A note by Iain Sinclair on “By Our Selves” – a film by Andrew Kötting

The walk from High Beach in Epping Forest to the village of Glinton, north of Peterborough, in the footsteps (on and off) of the poet John Clare, became the basis for a book, “Edge of the Orison”. But that never felt like more than the start of something. For years a film, in the mood of Herzog’s “The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser”, haunted me. Our paths were never likely to cross – so, as an admirer of ‘This Filthy Earth’, I pestered Andrew Kötting instead. Andrew didn’t say no. He made his excuses and swam to France or jumped on a plastic swan. (I suspected that he couldn’t read my book or John Clare.)

Decades later, Kötting came by accident on the photograph in “Orison” of a fearsome Straw Bear with his sullen driver, dark fenland figures out of Whittlesey. Now he was smitten. He saw the perfect excuse for getting thatched, bell-hung, hobbled. The game was on. His energies were alarming. Within days, we visited the great performer Freddie Jones, in his Oxfordshire village, and enjoyed a convivial discussion – before coming away with a VHS of Freddie’s electrifying performance as Clare.
Now Freddie’s son, an actor of beautiful infolded presence, minimalist gesture, silence, will play Clare on the road. On modest (bare-bones) budget we’ll start to tramp. With the hope that crowd-funding can boost the wherewithal to the point where a few of Kötting’s larger ambitions for ‘By Our Selves’ can be fulfilled. I’ll trail along, putting my oar in, carrying a goat mask, muttering dark asides. After the long curation of the 70×70 year of films, this should be a holiday.
Iain Sinclair

1 comment to A note by Iain Sinclair on “By Our Selves” – a film by Andrew Kötting

  • Ann Jameson

    I was very glad to have been to your event at the Round Chapel last Monday: not only that I’ve now got your book, and am vastly impressed by your writing. Also impressed by your knowledge; the Maresfield Gardens chapter showed how much you know about Sigmund Freud (I worked as the Library Secretary at the Institute of Psycho-Analysis in New Cavendish Street through the 1960s). To have learnt so much about all the different spheres of history that you cover in your books — simply mind-blowing!
    And I realise that you haven’t got time for chit-chat with all the people you come across. But yesterday morning my sister was with me — Elspeth Morley, now living at 28 Middleton Road, to be nearer to her elderly sister living at No.24 — and we got out the Hackney Rose-Red book which has the Middleton Road chapter in it, made out of the your interview of me. (It happened to be her 81st birthday yesterday.) I had not read the chapter before, having been rather overcome by it when I was given the book. Elspeth read out the chapter comprising what I’d said on your tape, and was astonished how it seemed to cover most of my history and my contemporary thoughts about people. The book was published in 2008. But what I’d dearly like to know was the date of that interview of me, prompted by your having had in your shop a book by my novelist father R C Hutchinson.
    In my computer diary I have the date, 11 August 2008, when I was given (by a neice of my late-husband’s, who’d happened to see it) your book, but don’t seem to have recorded your interview of me. (When I search on ‘Sinclair’ in the diary I don’t come to you before 11 Aug 08) I’d be very grateful if you could tell me the date of your interview of me, in my garden. Many thanks, Ann Jameson

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