Curled up


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January. A thick head and heavy limbs. Uncomfortably numb.

Comfort comes in sleep. A gentle drift into dreams. They aren’t always pleasant, and many are bizarre and untouchable, but my subconscious is kinder to me now than my conscious. No guilt for not doing, for spending too long in bed. For not being grateful for what I do have.

Conscious self-criticism is rarely constructive. Instead it wallows in shame. The voice of the strong. No empathy for the weak. But when the words come from within they are harder to ignore than if uttered by others. That one voice is formed from a thousand others. Every sneer or snort of contempt rolled into one singular slap in the face.

The hardest thing is being nice to one’s self. To say its okay to feel wedged and leaden. That you don’t have to give all that you have to others. That you are valid in thought and feeling. That you have worth within self-preservation.

Besides, it is midwinter. The days are cold, wet or both and the nights long. What is possibly unnatural about wanting to curl up in quiet at such a time? Energy will return with the warming of the sun. It always does. And in the meantime, I must let myself bob around in a quiet corner – a dinghy moored for winter, not quite redundant but secure for when the currents settle.

I mustn’t completely submerge, though. A loss of appetite doesn’t mean I shouldn’t eat, and when the compulsion comes, I should step out and feel the fresh of the air. The sunshine of yesterday prompted a search for a January adder, which was dampened by an unexpected shower, whereas a few days since I managed to nudge myself over to the river.

It was late morning before I arrived, and an earlier start may have been fruitful (especially for roach), but the river was colouring and rising as I fished, a dirty, muddied swell that yielded not even a minnow. I left long before dark, my waterproofs proving to be nothing of the sort, my final cast costing me a float and my patience.

I had been craving running water. My local pools had been generous with their perch, a new venue (for me) adding some variety. But an invitation to fish the River Test had thrown my thoughts for the winter. The fishing wasn’t easy, but once I found a rhythm the rewards came. I had not fished the Test for coarse fish before, and I really hope I will return soon.

And, with apologies for the shameless plug, the occasion was filmed – by Nick Fallowfield-Cooper – for Fallon’s Angler – and the resulting film can be seen here (From the Gloaming – film). Hopefully it might offer some inspiration to anyone else out there who is feeling the drag of an undercurrent….

Image copyright by Nick Fallowfield-Cooper


  1. Gareth Craddock says:

    Beautifully written, Kevin. What a time it is. Like you, my outdoor life draws to a halt. Giving in to that heaviness isn’t so bad. Perhaps we’re supposed to. My brother is a painter/decorator; he gets no work at this time so he saves some money and goes away every single January/February; just skips the whole thing. Not a bad move. He’s currently surfing in Morocco…. So there is a sun out there somewhere…

  2. Kevin Parr says:

    Odd thing is, I quite like this time of year. The next couple of months are my favourite time of the fishing season, and then we are racing into spring. I’ve suffered since I was a child, though – seasonally affected – but still I beat myself up for it……

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