Caught by the River

The River Absinthe Flows Into Dead Mans Cove

John Andrews | 6th December 2007


your photos of the absinthe and letter from behind the lines, from beyond the imaginot line – wonderful stuff. a heady brew, a winter ale for the soul. oh to pass a saturday afternoon after a five franc rabbit lunch by fishing from jane birkin’s ducking stool, a sister to the marianne faithful cottage swim on the loddon where the good miss faithful did appear to me once upon the lawn dressed in nothing but swan feathers. maybe i should have read your mushroom gospels before i cast in that day. but i did get a barbel in the afternoon. your winter should be pegged out along zola’s canal with maigret mixing the heron blood for the groundbait bucket and the roar from the le theil crowd as the light fades. you’ll find me by the lock cut reading the pink ‘un and working out where i am on the latest free map of the front.

until then all paths lead to aldermaston mill where jeff and i had tea on the lawn with dave bedford and jakub. i sat on the footbridge in the sun and caught minnows and the occasional perch. lost one in the reeds. jeff had a cracking perch in the back garden mill pool, and i poached his swim in the afternoon and had another sergeant major. and then the frost came down, with the water thick like oil and travellers lighting fires on the horizon. it was a resistance party.

have you put your recollections of the year together yet? since i nailed mine to the bar a few more memories have emerged. standing under a full moon on mount abu drinking beer round the brazier for starters. but for now i am still captive to seatown shingle beach. from the angling times – 1962 i found this cutting of stoker’s


‘the wind had backed around to the north, and the sea had quietened down to a smooth, bass-producing swell that clawed at the shingle beach, and reflected the cold light of the November full moon. this, i decided, was just the sort of night to try my luck in dead man’s cove……….. as soon as i laid the sack down, an extra large wave surged up to the foot of the cliff. feeling its natural element again, the conger went frantic. that sack seemed a darned sight more important just then than its contents and hurriedly i untied the cord that kept it shut. the conger shot out like a bolting rabbit; glissaded out of control down the slope of greasy lias and entered the water with a final triumphant flourish of its tail. the rest was comparatively simple, and half an hour later a friend spotted me by the the light which hangs outside the anchor inn. ‘any luck tonight?’he called out

‘well,’ i began’.

the turn off for chideock they all miss on the birdtable