The Shield season 5 – especially that moment with Lem staring over the Mexican border knowing his life is utterly destroyed as The Smashing Pumpkins wail 'Disarm' in the background; Interpol for becoming totally HOLLYWOOD one night at the Soho Hotel – art often passes by but 'There Will Be No Miracles Here' by Nathan Coley froze me to the gallery floor; hearing Jason Spaceman sing 'Sitting On Fire' in a church in Islington the other night; finding a copy of Steinbeck's 'Cannery Row' on the Victoria line... from the prologue...

    "Its inhabitants are, as the man once said, 'whores, pimps, gamblers and sons of bitches,' by which he meant everybody. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said, 'Saints and angels and martyrs and holy men,' and he would have meant the same thing."

    The same can be said of everyone I know and love.
    Then of course theres The Wire, The Wire, The Wire. Always The Wire. As Bubbles himself once said, "'Tis a thin line between heaven and here"
    which pretty much sums everything up at the moment.

    More to the point when we fishing next?



  • tomoland
  • Letters From Arcadia

  • click here for the latest LETTER FROM ARCADIA, a regular correspondence between angling's two most original contemporary writers...
  • Wednesday, 12 December 2007

    Shadows & Reflections; John Andrews

    In which, as the year comes to it's end, our friends and collaborators , look back and share their moments;

    dear jeff

    reflections of the year nearly past. personally, a deeply sad one lit up on occasion by small moments, kebabs on the kingsland road and watching 'the lives of others' and 'eastern promises' at the rio, standing in mist filled valleys on the wye and searching swims for merlin's chubs, falling under the spell of rachel unthank and the winterset, drinking pints of brains, pints of pride and trenchwater tea, reading laura barton writing about the chelsea hotel and hugh falkus' remembrances of the stolen years; the solidarity of the resistance and the enduring friendship of the richardsons; cats and dogs by open coal fires, seeking auction houses down empty lanes, sending and receiving letters from arcadia, going to kempton with parsley and luce, walking round spitalfields at dawn with the ghost of nicholas hawksmoor on your heels, catching mackerel on my wedding anniversary off hugh stoker's beach at seatown and standing in the doorway of the anchor whilst a shower passes with my wife of thirteen years.

    partridge on the bird table


    Tuesday, 11 December 2007

    Slightly Foxed

    Jeff -

    Have you seen Slightly Foxed, an amazing little magazine about great
    forgotten books - you would love it. See
  • foxed quarterly

  • Mathew

    "Turgenev was not only a portraitist; he was also a landscape artist. Like Thomas Hardy he was driven to the summit of eloquence by the violence of nature and the beauty of the countryside. I like particularly the summer night in which the narrator gets lost (‘Bezhin Lea’), the moonlit drive to Tula (‘Clatter of Wheels’), and the long hymn to the seasons in ‘Forest and Steppe’ . . .

    more Wire....

    Hi Jeff

    Hope you're well. Don't know where you are with The Wire - if you've
    seen series 4 you may want to look at these trailers for 5 (the
    McNulty one hits a nerve), as well as the whole season preview and a
    trailer for Simon's next thing, Generation Kill.

  • trailers.

  • Generation Kill.

  • Cheers - see you Friday

    Saturday, 8 December 2007

    Hi Jeff,

    I hope you received my email ok about Aldermaston, I wish I could write like John Andrews he would have turned the big perch capture into poetry, anyway edit it how you wish if you use it.

    Attached is a new image from the family christmas card, please use it if you think it suitable. There is a story behind it but I won't bore you with that now!

    looking forward to fishing next week.

    Best wishes,


  • the two terriers press
  • Wednesday, 5 December 2007

    Numero Group. 2008 Subscriptions

    This is a seriously good record label from Chicago. They put out killer compilations with much love and fantastic attention to detail. If you are into 60s & 70s black American music it doesn't get much better than this but they also have a passion for great powerpop (the "Yellow Pills" comp), gospel country (Fern Jones), 60's girl get the gist, they love music. They run a subscription service and it's well worth it;

    "For the third year in a row Numero will once again give you the opportunity to let us invade your mailbox six times. It's not even December and we’re already in the holiday spirit of taking.
    Not much has changed in the last year to the Numero subscription, except the price and number of discs. Yeah, you heard us, 2008 is going to stuff you so full of Numero you’ll be sick of us by May. The price has climbed too (which is terrible news for those who didn’t get a cost of living raise, and no big deal at all to those with a favorable exchange rate – we’re looking at you World), but fear not, you’ll be rewarded heartily. 2008 promises to be Numero’s most ambitious year yet, with several single and multiple disc sets to further impress your friends and weigh down your mail carrier’s bag.

    We can’t get into too many specifics, but expect a single disc of Tap disco and rap, a two-disc set of Eccentric Soul from Jesse Jones’ Tragar and Note labels, a wild archive of Ecorse, Michigan custom recordings, an expansive look at one of power pop’s holy grail’s, and two more projects so secret we can’t even think about them.

    A great holiday gift for a liked or loved one. Hell, just treat yourself. You had a tough year and deserve a little joy, even if it does just add to the amount of crap you’re going to have to move when your lease is up in June".

    $120.00 (CD)

  • Numero Group
  • Andrews of Arcadia

    ladies and gentlemen

    as we are back inside spitalfields market on a thursday there is a
    rolling christmas cabaret of events to pull in the punters and this
    week is no different. if you are lucky tomorrow you will see good
    friend of 'andrews of arcadia' - the funky nehru also known as
    'lofty' and his performing 1920's mahseer teeth - as shown.

    and of course the usual discerning range of great vintage fishing
    tackle from georgian to mid century.

    the more observant of you will also have noticed that the stall was
    featured in the news/interview section of the latest edition of the

  • purepiscator

  • steady the buffs!


    john andrews
    antique fishing tackle and books
    spitalfields antiques market
    commercial street
    london E1
    thursdays 7.30am - 3pm
    07980 274 383

    Fishing In Middle Earth pt 4 - "Chasing Rainbows"

    Our desire to become acquainted in every manner with the ammeran, knows no boundaries. What we cannot go under, we go over. From a great, great height. We plan to fly the 80 kilometers from source to its mergence with the Indalsalven. Our Pegasus is a Piper Cherokee PA-28- has seen as many years in the air as I have birthdays. Young Tom is biggles for the day. Its time to go chasing rainbows, trespassing in the eagle’s domain.

    The airfield is a rough shod affair, a pioneer’s strip hewn from scrubland. The runway ends where the lake begins. After ¾ of a km the choice is stark- fly like a bird, or join the fish in the cold deep. Our airborne Indian is hiding in a ramshackle construction, which shudders as we drag it out, blinking in the sunshine. I digitalize its appearance for posterity, as the multitudes of checks begin. Tom wanders in and round the plane, clip board in hand, in a trance. Aeronautical gibberish, a code known only to the initiated, is read aloud and repeated. Nothing is left to chance; defying gravity has no long odds. In 1903, the Wright brothers started the engine got in, and pushed the throttle and prayed. Our tank is full, the prop has been spun. We alight in our sky steed.

    Many years ago in a time of chaos and darkness, another Adair took a gamble with long odds, many times. My grandfather flew his camouflaged weapon of mass destruction to the heart of the third Reich’s Hades. As the abrupt runway ends, I too am truly airborne. Flying in an airliner is the Ariel equivalent of driving on a bicycle path with a robin reliant. With a puncture. Single prop, 4 seats is urgently real. Every twist of thermals is felt; you can almost invite the jet stream into the cabin to play. As we bank turning 180° the silver ruffled mirror of the lakes burnished surface floats up to meet us. This is an Aston martin DB9, on an empty autobahn. With a full tank, on a wind still day... This trip has provided me with more conversions than a Moonie convention. My transcendental moment with dry-flies has now been joined by gaining my wings. Sublime. . It is no coincidence that every great civilization has his god as Ariel beings, the lords on high. Commanding on powered chariots, masters of the air, were the Mayans and the Aztecs 800 years ahead of the Wright brothers?

    “Oscar Papa, cleared approach runway 30, enter left downwind!” Control tower at ostersunds guttural squawk, the contemporary masters of the air. His word is law, in the language of my tiny green land. We have permission to do several “touch and go’s” at Östersund’s main airport. Neither an illicit handling, nor a cryptic innuendo “touch and go’s” are a true test of a pilots mettle. Once the under carriage, has made the briefest contact with terra firma, we rise bank, and climb and repeat the procedure. With a judder and bump we arise and soar up in circle over the inland sea that is Storsjön. After four contacts, Mr. Digbys Ariel credentials are intact and improved. His wings will not yet be clipped. Östersund tower warns us of the presence of North Rider, the aero avenger of the artic circle, a Swedish Adler in a Saab 340 turboprop.
    "North rider one two two, number one, wind is three three zero degrees, one four knots, cleared to land runway three zero"
    “Number one, copy the wind, cleared to land runway three zero, North Rider one two two!"

    All hail the North Rider. We are humble in his presence. Under his wings he carries two molten cauldrons- mini solar flares, hotter than the centre of a sun. With the flick of a switch, he goes to hyper drive, leaving us to flounder in his wake. Air traffic control invite us for a cozy round of circle the island. Eons ago ice and fire formed the landscape, monolith granite slabs grinding the deeps and the highs. One benign glacier adjusted the mercury to leave the only level field in a 200 km radius. Hot real estate in a cold place. Into the artic blue yonder, a slip-stream signature is all that remains of the north rider. A modern day Icarus who returns to earth on his own terms.

    10 Valleys away, my brother stands on the banks of the Ammeran. At 14.00 we shall appear for the time honored air-to-ground ritual – the wing waggle. Banking steeply, yawning across the sky, silver water, granite, autumn hues, all blur and tumble into a twisting kaleidoscope. Our wings groan, turbulences’ squall rushing up to meet us. White cumulus turns to ominous grey- guarding the head of the valley stand two intense showers. Elemental anger and nature’s refraction merge to form a Technicolor arch spanning the valleys gulf. Worthy of a Disney toon, the rainbows perfection flares, glimmers and fades. A microsecond of HD color clarity. What we cannot go through we go around. A momentary soaking as the showers’ precipitation hits us; we ride roughshod through bone-jarring thermals. Break on through to the other side, in the suns rays you shall hide. Descending to two thousand feet, summer smiles on the headwaters of the Ammeran below us. Rainbows end is in sight, the Indalsavlens vast expanse shines in the distance. On the ground, another Adair stands transfixed staring at the sky, as he hears the Piper’s drone approaching. I strain, searching for an ant like speck on the tiny shingle bank laid bare by drought. Negative, affirmative our juice is low, the valley is long. We waggle our wings to an un-seeing audience, and return to base, leaving the eagles to claim back their domain.

    Robin Adair

  • sweden adventures

  • Acton angling, 185-187 Old Oak Road, East Acton W3 7HH

    Tuesday, 4 December 2007

    Hi Dave,

    it's got you under it's spell, hasn't it? Me too, as it goes.

    What a great way to end a year, discovering such a beautiful place. It allows us to dream about being there next year, let's us imagine the changes that will come with the seasons and the fish we will catch.

    As you say, these quiet days are days for learning. I hope to join you on the bank very soon for further education and hopefully a Perch or two. Most definitely before Christmas.

    Congratulations to Jakub on his first Pike. I bet I know where he caught it. Remember our last trip? Jak put the time in on the deep channel, fishing next to the bushes. He couldn't work out why he wasn't getting the Roach until he saw a Pike in waiting. Is that where he was?

    I kinda caught a Pike once. Have I told you this? I hooked it but I didn't land it. It doesn't count, does it? Fair enough. I reckon that I would have been eleven or twelve. Fishing the Plessey social club water on Attenborough gravel pits, near to where I lived. I was with my mate Steve Wiggins and his big brother John. Fishing plugs with a tank ariel for a rod. The stories attached to that water were legendary and no doubt apochryphal but to a kid they were fact. I'd seen the one armed man and his three legged terrier already. I believed.
    So, I got one on and I crapped myself. Pure terror gripped me and I handed the rod to big John who went on to coolly land a fish of 8lb. I think it's about time to test the passage of time and see if I am now a man. As long as you will unhook it. Deal?

    John Richardson told me that he was going over to Aldermaston today. I'll let you know if he reports back.

    These next couple of weeks are pretty hectic. I've got four bands on tour at the moment and am up and down the Country a few times in the next ten days. Plus the odd party. Are you coming to ours? The Heavenly one? Andrew, Robin, John Andrews and myself had a Caught By The River lunch last Friday. We went to a place in St James Park, right beside the lake. John entertained us with tales of both that lake and the Serpentine. Very knowledgeable chap John and fantastic company. Did you know you can still fish the Serpentine? A few tickets a year are available apparently. John's suggestion of a session before work was a good one. Save that for next season.

    Danny had a great Birthday. thanks.

    see you soon,