When I was given the present of a She Wee by my dear friend and fellow Blake enthusiast, James Murray-White, I have to admit I was deeply under whelmed, but having looked into the abyss of festival toilets I have come to a wholly new appreciation of this bit of purple plastic. But what is a She Wee I hear you wondering? Briefly it is a device which lets you STAND UP and wee like a man when you have to ascend the shed of shame. It’s true, you do have a wet bit of plastic to carry about with you, but that’s better than having your nether regions besmirched by the sprinklings and daubings of a thousand strangers who clearly did not attend the workshop on” how to deficate politely”. Sadly there is no such workshop, but in one of my other alternate lives, this is the one I would run.
I am lying in a hammock listening to words that I will never be ready to hear but are inevitable. All around me the evening birds fling their final songs on the darkening valley, and away in the town the fairy tale steeples of the Church light up. It is Hansel and Gretel time, but I haven’t laid a bread trail and I will never get home again. Home is now in me, wherever I am. Currently it is unearthed, suspended in a hammock, the closest thing to the ground is my bottom and it feels like it’s getting a kicking. Bats flit between me and three purple clouds that are dissolving like gun smoke and it is becoming very chilly.
There is a time when life calls us away from the comforting certainties that grounded our existence. We don’t have to go…actually that’s not true, because if we don’t go, we come round again and again to the same bleak, night time station where we wait, and wait, and wait. Station life is not living, it is only waiting and by God, the place is crowded, some are even having dinner parties.
Make the train stop for you! Throw the luggage on the track. Wheel over the kiosks and shove them off the platform one by one until you bring the train to a stop and get on. You will leave a mess behind, and the dinner party will pause, and after a slow shake of their heads, will resume at their table, forgetting you.
And, of course, the sacrament of life will continue to roll you along and roll you over, in the unremitting ordinariness of attending to the project of keeping the unbearable wonder of things alive in your own heart and the hearts of those you love. Feelings come and go in a kind of wild dance where you don’t always get to be the DJ. But dance or die, these are the only options.
What can I possibly have against sheep? Being here in the Alpujarras, where there are no sheep, I am in breathless wonder at the visions of wild flowers, herbs and shrubs that carpet the mountains and meadows that I walk upon. But just to keep you reading, did you know that every household in the uk pays £245 per year towards the continuous destruction of the UK uplands, causing soil erosion and flooding in our lowland towns and villages? No? Neither did I. Keep reading
In the rest of the world, including all the deserts and the really cold bits at the top and the bottom, over 30 % of uplands are forested. Along with this rewilding comes an ecosystem that supports insects, birds and a wonderful diversity of plants and species. In the uk only 13% of our uplands are forested. Mostly this is because of sheep who shave everything down to the ground, preferring nutritious tree saplings, but ensuring that there is no chance whatsoever of the reforestation and restoration of wildness in our uplands. “Oh but what about our poor sheep farmers?” I hear you cry. Well, my dears, they don’t make their money from sheep farming….they make it from subsidies, paid for by you.
The situation in Scotland is even more galling where a huge proportion of the land is privately owned by a few wealthy people who keep ‘their’ land artificially denuded by deer, or burn it for grouse shooting. This is so they can charge other rich people huge amounts of money to go deer stalking and grouse shooting. The activities of this tiny proportion of our population are not only destroying our countryside and ecosystem, causing flooding and eco degeneration, but we are actually financing these activities! Where are the BBC when there is some real news to shout about???!!!
They have softened now into blue,
And with clouds falling like a wedding veil,
They repose with mountainous thoughts of ther own.
A man, straining to impress, told me their names,
But they don’t know them.
They have endured, nameless for billions of years,
And I have crawled up them, skittering down like a stone,
And have waded in their waters,
And knelt among their flowers,
And felt the rain upon my face.
Hear, O Israelites, the Name you cannot speak,
All nature resounds with it.
Nearer my God to Thee,
Nearer my God to me.