Tag Archives: story

Albion…

*

…And then we come across the church.

Cue mass excitement as we take in all the
Giants, which appear to sprout from every orifice…

The body of the church you see is an education in itself.

You probably already know about consecrated ground and unconsecrated ground.

It is the Inner and the Outer, pure and simple.

And this symbolism is carried into the structure of the building.

The gargoyles, the Sheila-na-Gigs, the Green Men, the Giants, the Dragons and the like, they are all on the outside of the church building.

They do not make it into the ‘ark’.

The inside is for all the saints and angels. Do you see? It is the same symbolism.

The Inner and the Outer.

*

…They do have something of the ‘otherworld’ about them these places.

Not so much Giant Hill itself perhaps although it may have been different had we gone into the Trendle.

It fact I am pretty damn sure it would have been different in the Trendle.

Wen was all for it… even with the helicopter buzzing us overhead. And her logic was very persuasive.

‘No unauthorised person beyond this point,’ said the sign.

‘But we are more authorised than anyone ever could be,’ said Wen.

It is difficult to disagree but then the village of Cerne Abbas is in itself quite otherworldly too.

I got exactly the same feel from it as when I first went to Glastonbury.

It felt like we had left England and gone abroad, perhaps to France…

‘Albion!’ smiles Wen, ‘The whole of these Blessed Isles used to feel like this…’

Excerpt – The Heart of Albion by Stuart France and Sue Vincent

Of Truth and Legend…

*

‘The Silver Well: Legend says that St Augustine once visited Dorset. While there he met some shepherds grazing their flocks and asked them whether they would prefer beer or water to drink. The temperate shepherds replied ‘water’ whereupon St. Augustine struck the ground with his staff, crying, ‘Cerno El’ as the water gushed out. The words were supposedly a pun on Cernel, the old name of the village and meant ‘I perceive God.’

It is thought that the above legend was invented by the Benedictine monks of Cerne Abbey to serve as an attraction to pilgrims.
Closer to the truth perhaps is the story of St. Edwold, a member of the Mercian Royal Family who one day had a vision of a silver well. He went wandering through the countryside and when he came to Cerne he gave some silver pennies to a shepherd in return for bread and water. The shepherd then showed him a well where he could drink and St Edwold recognised it as the well of his vision. He built a small hermitage by the spring and lived there until his death in 871…’

Information Plaque, Cerne Abbas

*

‘Are the monks responsible for the Legend of Silver Well such villains if they tweak the truth in order to entice pilgrims to their shrine?

People who have embarked on a Pilgrimage always get something, even if that something isn not quite what they bargained for.

And how true is the earlier story of St Edwold for that matter?

There was doubtless a hermit and a hermitage at one time.

How he actually came to be there is quite another thing altogether.’

Excerpt from, The Heart of Albion by Stuart France and Sue Vincent

 

 

Others like us…

*

… ‘Remind me again, why we are going to Cadbury?’

Part of my reluctance for these, what might be called, impromptu assignations are the inevitable ruptures they make in the overall scheme of things.

Once a pattern has started to form it is somewhat disconcerting to have to unravel it all or even to amend it slightly to accommodate the new strand and even though I know that it is good for the flexibility of the mind and really what we should be doing all of the time it is still an effort and as such is ripe for avoidance if at all possible.

Plus the fact that it is another hill.

On a very hot day!

*

…Still, as we make our way out of the car-park and look up there does not appear to be much of a hill left to climb.

The Silver-Bullet, bless her aerodynamically modified sides, has already taken us up most of the height.

There is, though, a plague of gnats playing along an extended stretch of the tree tunnel which leads up to the hill-top.

Wen and I both turn our back on them which allows us to see the advertisement for the nearby pub which has been strategically placed for those descending the height.

‘Still looking for the castle?’

‘At least that’s lunch taken care of,’ grins Wen.

The thought of lunch and an invisible castle revives me somewhat.

After all what we have here is another Uffington.

Looked at in those terms it is difficult to imagine anything I would rather be doing really, although I still somehow doubt that there will be anything as spectacular as Uffington at the end of this particular tunnel of trees… Interesting how indolence passes from the body to the mind like that.

The best way out of it is to move and to move quickly so I put on something of a spurt to reach the top and leave Wen trailing…

‘It’s the thought of beer and food which does that you know…’

*

…There is something otherworldly about walking up a hill, crossing that threshold between the heat of a summer sun and the cool green of the trees. Glimpses of a landscape that conforms to what we have come to know as sacred are seen through breaks in the gnarled trunks, squirrels scamper busily along the branches and the inevitable sound of birds accompanies each breath.

Beside the track steep banks rise, channelling our footsteps through a narrow passage, guarded by ancient sentinels, rooted in earth. As the trees thin and the shade gets left behind it is almost like pushing through a tangible veil as we emerge into the unprotected sunlight of the summit. Looking back, the tunnel of trees closes in verdant darkness behind us, shutting us off from the world we left some five hundred feet below.

A solitary figure stands upon the far bank… there are always three, it seems, somehow. Although I know he is only another walker…I see the glint of a spear and a cloak flapping in the non-existent breeze…

*

‘…Remind me again why we are going to Cerne Abbas intead of staying at Cadbury?’

Excerpt taken from, The Heart of Albion by Stuart France and Sue Vincent

What, no boots!

*

‘…all the great thinkers recognise the importance of rational thought and also the importance of getting beyond the rational and that’s where the myths and fairy stories come in… Plato spends the greater part of his master work ‘The Republic’ berating the poets and story-tellers for telling lies in their myths and then he ends his opus with… a myth’
‘Well, to err is human… But no one’s going to read a book in which all the characters are Giants.’
‘Yet we all live in a world dictated by them… but perhaps you’re right… they have become something of an obsession… the more self-remembering I do… the more giant-like my body and everyone else’s body seems to become… and they do make an appearance in all the mythological traditions… the Titans… the Jotunn… the Asuras… the Fomoire… as opponents of the ‘gods’ usually, which have to be overcome and subdued…and then kept at bay lest the heaven world be breached… and fall.’

Wen becomes pensive for awhile, ‘We need to go to Cerne Abbas…’

*

…‘I don’t even know where Cerne Abbas is’
‘It’s in Dorset.’
‘Is Set’s Door near Devon?’

Wen pauses for a moment and then smiles, ‘Yes, If Cornwall is the toe of the foot of the country, then Devon is the ball of the foot of the country and Dorset is the arch of the foot of the country.’

I am very much enjoying this description of the place names of Albion.

It makes it sound like the country has got a giant club foot.

‘Albion was a giant originally,’ smiles Wen unfolding a map of the Ancient Country, ‘look, in those days ‘Dorset’ was the domain of the Durotriges clan…’
‘Wow! Where did you get this?’
‘Map shop?’

I am not sure I believe her.

It is much more likely that this has fallen from heaven like manna of old.

It has all the ancient sites marked on it… and everything.

It is a vocational moment.

The world has finally changed for the better and now anything can happen.

‘You know this means that the heel of the foot of the country is called Dover?’

‘Yeahhss’ says Wen suspiciously.

She knows me too well already.

‘Well that makes Albion, fleet-footed, like Mercury. Albion’s heels are Dove winged!’

Excerpt from, The Heart of Albion by Stuart France and Sue Vincent.

 

Our Foolish Motley…

*

We love and loathe this fearful world

of barely audible commands

and hardly visible acquiescence.

*

We wear a horse-hair shirt

of expectation and clutch it tighter.

*

We dance in our chains

and skip between blades.

*

Toe-less we fall

amid the inevitable cat-calls…

*

‘Irresponsible beyond measure!’

 

Heart ‘n’ Soul…

*

“The woodcutter does not have the heart to abandon his children in the wood.

His wife has a heart of stone and resolves to do it herself.

The children are led to the heart of the wood when they follow the flight of a dove.

The dove is a bird of love which comes from the heart.

But the children have not really found the heart of the wood.

They have simply got to the heart of the matter.

Their father’s sweet heart is a heartless ogre.”

– Hansel ‘n’ Gretel

 

Stratford-Strange III…

*

… “I suppose, Carbrook Hall ‘took the biscuit’ in that respect.”

“Yes, it’s one thing to be ignored by a bar-tender at a bar but not to be seen at all!”

“And all the while I was snapping away, being not inconspicuous, in a less than full drinking establishment. At Haddon Hall we managed to completely clear an otherwise packed living room, so that you could sit in front of the fire.”

“That place did feel homely!”

“And at Barbrook, in the sun, we walked a landscape that nobody else could see…”

“And then tried to point it all out to another group who also couldn’t see it!”

“There is, though, I think, a link with these experiences.”

“I know, they’re all old places.”

“It’s a phenomenon known as ‘time-bleed’,” announced a third, somewhat gravelly voice, and we both turned our heads sharpley to watch, intrigued, as the light strewn figure drifted across the room towards us…

*

 

 

Stratford-Strange II…

*

…”My first ‘movie memory’ is from the film, The Matrix.

Neo has swallowed the red pill and been unplugged from the system.

Having spent some time acclimatising to the real world, he is finally allowed to re-enter the matrix on a mission, to meet with ‘the oracle’ if memory serves, along with most of the other escapees.

As they drive down the road in a suburb of his ‘old patch’, Neo sees a burger bar that he used to frequent…”

“I know the clip you are referring to. The ‘prisoners’ still held captive within the matrix appear to move more slowly than the escapees. They are sleepwalking through their existence. I think that in this case it seemed like that in Stratford because we were there with a purpose, when most others were merely holidaying tourists or pleasure seeking. We had a job to do and were doing it even though it was also pleasurable for us too!”

“No, it was not just that, even though what you say is perfectly true, and was undoubtedly a big part of it. There was something else…”

“And your second ‘movie memory’?…”

“…Comes from the film, The Man Who Wasn’t There.

Our hero has been inadvertently involved in the murder of his wife’s lover.

All the other accessories to the crime, including his wife, are now also dead, and a private eye his hot on his tail.

‘The man who wasn’t there’, is watching the private eye walk through city crowds in the rain.

It is unclear from the perspective just how and from where ‘the man who wasn’t there’ is observing the private eye.

The crowds are moving faster than the private eye, and the rain, and the voice over of ‘the man who wasn’t there’ is referencing ghosts…”

“I am not familiar with that particular film but the sense of ghostly presence invoked by your description certainly strikes a chord. Not so much in the Black Swan, perhaps, but certainly at the market stalls, and also at the monument, it was like people were looking but not seeing us.”

“It is not the first time that sort of thing has happened.”…

*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stratford-Strange…

 

*

“I don’t know what you mean?”

“Well, the first thing was our conversation before we’d even properly decided we were going to Stratford…”

“Which one?”

“Statues!”

“Oh, that one. It didn’t strike me as particularly strange.”

“Except we both decided that we were not fans of statutory, and then spent most of our day in Stratford taking pictures of… statues!”

“There were mitigating factors for that.”

“Undoubtedly, still a bit odd though. I spent a year living in Stratford without giving the monument so much as a passing glance.”

“There were probably mitigating factors for that too.”

“I expect so, having to read three of his plays a term-week for a year does not endear one to the Bard!”

“And reading  a play is not like seeing a play performed.”

“Indeed, reading a play is like reading the screenplay of a film and then claiming you’ve seen it.”

“And who ever reads the screenplay of a film?”

“The actors, the director, and the cameraman.”

“Plus the money men…”

“Who probably only read the begining and the end.”

“If that, which reminds me, there are a couple of filmic moments which elucidate Stratford-Strange.”

“I’m all ears…”

 

 

 

 

 

A Horse Called Hazard…

*

As scions of historicity we have our virtues.

We are selfless, brave, modest, self-restrained, devoted and patient.

Our sense of ‘taste’, though, may be distorted.

That which is complete and mature in every culture…

That which is noble in works and men might still be beyond us.

Can we glide with our cultural heroes over halcyon seas?

Do our eyes respond in kind to that glint of cold perfection

which gleams out from the golden shore?

Are we not halted in our tracks by those traces of the miraculous

that occasionally greet us from our hidden depths?

*

Ultimately, it is measure that defeats us.

Our yearning is for the infinite.

The immeasurable…

*

Like the rider on a spooked steed

we let go of our grasp on the reins

when faced with the infinite.

*

Our state of bliss

now resides in hazard.