5. The Stones
by key stakeholder
>>> Aaaaa-Wwupa-wwupa-wwupwwupwwupwwup-wupa-wupa <<<
Through a sleep-sticky eyelid I begin to see yellow sow-thistle flowers and green blades of grass right up close as simultaneously the chopper blades above bludgeon the blue of the sky into submission. The machine noise wapa-wapa and the little yellow flowers and the grass dance and swirl in a synaesthetic maelstrom of abstract, yet urgent, contaminated pools of unfathomable – just fathomable? – meaning. Is it that a vast similitude interlocks all things? For a moment, the answer seems graspable – it has shape and flavour, momentum and surface.
But then not; I cannot hold it, I bubble up to break the surface tension from the mind’s unknown region through the many fragments of my semi-lucid broken dream, and into increasing consciousness. Sunlight filtering lens-flaring first through treetops, then eyelashes in the borderland edgezone between sleep and wakefulness. Sunlight-warmed shirt material a perfectly cozy mantle, conducting an amelioration of the sun’s radiation to my chest – lovely. The perfect warmth. The grass and flowers beneath my head. Oh! – the small tough terrier sleeping curled against my hip, her robust muscly trunk, shorthair short legs short tail. Not my dog – I have no dog – but she’s content to snooze and dream her doggy afternoon companionably outdoors beside me on this summer day. Heartening. But wupawupawup and I’m awake now. Toes wriggling, shoulders rotating, swallowing. Awake. I tut and lever myself up on one elbow and, seeing that my human travelling-companion (who is my wife) appears to be waking from a similar semi-sleep, I scan the sky for the helicopter which broke me from my indescribable dreaming.
>>> awup wup wup wup wup <<<
We’ve been here about half an hour, maybe? Dunno. I was sort-of asleep. There it is: a dark dragonfly, a hot dun blot in the cool baby-blue, blare-farting its way towards us, neither particularly low nor high over the fields of cows and their calves, sheep and their lambs. It’s a tiny little four-seater thing. The four seats in its ovoid body leave little room for the audibly straining engine which only just powers the rotors suspended atop a skylon above the cramped accommodation. We can make out not only its smirchy chemical trail but also its shimmery heat exhaust above us now. We can’t quite make out the crammed-in people on-board, but we know that they can see us, framed as we are within the circumference of a megalithic stone circle – the reason we all are here now, today: I, my wife, our new friend the little dog, and the chopper pilot and passengers – we’re all here because of the stones.
On a summer afternoon the ancient stones – exactly ten miles from our door as the mountain-biker cycles – are a secret destination not too far from the edge of the town, but not too near either. Encircled by prominence hills; Fayre, Drum, Beans, Gairn, Kings and West; all hide the stones from our town and its arteries and ribbon-developed dormitory exurbs. Disused railway track-bed, farm access roads and ancient drovers’ routes all link together to conduct you to this ancient site if you know how and where to look. The final metalled stretch of road on our ad-hoc route exists solely to allow vehicle access to a valve loop on one of the major gas transmission pipelines which transect the county with their high pressure hydrocarbon cargo, then the road gives out to rutted puddled farm track, and then we are here.
The stones are next plot along from a working smallholding farmyard from where a little dog trots to greet us every time we visit. She is a Jack Russell terrier, and, living the unrestrained outdoor life she does, she seems to exhibit none of the nervous fervour of her city-dwelling kin. If you show an interest, she will show you the stones – little paws scrabbling up the menhirs, jumping one to next – she is a keen custodian, eager that you appreciate your location, she shares her territory with you willingly and graciously. If you sit cross-legged on the grass, she will sit in your lap and look up into your eyes. If you recline, she will lean against your body. If you lie down on a hot sunny day, she will lie down against you and shut her eyes.
In that earlier hour, after cross-leggedly looking at the stones, imagining their prehistoric uses – a temple, a calendar, a cemetery, a meeting place – all of those things before the modern world came. We lounged drinking coffee from a flask, eating sandwiches from a napkin, then I had first reclined Roman-like on elbow while chatting about this-and-that with my wife, next – as the conversation ranged wide and speculative, slower and slower the contemplative comments came – we both lay back secure in our life-long mutually companionable warmth. Then I shut my eyes, and the little dog lay down between us too – her flank solid against my hip, and my world became the keening of the buzzards mixed with the mewing of the red kites and the buzzing of the dragonflies mingled with the low moaning of the cattle. The dappled sun through the trees played abstract on my eyelids. The warm blades of grass beneath my shoulders and the soft turf beneath my head carried me off…
>>> Aaaaa-Wwupa-wwupa-wwupwwupwwupwwup-wupa-wupa <<<
“It’s that fucking helicopter again!” We had been disturbed by it more than once before. Birthday-present flying lessons, touristic treats, real-estate promotional ariel photography, international carbon-tycoons indifferently looking down upon the city where they’ve invested some small proportion of their capital – who knows? One thing’s for sure, that little chopper doesn’t actually go anywhere. It goes up – it flies around a little bit, twenty minutes or so – then it lands back where it started. Theres a little private heliport nearby and the pilots always – always – overfly the stone circle. “Here it comes. Ready…?” I ask my spouse, and: “Yup,” she’s on her feet and brushing dry grass from her long silkily braided hair.
>>> wwupwwupwwupwwup-wupa-wupa wup wup wup <<<
Together, as synchronous as the rotors above, we wave one arm each in great arcs, grinning like idiots up at the tiny aircraft, like everso lovely everso middle-class children waving at a train in an everso British Enid Blyton adventure – gosh! Then, we bare our teeth and snarl and frown, turning our open hands into the everso British V-sign of pissoffness and flicking them up and down repeatedly.
“Yay! Faaaaak offffff!” we chorus-bellow at the top of our lungs, before collapsing in each other’s arms to our knees, laughing until we can’t breathe, the little dog circling us and looking up into our eyes.
>>> wupa-wupa a wwupwwupwwupwwup <<<