Field Study’s Man in E17 has just about recovered from an incredibly distressing encounter on a twilit footpath one evening earlier this week.
Aware he is something of a shrinking violet, Field Study’s Man takes to the paths of E17 when there is less likelihood of contact with other beings, normal or even paranormal. This is not to say Field Study’s Man is a misanthrope. Indeed your man is genuinely concerned about the well being of the environment, culture and inhabitants of Walthamstow, E17 and other ‘Walthamstows’ further afield. Field research into this well being is just sometimes better carried out via solo expeditions for the sake of creative subjectivity or, to use a term favoured by some cultural theorists, reflexivity. Field Study’s Man in E17 recently reviewed his field research to date and was reflexively concerned about the lack of suitably focussed purpose. I have to take more risks, he thought to himself.
Your field researcher consulted a manual, ‘E17 Field Research, a Psycho-Geographer’s Guide’. The content of this spurious manual is very sensitive and mostly confidential. However he is willing, at some risk to himself, to leak some of it, specifically guidance for researchers in the field who are lost for an idea. When a field student is lost the guide advises resorting to Cold War mythology to recover some sort of direction. Prominent amongst the tactics or themes is size changing. Field Study’s Man shies away from the slightly more sexed up and contemporary sounding term, ‘scale shifting’. Field Study’s Man in E17 does not fancy himself as a scale shifter.
“Size of a honey bee!,” he called, and out he scuttled into the newly gigantean landscape of Walthamstow, foraging for the ambrosial sweetness of its high rise highways and byways.
Field Study’s Man recalled lessons in the hazards of diminution, in particular the experiences of fellow field student, ‘Robert Carey’ in The Incredible Shrinking Man. Carey’s exploits were committed to that B movie account by Jack Arnold and Richard Matheson, in 1957 (released on the 1st April, appropriately). It is of such cultural, historical and aesthetic significance; it was named to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress and will be preserved for all time.
Field Study’s Man was confident he could avoid the perilous jaws of domestic cats and certain spiders given some of the attributes of the honey bee, Apis mellifera. So it was, he explored and delved into the flora of a footpath nowhere between Shernhall Road and Marlowe Road. These weeds emerged defiantly from within the gaps of the irrational grid of paved topography - sites of resistance in the civic field. Your urban and urbane forager employed his freshly keened senses of smell and ultra (shrinking) violet vision to map the fecundity of this twilight zone.
As an amateur apiculturalist Field Study’s Man was aware the honey bee is attracted to some flowers by virtue of their appeal to ultra violet vision; the attractiveness of flowers to bees is not only defined by the spectrum of visible colour and form. Magnificently, the entire footpath including its flora positively glowed or fluoresced in glorious Z movie ultra violet ‘technicolor’. How could this be?
In this realm of sensory overload, of discombobulation aplenty, synaesthesia is a desirable faculty. It seems the properties of ultra violet sensation are shared and enjoyed by the red fox, Vulpes vulpes, and Field Study’s Man was, in fact, immersed in a very smelly (clarty) vulpine territorial dispute - defined by the fluorescing secretions of their anal and supracaudal glands. The latter are, fantastically, also known as the violet glands because violets emit substances similar to the secretions of foxes. Further into this confusion of the animal and vegetable kingdoms, it seems bee orchids (of e.g. Walthamstow Marshes, SSSI) may also emit pheromones, similar to those produced by bees to attract mates/stimulate mating.
Now all this chaos of sexual sense and sensibility overwhelmed Field Study’s Man; so much so, his guard was lowered and he did not sense the approach of a patrolling fox. The fox, irked by the trespass of the diminutive and relatively stinking field student, proceeded to spray the vicinity and, alas, Field Study’s Man was drenched in a vulpine malodour. The tale of the field student’s return home is an epic for another time. Suffice to say, Field Study’s Man was keen to rid himself of certain hazards caused by this encounter, of which unwelcome sexual approaches by confused honey bees are included. He has spent much time in the shower in recent days scrubbing his self clean, in readiness for future forays.