14. Betwixt and Between

Walking through a woodWednesday 29th August 2020. Just back from Wales.

It is the woods you know, the woods and the ferns and the river that feel most like home, not the house. The way the trees cling to the hillside, their roots grabbing at the toppling rocks, the lichen coating their arms with a silver skin. They shout so deeply it can’t be heard but it turns my insides. They talk and talk, muttering secrets. The first fit I can remember having was in a woods in Wales like this, maybe that is why its ghosts are so powerful.

I crouch in the mud and hang on to the trees trying to stop myself from falling completely, the dogs hover round me nervously. A rush of adrenalin, I breath in as deeply as I can as if to breath in the wood. Vast moments containing too much of everything enclose me, un-managable stuff, colour, sound, light, texture, smell, too much to cope with. My face hangs just above the mud, reflections in the water dazzle my eyes, memories surround me, mismatched, not making sense, I taste the air, I would not miss this experience for all the money in the world!

Of course I gave up believing in witches, fairies and trolls in the woods years ago, as one is supposed to, but i know here there is something big, something powerful, something that breaths and contains all breath.

When I can stand again we follow the river through the woods to the beach. And then there is the sea. I cry when we reach the sea, as i always do, something in me is not strong enough.

I want to make things that are like the woods, things/situations that are magic. A threshold, betwixt and between, somewhere where the self is lost into the moment.

So here I am now, back in London, trying to straighten out crimped thoughts, drowning in cheap wine, watching strange insects crawl across my keyboard. I am homesick for the trees and keeping myself busy.

Busy doing what exactly?

Explaining that I am a Twilighter, as is Steve. ‘Twilighter’ is the official tittle given to us, first by the arts council, then by everyone as we started to become invisible.

I live in a basement flat on Talgarth Road. It was once a council property back when there were council properties. Officially now I am a squatter, but no one will go to the effort of trying to get me out. There are a lot of us here on Talgarth road. The properties are in bad condition, the road is slowly collapsing into the cellars beneath it, there is no money in buying them up and developing, best just to pretend they are not here. So the buildings became invisible and gathered invisible people, Twilighters, those with problems, illnesses, things that can’t be cured easily, those society would rather not have around.

Now Elsie is definitely not a Twilighter, a very respectable lady indeed these days. She lives in a very respectible flat off the main road, just round the corner from Barons Court. We used to be good friends,  but it seems that has changed.

It was when she realised she couldn’t find Abel that I first noticed the change in her. She searched down the tunnels for him, she was determined, I got worried about her wondering along the tracks of the Piccadilly line in the dark. Then one day I saw her and she looked an absolute state, ill and dirty, coughing and wretching. I asked her what had happened but she wouldn’t tell me. After that she seemed to get very career minded, stopped mentioning Abel so much, stopped talking to me much at all, I started becoming as invisible to her as I am to most respectable citizens.

Or perhaps it was my talking to shouting trees that has freaked her out. Still being invisible has its advantages.

Previous:

13. The Alter

12. Malformed and Obscene

11. Her Pet Project

12. Malformed and Obscene

Abel passed out in the tunnels under LondonAbel stumbles and falls into the ankle deep drain water. He’s been in the tunnels for 5 hours and found nothing but sewage and rats. He’s only managed to keep going through fear of what he’ll become if he stops. Dread is tap dancing heavily in his head, and something seems to be following him. He is lost. Actually he is in the storm drain that carries the Westbourne river to the Thames, but he doesn’t know that.

He tries to get up again but only manages to slide the upper part of his body against the tunnel wall. Then he passes out. If Elsie saw him now she wouldn’t recognise him, he looks so old and ill.

It is the mad harmonica lady that finds him, turns out she knows her way round the the underground rivers very well. She dances along the tunnel, her ripped skirts trailing through the water, singing to herself :

In the blood
in the gene
Malformed and obscene
Its a crack in the glass
And a whisker in the cream

A snake in the garden
He goes unseen
Theres an apple in the tree
And a devil in a dream

There’s bones in these tunnels
Your hands won’t wash clean
There’ll be meat in the belly
Where the carnival has been

————————————

She grabs his arm and drags his now corpse-like body over her shoulder. She is surprisingly strong for an old lady.

When Abel wakes he finds himself in a small cave-like room lit only by candles. There is what looks like an alter on the far wall, and straight in front of him is a roughly carved wooden Jesus on a cross with a hand painted sun as his halo.

Previous:

11. Her Pet Project

10. Water

Pisces
6th March

There are several hundred people living under London. No one can say when the first people started living down there, but it has certainly been growing steadily since 2000.  They are a close, strong community due to the harshness of their circumstances. The elder generation are mainly people who lost their homes during the big recession, those who couldn’t get jobs, the sick and the disabled who were abandoned as successive governments privatised the NHS.

The elder generation, although mocking of the above-landers, still hold a buried shame and desire to return to the daylight. The second generation however, now in their late teens and early twenties, don’t have this desire. Born in the tunnels they are proud of what they are, scavenging is their art and the above-landers are cattle to be milked.

The biggest difficulty about living down there is finding clean drinking water. Although Underlondon is partially flooded most of the time, and contains the old buried rivers of London, the water is dirty and the rivers have become sewers. Instead the people of Underlondon have sort out the ancient springs, trickles of fresh water flowing from cracks in the brick work. These springs are precious to the people down there and the holy qualities of the springs, appreciated in the past, are returning.

Where as many an above-lander has come to the rational conclusion that there are no gods, the Underlondoner knows there is nothing more rational than treating what sustains your life as Divine.

Previous:

9. So where were we…

8. Drunken Delirium
7. Hallucinari
6. Dread
5. Slapdash
4. Eyes in the Machines
3. Underlondon
2. Abel
1. What YOU Need!

( I know I should be listening to CD’s instead of writing this, but I really can’t stand those little black speakers I’ve got, and when I do listen to a piece I like on CD I have to listen to it again and again and again.)

Meat and Two Veg

Potatoes, hot peppers and chives
Potatoes, hot peppers and chives from my garden

I’ve just eaten a meal consisting mainly of veg grown in my back garden. Now I’m waiting to see if I survive.

Cooking doesn’t interest me all that much. My reason for  growing vegetables is more biological curiosity than allotment keeping, so I’m always amazed if I produce anything edible. Today they do seem to be, the meal was actually very nice.

The veg are grown in the same earth where I found the bones (Bones in the back Garden). I like the idea that the flesh on the bones fed the earth that fed the veg which has just fed me.

As long as I don’t think too hard about who the bones were.

I’ve been experimenting with cooking meat recently. I gave up meat almost 20 years ago, shortly after the knife incident in fact (Stalking part5. The Knife).

The new meat curiosity came about because I’m now a dog owner.

As a once long term vegetarian meat is a somewhat curious phenomenon. That thing I’m eating once had a character, it could see, it could feel pain, it may well have come to the gate to say hello to me if I passed it’s field. It’s body matter now becoming my body matter. The recycling of life.

How fascinating!

Normal. But odd non the less.

Could I kill a creature to eat it? Certainly, if I needed to. Given certain circumstances and a detachment. I imagine I could enjoy it. A switching from empathy to consumption.

A farmer near where my parents live calls all his sheep by the same name (Betty I believe) to help prevent him getting attached to any one of them.

Another farm near there kept a lamb. It’s mother had died when it was born so they had  bottle fed it and it became part of the family. They called it Dot.

Then one day the father decided that it was time to eat Dot. They would have her for Christmas dinner.

He prepared the children for this, telling them that this was the cycle of life, things must die and be eaten by other things, that was how life continued.

The mother carefully prepared and cooked the creature, then presented it at the dinner table. The father announced that they were now going to eat Dot the lamb and the mother took the carving knife and cut them each a slice. The two children started eating the meat without a second thought. The mother did the same. The father paused, got up from the table and without a word left the room. He never took a bite of Dot.

Knicker-less Voting – a political rant

Thursday 6th May 2010

I voted today dressed as a stern school teacher – long dress, hair back in a tight bun – but wearing no knickers. It seemed to make the activity slightly more of an event. It wasn’t an event, notable only for its inability to be anything meaningful. People have fort and died for the right to vote and here I am essentially voting for a hung parliament. I just don’t understand how any of the main parties could make much of a beneficial difference given our dependence on the world economy. So I vote for the situation where the least amount of damage can be done. Knicker-less voting.

As far as I can tell Britain cannot sustain itself without dependence on banks and bankers for maintaining our position in the global economy. Britain, and certainly London, simply does not currently have enough resources to carry on without being able to consume globally, we would starve. So it follows that we cannot put up taxes much because if we do the bankers will leave the country, and we do have to bail them out of trouble so we are in a position where we can still shop in the global economy. If we have to throw money at bankers to keep them here then how can we improve schools and hospitals? “We will organise things better”, “we will cut the red tape”, say the candidates that come to my door. Thats easy to say by anyone not in power, even i can say that, it doesn’t mean anything though.

The big thing I don’t understand about modern politics is how can the economy  and global consumption keep going? Humans, despite all our fancy technology, are still entirely dependent on the earth’s resources. These resources are limited, yet the global economy depends on the vast and ever growing consumption of them. How can this be maintained? Whether you believe climate change is due to humans or not, doesn’t change the fact that we are dependent on the earth’s limited resources. “Nuclear Energy” people say, as if this is suddenly going to solve everything. Really? There is still the basic problem of land isn’t there? Food, over farmed land turns into dessert, but populations are growing and as countries develop they demand more and more food. And waste, all that waste, continually growing, where will it all go?

As for the privacy issues these are likely to stay pretty much the same no matter who gets in power, just dressed up in different costumes (dominatrix or mother?). As the global economy grows and the earth’s resources get used up the gap between rich and poor will greatly increase. Those without will get restless, cause problems, rebellions and war. The only way to control this is through increasing security measures and surveillance.

So my voting was meaningless, because I simply don’t understand how anything much can change for the better without completely radical changes to politics and the way we live and think. Perhaps we are merely carrying out our destiny as organisms – feed, breed, grow in population, consume more, create waste, run out of food, poison ourselves on our own waste – yeast cells in a petri dish.

I don’t have TV or regularly read a paper so I’m not very up to date on day to day issues. Maybe what I’ve just said is complete gobledegoo in todays politics. Maybe people who dress up as school teachers to vote and don’t wear any knickers shouldn’t be allowed the vote!

Anyway, I’ve had my little political rant and will now return to more important issues like Rude Mechanicals. Performing on stage entertains people, cheers them up (hopefully), gives them a moments escape, which is more meaningful than what I’d be doing if I was a politician.

Getting ready to paint a naked man.
More useful than politics.
Painting a naked man
Miss Roberts gets an audience to paint a naked man.