Caught by the River

Letter From Arcadia

Dexter Petley | 28th January 2010



thanks for pulling the black-outs down. feared arcadia was in aspic. or you’d missed the last chub before christmas, not tunnelling out of highgate to a waiting troika. your s&r was like a smuggler’s beacon on the romney marsh. i couldn’t do one; accident in the word factory, fingers lost in the eulogy compressor. hazard of a pen-slinger. no shadows, no looking back. as the world turned to a pillar of salt, we looked on, and stayed away, keeping our reflections under a hat. 2009 was the year of mass hypocrisy.

during that late decennial landscape by findus, the lakes all shuttered in bullet proof ice, arse pit stayed water longest, ridgebacked in everlasting wind. always the last to ice, those end of the line carp just beating the rush-hour cold:

carp in december, they were still on the bars, helium santas warming their fat. fairy lights on the rod rests. it was looking good for a christmas forty till hell froze over. two weeks of glass trees, a fortnight of deafening snow, the way to stop aviation, keep the skies quiet. seven days under a drift, guessing where the carrots were under three feet of snow, the cat in his sleeping bag of four season fur, the only grit up here was the true grit you needed to shit outside in minus 15:

melting snow for water, shouldering the door open every morning as the wind piled it up again. when i ran out of wine, the butcher came up from the village on his quad, two bottles of pinard and a kilo of sausages.

your arcadia came with the slush, flowing up ditches, first snowdrops, starlings at muster in the fields, shell-shocked pheasants standing in the lanes at hunters’ retreat. waters have risen, four extra feet on the pits, the rivers which died in summer are back on the map. cat ice on the water buckets every morning, new line on the spools, down to the last fuel stick in the handwarmer. keeping your seat warm in the renault for 2010.

dog fights over the birdtable