Caught by the River

Shadows and Reflections

Cally Callomon | 14th December 2021

It’s time once again for the annual end-of-year musings we like to call Shadows and Reflections. Today Cally Callomon looks back over the past 12 months.


When the whip came down and we were all shut away in our bedrooms told not to come downstairs until we had thought about what we had done…I thought about what I’d done.

I came to realise that just because it’s there doesn’t mean it’s there. 

There were too many things available to me, too many people, too much to read, dance, view, listen, eat, drink at any time most anywhere all for almost no outlay, and all richly undeserved. I didn’t owe it to myself.

I decided it was time for a rationing. Not a diet, not some deprivation or penance. If the world is on a war footing (and if it isn’t it really ought to be) then now is the time to hunker down in the shelter, now is the time to ration all the abundance of stuff that sits on my to-be-read, to-be-heard, to-be-met, to-be-visited pile.

I started off with people. I know too many people, I barely know them when I see them, I could lop off a few contacts and none would be the wiser. I did, they weren’t, I was.

I ended up with reading. I wanted to sell books that were pint-sized. Books that took a pint or two cups of tea to read, that were not numbered, signed, crafted, or particularly cared for. They could be read, loved, and left. Left on buses or trams or trains for others to read. They’d be cheap but rich. The first three Ration Books titles (Ben Myers, Adelle Stripe and Bill Drummond)  sold as if they were hot cakes. I felt emboldened to bake some more. All this time it’s taken me nearly a year to read, understand and digest The Patterning Instinct by Jeremy Lent. It’s taught me all that I knew I knew only couldn’t locate or join together. I’ll be re-reading it for evermore. A chapter a day before a dip in my freezing pond.

A year ago I turned my Oft-Times newspaper The Wanderen Star into a daily electrified bulletin of misplaced or unfortunate signs. I managed 365 of the buggers, one a day, to a suspecting readership who could read, respond and bin. I hoped for a little light in the darkness for all. They were free, they will never be a book or a website and more importantly, they are been and gone.

Most of this was conducted to a soundtrack of Karine Polwart, Stick In The Wheel, Katherine Priddy, Craig Fortnam, Kris Drever, Joshua Burnside and der Van der Graaf Generator.

When I left my London-based corporate giant in 2,000 and set up as a one man operation at home, no fax, certainly no internet and email yet to arrive, I thought I’d make a go of it less the world end or my corporate giant sink. Only the former happened, and I found, last year, that I was one of the few who had what people once called ‘a good war’ I barely missed a beat. Except I had more time to lay hedges, to build a feedbarn out of scrap, and a huge chicken run in our woods. Time to fettle precious bicycles and cycle-cars, time to walk, ride and run. Time to read and listen and ponder, all of it rationed — all of it on purpose. Time to write, like this, only my greatest pal Horace, a nine year old none-standard poodle left this earth in a hurry. Beyond all rationing he is by far the greatest loss. I wanted him to stay forever but rationing teaches us: nothing is forever, only nothing.