Caught by the River

Letters From Arcadia

Dexter Petley | 19th September 2008

‘Carp Crunch Hits French Banks’


fags for the colonel for rounding up the gang, the great drain robbers of frensham still in their jail stripes. you nabbed the leader and stole the show. your eyes lit up this time, not the dog’s. i must try the seance rig myself, going to the seine with wartime cuttings from La Pêche Indépendante.

this one seems to commission the colonel. edition oct 1943, in the column “snippets from everywhere” these two snippets side by side:

During the month of September, Monsieur Dusquesne caught 9 carp in the vélodrome pond at Albert of which the two biggest weighed 23lbs 425 and 16lbs 350 drams. Last year, this smart fisherman had sensational carp fishing in the same swim. A machine operator and his wife from Saint-Fromond who poached without shame in the rivers of Saint-Jean-de-Daye were found guilty and fined 300 francs each. In truth a tiny sum, given the price these sad individuals got selling the fruits of their depredations.

my last august depredations on the seine saw little action, troubled by bream and one hung crucian. the carp had retreated, leaving nothing behind but sunken trees and nettle beds you could hide a panzer in. a bazooka would’ve done; there are no speed cameras on the seine to curb the paris pilots overtaking the pig-iron taxis in the barbel lane, bateaux mouches with furry dice in the wheelhouse and blue fairy lights round the sonar. they knock out your snipers and leave wreckage floating in the weedbeds making sad inviduals reel in:

the aquatic downturn has effected all subsidiary pits and ponds. no poetic way to put it: the fishing’s been crap this summer. more blanks than an average winter. counterfeit conditions, the carp have flooded the bank with IOUs. it’s a surfeit of lampreys, a plethora of pea-snails. swan muscle-building in the underwater swimming pool. bait has been made redundant. on earth the gardens and forests imitate. last year my hops withered on the vines and i had armfulls of carp. this year the hops are like barrage balloons and the forests are swarming with top brass parading to regimental horns of plenty:

last autumn i wrote about the mushroom catastrophe on caught by the river. a meagre appearence by very few species after a false start two months early. an aberation in the moss, a forest floor in turmoil. this autumn the spores are in backlash. mushrooms like moulton lava tumbling down the slopes, jostling for poll and spilling out into ditches. ceps yet to appear, and the dry east wind will probably keep them down till october. with the chickens egged on into full time laying it’s festin time with mushroom omelettes the plat de jour: chanterelles shy but showing already, girolles in scattered ranks everywhere there’s dirt and sand, amethysts in a purple haze from mossy knoll to leaf filled ditch, pieds de moutons breaking from the fold. out in the fields the giant puff balls make you shout: “i am not a number…!”

the birdtable needs a refit. exploration parties have arrived, long tailed tits and this years winning robin complaining about facilities. i have a collection of second hand birdsnests for wrens and chaffinches, mostly made of my own long strands of grey hair which i leave outside in the yard with other contruction materials, the moss and the twigs. trade is brisk come winter but the chaffinch is a speculator and builds nests for investment, leaving them empty all year. i collect them up again and put them back on the shelf. you can get seven wrens in them, see.

rent book on the bird table