Revolution in Jersey

You’d think we would have learnt when everybody bought all the loo paper. Fuel…

I’m in Jersey, and in Jersey everybody is pretty relaxed about fuel right now. To read my social media though – that’s to be told that people are murdering one another on concourses across the mainland for the last drop of diesel.

I extended my stay in Jersey. Easyjet allowed me to change my flight with no extra charges. It’s a bank holiday on Monday in Jersey suddenly though. The hotel receptionists are pissed off about it. I’m staying on to try to do some business, so tomorrow will be an enforced day of rest for me. I assumed it was a bank holiday across the UK. Then I spoke to Lou. It seems it’s just in Jersey. Interesting. Why?

So. Initial research brings up The Anniversary of The Corn Riots. And yes, by “research” I mean Google searching like your old mate who tells you to do your research because he insists that Hulk Hogan is actually a radioactive space mole. Corn Riots. That’s the official name.

In the 1760’s in Jersey there was a bloodless revolution. Nobody went to the guillotine, but things changed significantly. It was the peak of a period of discontent. The island has been run as a bailiwick for centuries. This means that there is a constantly shifting post of lieutenant governor. The governor at the time of the revolution was entirely absent. He was living on the mainland and had never been to Jersey. This is frequently still a problem. The post is an honourific and even if they do live here now they still have no clue how the island runs. His deputy was on the island, but he was a baddie – a guy called Charles Lempriere. Not as cool as my grandad was for decades.

It’s interesting to think about that season of revolution at the end of the eighteenth century. Many institutions toppled forever, inevitably to be replaced by similar institutions but with that very temporary injection of perspective.

The Jersey shift happened just before the French one, but no heads rolled. Then the American shift followed. Some of the entitled idiots “in charge” of Jersey learnt a touch more diplomacy. The wrongheaded tariffs on wheat were adjusted, and Charlie our chum Charlie CLASSIC Chaz Lempriere : he ate a lot of humble pie, and eventually somehow managed to go back to work with his head still attached.

“The Corn Riots” though. I’m told that the riots are the reason for this holiday. And right there we can hear Chazzo Lempriere’s high pitched voice, calling them riots. They weren’t riots, the things that brought about strong change in how the farmers of Jersey were taxed for their wheat. The Corn Riots were a quiet and sustained revolution. They were the force of unity and popular opinion. They were people at the end of their tether, fed up of a government of out of touch entitled morons. The policy makers of Jersey thought they had perspective. They really didn’t. Tous ça change.

Eventually, trying to make sense of all the cagey stuff I found with “corn riots” I googled “Jersey Revolution” and suddenly I hit the motherlode. “Jersey Corn riots” turns up nothing useful this evening. Just slave articles.

The Corn Riots were never corn riots. That’s just to make them small. That’s just what they were called by people who weren’t desperate. Maybe people who guiltily watched the unrest unfold through the window of their seaside home.

The bank holiday here tomorrow is to celebrate an important shift in the democratic journey of this island. The people of Jersey – led by women I should note – came forward in the face of a clueless leader who literally didn’t have the foggiest about what the people of Jersey wanted or needed. Real change was made as a result of the people mobilising, even if it was change within the existing system. Sure the system needs overhauling. But…

It means that tomorrow I’m just gonna lounge around. I’ve booked into a hotel with a steam room. I’ll be having a lovely time. While so many thousands of people freak out about the incorrect idea that there might never ever be petrol again, I’ll be relaxing. And once again we won’t march on Downing Street in our tens of thousands with pitchforks. Not yet. Not yet. But either I’m getting older or they’re getting worse..

St Brelade…

The Devil’s Hole in Jersey

Gradually, over time, this island is shrinking. The vast tides. The terrible winds. The sea wants it back, all this world that we think is ours. The sea understands time in quantum. Soon. The chalk will fall before the granite. But soon, in sea terms, this arrogance of air will be curtailed.

Centuries ago in Jersey there was a hole that looked like a face. Le Creux de vis. “The hollow of the face”. Erosion took the face. Capitalism and ignorance allowed a rebrand. De vis. Misheard de ville. Devil. The creux or hollow of the devil. The devil’s hole. BUY OUR DEVILBEER. There’s a pub at the trailhead. Pablo and I, when we are close, we ask: “Are we near The Devil’s Hole?” We get: “Yes, it’s about ten minutes. And the pub too!”

We bypass the pub. We are after a caldera – something primal. We walk a short distance after having to pass through the car park, and we find a large devil standing in a pond full of algae. He is sad, this Satan. If he was ever made to look powerful, somebody has disempowered him and sidelined him.

He is guarded by fences that are strong in intention but not in practicality. He feels like he has been shunted far from his proper place and dumped here. He is obscured by branches and standing in a muddy puddle.

Pablo works with bronze. If he’s bronze, we think, it’s a terrible waste. We can’t get to him. So we decide to throw things until they connect, so we can at least hear the sound and guage what he is made of.

Crab apples. We find and throw crab apples at the devil. Our aim quickly adjusts to the fact that he is a long way from the path. Neither of us are really aware of the mythic weight of our actions, hurling our disrespectful bitter apples at this vast replica of a figure some faith structures have constructed to represent BAD. We established that this devil is made out of fiberglass. We both receive a *bonk* that definitely isn’t a clang.

When I was a child, a different statue was on the hillside, looking down into the hole. It was a powerful statement. Before I was born, another equally striking statue stood at the bottom of the hole. The early one is long gone, the one from my childhood must have had its platform eroded and fallen into its own hole. It was never replaced (elf and safety innit!). This one has been moved from the main site with all the usual bullshit reasons. “It might scare children.” If your children are going to have their life damaged by a statue of the devil, you need to let that happen because you’ve already destroyed them by cosseting them too much.

We walked to a hole that had nothing to do with the devil but art and misinterpretation. We saw how ignorance and fear of repercussions can make the world less interesting. We looked – for a moment – at a hole in the ground. We noticed how there were more people at that particular part of trail than at any other.

It’s not the Devil’s Hole. It’s a pub that doesn’t give a fuck about anything but the bottom line, that has a misinterpreted bit of land on its soil. Artists have repeatedly tried to augment the superstition of the area. The Devil overlooking the hole was chilling. I remember it from my childhood. This fat fiberglass Pan – it’s fucking stupid to try and make Pan into the devil anyway – that’s just mythic colonialism. But if he exists, at least put him where he can be seen.

I’ve been “arting” in Jersey so perhaps I’m particularly sensitive to it right now. Yeah it’s only fiberglass. But some artist that thinks of Pan and The Devil in the same breath – (and who can blame him after generations of a deliberate blurring of the two?) – that artist made something with personality only to have it dumped in a brackish pond. In order to not scare children. Bullshit. There’s more at play, and I bet you that somewhere at the top of the pile is somebody that believes in magical beardyman. Whatever they’re calling Zeus these days. With that conflation of Horus and Odin dying on the tree. And definitely not Pan, oh no because Pan is BAD because he represents nature and freedom. But yeah. The popular beardy skyperson has caused a pub landlord to sideline an interesting fiberglass figure where the myths have got confused and a fallen angel has become a faun in order to try and teach pantheists that their canon is bad and somehow we still accept that image long after the idealogical battle is over. Bleh. Myth. Another interesting thing about Jersey that I might be able to get stuck into…

Birthday last day of residence

My birthday coincided with the last night of this residency. At first I was resigned because I knew being here meant I would be so busy I would barely be able to connect with my friends. Pretty much the only time I get with my phone is now, when everybody is asleep. I figured my birthday would be swallowed up by the business of the lock-in. I hadn’t taken into account how Sue – our wonderful facilitator – likes to incorporate our roots and our history. Birthdays are important to Sue. She sent me off on random tasks and while I was distracted she got everybody to make a load of silly games and general birthday things as a surprise for me.

There was a certain amount of cunning preparation, followed by a game of musical chairs and a pass the parcel with dangerous forfeits – all laid out in order to help bring a stupid fun party atmosphere. Nina also presented me with a bottle of cordial that she had made from the sloes that grow in vast abundance on the clifftop pathways around our barracks. There was (forced) karaoke, slug impressions, songs and secrets and nose picking. I don’t think I’ve encountered such a birthday party since the last time I had a birthday party on this island, and maybe not even then.

This is the first time for many years that I have experienced this solar return so close to the place I popped up. It feels very grounding. Tomorrow is my own. I will go to the little hilltop churchyard where my mother lies and have a good pow-wow with her, with my grandparents and with my uncle – all of whom are good and close to one another. Then I might try and break into the house I grew up in – or at least get into the garden. They have CCTV cameras in the TREES though. Apparently it’s owned by a nice but unimaginative old couple. Probably a property worth upwards of twenty mil now though… Property has gone off the scale in this island. It used to be a little impractical cottage with a huge garden. Now it’s a huge mess of tasteless concrete bullshit, a few trees and a patch of grass that some guy mows every two and a half minutes on a mower you have to ride. There are sprinklers where there used to be brambles. Maybe I should make friends with that nice old couple… I could go and see if I can handle being in the garden surrounded by their horrendous fountains, or if I run in terror from the whole thing like Maupassant from the Eiffel Tower. The view might still be similar, there at the top of the hill. Damn I need to win the lottery. If I could move back there tomorrow I would do it like a shot, although I might have to immediately do something about the sculptures in the garden.

It’s been great coming back here to my birthplace just in order to make random stuff for joy. We’ve had a remarkable group. So much positivity. So much “yes”. Lots and lots of lovely makers, all full of curiosity, and all flexible. Many of my joyful moments have been when I’ve seen people excel in mediums I know are not their strong point. Certainly for me the opportunity to be stretched has been infinitely helpful – to step into other mediums and listen to people who know what they are doing and to learn. I’ve grown through this fortnight, and it has helped me crystallise my method of make, highlight my strong points, and shore up some of my more glaring weaknesses.

Plus I’ve now got a Facebook timeline full of lovely messages that I’ve barely been able to read or respond to. That’ll be for tomorrow when we are wrenched apart. Because the circle is about to break. I know that loss only too well now. But there are some young artists here. This has been an immaculately held circle. Now we all go off into the world again. It’ll be a wrench…

This is Todd screening the rushes from the footage he took of us over the last few days. Like a home movie screening, but much much weirder.

Fire

This evening is gearing up to be about fire. Sue, who is the beating heart of this extremely varied residency, is very used to working with fire. “I think the smell of paraffin is my favourite smell,” she told us all half an hour ago, with a huge grin. She’s looking forward to this.

We are up in an abandoned fort on the Jersey coast. Fort Catel. Napoleonic, I believe, and very much like the one I came within an inch of renting for one night in May for exorbitant amounts of dosh. Guy and I just set a fire in a trashcan, which is behaving very well. Inevitably the rain has started to spot on us as we sit here outside, but it’s warm here as we sit around this can like a group of New York tramps in the 1960’s. “There’s always rain when I run a fire workshop,” says Sue. I don’t think it’s going to set in but it’s the only damper. I’m looking forward to learning some new techniques. I’m looking forward to playing with fire and calling it learning.

The week we’ve had has involved skill sharing and large amounts of making. We’ve made theatre and film, we’ve made art and sculpture, we’ve been really busy and we’ve been remembering how joyful it is and how quick it can be to make things with other creative people. All the ideas I’ve had and then blocked in recent years – I suspect this will be the catalyst for a period of getting on with it. So long as I don’t set myself on fire tonight, which is always a possibility.

“shall we?” says Sue. I’m about to get covered in smoke.

I’m writing to you with filthy fingers and yep, I reek of paraffin. It feels great. There’ll be a queue for the shower – we have one between about eight of us so it’s a delicate negotiation.

Up in that fort jutting out over the dark sea, we learnt how to make very good paraffin torches that throw a surprising amount of light and also happen to be extremely good fun. I got some of my youthful fire-poi fantasies ironed out via playful wild dervishes, flying and blazing to the sound of the waves by moonlight. The whole experience has probably made me marginally less likely to burn my face off in overambitious experimentation with hot coals on chains or something similar.

Also, bean cans… I will be looking at bean cans in a whole new light now. They can make excellent short term fire effects with a bit of hessian and paraffin. I have always loved fire. We always had a fire when I was growing up, and I have many happy memories of staring at fires and telling myself stories. Perhaps there can be some more use for fire in the stories I want to tell others. Christmas Carol was always at its best when there were a fuckton of candles everywhere. Nothing beats the living light of a naked flame. And we learnt some small simple tricks that just add to the joy. Flour… Milk powder. Magic.

Next year’s festival season I’m gonna have something crazy and gorgeous to bring joy to people. And I’m pretty sure it’ll involve fire.

Lock-In Day Four

This is getting deeper now. Four days is fucking nothing but we have started to know each other’s boundaries and each others preferences. This kind of process is delicate. So many different skillsets, such a wide range of ages, and yet all pushing in the same direction.

I’m sitting around a table now, and we are talking about boundaries. This was a familiar conversation in the before time, but it’s not so familiar now, and it makes me more and more uncomfortable thinking about how we have been separated from each other. I remember being contacted by a journalist talking about the “me too” movement, and he wanted to try to angle it to my profession. “Because of the long hours and drinking culture”. He seemed to be trying to make out like the industries that had already spoken out – the performative industries where we have learnt how to speak out because that’s our job – that those industries and the speakers were somehow compromised. I said: “This shit is endemic. Great, people in my industry have spoken. But look at your industry. Look at Estate Agents. Look at industries where people haven’t had the courage to step forward. Yeah it’s good that people in performance industries have started to speak out. That’s our job. But if there’s somebody in the supermarket industry, will you give them a voice?” His response was defensive attack – as if I had insulted him personally. I told him I had nothing more to say to him. His article was targeted on theatre and specifically on Kevin Spacey. It was disappointingly lacking. But I guess his job is to churn them out to the editor’s brief. I think it was The Telegraph. “I want you to do a piece about how all this ‘me too’ stuff is just restricted to the acting industry.” The very fact that the dude that phoned me was a dude… They had clearly run the gamut of every female writer and been disappointed by their integrity so they’d gone with this eloquent fellow with a touch of ethnicity. Pfff. I didn’t give him a quote.

Anyway, fuck that guy.

The work today was a delight. As always, we made things quickly and with joy. One of my favourite tasks was to make one of the group into a beast, with very limited time and mostly newspaper as material. We only had about half an hour to make the beast, and in retrospect I’m thrilled that neither of the beasts were political. Considering our main building material was the Jersey Evening Post, the personal was pushed to the foreground. Thankfully, the articles we found were balanced towards human interest. The JEP we encountered is interested in “how did the creature feel upon meeting the creature…”

It’s about how they moved, and the sound…

I don’t think any of us can answer that apart from the creatures, but there was a joy in both sides. Kyriagos was our beast, on the right. He was a lustful beast, horned and beaked but tassled and with Madonna boobs and a willy. The other group’s beast had Demeter nipples in angry red, so many of them. They worked well together, our beasts.

“They always either fuck or fight.” Not an exact quote. But…

Our beasts were made for sex because we weren’t paying attention to the papers that made them. Yeah and sure we could read the articles in those papers and start hating those damn people who don’t. Whatever the don’t is.

Who knows? The whole beast thing was about an hour of a beautiful and curious day. The day brought so much more but I’m not here as a scribe and I’m way too immersed to document anything. I’ve given some of the guys the breadcrumbs that lead to this blog. But all I can really do when I’m this tired is to say that I’ve met and become part of a very strange group that will find a voice beyond Jersey. But in so doing I’ve plugged back into my own head…

Lock-In Day Three

The crickets are loud here. I remember that now from my childhood. I’m sitting watching the last fingers of sunset on the equinox. The darkness is coming. This morning I was careful to eat seven pomegranate seeds with my breakfast, but no more. Wouldn’t do to tempt the winter. But it’s coming.

Nevertheless I’ve got a towel beside me as I write, and my swimming shorts as well. I think there’s a very strong possibility, with the tide still coming in, that I’m going into the sea shortly. We are all going down there with torches. High tide very shortly. Equinox. Full moon…

Well that was bloody marvelous. A huge number of us just ran into the sea in a patch of moonlight. At the end of even a summer like this it’s pretty warm in that water. I can barely remember the last time I went swimming in the dark. I was … well I was something close to nineteen years old. I was somewhere in Greece. That’s about as much as I can remember. Good to stick my head under water and properly mark the change of the year.

God alone knows what the people of Greve de Lecq thought was going on tonight. Before we all ran screaming into the dark water, we paraded with lanterns and an angel down the promenade singing a Spanish chorus. Then one of us sang a vulnerable song on his own, and we were all shown reflections of moonlight and the sea. Then we did a ritual of remembering and forgetting on the beach. Sort of a mixture of performance art, light installation and song, with a ritualistic element thrown in. The joy of it was worth the risk of being on the front of the JEP with the headline “SUSPECTED SATANISTS ON THE STRAND.”

Before I was even dry, in the queue for the shower, I started reading people’s tarot which was fine until I started getting tired. When I think back to my festival reading days, or being in that caravan on Carnaby Street, my stamina is not what it used to be. I was kind of spent after the second person, and I didn’t have anything to clean the cards with so they started popping up weird. I had to leave my oojey-boojey bag in London as I was flying and it’s probably got all sorts of shit that’ll get confiscated. I’m only here for a week so no point buying stuff I’m gonna immediately have to leave behind. Still… a nice thing to do on the equinox, and I’m glad to get back into the swing with it. I still think that tarot’s a lovely way to help people think about things from a different angle. But I’m pooped.

Lock-in Day Two

And I’m tired at the end of the day…

I managed to duck doing a ten minute presentation about my art for the second day running, but they kinda rumbled me this time so I’ll not get off the hook again. It’s strange that, considering I’m writing all these words every day, the idea of encapsulating whatever the fuck it is I’ve been doing for the last few decades makes me feel uneasy. I guess it’s the knowledge that much of the stuff I’m proudest of was by its very nature ephemeral so I can’t show an image about it, or encapsulate it in words. The stuff I value tends to break, moments after its observed. I like these shiny temporary things as much as I hate photographs of them. But essentially I just have to get over myself and do a presentation. I like these guys and they are doing interesting shit. Maybe I just need to find my own shit more interesting. Maybe that can be my takeaway from the week so far. Learn to like my own shit.

We went to Noirmont. Noirmont Point, on the south of the island, on this shocking bright day, and we were all running around in the gorse on the top of a cliff. First thing we had to do was just know the palate of the area we were in and stick it all onto a bit of card. Basically exploring the area, but with a task. I found a Jersey Lily in full bloom, bright pink on the side of the cliff.

The Jersey Lily throws beautiful short lived flowers without bothering to put out leaves. The flowers deliquesce so quickly in the sun, but for a shining moment there is nothing like them. They tend to grow in remote areas as well, plugged in with the gorse and bracken, incongruous and gorgeous.

I like to think that we were a little group of Jersey Lilies today, telling short and weird stories in all sorts of places. The groups and the stories shifted as we experimented with lovely things and unusual things and silly things and fun things. There was a lot of thinking about the difference between outdoor and indoor work, and I found myself wondering quite how that ratio would pan out if I looked at my own life trajectory. A decade of Sprite would certainly push the balance towards outdoor work, and hell I’ve always loved plugging directly in to nature and moving with the flow of itz much as I love a film set too… The seesaw. The wild / control.

Today though – lots of stimulation. Lots of laughter. Moments of joy and moments of surprise. This residency is a powerful call for us to plug back in to our craft through nature. It’s brilliant that I’ve landed on it here on the island of my birth. Seeing this place through the eyes of my fellow makers is a powerful thing.

I’m tired, and I’ve had wine, and the wind is blowing. Equinox tomorrow. What sparks of light shall we all take into the darkness with us? I’m in a good place for it. Tomorrow the day and the night are the same length, and then … then we start the journey into the underworld. It’ll be harder than sometimes to cling together for warmth, and to shoot forth beautiful shocks of light into the gathering darkness. But we can do it. Together we can do it. Even if, like the Jersey Lily, we have to dispense with some of the practicalities, like leaves.

Lock-in Day One

There are twelve of us here, in Greve de Lecq barracks, at the bottom of a fishbowl. It’s half past eight and we have reached a break in proceedings. We will reconvene shortly and by the time we are done I’ll be clamouring to sleep so tomorrow I can go again. My body feels tired, and I’m a long way from being the oldest on this residency. But even in the breaks we all go and swim in the sea.

Normally under such circumstances I’d find myself saying that I’ll lose weight by mistake this week but they are truly feeding us. There is no chance in the world that we will starve. This is a week long residence with Jersey Art House. They call it an Artist’s Lock-in. I applied last time I was in Jersey, wanting to connect to the island of my birth through my artistic practice. Of the twelve of us, only two were born in this place. Most are here for the first time. It’s good to see things through their eyes.

Time passed. It’s quarter past ten. We are finished for the night. I’m pooped. Pablo has found some chamomile tea. He’s put the kettle on and he’s talking with Kyriakos about flamenco. I’m taking a second to write words.

Today we played together and found a mixture of joy and random strangeness. We started to understand again the way in which artistic imaginations and priorities overlap. This is a group of positive makers, and I’m proud to be included. I was involved in a number of happenings, stories and moments. We even found a way to bring the bees in to other people’s experience. With all the variance in people’s artistic view, it’s perhaps hardest for us to do what some brave souls attempted tonight – to give a ten minute presentation about the kind of things we make. I’m thinking perhaps I should just scream and weep for nine minutes and then give everybody a flower.

I’m in safe company here. The guys are dedicated and fun. One group had rehearsed short piece in the dry on the beach, without taking into account the speed at which the tide comes in around this island. When it came time to perform the piece they’d made the water was deeply rushing. We watched them walk into the sea singing ancient songs, and as they did so the wind stepped up and the breakers started really roaring in.

I also got to make a sandcastle. The last time I made one of those I was probably on this island. Ok it wasn’t called “The Island of Secrets,” and it didn’t have loads of things concealed in it. But I still had the almost forgotten joy of filling a bucket with sand and turning it upside down.

This is a joyful and playful way to connect with a load of other artists and makers. It’s fascinating sharing the similarities and differences in process and priorities. I’m absolutely knackered though. And I really hope I don’t snore like a chainsaw again… Unfamiliar single beds are the worst.

Kyriakos has started playing strange broken down half electronic Cypriot folk music. I’m gonna tune in momentarily. Then pass out.

Clifftop walk

Bees.

I’m on the top of a cliff in Jersey. Below me, lots of spangled fifty year olds play happy hardcore music in a fort. “It’s a celebrity party!” I am told by a guest I ask, so now I know the one thing that it isn’t.

Below them, skatekids play music I don’t recognise beside a temporary skate ramp. They do all of their arcane skatethings. There is much youthful interest in their antics. I know that smell. We all do.

Below them small children scream bloody murder as the waves roll in to the beautiful beach at Greve de Lecq. Their parents sprawl on towels or deckchairs. Everybody is out this evening, and everybody is enjoying the sun. I’m in the mood where I look at things.

“Watch you don’t get stung,” says Jamie. I’m standing still at the edge of the gate to his apiary. I’m not going to get stung if I can help it. One sting and, with careful breathing, I might not have to go to hospital in any particular hurry. Multiple stings might have me very slowly calmly and politely calling an ambulance. “Don’t worry,” I tell him. Some of the bees whip by my head. He’s smoking their hives out. I don’t tell him I’m a little bit allergic. He’s already worried enough for me. “I’m fine. If I do get stung I’ll just roll with it.”

“I’m worried they’re gonna think it’s Spring,” he tells me, speaking his thoughts. “If they go swarming again, it’ll kill them.” I watch him work, pulling my best tree impression, trusting the old wisdom regarding bees – they only sting you if you’re flailing around. They think I’m a tree.

He’s methodical. He cares about his bees. He wants these bees to stop being so active. “I’ve often thought about keeping bees on the roof of my block in London,” I tell him. “Sometimes you’ve just gotta do it,” he replies.

Bees. Yeah it wouldn’t last a week before the leasehold people made me take it down. And that’s if I didn’t die of stings. I’d have to find a way to scientifically test my reaction. I might not even BE allergic. The first sting was on my back. My whole back went red. The second was on my ankle. I was feverish and my leg swelled up to the top of the calf. I couldn’t wear my shoe for a week. That was aged 11. Nothing from bees since then when I stopped fucking with their hives. I’m extrapolating from my large reaction and the fact that my dad used to say he was allergic to conclude that it might be worse for me if I get stung again. So I’m wary. But I’m not gonna live in fear of bees. I like bees.

This warm September evening all the Jersey people are partying hard. All the bald old guys in the fort are ‘aving it large like they did in the nineties. The humans think it’s Spring. All the skatekids are turning tricks on their ramp, immune to harm, the definition of spring behaviour. New-minted. Untouchable. As with the bees, the skaters seem to need plenty of smoke to become docile. They’re applying it to themselves in stealthy huddles round the back of buildings.

I’m locked in to an old barracks at Greve de Lecq that wouldn’t have smelt like weed in the Napoleonic wars. They let me out to go look at bees. I’m sharing a room with Pablo. He’s reading to my left. To my right, the crashing of the waves through the window. This is gonna be an interesting week. The circle is drawn. We are all gathered. Equinox on Tuesday and then the dark will overtake the light for many months to come. A good time to be cocooned. The beds are comfortable. The food is plentiful. I should have bought chamomile tea. I’m off to bed without it and I’m gonna sleep like a log.

Wandering in St. Ouen.

A friendly cabbie took me down to my favourite part of the island today. St Ouen, with the huge apocalyptic sands looking out across the ocean all the way to America. I chose Le Braye as my drop off, rather than my usual El Tico. Perhaps a little quieter, and I’m a fan of their lunchtime only crab sandwich.

I had already eaten some when it occurred to me to snap it

I sat at the top of a wall and watched the sea. Getting my bag onto the beach looked like a spot too much faff, especially if I’ll be working on the beach most of the coming week.

I found a spot, comfy and warm. The sun soaked my skin and I read most of The Ocean at the End of the Lane. A good choice of book for me right now – a book about childhood memory and magic and ancient things. This island is replete with all three for me.

Anything seems possible while I’m on this soil. I sprung from it, like a potato. I grew and prospered on it. Then I was exported to get mashed up. Like a potato.

Walking around today I was regularly blindsided by strong emotion out of nowhere. I belong here, my brain keeps telling me it is right. The light. The wind. The colour of the stone. Here, it is right. The spirits keep asking me “why did you leave?” My tears are quick, ready and defying logic. Everything is close to the surface here. This is where nature stuck the eyes and other features into my potato head. My body knows it.

I never really wanted to leave, but in my twenties I was still somewhat under the sway of my mum and she wanted to be in London. She’s buried here now though despite that, and my sense of self is buried here as well. Sure, I fit London fine now, and I knew the London before Covid like you know the veins and blemishes on your own hand. But the world, and London … it will rebuild in a different shape. Maybe this wedge of Covid is a convenient cue for an exit? Or maybe I’ll end up plugging back in to that vortex…

Today though I just wished I’d hired a car. With all my stuff I found myself remembering that there’s not really much in the way of public transport in Jersey. Tired from sun, I started trying to work out how to get a bus to St Aubin. “It’s Friday evening,” the guy at Le Braye told me as I was thinking of ways to get to St Aubin. “I just dialed a cab for another customer and they told me at least an hour.” The nearest bus is up by Corbière…

With the falling light, I schlepped with my bag down the five mile road. More inevitable than hopeful.

Then up the winding road to the old defunct train line at the top of the hill. I let myself believe there was a romance in the evening and in my sweat. I smiled at the sound of the breakers as I walked and at the screaming of the birds. I ignored the screaming of the brakes of the Jersey drivers wondering why the hell I was walking in the middle of the road. I got to the top of the hill. I was still emotional. Still mostly happy.

Eventually, after walking was getting a little less romantic and more practical, I got picked up by Adam at Off the Rails, where they sell you pizza and beer (with expensive olives) from a wooden hut off the old train tracks, and I had to get myself a moretti to cut through the trail dust. He took me back to his. I was able to use his shower. Thank the lord. I stank after my long hot walk.

Now I’m back at his place, on my comfy double bed – a luxury after the Mornington and before the barracks. Adam is producing Christmas Carol this year over here. Beautiful things… We went for tasty dinner and now I’m in his spare room – about to finish consuming my book before sleeping as long as I possibly can.