Mudcat Café message #3038599 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #133786   Message #3038599
Posted By: theleveller
23-Nov-10 - 08:18 AM
Thread Name: Psychogeography and Folk
Subject: RE: Psychogeography and Folk
"Good to find another John Cowper Powys lover! I have just now got round to reading your previous thread Folk music - a sense of place? where you mention your "old friend [the late] Roger Deakin". If you haven't already done so please write some more about this fascinating man"

Well, with apologies to Glueman for going off-thread, here goes:

Yes, I've been a fan of JCP (and his two brothers) since the late 60s and have most of his books including quite a few first editions. I think I've read A Glastonbury Romance more times than any other book. Have you come across the Powys Society:

Powys Society

Glad you like Roger's books. We first met, and immediately became friends, in the early 1970s when we worked together as copywriters in London advertising agencies, during which time he bought Walnut Tree Farm. He would go off to Suffolk at weekends in his old Morgan sports car and return on Monday morning covered in dirt and cobwebs. He had wild curly hair and always dressed in second-hand clothes including an old dustman's leather jerkin. Whilst working in an agency in St. Martin's Lane (he was then Creative Director), he would bring ducks and baby chicks to keep in his office and even wanted to keep a pig in the garages at the back and feed it on the waste produce from Covent Garden market the MD finally put his foot down on this one.

When he was up in Suffolk working on the house, he'd sleep under a sheet of polythene and shoot wood pigeons for breakfast. He managed to destroy his beloved Morgan when it literally broke in half whilst he was carrying bricks in it.

He was incredibly knowledgeable about English literature, having an Honours Degree from Kings College, Cambridge, where his tutor was Kingsley Amis, so we had lots of discussions about this and, I think, it was I who first introduced him to JCP.

Anyway, we lost touch for quite a few years, but after the publication of Waterlog, started to write to each other. Roger was a wonderful, warm and fascinating person a true and totally unselfconscious eccentric. Too many stories to relate here but I still miss him.

A couple of months after he died I wrote a song as an epitaph to him. When we perform it my wife has to sing it as I can't get through it without blubbing.

The Swimmer

It was one of those moments when you feel the earth turning.
A three-quarter moon in a clear autumn sky
Brought into my heart a curious yearning
For things that have passed and have yet to pass by;
For friends who have gone and those still remaining;
While the river of life still winds through the land,
Whose secrets, revealed by the long years' waning,
Can slip through our fingers or be grasped in our hands.

There's a feeling that time is not of the essence;
Not a fear of the future or delight in the past,
Just the space that is filled by a friend when his presence,
Is replaced by the pleasure of what he has left.
Now the spirits of the earth rise to embrace the giver
Like the low-lying mist of a soft autumn dawn
And the swimmer goes down once again to the river,
Where, as sun glints on water, the dream is reborn.

Matthew, can I recommend that you read Robert McFarlane's wonderful book, The Wild Places he was a good friend of Roger's and tells movingly about his life in Suffolk and his last few months. It's also an excellent read in its own right.