Saturday, 13 August 2011

a field student of portents

As Field Study's Man in E17, I was lost in the watery margins of Hackney and Waltham Forest looking for a fourth direction. As is the case for a great many there is no 4th direction for me pointing towards the Olympic site. I settled instead for one of the three directions and lost myself further north in a blasted wood. 

Path-side trees bowed over cracking and groaning as they did so and soon there was no path to stray from. Stepping tentatively through a matting of stinging nettles, I found  a clearing into which a single beam of sunlight had similarly strayed. Such comfort as there was to be taken from this fellow trespass was alarmingly  dispelled as a boggle eyed bogle (or was he a Bogamil?) stepped into the clearing.

His voice cracked like the blasted and fallen trees surrounding us. I believe I heard him say:

Hear me, I am older than thou; thou art like to meet with, in the way which thou goest, wearisomeness, painfulness, hunger, perils, nakedness, sword, lions, dragons, darkness, and, in a word, death, and what not! These things are certainly true, having been confirmed by many testimonies.
(World, Pilgrims Progress - John Bunyan)

What sort of portent could this be? I thanked him for the warning, turned away and fled, at which point he called out after me:

But I am a blasted tree; the bolt has entered my soul; and I felt then that I should survive to exhibit what I shall soon cease to be - a miserable spectacle of humanity; pitiable to others and intolerable to myself.
(Frankenstein, Mary Shelley) 

I emerged from that fantasy, in St James Park E17, and began a traversal of Walthamstow through the siren filled streets. Guided by smoke shrouded moonlight, I walked in the direction of a huge plume become cloud of dark smoke rising from the northern horizon. The smoke rose from a warehouse inferno of a million and a half compact discs. As the smoke spread across the sky the moon acquired a mysterious corona; a filtered light from which nebulous shadows were cast into the dream time.

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