by Mr White
Sometimes the elements speak a strange language, who knows how it will end...?
|Stonehenge sat in the belly of the landscape like the ultimate beacon of antiquity, a sunken mast radiating a power of cosmic scale to all those receptive to its message. That it had generated such a disparity of rash and wild speculation, such flights of fancy, was to it as nothing to its impenetrable mystique. And today it remains, casually impassive, impervious to the great booming gale which whipped and scoured the shallow hollow where it stands, the upland heave of the plain beyond, the level curves extending gently down into Aylesbury.
But undeterred, in fact encouraged, by the great Atlantic storm, a small group approached our great feast of stone. From a Mark II VW camper, gently rocking in the booming off-rhythm of the wind, behind the trees that partly hid the extended vehicle park, they leaned into the South Westerlies streaming their clothes and flaying their hair like four free fallers from 30,000 feet.
Out in front, ever won’t to lead the way, Roane. Tall, a full figured beauty draped in a long green felt skirt and brown corduroy jacket. Her long dark hair was whipping from her face like the image of a 20’s biplane walker. Her porcelain, oval face was accentuated under the dazzling silvery sky. Barely able to open her large green eye, she sheered into the wind like a sail boat - smart to angle her back like a sail, it pushed her on. Behind followed Joseph in his Technicolor stripy suit, his own tight curly hair’s strength being tested from its bronzy tendency to fixture, not so much straitened, as flipping its curved ends. Beside him, stumbling slightly in heavy leather hiking boots, Danny, his white suit flapping manically, short cropped black hair less perplexed. Then Suzy, the locally famed white witch in her strange yellow-feather waste coat and white blouse, her skirt made from a mauve sued. Her chunky black boots were less stumblesome than those of Danny, she lifted her strong limbs with a sinuous ease. It was she seemed most at ease with the trip, her longish brown hair less won’t to race strait in the streaming air, whipping round, pointy ends catching in the corners of her mouth.
Roane reached the visitor perimeter. ‘‘And look, I told you, no one else is here!’’ Her voice was thin and faint in the roaring winds, whisked off over the plains towards the distant town below. She held out her arms as though flying, letting them stream back in the wind whipping at her cuffs. But she wasn’t content with this officious line in the sand. She stepped over the barrier rope and headed on into the great ring of stones.
Once inside, and hardly surprising, the party sheltered behind a great Saracen. The stones seemed to ring and moan in the power of the storm. Their strange music sang like tuning forks, their rich green and yellow stone-life flushed and plumped in the dazzling sky. It caught Danny’s eye. ‘‘This lichen’s cool, look at the pattern, it’s like a mushroom trip just carpeting the stones.’’ Suzy was more than happy to play mom to Danny’s loose tendency to play old school hip. ‘‘Nice one Danny, let’s keep our eye on the bigger picture.’’ But Danny’s enthusiasm was undeterred while taking her cue. ‘‘Look at the sky and look at the land, the stones are like a cosmic calculator linking the two. Don’t they just make you feel your place in the overall scheme of things?’’ Suzy tried to ground Danny’s enthusiasm. ‘‘Sure: and mortality. Think of all the countless people over the centuries who’ve come here and wondered at the secrets the builders took with them to their atavistic otherworld.’’ Roane’s thin, faintly scratchy voice was yet missing, she was just happy to silently embrace that bigger pre-historical picture, she flung her arms round a bluestone, sheltered from the sheering force of the wind, though her hands could still feel its blast and the eddy whipped her back and neck with her own flowing hair. ‘‘Oh shit, here comes the rain.’’ Joseph, ever sober, had felt the first big drop sting his face; to the West an ominous bruise of black-gray was looming over the rise in the plane. As they all huddled behind one of the larger Saracens, the cloud already began to slide rule across the sky. The rain began its loose, intermittent lash, but at such an angle, it mostly missed the foursome. There came a striking rumble of thunder, the whole landscape seamed to shake. ‘‘Boy, did you feel that?’’ Danny grinned ear to ear, loving the immense power in the elements. Joseph liked to earth the excitement of others. ‘‘It’s an illusion mate, it’s the wind, feels like the ground shakes, but it’s the thunder resonating with the gale.’’ But his voice flew off in the jet roar scouring the great stone instrument. There came a flash of sheet lightning, an immense blinding fork struck a tree near their van which burst and split. It caught in Suzy’s eye. For a moment she was in fact blinded, the afterglow on her retina had a red tinge to it, something in the tree? There was a little hint of sparks and fire already the wind had blown out, but she felt it still. Her form felt strangely energized, while her mind came over stone cold composed as if in absolute stasis. There was a delay as the elements were strong, but the spirit definitely rose within her.
‘‘Hell this place is beautiful.’’ Roane’s voice struggled amid the wind tunnel effect testing the aerodynamic properties of the stone structure. ‘‘Stonehenge has a strange beauty, the same way the Acropolis has a strange beauty; a rightness. Even if it’s a little disheveled and reduced, it still retains that awesome power it must have had for its builders.’’ Joseph liked this level take. ‘‘There speaks the artist in Roane. It is indeed quite a thing, and well done for risking this venture. The van could’ve been turned over getting here, still might getting back unless we stay here the night.’’ His sober words also struggled against the scream and hue of the wind. Two crows arrowed over; riding the wind, coursing like expert canoeists in a rapid, one turned and hit the wind with its chest, then with expertise coursed round back behind its mate. Up above a few straggling seagulls were riding the air with barely a beat; they turned and tacked with precise telepathy. The rain began to subside; already the bruising gloom was racing off. The genius of the location gave a strong indication of proximity to the sky. Down below thunder still cracked and boomed like canon at Waterloo. Danny rose first; he ran into the middle and held his hands up to the opening skies above. His hair streamed off him like a cartoon character in a racing biplane. Barely able to remain standing, he had to lean into the wind as if in freefall. ‘‘Now I see it, it’s like the passage of time. The wind rushing past, the skies all speeded up. This place is a f-----g cosmic navel man.’’ Roane joined him; she leapt and jumped like a deer as if lifted by the wind, though her limbs were much fuller. Her hair flying wild, she spun and laughed with joy. ‘‘Stonehenge I love you, tell us your secrets. You were built to last so long, the greatest enigma on earth and you’re here in Britain? What did the Roman’s make of you? Did the Celts actually recall your purpose?’’ But her voice was snatched away and secreted in the wind. She wondered if moving so fast, it might be heard in Aylesbury below? Finally Suzy lifted her backside from the earth and stepped carefully up to the Alter Stone. She glanced directly due north towards Avebury, invisible over the horizon. Then she glanced all around the circle. She held out her hands as her waistcoat’s feathers whipped and fluttered with a manic energy. She seemed to be feeling the earth with her palms held level, like Russell Crow in Gladiator, walking through the wheat in that early scene. But her face was raised, through narrow wind-whipped eyes she was peering at where the sun would be, as the surface of the Earth spun away from it, descending to the West by North West, the aspect a horseshoe this far north.
Joseph joined her. ‘‘Suzie, your very quiet; going deep on us?’’ His voice though usually faintly cavernous in its depth, was thinned and snatched from his mouth as if by a thief. ‘‘It’s OK Joseph, we’re all here, all you need to know.’’ ‘‘Might be if the public didn’t beat a constant path and gawp while ticking their tour lists. I never come for that, hat’s off to Roane, genius idea.’’
Back in the van, the wind, having relented slightly, was nonetheless still beating at the van. An occasional blast would shake and rock its beetle like shell. Suzie was still outside at the circle with Roane, as if studiously enigmatic, seemingly beyond reach. Finally weary of her silence, Roane rejoined the two lads in the van. As she squeezed in on the couch and slid the door too, she messed her fingers through her hair and mouthed a hearty ‘‘Phew! That was some experience!’’ Out beyond the low cloud the sun was getting low. Danny spoke. ‘‘It’s getting dark, what’s with Suzy, she’s hardly said a word?’’ Roane was ever quick to sisterly solidarity. ‘‘Oh leave her Danny, she’s in her element out there.’’ She took the proffered joint off Joseph.
It was soon dark and finally the door of the van opened to a blast of air which whipped at the curtains inside before it was slammed shut. Suzie took her seat but just sat there, a strange intensity was in her eye. Little black lasers, her pupils drilled into the small dining table. ‘‘OK woman, are you going to spill the beans?’’ With this question Joseph offered her a toke on their third joint. She turned her head and peered at him, but as if for the first time. Holding his gaze in an expressionless equanimity with a faint smile creasing her cheeks, ‘‘No thank you Joseph, we have all we need.’’ ‘‘We? Who’s we? Margaret bloody Thatcher? Stop being so damn enigmatic! What’s got into you?’’