Monday, December 05, 2005

The Two-Headed Calf

Tomorrow when the farm boys find this
freak of nature, they will wrap his body
in newspaper and carry him to the museum.

But tonight he is alive and in the north
field with his mother. It is a perfect
summer evening: the moon rising over
the orchard, the wind in the grass. And
as he stares into the sky, there are
twice as many stars as usual.

- Laura Gilpin

via metachat

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Hunting of the Snark

Online with illustrations here.
“Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What I tell you three times is true.””

via plep

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Green And Grey


The time I think most clearly, the time I drift away
Is on the bus-ride that meanders up these valleys of green and grey
I get to think about what might have been and what may yet come true
And I get to pass a rainy mile thinking of you
And all the while, all the while, I still hear that call
To the land of gold and poison that beckons to us all
Nothing changes here very much, I guess you'd say it never will
The pubs are all full on Friday nights and things get started still
We spent hours last week with Billy boy, bleeding, yeah queuing in Casualty
Staring at those posters we used to laugh at:
Never Never Land, palm trees by the sea
Well there was no need for those guys to hurt him so bad
When all they had to do was knock him down
But no one asks to many questions like that since you left this town

Ch: And tomorrow brings another train
Another young brave steals away
But you're the one I remember
From these valleys of green and the grey

You used to talk about winners and losers all the time - as if that was all there was
As if we were not of the same blood family, as if we live by different laws
Do you owe so much less to these rain swept hills than you owe to your good self?
Is it true that the world has always got to be something
That seems to happen somewhere else?
For God's sake don't you realise that I still hear that call
Do you think you're so brave just to go running to that which beckons to us all?

Ch: No, not for one second did you look behind you
As you were walking away
Never once did you wish any of us well
Those who had chosen to stay
And if that's what it takes to make it
In the place that you live today
Then I guess you'll never read these letters that I send
From the valleys of the green and the grey

Published by Attack Attack Music/Warner Chappell Music Ltd, (Heaton/Sullivan) 1987

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Samuel Beckett

Ever tried.
Ever failed.
No matter.
Try again.
Fail again.
Fail better.

Samuel Beckett

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Yet More W.H.Auden

Three Short Poems:

'The underground roads
Are, as the dead prefer them,
Always tortuous.'

'When he looked the cave in the eye,
Had a moment of doubt.'

'Leaning out over
The dreadful precipice,
One contemptuous tree.'

W.H. Auden Again

Lay Your Sleeping Head, My Love
W.H. Auden

Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephermeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.

Soul and body have no bounds:
To lovers as they lie upon
Her tolerant enchanted slope
In their ordinary swoon,
Grave the vision Venus sends
Of supernatural sympathy,
Universal love and hope;
While an abstract insight wakes
Among the glaciers and the rocks
The hermit's sensual ecstasy.

Certainty, fidelity
On the stroke of midnight pass
Like vibrations of a bell,
And fashionable madmen raise
Their pedantic boring cry:
Every farthing of the cost,
All the dreadful cards foretell,
Shall be paid, but not from this night
Not a whisper, not a thought,
Not a kiss nor look be lost.

Beauty, midnight, vision dies:
Let the winds of dawn that blow
Softly round your dreaming head
Such a day of sweetness show
Eye and knocking heart may bless.
Find the mortal world enough;
Noons of dryness see you fed
By the involuntary powers,
Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love."

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Journal of an Airman


three signs of an airman:
practical jokes
nervousness before taking off
rapid healing after injury

three kinds of enemy walk:
the grandious stunt
the melancholic stagger
the paranoic sidle

three kinds of enemy bearing:
the condor's stoop
the toad's stupor
the robin's stance

three kinds of enemy face:
the fucked hen
the favorite puss
the stone-in-the-rain

three terms of enemy speech:
I mean
quite frankly
speaking as a scientist etcetera

three enemy questions:
am I boring you?
could you tell me the time?
are you sure you're fit enough?

three results of an enemy victory:

three counterattacks
complete mastery of the air

lastly but ten it's moving again
lastly but nine I forgot the sign
lastly but eight it's getting late
lastly but seven why aren't there eleven?
lastly but six I dont like its ...tricks

the maid is just dribbling tea
and I shall not be disturbed until supper
I shall be quite alone in this room
free to think of you if I choose
and believe me dear I do choose

for a long time now I've been aware
that you are taking up more of my life every day
but I'm always being surprised
to find how far this has gone

it's getting late
and I have to be up at times(?) in the morning
you're so quiet these days that I get quite nervous.
remove the dressing:
no, I'm safe, you're still there.

the wireless this evening says that the frost is coming
and when it does we know what to expect, don't we?
but I'm calm, I can wait.
the surgeon was dead right:
nothing will ever part us.
goodnight and god bless you my dear.

better burn this.

lastly but five oh god it's alive
lastly but four I can't live any more
lastly but three now it's looking at me
lastly but two what shall I do?
lastly but one I think I'll run
lastly of all it's here and I fall(?)

August the 23rd, 3pm:
we are lost.

a cart has just passed carrying the plaster eagle
the enemy are going to attack.

G.H.Q. commands:
1. that the attack take place on August 28th
first penetration of the hostile position 7:10am
2. a fake landing by pleasure--paddle-steamers
near the bathing-machines on beach 5
3. a main frontal attack:
divisions to be concentrated in the Shenley(?)
brickfields and moved forward to the battle-zone in
bakers' vans disguished as nuns

First day of mobilization:
at the prearranged zero hour
the widow bent into a hoop with arthritis
gives the signal for attack
by unbending on the steps of St. Philips

Fifth day:
pressure of ice, falling fire (???)
the last snarl of families beneath the toppling column
biting at wounds as the sutures tear (?)

four days.
what's the use of counting them now?

ah, what have I written?!
thoughts suitable to a sanitorium!
three days to break a lifetime's pride

3.40 am
pulse and reflexes: normal
barametric reading: 30.6
mean temperature: 30 F
some cumulus cloud at 10,000 ft.
wind: easterly and moderate
hands: in perfect order

from here
W.H.Auden and Gerard Langley
from the album Tolerance by the Blue Aeroplanes, 1987

Courtesy of ericb, who replied to my question at AskMetafilter, here are some extracts from Audens original at the interesting looking maisonneuve.

Monday, May 23, 2005

What is the use of getting the black jester out of the waste places if he is not to do what he like?

No. I wont listen any more. Go away. What is that you are saying? (Goes R. I. E. & speaks as if talking to somebody) No. I'll have my own way. I told you from the first I was go[ing] to. Yes I'm quite ready to take the consequences (Goes C) He's always interfearing. As if one could make any kind of enchantment worth looking at, if one had always to be thinking of him (at C, facing audience) The Stage Manager says I've got to make an enchantment for you -- something wonderful -- Something unlike anything you ever juggle for you. That I'm to cause a vision to come before your eyes, but he doesn't want to let me please myself. He says it must be simple, easy to understand, and all about real human beings but I am going to please myself this time (going halfway to the side). It's no use shaking you hand at me there. I am going to do just as I like. What is the use of getting the black jester out of the waste places if he is not to do what he like (returns to C). These are my friends that I have hung around my neck. Some of them I picked up on the wayside, some of them I made with a jack knife. I am going to make you dream about them & about me. I am going to wave my fingers & you will begin to dream. These two are Aengus and Edaine. They are spirits & whenever I am in love it is not I tham in Love but Aengus who is always looking for Edaine through somebody's eyes. You will read about them in the old Irish books. She was the wife of Midher another spirit in the hill but he grew jealous of her & he put her out of doors, & Aengus hid her in a tower of glass. That is why I carry the two of them in a glass bottle. (holds bottle in front of me) O Aengus! O Edaine! be kind to me when I am in love & to everybody in this audience when they are in love & make us all believe that it is not you but us ourselves that love. These others -- the black dog, the red dog &; the white dog. -- I am always afraid of them. Sometimes the black dog gets on my back, though [end p. 303]I have not been juggling but I will not talk about him for he was very wicked. I do not know the red dog from myself whenever I am angry or excited or running about. And it is only when I escapt from him &; [?] the black dog, and the pale dog leads me where i would go. that I would go to everything impossible and lasting To the place where these poor flowers that I have round my head can never die because they are made out of precious stones. They too are myself but that is a great mystery. The dogs, and the little king &; queen in the bottle &; the flowers, they are all going to be in the dream that you are going to dream presently, but they will be great & terrible & my birds will be there too (takes out birds) These sea birds that I shall be like when I get out of the body & this eagle that carries me messages from beyond the body & this jewsharp that I play on when my birds & my beasts wont talk to me & I too whall be ther, there in the dream & things that I would all that I did long ago or that I would like to do. I would like to lead...

The Black Fool's Speech By W. B Yeats. Found here.
This is a prologue written by W. B. Yeats to accompany a performance of the Shadowy Waters, sometime between 1904 and 1906. It is delivered by a "Black Jester" or "Fool."

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Gawain in the Wilderness

Mony klyf he ouerclambe in contrayez straunge,
Fer floten fro his frendez fremedly he rydez.
At vche warþe oþer water þer þe wy3e passed
He fonde a foo hym byfore, bot ferly hit were,
And þat so foule and so felle þat fe3t hym byhode.
So mony meruayl bi mount þer þe mon fyndez,
Hit were to tore for to telle of þe tenþe dole.
Sumwhyle wyth wormez he werrez, and with wolues als,
Sumwhyle wyth wodwos, þat woned in þe knarrez,
Boþe wyth bullez and berez, and borez oþerquyle,
And etaynez, þat hym anelede of þe he3e felle;

from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Many a cliff did he climb in that unknown land, where afar from his friends he rode as a stranger. Never did he come to a stream or a ford but he found a foe before him, and that one so marvellous, so foul and fell, that it behoved him to fight. So many wonders did that knight behold, that it were too long to tell the tenth part of them. Sometimes he fought with dragons and wolves; sometimes with wild men that dwelt in the rocks; another while with bulls, and bears, and wild boars, or with giants of the high moorland that drew near to him.

translation by Jessie L. Weston, found here.

The Art of Ed Kienholz

From the Guardian Arts Pages, here.

"In his Conceptual Tableaux, made in the 1960s, Kienholz wrote details of proposed works, each accompanied by a brass plaque, that would eventually be realised if a buyer came up with the cash.

The Black Leather Chair, from 1966:
This is a tableau about the Negro in America. The piece is simply a black leather chair completely covered in a block of lucite plastic and mounted on a suitable base. On the left side is a tunnel in the plastic where the viewer can reach in and touch one small portion of the chair.

"It is possible that I will never be able to make this tableau as I do not have the chair in my possession at this time. It is stored in an attic in Texas and is the property of a Negro family there. I am told by a friend that although the family is reluctant to part with it, he will be able to get it for me some time in the future.

"The leather on the chair is made from the skin of his great-grandfather".

Some works don't need to be made."

More on Kienholz here.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Running from God

"All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves."

Blaise Pascal, found here.

Hateful is the dark-blue sky

Why are we weigh'd upon with heaviness,
And utterly consumed with sharp distress,
While all things else have rest from weariness?
All things have rest: why should we toil alone,
We only toil, who are the first of things,
And make perpetual moan,
Still from one sorrow to another thrown:
Nor ever fold our wings,
And cease from wanderings,
Nor steep our brows in slumber's holy balm;
Nor harken what the inner spirit sings,
'There is no joy but calm!'—
Why should we only toil, the roof and crown of things?

From "Song of the Lotos-Eaters", Alfred Tennyson

[I'm blogging Tennyson? I must be insane]

Sunday, March 27, 2005

I am in the small world now.

It's maor impotant thath we spot the execat places we get our impotance from tyan we feel the happiness. we see the skynets, the looops of steel through the the concrete toweres - no-one bele8ives me - ther are limits - there are things throungh the things - there are things that mattere

Friday, March 25, 2005

"An engineer. He suffers from insomnia"

"Ghost capital, real city of varied stones, the great gray place of winds and wynds, old, new and festive by turns, between the river and the hills with its own stone stump, that frozen flow, that fractured plug of ancient matter that fascinated him.
He came to stay in Sciennes road, just liking the name, not knowing the place. It was handy, both for the university and the Institute, and if he pressed his face against the window of his cold, high-ceilinged room he could just see one edge of the Crags, gray-brown corrugations above the slate roofs and smoke of the city."

From The Bridge by Iain Banks.

The above quote comes about half way through the book. The city is Edinburgh, the Institute is the Grant Institute of Geology.
I read this book for the first time as a first year geology student at Edinburgh University, living in a high-ceilinged flat on Sciennes Road. When I read the words above I pressed my face to the cold window and saw the edge of Arthurs Seat and a little of Salisbury Crags.
I put the book down for a few days.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

sigur ros

Five years ago I went to see godspeed you! black emperor at the Lemon Tree in Aberdeen, Scotland. At the time I was waiting on a job offer in Houston, TX, USA so I could be re-united with my wife and children (the job and the adoption came through a week and a month later respectively).
The Lemon Tree was (maybe still is) a pub - the band sets up in a corner on the same level as the audience. There is room for 200 people at most. It's as basic a set-up as can be imagined.
There were two support bands that night - a tough gig for anyone given who the main band was. The first band were forgettable in the extreme.
The second band were sigur ros.
It's hard to state the effect of seeing them play had on an audience who had never heard of them before. Jaws dropped. At least two people I saw started crying. No-one went to the bar.
It was a life-changing moment. One all the more powerful for the fact that GSYBE came on next and played an awesome set which seemed almost irrelevant. The fact that GSYBE had the courage and generosity to have sigur ros go on before them, when they must have known what effect it would have on the audience, still amazes me.
A week later I was in Houston, dealing with things that still burn me today - finalising the adoption of our kids, finding somewhere to live, regularising my immigration status.
I was drunk, impatient and scared that night. I was all of those things after I left the Lemon Tree. Somehow though, they mattered less to me after what I had heard.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Dover Beach

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits;--on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Matthew Arnold, 1851

Saturday, March 12, 2005

For the Worst of Us, the Diagnosis May Be 'Evil'

The New York Times: "In recent years, neuroscientists have found evidence that psychopathy scores reflect physical differences in brain function. Last April, Canadian and American researchers reported in a brain-imaging study that psychopaths processed certain abstract words - grace, future, power, for example - differently from nonpsychopaths."

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

"Terrestrial Limits"

"I understood this myself when I read your novel The Time Machine. All human conceptions are on the scale of our planet. They are based on the pretension that the technical potential, although it will develop, will never exceed ‘terrestrial limit’."

"If we succeed in establishing interplanetary communications, all our philosophies, moral and social views will have to be revised."

V.I. Lenin in conversation with H.G. Wells

from Emerald City

Sunday, February 20, 2005

From an even more defunct blog

Silver in the Moonlight

Chapter One

“Between the lighthouse and the hills
At the crossroads that none can see
When the moon is full, through the eye in the stone
Turn east to come to me”

Tom woke struggling to breathe, as though his sleep had been ended by some large beast leaping on his chest. His room was dark, lit only by the dim starlight through his window, and the only sound was the heaving of his chest. As his panic slowly ebbed away he struggled to hold onto the one thing he knew to be important from the dream that had caused it – the clear, unarguable knowledge that in moonlight blood looked like molten silver.

The next day, he rose after spending the rest of the night trying to sleepily sort through the feelings this dream fragment had left him with. Fear certainly, but also a strange kind of exultation, as though he has been given a piece of knowledge that few others possessed and fewer still could use.

That idea brought him to a halt as he absently pulled on his pants. How could the color of blood by the moon be something he could use? He tried to shake this strange thought out of his head as he rushed downstairs in the pre-dawn chill, but somewhere inside he knew that a part of him that had been asleep was now awake and grinning at the world it saw through his eyes.

“There you are”, said his mother as she slid two fried eggs onto a stoneware plate. “Thought I’d have to get your sister to pull the covers off you again”. Tom slipped onto his chair, glaring at Sienna as she poked her tongue out at him. As mother rushed around the kitchen, frying more eggs, slicing bread, boiling water for coffee and generally doing more things and being in more places than seemed natural for one person, father sat immobile at the head of the table, large but surprisingly delicate hands wrapped around a huge cup of bitter smelling coffee.

While mother was always moving, doing whatever needed doing with the grace that comes from a dancers training and an instinctive dislike of wasted motion, father rarely seemed to shift at all. At least, not when anyone was looking at him, although often enough Tom had turned his head away for a few seconds and when he had looked back, father was on the other side of the room, some complex task seemingly half done.

“Tom”, he said, his voice strangely light for such a big man, “You clean out the stables this morning, then get yourself cleaned up before you and your sister go see the Parson for whatever he’s filling your heads with today”.
“Geography today”, said Sienna, “Although the only geography Tom knows is from here to the Eyestone and back”. Sienna giggled as Tom mouthed a dire threat to her.
“Is that true?” asked his mother. “Tom, you do know that the Eyestone is, well, more a place for women don’t you?”
“Maybe he’s worried he’s barren and will never carry a baby!”
“Shut up Sienna”, said father, looking at Tom worriedly. “Well, Tom?”
“The young women only go there at New Moon. Whatever it is they go there to do” – looking angrily at his sister – “I just go there sometimes because it’s peaceful”
His father was quiet for a moment then said, “We’ll talk about this later Tom. You’ll come with me when I go to the lighthouse tonight”
And that ended that.

That evening he sat musing again on his dream as he waited for his father to complete working in the lighthouse. Mr. Thompson, as dad was known to even his closest friends, had been working at the lighthouse all his life, as had his father before him. Truth be told it was an easy job – simply a matter of cleaning the windows and the big reflector, trimming or replacing the wick and topping up the fine mineral oil that burned for the light. Once that was done his only responsibility was to light the flame shortly before sundown. Of course, as Tom had been told countless times, on the assumption that one day this would be his task also, that was a huge responsibility – one night missed, for any reason, could mean the destruction of one of the Queens freighters on the teeth-like rocks barely submerged off the coast.

Tom was not interested in lighthouses, and was only interested in the Queens freighters in that they were going somewhere he had only heard of in stories – the City. The huge ships, black and silent as the night they always passed this length of coast in, would sail west to the great harbor of Gillmouth and then up the Great Canal to the City, which if it had ever had a name it had shrugged off long ago as being unnecessary. There was only one City worthy of capitalization, just as there was only one Queen in a world filled with advisory councils, presidents, prime ministers and other barbarically complicated forms of government.

Tom idly considered means of getting on one of the black ships when he sensed his father behind him. He stood up and turned, realizing with a start that he was nearly as tall as Dad now. “Yes Father?”
“Take these” – handing over a bag of rags, an empty bucket and a jar of oil – “and lets get going”.

As they walked the five miles back to Little Thornton Tom began to dread his father speaking. These father to son speeches had begun to come with increasing frequency as he approached his fourteenth birthday and each was more excruciating than the last. Just as Tom thought his father had forgotten his promise of that morning the words he dreaded arrived.
“Tom, I said this morning … well I said we’d talk. Well, I supposed we had better, don’t you?”
This was even worse than Tom had anticipated. It might even prove to be worse that the infamous “girls and what not to do with them” speech that still gave Tom a pain a dagger in the eye whenever he thought of it.
“Yes Father”, he said, obediently.
“Tom … the Eyestone, well … it’s just a stone you know?”
“Yes Father”, again obediently, but with a hint of impatience.
“It … it can’t … well … it probably can’t make … barren, hmm, yes barren women … fertile again”
This was getting very bad.
“Even if they do … well … do … umm … what it is that … well … people say they do there …”
Tom studied the ground closely as they trudged on, looking for signs that it might open up in some unexpected chasm and swallow them both. Sadly, it appeared unlikely.
“Well, look, dammit! The Eyestone is just a strangely shaped piece of rock. It has no magical powers, although it might help some unhappy women to believe it does.”
Suddenly Father was lucid and almost angry.
“But, well, some places are marked for a reason. And the place where that stone was erected, who knows how long ago, is one of them. You know it’s called the crossroads?”
“Yes, why is that when there’s no other road crossing there?”, asked Tom, relieved that the subject had moved on from the treacherous area of fertility spells.
“None that we can see – but I think that place is one of those where the world has worn thin, where the passage of feet over hundreds of years, on our road and on … lets say another kind of road have brought two places that should not touch close to each other. That’s why the Eyestone is there – as a warning. An that is why I don’t want to hear of you hanging around there anymore!”
With that outburst, more words than his Father normally used in a week, they both fell silent, walking in the dimming light, their shadows stretching out to left, vastly elongated against the low heather.

In bed Tom considered his Fathers remarkable speech. He had always felt that the Eyestone was special somehow, but to have his father confirm it marked the site of what he had once heard his grandmother call a hollowing was astonishing. Tom knew little of the underpinnings of his world, the huge, intricate structure of living myth and blind ritual that lay beneath his feet and within each breath he took. He had, however, taken enough lessons from the Parson in philosophia nullius and clinamen theory to know that hollowings were a logical consequence of the world of appearances. Just as limestone country will develop caves, so any reality complex enough to deserve the name must have gaps, places where the appearances have faded like a tapestry left too long in the sun. With these thoughts circling around his head he drifted off to sleep.

His dreams began gently enough – a gentle fall of snow against a limitless black background. Each flake fell slowly and vertically downwards, not touching any other flake and spinning unhurriedly as it fell. Then, so slowly it was almost imperceptible, one flake was nudged somehow away from its line.

[I was amazed to find this still online - I wrote it back in 2001 and have notes for the rest of the novel lying around somewhere]

From a now defunct blog

USA Coastal Waters, 29 deg 14' N, 92 deg 24' W



At some point over the last three years I lost something.

Exactly what is hard to put into words, perhaps because no word exists for it.. This thing that I have lost was an ability, a way of looking at the world, perhaps a blind spot of some kind - whatever, it had, I suspect, no independent existence of its own, but was rather defined by the place where other, more "concrete", psychological and emotional entities intersect.

It had something to do with: mental and emotional flexibility; curiosity about the world around me; a set of precious memories that served to glow with significance and a kind of holiness and provided an anchor when times were hard; many other things, some or all of which may be referred to subsequently.

As I said above, the lost thing partakes of all the above qualities and more, but had a flavour of its own. It manifested as a kind of clear-sighted and realistic optimism - a deep and icy conviction that whatever the world may have thrown at me, I possessed the inner resources to not only deal with it, but turn it to my advantage.

Perhaps I was delusional to feel that way, and my current mental state is a more realistic reflection of the way I fit into the world. Whether I was or not, that way of seeing the world is no longer available to me. It is gone. Somewhere - on some plane or boat or rig; in some office or waiting room or motel; during some one-sided argument or when lying sleepless in bed or sitting outside with tears blurring the stars above into vast clouds of chilly white light - it went.

[and I thought things were bad then - I really didn't have a clue!]

Aberdeen to Oxenholme, 1995

We hit the tarmac running. The chopper blades still turning, we ran through the smells of half burned aviation fuel and rain under a sky so low it looked like the ceiling of a hospital room.
We claimed our bags and jumped in a taxi for the railway station.
When the sun is out Aberdeen can look like some slightly grim town out of faerie: the granite sparkles and accentuates the fanciful touches of the architecture. The delicate crenelations along the top of a terrace of shops; the impractical turretts on a dour family home.
On days like this one the city looks like it was carved out of heavy dark cloud: at any time it could collapse into vast pools of dirty water.

We caught the train.

"I anticipated a greater degree of total non-linearity there my friend," said Shawn.
"We dodged bullets both metaphorical and psychological, although thankfully not literal."

East Scotland raced past outside the window. Wasted little towns, falling apart as we passed.

"Indeed, Shawn," I said, "although adopting speech patterns that are both geek and 19th century southern English is unlikely to earn friends in those who eavesdrop."

Thin layers of soil on cracked rock. Constant low-level, wind pushed rain that hits like hard radioactivity.

[to be continued ...]

... every Thing goes in a Circle

"'Tis ane of their Tenets, that nothing periƒheth, but (as the Sun and Year) every Thing goes in a Circle, leƒƒer or greater, and is renewed and refreƒhed in its Revolutions; as 'tis another, that every Bodie in the Creation moves, (which is a ƒort of Life;) and that nothing moves, but [h]as another Animal moving on it; and ƒo on, to the utmoƒt minuteƒt Corpuƒcle that's capable to be a Receptacle of Life."

The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies
by Robert Kirk and Andrew Lang