From The Running Hare: The Secret Life of Farmland, published by Doubleday on 5 May. Available to preorder now from the Caught by the River shop.
Words: John Lewis-Stempel
I was early. A parent being early is as useless as a parent being late, but it was only when I checked the texted directions on my phone that I realized it said ‘2’, not ‘12’, for post-sleepover pickup. What to do for two hours while I waited to prove my paternal reliability and save her teenage embarrassment? I was near British Camp on the Malvern Hills, those dinosaur-spine eruptions into the cultivated English Eden, and it was years since I’d last been up, so up I went, blue coat flapping like a sheet on the line. Edward Elgar lived close by for a decade, so ‘Nimrod’ played loud in the air as I ascended to the Iron Age fortress. Breathless, at the top I sat down for the view, which in another way took my breath away. Laid out, as in the view from an aeroplane window, was Herefordshire, the whole of it, to the Black Mountains in the west, the shining Wye to the south, the Clee Hills to the north. This is my heartland. Once, my London-born wife asked me to mark on a map everywhere my family, both paternal and maternal lines, have been born. From here I can see every place for the last eight hundred years. She laughed, but kindly, with the appreciation of someone whose own family have wandered. It was warm in the August sun and I was tired, so I lay down in a hollow and fell to drowsy dreaming (more…)
The lovely little compilation of reading recommendations we refer to as the Nature Book Reader has just been updated. We’ve added new entries from Laura Cannell, Kate Feld, Nick Morgan, Kevin Parr and Anna Wood. Read Anna’s contribution below for a taste of what the Nature Book Reader has to offer.
One of my favourite pieces of writing – Walt Whitman’s long poem Song Of Myself, from his collection Leaves Of Grass – is about nature in the most ordinary and also the most infinite sense. It has a whole beautiful verse about what grass is, and a description of having sex with the sea (kind of, you have to read it really) that makes me swoony and horny and thrilled. Song Of Myself embraces the whole glorious cosmos, celebrates every inch of your flesh and mine. (more…)
Roy Wilkinson bids farewell to friend and collaborator Jock Scot.
Last Sunday saw the funeral of Jock Scot – rock poet, inspiration and graceful consumer of the backstage rider bounty. Jock appeared at Caught by the River events – notably at Port Eliot in 2011, equipped with kilt and sporran-full of fun. In 2015 Heavenly Recordings reissued Jock’s great album My Personal Culloden, on which he was backed reading his poetry by Davy Henderson’s The Nectarine No.9. As Irvine Welsh told us when My Personal Culloden was reissued, “Jock Scot is, along with Iggy Pop and Paddy Stanton, one of my all-time heroes. A Musselburgh superstar.” (more…)
In addition to the above, allow us to take this opportunity to remind you of the existence of our new mixtape, compiled of the Jeb’s Jukebox archive. The first of many of these mixes is currently streaming over on our Mixcloud page.
Imarhan’s debut album is packed with what you might describe as slow-burn Saharan space jams. The Algerian six piece are amped and energetic live, all jeans and t-shirts and tousled curls, but the performance and production of this record is the restrained and intimate sound of afternoon heat releasing into the night.
The title means ‘the ones I care about’ in Tamasheq, the band’s Afro-Asiatic language, and that intimacy streams through the record – particularly through the calm sensuality of lead singer Sadam’s sand-and-honey vocals. (more…)