Andrews of Arcadia

Vintage Fishing Tackle For The Soul

31st Jul 2009

LETTERS FROM ARCADIA by John Andrews

Originally published on the Caught by the River Website as part of correspondence between John Andrews and Dexter Petley

DP

Whilst you were caught in the teeth of a French car farce-10 the wind turned to the west over England and brought us much needed rain, filling every ditch from Dagenham Breach to Dagsville with life.  The tench have  stayed elusive at Frensham but the golden rudd have appeared some of them weighing more than a bag of sovreigns with the scales to match.  As revived as if we had taken our holidays at Sligo racecourse we took the road west along lanes and drank strong tea in lay-bys where burger vans flew their flags of St George and it felt good to be alive, the English summer at its best, a heady brew of the fragrance of wet woods and hop fields drying in the intermittent sun. To Port Eliot we went, the oldest inhabited house in the country having been home to Augustinian monks or Eliots of some kind for over one thousand years.  On arrival in the rain by the Caught by the River tented village I half expected to see you coming down the river, Letters From Arcadia in a leather dispatch case under your arm, standing tall in your rubber blow up like the last French blow in to come by that way, the Emperor himself, who said when gazing at the estate from the sea as he sailed into exile that it was the most beautiful place in England.  He was not wrong.  There we camped like lost colonials and drowned rat Wellington troops in sawn off waders and fifties barbours listening to Hanif Kureshi bringing the Buddha of Suburbia alive again on the bowling green and becoming bewitched by ghostly Michael Howells Victorian vignettes in giant mahoghany cabinets deep in the bowels of the house where the carpets have worn through their backing and the roof has leaked continually since 1850.  I read from Babylon on Sunday having eaten a bar of coal tar soap as a cure for nerves and consumed two rapid fire pints of Duchy ale.  For a brief moment I invited the tent away from that place and along the banks of the River Lea in 1851, on a wet afternoon not so disimilar to the one they were experiencing, where Napoleon was not such a distant memory and a red topped crow's quill made its way to the bend and the sunlight caught on the windows of the White House as another shower of rain passed away to the east across Hackney Marsh.

Words drying on the birdtable




JA