Caught by the River

Shallows & Reflections: Cally Callomon

Cally Callomon | 1st December 2022

Every year, we give over all of December (and usually most of January) to a series called ‘Shadows and Reflections’, in which our contributors share highs, lows and oddments from the past 12 months. Kicking off this year’s proceedings is Cally Callomon.

Puzzle One: In any one of those odd ‘Most-Common-Phrases-of-2022’ type articles that are bound to abound by the end of the year, I expect ‘Cost Of Living’ (bolt-on ‘Crisis’ optional) to figure highly. Possibly number one in the charts and understandably so. I also understand that this crisis is mainly about fortune as opposed to wealth, because the lack of cash money for so many millions is the very crisis itself. 

I own a lot of money and, now in my sixties, I benefit from years and years of the goodlife experience, an overprivileged life where the dark days of my early twenties — being the pandemic of Thatcherism causing miner’s misery, mass unemployment, rampant inflation, Euro skepticism, the murder of society etc — would never return. Hello austerity, thought we’d asked you to leave? Yet, sadly, whilst this year’s cost is calculated in pounds and pence (none of your Euros here) the true wealth of life can become sidelined in that race for cash.

Yet that wealth could also come in the shape of diet, health, security, peace, learning and tranquility, and I feel that prior investment in such matters through better taxation may just have secured us a time during this last year where the cost of living crisis could be offset by the health of the populace. Instead I look back at a year where so many vital services are crumbling, creaking, quaking on their knees and end most of my days asking me ‘but what can I do?’

The answers came in many forms but few as succinct as Jeremy Lent’s book The Patterning Instinct without which I’d be spending far too long at sea, perhaps even in the doldrums. 

The answers come in the encouraging thoughts of the economist Maeve Cohen who promotes simple achievable equitable fair apportionment of fortune via The Social Guarantee.

Wealth and Fortune are not the same thing. As anyone who dabbles in stocks or Bitcoins can see: fortunes can be gained and lost at incalculable speed, but wealth is for life and often has nothing to do with money, or cost…

Wealth and Joy are not the same thing. As Bill Drummond rightly writes; ‘Life is too short to be wasted on The Pursuit Of Happiness’. The bountiful and beautiful new Unthanks album (Sorrows Away) ends with a mantra to help rid us all of Sorrow whereas I feel that sorrow is as important, vital and necessary as it’s bedfellow Happiness. I fear we may, again, not learn from sorrow this or next year due to some blind panic to just wish it all away and be, um, happy.

And this last year sorrow arrived in the shape of loss as my mum died two days before the queen; same age, same birthday month, I swear her madge was just waiting to be the last out of the door. My mum’s funeral wasn’t quite the match.

So, on waking and asking myself ‘but what can I do?’ I re-double my efforts not to use the term ‘activist’ lest it divides us between them and us, all of us can take action and will do just that, I’m sure and I hope.

Puzzle Number two: more than many, this year we have read about people ‘doing something new’ with folk music and it became noticeable how the bright young things of a few years ago have now become the venerated, sometimes tired, old guard due, in part, to so many exciting new acts turning their talents to the songs of yesterday… But doing something new to the old? I feel that such clinging to the old hinders recognition of the truly new. New like the second Sorry album on Domino, the debut Somebody album and, should we need bona fide folk tradition recognition; Joshua Burnside; Anrimeal, One Leg, One Eye; Stick In The Wheel all plough ahead often regardless of the past becoming a burden and the utter highlight has to have been the greatly disturbing Burd Ellen second album A Tarot Of The Green Wood, an album I feel I’ve been waiting for most of my life.

Pack up my troubles in my old kit bag and get cracking.