An Unkindness of Ravens by Matt Sewell
I ain’t no sucker for punishment but I’d love a raven to be unkind to me – go on and give me a dead leg! Tell me I can’t draw! I wouldn’t really want them picking the flesh off my cold dead bones but to spend a bit of time with these guys would be ace. Apart from the ones with clipped wings in the Tower of London, ravens are hard to get close to. We have to make do with spotting them in the sky, together in an unkindness, curving the air in ever-increasing circles – which is a handy way of telling them apart from their close corvid relatives, such as the carrion crow who flies in straight lines.
From the Caught by the River Book of the Month for October, A Charm of Goldfinches and Other Collective Nouns. Signed copies can be found in our shop, priced £12.
A live session of a track taken from Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker’s new album Overnight, out now on Rough Trade Records.
Centered around Clarke’s extraordinary voice and songwriting and Walker’s prodigious guitar-playing and arranging, the album also features panoramic orchestration by an eclectic core of acclaimed musicians on strings, horns, piano, double bass, and drums – drawing just as much from 1970s AM radio rock like Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young as from folk-rockers like Fairport Convention and Joni Mitchell.
Catch the duo live at Shoreditch Town Hall this Wednesday, 26 October.
We have three vinyl copies of Overnight to give away as competition prizes on this week’s newsletter. Make sure you’re subscribed to our mailing list for the chance to nab one – the sign-up bar can be found on the top right-hand side of this page.
A Downland Index by Angus Carlyle
(Uniform books, 234 x 142 paperback with flaps, 72 pages. Out now.)
Review by Mathew Clayton
A decade ago I made a foolish mistake. I woke up one Sunday morning with a hangover, and decided to run the Reading half marathon.
I didn’t have any proper sporting gear so borrowed my wife’s pyjama trousers that looked a bit like a tracksuit (if you ignored the frilly bit around the ankles). Arriving late I wasn’t able to use the lockers kindly provided by the organisers, and had to run most of the race wearing my donkey jacket. I tried awkwardly stuffing it in my backpack, but it didn’t fit and every few hundred yards it fell out, annoying the runners around me. The worst thing though about the day was a general feeling that I was in the wrong place with the wrong people. Everyone else seemed so…organized. They were not people that had ever woken up on a Sunday morning with a hangover and thought fuck it I will run a half marathon. (more…)
The sixteenth instalment of Darren Hayman’s Thankful Villages project
The road plummets down into Herodsfoot. We drive past the church and the houses until we reach a small green by the stream. I’m here with Johny Lamb who lives close by.
Herodsfoot is ‘doubly’ thankful which means that all the soldiers returned alive from the Second World War as well as the first. It also has a war memorial. (more…)
A new series of posts following Tom Bolton – author of ‘London’s Lost Rivers’ and ‘London’s Lost Neighbourhoods’ – as he travels the coastline of the British Isles.
At the late August Bank Holiday arrived, Jo and I headed back out to the Essex coast for the next instalment of our summer mission to walk its tangle of flats, estuaries and saltings. At home in South London everything was on hold as we waited for the Mastic Man, a demanding and mysterious figure who would perform specialist tasks in our bathroom. His arrival might be unannounced: we were told he sometimes liked to surprise. In the meantime, we had to keep things “bone-dry for the Mastic Man”, and the damp Essex expanses offered respite.
Marking the shifting edge of eastern England was a convoluted process. This time we planned a circumnavigation of Mersea Island, the third largest in Essex after Canvey and Foulness and home to the nation’s prime oyster beds. We returned to Colchester, a fortified hilltop town commanding the marshy coast. Outside the station a billboard that proclaimed “The Truth. Legal Name Fraud.” These posters had appeared that summer all over England, a material world spillover of a bizarre internet conspiracy theory about identity. Attempts to identify those behind the campaign had failed, and the trail ended with a Canadian woman known as ‘Kate of Gaia’. The appearance of these posters had been, in retrospect, an omen of a summer in which fringe politics had veered suddenly into the mainstream.