Beetle Fascination, The Fifth Dimension and Nettle Soup

The beetle strutting across the dead stag’s shoulder was a Dor Beetle, a type of dung beetle. I look it up when I get back to London. It is of the scarab beetle family and looks very much like the ancient Egyptian symbol. I decide to draw it on hand made paper, a drawing of its back and a drawing of its blue belly. I will make a scroll, though it is taking a long time to draw!

London seems very flat in comparison to the woods. I struggle making conversation with people, there doesn’t seem to be much to say. On the Tuesday I visit the garden a friend has donated to me (sort of). I dig up lots of stinging nettles. It seems like a waste to just throw them out so I decide to make nettle soup that evening. My hands get stung to bits in the process of making it, but it tastes alright.

There is some left over so I have it again the following night and now it tastes delicious. It also seems to have the effect of making me ludicrously happy. Rude Mechanicals are having a band meeting round Jowe’s and I just can’t help praising the effects of nettle soup and the wonder of the scarab beetle.  I’m also hallucinating quite a bit, the guitarist Cos turns into ex member Phil, “Man from Uranus”, at one point and everything is decorated by exotic spiders. The wine soon calms that though.

Thursday night I volunteer at Treadwell’s bookshop and learn about magic stones in the medieval period.

Today, Friday, I feel like I have a cold. I can’t walk properly because I dropped a spade on my foot whilst gardening, it wasn’t painful at the time but now hurts a lot. I spend the day drawing the beetle and poplar tree branches which is very enjoyable. Why do I find drawing by hand so much more enjoyable than drawing on the computer?

On a stroll about Newington Green I smell a very strong smell like burning rubber. I look for somewhere to hide but all I can find in a hurry is a doorway. I curl up in a ball on the pavement and look intently at the ground for the pavement is doing amazing things. It has become something like out of space and is covered in very intricate colourful patterns, but the patterns are also people I know, not sure who, and then they are no longer people but gods. Only gods is the word I use for them now, at the time they were all powerful things that knew everything. And there was a snake like creature that swam in between them laughing. It is a different dimension, the rules that apply normally don’t apply there.

Anyway, I come round to several very worried looking faces starring at me. The pharmacist from the chemist takes me into the shop and gives me some water, when I have my words back I explain to him that it was just epilepsy and it has passed.

And that was my week. I’m teaching tomorrow so better go to bed now.

IMG_0663A picture of nettles and some variegated plant.

Death amoungst the Trees

There was a beautiful stag lying on the floor of the wood, it had obviously been lying there for some time. My arriving made it panic, it thrashed its head about madly but couldn’t move its body. I hadn’t seen it till I turned the corner, it shocked me. It was dying slowly.

i pulled away and circled it from a distance. I couldn’t see any wound, there was no blood. It was a male, quite young I think, and well fed. He lay under the oak tree I drew last September and just before the beech tree where I had found the dead pigeon that moved with maggots. How odd that I should see two deaths in the same part of the wood. At the time I saw the pigeon I was worried about my dog dying, the dying stag brought that back to me, the night spent listening to him gasping for breath, his beloved food left in the bowl, stroking him on the vets table as they gave him the final injection. I’m told he was buried under a rose bush.

The stag seemed symbolic somehow,  I felt the woods telling me an old story.

If I see the death of the stag as an offering to Jupiter under his symbol, the oak, does that make it seem more just?

It is not that I mind things dying, things have to die, but why was I there to see its slow death? I told Lou and Mike who own the woods, and took them to the spot where he lay. They considered trying to speed up his death but weren’t sure how. A phone call to a friend who knows about such things told them to leave him, stags are strong and hard to kill, we may have just made his death more horrific. When I got back to the cabin I gave a little prayer for him, to whichever god was listening.

At 10 the next morning Mike reported that the stag was still alive. I didn’t go and see him, didn’t want to frighten him any more. At 4 in the afternoon Mike visited again and reported him dead. I went up into the wood to see for myself. The area stank now. Mike had moved the body from its original position and dragged it into some bushes, its eyes had glazed over and insects were clustering around the edges. A very handsome black Beetle was determined to climb onto the body and after repeated attempts triumphantly strolled across its right shoulder with its fine petrol blue legs. The flies were gathering, this was now food.

Not an offering to Jupiter or any other human God, but an offering to the woods.


Successful escape and no angels taken hostage.

Today was beautiful. It is the day after my birthday. I wasn’t teaching as I do that on the weekends at the moment. The sun was out, I accidentally ended up strolling down the canal, had a coffee at a small hut by a lock and watched the water pass on by. I thought about how much happier I am now to how I was this time last year, how stressed and anxious I was in that flat in Hammersmith. I think it was the traffic that did it, six lanes of traffic going past my door. It made me ill psychologically and physically. I don’t think I can quite blame it for the cyst on my ovary, but the general poor immune system it caused didn’t help.

Every day I walked out of my door I cursed the traffic. I dreamt of them all crashing hideously into each other, imagined how I could blow them up. I’d walk down the street cursing them under my breath. There was black dirt under my nails all the time, I’m sure my skin was grey, if it was raining the traffic would race though puddles splashing pedestrians with black water so that my coat had a permanent grime to it no matter how often it was cleaned. The traffic haunted me, its sound spilled over the flat despite the heavily reinforced windows, it would appear in my sleep in the early mornings as I started to become conscious. I would sometimes sit on my sofa in the front room and watch the traffic jam outside, wishing death on every single person who sat behind a wheel on that road. I was a real life troll in the basement. The smell of engine fumes tainted everything.

The council had offered me the place seven years ago. I’d moved in because it was cheap, big, had a garden and my previous drunken neighbour had been threatening to throw me out of the window. I thought I would get used to the traffic, some people can, I didn’t. If anything I grew to hate it more each time I walked down the street. It put a bitterness to everything. As soon as I could I joined the the council housing swap site, but this proved to be futile, full of daydreamers who like snooping around other peoples homes.

An article in the local paper warned visitors to the area to avoid walking down Talgarth road, especially asthma sufferers or those with health problems. Nothing was mentioned about the residents.

The men I dated became my dream of an escape route. I would move in to his big house in Clapton/help him decorate his flat in Finchley/buy a narrow boat with him on the canal/escape with him to Hastings. All these failed of course, how could they not, a lover is not an escape route. When the last of those dreams collapsed I got very depressed. The pain in my abdomen from the ovarian cyst made things worse.

The old alien in the brain, with its propensity to cause hallucinations means depression in me can become paranoia. Friends were plotting against me, I was trapped,  I couldn’t breath properly, they were poisoning my air. I managed to keep it under some control, age helps you learn how to deal with these things better, I managed to hide this from those close to me but it spilt out occasionally. I remember being horrible to friends, getting angry with my band, shouting at a friend who had organised a gig for us, and for all this I am very ashamed.

Rude Mechanicals, my band, have a song called Flying Lessons. It is about how I have captured an angel and am tearing off his wings for myself and learning to fly. It is a song about the desire to escape. I wrote it a long time ago. It seems I have spent a lot of my life in situations I don’t like but relying on others to get me out. I think now I am learning how to escape on my own.

In the end I had an operation to remove the ovarian cyst, which got rid of the pain. Wow, sometimes one forgets what not being in pain is like!

The lovely Mr Hastings left me for the east end of London. I gave the home swap one more determined effort and prayed to the gods. It worked! I have escaped Talgarth Road!

The bundle of hatred and anxiety I was is unravelling itself and for now at least I am the happiest I have been in a very long time with no need to escape.

Happy birthday to me

a dinner party
Etiquette – A Rude Mechanicals song. Drawn on computer by me trying to get to grips with Adobe illustrator