Caught by the River

Letter From Arcadia

Dexter Petley | 25th May 2012

5th form at st river’s

telegram for a tackling cove known as andrews of arcadia


how the words have floated by in five years. some on the crest of a wave, others stagnant in the flood relief, one or two litters drowned in a gunny sack up the eddy. it seems apt i should be writing this in the best of places, the grassy bank of a french lake in may. caught by the cuckoo, released by the wind. i have a moment; the carp came by an hour ago, enduro pack, sluts for punishment, the something for nothing carp whose lips have seen captain hook and a pirate’s welcome. now the bream have muscled up like minesweepers. so i’m reeling in to take five, to toast five years, and describe the last five months.

whilst you were panning car boots on dogtrack carpark lakes in search of golden harcourt & hardy, once rulers of the world, the new rain age came down on canvas arcadia here in normandy. mice outwitted traps, mud turned to quick, then the ice age followed through for the kill. one february morning i woke to minus 8 bedside. fearing crionic suspension, i filled the kettle from a jerry can i’d lagged in a sleeping bag. drops fell onto the wooden floorboards and froze solid on contact. the one time in my life i thought, like druids, that may would never come.

for now the second rain age calls a truce. the green fuse is lit. buttercups a yard high, ducks in running ditches, a throaty cuckoo still off key. the bream are gone. five minutes is up. carp are cutting through the waves, like tea clippers at five o’clock. the baits land in a white splash back of a tumbledown island. the take is gentle as a pick-pocket which turns nasty when the game is up. hook and hold, like winching up a diving bell off a cinq port.

i shall think of you all on friday night. may your words turn water into wine. here i expect the wine to turn words to water. and into that water i shall cast. the formula for another five years of letters. it’ll be an honour.

five bob postal order on the bird table

We began publishing the correspondence between Dexter Petley and John Andrews back in May 2007 making Letter From Arcadia the longest running feature on Caught by the River. It’s made for a fascinating archive and you can go back to the very beginning by clicking HERE.