Tag Archives: history

Walking with Grief…

 

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‘I cried like some grandmother, I wanted to tear my teeth out, I didn’t know what I wanted to do.’ – Walter E.Kurtz, Apocalypse Now.

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The ‘Good Colonel’ is here reacting to a particularly distressing, and at first sight vicious and meaningless, act of war.

However, a culture which can organise the systematic removal of the inoculated arms of its children must have a pretty clear conception of where it is at, of precisely what it means to be there, and also of just how to remain in that place.

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‘Good Grief, Charlie Brown…’ – Lucy, Peanuts.

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Can grief ever be good?

Charles M. Schulz clearly thought so.

The phrase runs like a litany through Charlie Brown’s debut T. V. outing casting noble failure on all his best efforts, and simultaneously highlighting the noble failure of all life to make any kind of a lasting impression.

Sometimes Schulz talks like a prophet and at other times like a lost soul.

With this particular ‘bon mot‘ he talks like both at the same time.

The meta-gag of this same episode is Charlie’s dream of sending the football soaring through the sky.

It never happens.

Lucy always removes the ball at the last.

It is Charlie who soars… to end… lying flat on his back, gazing up at the sky.

A living cadaver capable of pondering its own plight, and ours.

We have the terms ‘a proper Charlie’ and ‘a right Charlie’ for those unfortunates who end up looking like chumps in life’s Divine Comedy.

Are these phrases ‘Chaplin derived’ or much earlier?

King Charles I of England lost his head, and his life, for clinging on to an outmoded principle.

Scotland’s Bonnie Prince ended his life in ignominy and exile but even before that he was a Charlie.

A clown’s name for a clown’s game?

Perhaps.

That principle?

The Divine Right of Kings.

To do what?

To rule…

To rue the almighty hash the politicians have made of it?

No, not that, simply to rule.

To run the measure over the populace and let ‘the Gods’ or ‘the Fates’ decide, which they do anyway, ultimately…

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‘Death’s at the bottom of everything…’ – Major Calloway, The Third Man.

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‘Cadged’?…

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Did Turpin’s Troupe

Drop him

Deep in the Soup?

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That Devil’s cast of scallywags

and wild haired, grinning hags…

who still adorn the plastered walls

in Glory’s glossy prima-face.

There now to tease and please

the local populace.

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And tell their tales of times much less genteel

when stench and reek

roamed every wayward street.

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But how, to climb up an’ out

the grime of fetid mire

where every winsome wench

would rightly kiss and tell…?

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Black Jake, alas

went on the make…

and now he’s hoisted higher

than ol’ church spire…

where they watch him fry in hell.

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Looking Out…

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I have lain here for millennia

watching ages pass.

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Great beasts once roamed my slopes.

I saw them take to the air.

Their leathery calls scarring the sky.

In a fiery eye-blink they were gone.

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Ice flows then kissed my rugged cheek

with cold, thin, sticky, lips

and time ushered in a new form of dominion.

Bi-pedal.

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But they too have all but gone now

transforming themselves into machines

which will devour everything

like the great beasts of old.

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But I will still endure, watching

ages pass, for millennia more…

 

 

Armoury Show…

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The prosperous town of Armore was built next to a forest.

Late one night Old-Man-Log came out of the forest and sat down in the middle of the town’s market square.

He opened up the palm of his right hand and started cackling.

The next morning as the sun came up he was still sitting there cackling at the palm of his hand.

The towns-folk of Armore gathered around him to learn the source of Old-Man-Log’s amusement.

There in the middle of his palm was a little red man who was dancing.

“Who is that little red fellow?” asked the townsfolk falling over themselves to get a better look  at him.

“Why, his name is Mammon,” said Old-Man-Log, “see how he dances and spins for your amusement growing redder and redder?”

“Let me see…”

“And me…”

So it went with the towns-folk of Armore as they pushed and shoved and trampled each other in order to get a better look at the spectacle being played out before them…

At the end of the day when Old-Man-Log returned to the forest forty of the towns-folk lay dead.

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The next day Old-Man-Log was sitting in the market square again and this time the crush to see his show left eighty people dead.

The day after that, the death toll was one-hundred-and-sixty.

Finally Old-Man-Log said, “People of Armore, why do you put up with this day after day. Don’t be killed. Pick up stones and stone me.”

Without hesitation the towns-folk of Armore immediately picked up stones and threw them at Old-Man-Log.

They stoned him from all directions and before long he lay dead.

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But then the dead man’s body began to stink.

The stench was so bad that people fainted and died.

The wind blew and wherever it carried the foul smell people died.

The dead man opened his mouth and spoke, “People of Armore, why do you put up with this. Don’t be killed. Bring your hauling ropes and haul me away.”

*

Without hesitation the towns-folk of Armore immediately ran for their hauling ropes and tied them around the body of Old-Man-Log.

They began to tug the ropes but Old-Man-Log’s body was hard to shift.

The towns-folk tugged harder and one of the ropes snapped. The men pulling the rope fell on top of each other and died.

Another rope snapped killing more people and then another with the same result.

The dead man opened his mouth again, “People of Armore, why do you put up with this. Don’t be killed. Sing me my song.”

He sang it to them, “Pull our log/Old-Man-Log/Pull our log…”

*

Altogether the towns-folk sang the dead man’s song and the body began to move…

It moved so quickly, sliding along the ground that whenever anyone stopped for breath they were run over by the body and killed.

When at last Old-Man-Log was sung back into the forest the few towns-folk that remained returned to their homes to sleep.

Next morning when the towns-folk of Armore awoke they remembered nothing of Old-Man-Log.

It was as though they had been intoxicated.

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Stanton Drew…

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Names matter.

For practical purposes they are like elephants and flowing water.

They follow the shortest, flatest path to wherever they are going, and en route the jagged edges first get smoothed and then get worn away.

In this particular case we are on the path to understanding…

‘Standing Stones of the Druids’

‘STANding sTONes of the DRUids’

STAN-TON-DRU

Stanton Drew…

There are a number of ‘Stantons’ in England with an attendant ancient site, and for a long time these places were associated with Druids although we now know that they were around a lot earlier than the period normally associated with those infamous ‘Old-Time-Sages’.

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This ‘fella’, could easily be a druid, although he could just as easily be a she, in which case one would be tempted to call her a witch.

It is the first stone that greets you at the site.

If you look closely at the first photograph you can see some of the other stones lurking in the background.

On our first visit to this site we were struck by how utterly ‘other’ the stones appeared in relation to their environment.

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Feeling True…

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…Her hand crept to the feather at her throat.

Her gift from the gods.

The colour of flame.

She had strayed from the path.

Seeking silence.

Preparing herself for what was to come.

The great bird had wheeled overhead.

Soaring above the trees in the morning.

She had looked down and seen rainbows caught in the feather, bright against the grass and smiled…

*

…Having exhausted my wish list of trips yesterday I have left today’s agenda to Wen and our first port of call is to another little church, Hulcott – All Saints. This church thing would not necessarily have been a top priority of mine but the discoveries at Little Missenden came as such a pleasant surprise that I find my anticipation rising as we approach the church porch and I start to envisage the possibilities that may lie inside.

… Wen has skipped along the gravel path and entered the church porch she pauses and looks back at me mysteriously, as I gain the porch, and then twists the iron door ring with a yank and leans into the heavy oaken door. The door does not yield. The door is locked…

Bugger!

“No matter,” says Wen, “they sometimes put contact details up, she starts to scrutinise the notice board of the porch and then taps a number into her phone…

“No answer!”

Bugger times two!

We content ourselves with a swift circuit of the church but that merely emphasises the sense of disappointment and as we climb back into the car I start to wonder if we are destined for a hangover. It would have been in any case difficult to match the enormities of yesterday’s explorations and maybe we should be spending some time assimilating their significance rather than tearing about the country-side… it is akin I suppose to what as teenagers we used to call ‘Chasing the Dragon’ when we stayed out all night looking for drinking parties.

“No worries” says Wen, “there’s another we can try on the way.”

Wen of course has no such doubts, “on the way to where?”

“The Hell-Fire Caves.” Don’t you remember any of our conversation last night?

“Ah, yes, the Hell-Fire Caves…”

To be honest it feels a little bit off-beam to me but it is a place of interest in the area and we need to do something today…I attempt to retrieve some of last nights conversation from the fog of grape but before I have even got to the Megalithic Behemoth of Wayland’s name, we are pulling up outside the village church of Oving…

The mound of this one is too obvious not to remark and there are several stone steps and a still fairly steep incline before … Wen skips along the gravel path and enters the church porch where she pauses and looks back at me mysteriously… this is already becoming something of a ritual for us and as I gain the porch I find myself hoping against hope that the door will open… Wen twists the iron door ring with a yank and leans into the heavy oaken door. The door does not yield. The door is locked…

“There should be a law against it.”

“It’s sort of understandable I suppose.”

“Desecration of sacred places is incomprehensible on any scale…and besides now we’re on a mission it’s totally and wholly unacceptable.”

“And what mission would that be?” Wen arches her eyebrow in saintly fashion.

“Not sure yet… I’ll let you know.”

‘WEN?’

‘Now’

‘I know now’

‘What do you now know?’

‘I know what the mission is.’

‘Well, that didn’t take long.’

‘We’re on a mission to feel true.’ …

The Initiate

Time Frame…

 

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‘The concept of ‘darkness’ was revealing.
It is where light ends. But I also realised that darkness is not the absence of light but the antithesis of light. In other words, they are aspects of each other. Light and dark are not only metaphors but the means by which we perceive and understand.’
– Vittorio Storaro

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“He says he wants to investigate my vision.”
“Who does?”
“You haven’t been listening to a word I’ve been saying.”
“Oh Ned, you mean…well, what you have to ask yourself is, do you really want your vision investigating?”
“I’m not sure.”
“Or even, does your vision want your vision investigating?”
“I’m not sure I even know what he means by my vision.”
“Presumably he’s referring to all those stories you make up.”
“But he hasn’t read any of those stories and I don’t make them up,” says Wen, reaching for her Gazetteer of Mysterious Britain and brandishing it.
“I know you don’t, dear, I’m just teasing. Vee has read them though and she’s probably told him all about it, or at least enough to get him interested and you were dancing with him in Oxford last May Day.”
“Yeah, that’s true I was dancing with him, him and about thirty other people also. I think he thinks I’m still working in Buckinghamshire.”
“He’s in for a nasty surprise then…”
“If he does agree to come up here do we take him to Devil’s Drop?”
“We could, it would certainly make for an interesting experiment but we would have to give him some sort of warning if we did.”

Devil’s Drop is our new name for Gib-Rock.

Wen has been doing some more research on the story and I have to say, our theories on legend notwithstanding, the bare facts of this one alone are rapidly approaching mythological proportions.

Get this…

On the way to the gibbet the cart carrying the body got lost and had to pass over the territory now known to us fondly as Chat. Now, at that time there was not actually a thoroughfare over the land, but passage to the dead has to be given when requested.

“Why does passage to the dead have to be given when requested?”
“It’s an Old English Custom.”
“It becomes a law simply because people are accustomed to doing it?”
“Don’t you just love it?”
“It’s utterly bonkers but beautiful!”
“It’s nothing less than a road of the dead.”
“The road that passes through Chat is a Corpse Road.”
“I mean this is quite recent, yeah, within living memory?”
“It was in the Eighteenth century, so almost within living memory.”
“I think that’s part of an older tale that has got mixed up with an actual occurrence. It could only happen in Derbyshire.”
“Is that also why huge standing stones as big as any you’ve ever seen also go missing there?”

I have to say that the last remark was a little below the belt…

Dark Sage

Time after Time…

time

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‘Time isn’t holding us/Time isn’t after us…’

“I don’t know what that means.”

“Then follow me,” he smiled and led me through the thronging revellers…

The Clock-Tower stood, dark and imposing, with at its base the bulk of a large man carrying a sub-machine gun who, miraculously, stood to one side as we approached.

Four-Hundred-and-Two-steps later we stood atop the tower looking out over the celebratory crowds below…

Just as they were counting down…

‘Three-Two-One…’

‘Time isn’t holding us/Time isn’t after us,’ he said again as the clock-face turned to light and his laughter crackled blue down the wires.

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