Caught by the River

Jeb's Jukebox

Jeb Loy Nichols | 26th August 2016

most of all

Ken Matthews
Most Of All
Olde World Records

My postbox sits in the corner of a sheep grazed field, next to a rusting gate. It’s a quarter mile away, along a single track gravel lane. It’s a walk I know intimately. The lane, lined by alders and hazels and bracken and nettles, is covered in uneven slate gravel and sheep muck. Crows and rooks and the occasional redkite sit on the fence posts. To the east the valley disappears in a jumble of hills. The postbox is a wooden box with a hinged lid. It needs painting. The post, delivered by Dave, arrives around ten o’clock.

Is there a better walk in all the world? I come through my gate, onto the my lane, and walk slowly up the slight incline. Often the wind comes from the west, across the uplands; we’re the last house before thirty miles of moorland. On Friday, in the bright morning, the walk took me thirty minutes; there were elder flowers to sniff, a green pine cone to pocket, starlings to watch, fresh muck to avoid, and long moments standing still, doing nothing. Yesterday, in a light rain, the same walk took ten minutes.

Last night I slept poorly and my head is dream muddled; I start my walk slowly, each footstep a burden. By the time I reach my postbox I feel better, I’ve shed some weight, my shoulders have relaxed.

I never know what I’ll find when I open the lid. Perhaps a package, a letter, a bill, a note from a neighbour. Often nothing. This morning there’s a single brown card package. A record. A 7 inch single.

Is there anything better in all the world? A slow, quiet walk, fresh air, a hedgerow to my right, a grey speckled bird above, fresh cut pasture to my left, and now, as if by magic, a new record.

Jeb Loy Nichols.
Jeb’s Jukebox archive.