Words and pictures: Luke Turner
A hallucination is a half truth, an uncanny blooming in a mind off-kilter. I was left perplexed by my May walk in Epping Forest, when the gathering twilight under the trees had triggered a vision of an abject figure to the side of a path. Who was he? I half expected a telephone call, but after a week or so keeping an eye on the websites and Twitter accounts of local newspapers and police I assumed that no corpse was discovered hanging from a rope around the grotesque limb of a beech pollard. Yet like a few frames of a personal horror film on an endless loop he was stuck in my flighty imagination, head in hands and a rope above him.
I clearly needed something to break the conspiracy between my urban-dweller's neurotic fears and the truculent forest night. Might science be the answer? The bats that flashed black against the dusk had made for an unusual comfort amid the sweaty panic of that walk. Though bats have long been a ghoulish staple of fantasy writing and film alike, I find their extraordinary abilities to fly and hunt in the inky darkness fascinating, rather than unsettling. I wondered if understanding them in the forest as they swerved through the trees might give me my own, more rational, night vision. (more…)
Words: Travis Elborough
The Swiss author Robert Walser once argued that it always feels like a Sunday in a park. Like Sundays, parks certainly occupy a unique temporal zone. For their visitors at least, they seem at one remove from workaday life. Time within them can be wasted, parks supplying the ideal location when we’ve nothing else to do. Or desperately want to do nothing in particular, and as languorously as possible. And yet they are also hives of activity – albeit of a leisurely, if athletic, kind.
When Walser spoke of Sundays, though, it was because, for him, these public spaces were imbued with the same melancholy as the interminable Sundays you only ever experience as a small child. Perhaps Walser’s melancholy is unique, but the park, for many of us, is surely infused with childhood memories: of lazy sun-dappled afternoons, of swings and roundabouts, and mud-stained knees on the local playing fields, the aroma of freshly mown grass and the cloying scent of brightly coloured geraniums. Nearly all of us first encounter parks as small children. And, in due course, take our own children to parks. So maybe some of us do share Walser’s melancholy – perhaps these spaces remind us of lost innocence and the passing of the years. (more…)
The latest selection of bits and pieces we’ve been digging here at Caught by the River HQ…
Haymaking – Trebettyn, Cowbridge (1949)
As part of their Britain on Film project, the BFI have released a collection of over 750 films, dated 1900 to 1999, which depict rural British life. The films are available to watch for free on BFI Player via an interactive map. (more…)
No Map Could Show Them by Helen Mort
(Chatto & Windus, paperback, 96 pages. Out now and available here in the Caught by the River shop, priced £9.99).
Review by Will Burns
What a title No Map Could Show Them has become over the past few weeks. A month in which a stitched-together nation state has publicly exploded its identity, while simultaneously seeking to smudge and blur (my attempt to coin a statesperson’s equivalent of ‘shock and awe’) the boundaries and borders of the previous centuries’ maps, has left almost no aspect of British-European life un-examined, un-pawed, un-broken. And so how welcome a book concerning itself with our place in the land, and our place amongst each other. (more…)
By Richard Worthy
We met on a football field in 1972 – Footsbarn Theatre v St.Germans Village.
Perry was not good at football and his team’s stars were heard to yell in broad Cornish accents “bloody kick it up the field, m’Lord” He arrived on a powerful Dresda motorbike with a 750cc Norton engine and disappeared after the game in a roar of rubber and exhaust.
Next I was hired to play guitar for a singer from Montserrat that Perry’s father enjoyed as she sung the Piaf song ”Mi Lord”. The gig went badly wrong when I gave her the key to start and she launched off in another pitch while Perry’s Dad was talking to his gamekeeper about pheasants and they were both rather put out at the discordant intrusion. Perry was very calm and explained that his father hardly ever came to England being resident in Morocco as the Tangerine Earl and had an awfully bad back that weekend. (more…)