Caught by the River

Shadows and Reflections – Nick Small

Nick Small | 2nd December 2009

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

A strange and overwhelmingly sad year draws to a close. It began with the anticipation of losing two grandmothers, both across the threshold of 90 and in terminal decline. A chronic illness of my own, requiring unpleasant surgery, brought the spectre of my own mortality to haunt moments of quiet reverie.

Yet, the Nannas still cling to the life raft, and the enormous open wound, that kept me from work and regular pursuits for months, has finally healed. You’d be forgiven for thinking that sticking one on the grim reaper’s ugly countenance would be a cause celebre, but the bugger got in a sneaky punch, exacting revenge that would cast the most enormous shadow across my 2009.

Steven Wells, my directing partner for years, and a cherished friend for much longer, died in June, succumbing to cancer, after giving it the slip once before. Much has been said about his talent, and influence, but to me he was the mate who made me laugh, and made me think, more than any other.

As a consequence, the sun was a little dimmed throughout the summer months in the far North. Even the flesh of a juicy pike, taken from, and barbecued beside, the waters of Jarvtrask, was not as sweet as it might have been. The days lost in solitude by the densely forested banks of the Byskealven River were infused with melancholy, but there, with just the old mortal coil (and a few bears) for company, I came to terms with Swells’ departure. See you mate, and thanks for all the fish.

Steven’s leaving present was uncharacteristically subtle. Working in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform, he brought my attention to Caught By The River (courtesy of google, and the affectionate words of Ben Marshall). It was akin to stumbling across a remote dales pub and finding it full of friends, and “soon to be” friends. Little did I know that the host of this tavern would indulge me, encouraging a long neglected fondness for matching word with sentiment, thought with grammar and the sharing of whimsical notions. I’m flattered and humbled to be spinning yarns in such a fine establishment.

2010 is welcome. Should the fates and finance smile upon me, I’ll make a film about bears in the woods with Chris Watson, I’ll get a new fly rod and I’ll probably write more.
I know one thing: if good health prevails and nature takes its course, the Earth’s revolving doors will usher in a new life. To most, this baby will be another teen pregnancy statistic, but to me it will mean that I’m a Grandfather, shunted one place along the short queue of generations. That’s life going on.

“A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush” Eric Newby
I found an ancient copy at a boot fair and was completely enchanted by the notion of Nuristan. It made me want to learn more about the whole region, now consumed by mindless destruction.

“Fishing in Utopia” Andrew Brown
A fascinating voyage through a Sweden I love, but didn’t know much about.

“Chutzpah!” The Wildhearts
Finally perfected, the fusion of blissful pop melodies, soaring harmonies, intelligence and feel good punk rock. Close to genius.