Caught by the River

Shadows & Reflections – Kevin Pearce

9th December 2008

In which, as the year comes to it’s end, our friends and collaborators look back and share their moments;

Jeff …

A strange year. One that has reminded me of that old TV series, The Beiderbecke Affair. And what the character Big Al called the white economy. An existence totally outside of the official mainstream. Doing some good in the world. A little illicitly. Out of necessity. I heard the speeches from this year’s Party Conferences. David Cameron saying: “I get the modern world”. Me thinking: “I bloomin’ don’t”. I went to research the history of soul and socialism instead.

A magical year. In some ways. Finding I still have the propensity to learn. Can become a bit of a wizard in all sorts of areas I never dreamt possible. Proving people are kept in their place by being denied access to knowledge. And it is the sharing of knowledge that has been the real theme of the year for me. I am amazed at the lengths people go to so that they can share their enthusiasms. Without any tangible reward. It’s inspired me to do something myself again. I called it ‘Your Heart Out’ ( It’s about sharing.

The writing was also inspired by finding a flurry of new music. New music that has made me as excited about the potential of new music as I have ever been. The new Erykah and others in its wake. Eric Lau’s New Territories. Stacy Epps’ The Awakening. You get the clues in the titles. Anything associated with Georgia Anne Muldrow and Dudley Perkins and their various guises. Jazmine Sullivan. Proof positive the soul underground is thriving. Add in great records from Ellen Allien, Olga Kouklaki and Leila. DJ Mujava’s Township Funk and Liquid Dancehall by Zomby Productions. And gems from old codgers like Portishead, The Fallen Leaves, and The Sea and Cake. And, alright then I confess, the unwittingly, unwillingly whistle-able American Boy and The Promise. The world’s not so bad after all perhaps.

Books as ever have been a great refuge. New titles from John Le Carre, Shena Mackay, Alan Furst. Discovering Victor Serge, Joseph Roth, Olivia Manning’s Balkan Trilogy, Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s A Scots Quair, Maxim Gorky’s My Childhood. Rediscovering Arnold Wesker’s plays.

A miserable year for many. When many suffered and more feared the consequences of the financiers’ follies. And yet I had my river moment. Sitting in the sun. By the River Cray. On the Dartford delta. A pair of green parrots flew from a nearby oak tree. A small boy saw them and pointed. “Look mum, green parrots”. Only to be told not to be so daft. Oh, but we know, don’t we? And we’ll dream, won’t we?