Caught by the River

Letter From Arcadia

Dexter Petley | 11th August 2009

Carp of Darkness


you look mighty in your mead-hall, viking waders bloodstained as you quell the wreckers with that song of babylon; you look high & mighty in your barrow boy’s cap, blue-striped sky like a long boat sail, or the very trousers of obelix himself as you set arcadia down in stone, playing barbour-shop napoleon solo. although my place had to be taken in port eliot by that bottle of duchy on the deck, i was nonetheless camped by the river, participating in a story i cannot tell. arcadia serves its first dp notice, and a hundred photos are filed for my eyes only.
a sad reminder of the fragility of habitat, the citizens who think the country is a dump, rivers are just escalators for rubbish. open access is an open drain. it’s time to point the other way. in the interests of conservation, there will be a muted dispatch from arcadia this week. all i can reveal is that there were carp beating drums and fighting like dogs;
there was fish soup in riverside cafes and the night-combines filled wheat-sweet air with the dust of tomorrow’s baguettes quartered in moonlight. there were the swans of bleriot and the cormorants of rabalais. there was buried wine; i buried it under gravel in the shallows to keep it cool and couldn’t find it next day. the long waits between mammoth bouts with pitbull carp were filled sucking wild plums dropping from the bankside trees. a july for all seasons, tipping a squall down an open sky, night winds and mornings borrowed off september.

home on the pits again, scorched grass and teenage rod-pod mutants. they pack up and go home for supper with their mums. the one angler left watches me spod to a spot which sometimes pays; all or nothing, an underwater dark alley where only the lone muggers dare to swim. when i’m about to put a rig down there the spy brings his dog and a packet of fags over, sees my tiny bait and three inch hooklink. “you’ll only catch bream like that”. i’m still adjusting the clutch when it screams off and it’s bream ahoy. a french smirk, a puff of smoke in my face. english pride failed me. did benson got an arrow through his eye or what?

black out drapes on the bird table