Many of the Great Stones at Avebury
Appear to stand in ‘relationship’
To each other…
Perhaps, most poignantly,
This ‘God-Head of Stone’
Calls to its distant prodigal…
…It was, after all, rather disconcerting to be thus accosted by a total stranger…
“Does this count?” he demanded, ferociously,
and pushed an admittedly intriguing photograph across the bar at us.
“Does that count as what?”
“One of them ‘Black’ places”
“Well, it might do, what is it?”
“It’s one of them there mounds.”
“Is it really, it looks just like a pyramid of light?”
“That’s why I was thinking it might count.”
“Strictly speaking, in order ‘to count’ it would have to be called
‘Black-something’ or ‘Something-black’. Does it have a name?”
“Oh aye, it’s got a name alright.”
“And that name is?”
And at that, the Red-Lion, or so it seemed to us,
burst into a collective paroxysm of laughter…
‘…One of the stops we did manage to make on the way to our second ‘official sojourn’ in Glastonbury was, Merlin’s Mound.
Now, Merlin’s Mound you might have thought would be a well-known tourist attraction boasting hundreds of thousands of visitors a year just like its Big-Sister Mound of Sil-Bury Hill, so called because late legend has a king called Sil buried there along with his treasure, a golden horse.
Quite why this is not the case it is difficult to fathom although one possible reason is that Merlin’s Mound is hidden within the grounds of Marlborough College which is a private school.
Of course, there is nothing actually buried in Silbury Hill because it isn’t a burial mound at all and the Golden Horse is far more likely to refer to the sun which, knowing the folk responsible for its construction, probably set behind the hill when viewed from one of the other sites in the area, or seemingly rose from it, and I did not learn that at any school, private or otherwise…
“Which would make it Sol-Bury Hill, anyway,” says Wen.
…Now, I was lucky enough to come across Merlin’s Mound because I attended a conference in the grounds of the college and I have to say I was astonished to learn of its existence but not half as astonished as I was to learn of its size.
In fact for a long time I was fairly sure that although Silbury Hill was regarded as Merlin’s Bigger Sister, size wise, there was not an awful lot in it.
“Silbury Hill is much bigger,” says Wen.
“I’m not so sure.”
“Much bigger, Merlin’s Mound only looks comparable because it dwarfs the buildings that currently hide it so effectively.”
“I don’t think there’s much in it.”
“What does Silbury Hill have to give it scale?”
“No, there’s not a lot else in the vicinity is there.”
“This is one reason why accurate measurement is so important.”
But anyway, and more importantly than accurate measurement of any kind, work is currently ongoing in the renovation of Merlin’s Mound and we are able to walk two-thirds the way around its newly refurbished spiral path-way and I have to say although it was something of a disappointment not to be able to get all the way to top in other ways it was not such a bad thing after all for just getting two thirds the way up was giving me a rather ‘heady’ feeling.
“I know,” says Wen. “Me too. What’s the line in, ‘A House on the River’ when Aeth’s troop, in all their glory, is approaching the strong-hold of Aillil Silver-Tongue and Sweet-Mouthed Maeve?”
“My head may as well be in a vat full of wine…”
“My head may as well be a vat full of wine,” laughs Wen, and I laugh too.
Although, to be strictly accurate in our comparison, the experience is far, far better than drinking or indeed, being wine…
There are good days and bad ones, and some that are just plain odd. Waking this morning in a cosy bed, emerging from dreams of light and beauty, I lay there in the pre-dawn softness feeling that today was going to be good. Images forming in my mind of the painting to be done, the colours already occupying the table downstairs… all ready for an early start. Time to stretch and get moving. And I’ll finally get my car back today, all fixed from the garage.
I open my eyes… well, that was the general idea. Only nothing much happened.
Any lingering visions of beauty from my dreams faded in front of the bathroom mirror as I contemplated a reflection I was none too keen on. Dripping icy water, the eyes opened just enough to show me it wasn’t a good idea to look. Vanity was not happy with the sight. They were swollen shut. And my hands were as bad. Novel, though. I sort of look as if I’ve done ten rounds in a prizefighter and lost.
Cold compresses for the next hour, anti-inflammatories and antihistamines to be on the safe side, and I could just about switch the computer on, if not actually see it much. By eight, the eyes were open a bit and the hands moveable. The head and neck aches made their presence felt and a call to the doctor was in order. So I await yet more results. Why am I surprised….?
So painting has gone out of the window so far today and writing is a bit of a struggle… but I can’t just sit and twiddle my thumbs and the mind doesn’t switch off regardless. So I await two phone calls… one from the doctor and another from the garage where my little car is in for repair.
I was thinking about the current physical hiccups, all more annoying than anything else, much like the car. She drives like a dream and is my pride and joy, elderly and shabby as she is. The repairs are just down to age and wear. I saw the comparison of course and got to wondering what the purpose might be, what I am supposed to learn and take away from this passage. Quite apart, of course, from the simple realisation that I will not get any younger, even if my mind appears to.
One thing, of course, that stands out in sharp relief is the contrast between my body and I. It is not ‘me’. I am full of energy, raring to go, bursting at the seams with ideas and feel younger and more vibrant than I have for a very long time. This past year seems to have vivified me in some indefinable way and I feel alive and full of laughter, a sort of beaming smile of the soul. The body, however, seems more inclined to indulge in a wry and mocking grin. That it is merely the vehicle in which I move through the world seems patently obvious as I look at the discrepancy and wait for the repair guys to fix it.
I remembered a picture I had seen somewhere a while ago, an example of Kintsugi, the Japanese art of mending broken vessels. The broken pot is fixed together with a lacquer that looks like pure gold, rendering the object even more lovely and precious than before. Almost celebrating the breaking as, it is said, the damage means the vessel has a history and survived to grow in beauty. Someone cared enough too, to undertake the delicate work.
It is not quite that simple but is analogous, perhaps, to the human condition. In order to grow in beauty through any kind of suffering, we have to pick up the pieces and be prepared to fashion them into something new, taking a little time and care, holding the cracks together with the gold of joy, hope and purpose.
It may be an odd day today, but it is still a good one, even though my plans have changed and I will probably not paint. However, I do need to go and bring my little car home…. And that is a joy in itself.
Not content with capturing one rather large stone circle, under rapidly darkening skies, we set off in pursuit of another.
Which was a mistake.
For one thing, we got lost…
And then we ran into this motley lot.
Hiding from us they were.
Waiting for the sun to go down before they pounced.
Anyway, we tentatively made our way through their ranks.
And eventually confronted their leader.
She seemed okay and assured us her troops meant no harm.
So we determined to return on the morrow.
In the hope that the morning light might be kinder.