…I first noticed the spirals on the gate of number eight Teesgrove Road when I was turning the soil and tidying the litter from the strip of earth which separated its grounds from those of number ten Teesgrove Road.
I started at the bottom of the garden under the gate post because a lot of litter and dead leaves had collected under the bush which stood in front of the gatepost.
Up and until that point in time the gate of number eight Teesgrove Road had been simply that, a gate, but as I worked, this gate started to impose something of it’s own making, something peculiar and of its very own sweet terror… which, after several long hard stares, it eventually transpired, consisted in a pattern of iron worked spirals.
Inanimate objects do not talk, they do not have a voice but when the Amerindian advises you to listen to trees he is not necessarily imploring you to use your ears.
Once I had taken the time to actually look at the pattern of spirals on the gate they were pretty easy to work out and I began running my finger tips along the inside edge, into the centre and back out again…
First the top two spirals, and then the bottom two…
The arched back of each of the two spirals were welded together in the middle and the zenith and nadir of each of the outside edges of the four spirals had been soldered to cross slats which ran the breadth of the gate.
But for the cross slats I’d have been able to trace my fingers around the whole of each pattern without a break but when my fingers got jammed I started using my eyes instead which was a lot quicker but which made me feel dizzy.
It was at this point that I started wondering what the spirals meant and why anyone would bother to spend time working them into the design on a gate and it was at this point that I remembered that in spring time the leaves on the bush played host to fat, hairy, yellow and black caterpillars which transformed themselves into pale green butterflies.
It struck me that if the pattern of spirals was turned on its side it would look just like a butterfly and it also struck me that the pattern of spirals the craftsman had used to crown the gate – Two huge spirals meeting and tailing away left and right to small inverse spirals – looked almost like the raised middle section of the arched back of a caterpillar, inching its way along a leaf, but after these pointless thoughts I gave up trying to work out what the patterns meant, determined to ask mother and returned to the chore in hand…
–The Lost Novel