Caught by the River

Smoke: A London Book Launch

9th August 2013


This weekend, longtime Caught by the River contributor and friend Jude Rogers and Matt Haynes (formerly of Sarah Records) launch their first Smoke: A London Peculiar book. It’s called From the Slopes of Olympus to the Banks of the Lea, and it looks at the event that changed London the most in the first decade of their existence – the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It contains, says their press release, “very little running, jumping or splashing, but does feature cough syrup made out of rose petals gathered from a sunken barge in Fish Island, the melancholy song of a late night dustman in Greenwich, and Usain Bolt’s long-lost, late-night Leyton tweets.”

For any readers in London or nearby, Jude and Matt are launching the book at Greenwich Market tomorrow (Saturday 10th August) where they will be taking over a stall from 10am-5.30pm. For more details, click here. You can read an extract from the book below.

PHOSPHORUS by Matt Haynes

The year of the strike was the year I died. 1888, I was sixteen, and already used to the iron taste of spit in my mouth, but when I lost my first tooth, I cried. Then one day my boy Tom said, “Annie, I can see your bones, it’s like there’s a candle inside you” – and it was true: I glowed in the dark, like a ghost, like a ghost…

From the factory tower on Sundays I watched my father fishing, growing old without me. And I watched my little brother’s children, George and Samuel, the nephews whose cheeks I’d never kiss, walk beside him on the path to Marshgate Lane, where Sam, who came home from Passchendaele, built his first print works. Last week, after the diggers moved in, the old enamel sign stuck out of the earth like a flag or a bone on a battlefield: Samuel Seares & Sons.

At night now I drift through smart new flats where us girls used to lick the white phosphorus. That sudden flare in the corner of your eye, like someone has just struck a match –

Did I make you jump?