Monday, September 22, 2003
Whitford, Sunday, 8am.
I slept in the car last night, in a field just down from the village of Llanmadoc on the western tip of North Gower, a short walk up from a hamlet called Cwm Ivy. The plan being to move before dawn, and there was nowhere else to stay, besides I had money for petrol and food and nothing else. I had some cooked chicken wings, some welsh cakes and a cartoon of orange juice containing no discernable trace of orange, just a sharp, vulgar tan, a taste somewhat like the sound of a singing wine glass. In the dying light, with the empty field and the cry of cattle like far-off dinosaurs, I picked up radio Pembroke and some elderly Kenneth Clarke type eulogising Europhilia. Ravens flocked above me, the death-winged brutes, a thuggish roost, clucking, squarking and grumbling. Farm collie barks richoceted through the encroaching dark, the car-light somewhat consumed, but the radio waves still clear. The Northern shore line was lit with the orange street and white house lights of Llanelli and Carmarthenshire, just across the estuary, visible above the hedgerows and scattered trees. The air was clear, cold and clean, smelt like charred wood, and the sky was dotted with bright stars. By now the night was as silent as death, but the radio buzzed, and I worried about the car battery for a second, then listened for the sea, and could just pick out the lapping shore line. The car, the stars, the sea, the moon, and I. Turn the light off, curl up, get under the rug. There's a moth in the car.
Awake before dawn, but then I was awake anyway. Walked down through Cwm Ivy as the night lifted into morning, through the trees and the dawn chorus, past the cottages, the odd window already lit. Down the path into the nature reserve and up into the conifer forest. There's a route you take because of the tides: a mistake at Whitford Point can kill you: the tide can advance faster than walking pace, and cut you off by a network of channels. Farmers let sheep graze on the beach and the estuary*, and there have been stories of them running to escape the incoming sea, leaping over the pill for their lives. Once, in the late seventies, a farmer was forced to leave a flock of sheep to drown. Every year somebody drowns on the Gower, and it's usually around here. I immediately took the wrong path - I mean the route didn't exactly specify which path, and the right path looked more like somebody's driveway - and for the next hour waded through sand dunes, going the wrong way, wondering what had happened to the path that's supposed to weave through conifers, and forever heading for another conifer forest on the horizon. Eventually I found the correct path and turned east away from the point, towards the estuary and the famous, inaccesible bird-watching hide. This is one of the richest wildlife spots in the country, but you need a telescope to see anything good, and all I have is a tiny pair of Olympus 8 x 20, so I couldn't see much. What kind of idiot goes to Whitford with opera glasses? There were no proper birdwatchers around, despite an assurance that they would be there in packs: maks, wellingtons and telescopes galore. But the view north across the sand and mudflats shimmered, and the bubbling cacophany of song betrayed a teeming population. The tide was low. From the tumult of sound all I could pick out was: crows, gulls, oystercatcher and curlew. The rest a piping mystery, but breathtaking, gorgeous, almost too elaborate, somewhat Rococo, like seashells. Day broke to flat cloud, a translucent rim of golden light crowning coal hills to the North like a halo.
I got bored, and walked back towards the point, across the sand banks, bedded with muscle and periwinkle shells, razors and whelks, cockles, limpits and scallops. I disturbed a colony of sandflies, thousands suddenly leaping to life around my feet as if a high voltage of electricity had pulsed through the sand. But then: Whitford lighthouse, the old cast iron lighthouse I first spotted driving past the shore marsh out of the concrete ribbon development of Penclawdd - home of cockle farmers, boy racers and broken homes - emerging on the horizon like a ghost from a childhood room, and a strange sensation, almost a blush of tears, and no idea why. And it's here! Well close! This lighthouse, unused, except by cormorants, rusting away into the sea, ringed by swirling currents and murderous tides. An image in my head for years, now some kind of existential pilgrimage, and a symbol of defiance and isolation (they're inseperable). Still with this dumb, broken heart, but laughing now: if J had been with me last night she'd have said "Oliver, you're an idiot, you're crazy, what are we doing in a field, in this cold car, in the middle of the night?", but this morning, here, all she would have said was, "oh! superb!". Right on the point the bow of a ship, the ship almost fully submerged in the sand, the bow poking out, wrecked, blue paint eroding to reveal old wood, still firm. Actually, when you look, it seems like...shipwrecks everywhere! Rotting hulks, scraps of rusting iron. But you must stay alert for another reason - and the terrifying yellow signs remain; 'DANGER OF DEATH'/skull and cross bones - look out for unexploded shells: Whitford was an artillery range during the wars.
It's 8am, a flock of small brown birds swoop down and land on the sand about 50 metres in front of me. I reach for the pocket-sized bincolars in the pocket of my jeans. These are the first birds I'll see properly all day, but the binoculars are stuck in my pocket and I cannot get them out, and then my hand is stuck as well, and I'm flailing about like a daft giraffe while the birds happily scavenge and peck along the sand. Then I fall over, and they all fly away, safe into the dunes, out of sight. I'm flat on my back on the hard, smooth sand, thinking: I'm really glad that this is the most unpopular beach on the Gower due to inaccesibility and danger.
Why am I even telling you this?
*This is a local delicacy, only available from local butchers: succulent lamb with a distinct flavour due entirely to sheep grazed on salty, sea-washed grass. It is, apparently, delicious, but only if cooked correctly.
Friday, September 19, 2003
When everything fails, I shall go and work in the cockle industry.
Up before dawn with the gulls and the waders, fighting the elements in wellington boots, then home to cook the gathered cockles and off to the market to sell them. Welsh cakes for tea, then a hot bath and bed. With a beautiful wife, from Italy.
Here, go here, what a treat! And how lovely, too.
Thursday, September 18, 2003
The Wayne Wonder of Worry.
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Here's a response from a brain beamed in from West Coast sand, sea, hills and valleys, right into the centre of the capital, from one festering in its gloomy, greasy residential slums, following the lines of nineteenth century sewage pipes across canals, rivers, around football fields, alongside an ice rink, bus routes and marshes and emphatic/ecstatic about these routes and then...discovery and revelation always:
a little brick cottage, moth-eaten net curtains and tin pots and kettles lined along a crumbling, cobwebbed wall, surrounded by defunct warehouses beside a shadowy East End canal that morphs into a redeveloped wharf, moared yachts, bland box flats, and featureless luxury, while eels leap, stab and swarm beneath a baking blanket of algae.
For instance, that was another instance, re: the plane above Bloomsbury, below.
I didn't come here for a job, I came here just to be here, I was impelled, well, propelled, my provincial grit drove me to seek out a place, however small, a location and a life in this squall, because it bothered me not being here, and that wasn't dreams or hope or hype, it's just that every time I came here I felt energised, galvanised, and so this gravitational pull inside developed to the point where it began to spoil my surroundings, and when I got here that stopped, and I've never not loved being here. Because London has the romance, beauty and potential of every city, town, village, hamlet, field, hill and valley, magnified, intensified, and multiplied.
Even in this pitiable, broken, wasteful Nation State state, the Eastern Thames gutted and forlon, life sapped by open plan offices and studio flats, for example, it offers as much and more than any Great City coagulating and clinging to this measly, mapped, travel-worn globe, and that immediately negates any other UK city, because they aren't even on the same list. This extreme ditch with its murky water and glittering surface: if the misanthropy and euphoria of this experience doesn't shock, seduce and consume you, then I really don't understand you, and what would we have to agree on?
I came here for the music too and this hardcore continuum that's so big on the blogs, loved with unusual focus and conviction, well, wasn't that also shaped by the unique mystery of London, its myth-making and anonymity, the allure of name and place, recreating the Town and City outline and incline in terms of patchwork, texture, ambience, intensity, "zones of feeling"? The M25 Orbital a portal, secret passage, and runway? London made the music, it added to it: the pirates thrived on the tug and tension between the city's vast scale, the district-disconnected sprawl, and its insularity, its micro-climate, its contained culture. Which is precisely the energy, precisely the atmosphere, unrivalled anywhere (then as now). This insularity is as important, creative, positive as the ability to absorb, devour and expand.
If anyone has a clue as to the merit or origin of the following records please email firstname.lastname@example.org because I'd like to know what you think and what they are. I never hear them played out on old skool shows these days, and I think they're pretty good, but maybe you don't:
On Remand Timeless World/Black Steel (Part 2) Crack House Productions
Intense Paradox/The Quikening/Journey to the Unknown Rugged Vinyl
Intense The Genesis Project EP Rugged Vinyl
Beyond the Future (Peshay and Bay-B-Kane) Feel It/Mystery Ride (Flatline Mix) Paradise Records
Steve C and Monita The Razor's Edge/Full Cry Skeleton Records
But the beauty of London can be precisely located, for instance:
a large white airliner jet skimming Bedford Square.
Hurricane Isabel races towards the East Coast of America, looking to hit anywhere between North Carolina and New Jersey late Thursday or early Friday. With winds whipping up to 125mph and waves hitting 40ft +, Virginia has declared a state of emergency, hardware stores along the coast are stripped of essential items (batteries, torches, can openers, candles, plastic sheeting), people board up their houses and drag boats ashore, and the Navy wonder if they should move the Atlantic Fleet out of Isabel's raging path.
According to the soldiers themselves, cross-dressing is a military mind game, a tactic that instills fear in their rivals. It also makes the soldiers feel more invincible. This belief is founded on a regional superstition which holds that soldiers can "confuse the enemy's bullets" by assuming two identities simultaneously.
Liberian militias' got it going on.
Saturday, September 13, 2003
are isolated, fully-submerged volcanic mountains in the Atlantic and Pacific, ridges and canyons rising thousands of metres from the sea floor. Seamounts are largely unexplored: of the Pacific's 30,000, only 220 - 250 have been studied. 40% of all species studied on these colossal basalt peaks are new discoveries. They harbour creatures whose extinction had previously been dated back to the Mesozoic era, and coral communties that have evolved over thousands of years. Evolution has taken a divergent path on each seamount, there is no consistency or equivalence, they develop like different countries sharing, at most, 20% of their species. Seamount dwellers are sustained by nutrient rich currents deflected up the slopes, picking up speed as they near the summit. The summits support communities of suspension feeders: corals, sponges and seafans that filter organic matter from the passing currents. Sea-spiders and lobsters dwell in the coral, crags and rock outcrops of the slopes and whales and tuna fish feed around the mountains as they pass by on migratory routes. Creatures of the lower slopes, trenches and sea floor feed on the nutrient fallout that showers down from activity on the upper slopes.
Meanwhile, advanced fishing fleets abandon exhausted routes and depleted stocks, and mine the mounts for rare and exotic marine delicacies like orange roughy, alfonsino and deep-water red fish. Anything edible, or beautiful, a culinary paradise for the wealthy, the dedicated, the curious and the refined.
Data. Mechanics of the earth's crust. Spew and surge of vivid red lava steaming in the deep blue. The seismic ripples along continental shelves. Plates of lithosphere collide. Tectonic plate subducted. Seeping crust melts, forms magma. Gas forms from magma, builds up pressure and erupts. Volcanoes form islands. Sediments collect. Continents drift together. Ocean basin diminishes. Island accrection; the island arc is accreting to one side. Basin may close. A mountain range is formed out of deformed sedimentary and metamorphic rock.
And, the crumbling poles. Shafts, shelves and slabs of ice break off or drift away from the ice-edge, the brittle shelf, smashing into grey ocean or silently detaching. The ice-shelves recede like a suicide pact.
The Maldives will be submerged, the Alps bare and dripping.
No more food, time to leave.
Ben Fogle with The Fear.
I've got The Fear, chaps.
Friday, September 12, 2003
Actually, no it's not. $20, 000 is not the kind of cash I have to spend.
Unless somebody wants to donate the fare, I'll write you a brilliant book all about it, for free.
Look, all I want to do is get inside the Arctic Circle.
Thursday, September 11, 2003
This is what I'm going to do.
In 1994, Algerian terrorists planned to hijack an Air France airliner with the intention of detonating it over the Eiffel Tower. Having been warned of an imminent bust, the operation was moved forward from New Year's Eve to Christmas Eve. This sudden change meant that some members of the group could not participate, and things did not go according to plan. The airplane was hijacked by four members who killed three passengers before executing a forced landing at Marseilles airport. Here, French elite soldiers stormed the plane, killed the hijackers, and freed the passengers.
Secret connections linking Al-Qaeda, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, says Abu Zubaydah, one of bin Laden's 'brain trust' terror architects, now drugged off his face in American custody.
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Children are very efficient killers
Children are the weakest victims, the easiest recruits, and often, the most effective killers. At a certain age the mind can just absorb, digest or obliterate. Trauma comes later, or it doesn't. That just depends on the type. The LRA, operational in some form or another since the late 80s, consists of child warriors and men who spat out their youth coming through the ranks: hardened, brutalised, utterely desensitised, or maybe dying to escape, or maybe dying by trying.
The LRA has its immediate origin in the civil war between Milton Obete's Acholi army (Obete was Ugandan president both pre- and post-Idi Amin) and Yoweri Museveni's National Resistance Army. Before Museveni's eventual military victory Obete was ousted by an Acholi army officer, Tito Okello, who then entered into the Nairobi peace accord with Museveni. This broke within weeks, and the NRA forced Okello's fighters to retreat North. In August 1987, the remains of Okello's army, who had fled to Southern Sudan, formed a rebel alliance with other opponents of the Museveni regime. One of these rebel units was called the Holy Spirit Mobile Force and led by an Acholi mystic and prophetess called Alice Lakwena. Lakwena told the Acholis that she was possessed by the Holy Spirit and would purge them of witches and sinners. She claimed that her fighters could repel bullets. She would annoint them with shea butter oil and the bullets would bounce off their skin. Fusing the roles of spiritual healer and military leader, Lakwena fermented a millenarian uprising. Aided by an enthused Acholi population, the Holy Spirit Mobile Force advanced to within 60 miles of Uganda's Southern capital, Kampali, where they finally met a large NRA force. Armed with rifles and stones, and smeared in shea butter oil, Lakwena's followers were massacred by the modern artillery of the government troops. Lakwena herself, like some macabre cross between Alice Coltrane and Rwanda's Hutu Power Madame Agathe, fled to Kenya.
After this defeat the Acholi rebel force largely disintegrated, but a small group remained in the bush under the command of Lakwena's 20-yr old relative, Joseph Kony. Kony claimed to be Lakwena's spiritual successor, and to share her religious powers. They had even been involved in special ceremonies together, he said. He would accomplish her mission to otherthrow the Southern-biased government, purify the Acholi people, and run Uganda according to the Ten Commandments. These aims would be achieved through violence; he called his fighters the Lord's Resistance Army.
Throughout the 90s, the LRA didn't pose a real threat to state power, but they were impossible to actually defeat. And in the North they perpetuated numberless atrocities and abducted thousands of children, absorbing them into their rank-and-file. A terrifying mix of The Pied Piper and Battle Royale, children were forced to kill their relatives and other children, either to punish those who had tried to escape, or just as a ritual, a rite-of-passage, or an excercise. They were raped and starved and trained as guerillas. They became slaves, guards, and soldiers. Girls as young as 11 would be taken as 'wives' or concubines. Later, when Sudan began to fund the LRA because of political hostilities with Uganda, they would be given as 'gifts' to arms dealers in Sudan. The LRA set up camps in Southern Sudan, and made guerilla raids into Northern Uganda, as well as wreaking havoc in their Sudanese locality.
To most of the fighters the actual ideology behind all this remained obscure, despite Kony's occasional sermons. The LRA were characterised as deranged Christian fundamentalists, but the reality was more complex, of course, and murkier. Kony was raised a Catholic but his litany of rituals was more eclectic, drawing on various Christian traditions, Acholi tribal religion and, more recently, elements of Islam (notably, during the period of support from Sudan's Islamic-dominated government). Kony personally benefited from the conflict to a staggering degree: he had about 20 wives, scores of cars, buildings in townships, trading centres in Acholi, and other forms of property. Ugandan officials considered him a villian, making profit from prolonged Ugandan/Sudanese hostilities, child abduction, massacres, and the economic and social disruption of the Acholi districts. This status quo ended last year, when Sudan promised to stop funding the LRA and, alongside Uganda, flush out their camps and detain their fighters. The renewed intensity of LRA invasions and abductions in Northern Uganda is simply a result of this crackdown.
Tuesday, September 09, 2003
Midweek. Antichrist...has been resurrected from the dead.
Monday, September 08, 2003
The vox and the fole
When one says that heterology scientifically considers the question of heterogeneity, one does not mean that heterology is, in the usual sense of such a formula, the science of the heterogenous. The heterogenous is even resolutely placed outside the reach of scientific knowledge, which by defintion is only applicable to homogenous elements. Above all, heterology is opposed to any homogenous reperesentation of the world, in other words, to any philosophical system. The goal of such repersentations is always the deprivation of our universe's sources of excitation and the development of a servile human species, fit only for the fabrication, rational consumption, and conservation of products.
Georges Bataille The Use Value of D.A.F. de Sade
Cave systems. Insect tracks, tunnels, pathways, hollows and hovels. The broken cliffs afford shelter in their crevices, arches, ravines and cut-aways. Matted grass, fescue, lichen. Lizzards scuttle over beds of thyme and rock rose. "There are unconfirmed reports of swifts nesting in the cliffs." Jackdaws drive out choughs. Linnets and yellowhammers in windshorn shrub. Kingfishers make their way to the sea, ring ouzels from inland. Snow buntings on the cliffs in late October. The hunt of fox and vole. Natural slit in the cliff face walled off, held by smugglers. Tales. A tease. Relics of the Pleistocene era. Beneath here, unseen, that is, trapped, petrified. Cave bear, hyena, ox, bison, woolly rhinoceras, mammoth and reindeer. Also, animal bones, fragments of pottery, weapons. Hard winds full of ice and sleet, and a cold grave. Sea plantation and rock samphire seeking out sea-spray. Blind like bats, flowers stretching for the sun. Sharp bursts of thrift and squill. Rock plants of sub-aerial scree. Limestone cliffs rise, hit by Atlantic gales. Crowned by a navigational beacon, the plateau curves down from its summit. Life hums, sings and simmers on the exposed tidal channel. Brittle stars lose arms among the rolling pebbles. Starfish stranded on the high shore after storms. Hermit crabs scuttle among the wrack. Gulls pick their way through smashed sea shells and disembowelled shore crabs. "The sky near Burryholms was blackened with birds." A fierce and remarkable autumn. A mass of whirling starlings. A vast, ominous, teeming roost. The air bites. Air bites. Driftlines of seaweed. Cliff and dune weeds flourish in the turbulence of wind speed and wave action. Ice-crusts form in shallow waters. Carrion crows scour the shoreline. Submerged forest of unexploded bombshells. Cliff walk promenade of concrete shelters, cracked and warped. A wartime artillery observation post at the North point. Quicksands everywhere. A grey Atlantic seal, stranded at the cove. Exhausted auks blown inshore by winter gales. Catching prey, lassoo cells. Sea rush zone. "The milky latex of sea spurge." Clotted seaweed: red algae, oarweed, kelp. Fragments of razor, mussel and other seashells. She sells. Sea drift, artefacts. Ship trash, slip trash: lobster cages, rubber gloves, plastic bottles, knotted rope and tupperware. Lost and found: broken biros, cig filters, plastic straws, gull feathers. Crab corpse covered in sandflies. Scatter of delicate urchin exoskeletons. Clandestine mission creep of limpets. Hyrbid swarm of parasites and scavengers. The crackle, spit and splutter of rock pools, molecular warzones, tide receding. Refracted roar of RAF jets across the horizon. Monkfish thrown back overboard and washed ashore. Winter whistle of Oystercatchers spinning through the howl and hiss of wind and rain. Cormorants perched on the balcony and lantern balustrade of the last cast-iron lighthouse. Peregrine perched on a dead tree trunk. Piles of cockelshells. Stranded false killer whales. Sawbills and scoter tackle rip-tides and currents. Seals swirling through a strong swell. Pintail arrive from breeding grounds in the Baltic. Whole rafts on the wind in dance. Airborne raptor, dropping, arcing, cutting, ascending. Looking back amongst the debris on the high tide line.
Not surprisingly, there are a number of legends associated with the monument, the most popular being that the capstone was once a pebble flung away by King Arthur, who found it in his shoe while walking in Llanelli. The stone is also claimed to have been split by a blow from Excalibur, Arthur's sword (or according to a later variation, by St David to prove it was not sacred), and that on Midsummer Eve the stone goes down to the Burry stream, to drink.
Excerpt from Historic Gower
A school of dolphins playing off-shore mid-june. Ghost-grey basking shark looms like a phantom from prehistory. Blue lobsters and red crabs. Hoverflies, bluebottles, and wasps throughout summer months. Many butterflies, bees and weeds. Droneflies, wasps and greenbottles. The hum of wings. Small coppers and orange tips. Red admirals skimming the sea surface. Wandering groups of free range ponies. Bracken, bramble, gorse and rushes web across limestone, moor and meadow. Bared soil, delicate flower-trails, fragile blue flowers. Wheat and barley fields and corn crops. The trace of stream and ditch absorbed by rock during summer. Pasture reverted to scrubland, overrun by gorse, hawthorn and rose. Tussocks of moor-grass and rushes. Mossy mounds. Store cattle, wild horse and branded sheep. A stoat atop a telegraph pole. A mob of ravens. Velvety blankets of rare grass and smooth lids of algea. Cuckoo flower and silver weed. Freshwater swamps, ravenous bogs. Acres and volumes of sandhills sprinkled with birch spinneys and willow slacks. Oscillation of wind-combed dunes. Sand is always on the move. Rusted barbed wire and bonfire remains like sacrifical residue. Arid sandy slopes. Dry dune meadow. Misty skyline. A medieval sea wall colonised by thistles. A village lost inside dense woodland. A house that was a hotel. An abandoned quarry. The lost trail of ancient relics, the erasure of events and exchanges. Barrows, dolmens, menhirs and castles. A calamitous Norman stronghold on a cliff top. The castle that is haunted and cursed, and its story. Lost links and folds of time eclipsed by flora, wood and sand. Crumbling walls, leafy lanes, coils of road and hedgerow. Farmland that ends at a cliff face. Caravan sites, villages and hamlets. Bare paths and car parks. Land Rovers, Range Rovers, a bottlegreen Jaguar, a red Alfa Romeo. Summer pudding, strawberries and bucket, spade and net. White sails, anchored yachts, fishing trawlers, and a handsome ferry. A tidal island, a sweep of sand, a range of dunes. Expanse of mudflats and estuary, wooded cliffs on the North shore, eventually merging into coal fields and hills. Across a stile, down a muddy path, between gorse and nettle, dancing past adders and grass snakes. Very smooth pebbles, a brook full of ferns. Cut drainage channel and a sluice gate. A sheltered bridge quite high above a stream. A small church hidden in woodland by the side of a bleak bay. Light showers and dewfall. Transparent slats of sunlight through crowding cloud. The escape of dappled spots. These turn to shafts. These turn to bursts. Then sheets. Still until the incoming tide laps your toes, a gull perched on ragged rocks. Sun drips and collapses like a sodden pudding. There's a music of
Thrushes crack snail shells open on tarmac baths and discarded bottles. There's the art and order of erosion and accretion, for example, the succesion and balance of deconstructional and constructional waves, dragging and depositing material, i.e. pebbles and boulders, wearing down the angles, displacing and replacing, with no total loss or gain of material. But there is also the sea eating away at limestone shelves, and its random appetite and unpredictable attack. There is also the crenellations this creates, the refuge, nests and hideaways. Sedimentation and colonisation. This is the living space and the no-mans land between creation and waste. Of birth, death, folklore, legend, tragedy and shipwreck, holiday and labour, migration and passage.
Sunday, September 07, 2003
I survived a two day train trip - where's my fucking prize
Watkins has endurance, I give him that. Here he is en route through the middle of China, a latter day gentleman abroad, of sorts:
I have just completed a monster train trip from Urumqi to Xian. A forty six hour endurance test on a hard seater in the midst of the chaotic rush back to school. Cramped up in a shit stained human zoo fighting for leg room and sleep space amongst peasants, granite faced Nazi attendents, stressed students and slack jawed gawkers. Dealing with gunge blocked sinks at every turn, petty officials that checked my ticket twenty times and the incontinence of young and old alike. Things went bad from the start with a hour delay at departure, a portent of things to come. Soon after we left my rucksuck, now bleached white from the sands of the Taklamakan, fell off the rack onto my bonce. That wouldn't have been so bad if it hadn't glanced the arm of the girl opposite, and if said delicate flower diddn't have a yahoo military boyfriend. Still, the whole argument/Chinese pushing contest and intelligible interrogation by the guards/transport cops manged to kill an hour.
The rest of the journey was spent in pained frustration. There are two parts to the discomfort a forreigner will face on a Chinese train. The first is merely physical, despite the name the seat is soft but the back is at right angles to the bottom, making any kind of lasting sleep impossible and causing your vertabrea to decide to edge out of alignment. I managed to deal with that by buying a big book before departure and phase out of actual consciousness during the days, while sleeping under the table during the nights with a sharpened chopstick in case anyone's feet got too close. This former tactic will only work if you a): pretend to be completely ignorent in Chinese- as I did at the start of the trip; or b) you start acting like crazy person- which really wasn't that hard to fake after the second night. The second is the inevitable Let's stare/poke/talk Chinese at the laowai even though he's told them he does't under stand. Together these two factors create stress levels that are indeed both horrible and fascinating to endure. I shared my trip facing the Chinese Chuckle Brothers, whose eyes and manky smiles never seemed to leave me. Of course going for a smoke is itself almost an open invitation to an impromptu english corner with whoever's in the bridge between compartments- despite the fact that all the english they know is "hello" and I don't want to talk. I even had one eager student try to wake me up at Three o clock in the morning for a smoke and a chat (He asked later that morning why I stabbed him). In addition such respites in the standing area often left me trapped close to the mobile samovar as a mob of passengers fought for the last of the hot water brandishing their flasks and tea jam jars, or surrounded by parents holding their half naked sprog as they vented all manner of waste products from their bodies.
I should me more pissed off/wasted than I am. I'm probably just pleased I made it, I'm definately getting more patient in my old age, after all I only shouted "cunts" at the massed assembly round me three times during the whole odyssey.
Other than that I have been to Urumqi. The furthest city from the sea in the world and capital of Xinjiang Province. Definetly a Chinese city, though with a more tasteful use of neon than normal: all identikit buildings, sky scrapers with bad taste planning permission, wide tree laned boulevards, lion headed yappy type dogs and the constant whisper of "laowai" as I moved around. I'd like to say I did more but after a three day sleeper bus trip through the desert- another nightmare journey*- all I was up for was drinking and bowling with the Chinese military in our hotel. I was hanging around with an english guy and a bloke called Klaus, definately Germany's version of Mez, a force of nature that got us in all manner of scrapes but kept me laughing the entire time. However on the culture side I managed to see the mummies of the Silk Road, settlers of Indo-European or even Celtic origin. A fascinating collection of specimens and an excellent place to bring easily scared high school students, even if it was housed in what amounted to somebody's shed while the museum for them is built according to an almost geological schedule (Very typical of Xinjiang that).
* That said, it was pretty cool stopping off for a beer in the middle of the Taklamakan, seeing the silouhettes of the dunes in a neon lit hamlet of brothels , built soley for the Chinese Oil workers and their monster trucks.
Friday, September 05, 2003
airborne raptor, dropping, arcing, cutting, ascending
you find me a better one than this
Two witnesses begin 1,260 day ministry, Revelation 11:3. They will be warning the Jews of the imminent Russian-Syrian invasion. Their ministry will be during both halves of the 70th Week because of Revelation 11:6, which shows God's judgment of water to blood, which occurs in last half; and Revelation 11:10, which shows world rejoicing at the death of two witnesses. If they ministered only in the last half, the world would be terrified and mourning at sight of returning Lord, not rejoicing. If they minister only first half, how can waters turn to blood, which is God's wrath? Witnesses preach against beast and harlot church and for the coming of Jesus in power and glory. Jesus comes in 1,651 days.
Days of religious, political deception (world peace) will be shortened or elect would be deceived. Days shortened by Russian confederacy invading the Middle East sometime between the 869th and 1,230th day, Ezekiel 38, Daniel 11. World War III erupts, probably nuclear and conventional. Takes peace from earth, Revelation 6:4.
Russian-Syrian leader takes away sacrifices of Jews, Daniel 8:11, 11:31, 12:11. Within 30 days the first of seven trumpet judgments begin as God destroys Russian-Syrian armies, Ezekiel 38:22, Revelation 8:7. Days of war and sudden destruction shortened or all flesh perish, (nuclear war) Matthew 24:22. Jesus comes in 1,290 days, Daniel 12:11)
Babylon the Great is falling
Time is precious for anyone within a few miles of ground zero. Such individuals have no time to watch the mushroom cloud, gather personal items, calculate the distance from ground zero, or estimate the weapon's yield. As a general rule, if an individual can see a mushroom cloud, he is exposed to the initial radiation and heat. Thus every fraction of a second in the open increases radiation dose and the likelihood of serious thermal burns. The instant an individual realises that a nuclear expolosion has occurred, he should place as much solid material between his position and the rising fireball. The solid material can be a concrete or brick wall, deep ditch, building (preferably not constructed of glass), or anything that can act as a shield against radiation and heat.
Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Terrorism: Emergency Response and Public Protection
get in this maze, I love it, it's terrific...
Thursday, September 04, 2003
Rising sea temperatures and altered climatic conditons slowly transform the wild fabric of this crumbling isle. Swallows and cuckoos arrive early and stay late. Red admiral, comma and peacock butteflies extend their ranges North. Little egrets breed. Olive and citrus trees are poised to replace oak and beech in Southern England. On the Norfolk coast a tourist reports a flamingo. Wallabies breed in Somerset, Kent, Bedford and the Lake District. The land is overrun with voles, the sea with jellyfish. Tropical fish replace cod and herring in warmer southern waters. Fishing fleets catch 3 metre sunfish in their nets off the South coast. Devonshire vineyards grow merlot and cabernet sauvignon grapes. Rhubarb is virtually extinct. Gardeners report bumper banana crops. Hammerhead sharks arrive off the coast and a 12ft great white was seen eating its way through a shoal of fish off North Devon.
A teenager suffered horrific burns after being doused in petrol and set on fire for knocking over a freshly made Pot Noodle, a court heard yesterday.
Tuesday, September 02, 2003
I take none of it back, but I wish I hadn't said it, that's all. There's no point in erasing it: it's there now, for better or worse, probably worse, but perhaps better, if I'm lucky, if standards are really that low. I went crazy like Galvatron. I lost it. All burning ends in embers and extinction, so remain ice-cold, ice-cold...like Soundwave. Curse that upsurge, that swell. Curse the fresh air, the dewfall, the raindrops. Dumb soul...ice cold! No, because letting go like that just wastes words, drains the image and the view. You say too much: this is not a story after all. Well, you know, you can only face the sea alone. You'd stay silent for sure, right? Stare down the tide. Denuded. Stripped. Eroded. I literally wrote with fear in my eye: mistake. Wrote courage rather than keeping it. I went into the waves, 2ft shore break, not big, but a hard break on the steep sand. Struck head against centrifugal force, circular energy. Mild grey sea beneath an expanse of grey cloud: well, we swam anyway, and the colours came out for us. Curse this sickness, this sentiment, my pencil marks, my scrawl. At least this: I feel healthy at last. I lost it, you get it? There is this and there is that. There is bric and there is brac. There is hook, line and sinker. What entertainment. You dumb enigma. What an erosion, what an endpoint! My holiday...it was bracing.
people are seeing strange birds everywhere...