Utility poles. Telephone wires. A corridor through bracken and trees. Day slowly becoming night. Sun held in the gap between the poles, the wires and the treetops. Sky in graded colours. An America from the films somewhere on the border between Kent and Sussex. Rushing. This place isn’t a place at this specific moment. It’s an idea I can move through. We can move through. There are still rules but they are less real here. Almost anything goes. Within reason. There is no reason. Most of the lads are now dads. Dads gone wild. A manageable wilderness.
Short drive to supermarket for restocking. Copy of the Mail on every table. Bad coffee. A sugary bun. Civilisation. Flushable. Escaping Lewisham took an eternity. Creeping out through the deep blue borough. Lee Green. Initial supply pick up. Already surreal. Shop arranged to confuse. Shaving the edge of Greenwich. M25 calling. A familiar landscape. Hidden industry just off the junctions. Re-purposed farms. Airstrips. Somewhere to fix the boat. Strip out the museum. Insurance money flooding into fields of wheat. Running off in summer rain. Out to sea. Offshore. Shell companies. Home counties. Away days. Executive motor full of tents. Last minute car hire. Tinted windows. Don’t ding the car. That’s a bag right there.
The rest of our party are already at the pre-arranged location. I’m not raving. I’m drowning. This isn’t the late 80’s. Early 90’s. Summer of love. Summer of Grenfell. Acid attacks. Moped gangs. Elections. Afrotrap. Cold lager. Sudden downpours. Clifftop walks. The week before walking from Dover to Deal. Mobile phone in France. Body in England. The white cliffs. Trite observations begging to be made. Brexcetera. Raptors circle. No bluebirds. Rumours of cliff mines supplying the whole of South and East London with dodgy hooter. Trafficked labour from Medway towns undercutting the commuters from Calais. Farage buzzes us menacingly in a Spitfire as we eat Waitrose-sourced lunch looking over The Channel. Time to move on. The walk ends in the pub. As ever. Boy racers. Drift culture. House prices along the Kent coast. Arriving back into Stratford International. We had almost been to the Continent. Continental lager tops. Apt. We unload the car. Parked up just off the road. The lane. The sort of place where my imagination immediately goes to Range Rovers and bullet riddled windows. Real life Essex gangland cliches superimposed onto Sussex. MR James. A view from the hill. There is darkness everywhere. I have to put the binoculars down or I will see too much. Easier to write about occult meanings. Fascist undercurrents. Gothic ripples. A love of order. Harder to write about unbridled joy. Love. Embracing life.
Arriving at camp. Fire already lit. Putting up tents. Not going to lie. Looks like there will be no shortage of drugs. Festival without the irritation of having to go to see music. There have been a few last minute dropouts. Solid group though. The missing will be missed. They will want us to have a good time. So we will. We do. I receive a text from my best friend deep into the night/morning. There is a new life. Fucking buzzing. Years are now death and life. More life. Hidden within banter weaved amongst the words are real conversations about actual things. We only really know each other as a group because of rap music. It’s true. As good a reason as any. Possibly better than only really knowing each other because we work for the same hedge fund ,went to the same schools and share an interest in rugby and sniff. THE WOODS. THE WOODS. THE WOODS. Wallop wraps. Bags of brown crystals. Mellow little beans. Stinking bags of delicious pengy piff. Etizolam tincture. Takes the edge off. Ready for some rudimentary sleep. Keys open doors. Degrees open doors. Apparently. University. Soon. WTF. Not sure if ready. I can only write like this. Do not footnote. Steal ideas but do not credit. The only honest way. Human Geography. Relevant. Too fucking relevant. 35. Open day fills me with fear. I have a human that I love to help me negotiate my own landscape of worry. I still worry. Can’t quite get my head around the concept of attempting to apply scores to knowledge. It’s how it works and I will have to just get on with that.
Green. We cook food on an open fire. We eat well. Even out here we exercise privilege. To say I think about this when I’m out there doing it is probably false. Just exist. The second day and night are the ones. Magic. Everything set up. Nothing to worry about. A quick dip into the real world then back deep into the deep green. I started this with a description of a place and idea and non-place. This is where we are now. Little group broken off. Light playing tricks on everything. Gentle rushing. We move off the land we know. Along a footpath. Up a hill. This is ours. It’s not. But really. It. Is. Ours. The entire Weald in the palm of our brains. At least in mine. Someone lies down on a small grassy slope beside the path and casually chops out a few lines. There is every chance that people will walk past but this is splendid isolation. Nobody walks past. Intruders do intrude sometimes. Dog walkers. Cyclists. They see us. I wonder if we are discussed over dinner. Or forgotten. Better to forget. Until next year. Unless this is the last time. This is discussed. There will be other times but possibly somewhere else.
I am somewhere else already. I am somewhere else right now. I am back in London. Not adjusting to the pace. Currently in edgetime. Edgespace. I watch the trees in the wind from the window. Looking into the park across the road. I spend two days finishing off the weed bag. Small and pure. Walking through the park. Along the canals. The other river. Should people (me) even attempt to write about stuff like this? Overestimate the importance. Destroy the magic. Just a weekend camping. THE WOODS. The woods, though. Time outside time. Book idea. Political party expands franchise to include small children. Stands on policy of nationalisation of Alton Towers. Thorpe Park. And so on. Landslide. Grip of power tightened through appealing to demographics. Eventual fascism. As always. This time created by my hypothetical fictional and your fictional actual children. Throw the idea into the fire. NATIONALISE THE THEME PARKS. Try not to talk about politics. Talk a bit about politics. Try not to talk about football. Talk a lot about football. LADS LADS LADS. It’s emotional. I cannot write about nature in the way someone who really knows about nature can. I am not sure what that tree is. What that birdcall was. I experience nature as a mystery. An occult series of symbols to project fears and belief onto. Should the land be worshipped? There is too much blood and soil in paganism. I need more than science because I will never understand it all. I need more than religion because I will never understand it all. I do not need to understand any of it. I REFUSE TO UNDERSTAND.
Each step along the path creates new worlds. New words. I wake up. Second time awakening here. Last breakfast at camp. Melancholy of taking down a camp. There is bound to be a word for this. Ask Macfarlane. Melancholy of the end of small scale anarcho-communist living experiment fuelled by decent quality food and drink and other. Luxury. You all deserve this. Or your version of it. Personally I don’t see why this can’t be all the time but I guess it can’t be for some reason or another. Work. Money. I would willingly tear down everything to replace it with this. Or a version of this. For everybody. UTOPIA IS BACK BABY AND THIS TIME IT’S NEAR CROWBOROUGH. I am William Morris. I am not William Morris. News from over there. Let’s go over there.
As a child the best days for me were the unsupervised days. Allowed to run wild. Playing out on estates in Bermondsey. Playing out in fields and woods near Higham. Smashing the fuck out of a caravan. Getting onto the construction site. I was not a fearless child. I am not a fearless adult. But I fear less because of those times when we were allowed to make mistakes. I still need space for my mistakes. Give me a life sized space for my mistakes. I don’t climb trees. Under tree cover the light rain barely makes it to the forest floor. Benevolent nature. I assume we are all here for similar but different reasons. To see each other. To get away. To have a very good time. To think or not think as needed. To remember people who we have lost. When I got the news I was leaving the basement exhibition space I was working in. The cliché. Too young. We hadn’t spoken for quite a long time. There is guilt about that. Defining moments of teenage life from parties and drugs to art and music. We sat in Spoons. Talking about the past. There was a photo album. We worked out some songs. GG Allin. I was trying to get some jungle in there. The funeral and the piss up were surreal. Wesley Willis soundtracking the last moments in the crem in Mortlake. Even in death there was that chaotic life grabbing death hungry energy. So much sadness yet I had a fucking great time. Honestly. Devastated at the same time. A complex legacy. I will treasure those years. The piss and the milk in the bottle. The time I had to punch you multiple times in the face then smash a lamp to stop you being a prick. The multiple times you backed me up in stupid situations. The multiple situations we found ourselves in. The arguments about politics/religion/philosophy that eventually made our friendship difficult to maintain over distance. There is a tree in the woods planted for someone else who is not here anymore. It is visited every time. I think about death. All the deaths. The lives. All the lives. The new ones. The old ones. The ones I’ve lived. The ones they live. I am grateful to have lived and to be living still. I am grateful to have people to share it with it. Utility poles. Telephone wires. A corridor through bracken and trees. Day slowly becoming night.
WOODS. DEDICATED TO ALL PEOPLE AND THINGS THAT MAKE LIFE WORTH LIVING.
Images Brian Gibson
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