"Laughing Mirrours"

As I was writing about All My Eyes See, I was reminded of another book I did for Ceolfrith Press which was also published in 1975.

Laughing Mirrours was on a totally different scale to the Hopkins opus. (Well, a touring exhibition and a 148-page book do deserve that description, don’t they?) This one was the archetypal “slim volume” of poetry. Not my poetry, but poems by New Zealand-born and NE resident musician Leyton Ring. I provided photographs, this time of landscapes—or, to be more precise, waterscapes.

Leyton lived in Warden, near Hexham, just above the confluence of the North and South Tyne, so Chris Carrell suggested to me that I should create a photo-essay centred on the meeting of the two rivers to which we eventually gave the title “Where the Waters Meet”.

Water, inevitably, featured largely!

I did a couple of extra pictures to accompany two specific poems. They were taken at Chesters Roman Fort, a few miles north of Warden, not far from Chollerford.

The book featured 17 poems and 12 photos and it was Ceolfrith 27, the 27th book Chris had published since setting up Ceolfrith Press.

Some memories:

  • Driving to the waters-meet on the south bank of the now-united River Tyne. We got out of the car and the dog—Pip, our mad Border Collie—leapt out and ran straight into the river and seemed to be trying to swim to the other side. Panic! The river was running quite quickly and we had visions of having to plunge in after him—it was deep enough to cause him problems—but, after letting us shout enough so that we knew he was only coming back ashore because he wanted to and not because we told him to, he returned laughing in that dog way and proceeded to shake water all over us. It took quite a while for my heart and lungs to settle down so I could take pictures.
  • Lying on my stomach on the mud and rock riverbank to get exactly the right angle for the shot and realising on getting up that I looked as though I’d peed myself.
  • Trying to clear a way through stinging nettles (ouch, ouch and ouch again!) and other vegetation to get the perfect shot I wanted of the short flight of stone steps at Chesters.
  • The joy of seeing the proofs for the first time!