TALES provides space for lengthy pieces which elaborate IMAGINATIVE ACTION
UNDER THE SHADOW of the BASALT MOUNTAIN : a Fairy Tale
And the mountains’ advance stays peripheral to our view.
We’re not subject to King John, Mill Owners, Coal Barons, that is, if we live in liberal Democracies. (Different if in this incarnation I find myself in East Timor or Iraq, if I’m Turkish or Iranian, finding the Lira and the Rial grotesquely devalued, overnight.)
Last Tuesday, amazingly woken to the basalt advance – the MYSTERY – Three Galiants from our village set off to storm the Leylandii-lands. As they shove through the tangle, they greet three Rappers (well-known, performed with NWA) “Wakin’ people up to what’s goin’ on”. The Galiants hunker down, transfixed. They hear about the THREE GATES. Before the foothills of three basalt mountains enclosing our town, in the crevice of black shining rock, galumptious iron gates lie embedded, Hakka tells. One PILATE controls each bastion (Pilate, like in the JC story. Not Pilate as in core- muscle stuff).
“Y’all gotta get through those three gates. ASK them what’s their game? Your people gotta WAKE UP!”
Hakka leapt ahead. Our three Galiants sprung after. He, a black Magician, singing, breakdancing, twirling in front along the tumbling path. Two hours on, all three knackered, a wrought-iron gate appeared to their right, clamped into the basalt rock face. Lefthand side: brass bell with wooden clanger. The woman Galiant crashed wood on metal. A Brian Blessed recording (especially commissioned by all three Pilates) boomed, echoing through the rock.
“FIRST NAME? PLACE OF BIRTH?”
“Bronwen, of Dolgellau, Wales,”
“Ulbrecht. Berchtesgaden, Bavaria,”
“Dumitru. Bucharest. Romania,” our Galiants shouted in turn. (We’ll call them BUD for collective convenience.)
Shaking, creaking gates slid slowly aside. In BUD rushed, boots crunching on cinders. Found themselves facing 3-metre metallic lift doors set in the basalt rock face. Pressed the button. Smoother sliding. Up, at speed. Sliding door opening onto white marble courtyard in front of wide-spread, flat-roofed Corbusier sort of place. Stunning to find in the midst of black basalt. More of the door-sliding. The three stepped into a 7-metre long room. Panelled with silver wood. ”Rowan, d’ye think?” they whispered. (First words spoken since Bronwen clanged Brian Blessed.) Table topped in black marble. Black Ercol chairs – 1960s.
Silver gray panels slid open, out stepped a red-haired, chubby chap. Brown suit, trousers baggy, waistcoat somewhat stained, gold fob and chain draping his paunch. He wobbled across to them carrying a laden tea tray. Three Portmeirion china cups, tea plates, teapot big enough to quench the whole of Barmouth’s weekend trippers, piles of buttered bakestones.
“Bore I gyd. Croeso I chi gael lluniaeth.Mae hyn yn myrd I ddringui fyny yma. Sut ala I rich helpu chi?” Brown suit beamed, slapping his thigh in welcome! “And you from under Cader Idris shadow, not to mention the glorious Mawwdach,” Bronwen captivated. Ulbrecht and Dumitru silenced.
After scoffing tea and griddle scones Bronwen awoke, Hakka style. “We come on behalf of our village Slatesville.”
“Da: know it well,” beamed the Pilate.
“We want to know what you do here?” So bold and WELSH, was she.
The smile went!
“Here it is then,” said himself. ”I and a limited number of colleagues, control the media . We control the size, ownership, owner wealth and profit-orientation of the dominant mass- media firms. We control advertising. Hence papers which rely on sales revenue alone go to the wall. Thirdly we source mass media news. We’ve built what the posh boyos call ”symbiotic” relations with the major regular news terminals. The White House, major Industry ..all those guys who’ve got enormous resources dedicated to public relations and promo material…. got the picture? Bye now. Hwyl fawr.” He turned on his heels. Leaving the still laden tray on the black marble table, he was gone.
Stuffing the remaining griddle cakes into their haversacks…so was BUD…GONE. Three lots of the sliding doors and they were out! Dazed “out”, ever more CHILLED “out “…like…scared.
“How’d it go?” Hakka grinned, lounging on a rare green tussock.
“It’s hopeless,” said Ulbrecht and Dumitru. Ulbrecht and Dumitru KNOW about “hopeless”.
“Well. Chew on it. Off to Gate 2,“ said the merciless Magician.
On indeed. Round corners, craning necks to find another hidden gate, then Ulbrecht yelled, “Wow, hier sind wir!” The lofty Bavarian knew the literal ropes. Brian Blessed regaled BUD again. Same entry. Same building across same white marbled courtyard. Into same-sized room, floor-to-ceiling windows, sun lighting dark mahogany panelled walls. Sliding panel, and in comes tall blonde woman dressed in blue chalk-striped suit. Skirt mid-knee, jacket fitted, reaching to the bottom of her bottom. Black glasses. Scarlet lips. She carried a tray set with a white Rosenthal coffee service, plates of Lebkuchen.
“Guten Nachmittag. Wei kann ich Sie hilfen? So impressed to know that you come from near The Eagle’s Nest. Recall my first visit. I shook with the vibes of his eerie.” Ulbrecht’s big moment.
“Well yes indeed. A place of power like here, you could say.
Moving on, we are here on behalf of our village. We need to know what you do here, if you’d be so kind?”
“ Ah ha, well now…” Face mask dropped. Here were steely grey eyes, blanched lips, set jaw and the faint click of heels. “ We deal with the flak. We attack and undermine unsupportive media. It is far safer for media to opt for uncontroversial, advertiser-friendly news which will not draw flak, than news proffered by isolated dissident sources which may draw intense flak from state and corporate institutions.”
She turned towards the exit, speeding away just like the Welshman. Grabbing the biccies, BUD left – three swishes and they were free. Outside the gate – no Hakka.
All three Galiants were tiring. Only three hours of light left. Dumitru knew it was HIS moment. He shoved himself up the crumbling pathway. Bronwen and Ulbrecht rallied. “Follow the Yellow Brick Road,” Bronwen piped. All three were loud on the ah-ah-ha-ha-has…And THERE IT WAS – Gate 3. Same old routine and they were in.
Same setting. Same black marble table. Stunning plum velvet wall drapes through which the Romanian Pilate swept. A mane of blackest hair down to his shoulders. Plum velvet smoking jacket. Jewelled fingers tapering to purple painted nails. Again the charming greeting.” Salutari tovarasi” His Elegance, a distant Caeucescu relative, summoned a retainer to carry in the flask of Pinot Noir, the crystal glasses and the grapes on a silver platter. Roma violins recorded at this year’s London Proms wafted from behind the curtains. Dumitru sat rigid, tears in his eyes. Bronwen and Ulbrecht shifted around on their elegant chairs. HARD to drag Dumitru from his homeland…finally, Dumitru AWOKE. Standing, he asked the question in ringing tones, ”Our village knows you are here. WHAT DO YOU DO UP HERE?”
Violins ceased. Elegance fell away.
“Within this Gate we sustain the International Campaign Against Drugs and Terrorism: the Evil Empires. It serves to mobilise the populace around and against threats to elite interests .It is sufficiently fuzzy to engender FEAR.”
That was it. The Pilate was gone. On their knees BUD staggered out. They were lashed by the seduction of the three greetings, and their insight into the minds of the psychopathic Pilates. Out the three Galiants tumbled. Thank the gods, there was Hakka! Downhill they rushed, reaching the gloom of the Leylandiis as the dark wrapped around.
Next morning the troupe elbowed its way through the tangled, punishing growth. Out onto the grassy hill above Slatesville. And coming up, scores of many coloured, handknitted beanies, with children and dogs, flasks of sweet tea, big round buttered ice buns ….nearly HOME.
Everyone agreed, to the Town Hall they must go. There were trestle tables laid with tea, porridge, and more iced buns. Around thirty locals showed up, numbers swelling. Margaret the Town Clerk sized up the scene. “Friends, I suggest a plan. Our Galiants go off to their beds for the rest of Saturday. Us lot here will organise a FORUM meeting for midday Sunday. All invited. Children too. Dogs at home or tied up outside. I’ll ask Charlie the Post to drive his van and loudhailer all around town, inviting everyone to come hear our Galiants’ tales.”
“Good on ya, Maggie!” all called.
This was done. Galiants slept all Saturday. Charlie had a great time roaring around, one-handed, loudhailer to lips. Come Sunday, the Hall filled up fast. The Galiants put large handwritten posters all around. Inspirational quotes from Chomsky, Iván Illich, Pauli Friere, Rob Hopkins – radical thinkers and activists. Margaret introduced Bronwen, Ulbrecht , Dumitru and in silence the three told their tale. Many a gasp. “Do you understand the PERIL ?“ “We hear you. We’ve got it.“
And from the back of the Hall, ”What the FUCK do we DO?”
I must leave you now, dear Readers. Be hugely heartened and your IMAGINATIONS set alight by the fact that a tent village appeared overnight on the Green outside the Town Hall, a right old jumble of Scouts’ tents, last summer’s gazebos. It was to become a totally magical place over the coming months, as children crept underneath each night after school. An OCCUPATION by IDEAS of impossible BRILLIANCE that this small town worked steadily for the next six months to develop. What came up in multifulsome get-togethers?
Well, everyone’s LOVING the Sunday pot-lucks, sitting around together and IMAGININGS.
Slatesville gave thumbs-up to ten “absolute MUST-HAVES”:-
Monthly meets, to be grandly named COMMUNITY FORUM
(open to everyone, young and creakier).
Equally grand title, the COMMUNITY PLAN which will slowly come together as voices are HEARD.
Determination to share the Story so that Slatesville people will OWN their Story.
LISTENING WILL BE VERY TOP MUST-DO….because they know that all bits of town life are interconnected.
They are designing a faith within which others can act. They are also learning to trust ‘doing nothing’ as a means of emitting a different vibe.
Acknowledgement : Quotations from FREE TO BE HUMAN, David Edwards. A Resurgence book. 1998. Noam Chomsky & Edward Herman p.10 : the Pilates statements in the Fairy Tale.