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;