Caught by the River

Shadows & Reflections – John Andrews

John Andrews | 24th December 2011

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

The year known in Arcadia as 2011. One spent standing outside the shadows cast by those previous. A year of fond reflection. It began in the company of Bible John and Sue and their mad dogs, setting alight to Fen beacons, torchsongs in a village of deafening silence. A spot on the map where we broke the ice either side of midnight to fish Ten Mile Bank in a closing fog. Heralding a spring of blanks where every trip to the river or lake was accompanied by snow and frost. By the time the winter cleared – we lit our last fire in June when a Northerly blew in – we were lost in the terror of the original version of The Killing, a weekly passport to Denmark, another country where life was seen through headlights and rain.

Midsummer awoke on Popham’s Eau with Bible John amid a dawn storm of pollen and the laughter of anglers becoming children again for a few stolen hours. An eel was all that came to the net, the unrecorded arm of prehistory reaching out from water thick with flowers. Down summer lanes its spell sent us, to Port Eliot and the sanctuary of an oak tree in the Caught by the River Field where we set up in a 12″ by 12″ circus tent and welcomed people into our world with a slideshow for the soul. The best five days and nights of the year spent in a space rocket made of canvas and glass. Ending with an afternoon on stage reading angling writing as it should be heard – aloud over a drink to an audience of open hearts.

From there to the North Norfolk Coast, where we chased bass on huge tides whilst we caught up with ourselves amid old friends and family. A fortnight of out of the way car boot sales and damp ridden bookshops, long walks along cut-off beaches to pints pulled in fantasy pubs lined with tiled floors and backed with pantries. Autumn fell and we existed on too few nights sleep as the auction houses called out on in-between days along corridors of burnt leaves. On Southwark Bridge we built a one day museum in the back of the van with a borrowed floor of oak and a bolt of 12oz canvas rescued from a factory in Wolverhampton. Nights in the Stag and the Social became celebratory as we read from On Nature and planned Antidote, heavy words chasing the crazy bowlheads out of town.

It was a year of saying yes to everything and no to very little. It was a year when more promises found themselves postponed as another arm was twisted or another idea was pursued. A year when diesel was burnt from empty pockets and tea was drunk from the spout and by the gallon. A year when new friendships were forged. It was a year incredible that included an underwater cameo for a Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou film, a joyful year of waving when the world said we should have been drowning.