Sunday, 26 August 2007

Fragment 2

A photograph. Monochrome. Five inches by three inches with white border. Two young boys, clearly siblings, stand either side of a pushchair. They wear shabby jerkins and short trousers. One has a grubby handkerchief tied round his left knee. Both have sullen expressions. They stand on a pavement in front of a brick wall. Part of a door can be seen to the left; part of a window to the right. The front end of a Raleigh bicycle that leans against the window sill is also in shot. The tyre is flat. In the pushchair, a young child of indeterminate sex is asleep. Although the subjects are alone, their position and posture suggests an overwhelming presence just out of shot, rather than behind the camera itself.

On the rear of the photograph, written in pencil in a clumsy hand and now faded almost to obscurity is the legend – Frank, Cathy, & Jerry.

From '"...the price is worth it."' by Graeme K Talboys, First Class: Early Works of the Nearly Famous, Monkey Business Books, 2007.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Fragment 1

Know locally as ‘the College’ there is no record of the building having been used for educational purposes. In fact, there are no records relating directly to the site or the buildings. All the evidence gathered has been taken from references found in records relating to surrounding buildings and businesses.

Until 1946 it had been assumed on no real evidence that the site was privately owned. Locals attest to the fact that the grassed area between the railings and the standing remains was kept neatly mown until the winter of 1939. The ruins themselves also seem to have been kept in decent order. No one, however, seems to be able to recall who did the work and when.

Indeed, the whole site seems to have had a reputation. It would be too strong to suggest it was considered haunted, but it was thought distinctly odd. Children did not climb over or through the railings to play in the ruins as children will, despite their tempting appearance. Indeed, they were rarely to be seen playing on the pavement directly alongside the railings.

And therein lies another mystery. The whole site, even the portions where adjacent buildings came to the very boundary, was surrounded by high, sturdy, cast-iron railings. These remained in place throughout the Second World War and, as the photographs of 1944 show, presented a substantial barrier. What is more, there seems to have been no gate, or break for an entrance. One cannot be seen in any of the extant photographs, although as none of these have the buildings as the main subject, this is not conclusive. No one from the area who has been interviewed can remember a gate.

After the site was cleared in 1945, it stood empty until it was taken into public ownership in 1952. A local firm of carriers often used it for parking their vans and lorries. The flats that were subsequently built there were never popular with tenants. Several people who lived there spoke of them as being gloomy. Their one saving grace, it seems, is that they preserved the archaeology. The flats were erected towards the rear of the site which had mostly been open ground, overlapping onto the site of adjacent buildings that had also been destroyed. The gardens and play area at the front overlay the area where the original ruins had stood.

When the flats were demolished in 1968, the whole area became green space, serving surrounding high-rise housing developments. Popular during the day with locals, it remained free of the troubles that often plague such urban spaces at night. Vandalism, drinking, drugs, and rowdy behaviour did not occur simply because no one went into the area at night.

During the last few years of the decade, there were occasional reports of children playing there in the dark. The police who attended several call-outs never found anyone and there was never a suggestion of trouble making, merely a concern that young children were out in the early hours of the morning. These reports died away and only revived when the archaeological work began.

All those who have worked on the site, especially the night security staff, have expressed feeling uncomfortable at times. No one has felt afraid. Indeed, the most often stated feeling was one of having wandered into a playground and frightened the children away. One archaeologist with many years experience said he felt that a profound silence and sadness would envelop the site for a few moments before the mundane world returned.

Preliminary work on the site has begun to reveal a remarkably uncomplicated outline, as if the building had remained unaltered since it was built. This has led to some speculation that it is not very old, despite references to a building on the site dating back to at least 1342. An entrance to a set of cellars has been found, but there is no evidence of the network of tunnels said to exist beneath the building and surrounding area. This is a fairly common myth where old buildings are concerned and they rarely have a basis in fact.

From Crofton: A Local History by Rev Eric Simmons, Sapphire Press, 1992.

Monday, 20 August 2007

distant the mountain

the mountain
you climb
empty in the quiet space
within the skull
hard place
desert cold and dark
where you search
from whence you return

i know the land you seek

crying for the moon
i sought it too

on the mountain
lying as i am
all seeing

the stone of my body awakens
roots clutch
at this peopled coral
through my heart

on this slope
all knowing
all lost
waiting for the flower
dead before it blooms

bleak mornings
cold in early moments
of light without sun
cold in the shadow of the mountain
where a bright bloom graces the air

that stark fay beauty found
for the promised land you seek
cry again
city desert mountain
a cry
thrown into echoes
that have yet to settle

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Ninth day of August

to emptiness
somewhere beyond
any hope of an edge
touching hesitant
with strangeness
the noisesome silences

moving outwards
the lengths of a wasteland
just the thunder
of their making
disturbing the quiet
of their insanity

ceasing all function
dead eyes stare
ten-thousand years
as black grains settle

bleached sky
level ground
heat of sun
aimless scintillae
a beetle scuttles unaware
their crime
inane in its conception
carving its violence
through time

from their distant hillside
the architects
locked forever to their perversion
the twisted vision
from which we are no longer free

brighter than a thousand suns

no longer
a dream
this nightmare

Monday, 6 August 2007

Sixth day of August

the sun burst today
a lifetime since
etched shadows on the wall
reached across the ruins
into the very structure of life

the sun burst today
a lifetime since
etched horror on the memory
reached across the world
into the very soul of history

the sun burst today
a lifetime since
etched a spectre in our hearts
that haunts us still
like all the other spectres that