Caught by the River

Shadows and Reflections: Nick Small

Nick Small | 26th December 2015

Shadows and Reflections: the annual collection of postings where Caught by the River’s contributors and friends take a look back on the events that have shaped the past twelve months. Today it’s the turn of Nick Small.

2015 began sweetly, with January being almost entirely geared towards the filming of Heavenly Recordings 25th anniversary shindig in Hebden Bridge. It was a weekend that will live long in the memory, and not just because there were some fantastic performances. Just being with lovely people, forging new friendships and enjoying the most convivial atmosphere in Britain’s finest small music venue (the Trades Club) was what made it a truly special experience. I’m still editing now and finding little moments that brighten my days.

The Spring was notable for the exhibition “Heathcliff Adrift”: poetry by Ben Myers of these pages accompanied by my photographs of Heathcliff’s stomping ground on the South Pennine Moors. The venue was the Bronte Parsonage Museum in Haworth, which was really about as fitting as it could be.

Both these projects typified my working year: creatively rewarding but not in any way pleasing to the bank. The older I get, the more this seems to be the case. I can’t figure whether this is because I give less of a stuff about living in a perpetual state of penury, valuing the experience of living and just doing more than striving for pecuniary advantage; or whether I’m just getting old and my rat racing shoes have been filled by younger tykes. I suspect that it’s a bit of both.

Summer brought two new grandchildren, both of whom required intensive care at birth. My two daughters now have four offspring between them and only one has managed to stay in the womb for the full term: 26, 27 and 31 weeks for the others. I have come to the conclusion that my kids are just bloody lazy. Thankfully all are now healthy and I look forward to even more “walks in the woods with Grandad”.

The other moment of the summer was this.


My lad’s first pike. Every summer we spend time in Lapland. Every summer we fish out on the lake by our house. Every summer he catches perch and roach by the dozen … small ones. In fact he caught his first ever fish 9 years ago, before he’d even baited up his hook … the perch was an impatient little bugger, opting to just have a go at the bare hook. Catching perch had lost its novelty to the point where he’d actually rather just row the boat and swat mosquitoes. So, when he hooked into this jack pike he was thrilled … as you can probably see. I was thrilled too and it was particularly gratifying for him to cook it and serve it up for lunch the next day.

The year’s end …. and I’ll touch wood here, has arrived without us losing anyone to the grim reaper, which makes a change. Just as significantly, we have new arrivals in our household. We have become, accidentally, keepers of chickens. My daily routine now has to incorporate letting them out, sorting their food and drink, talking to them and then chasing them around the garden to get them back in at night. They haven’t, as yet, been appreciative enough of my efforts to reward me with a single egg … but that does at least give me a significant new life event to look forward to.

Nick Small on Caught by the River