Rojo and Brown

It was an early evening in the spring of 1950 when I last saw Ronald “Rojo” Jones. As I fumbled the key in the lock and rotated the heavy barrels, I anticipated a number of reactions he might greet me with, ranging from stoic silence to manic optimism.

The response I got, however, took me by surprise. As soon as the door was open, I looked upon his hooked nose, round glasses and slender form, and a broad smile formed on his face. Continue reading

The Corpse Candle

The flame dances in the wind, like a liquid wisp, suspended in blue over the ground, swaying vertiginously, back and forth, beckoning me to follow it. I paw at the window lightly, convinced now that the flame is real, and not some off-shot reflection on the pane.

The light casts meandering shadows among the grass of the garden. Without scorching the blades, the flame hovers in a circular motion, as if it has a will of its own. Stopping in place, doubling in size, then shrinking once more, and shooting off up to the top of the garden and dissipating into the blackness of the night. Continue reading

The Minotaur

The cave –if you could call it that- was chiselled out of limestone using old steam-powered tunnelling machinery. Originally a natural formation, the cave dipped and rose, with winding corridors which squeezed to the breadth of a human hipbone, before opening out into great domed halls; the likely result of some great cave-in from above.

Despite the crudeness of the tools used, it could be seen that the cave had been meticulously designed in a labyrinthine manner designed to entrap those who ventured inside; to what end remained unknown. Continue reading

The Mutineers of Pitcairn: A history of betrayal

“Pride, Envy, Avarice; these are the sparks that have set on fire the hearts of all men.” – Dante Alighieri

In 1787 the HMAV Bounty set sail to Tahiti to collect breadfruit saplings to provide cheap food for slaves in the West Indies. Under the command of William Bligh, the crew spent many months traveling to, and living in Tahiti.

The voyage of the Bounty, which would be its last, would go down in the annals of history as a turbulent story of betrayal, brutality, murder, mutiny and vengeance; the effects of which can still be seen today.

Far removed from the drizzle, cold and prudishness of England, Tahiti was a tropical paradise of delicious fruits, crystal lagoons, and sexual freedom. After five months of living with such freedom, and subjected to the prospect of sailing under the strict disciplinarian William Bligh, a portion of the crew –led by the young Christian Fletcher- mutinied, setting Bligh and several others adrift on the ship’s launch.

Whilst Bligh set out on one of the most famous and arduous open-boat voyages in the age of sail, the mutineers settled variously on Tahiti, and the small improperly-charted island of Pitcairn.

Of the men who mutinied, some offered their services as mercenaries to tribal chiefs, others tried to escape the island and surrender themselves to the authorities, some tried to integrate with the Tahitians.

Of those who sailed with Bligh, some died of disease and exposure, others made it back to England, and some sought revenge on those who had forced them adrift.

These are the stories of the men on that voyage; those that lived, those that died, those that mutinied, those that were kidnapped, and those that spent the rest of their lives in isolation, hiding from the vengeful hammer of the British Navy. Continue reading

François McCandle

If a nation’s culture dies, so too does the nation.

These were the words that passed through my mind as I eagerly awaited the train. The London underground was a strange place at this time; a place where the underclass crawled from their hidden tenements and stalked the night.

Nobody knew my habit; by day I was a pretty normal teenager. I generally kept myself to myself, and didn’t ruffle any feathers. By night, I was François McCandle; graffiti artist and vandal.

A wise man once said that graffiti breaks the hegemonic hold of corporate and governmental style over the urban environment, and the situations of daily life. As a form of aesthetic sabotage, it interrupts the pleasant, efficient uniformity of planned urban space and predictable urban living. For us, graffiti disrupts the lived experience of mass culture, the passivity of mediated consumption. Continue reading

Divitiae

Amos Mallory was –I’d been told- an eccentric; a creature of particular habit and routine, whose needs were simple, and simply met.

I’d been working at the Silverlink Retirement Community Complex for less than a year before I was transferred to the E-Wing; that was where the luxury suites were. Silverlink was no ordinary nursing home; no musty hovel where the sick and elderly were left to die in a dirty room smelling of hot piss. No, Silverlink was a state-of-the-art retirement facility; a complex panoptic building of silver tubes, glimmering metal and dynamic sun-activated solar-smart glass windows. Continue reading