I’ve got to be really careful with this otter – it would be so easy to drop him in the snow, bang his head on the door frame or, worse, slide on the ice and go flat-on-my-back, broken hip and ottered face…

Sweating after our band’s first set at the Snowdrop, I go outside to watch the flakes whirling down: smokers huddle, but it’s cool on my face, and beautiful, coating South Street and bringing silence to the town. There’s a good turnout, surprisingly, on this coldest night, for the pub is warm, welcoming and, well, rocking. After the gig I drive home at 10mph, snow coming straight at the windscreen.

The next morning we crunch through the streets to the Linklater Pavilion, by the river, to meet up for the Junior Film Club event, which is to culminate in a showing of Ring of Bright Water. Not as many children as we’d hoped though – a film doesn’t have the same pull as a fresh deep coating of snow. We’re meant to have a talk about otters, but our expert is snowed in, so we set off on the path through the railway land, and the children start to pelt each other, then the adults, with snowballs; but they’re on the lower path, and we’re on the upper (and can throw further) so we’re winning. Shrieking and whooping, we arrive at the fire circle: three big logs over the fire support a cauldron of hot sloe-cordial, ladelled out to us all in paper cups, with home-made Swedish cinnamon biscuits. The Junior Film Club patron is Nigel Cole, director of Made In Dagenham, and he gives a talk about film-making, and working with animals in particular. He pitches his talk just right, and the kids ask bright questions, and give thoughtful answers. Then throw more snowballs.

The film is, well, 1969, so a bit dated, brown, and sentimental (a manly tear escapes my cynical eye at one point), but I like the otter, and of course, otters have returned to Sussex after a 30-year absence. Afterwards, we’re clearing up, and I’m strangely drawn to the stuffed creature that has been glassily eyeing the audience throughout the film. I volunteer to carry it back, through the streets of Lewes, to its temporary home, above the High Street.

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