Caught by the River

Shadows & Reflections: Cally Callomon

Cally Callomon | 8th December 2023

Cally Callomon, late of Eastfolk, reflects on a year spent in his county of choice — wedged somewhere between Suffolk and Norfolk, just off the coast of Realité.

Summer. Once again I found myself writing, designing and printing the newspaper The Eastfolk Chronicle — principally for the Folk East Festival in which I play a walk-on part. Eastfolk is my county of choice, wedged somewhere between Suffolk and Norfolk just off the coast of Realité and so here I sit on a park bench on the village green in Dew Course admiring Letsgett High Street and all the shops that are on offer there. It’s Wednesday. All other days are early-closing days.

There’s a conspicuous absence of high street chain shops such as Old McDonalds and Pry Marque, instead I amble along passing the record shop run by Mr. Husband Bosworth in which proudly stand listening booths like old perforated hair dryers, and in which, this year, I’ve enjoyed Burd Ellen, Mary Fahl, Stick In The Wheel, John Francis Flynn, You Are Wolf, amongst all the second hand battered prog vinyl and CDs, which allowed me to revisit Owen Pallett and midwife the Cauty/Finer Hurdy Gurdy Song. Album of the year, proudly displayed on their wall, is by Kathryn Tickell who has been making music almost as long as I’ve been buying it. Tickell’s time has come. Amongst Undertones and Fall, John Peel’s real punk, for me, was him slotting in Tickell and The High Level Ranters. 

Crammed shoulder-to-shoulder with this outlet is Cook-In-Books — a cornucopia of new and once loved publications, not unlike Much More Books in Much Wenlock on the other side of the country. Soul Prop Mrs Newton Aycliff took great delight in selling me Amor Towles’ A Gentleman In New York and I shuddered through my family history whilst reading both A Gypsy In Auschwitz by Otto Rosenberg and Jonathan Freedland’s The Escape Artist, there’s light and dark to be found here. Continuing my delve into family history Julia Boyd writes an excellent book about the how facism could rise and travel throughout Europe in the 1930s. Some could learn from this hindsight, especially in Dublin perhaps… Though there have been several noted histories of The KLF in film, books conversation and on-line, nothing comes (ahem) close to Those We look At With Closed Eyes by Julien Demeuzois, being a faithful reproduction of an account by Albine Desray who looked after the famous retired duo in a kare home prior to their 1932 disappearance in Paris. It has been my honour to photograph this account and publish it as a small run of facsimile. I saw it racked in the window next to Cuddy by Ben Myers, quite possibly the most daring and ingenious history of Durham and all who have sailed past her ever I have read.

Across the road sits Felix the cobbler who manages to rescue my ‘crunchies’ — ex-army parade boots — each year, giving them a fresh soul peppered with three-prong hobnails which kit me out to dance another season with Old Glory Molly Dancers and Musicians. We’ll be out on the streets after dark demanding money with menaces under burning torchlight even as you read this. As with the rest of East Anglia, Eastfolk remains a hotbed of dissent. 

Gent’s outfitters Milton Walesby still thrives selling fine clothes by Simon Cathcart (which always need mending the moment they are put on, being the penalty one pays for panache) Old Town (the inspiration behind so many cheap copies these days) and old stock rescued from Johnson & Sons of Yarmouth, a town fast following Dunwich-Under-Water.

Madgetts Bicycle Emporium helped me re-invigorate (not restore) an ancient neglected Hetchins Magnum Bonum to join my recent 1920 Japsai Cyclecar in the carriage house — the latter so expertly fettled by The Repair Shop’s own Mr Tim Gunn (real name).

Just up the cobbled Blynd Alley lies Alington Sedgbrooks, the Art Gallery who hosted some fine work by Southampton’s Jonny Hannah who still manages to sell his work at such fair low prices

Ripon Dishforth’s garage is a refreshing antidote to the usual shiny Nissan dealers who only work by wrote and replacement. Here we find Libby Bove’s Roadside Magic practiced on all vehicles, a manual of which I aim to publish in 2024. If it can’t be fixed… then make it up.

There’s a plush new frontage to Kirby Fleatham’s Travel who booked me on a plane to Dublin, the first flight I’ve taken post Covid. They also sorted me out a train journey to Zurich via Paris after which I hired a car, drove up into the Alps to watch the gaily decorated cows come lowing down from the high pastures. An ancient family tradition.

Refreshed, I drove to Weesen to spread my mother’s ashes on the mirror surface of Lake Walensee in which she swam as a youth. That day I could join her in a swim, noting how warm and clear it still is. Long ago I was doing the same, me as a boy, on hot summer Swiss holidays. My cousins are dwindling, but their children are not and they sang a song by the lake, a song of Walensee with harmony and grace and so I tipped the last of my son’s ashes on hers so that they may take that final swim together forever.