Caught by the River

Shadows and Reflections: Mathew Clayton

Mathew Clayton | 20th January 2021

We’re almost at the end of our annual run of musings known as Shadows and Reflections. Since so many of our lives were lived in thematic overlap in 2020, we’ve asked our contributors and friends to focus on the small, strange and specific as they look back over the last 12 months. Today it’s the turn of Mathew Clayton.

In late September, I headed off with my mate Kev and our respective daughters for a night camping at Merrylands, just outside the village of Chiddingly. They were shutting up shop for the season that weekend, and it turned out we were the only people there. After the tents had been pitched we pushed off to the Six Bells – a real cracker of a country boozer. In normal times they put on gigs at the weekend – if you want to see the original guitarist from Nine Below Zero’s new band you will find them at the Six Bells. Pub rock did not die with punk; it just migrated to places like the Six Bells, where it remains alive and well.

Two swift pints and we headed back to cook dinner. Just outside the church a man was watering his sunflowers. They looked magnificent. We fell into conversation. Before we left, he asked if I would like some seeds. Absolutely. He cut off one of the dead flowers and handed it over.

Ever since it has sat on the sideboard. I look at it each day and think about the summer to come.