Ploughing Songs

Ploughing Songs by Damian Croft

ISBN: 0954982703

a new collection of my Cambridgeshire-inspired short stories

Published by Elm Tree Press


"These stories are eloquent, atmospheric and vivid in their evocation of a place. Anyone who knows the countryside on the edge of the fens, from Brampton to March, Swaffham and beyond, will recognise the sharp flint of human spirit struck in the creeping damp atmosphere of the landscape. Anyone who doesn't couldn't find a better place to get a whiff of it. But beware, some of the stories also have a bite like a malnourished fenland dog."

Tom Morris

Associate Director of the National Theatre.

By way of an introduction....

Leaving school at eighteen, and with little idea of what to do with myself beyond some vague notions of poetry, I took a job with a local thatcher.

For the first week I was left alone in an osier bed near Godmanchester charged with the task of cutting thatching spars. The bed had once been coppiced for the withies used for basket-work in a local blind-person’s home, but with the home now gone, some aggregate firm was digging it up for the gravel beneath. Each day, I worked ahead of the diggers cutting what osiers remained until, at midday, I wandered through the jungle of willow to the banks of the Ouse and swam across the river to a pub. I don’t think I earned my pay that week and was subsequently demoted to tea-boy.

It was the beginning of a bizarre and unlikely summer, but together with Stephen Morley, thatcher-extraordinaire, I criss-crossed Huntingdonshire, encountering some of the most eccentric people I have ever met. Little thatching got done but a large friendship was cemented between us.

Though they were only penned between 1998 and 2000, these tales hark from those days. They were financed by a grant from Eastern Arts and subsequently did the rounds of all the big publishers, receiving a number of grand compliments from literary bigwigs along the way. In the end though, the answer was the same from all of them: collections of short stories were deemed commercially unviable, and so they remained consigned to a cardboard box.

Stephen's untimely death a couple of years ago moved me to do something with them. It didn't seem right that the story should just end there. Fortunately, in the meantime, technology has made small print runs viable and the internet solves some of the problems of distribution. So together with a small Cambridgeshire publisher, we have embarked on this venture...

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