Cell Walker’s Dream

Cell Walker’s Dream

Below is the Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis, UK. Below is how they look in a normal straight photograph. 

Below is how they looks as we approached. The resemblance to people is startling, especially on a misty morning. This what I feel Cell Walkers Dream wants to be, a way of seeing the world that is more alive but without altering a single atom.  

 

 

© Anthony Michael Hawkins 2015 – 2022 and counting

CELL WALKER’S DREAM

by

Anthony Hawkins and ‘Maisy Warlock’

Part 1

Maisy Ius Mahadevi

 

That love came before the stars was always known to me. 

Before meant not in time but as cause for as cause love is eternally present.

But what do I mean by love? And for that matter what do I mean by me and always?

Such questions the world has seldom had the luxury to consider. Those who spoke were chosen by the masters or had their words, even peace eternal, beaten into swords by them. But in the exceptional cruelty at the nexus of God, Man, religion and madness, the world gave me the time to be different and chance or destiny triggered the temperament to use it.

The answer is infinitely small and infinitely big yet neither small not big but Other, literally Mother, her soft, caring world answers everything with the ingenuity of love.

One mystery is how my tiny, finite body, deep in time and lost in space, is found by me, and we never question it.

Of course I have found my body, it is me.

But who found me? Little ‘me’ or something infinitely bigger?

The little Darwinian creep who considers love an evolved survival mechanism, or limitless love that is so expert at being the requirements of being it is as if it has had an infinity of universes to practice in rather than the timeless, higher dimensional super moment of real reality in which life is actually taking place? 

Now, in which choice is present, however tiny, is eternally one with the origin of worlds.

Your consciousness as God as you, however much you reject it.

More god than God of bibles and religions, equally shocking to believers and unbelievers.

The total, infinite being necessarily you, however unimaginable.

But this way of putting things together I picked up from Father Anthony, who acquired its substance from me. He was very good at putting words to my living infinite thought before I took to a screaming fit of rage and frustration and more human furniture got broken.

So beautiful, he told me, when we were eventually married, as I smashed a chair upon a table, a blow that would have killed any man in its path. He understood the woman of God, the woman God, as the ultimate penetration of his heart.

A thought so big it warranted only an unforgettable silence. 

Or long walks and talks in the majestic arenas of Nature when nothing like marriage had ever been imagined.

Love is Love. 

Organised Man said God is Love and I will kill you, even all of you, if you disagree because my ideas are more important than your lives. Perhaps because history was forged by men evolved to suppress the input of women as equal or superior. 

The Sixth Commandment says you shall not kill. On the occasion of implementing it the implementer had men kill three thousand of the people they loved or with whom they had a contract of life, brother, neighbour, friend. It doesn’t say how many were women but in those days goddesses were powerful. Thus killing the deepest metaphysical love bonds, leaving only the intangible god of his mind. And so it has gone on ever since. Cruelty, any intangible whim, replacing tangible love as the metaphysical basis of society. As clear a road to Hell as ever imagined.

I have read the passage a hundred times as if I had missed something. I could feel the pain across three thousand years. Every so often I would catch a moment of insight. Not three thousand men as in an account of battle, but three thousand people. Was the kind of woman who beheaded a Persian king going to stand still while her men and even her children were slaughtered in front of her? Nothing came to alleviate its complete unfathomableness as either political or metaphysical strategy, except that beheading the Goddess made sense to violent men who sought to limit power to their level. Slowly she has built her revenge through our stupid path of warrior technology and we have no choice but to wake to her level or destroy ourselves forever.

The opening commandments say you shall not be a creative being and think for yourself, the exact opposite of what a living goddess would ask of herself. Beheading her created more than necessary unconsciouness. 

Because of my condition, which is a kind of total autism which meant I wouldn’t go to school because I screamed until they took me home, I had read the Bible and most of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica in the Presbytery’s Library by my early teens. 

I had been living with Anthony then about six years, synchronistically and conversationally guided to what we called ‘our position’, a unique world view no one else seemed to have imagined. As time passed tongues wagged about us in a conventional way but most people saw his living with me as an act of selfless heroism for I was known as a knife wielding psychopath and he was a war hero of great and mysterious distinction. I have seen him disassemble a would be burglar with a well aimed word and I could take your coat buttons off with my ‘bowie knife’ before you could think to blink. The general thought was you didn’t mess with us unless you wanted to wake up under a bridge. And when we married tongues exploded, gulls clamouring over ghosts, but their hour had gone.

As long as there weren’t other people around we talked.

“What did you do today, Maisy?”

“Read Fred Hoyle on stellar nucleosynthesis.”

“What’s that?” As if he didn’t know.

I told him. “What I don’t understand is how these changes fit an eternal universe.”

“Why not ask him?”

Which I did, signing myself Maisy Warlock, aged 13. The great man replied and I thought my future lay in astronomical cosmology. But without an appropriately focussed education it was very hard to get anywhere and I was never interested in one thing but in everything, the key to which seemed more meta than physics. 

Following this trend I wrote to Einstein regarding the psychology of reality with the feminine as the real crown of creation. I received a hand written note saying he would like to know more. So I sent him both barrels with drawings of pyramidal goddesses which anticipated black holes due to the psychic power of Allwhen. I received a whole typed page saying my thoughts anticipated a language of psychic embodiment more universal than mathematics and thus healthier for the living soul. He regretted he could not become my student as my approach suggested a universal language of being inclined to draw things together rather than split them apart. Shortly afterwards I heard that he had died. I still have Einstein’s letter, and Fred Hoyle’s and a few others I use to buoy me up when I have sunk to the seventh level beyond suicide. 

A language of being has no meaning without love. For an orphan needs which had never been met can never be met except by the love of God unmediated by Man or the love of Man at that level. As no such thing existed I would have to create it and not die in the ten thousand ways failure of love can kill you. But this is our whole life story and I have just begun, so for me hope is alive and doing well.

Regarding dangerous questions like three thousand killed when the commandment was to not kill I had Anthony. He was a very worldly man for a priest, unlike Father Kenneth who was terrifyingly holy. He was not by the standards of the time a smoker but of an evening he enjoyed a cigarette and a glass of stout. He looked like Humphrey Bogart with the smoke in his eyes, but tall, patrician. He talked posh but laced with mate and chum, except with me because he knew I was seriously sensitive. The traumas of war had left him unphased by civilian life, even the lives of gangsters. One night he came home and put a gun on the table before making tea. I stared at it as though it were an atomic tarantula. He had the bullets in his pocket. He was not mad.

“Have you been robbing banks Anthony.”

“Saving lives, darling. Saving wives from the worst scum on the Earth. Nothing nobly heroic.”

On such a night I steered the conversation to the three thousand dead.

“That’s what I’m investigating, Maisy, the corruption of society in the name of the Church. How has the Church created the society which is destroying us? It goes very deep, perhaps too deep to save us. When you consider all the fuss about censorship nowadays. Lady Chatterley, for instance, has to be published in France and smuggled into this country.”

He indicated the forbidden shelf, technically, and more importantly metaphysically, locked.

“I’m only allowed to have it because I’m a scholar.”

“Wasn’t I supposed to read it?”

“Did you? What did you make of it?”

“You know I have to read a book with seven heads in order to know. And then with the eighth one, all of me, in order to really know. Not many books are worth reading with eight heads.”

“How many heads is Lawrence worth?”

“All of them. It’s so political. I can see why the ruling class want to ban it. I’m too undeveloped to judge if sex is the key in the ways he says but I can imagine it is because it’s how we are created. And most of me is stuck, like the world, in head Six, micro analysis. Why that comma and how much do I cloud or illuminate him and his origin in Victoria Street with his Dad’s coal black white skin he must have seen often, transposed to Connie coming out of the woods and seeing Mellors’ back at sunrise. According to APIO, Seven and Eight save you from this by melting it all together. Six is lost to all of that and doesn’t think living infinities worth writing about.”

“Living infinities?”

“Life itself. Creatures. Us.”

“What does she think worth writing about?”

“Recipes. How to make jam. How to make a universe. Like Fred Hoyle. But what I’d really like to know is not how a universe cooks itself once it’s started but who made the cake and how. I have a feeling everybody’s got it wrong, backwards in some fashion when they think they’re going forward. Alice through the looking glass kind of thing.”

“How did we get to this?”

“Lady Chatterley.”

“Oh yes, I was going to say considering how ready people are to censor nowadays it’s extraordinary that passage about three thousand killed was never removed from the Bible.”

“Perhaps it’s left as a threat – or a joke that misfired?” 

“Coming from the patrician mind’s basic instinct to rule by terror. No actual God would behave with such criminal indifference to its own creation.”

“I think everybody has got everything wrong. I don’t mean Fred Hoyle and physical things. That’s just opinion about measurement.”

“And the choice of what to measure.”

“No, measurement is the fallen state.”

“The Pope wouldn’t disagree with you there, Maisy.”

I saw Anthony lick his lips. This was minefield country.

“But I’d disagree with him. It’s obvious to me that women are the strong core because they have to feel more deeply about life. Men, with greater physical strength, are meant to protect and serve them not suppress and enslave them. If we’ve got that backwards, what else? Time? We’re dominated by time because of the domination by masculine rationalism. The feminine is more enclosed, as Heaven must be as it transcends time. I can take things from the future and bring into now through the love which is APIO. That’s why the education system is complete madness for me because it wants to fill me with the bones of the past. Dead things without the future and the totality.”

“Present society would be terrified of APIO, because it leaves a whole side of reality open to the ungovernable imagination.”

“Intuition.”

“Whatever, they have no control of it.”

“We must have had it in the Stone Age, some of it. And before the Stone Age. Some recognition of the humorous spirit. If life was only nasty, brutish and short we’d never have made it. The rational thing would be to be dead.”

“Source, you say, is ourselves? And we knew this in the Stone Age?”

“Yes. We lived in the One and the Two, and the Seven and the Eight. But with the making of tools we fell back into the Six where, as well as losing Seven and Eight, we lost One and Two. Six has ruled the roost ever since, faking up stories about the rest.”

“The One and the Two?”

“Is earth and procreation.”

“The Seven and the Eight?”

“Mind and spirit.”

“Leaving Three, Four and Five ruled by Six.”

“The gobbling stomach, the false heart and the lying throat, once the other parts are taken away.”

“How do you know all this?”

“Apart from being stark raving obvious, APIO tells me, not always direct, as I pretend, but overheard conversations between Asante and Ius, who is inside me, so it’s like Asante’s talking to me and I am answering.”

“APIO is Asante, Professor, Ius, Oracle?”

“Well done!”

“And these are women and infinity machines living in the future?”

“Yes. But it can’t be just the future. That future is just another now. It’s the Allwhen.”

I saw Anthony rapidly blinking as though trying to control ungovernable emotions.

“They’re the ‘first’ manifestation of Heaven in the physical universe. And because they’re so near and so wide ranging they have a powerful influence on us. But because we see backwards in a male dominated society these influences are twisted. So everything becomes a weapon. Something as beautiful as the nuclear becomes atom bombs. Love becomes a vengeance seeking deity. God knows what will happen when we start to build the infinity machines for ourselves.” 

“So our hope lies in women?”

“Isn’t it obvious?”

“If they were all like you.”

“But they are!”

I started laughing and Tony caught the joke and we LAUGHED. One of those rolling on the floor laughs that become a landmark in memory when you realise they are very rare.

2

Death is an unpleasant business I am not going to go into.

I am now in my eighties, frighteningly well preserved by APIO. Even now I have young lovers who dote upon me, who weep for the simplicities of long ago, Hitler and Hiroshima notwithstanding, which I somehow still embody. 

All my men have been trained by me or my trusted stream of followers, so that I can order orgasm by colour or the totality of the white or no colour at all, just as it comes as if straight from the street. 

My women are more relational and are of every age. The perfect orgasm is nested in appropriate conversation rather like improvisations on great poetry. I love being with one person but I also love the double doubles especially at the mass events with dangerous decibels and timeless orgonisms.

Suffice it to say I am not suffering from classical old age, nor am I behaving as I imagine ladies would when the wisdom of orgasm has filled the world for generations. What will people do with themselves when food grows on trees and we live like beetles in the hollows? Surely we will succumb to plagues and interplanetary bolides like the poor dinosaurs?

I am assured that the love which made the stars can more than handle this. The only dinosaurs which will pass away will be the sub orgasmic collectives, governments and the like. Which is why they love their pandemics which force people apart and keep them stupid. Create psychopathological division and rule. This is our future. One or the other. Life or death.

Of course it isn’t quite so simple, and the story I am telling you is part of that future, rooted in it, from it. I know it is alive now, filled with great people who are drawing us through because we are their future past.

So, stop worrying about the present and how awful it is. The conditions of the future exist now and only require our attention to be realised.

It would help, therefore, to say simply what these conditions are. 

I’ll try. But speaking of a fifth dimension in terms of a fourth will be even less successful than speaking of a fourth (spacetime) in terms of a third (space). Without time even space has no tangible existence. How much  less then is a fifth (Love, Soul) expressible in terms of a fourth (spacetime physics). Taking Love, Spirit, Soul out of the picture gives us the physical universe described by science and the subsequent exploitation of everyone else in this soulless system by its rat race winners. Science is the way forward but whether the necessary studies will ever be allowed once the implications are glimpsed by the dominators is a great question. I suspect they already know, which is why they so ruthlessly police the artificial borders of the realm they have demarcated as theirs. 

The fifth dimension becomes apparent to the fourth through poetry, myth, creative imagination, which are inaccessible to science, and through dreams, which are, and through precognitive dreams in particular, where the presence of the future can be measured. Once this is established subtler influences can be seen, recognised in forms of cultural expression. Whatever it is that is God, one day you must know it is you. 

Until then we are just a dangerous experiment

Having faith in the life within you rather than in life denying corporate gods, religious or scientific, is essential. In my case life was a disaster from the start. I was found as a baby in the rubble of a building bombed by the Luftwaffe and my life has more or less stayed at that level. When I speak of eight heads I am like a government passing a bomb between departments, not to deal with it but to not be in possession when it explodes. It has worked because my heads follow a natural form exemplified by the Hindu Chakras. Like breathing, however mad you are, it will go on working.

In this catastrophic form I have been nurtured by APIO. Although they may have started as imaginary they have become real, partly as a result of my seeding, but this may be going deeper than this story of written words can handle. I hope not. Speaking of sane and insane regarding God/creation is unreal at any time.  APIO led me to the wisdom of my years. My years not yours. More than one therapist told me I was untreatable yet something has treated me. I like to think it is life itself, God in the old tradition. But when we are talking about an infinity of being, that is similarly unmanageable. Love makes it hang together. Father Anthony gave me a home in a library. There I achieved an understanding which will not be yours, sane people of the future, but it was mine and it broke me out of my prison.

My way was sex. Nature’s way is love. They overlap constantly but love is independent of time, is something different from anything we ever imagine.

In the name of love you have been ruthlessly exploited for thousands of years. All the live people were mercilessly culled leaving only the most easily domesticated ruled by psychopaths.

This is the core of our mistakes, putting some ruling principle into the situation which mechanically benefits one set of people over others, men over women, upper class over lower, and even creating an imbalance of bodily functions resulting in sickness and death rather than a balance of love and living awareness. 

Love is the origin of Now and now is nothing or all that is created. Now is a passing thing but the more love we feel the less there is of time, the more we are filled with a great stillness

Love is impossible to hold in words. I was too damaged to have children so my knowledge of life stopped at the arena of sex. I consider it my art, my creativity. 

In many ways the adults I have known have been my children. So many of us are arrested at some level in our personal and collective past and require careful bringing out from our terrible dog kennels. They have found a greatness in their personal condition which having children in the materialistic conventions of the present would never have allowed. Life as we know it is a mess of paradoxes which will be resolved when we allow our lives to reveal their true potential.

Usually, at any decade in my life, I am exploring sexuality with someone, usually the most appropriate  partner for my need. Or I am willing to coach whoever is present. 

I am called a sex addict by the Bungleboos rather than an artist.

The same people do not complain about Leonardo’s addiction to drawing. 

Probably not. He was a man. Traditionally he has a wife at home looking after the kids, a wife whom Nature has blessed with less ambition, less drive, less talent and less intelligence to understand and thus suffer from her inferior condition.

Apart from inheritance from disease and childbirth I have never understood negative attitudes to sex except in poorly administered religion, which in part functioned as the work ethic. You can reduce me to a functionary slave whose every action accrues to your profit as opposed to what I am, a sensual explorer rehearsing her lines.  

Do it again just as you did. Like a musical chord. Is it repeatable? Does it accumulate? The way flavours can turn an ordinary meal into a feast. The way your eye is arrested by my movement under that material and in that light. Being a mind reader was just one of my skills. Orchestrating it was my art. How much does it call you to ravish me or can you hold it at that peak of fullness that lights me from head to toe into eternity! The way your solid flesh holds insubstantial energy so I am a lightbulb alight to my immeasurable boundaries beyond place and meaning. We return bearing the logos of God as gift to ourselves, each other and everything. That is not small. That is as big as exists. Now can we do it again please? The same or meaningfully different? Can we do it a hundred times today? Is there anything else we should do in order to be free to do it a hundred times tomorrow? Having done this now for a hundred years can we say there is a downside or are we as gods? Does the world around us hum with life and spirit and vitality? Is everyone happy, possessing nothing but the hand that will pluck the next nutritious fruit? Are we confident that that’s how the gods conduct the universe, the multi-layered multiverse? I am not dependent on starlight and gravity but the other way around. Confidence is God shimmering on the surface of my skin. All the fear has been put to bed, tucked in, warm and blissful as on the night of all weddings. Bring this to me again. I am this eternally and all that flows from it. You danced a thousand feet above the ground. I saw this, was this, am this now.

I am identifiable as a body called Maisy. This is the smallest definition of who I am. When my skin shimmers with orgasm I am the boundary of creation. Everything I think now is beautiful. It is truly indecent. 

When I remember the sun lighting the cobbles of Myrtle Street at dawn in the Social Experimental Quarter, as Anthony called Toxic City, it is a high accompanying flute in the pure orgasm of my memory. I am fetching the milk from the steaming cows of the last city dairy. The rag and bone man’s horse will spark along the cobbles for many years to come.

I bring the milk into the Presbytery. Father Anthony greets me. He and I will share a morning meditation before he goes out. He doesn’t use the word prayer around me because it sends me into fits which can break windows. Jesus Christ is very strong in the field of our awareness but undergoing reframing. I am a sort of seismic meter for truth. Furniture gets regularly broken. Original Sin, for instance, caused such damage to the table that carpentry was needed. There is so much about the story that I know is wrong but is impossible to say in spoken language as it has been permitted to grow. So we divert imminent conflict by deep meditation, for when I lose it wild lions would not be safe. But he is a brave man. Among his medals was one awarded for operations so secret they couldn’t be named. I had been given into the charge of a royal lion tamer. He scared me a lot and I worshipped him. Whenever I extoll women as the great ones who are needed I always had him as the example of a man who was – and long after his death still is – a master of connecting me to human so called reality.

3

There weren’t many people ready to adopt a war orphan. Fostering was more common as it paid better and came with less responsibility. As an orphan you had a slightly higher status than illegitimate children who’d been separated from their mothers because of wickedness. Some lived in the laundry down the street and caught fever and died. That’s where they sent anyone who got on their nerves too much, like me. The threat of it loomed constantly. 

I was considered unfosterable because I was so weird. They tried to punish me straight, which only meant I screamed until they stopped. While screaming I first met the lady in grey. I realised she was always there, in the place between light and shadow. She came and sat beside me and put her hand to the back of my head. What they, the punishers, saw, including then Sister Mercy, frightened them out of their minds. I froze in the shape of a scream. You know Munch’s scream, all alive but still as though time had stopped. I think it had. Inwardly I looked at the lady. So much information passed between us, I have been unpacking it ever since. It is impossibly complicated unless you get the Science cloud out of the way and lean heavily on Love, then it is really simple. 

I knew when she was God most for me, just as with human beings, when I looked into her eyes. Otherwise she had always been there, like space or time. In a similar way I understood life without knowing I understood anything. Her eyes said so much. Again and again I’ve seen them throughout my life at moments of unpacking that first great meeting in the pit of despair. 

“I am Asante,” she seemed to say, “I am the mother of darkness the mother of light. To know everything you don’t need to find me but you will know nothing truly fundamental if you don’t”

I knew so much about her. That one day she would live alone on Mars when all human beings had gone. She would live alone with her infinity machine, the Professor, which she wore around her neck as crystals. “I will make them again,” she said, meaning people. “We will talk about it. How to make the greatest in the least. For the greatest is all we can be. That is why they destroyed themselves and left me. But I am here Maisy, before they died. Always, when you think I am there, I am here.”

I looked into her eyes because she was looking into mine. I understood what she was saying not in words as I have written them but more in visible moods. This one was like the octopus, body hidden in the water, tentacles waving above. Each tentacle was separate but connected in the body. She and I were separate but connected. The bad nuns were separated into something else. Now I would say the connections were in space and in time. And in and in and in – I didn’t know – states that made my whole body scream with their clidginess, that in time I would learn ways to explain, that were the philosophy of philosophies, the whole octopus body. Half of my screaming, then all of it came out of this. I was the child to the person whose business would be to explain the world in ways no one had heard before. Who would stand with it? They didn’t, they fled. 

“I am everywhere.”

“Are you God?” And the question came back to me “You are God.” 

Which was UNTHINKABLE.

“Yes, Maisy, I am God. All my body is living meaning love. First thing always is, Maisy, talk to me. I will fill your words with life. One day, like a great ship under full sail, we will range the worlds together.”

I make this of that now. Then I knew it the way a child knows a parent. Well, I didn’t know but needed. God became my parents. My parent need was God. Asante. I felt her presence ever after. It was the focussing of my madness and the continuity of being in the world. Second by second I could be and not die.

Later I told Father Anthony. He had already heard an aspect of the story in the confessional from one of the torturing nuns, probably Mercy. We visited it over the years. He wrote down what I told him. I still have his note, which gave a version of the above and went on to say.

“Maisy also says the Grey Lady told her her, Maisy’s, problem is she knows it all at once whereas people only know in the pieces. Footsteps rather than walking. And they get mixed up, don’t know where they’re going, go nowhere noisily. Maisy says things like this. It is very arresting when you notice. Or it wakes you up a day later, usually when whatever damage is available is done.”

…If true this would be the profoundest point in theology…

…The Grey Lady also says Maisy mustn’t go to school or it will kill her. Wouldn’t any child say this but in her case I know it to be true. At some pitch in her screaming she stops breathing until she passes out. It is horrible to witness…

…Maisy is six or seven years old (it is that uncertain) and is treated by the orphanage as a mentally defective product of sin. My experience, on the contrary, is that she has some unique genius for philosophical embodiment. Even as I say that I almost don’t know what I mean. But taking Christ as an example, we consider his life and death to be not a common biological event but one of universal significance transcending all philosophies, giving primacy to soul and love over mind alone. Even as the mind which writes these words questions them, I know what I’ve seen. I’m like an astronomer looking through a telescope at the hazy image of a planet through the blurring atmosphere, which for fractions of a second has come clear, allowing him to make a drawing of something never normally seen. It is a complex question. Is he seeing something usually hidden or projections of his own mind? Are there canals on Mars as Schiaparelli describes, caught in rare moments of seeing, or something we give sense to at the very edge of perception? A Jesuit from Castel Gandolfo once explained to me that canals is a fuzzy American interpretation of Schiaparelli’s ‘canali’ which means channels, some of which he described as possibly 200 kilometres wide. [Which fits with Valles Marineris, unknown at the time.] I do not wish to impose on Maisy abilities which may be entirely absent. She has enough difficulties dealing with a world which treats her as mentally deranged. Capturing the world’s attention enough to engage its wilder fantasies would be impossible for her to deal with. But what if her derangement is already the result of a collision between her spirit and the darker chaos of the world. It cannot be the greater error to treat her with infinite care and let her grow in her own way.”

It is signed by him and dated 14th  September 1951. It is the expansion of an earlier note dated 1948 when I would have been six or seven. By 1951 I would have been living at the Presbytery for two or three years. I’ve often wondered at the high flown tone of the note, unlike the earlier one. But it was the year of the great Festival when there was renewed optimism among ordinary people. Britain would become a world leader in scientific and social revolution. Well, it got us the National Health Service, which is one great thing. Then the Tories got back in and trashed the festival. The historical liberties of master and slave were restored.

I have used that piece of paper many times. It makes me very sad, the thought of the life that might have been and what actually has been. I suppose in the last five years, up to age 80, I have become sane, perhaps as a consequence of my age. I want my life back. But what do I mean? It was like being thrown by an explosion from start to finish. I think I just mean the love. But as I was never given it as I needed it how do I know it now? It is the Love, which gave us space, time and stars for a very beginning, and the fields that we made love in, our long evening shadows cast by the giant sun, needing a gargantuan universe for this little life to grow, giving us a never to be forgotten afternoon.

&

Love. The beloved has a name. Perhaps it is air to the goose who honks through the dawn. Airhonkyou, my flying companion. My feeding in the mud companion, the iridescent feathers of your curving neck. But I am Maisy Ius Mahadevi. Human. My feathers hang in a wardrobe. 

Love. Which came first is not a question to pick up. Anthony or the beginning of time or the love we call God. Is love even real when it is glimpsed in a sea of suffering? But now I know your name. And you are there. NowHere. I am. You are. This is it.

Still it is a dark world. The goose and the woman, rolling rolling in this hard world. If I stopped there would be madness. So I roll and there is love. And there is love. Even for the very very mad. Only for the mad. To create one. You don’t know what I’m thinking when I lay these words down carefully among the wild grass. Where the geese flew over yesterday and tomorrow. Dark, iridescent spirit. I am the lost but there is hope for you. And yet, when I grow still like this, there is a sense of marriage between time and eternity, Anthony and Maisy and their timelessness together.

He was a great man, at least to us orphans. He had written a book called The Human Condition. He was a big man to have in our little quarter of a bombed to hell city. He took the older boys climbing in the High Peak. The very name was of worlds I was born to know. Windgather and Stanage! The names ached in me. Helvellyn and Scafell!

“We met Joe Brown!” Said a boy with the look of one who had seen God walk by on the mountain. I didn’t know who Joe Brown was, or much care. All I knew was that feeling was something from which I didn’t want to be forever excluded. 

But I was girl. Even for a man of Anthony’s stature that was many complicated things away. I had to go the boy way, though that was never a satisfactory plan, just survival to begin with. I much prefer to be a girl away from his unembedded philosophy and its desperate hunger for meaning. 

I scared, impressed and saved Mother Mercy, Sister Mercy as she then was, once more than enough to not be let go of too easily. On the other hand there were so many complex strands running through this place. No one could be master of them all.

The Church is one of the oldest corporations, specialised in repackaging spirituality for its own brand on pain of death. That’s harsh but real. It gives spirit a living place not talk it out of existence with dead men voices. When Mercy and Anthony found me it was a rare chance to know the incarnate spirit in some fashion before the world buried it.

Losing this was heartbreaking and the world never allows me to show it. They say how terrible to have been abused by priests and nuns. Certainly the caning nuns and Sister Mercy’s Hell was enough to ruin a lifetime. But it’s never what they mean. It’s the sleeping with them. To quieten a screaming girl in the night – remember, this is 1940s, bombed to hell, Liverpool – a nun will have her in her bed to be able to attend to her immediately and not wake the entire building. There was inevitably talk and stories and hugs. I was the loudest and most distressing of all screamers. Mercy herself dealt with me. At my worst she took me into her bed as a matter of course and through a mixture of terror and care managed my nights.

Under a great larding of sanctimoniousness we became like comfort dolls to the nuns, shared out and tusselled over. Sex was firmly sealed behind an invisible door. Mercy allowed the arrangements to run on after the War because of her own need. She was not a monster really but a very thinly spread out mother to everybody. Having me in her bed on a bad night gave her hours more sleep. 

Out of her terrifying uniform, with cross swinging across her mysterious Chastity, Mercy looked quite human, like Maureen O’Hara by candlelight, her wild red hair. That hair was one of her many secrets. Men never saw her so but I did. Mercy was afraid of what lived in the dark, siren goddesses and deep racial memory buried under men’s thin theft of woman’s deep power. In winter she’d welcome me, when the hammer of her faith had shattered on her soul. I was to keep the devils away, though the excuse was the other way, that I was being comforted. I felt her horrors massing in the dark but because of Asante they wouldn’t touch me or her. It was a great, mysterious, female power that seemed to override the Christian. Sometimes she wept, once for hours, and I felt the strange, overwhelming force of adult woman. In the morning I’d help her turn back into a nun. I saw her change as she stepped to the door, saw her body lift and her face sharpen and I ran for the dorm as the dragon day cracked into life. 

In every school there is a whipping child the nuns single out for public punishment as an example to the rest so they don’t have to exhaust themselves hitting all of us. Usually it’s one of the illegitimates who don’t have parents to come back at them. And always a boy. Alan Watson was one of them. A left hander left to dig holes in his copy book and flick ink, Sister Patrick offered to hit him with her blue stick once for every blot on a double page. She counted fifteen. I couldn’t bear to sit there and watch him hit fifteen times. Before I could think I’d taken out a drawing compass and buried it in Sister Patrick’s hand. I grabbed Alan Watson and ran. Sister Patrick’s roar paralysed him. The school gate was locked. All around the playground were high walls. I was trapped. Kids and nuns chased me. I still had the compass and fought them off. As they overwhelmed me I SCREAMED. Some fled holding their ears and I kicked off the rest. I heard a voice – Sister Mercy’s? – shouting “Sister PATRICK!” before I fell into a war of black and yellow. Sister Patrick had delivered a knockout punch. 

A day later Sister Mercy brought me to Anthony with a black eye like a sooty kettle bottom. I feared for more deep and mysterious punishment but I also felt hope. That first time I daren’t look at his face but felt it as a multi-layered, threatening darkness. When I did dare to look at him I saw with my inner eye a head of shaded distance layered like the heights of mountains. It was terrifying, mesmerising and beautiful. A fearsome majesty. In photos I have since seen he most resembled Red Cloud of the Lakota Sioux. 

You could ask what would a war hero want from a girl of seven and eleven and fourteen onward, as were the ages I most encountered him. You could ask the same of the Reverend Dodgson. Now they are both long dead and we are left with their heritage, his hand over hers imprinted on the world. 

Her hand. God-dess. The author long forgotten. At seven, despite the abuse, I still remembered her. Then Anthony rescued me for the her he saw and dared to know. It has taken all my life to escape from the stereotype of the abused child, to decipher what we lived. 

Nowadays we would assume ‘the worst’ in our imaginations and prevent anything from ever happening let alone great literature. But in those days, for better and worse, the world was different. 

I came to Anthony’s attention because of Sister Mercy’s confessions which sounded much like demonic possession. Anthony, as engineer and soldier, was not given to superstition but knew his flock were rife with it. He had been thinking of passing her on to Father Kenneth, the exorcist. But then Mercy reported a child had banished her demons, a child with a great presence behind her that seemed not of Christ. With what was the child possessed?  

So as not to raise the fears of the nuns and the jealousy of the children, Mercy took me to him, implying capital punishment, and waited while this grave man talked to me. Anthony was a scholar compared with most of us. He knew of Freud and Jung as well Sophocles and Democritus. Demonic possession he considered an artefact peculiar to some cultures, especially Christianity, where demons were other people’s gods. He had caused the death of many hundreds of the demonically possessed so that he was perhaps the greater demon. In expiation he was seeking to be possessed by Christ. As a scholar of the Bible he knew it was full of rampant contradictions. He was not going to hand a child to a monster like Kenneth if there was the slightest chance her powers were God given. When Anthony returned me to Mercy I stood betwixt these two tall black clad people as they talked over me. Anthony quoted some Bible verses at Mercy, Isaiah 53 I recall, which had a tangible impact. ‘To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed… We esteem him stricken of God and afflicted, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.’ It impressed me.

This was the last time I was routinely caned by the nuns. 

Which made the children even worse. I was no longer the pariah they could with a clear conscience torture. I took to carrying a knife and when the Trots were at their worst I wounded them both seriously enough to involve the police. Curiously, I wasn’t blamed for it, although there were suspicions. Mercy made the mistake of saying in my hearing that whoever did this should be sent straight to Stormont – the home for dead children. Or perhaps it wasn’t a mistake. Two known delinquent boys, both bloodied, and a girl unscathed. It looked as though they had fought over me. They had caught me alone in the kitchen and told me what they would do when they got me out the back. The thought of Bryn’s thing inside me sent my whole system mad.  I grabbed the knife and slashed it across his throat. Brian aimed to punch me and made the mistake of sizing up for another black eyer. Two handed, I aimed to stab right into the middle of his thing face. The knife went between the fingers of his punching hand knocking it out of mine. I screamed at the sight of the point sticking out of the back of his hand. Brian was screaming in pain and cursing as a lay sister burst in. 

“You horrible boys!” She said, smacking their heads, before registering that one of them had a knife sticking through his hand, and the blood, and started screaming herself, which brought the heavy gang, Patrick and Mercy, running. Making forensic sense of the situation was not a priority at that moment. Mercy started to pull the knife out. Brian screamed and she stopped. Patrick, with a look of the Devil’s personal torturer, shiggled the knife and yanked it out before Mercy’s protest had reached her throat. Brian fainted. Mercy spoke of hospital. Patrick, a battlefield nurse in the War, hrumphed and fetched iodine and bandages from the medical cupboard. More screams from Brian as I ran. More screams suddenly stopped. I think Patrick saw the infliction of pain as a reforming opportunity. 

The boys were so adamant that I was the culprit that a tribunal was held attended by Father Anthony, sisters Mercy and Patrick and another man in mufti, an off duty policeman. I was dressed in my best little girl blue dress of the Innocent. They tried to put we children together but the boys wouldn’t come anywhere near me. Brian was looking really bad. What if I had killed him!

The tribunal swung one way and then another. The boys claimed that only one knife was used. The policeman said the knife could be dusted for fingerprints. I felt their eyes watching me. I thought of the torture of pure icy water poured over me. It was very distracting. I swung the tribunal back in my favour by saying Brian threatened to stick a knife up my…which an innocent girl couldn’t have imagined, and brought the knife back into a boy hand. Father Anthony defused the situation by offering to house me, for my own protection, at the Presbytery and taking the Trots out on long distance walks.

“Training for the Three Peaks will turn them into angels.”

At that time Father Anthony had a soft spot for the boys, who reminded him of some the wilder elements among the Partisans he’d dealt with in the War. But good soldiers – as they say. All they needed was something exciting enough to channel their energies.

“What do you say, boys, a trip to the Peak District for some rock climbing?”

This was a startling prospect. The power of Anthony was formidable. In the mouths of boys he’d blown up the German’s atom bomb factory and driven Rommel out of Africa, all of which sounded like typical boy babble. But I’d seen the state some were in when they came back from the Three Peaks challenge. I’d heard one stayed in bed for a week. In those days there wasn’t much guilt about torturing children for their own good.

Sister Joseph, the nice Bad Nun, took me to the Presbytery. We sat together, me in my best girl clothes. Father Anthony was late. She had to leave. So there I was, day-blue and new in the dark Presbytery Library as this tree of a man walked in shaking the boards. He stopped, threw his hat on the table and stood looking me, apparently assembling his thoughts. 

“Maisy.”

“Yes, Reverend Father.”

“Is there a nun with you?

“Sister Joseph was, Reverend Father, but she had to go.”

“You’re coming to stay?”

“Yes, Reverend Father.”

“Are you sure you want to? There’ll be nobody here most of the time?”

“I like being alone, Reverend Father. I can think and read.” I didn’t want to remind him of why I was here.

“How are those boys?” 

I winced and retched. He sat beside me and touched my back, just like the Lady in Grey.

“Why did you do that?” He mimed my retching.

I couldn’t say. Then I blurted it out. “He said he’d stick a knife in my…!” 

Father Anthony winced, remembering.

“Can you forgive them?”

“NOOOOOOO! I want them dead!” 

I didn’t mean to say that!

“How if we send them to the South Pole?”

That would never do. They’d still be alive. The conversation was paralysed.

“Have you had your tea, Maisy?”

“No, Father.”

“I’ll buy you some as we go.”

Go?

“It’s a nice day. Let’s go for a walk.”

I was going to walk with Father Anthony! Me! On my own!

We called at the Orphanage to let them know and get me into some ‘more sensible’ clothes, then we went to Sefton Park. It was to test many complex futures from was I liveable with to could I walk. I once heard him say to a boy 

“Walking cures all ills, Cakesmith, from broken legs to hangovers.”

I was terrified, believing that some of the boys on his expeditions had died. He said he went slow for me but I could only keep up with his mysteriously long stride by intermittent running. For the relief of my legs we went on the lake and he taught me to row. Until then I thought rowing was a difficult thing only men could do. You lean forward, dip in the oars, lean back and the whole boat moves forward! Amazement! Leaving no part of it behind! Or us. And you could do it again and again and again until you had gone from the bottom to the top of the lake! 

Anthony and I discussed it afterwards over lemonade and sandwiches. I could see that it worked and how it was done but it made my brain itch all over. I also told him about Asante. It seemed a terrible risk to do so. He questioned me as to exactly what happened.

“Theology is a tricky subject Maisy.” 

Theology? 

“Human beings opinions about God. Given Mercy was trying to exorcise you, perhaps she succeeded. ‘Asante’ suggests a saint but ‘mother of darkness’ sounds very edgy. We would say Mother of God, usually, meaning Mary.”

“Mary is a saint,” meaning bloodless, unlike Asante.

“Yes, but given your age I would expect someone conventional. Which makes me think your visitation was genuine.”

That sounded like support but the Church believed in evil powers and torturing the possessed was part of their own power over people. I was vaguely aware that this could be the beginning of something bad for me. But Anthony was a great actor, as we knew from the Christmas plays, and every so often he let the mask of high priest slip for me.

So it was arranged I would stay at the Presbytery. The delegated Presbytery nun, usually the good Bad Nun, Sister Joseph, who I finally understood had been a prostitute – I think they brought them in to keep the priest’s hands off the choir boys – kept her eye on me and ensured I got to the school door to register my presence once in a while and didn’t starve. For months I called in to the Orphanage, which was only a street away, to show my face, to collect food and to be occasionally useful. Gradually I took over some of these functions at the Presbytery, like fetching the milk, and had less contact with the Orphanage, so that for days on end I had this great haunted house to myself. 

That would have sounded grim for some people but I always ‘had a vivid imagination’, strongly discouraged at the Orphanage – ‘haven’t you anything to do?’ ‘the Devil makes work for idle hands!’ – whereas here there was nothing to stop my mind, even everything to encourage it, spacious rooms, garden, shrubbery, graveyard and even a library. Mostly unfathomable ecclesiastical tomes but there were novels and a shelf long encyclopaedia. All the knowledge in the world! I could sit with a book in my lap and look as though I was doing something should Sister Joseph burst in.

It would have been Hell for many people but I had been in the wicked Hell of freak torturing humans all my life. This was Heaven for me. I did miss some people but never enough to face the bad uns. And if you fought back you became the worst of all. It wasn’t justice. So if there is no justice, avoid humans. At the Presbytery I first learned the awesome nature of life beyond the system. In a perfect world I could simply have lived among loving people. From the bomb sites of Liverpool my orphaned mind did the best it could to make that perfect world and family. What I came up with astonished those who got wind of it as Anthony did. As a man of God and science he was prepared for anything. But not for me.

To me the world was alive with a natural energetic intensity I need all of my eighty years to describe. Is alive with a natural intense energy which now I would call the spirit of God after a lifetime of rejecting, and still rejecting, the traditional form of that concept. Whether it is a being or simply an energy I cannot say. It certainly becomes beings, I am one, whose function it seems is to register its energy, which religion has corrupted into worship. No natural god would waste its profound talents on being worshiped, although something like it might aid the transition from chimpanzee to human. But once human we should be able to think of partnership. When I last most purely knew the energy, at the Presbytery, it was as if everything was the infinite form of itself. So the folds of the Library curtains were like the folds of women’s dresses filled with life, not always nice, but most majestically beautiful in the flowing folds of Princess Elizabeth’s dress as she walked through the dark church to be married. The spirit wonder of her modulating belly like the depthless essence of universal love. Which it is, but I could see it, feel it, was drawn irresistibly into it. 

The paint on the library window frames sang silently and with overwhelming fascination. Interiority, as in things inside a box, buttons and bits and pieces, became a fascination of infinities increasing with their smallness. Everything could become a landscape alive from the moment of seeing. And each could present their people self whenever I willed. So in the library were vast people in robes, sometimes so big that a toenail was the whole shelf of the encyclopaedia. The window was great angels storming in from the sky or equivalent fairies. And I knew why the Nutcracker grew from the kitchen. Nothing was more intensely alive in their stillness than the pots and pans and the kettle. Following the embodiments taught me many things but none of it transferable to adults unless in the form of stories. So it became a story of underlying reality, all of it there from the start. That it was real was emphasised to Father Anthony in the matter of the gnome and the Secret Room.

My embodiments came to do with static things perhaps because I was at that time a static person. Far from rushing about as children did I was very happy to sit and stare. But the fairies in at the window seemed to be calling me out. And one day a little man walked in, literally through the garden door. He was perhaps twenty inches high, shaped like a question mark, and spoke of a great adventure. He was beckoning me. First I had to find a key to the door. When I tried to get there through another door he had vanished. On another day this was repeated so I had to ask Anthony for a key and when he asked why I didn’t think twice about telling him of the gnome. He showed me a board with lots of keys on hooks with labels. He handed me a key and said.

“Don’t forget to put it back.”

When I showed it was too high for me to reach.

“Use a chair from the kitchen. They’re rather heavy. I’ll fetch one.”

As he placed the chair and I climbed onto it I felt, even saw a flash of light from him. A little girl climbing on to a chair with a key in the course of a great adventure was huger in the British psyche then than now. God, the Devil and Alice.

So, I waited in the Library with the key and when the little man came was able to follow him. He walked circumspectly as though creeping quietly in the dark. At the corner of the building there seemed to be six or seven of him in one body space looking in all directions. He pointed towards the ivy with a long and terribly serious finger, whispered “the Secret” and vanished, leaving that whisper along with the wind in the ivy.

A child’s hand was beckoning from among the dark leaves. I went closer and it became urgent. I parted the leaves and saw more hands ever more tiny and urgent. My own hands pulled aside leaves and creepers following the direction of hands until they were a vortex of thumbnail sized star fish disappearing like water down a plughole leaving me looking at a disk of metal in the bricks. I tried to move it and it broke. I was staring at a keyhole in the bricks. Even I thought that was strange. The keyhole must have attuned my eye to seeing a vertical line in the bricks, which high up became horizontal. I was looking at the shape of a door.

A feature of my – illness? – is obsession. While my body can be blissfully inert my mind can be engaged in dazzling adventures in which I can be totally lost. On the other hand, once my interest has been aroused with something in the world, I become obsessed with it. I had to find the key. 

One by one I tried the keys on the board, using the chair to get to them. Each time I found one which at least fitted the hole I marked it by rubbing on the brickwork. Later I found scissors and string and tied knots on them. None of them worked the lock. One or two, double knotted, seemed most likely. 

After dinner (lunch), warmed by me on the gas, I tended to think of it as cooking, I started looking through the drawers. I put them back exactly as I found them but in the middle of looking I had them spread all around me. Just in the midst of the operation, Anthony walked in.

“Maisy, what ARE you doing!”

“It’s the Secret!” I said. 

Exasperatedly he started putting things back.

“No, no,” I shouted, “that’s not where they go!”

“Honestly, Maisy, it doesn’t matter.”

“Yes, it does matter,” I said. “You want to live in a nice house, don’t you?”

Whatever Anthony had been about got suspended while a put the drawer back as it had been. 

“Were you tidying the house?” He asked.

“Nooooo!” I said, “it’s a secret.”

“About this house?”

“Yes.”

“Then I should know it, shouldn’t I, to keep us both safe?”

“Well, the gnome did say ‘the secret’. He didn’t actually say keep it a secret.”

“The gnome?”

Mhm. I told him what had happened.

“Show me.”

So I went through the procedure, chair to hall, get key, lead to library doors to corner of house, point to ivy corner as the gnome had and whisper ‘the secret’.”

Anthony, with his much greater strength, tore away more ivy exposing more door. He stared at me and said.

“Maisy, you’re a genius!”

He then kicked the door  – or really the ivy – and swore, words I never heard him use before. 

“Tell me, again, what happened. All the details.”

I realised when the gnome first appeared there were lots of other beings in the background, although the fairy in the middle of the window was equally as vivid as him. There was a giant winged angel coming in the whole doorway and the giant whose to toenail was the encyclopaedia. Others too, but the gnome captured my attention and the fairy was beaming intensely at me. Now that I thought of it she was astoundingly beautiful, not a soft, simpering fairy but a human dragonfly queen. When I came to all the children’s starfish hands disappearing down a plughole, I could feel his shock.

“Have you got that ball of string?”

I fetched it for him. He tied one end to the garden door handle and ran it to into the dark panelled corner and tied a knot. Outside, he ran the string along the wall well past the knot to the ivied corner. 

“That much difference,” he said, spreading his hands wide.

Looking bitterly sad he threw down the string. I ran to pick it up and started winding it. 

“Maisy, I want you to tell me everything you saw.” 

He went into the house and rang for a locksmith. I had finished winding when he ushered me in. He sat with notepad and pencil while I told him in detail everything I’d seen, which was interesting for me because I’d never looked at my visions so carefully. Being a living process they also changed as I looked at them. 

The angel was all sorts of white and although she filled the doorway she also filled the sky. The fairy was dark colours, equally dazzling. She also seemed suspended on three tips, her feet as one and two wing tips. This reminded me, a little, of a garden spider in a web, except that she was not hanging but flying by her own intensity. She grew in power as the others became like still background. The gnome I found most difficult to capture except that he wore all sorts of green. What held most sway over me as the session ended was the fairy. She was now much bigger and quite distinct. She stood upon the table, wings folded down her back like some dragonflies. 

Anthony, who thought he saw a faint shimmer where she stood, asked me to ask her if she had any messages.

She paused, then laughed, and laughed more and laughed and laughed like an orchestral crescendo with more and more instruments pouring in. As she laughed I laughed and as I laughed Anthony laughed. Gradually the laughter eased. Finally she said in a voice as you might expect of the voice of flowers.

“Mankey god died in cell walker’s dream.” (Man key or monkey?)

And was gone.

I never forgot those words in that voice and now, seventy years on, I am cowriting a book with that title. My coauthor, also an Anthony, independently heard those words and took them for a title because writing is his thing. It doesn’t seem that significant a book and I’m not sure I want our gods to die in favour of technology, though perhaps that’s not its meaning. That it does have meaning of fundamental significance we both agree. Back then Anthony and I fathomed our own meanings, which became nothing, so perhaps ours will become nothing too. But when we say nothing we mean nothing as judged by Monkey, whose judgement was perhaps most meaningfully evaluated by the fairy’s laughter.

The locksmith came.

“That’s an old one. Luckily, I’ve got some blanks.”

And by the next day we had a key. He came and ‘fan-new-quered’ (not in any dictionary) it and the lock was ‘thrown’. After pushing the door a little the locksmith offered Anthony the honours and he offered it to me while still providing the strength. The door opened forming a small, square space like a sentry box. In front of me was different wood which proved to be the inner wall of the Library with a complicated wooden mechanism of a door which could be opened from here and from the Library. There was room for one person to step into a corner and swing the door back. This revealed the beginning of a narrow staircase faintly lit from above. Now Anthony was politely blocking the locksmith and asking how much he owed. They went away. I was left at the bottom of the stair, which seemed enormously high. 

For something behind such an old door it was surprisingly clean, no spider webs to offer deterrence, though lots of dust. I climbed one step at a time, not daring to look down because it was steep. I steadily approached a rectangle of pale light. I heard Anthony come in below and quickly climbed the last few steps into a wide, narrow room lit by a dormer window. It spanned the whole width of the roof. In the dark of one side were stacked tables and chairs and mattresses. Lost among them was a toilet which Anthony, after some fiddling, flushed. On the other side was what I now know as a butler sink. Anthony turned the tap. After some hollow, rushing noises a brown fluid oozed out with gasps and booms and sputters and more and more clear liquid.

“Modernisations,’ he said. “Not a good sign, Maisy.”

“Why?”

He gave a heavy, coughing sigh. “An old old story. The oldest, really.”

I waited for him to tell me. I had a sense he wasn’t going to. I didn’t know much of what people thought of their world but I had learned, from Sister Joseph, what they meant by the oldest profession.

“Prostitutes?”

Father Anthony gave me one of his complicated looks.

“No, Maisy, but equally old. People trafficking, slavery. You know the Liver Building, down town, negro heads around it? An acknowledgment this town was build on slavery, and proud of it. A mark of gratitude to the raw materials of their business. This was different, white slavery, mostly coming out of Ireland, built upon the 1840s and the Potato Famine. This was a subset, the Church, and the consequences of its concept of sin and rules about celibacy. What do you do with the consequences, mad priests or babies? We cannot acknowledge them. Let them die and sell them to the medicals, or let them grow and sell them as slaves? Of course, it isn’t publicly seen so. It’s called Charity. Sin means it must be hidden, only told to a priest who is sworn to a vow of Omerta, the vow of silence. Under this cloak crime has prospered. Over the years millions have been sold into slavery. Thousands from this city. And we’re still doing it under the guise of charitable acts towards fallen women and orphans. And who made fallen women? Women themselves or were they given a bit of a nudge in a game written so they would always lose? Matrimony, marriage, sets a woman’s natural inclination for order to protect her children against her. Instead of protection from the whole community we divide the community into the saved and the damned and the saved will stop at nothing, not even the murder of children, to protect their engineered status.”

I cant swear Anthony said all this in that one time but he said a lot.

“This was one stop on this journey, right under my own nose. How long have I been living here and I never noticed. The people who built this were clever, but I could have worked it out with a piece of string.” He laughed. “If anyone ever tells you, Maisy, that you are anything less than a genius, kill them!”

“How should I kill then, Father Anthony?”

“A pencil to the throat is as good as anything. On second thoughts you’d better not. There is always hope for their children. You could use the pencil to write a book and drive their thought cells into extinction. What was it the fairy said, ‘Monkey’s god died in cell walker’s dream?’ That’s a helluva thing for an eight year old to say and sound like it means something. I’m highly qualified in philosophy, religion, metaphysics and engineering, Maisy, and it all sounds like forms of stupidity beside what you just demonstrated. Nihilism, exemplified by the later H G Wells and Orwell, seems like a desert beside your world of fairy messengers and gnomes. ‘Suffer the little children.’ Our entire priesthood is cut off from you. No wonder we’re walking on a glass roof over Hell. Desertification, everywhere. Our whole culture, from top to bottom, is about making deserts everywhere we go, because we’ve confined ourselves to rat tunnels under the palace of life, and killed or threatened worse than death to anyone who says it’s all a giant swindle.”

“Are you saying there’s no God, Father?”

“No, Maisy, and for God’s sake don’t repeat anything I’ve said. I am saying inside this prison there are rumours of something that will be very different should we ever escape, or burn the prison down. But how, Maisy, how? It’s too big, it’s too old. Most people think it’s the way and the truth, whether they’re still in religion or moving into science. Religion needs to go but science is worse for our souls. So, what is there? You’re different, Maisy, and you’re very effective.”

“I still go to church, Father Anthony.”

“Don’t we all.”

“The church scares me but Mary is very beautiful. In her chapel it’s all flowers and honey.”

‘Is it?”

“Yes. Overwhelming. I could ask her what she thinks?”

“Yes. Do that.”

And so I did as I had with the fairy. Finally I reported.

“She didn’t say anything. Mother of God came up and lots of feelings around tragic love. Once he is God she is disowned along with our physical bodies, and that’s where the bad is. The bad in churches, their gloominess. But even then her chapel is all flowers and honey for the children.”

“Like a queen bee.’

“And a dragonfly.”

“Master god died in Cell Walker’s Dream. We’re in it, so the only solution is to really be in it. Whatever that means.”

“I’ll ask her.”

“Yes, do. I know what I’d say. Pay minute attention to the situation. But that’s what any tupenny ha’penny philosopher can say.”

“What else is there, Father Anthony?”

“Gnomes and fairies, Maisy, and we, the enlightened masters, are dead set on getting rid of them.”

&

Mary came into a dream and I told him. He realised he’d had the other side of the dream. After that we told our dreams whenever we met and during times we didn’t meet I kept a record for him. One day he said to me.

“There’s a professor in Switzerland called Carl Jung. He’s developed a theory he calls the Collective Unconscious. Dreams like this suggest it’s true. You could also call it telepathy but there’s much more to it than sending messages. This is why the Church has a down on all of this, because it’s forfeited these powers for power itself. Hitler and Stalin did the same. Terrorise the mind so that it knows nothing but the threat from you. The Church even created an anti-god called the Devil so that the threat comes from completely inside you. Confess your sins to the priest, who has a great list of them to help you including Original, the whole material universe. If you tell any of the people you know any of this they will call it the work of the Devil and they will hand you over to Father Kenneth to be excorcised, and I wouldn’t wish his methods on my worst enemy, let alone children. This must be our secret. If you write any more of this down give it to me and I’ll keep it safe for you. Best you tell me and I’ll write it down. In fact, every time you have a dream, come and tell me. ”

It never occurred to me that Father Anthony might be doing the same thing on the other side. If so I don’t care. Without him I never would have found the astonishing world I have encountered. Left to the respectable normals, who took three million years to discover a use for fire beyond burning bunnies, I would have lived a life of the average institutionalised so-called mad and become just another of the unmourned dead.

&

It was a new era, a new Queen, rationing was over. Watson and Crick had discovered DNA, and a British expedition had ‘conquered’ Mount Everest, making Anthony very nostalgic.

“I joined Tilman in ‘39. He told me to come back the next year.”

“You might have climbed Mount Everest?”

“I was up for it. Tilman was the man. He’d climbed Nanda Devi. Instead, we had War and that changed everything.”

“What did you do in the War, Tony?”

His eyes were filled with memories like shadows of passing clouds.

“Applied our skills to harrying the enemy, Maisy.”

“Blowing up atom bomb factories?”

“We did a little of that but mostly it was teaching partisans to eat worms.”

Gradually I dropped off their radar. For practical purposes I stopped looking like a girl so that people I knew didn’t immediately recognise me.

At the Presbytery I was so much better that people revisited thoughts of fostering. Even Anthony asked me was I comfortable with the situation. 

I was happy because the Presbytery suited me and with Anthony I felt safe and secure. Tuning in to Mary on a background of fairies and elves and the ongoing drama of dreams ensured I needed Father to continue to have meaningful conversations built up from the minutiae of our experience. Training another human being to admire my mind rather than trash it would be impossible. The idea of other people terrified me.

The general view was that I needed as normal a life as possible, an opinion which no one disagreed with, not even Anthony. All he needed was to vet anyone chosen and to talk to them about me. Easily said. Far harder to arrange.

One day I was gone.

Anthony had been away, as he often was, and his return was delayed. 

When he realised I was gone without anybody telling him he smelled a dead rat like it was glued to him. He had survived Hitler and others by keeping a cool head most of the time and thinking. But even he felt a bit of panic when he called on Mercy and asked. 

“Where is Maisy?”

“She came here for a few days then the foster people took her.”

“Where?”

“They never tell us.”

Anthony knew this to be true. She would be handed over to a special agency who dealt only with where the child had gone. If she was lucky she would stay with them. A child with psycho emotional difficulties would be too much trouble. If she couldn’t be exploited for labour and profit she might be quietly buried in a lonely grave. Only not so lonely. And if she could be useful she would be passed on to another agency and another. The second would be intermediaries with the heavy mob who had moved in on all the rackets in the world. Just as the ones he knew about could be coming to a natural end they might be about to get a whole new lease of life, in this case death. Anthony knew most people in the Church would consider him raving mad. Out of Christian duty and the kindness of their hearts they were giving these unfortunate products of sin and wickedness the chance of a better life. What Anthony called the Heavy Mob were deeply religious business people finding placements for these surplus unfortunates. That most of them would end up prematurely dead was the brutal reality of life at the bottom, nothing to do with choices made by the better people. 

“We agreed I would be consulted!”

“You were away.”

“How convenient. Couldn’t you have waited” 

“She couldn’t go on living in that Presbytery alone.”

“She wasn’t alone was she. Kenneth was there. Guaranteed to have her running back here. A well executed plan.”

“Yes. We contacted the fostering people and the agency. An agent picked her up and took her away. A bit more elaborate than calling a taxi, but not by much.”

“You were just waiting for me to go.”

“What makes you think you’re so important?””

“In the country of the blind the one-eyed man is king.”

“And what does your one eye see, Father?”

“Only he wasn’t king. He ran away and died in the mountains.”

“What does she mean to you?”

“I don’t know but I think I’m about to find out. Who is your contact with the agency?”

“The Council, Children’s Department. They won’t deal with us on cases which have been passed on.”

“Doesn’t that strike you as strange?”

“Imagine the emotional mess. There’d be a hundred times the work.”

“But we haven’t got emotions in the game, Mercy, have we. We’re considering the children’s welfare. This shadowy process would be a perfect way of concealing crime.”

Mercy was silent with her thoughts.

“You have a wicked mind, Father Anthony.”

“What if we all do and concealing it from ourselves has been the greatest crime of all. A tiny mote of natural darkness becomes an all consuming monster.”

Mercy was not just silent but tangibly darkening.

“She channelled Mary,” he said. “Her description of her visions in the Lady Chapel first alerted me, and we put her through a Mediaeval mincing machine.”

“You never told me.”

“What would you have done. We both feared the consequences. And I spent ten years in the shoot first and ask questions afterwards zone. I feared I might kill you – both.” 

Mercy registered that like a hit between the eyes. Anthony felt the shock of her state in the room. He moved to her and she clung to him, a shock of sobs breaking through her self control.

“What have I done, Father Anthony, what have I done.”

“According to convention you’ve just fostered her out, as is necessary. She can’t stay with us forever. According to the wicked Father Anthony you’ve handed her to the American Mafia, the mafia of all mafias, who now think of her as their property. The question is, if she comes back, what do we do?”

“Defend her?”

“These men talk with guns.”

“Hide her?”

“That’s even less of a life.”

“She could become a nun. Queens have hidden themselves that way.”

Father Anthony saw the joke and tried not to feel it but it wouldn’t stop coming, and for Mercy the relief of such a small hope was like champagne popping. And so, for a moment in the Allwhen, these two usually dignified and mutually antipathetic people might be found falling about laughing together.

Graveyard humour, I think they call it.

They didn’t tell me because I was a child and they didn’t tell him because it was ‘best he didn’t know’. Father Kenneth came for the few days Anthony was away. I deeply didn’t like him. “An evil, oily bastard” Kate, one of the older girls, had called him. There had been talk of my being fostered for some time but the final decision had been left with me. I’d always said no, but the thought of being alone at night in a house with Kenneth terrified me. I said yes just to get away from him. I spent the remaining nights at the orphanage praying that Anthony would return. The taste of the old place I found deeply disturbing. On the morning a man came to take me I was glad enough to leave.

“You’ll be going to a nice place,” he told me, which it was. No one would call Ribblesdale the armpit of Hell. But it was a long way from Liverpool. I had never left the city for an entire day in my life. They might as well have sent me to Siberia. 

Within the first few days of being there I realised I had made a terrible mistake. A couple in their thirties, John and Jill Brown (not their real names), no children, just normal, farming people. My normal mode of thought, which had apparently been understood and encouraged by Anthony, hit incomprehension, discouragement and ridicule here so that I became silent except for functional communication, basically yes and no. I was in their minds the classic uncooperative teenager

They ran a small holding with cats and ducks and chickens and pigs and a few cows. Two dogs and sheep on the hill. I loved the animals, deeply deeply loved them. They became my medium of communication with the people. My daily encounter with the city dairy carried me through. Unlike the city cows, who were total prisoners, these creatures had the freedom of the fields and the sheep of the hills. In a normal world without the shadows Anthony had drawn it was an opportunity which could have been the making of me. 

My obsessive nature meant that I was good with regular jobs like bringing hay to the cows and feed to the pigs and the chickens and patrolling the sheep with the dogs on the high fell. Thus I caught glimpses of the mountain as the spiritual heart of a living landscape. The extreme of this is the Himalayas, mountains so inaccessible they become the abode of gods where hermit monks pioneered channels between Earth and the Heavens. John Brown had a little of this. I heard him say, regarding attendance at church, his chapel was the hill.

Because of my ability to immerse myself in a realm of action, Ribblesdale would have suited me totally if it was intended that I should stay there, but the Browns understanding of their function was that they would give delinquent kids from the city a healing experience of Nature before they moved on to some more permanent placement. I visited them in later years and am pretty sure they had no notion of being involved in some white slave railroad. At the same time, as later revelations have shown, Father Anthony’s nightmare vision of an Amazon of human trafficking was not wrong either. How many nodal gang lords there might have been who clearly understood the business is impossible to say. Given that Anthony cited the Catholic Church as the chief of them, possibly none. I had my own internal weather vain in the form of APIO whose direction shifted as much as the wind but always within an overarching climate conveyed to me as immortal Love. 

A complication in this situation was a school inspector, Mr White (NHRN). His job was to keep track of rogue situations, delinquent children and parents and unrecorded fosterings. One day when John was up on the hill and Jill was in town and I was tending the animals, a car came into the yard and a man got out. APIO turned the weather vain full South. Rather than hiding I went to see him. 

After giving him news of the Browns he asked me if I was Kate Matthews. Now I knew a Kate Matthews. She was one of the older girls who had moved on from the IC. I told him that story. He asked me questions about myself, my name and how old I was and where I went to school.. Now the weather vane darkened, turning to the North. I said I was exempt because of my fits. He said he would like more information about that and would be back to see the Browns. I said I didn’t know how much they knew. The ones who really knew me were back in Liverpool. 

“If they don’t know, why are they keeping you out of school?”

“It’s a holiday, sir.”

“But it’s not a school holiday.”

“I don’t go to school, sir.”

“Ah, yes.”

He thanked me and said it might be best not to mention his visit to the Browns while he made further enquiries. He drove away and I went back to the pigs.

That Kate Matthews had been here before me, and she certainly hadn’t returned to my orphanage, was a worrying corroboration of Anthony’s story. Also I heard Jill tell John about a school inspector making an unannounced visit on a neighbour. Later John told me if any strangers should call asking questions to say nothing to them. 

Mr White had shown me a card giving his details. I thought he had taken it back but Jill found it when she went to wash my overalls. She showed John.

“He’s been here.”

“Why didn’t she say?”

“She’s strange.”

“Yes, but why is this inspector creeping around and not coming straight to us?”

“She was at home and we were out.”

“How likely is that to be an accident?”

I don’t know if I overheard this conversation or APIO made it up for me. 

The final straw was when I came in from the hill on a clear, cold day in my warm outdoor clothes and Jill told me she’d burnt my old clothes and bought me all new ones. 

“Go up and change and we’ll get rid of the rest of that stuff.”

I was horrified that my clothes were gone. They were not things but individuals to me. What might be a piece of old rag to you was an object of glory to me. The clothes laid out on the bed were all girly things, useless for what I had just been doing, which is all I wanted to do. With these clothes I’d be trapped indoors with people, my ultimate nightmare. 

Getting away now filled my whole soul. I locked the door. Jill rattled it, knocking on it furiously. I screamed. I called on APIO with all my might. John was at the door banging heavily making the door sound really flimsy. I had the chamber pot in my hand. To fight with? It went through the window as John broke in and I followed the pot through the window in a perfect somersault, landing on my feet and running. I’d have got away if Bob, the collie, hadn’t thrown himself at my legs and tripped me up. John was on me and I was screaming and he was shouting. The dogs were having a furious fight and even the cows were bawling wildly. In that cold clear air the sound would have travelled miles.

John dragged me into the kitchen

I grabbed a knife. Screaming and wildly lashing I kept them at bay.

The ensuing commotion filled the still night and reached enough neighbours for someone to call the police. Jill went to get a blanket to throw over me. He drove the table to trap me. I moved into hyperdrive, the speed of a dragonfly. His movements became slow as a tree. I scrambled under and his spread legs offered a perfect target. He screamed and I was through and out the door. 

Startled animals looked up as I hurtled past. One of the dogs, Jess, was bounding beside me, not stopping me but seemingly urging me on. I found the lane and ran along it until I saw lights and heard a police bell. I thought of giving myself up, but with injured adults behind they’d never believe me. In the gloaming I saw a gate and was over and hidden as they flashed past. As the noise subsided I became aware of another sound – a train! – coming down the line. They didn’t automatically stop at Ribblesdale but would if you signalled.

As I dived back into the lane Jess was there but she didn’t stop me. She seemed to be urging me on. I ran as I never had run, with the dog flying beside me. At the corner by the pub she stood as though to guard the road. I glanced back. She seemed to be spinning in the road. Looking back up the lane and barking me on. I heard her voice clearly shouting GO! GO! GO! 

I had not really got my breath back when the train reached Leeds. I asked a porter where would I get a train to Liverpool. He pointed to the one beside us with its steam up. Stepping aboard was like walking on high voltage magic. Unlike the train from Horton this one had corridors, which made me more nervous regarding ticket inspection. But when the moment came I said my parents were at the front and he walked on. Sometime in the middle evening I stepped onto the platform at Lyme Street station. I saw a half crown lying on the floor. Quick as a flash it was in my pocket. I was home as if really by magic. I had enough money to buy a box of matches, a candle, some bread and a tin of corned beef. I was happy. All I had to do was break into the Presbytery. I tried the door under the ivy. Locked. The garden doors also locked. A window to the toilet I was still able to get through, all done with the soft footed stealth of a child. I crept through the library to the secret mechanism and opened the door. Once in the stairwell I lit my candle and carefully replaced the books and closed the door with the mechanism. I blew out the candle and listened. I crept up the stairs and listened to the room. Eventually I relit the candle. The room was empty of people and exactly as I had last seen it. I stuck the candle to the table and carefully placed a chair. I opened my supplies. Bread never tasted so great nor corned beef so divine. I sat there with Asante across the table and Ius all around and inside me. There was a moment when they were both there for real, as though we were all together in the same place and time and something much deeper. It was a huge moment that stays with me always. What a wonder she is, the woman who created the world. For a moment I even saw Ius. How beautiful she is. Two extraordinary faces looking at me, built of stars.

First thing I had to do was get the key to the outer door. At first light I crept barefoot downstairs to the key board. Now I didn’t need a chair to reach it. I heard sounds of movement. Voices? I ran back to the library door and closed it. I tried the key in the outer door. It opened. I filled my lungs with cold fresh air and fear. What was I to do? How was I to live? In the old way I would go to Anthony. But I didn’t know if he hadn’t betrayed me and wouldn’t do it again. Coming here may have been a really bad idea. What if one night the white slavers walked in? First thing, perhaps, is find somewhere to live. 

I took a sandwich, half a candle, the matches and my sheath knife. I wore jeans and plimmies and my jacket was big, to hide annoying and dangerous girl shape. I carefully ran the tap and drank water, pooed and peed and wondered about flushing. I was going out. Why was I going out? To find how survivable the world was. To change my identity as much as possible. To disappear. 

I squeezed out, locked the door, emerged from the ivy into the bushes and over the wall.

The cold, empty streets made me think it was too early to be about but a shop I knew offered me a paper round. All I needed was to ride a bicycle, which they provided. It was a heavy old monster with a front carrier which I borrowed to practice. Later I used it to explore richer pastures. I found a scout shirt at a jumble sale which gave me the idea of bob a job. I’d certainly pass for a younger boy. It wasn’t a great idea for making money but it did give me an excuse to knock on doors and ask for jobs. I soon learned what was worth a shilling and what wasn’t and how to get things done, and sometimes I’d be invited to tea to give some lonely old dear some company. 

One of these was a Scottish lady called Betty who gave me jobs in her garden to begin with. Then one day she invited me in for tea. I had to take off my coat.

“You’re a lassie!”

I could feel myself blushing with shame.

“How old are you?”

“Fifteen.”

“Aye, and I’m a hundred and three.”

Gradually the story came out. If they hadn’t registered me for a year then I was probably thirteen. She seemed intimately acquainted with the Orphanage and the Female Penitentiary. 

“By the time they got to me they’d usually had one baby and were on their way to a bad end among the steamies. One even married a duke and now he’s dead and she’s the duchess.”

It seemed that in the Twenties and Thirties Betty had run houses of easement for gentlemen.

“And they were gents, y’know, at least what passes for gents in this country of barbarian runts. In my house at Aintree I entertained kings. Thirty guineas. On the nail or you’ll never see the inside of my house again, no matter what sort of king you might be.”

I listened in awe. This was the world of sin of the nuns’ burning darkness in Hell. And Betty was proud of it.

“They came for the racing and they came for the Irish girls. Make more in a week than she’d make in a lifetime.”

I couldn’t see this as a fate worth considering. I couldn’t identify with being female. It seemed nothing but a catalogue of disadvantages. Betty began bridging this gap with basic help. She offered me food, baths, somewhere to sleep. Bought me sanitary towels and talked about condoms. I could only see Trots and a knife through a boy’s hand. 

“You’ll need these sooner than later. This boy stunt won’t last. You’re going to be a beautiful woman. They’ll be queueing round the block so you might as well be ready.”

“I don’t want to be a woman, Betty.”

“What do you want to be?”

“A star.”

“Then you have to shine, hen. Be right out there in the world where everybody wants you. You have to survive so don’t give it all away.”

“I don’t mean that sort of star, but maybe I do.”

“I only know one game, girl, and I learned it the hard way. Whatever you do you’ve got to have friends. You’ll get nowhere on your own.”

“Are you my friend, Betty?”

“Of course I am. But you need proper parenting before it’s too late.”

“Someone’s looking after me, Betty, but they’re not of this world.”

Betty gave a great sigh.

“They’ll need to be, girl, they’ll need to be.”

How to live among normal people was my problem. Twice now I’d ended up stabbing people. Life as a girl fed right into that. It sounded impossibly claustrophobic. There’d be more death and soon enough mine. It didn’t help when they hanged Ruth Ellis. The message was loud and clear, no mercy for crazy women.

Sixty years on her death haunts me. I sometimes wonder if it’s why I still live in Hampstead. Her life for mine. Deep things. Always and only deep things. But that was still a couple of years away. I was ducking and diving in Liverpool, a lone orphan, highly autistic, learning to make her own sense of the world. Living in the mode of Asante. I never thought of that until now. Asante and Ruth Ellis. I could walk to the Magdala from here in twenty minutes. Have passed it hundreds if not thousands of times. I often wonder if I could have changed my life by a different set of choices. But always the cruel fact that I could only live in their world by counting. I’ve never mentioned this and I’ll never mention it again because it’s so boring. But I am either in touch with Ius and Asante and thus living creatively, or I am counting. It’s not much fun, which is why I choose the creative path moment by moment. My life doesn’t make sense. It’s no use trying to make sense of it. I am alive. I was alive then. There were good elements, especially my metaphysical insights. I learned to love sex but it has gone whereas the metaphysics is forever. Yes. But could I also have been happy? It’s a stupid question. Happy is for moments. The more perfect the life the more conscious the tragedy. Mine? I never had children so I will never mourn their passing but is mourning their not being less acute?

I don’t know. Knowing is of you collectively or of whatever criminal organisation gets to speak for you. I just lived but compartmentally. I zoned out of counting, focussing on Ius and Asante, who have not yet lived and are, therefore, in your world, imaginary. In reality they coexist, although only I know that. This, to you, invalidates their reality, which also invalidates the reality of the individual, the only reality. The rest, your reality, is just statistically crutched opinions. Which is like my counting, boring and to be avoided. The ultimate failsafe before extinction. There is nothing to do but tell a story, and I will get back to mine.

I had escaped from Ribblesdale in March and it was now May. I had escaped being outed or arrested several times and knew sooner or later I’d be nabbed by some real bastard or locked up in an institution. Hiding out with Betty was one possibility but since our relationship had become more social than working it was harder for me to be there. 

If only people would…ah, yes, if only, but they didn’t. I thought of suicide and studied the encyclopaedia for ideas. The result was so acutely distressing to my nerves that I couldn’t put the book back properly and one day, when the sun was slanting low, Anthony noticed. It wasn’t the shadow so much as something else which caused his hand to stop, as though it feared a booby trap. This wasn’t war. Instead of pushing the book in he pulled it out. There was a gap in the pages. Something was inside. He let the book fall open to reveal a notebook. One of Maisy’s. It was full of remarkable little drawings of creatures that he knew lived in her mind.   He felt a terrible pang for her as though someone had drawn a knife out from inside him. Looking at a life with all its potential that surely would never amount to anything and noticing where the notebook had been, an article on suicide. Perhaps left there months ago for him to find. Once she had gone he had put her out of his mind. With relief, as though an invisible but heavy albatross had gone. Now he knew his life was darkened by a loss he could not define. The world he knew was covered by religion and science well enough. Females with mysterious powers were unneeded, had never been needed. Up to seventeen hundred years after the man was crucified women were burnt, innocent of being different other than that they were female, with all that meant in the unnatural, patriarchal monoculture. If they had no powers to begin with we’ve certainly given it to them now. But he knew, he guessed that aside from Mr and Mrs Adam and Eve in the spotlight, the whole world of life existed full of joy and magic beyond that vacant, illuminated couple.

Anthony put his attention back on lost children. He should contact Mercy but remembered Sister Joseph telling him something about a lost girl. He had concentrated enough to know that it wasn’t me and had not taken the rest in. He sent word that he would like to talk to Sister Joseph and she came that evening. I had recently got home and heard the rumble of voices in the library. I crept down the stairs to a crack in the wall where I could hear better. 

Sister Joseph was saying a girl had disappeared and the driver had been arrested on suspicion of murder. He swore he’d delivered her and she’d been signed for. The people denied they’d signed anything.”

“What was her name?” asked Father Anthony.

“Kate Matthews.”

“Ah, yes.” 

“That was five days ago. So far they’ve found nothing. They’re looking for another one who disappeared. You know Maisy – Warlock?”

“When!”

“In March.”

“And you never told me?”

“We didn’t know until the police told us two days ago.”

“What did they say?”

“She took a tantrum and ran away. Hasn’t been seen since.”

“And they didn’t get in touch with you till now.”

“They didn’t know where she came from. It’s official policy.”

“There’s something very unsatisfactory about the way we’re doing things, sister. This has to change.”

“Amen to that.”

I didn’t get much sense of anything after that although at one point I heard him say. “What are you doing tonight?”

“Nothing. You?”

“The same. Fancy a drink?”

“I do.”

I swear I heard a cork pop and the glug of wine poured. The sounds of people moving away but not like one of them was leaving. Later I felt a crescendo of energy sweeping my body, pulsations of climax transmitted from the other end of the building? What was this power which second hand could be so beautiful. That night I slept very well and woke clear to the dawn song. 

It didn’t take long for the mood to come down. If the police were after me for Ribblesdale, and what else could they be, then I was in serious trouble. All sorts of incarcerations came to mind, places I’d go completely mad. I’d have to properly disappear. But how? The thought of going to another city terrified me. As I was to learn, Liverpool might have a mouth on it to frighten the angels but it was a paradise of human warmth compared to London. Rumours had reached even my ears that that was the place if you really wanted to disappear. As Betty had explained. 

“There are two sides to that and they aren’t equal. You’ll end up caught by some bastard. Your best bet was that farm.”

That was true. I could feel the tears welling up.

“They were going to send me on. Father Anthony explained the signs and what to watch for.”

“Did he! Are you sure they weren’t burning your clothes to get rid of fleas?”

“Noooo!”

“Sure they won’t take you back?”

That was a heartbreaking thought that would visit me over the years.

“They’re part of a system for disappearing people.”

“You know, hen, your Father Anthony may just be the biggest liar you ever met.”

That thought came to me from time to time to offer no comfort at all.

Or there was death. The suicide article had told me about HariKiri, the honourable suicide of a Samurai, or the officer left with one bullet in a gun. It was the solution to the nightmares that would come from being trapped with people in institutions. My internal guides did not approve. It was something to hold over them. My last, indeed only, power.

My plan was to die before being caught. The always present instrument was the knife. I practiced stabbing things. This wasn’t as delinquent as it appeared. I had to know how much force to use. Another idea was to jump in front of a train or just to live dangerously. And there was death appropriate to situation. On a high building jump off. 

All this gave me a sense of not being trapped here and thus the courage to move, to do something. 

Eventually I would go to Stonehenge in emulation of Tess of the d’Urbervilles, but that was from a need to finally end the pain. The heartless class would say if I’d really meant to die I wouldn’t have chosen somewhere so theatrical. It was more to say my life had meaning and its early loss was a tragedy for the entire universe.

When I went to see Anthony his thoughts had come to something similar. If I had been suicidal before I went and had run away two months ago then I was probably dead. What a tragic waste of a rare talent, a potentially extraordinary life. And how many others had been similarly wasted by the Church alone to maintain its dominance. According to one authority three to four million women murdered as painfully as possible. He didn’t believe the number. How many were needed to cow the population and train them to become mental dead meat. Anthony, from a Medieval Europe filled with the charnel stench of burned women, felt utter revulsion for this institution of weak men and their psychopathic hatred of life. That I was dead magnified this a thousandfold for him. 

Later in the day a thought came to him, what if the notebook wasn’t from before I went away! That she had left it recently, which could account for how he hadn’t noticed in two or three months! As soon as he could he examined the situation. The notebook gave no times or dates. He thought of the Secret Room but couldn’t find the key. It should be on the hook labeled SR. He went and looked at the exterior door and there was clear sign of wear in the ground. Someone had been using it and for quite a long time.

When I next came back to the room I saw a note on the inside of the Library door.

‘Maisy

Talk to me.

Tony’

I made my way carefully upstairs. Under a bottle of American Cream Soda, which he knew I loved, and a glass from the kitchen, was another note saying ‘Happy Birthday’. The 4th of May was over two weeks ago. It wasn’t my birthday really, but it was nice that he remembered.

I sat there wavering between hope and dread. I really didn’t want to die but life among the Normals could so easily become a living Hell. The taste of American Cream Soda helped. Later, as I sat in the deep twilight, I heard the mechanism go and my world collapsed into supernova as he called up the stairs. I lit the candle in its holder and put it on the top step for him. He came up and brought it to the table. So shockingly alive here. I needed to touch him and when I did his strong embrace touched my deepest need. I cried all the American Cream Soda out of me and used a pillowcase for the snot.

“Maisy,” he kept repeating. “Maisy. You mustn’t go away again.”

“I didn’t go. They tricked me. And you weren’t there. You must have agreed.”

“No Maisy, but what could I do once you’d gone. It’s meant to be a clean break. They leave no forwarding address.”

That got me howling, the sheer mad cruelty of it.

“Sister Joseph and I were talking about it the other night, about starting a home on entirely different principles, just for people like you, a place that could be your base for life, if you want it, the way it would be if we were your parents. We’d have to leave and start it ourselves.”

That sounded wonderful.

“It would be a huge challenge. Meanwhile, we could do something informally. A secret pact in the Secret Room. You’ll have every way of contacting us. You’re good with numbers?”

“Yes.”

“So if paper’s destroyed you’ve got your memory. Telephone numbers, addresses, map coordinates.”

“Map what?”

“Ah, that’s something I’ll teach you. A way of marking a place in the world as small as a footprint.”

“With numbers?” But I was already imagining how that could be, but in many more dimensions than was necessary.

Anthony invited me down to eat.

“I feel safe here.”

So things were brought up. Not an easy operation. Cheese and bread and jam and Stork Margarine! Amazing the things that pleased us in those days. We sat on the mattress together and before falling asleep he wrote numbers in a one of my notebooks. Extraordinary how important this notebook would become in my future life. Telephone numbers, addresses, even a boatyard. 

“My sister lives on the Wiltshire Somerset border. A big, old house called Holy Wood. It used to be mine but I gave it to her and kept the East Wing, so I’ve got somewhere to live when everything falls apart. You could live there. You won’t understand these numbers yet but you will remember them. That’s the address of the garden roller. From there you can’t miss the house. It’s as big as the Cathedral.”

In the morning I was very happy to fetch the milk and make the toast and fry the eggs and dip toast soldiers in the yoke and use the front door.

Anthony, who had organised Resistance in the War, was impressed by my survival. I had outboyed the boys in striking fashion. 

“How?”

“Mostly jobs for old dears out of the area. I got ten shillings once.”

“That is good.” 

I thought I’d better not say too much about Betty so I laid it on with the Corona bottles.

“Thrupence on them. They feed you. Got better shops down there too. Pennorth of stale cakes. She gave me twelve once and said keep the penny. Begging’s no good. Too many questions. Same with the Sally Army. And nuns. See a nun, run.”

“How long?”

“Don’t know. It was Easter holidays. That’s where I got the idea, Bob a Job. I found a scout’s shirt in a jumble sale. And I just kept going. I eat better than at the Orphanage.”

“I noticed somebody was borrowing books but I never stopped to ask who. Jane Eyre – upsidedown.”

“I wanted you to notice but nobody else. When did you know it was me?”

“I didn’t. You were gone. Not until the police came and told us that Kate Matthews was missing, and three more. One was you. We didn’t know the others.”

“Just that?”

“There’d been a fracas and you had disappeared. A school inspector hadn’t seen you for two months. It’s quite a cluster. They’re thinking of it as more than children running away. It might become a murder enquiry.”

“But you said – .”

“I know, but the police believe organised disappearance factories are in the realm of fiction.”

“What will happen?”

“We’ll have to tell them you’re alive and may have to explain where you’ve been.”

“That’s all right, isn’t it?”

“Yes, but it will be awkward explaining a secret room in the Presbytery without making us look like the perpetrators. Which we are but I don’t want to be left carrying a can that’s two thousand years old at least. The police aren’t used to seeing crime as the actual fabric of society. They think that’s what they’re here to protect.”

“I don’t have to mention the room.”

“It’s part of the broader evidence but as long as the police aren’t thinking on that scale then we might do better without it. I’d rather tell the truth, especially if the Yanks are involved.”

“Why?”

”We might get some protection. Otherwise we’re on our own with these people.”

I wanted to change the scale of our thinking but couldn’t explain why.

“Can you read minds?” I asked.

“I can read faces, I like to think. Why?”

“Then I wouldn’t have to try to tell you what I can’t tell you.”

“The powers?”

“Sometimes, when you talk to me, it’s not me you’re talking to.”

“And our only response was to exorcise you.”

“They’re me too.”

“The way I’m Jesus – ideally. Ideally really. Really, ideally.”

“Yes. And you are sometimes. I feel it.”

“So do I. The moment ‘I’ know, it’s gone. But I’m left with a message – in a bottle. Then I have to fish it out of the water. Get wet and drown in the undertow.”

“You aren’t like other priests.”

“Nor are they – some of them. Two thousand years of such an institution are epic. There’s only one thing bigger than the Catholic Church and that’s Nature herself. And she is big. We’re a speck of dust but we’re not invisible.”

“You do believe!”

“Of course I believe!”

“It’s a pity there’s no women.”

“You’re a mind reader on that one, Maisy.”

“It’s not difficult, Anthony, when my whole soul is denied.”

I daren’t look at him but I could feel his eyes setting me on fire.

“Who are you now!” 

“Who do you see?”

After a few long seconds he shook his head. “This is madness!”

“What did you see?”

“A woman, neither old nor young, in a long grey dress.”

“That’s Asante,” I said. “I don’t usually see Ius because I always am her. She loves colour. Like flowers in the Spring. It’s very difficult when I’m being a boy.”

“Asante is her mother?” 

“She’s the mother of everybody.”

He let that float. I dared to glance at his eyes. Appraising. A man who contemplated the Virgin Mary, a girl beside Asante. Great Mother, they would call each other, and mean it. Each would have their life, breathe this world’s air.

“Born in the future?”

“For all of time.”

“And this is who I’m feeling now?”

“I believe it is. Sometimes she comes through me so I don’t know she’s there.”

“Like me with the message in a bottle.”

“I suppose so, father. It’s very hard to tell if you only want words to say.”

“If I fell in love with you who would I be in love with.” Did he say that or did I provide the words?

I had the image of a bottle swishing in the breaking waves. 

Was it me or was it him?

I decided to take that day off from hassling for food or money and was sitting quietly in the Library when the police came, two plain clothed detectives who showed me their badges and asked if there was an adult in the house. After a misunderstanding of terms I conveyed that Father Anthony or Sister Joseph were usually here.

“Who are you?” Asked the senior looking man. After the conversations with Anthony about what story to tell, here I was faced with the reality and it felt really strange. I seemed to hear Anthony’s voice saying ‘I am Maisy Warlock.’ 

“I’m Maisy Warlock, sir.”

The two men’s eyes flicked towards each other.

“Shouldn’t you be in school, Maisy?”

“Yes, sir, but in school I have fits.”

“So what do you do all day?”

“Sit in the Library and read, sir.”

I offered to show him the Library.

“That won’t be necessary, Maisy. What are you reading?”

“H G Wells, The War of the Worlds, sir.”

“Do you like it?”

“No, sir. Real Martians aren’t like that.”

By late afternoon Anthony was home and the detectives returned. While the one who had spoken to me, the Inspector, sat in a dark corner,p the sergeant took my statement by hand. He suffered terrible hand cramps. 

“Why don’t you use a tape recorder?” I said. He looked as if that was a really stupid idea. But we spent so long correcting his errors that I was exhausted, never mind him. 

“Father Anthony, you are saying that these disappearances of girls are part of a normalised trade in human beings? Kate Matthews and Maisy have broken the system because they’ve brought the police into what on the surface appears like a normally functioning children’s department. If we find Kate Matthews alive or dead that makes the rest of your story redundant.”

“The other two, Inspector, find them and you might start to get the bigger picture.”

“Unfortunately, they’re not in our jurisdiction. Convincing me is one thing. Convincing our colleagues is something else, and our superiors. And the ICPC, who will be needed to investigate an international institution like the Catholic Church, among others. If I suggest this theory, Father, I should be walking the beat the following morning. We would need strong evidence and you say there is none. This Secret Room, for instance, can you show me.”

Anthony led the way through the library door. Himself, the Inspector, the Sergeant and me stood in the room making it seem very small. 

“You had no idea this was here.”

“Not until Maisy found it.”

“How did you find it?”

“You know kids – .”  Anthony was about to say.

“Through a dream,” I said. The story of my vision made a very plausible dream. 

“When do you think it was built?”

“Part of the original construction or shortly afterwards. 1850s? Refurbished in the 1920s or 30s, always for the American trade, which was killed off by the War. Also the American government’s success against the gangs, people like Capone. That leaves the Church, which has a very long memory. It’s possible that the trade has started up. It would account for some of the strange new rules for dealing with children, like a clean  break from previous guardians…”

“…I’m acquainted with people in Whitehall who’ve been collating information from all over the world.”

“I’d need much more evidence, Father, before I’d bring this to the attention of my superiors. What I don’t understand is what are the motives. How do you make money out of illiterate, unhealthy and delinquent orphans?”

“A lifetime of enslavement. Prostitution doesn’t require high levels of literacy. We know of one exportee who made it to Hollywood because I delivered her. All within the Law as it is currently enforced, as you are demonstrating. I have to say I’m disappointed but not surprised. If not now, when the new worm is small and vulnerable, how long – another two thousand years?”

“You’re a man of Faith, Father.”

“Of course I am, but I’m also a student of corruption.”

There was a long silence in the Secret Room while mere human beings contemplated futures they could not even begin to imagine.

“What will happen to this one?” Asked the Inspector, meaning me.

“We’re thinking of starting a school where children like Maisy can get the care they need. In a classroom setting you can’t teach her the alphabet. She has screaming fits for a week. Leave her alone in a library for five years and she can quote you the Encyclopaedia Brittanica backwards, right Maisy?”

“No. Yes. But it’s just words. Asante uses machines of light. And Ius, right inside me. That’s how I ‘read’.  What we need are minds trained to read machines of light. Then we know everything that matters at once now and the rest are its shadows.”

The detectives looked at me as if tyrannosaurus had stepped through the wall and ordered tea.

“You’re officially illiterate, aren’t you, Maisy?”

“That’s because I can’t take their stupid tests.”

“Well, Father, I’m taking it upon myself to consider the case of Maisy Warlock closed. You’ll get a letter from me. I suggest you look after it as there will be no copies. If you can present more evidence to me we can consider reopening it. I suggest you don’t try my colleagues. They will build a case against you concerning Maisy’s treatment and it won’t go well. I wish you luck with your school.”

They rattled down the stairs and were gone and we never heard from them again. 

My life returned to what it had been before but nothing like what it had been before. I lived in the Secret Room and the Library. And the kitchen. God, what a relief it was to use a gas stove! It was a relief too that I was not being prosecuted for a knife attack. That had sounded like a death sentence. Anthony took it as another sign that the syndicate didn’t want to draw attention to itself. Whatever, I was alive and relatively free. In fact, if I didn’t listen to Anthony, I felt completely free. He was on tenterhooks all the time that something terrible was going to happen. He had installed at the Presbytery a new telephone system with lines in every part of the house including the Secret Room. He was even talking to police about making the Presbytery a base station for police radio so that he might have a hand set and be instantly contactable. This I vetoed when I realised it would mean screaming radio signals above my head.

Apart from this, life at the Presbytery was still deliciously quiet most days. The Library was beginning to look like my studio with lots of drawings and wire sculptures where I tried to convert Encyclopaedia Brittanica articles back into light speech. And novels. Jane Eyre, for instance, with the mad woman in the attic. And through the attic to the stars and Allwhen. 

We were visited by various representatives of the Church concerned with rumours of unorthodox activities and even heterodox views. It was thus I first heard of the Three Ds – Dogma, Doctrine and Discipline. So, no, things were not as calm at the Presbytery as they had been. As I built my wire sculptures I felt the scream in them. Several of them remind me now of 21st Century satellite swarms, although my inspiration was lines of latitude and longitude on which I intended to attach the land masses of the world made with mud and baked in the oven. On this I intended to build the layers of light worlds. 

Anthony was impressed, as well he should be, but also nervous because the elders of behaviourosity would file nasty notes despite them never having visited the Library during any time that I was resident. Anthony got a professor from the University Arts School to come and visit me, not to admire my mudbaked globe with crepe paper light bodies so much as to talk to me. I explained my idea.

“Asante says I should practice embodiment. It doesn’t matter how beautiful it looks, what matters is what you are trying to do because then you will embody it.”

“What are you trying to do?”

“Make Asante alive now.”

“Who or what is Asante?”

“The mother of all.”

“And this is Asante?”

“No. This is what she will leave us with, the light worlds and the physical, all one.”

He came several times and he had wine fuelled conversations with me assisted by less wine fuelled Anthony. 

He said art colleges were becoming more academic so wild talents like mine would be lost in future generations. He thought that by the time I reached the minimum age for entry it would be necessary to have at least ‘O’ level GCEs. 

Anthony interjected. “We don’t know when Maisy was born but we suspect it was before or during one of the 1941 bombing raids.”

“If we accept that, she’d be eligible in 1957. That may be too late for acceptance by interview alone. But if she can’t stand school how will she stand college?”

“The students are more civilised and intelligent?”

“But they’re egomaniacs not psychologists.”

“What if we paid for her to attend?”

“With the promise of some relevant career?”

“I’ve seen her outperform all of us when left to her own devices.”

Anthony kept pushing to get me the best future possible. In the meantime other activities were just a matter of choosing to walk out the door. He wanted to take me on communal hikes. Some I could cope with, some I couldn’t, so it came to a matter of us together. Small walks led to larger walks and finally your full-on mountaineering. 

In hill walking terms Kinder Scout is not a big deal but it’s bigger than you think. There are three hills which we would now say form the start of the Pennine Way. They are Kinder Scout, Bleaklow and Black Hill and they stretch forty – 40 – walking miles. They are high plateaus around two thousand feet which makes them, in British conditions, dangerously exposed country most of the year. They are not as high as the Lakes or the Northern Pennines but they are W I D E. You can be up high and exposed for a long time. And because they are featureless you can be lost lost LOST!

I knew this because I had heard Anthony speak to some of the boys. 

“We have no right to be there. This is a disputed area of land. Not only do you have Nature to contend with but man. Gamekeepers armed with shotguns consider it their right to discharge weapons in your direction. A walk on Kinder Scout or Bleaklow is not for the faint hearted. Who is ready to come?” 

Usually half of them would drop out at this point. But I was ready, hand up. Me me ME!

But I wasn’t considered. I was a girl. Girls didn’t do this tough adventure stuff. But I was also Maisy and Anthony was Anthony and we were us.

Private walks, often in the mornings, around the city and through the parks and the misty cemeteries finally led to our first real walk the following summer, from the village of Hayfield to Edale via Kinder Scout. When I saw the black edge of Kinder, looming above me from Saddleworth Moor, which was still just a place and not, for someone in my position, a terrible warning, I thought I would die. When we reached the Edge, where death was certain, Anthony distracted me with a navigation exercise involving map and compass, leaving me to find our way across the featureless plateau. 

I don’t know how far across we were when the mist came down.

“I’m taking us off route, Maisy, but I’ll leave a marker on the ground for us to come back to.”

He made an arrow of white stones pointing the way we had been walking. He also took out a long white rope and tied us together at the waist.

“Kinder’s a funny place,” he said. “If at any time you don’t like it I’ll lead us out.”

“You know where you are, Anthony?”

“Yes, my darling, I know exactly where I am and if I ever get lost we’ve got map and compass.”

He took us off route, through waves and troughs of hairy headed peat. A strange, haunted country. More than once I couldn’t see him at all, just the rope stretched taught into the mist. Where we stopped was a piece of twisted metal in the peat. 

“Plane wreck,” he said. “Hundreds up here. War time bombing, Manchester and Sheffield. Experimental, one-way journeys.” 

I saw burning planes falling out of the sky. A faceless pilot coalesced at the edge of the mist. Throughout our time in the foxhole of peat others gathered.

I was on the edge of my nerves but something about him that was at home here. To break and leave him was impossible, and we were still tied together.

He took out from his rucksack a heavy woollen jumper.

“Here, you’d better put this on.” 

He helped me into it and tied me on again. We brought out our lunch and a flask of tea. It balanced the ghosts in the mist.

“Maisy, I’ve brought you here to tell you a big secret that it’s probably best not to tell anyone else.”

As he said this a great dread passed over me. Because of the extraordinary power they had over us there were dark rumours about the priests. One of the older girls told me about Father Kenneth and his ways but she didn’t warn me about Anthony, probably because there was nothing to tell of a sleazy nature. The shadow which came with Anthony was altogether more formidable. After his death Sister Joseph left the Church. She married and had three kids and lived eventually in Highgate, which was just a spit from Hampstead Heath and we often met in the Tea Rooms and talked, inevitably, about him. There were many rumours she said, most of them nonsense, but the one I know to be true is that he had a special commission from the Pope to explore what he called The Instrumentality. It was a joke, even with the Pope, except that it wasn’t. In the old days we’d call it the Devil, but that was just to frighten the children. Anthony believed there was a cosmic empire of enormous sophistication which had representatives on Earth and whose existence could be proven by science.

“Are you one of them Rosie?”

“Do I look like one of them!”

“You look like an apple tree.”

“Rosie apples, I hope.”

She had me laughing to break my stitches.

“Number One suspect,” she said handing me an invisible apple.

That was in the Seventies or even Eighties, days of still relative innocence.

Anthony brought out a box which lay ceremoniously between us for a moment, then he opened it. Inside was a totally real gun with tools and bullet clips and silencer, as I would learn, in its appointed place.

“Most people would say the story I’m telling you is all my imagination. You saw it with the police that time. If what I’m saying is true this may one day be all that stands between you and life. The police won’t help until it’s too late.”

I became aware of the twisted piece of metal, the airmen. This was their world.

“After we leave here it can never be mentioned again. I’ll show you evidence once we get back but silently. We must not say a word other than would you like a cup of tea. I’ll show you old maps of Liverpool. There’s a huge area devoted to the poor. The workhouse, the Orphanage, the female Penitentiary right next door. The Home for Destitute Children. That’s what we call the Laundry now…”

“…Whatever it may officially be masks its historic function as a place which creates people who die or disappear.”

The dread of this came over me so strongly that I feared the airmen, the very black ground of Kinder Scout, might explode upon me. It was so obviously true for me, no parents, no proper record, no one to really care if I lived or died. And here I am alone with a man with a gun. He could shoot me now and bury me on the moor. I was tied to him. But he was Anthony, the man I trusted. And he was about to put a loaded gun in my hand.

“For the ba – the illegitimate children?”

“Yes, because their mothers are fallen.”

“Can I ask you about that?”

“Yes, Maisy. You know between us it’s very hard to keep secrets.”

“Joy said half of them are Father Kenneth’s.”

I flinched as I said it. You’d expect to be killed for far less. Though Anthony had never hit me.

“How do you feel about that, knowing priests could do such things?”

“Shocked, but it made sense of what I already knew.”

“Suppose I told you there are much darker things going on.”

“What?”

“I wouldn’t ordinarily tell you but you need to know. Any minute I might be gone.”

“Where would you go?”

“I don’t know. It depends what happens.”

“Can I come?”

“No, Maisy. It might be very dangerous.”

He spread a cloth upon the ground and placed the gun on it and the other pieces from the box, even taking the bullets out of the clip. I watched horrified and mesmerised. He started putting the bullets in the clip then handed it to me to finish. The bullets frightened me as though they might explode, but once I’d touched them I knew they were of the solid world, like stones. I felt in me two channels of energy which now I would call the female and the male. 90% of me was for life in a female way, nurturing the integrity of beings. The smaller male part saw the world as things to be penetrated, done to. This part my illness intensified greatly. I felt the psychological power of bullets for men.

“I’m going to show you how to use this for your own protection. The police can’t help us but to pick up the pieces afterwards – and to keep the farm animals in order.”

“You are a spy!”

He chuckled. 

I have several pasts, Maisy, one of which is sleeping apparatchik of the State against a time of insurrection. But we’re not supposed to be going about thinking for ourselves and uncovering hideous abuses in the very fabric of society. Did you read Animal Farm?”

“Yes.”

“What did you think?”

“It’s Russia.”

“You didn’t see it as England?”

“No!”

“Eric wrote it.”

Eric! I remembered an immensely tall, sickly man who visited the Presbytery when I was first there.

“Eric was George Orwell?”

“So you see, Maisy, he’s my natural company, men who see the whole system as rotten from top to bottom. You’re young to be hearing this but you have special talents that may be for a better future. You may be sick, Maisy, in the world we’ve given you but perfectly healthy in the one you could create. In the meantime you have to survive as best you can. I want you to know how and when to use this.”

I thought Anthony had gone mad, that I should just run but we were tied together and I didn’t know where to run. 

“The Church is involved with slave mongering on a colossal scale. The heartbreaking thing is they don’t know it. Or they know it but they think it’s the way of the world. They argue that they’re bringing light into an already established darkness. A less charitable interpretation is that we are creating it and running it and have been for centuries. It’s in the structure of our institutions. The very categories we use to describe people are features of our business. ‘Illegitimate’. Why do we need this category? Because it creates a class structure. If there are have nots there are haves, only the haves have nothing, just a few words spoken by a priest but it’s enough for them to band together against the have nots. Charity, for instance, one of the pillars of the Church, perpetuates the separation. And so on. We could spend the next fifty years here, Maisy, discussing the rights and wrongs but right now we have a practical situation. The local operation out of Liverpool has been infiltrated by some of our American customers, unsophisticated gangsters who threaten the very foundations of the trade. On the one hand this could be a good thing if it’s brought to the surface and seen clearly. But the chances of that are nil. No one can think badly of the Church, not even unbelievers. But if it’s just a change of power and we’re about to lose what light we’ve gained for another few centuries, I’d much rather it didn’t happen.”

“Are you going to shoot them, Anthony?”

“No, Maisy. As Red Cloud might have said, we can’t fight the white man but we can eclipse his soul.”

While he showed me the pistol, and got me to take a few silenced shots into the black peat, he talked.

“It’s not a simple matter of criminality. Someone dies in the Infirmary and is taken for autopsy. This fits the picture of what is normal. Just that it takes years and is performed by medical students. And they come from the destitutes’ home where the death rate is twice that of the Orphanage.

“The staff are encouraged with ten shillings a corpse and a few pounds ‘for Christmas’. It doesn’t promote recovery…”

“…At the other end of the scale children are sold to America. Boys go for a slave life in some godforsaken hole. Or, if they’ve got anything going for them, they become a gangster and learn to run the business. Girls are recruited into prostitution or prostitute-actress or become a rich man’s escort. I know of two examples. One escaped into Hollywood stardom, the other was passed among the gangsters and was dead in five years from the three Ds, drugs, drink and disease…”

“…On the surface it all looks legitimate, a new life for our millions of orphans in the New World. There’s a great demand for beautiful Irish girls, never mind that most of the war orphans were in England and Europe. It’s the myth that matters, and the impeccable cache of the Catholic religion implying purity. How could a priest be crooked? You’re not paying the priest, your paying the Church to further its charitable work. 

To see for myself I volunteered to escorted some of these innocents. I was to hand them over to priests and nuns in Canada and go home. One of the priests, a Father McKenzie, took sick. It turned out to be appendicitis but he feared he was dying and wanted to confess, ideally to an out-of-country priest who would take his knowledge away with him. He told me a story of big city gangs who ran America. If he didn’t deliver the children on time a child known to him would die and her family. I don’t believe the people I know are ruthless enough to carry it out, he told me, but they have an organisation that would. Unlike the American government, it’s national. To eliminate Father McKenzie’s little girl in Chicago they can bring in someone from Los Angeles or New York. Politically they’re on the Right. Control by fear or deception, so they’re well in with any government of the Right. Father McKenzie was too ill to deliver his charges on time so I chose to do it. He gave me a covering letter, a letter from the hospital and minute instructions about how to get through the various stages.

We made the run on Lake Michigan at night. We were intercepted by police but it was really an arranged rendezvous to provide us with an escort and legal documents. So I found myself in Chicago dealing with organised crime, politicians, police and street criminals, the ones we usually hear about. In many ways they were very kind, very welcoming, respectable Christian people. They gave me a fat envelope containing 65000 dollars of used currency for our parish funds, which I deposited in an English bank without any questions…”

“…This sort of business has gone on since the – I was going to say the Potato Famine. But it’s old. On the way it became the property of the Church, which has it’s own bizarre ways of cleaning up history and burying the dead. What records we can find suggest thousands, possibly tens of thousands of human beings have disappeared since the Nineteenth Century and it’s still continuing. Your name was on one list I have seen and at a premium price of $5000 dollars. What they’ve been told about you, God knows, or by whom. You messed up their plan by escaping.”

I listened to this in amazement, without screaming. The faceless pilots drew back to the edges of the mist. Their simple world of good and evil overwhelmed. It was even very exciting, a perfect cure for suicidal thoughts. 

“Can Canada be worse than Toxic City?”

“It should be a better life. Perhaps it is for some, or perhaps it is for nobody. We simply don’t know. The British Government showed an interest under Atlee but the Tories welcome all profitable industries. And they don’t want to upset the Irish. The idea of the Catholic Church being involved in people trafficking is unthinkable, so they don’t think it.”

“This isn’t Ireland.”

“It’s history. Liverpool’s the big embarkation port.”

“Can they sell me against my will?”

“Until you’re of age they can do more or less what they like. The British aren’t interested but the American Feds appear to be. Gangs ruling the streets is not a great image. That’s how they see it. They’ve been chopping away at this octopus for decades. Right now they have an agent in Liverpool who does have the ear of the British Government. He has a personal interest and they respect him but when his friends lose office or die, that’ll be the end of it. And we’re dealing with one of the oldest corrupt businesses on the planet. Hear what Jesus has to say about them – ye whited sepulchres – and it was an old, corrupt business in his day.”

…I hope to do much more, but if I can save you from them, Maisy, I’ll have accomplished something.”

“Are you the agent, Anthony?”

“I hope not. I hope we’re in the hands of someone far more competent.”

You could say I was very naive to be sitting alone on the mountain above Saddleworth Moor listening to such things from a man with a gun. But he was a priest. He was Father Anthony. He was one of the few who treated me like a human being rather than a meaningless lump on which to inflict pain. 

Anthony put the gun away and we returned to the navigation exercise. 

“I said I’d take us back to the track, Maisy, but would you like to try?”

At first I felt a shock of being completely lost, heightened by faceless airmen just out of sight in the mist. Then Anthony talked me down, made me look at the map and think.

“We’re here,” he said with a finger as big as Kinder. “You just have to orient the map to north and you know where you are clear as a bus stop.”

“With the compass!” I got so excited. It was like God parting the waters.

“And don’t forget to adjust for – ”

“Mag to grid, get rid. Take off eight degrees.”

“We’ve got our North, Maisy, now we have to locate ourselves somewhere on the plateau. North and South are crags, East is trackless and difficult terrain. Even the track we left could be hard to find. And everything’s like this. What they call peat groughs. You could walk ten steps and be facing in the opposite direction.”

After some discussion Anthony agreed my strategy. Very carefully I followed the line indicated by the compass through the dark, misty hillocks. Eventually we came to something that could be a track. Taking a bearing from the map it was going in the right direction.

“Any other signs?” 

His eyes led me to boot prints.

“First check if they’re ours. Then check the direction, both major and minor. We don’t want to go marching back to Hayfield.”

“Oh. We want to go the other way.”

“Good. But it is the right bearing?”

“Yes.”

In a few steps I found the stone arrow. I got so excited. Anthony scattered the stones.

“For the game keepers.”

I led us on through the mist. Eventually we came to the track descending to the green hills of Edale. 

“You did brilliantly, Maisy. Kinder in mist is not a place I’d take someone for a first navigation exercise.”

“You just did!” I said, feeling like a hedgehog with nerves.

“Which goes to show you should never believe a word I say.”

I was so happy, and on that one thing have remained happy ever since. The story of gangsters and guns in the black mountain was like a barely remembered dream.

“Father Anthony,” I said after a while.

“Yes Maisy.”

“Why is life about lessons? Why isn’t it about bringing ourselves?”

“That’s a good question, Maisy. In fact that may be the very best question of all.”

“So why is it?”

All the way to the station and all the way back on the train we chewed that one over. Father Anthony said some things I never expected to hear from anyone and certainly not from a priest. Such as the validity of the sacraments and how religion cannot save you.

“It’s like a compass in the mist. It’s a tool to get you where you’re going. Once you have arrived you wouldn’t continue following it.”

We laughed at such a silly idea. Now, in the days of the mobile telephone, I remember our happy laughter in the 1950s. So many things we had then that we never knew were possessions, like silent towns and empty streets and isolation.

Our next great journeys were to the Lake District, first as a community and then we went alone. It was one thing to go sailing on Derwent Water – wind and boat was another revelation – but something else to take me up the naked flanks of Skiddaw without me dying in my soul. He insisted that I get to the top. The flank of Skiddaw is like the most soul destroying slope God ever engineered. It is pre Cambrian, which in a sense means dead stone. I don’t know if that has anything to do with it. I lay down and faked death. He ditched his rucksack, put me on his back and marched up over the last huge shoulder to the top. As we climbed my eyes were caught increasingly by the view to the South, the most beautiful sight I have ever seen, broken clouds and sunbeams sweeping across Derwent Water set in the Borrowdale fells. With him wrapped warm all around me I never wanted to leave.

The Lake District became our favourite place to be. In those days it had not been tramped over by a trillion feet that left the mountains with great gouges in them. I remember padding the length of Kentmere High Street on springy turf in bare feet. Now the white stone scar can be seen from space. 

Of course there was such a scar in Roman times. At the north end it’s four feet deep.1600 years after the Romans Nature had returned to the pristine world I encountered.

As the seasons passed my pedestrianism grew until shortly after my official fifteenth birthday but possibly seventeenth year of life, the whole mad, beautiful business of tramping mountains came to a climax. On a blissfully sunny morning in late May we left Langdale camp site with the vague but still adventurous intention of climbing Bowfell by way of Pike o’Blisco and Crinkle Crags. On the way up Pike o’Blisco I was already inclined to give up but on the summit the giants were singing their summitary welcoming and we moved on. On Bowfell it was back to the valley or head into the Central Fells. It was still only 11am so why not go one more, and what would we do in the valley with so much day! I think we were both afraid of that. 

So the day began to gather real momentum and we made it all the way to Scafell, which included Anthony producing some washing line and hauling me up Broad Stand and the giant grey sharks teeth above. Ascending Scafell Pike we met the only people we spoke to that day at the only patch of snow remaining. The woman was pressing snow to her neck and speaking of the vagus nerve. She was a doctor and exchanged jollities with Anthony in an upper class British way. It always amazed me that Anthony could snap from his norm with me to the hideous nasal whine of these weird people. It has changed over time. If you listen to recordings of the Queen then and now you will notice the difference. Imagine a whole world of them! 

On Scafell summit we were horribly committed to a big walk back and we seemed to have entered another realm. We had seen hardly anyone on our walk and the summits had been empty. Now on Scafell the air was very still and the sky had a strange, coppery light. It might have been drawn by William Blake or Gustave Dore overseen by dark angels.

We returned to Scafell Pike via Fox’s Tarn, a big walk in itself, and took the Peirs Ghyll descent and climbed to Great Gable and finally on Pillar Mountain, above the forest and lakes of Ennerdale, we stopped. If Scafell had felt remote, Pillar was the gravestone of the world, with the sun settling to dusk in the copper sky. The thought of being caught by dark had seemed impossibly remote when we set out. Now, with my legs dead under me, it was fly or die. I discovered I had incredible balance and could skim over the tops of the stones. Walking running dancing flying. Anthony, remembering Skiddaw, imagined carrying me back, saw me take off and imagined a broken leg on top. But I flickered over the rocks and left him far behind. The slog up Green Gable brought us back together and then I flew on adding a side trip to Glaramara and ending on Stickle Pike above Langdale at sunset fourteen hours, sixteen summits, twenty miles and eight thousand feet from starting out all those centuries ago.

Running down the screes we heard the sound of singing in the pub, Ye Olde Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. We looked at each other. Already in tacit commitment to far deeper things, he led me in to a large bar, a roaring inferno of robust men heartily singing. As I stood at the bar I realised for the first time I could pass for an adult or, in such a remote place they didn’t care. Anthony uttered the immortal words.

“We’ll have what they’re having.”

“That’ll be the Olde Peculier. Have you had it before?”

Anthony looked slightly surprised. “Not to my knowledge.”

“You’d know if you had.”

Anthony laughed. Later he told me he’d spotted the spelling of ‘Peculier’. 

“It’s a type of priest who’s administer from outside the territory in which he operates.”

“Like you?”

“So I’m the Olde Peculier.”

Before we could blink the landlord had poured us two pints. As I was soon to learn, an eggcupful would have done me. I didn’t like the taste but persevered with sips because this was the first grown up drink Anthony had bought me. I began to have sensations, the air in my nose, the weight of my lip. A glow took over my body such that with a very little effort I might fly. Anthony excused himself and some time later came back staggering with laughter. I watched with great interest. He looked even more like Red Cloud.

“What is it?”

“I can’t tell you. It isn’t respectable.”

“Go on. I’m a big girl.” Indicating my pint of beer.

“I was in there,” he said, pointing to the roofless corrugated iron shed provided for men. “It’s just a trench in the ground. A man came in. We were doing – you know. He said, we thinks we owns this but it all ends up down there. What about the Olde Peculier? I said. And he said, pointing to Heaven, Olde Peculier goes to God. He then held forth a peroration on the quest for the perfect pint of beer. There will be a night in the dales around Masham, there will be a pub, there will be a bar, there will be a barmaid. I can’t reproduce how he said it but it went on and on and it was so funny. Finally – there will be a pint! These men are speaking in tongues, some ancient spirit which we have completely lost.”

I couldn’t say. I only knew I was blissfully happy in a night time sort of way. The Olde Peculier now tasted of roasted chestnuts and apples and elves showed me how to drink it. Hold your nose and tip it back. They were so funny. 

Anthony said.

“You’ve worn me out. Let’s go while we can.”

There was a knowledge of pain which wouldn’t fully strike until daylight and sobriety. Langdale was like a boat on a stormy sea. When we tried to manage a gate a horse came to our assistance. When I noticed the stars spinning I lay down and watched them. The glow of twilight beyond the fells promised the full rapture of Heaven. Bowfell began to speak, a deep, steady, measured beat. Anthony had to carry me to the tent fireman’s lift style. As my head hung down his back  I kept repeating.

“You’re a good mate, Tone. You’re a good mate.”

We usually slept in our tent rather as people must have slept in the Underground during the Blitz, like Government approved sardines. We usually got out of day clothes with Anthony dictated unselfconsciousness, which had grown ever more threadbare with the seasons. Tonight, exhausted and a little and very drunk, we lay in our clothes with the sleeping bags pulled over us and cuddled against the cold. We lay in the midst of the mountains. You could feel them. I could feel them. Massive presences looming above us, Pike o’Blisco, Bowfell and the Langdale Pikes, the hurtling planet and the stars. I wanted connection with all of it. The opposite of Jesus saving me from earthbound existence. I wanted him to come here and connect all of it. To kiss and be kissed by the stars. It was the end to the most perfect day of my life.

I was dancing the Goddess in a circle with colourfully dressed women. My colours, I realised, were the darkest. The colours of the others were progressively lighter until the colours of the woman opposite were as infused with light as mine were with dark. As the circle turned the colours would change into our opposite. I saw the woman opposite as majestically beautiful but infused with the wisdom and power of her opposite which was me. And as the circle turned it grew in spirit wisdom and knowledge. I would be there even more beautiful than she. I was looking at her and filled with all the complexities of love as I danced through the dark arc and left the circle. I walked to the door and stepped out into total darkness and to a sense of man.

I woke to pee and Anthony followed. When we had performed we came together awed beneath the intense white field of the Milky Way cut by the dark mountains. Anthony told me his dream.

I’m standing on the landing of a dark staircase. A young woman dressed in dark colours steps out through a door. She has something to do with dance and I asked awkwardly can I join, can I know. She said no. I turned and skied down the stairs in my socks landing strangely but without falling. I walked down the hallway, lit by a panoramic window. I stopped, gazing at the bright scene outside, which was a field of snow with beautiful public buildings at either end. As my gaze turned from left to right I recognised the white as snow and that I must get my boots and go out.

 “That edge where Bowfell cuts the Milky Way is just the way of the melted edge of the snow field.”

I told him my dream. It wasn’t the first time we had shared dreams but was the most striking. We stood awed beneath and feeling very connected to the white field of the stars.

We went back to bed and talked about our dreams. Anthony told me about dreams in his life and dreams in world cultures. He had started his priestly life as a missionary in India.

“That really is taking coals to Newcastle.”

“Why?”

“I had one god, they have thousands.”

“But yours is the one true god.”

Anthony didn’t reply but scratched his skull thoughtfully.

“Your circle of ladies sounds very like the Hindu pantheon. And they’re changing. They know what they know because they have seen everything, been everything. And you step from the darkest part of the circle through the door to me the man in darkness.”

I gave a little gasp when I saw that.

“I ask to join the dance and you say no.”

“But it wasn’t me.”

He gave a small, dismissive hrumph to that.

“Standing on my wooden scaffold. The most brutal excuse for a religion compared with what you are connecting me with.”

“But I said no.”

“Freud is handy here. You didn’t just say no you said know. Know what is beyond the door. Know what you’re coming with. In my religion there is only darkness.”

“Not at the bottom of the stairs.”

“Which I practically fell down. A first run of eight stairs. A second of about twenty. Twenty stairs since the first landing, in my mind the scaffold landing, speaks to a Christian of the twenty centuries since Christ? The first eight? Perhaps the Greeks? The last memory of the great goddesses? For our line of history? They are still alive in India. There the great goddess is called Mahadevi, the one who is all goddesses. Little Maisy, you dreamt of her last night. We both did, of our relationship to her. Without you I am disconnected.”

“And I’m on the edge of darkness.”

“Which is me.”

“But you’ve got the light in the window, which you saw in the Milky Way.”

“Once I’d tumbled from my scaffold and found science, almost accidentally. In that turning back I’m turning towards you – Mahadevi. And needing my boots, which I’m certainly using with you! So, what else do I need?”

It was the first time someone had associated that name with me. Over the next months we would use it jokingly but then it stuck.

“We were both going through doors. Me to you, you to – the stars?”

“The stairs. Stairs – stars. What does that mean?”

“Why does it mean anything?”

“We are meaning animals. It may not mean anything to a stone or a fox or a limitless stellar void. That doesn’t mean we have to decide it’s meaningless to us.”

It would be a long time, sixty years, before I met someone I could talk to like this. I would meet people who played it intellectually but no one for whom it was a natural way of thinking. 

As I was falling asleep he said. “I was wearing socks!”

To him, who had read Freud, the symbolism was alarming.

“So?” 

“A journey – into the interior.”

“You’re going out to meet the stars.”

“Skiing down the stairs in my socks is like you skimming over the stones. If the flight of stairs is two thousand years, every bump a generation. When I reach the bottom I know I have to go back towards you and get my boots. What could that possibly mean? It doesn’t make sense.”

But I was asleep.

The following day he was exhausted and I couldn’t walk. We winced to the pub for dinner and cordial and winced our way to the Stone Axe Factory on the lower screes of Stickle and talked about tomorrow.

“Sister Joseph tells me tongues are wagging.”

“About us?”

“Mm”

“Complaining about us overdoing the walking?”

“Not exactly. Sharing a tent seems the big one.”

“We always take two tents.”

“We don’t always put them both up. Even when we do.”

“I get scared. Mercy had me in her bed enough.”

“But she isn’t a man.”

“I wonder if she would now?”

“You could sleep at the Orphanage.”

“What! Are you out of your mind! I’d run away!”

“They’d be after you again.”

“Then don’t think about it until they do something.”

“You know how they did it last time, stealth and kidnapping. So far we’ve given them no reason.”

“What would be a reason?”

“Falling in love.”

“Have you?”

“I’m trying to be a good parent.”

“But you’re not my parent.”

“In loco parentis. In place of a parent. That’s what I should be. That’s what we all should be.”

“Does that make sense, when you call me Mahadevi, if her beauty is made for love?”

“But you’re a child! You’re not her yet.”

“How can you call me a child? It’s three years since I started to bleed. In some countries I’d be on my second baby.”

He was astonished to hear me say that.

“What are you suggesting?”

“Nothing. Simply that I love you with all my heart and soul and I want you to know it.”

“I should send you back to Mercy now and end this.”

“We’ve got something good and alive, Anthony. Why else did you call me Mahadevi? You make me full and alive and I could do the same for you.”

“Not while I’m a Catholic priest.”

“Kenneth would have had me along with the other girls, but you protected me.”

“For soul companionship. It’s not unknown.”

“You love me.”

“I love what you could become.”

“Or what you could become with me.”

“You’re far too young.”

“Didn’t your dream equate me with the mother of stars.”

“That was a dream, not life.”

“You said yourself you should have me before someone else does.”

“When did I say that?”

“Last night, under the stars.”

“That was the Olde Peculier talking.”

“Or forever regret it. I’d say the beer knows better than you.”

“A choice between you and God requires a very great stretch of the imagination.”

“A god you can’t see or touch is more real than a woman who loves you?”

His exasperation was going to say but you’re not a woman! But he couldn’t. He just looked at me. But it was not looking as I had ever known it. It was more like being created by the vision of love.

It was so beautiful the tears poured from me. How many kinds of love. I needed all of them. 

“I wonder if they have a room at the inn?” He said.

They’d had a last minute cancellation. So there we were medically naked on his insistence. 

“This is me,” he said. Was the body of this old man what I really wanted? It was a strong body, not absurdly muscled like gym men nowadays, that look as though they’ll go pop, but a body for all seasons and ages.

“This is me,” I said. But even as I said it I didn’t really believe it. I was all that space filled with intentional beings. I wasn’t aware of how many until later in the night. Seeing myself in the wardrobe mirror I did look just a little scrawny, especially beside him, more like a morsel on a plate. In truth it was all in the fine tuning of perception. My head fitted into the notch of his shoulder and within a few months would do so perfectly. 

Anthony had never come on these expeditions prepared for this with me but I had several packets of three given me by Betty. He was shocked though titillatingly. Later I was to discover naked is better for glory and clothed better for friendly, relaxation and lust.

The feel of him naked was such a beautiful shock the thought of plumbing and management went completely out the window. The feel of his flesh even in my hand so lit me from head to toe unto infinity that I knew it in the lightning of my body to be God. His external and internal passion, concentrated in the very substance of his masculine flesh, was the essence of the most beautifulest sunniest day glorifying you in your totality in eternity outside and inside. It is the real secret. The Great Secret. And it hangs between his legs like two pennorth of tripe. 

Next time we tried with rubber, which was a bit pointless, but introduced that interesting element of carnality. Next time I wanted to feel him as he was and it was back to that naked solar divinity. I had found my purpose in life. I had found the purpose of life beyond any notion of what purpose might be. This was it, and it would have been Anthony forever if he could have lived forever. But that is the whole story of my life and that day in the Olde Dungeon Ghyll was its beginning from the very first contact.

In the morning, when I saw myself in the mirror, I had transformed from a scrawny chicken to a solar eagle. A beautiful I didn’t think woman. That was bonus. Every man eye in the world couldn’t stop looking. And many women. It would take a while to reach full maturation but there was no doubt I wasn’t a child any more. The one man who mattered was totally besotted with me. Above and beyond the solar flesh all consuming. Beyond that everything was bonus. The Langdale mountains singing silent hosannas to the sunlight. I had no need to go tramping over them anymore. We were all one in glory.

The priority of our lives was now to live freely together. I was officially fifteen, with all sorts of grim restrictions on my life, like the threat of school and the Children’s Department and the prosecution of my lover, although as a priest he had extraordinary protection, but if I was a year older all that was finished. Even our first coitus at Langdale would have been on the right side of the law.. 

For the purposes of private encounter the Secret Room became very useful. It allowed us to play it cool with each other throughout the day and for me to establish a separate public life, part of which was continuing adventure such as rock climbing days with Anthony and the boys. I was extremely good but the boys’ constant niggling sense of humour confused me. I had a bad day at Stanage and then he took me on his own and I was much better. One of the happiest days of my life was with him at Windgather Rocks, a much friendlier crag than Stanage. Lots of free climbing, dancing over the rocks into the twilight until the handholds couldn’t be seen. 

“You’re a natural, Maisy. But I think you are, at every natural thing.”

Yes, the rock spoke to me.

Because Anthony’s timings were out of sync with the world, we often had these places to ourselves. Our favourite place to be was the Lake District. It was not such a rock climbing Mecca as Derbyshire. We did what Anthony called mixed mountaineering, climbing trackless slopes until they were so steep they had become crags, then climbing the crags and carrying on to the top of the mountain. An early example was Hall’s Fell Ridge on Blencathra, a beautiful, weird place, an aerial sense of floating in space off the face of the mountain. And the cross at the top which totally freaked me out and I ran all the way down the mountain. By the end of that summer we had even ventured onto Scafell Buttress, and as winter approached we naturally adapted, starting to think not of day’s out but of expeditions, using tents, camping over night so that the short days could be spent in the high fells. This led to our most significant adventure in the mountains.

We had set out from Keswick to traverse the Central Fells to Coniston. We planned for a three day walk with the long middle one involving Central Gully on Great End and Lord’s Rake on Scafell, camping near Scafell summit at Fox’s Tarn I remembered from our long hot day in May. How different it felt on our icy day in January.    

The first day over Cat Bells ridge to Honister Pass and on to camp at Styhead Tarn proved challenging enough. The second day we got going late and Central Gully was quite difficult. Anthony had the latest climbing crampons but Mine lacked the front points and I could and did slip. He had to cut steps for me. We practiced what to do in case he fell but basically he took no chances. Ascending Lord’s Rake was even more challenging and we arrived on Scafell summit with the sun skimming the horizon. The summit was bleak, hurricane swept but a little below it was some shelter. We paused to take in the snow covered rock peaks. Apart from a set of footprints we had seen no one. Anthony was sweeping the hills with his binoculars and stopped.

“Look,” he said, handing me the glasses. “What do you see? Just below Scafell Pike summit.”

I could see nothing. He steadied the glasses and eventually I spotted a rock or a person. He looked again and shook his head.

“If it’s a person it’s nowhere to be with night coming. We’ve got to shift girl.”

The descent to Fox’s Tarn, a quick five hundred feet in summer was trickier in winter, wind impacted snow covered rocks. We got into the sheltering bowl of it right on the edge of dark and using our head torches got the tent up quickly. Foam mats and sleeping bags out and in. Anthony got the Primus lit and thawed our soups.

“What madman decided to camp under Scafell summit in the middle of winter! Sixteen hours, girl, till dawn.”

Our sleeping bags were high quality military ones with three quarter zips. They didn’t zip together but could wrap together so we could be naked as babes and very snug. The touch of his flesh was like being lit to the remotest particle of my being by a multidimensional sun. Nothing in me saw this as other than a glorious good. And I wanted the touch of that good all the time. 

Partly because Anthony felt guilt as well as glory, we had developed forms of meditative sex, with penetration and without. Wrapped around him I just climaxed all the time and he was happy with all that love pulsing in a female body glued to him. Tonight he eventually allowed himself to come and fell asleep. I lay in the wonder of these bodies, a little sticky and messy but that was all okay. From the moment we had first touched I had been amazed and thrilled. Now I wanted more. He wasn’t the only fish in my pool but he had far and away the greatest range of attractions, mostly this sense of deep and total love. 

I had been listening to the wind thumping and swooshing past the rocks protecting us. Whistling. I knew there were six without even counting. And another lot. Would wind do that? And another, and then no more.

I ran my nose over his scratchiness. And just wanted this sensation that lips experience. There it was again. Six. I licked him awake with my tongue in his nostrils. He doesn’t like that. 

“WHAUGH!”

“Listen!”

“What?”

“There!”

His whole body went dark with tension. He pulled on a cord and said.

“Put your fingers in your ears.”

He wrapped his arm around my head also. And then the most shrill klaxon of a sound. When our ears had adjusted there was the tail of a response, urgent. And then another quick six. And another. Definitely human.

“Those people must have been people. They don’t have to still be where we saw them but they must be on this side of the massif.” 

“The massif?”

“The mountain range.”

“What are they doing?” I asked, thinking they might be larking about.

“It’s the international distress signal. Six six six.”

“They’re in trouble?”

“Yes.”

“I thought they were mucking about.”

“No. Mucking about with this could kill whoever answers it…”

“…we’ve got to figure out where they are and then if we can get to them…”

“…fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.”

“I’ve never heard you swear Anthony.”

“You have now…”

“…We’ve got to help – if we can. The trouble is we’ve got the whole of Scafell Crag between us and him – them. And it’s night and it’s winter.”

He found his watch, which had luminous hands. “Six – thirty!…”

“…I don’t know if we can do anything. We’re in jeopardy here. We’re not if we stay where we’re put. The moment we head out we’re in exactly the same position he is but worse. We’re moving on steep snow and ice, the biggest crag in the Lake District underneath us. One dies, three die. Well, you don’t have to. You can stay here where you’re safe. Nothing will happen to you. You’ve got food for days. You stay here till I come back or the Mountain Rescue find you.”

“No! ANTHONY!”

“What’s the alternative? We stay here until he stops whistling and we pretty much know he’s dead?”

“I’ll come with you!”

“Girl, that makes us ten times more vulnerable. I’ll be constantly worrying about you.”

“I’ll go mad here on my own, Anthony.”

“Yes. That’s what I’m worried about. So it’s you or him. And what if there’s two, or more, of them? We stay here till morning, when the helicopter comes for the bodies.”

“Including yours. I’d rather be dead too.”

“I’d be much better on my own.”

“I had this thought, you know, someone was mucking about. What if it’s ghosts? Kinder was crawling with them. What if they want to lure you to your death?”

“I didn’t notice.” Meaning Kinder.

“No. Remember the gnome, the Secret Room. What if you listen to me and I save both our lives. How likely is a set up like this in the Lake District. You’re how far away from them?” 

“Six hundred yards – seven.”

“And you can’t reach them? I saw what you were looking at. I couldn’t say if it was a person but I do think I can say it was a ghost.”

Just then the whistle started again. “That was seven.”

“What was?”

“The whistle.”

“I didn’t hear it.”

It was quiet for a while then he heard it.

“You’re messing about.”

“No. You didn’t?”

“No.”

And so it happened. He heard it, I heard it but not both of us together.

“I’m at least going to see if I can see something.”

“There’s no point.”

“There’s every point.”

We got dressed, difficult in a small tent. Put on our crampons, roped ourselves together, took our ice axes, put on our head torches and walked to the rim of the hollow in the direction of Scafell Pike. It was COLD and the wind nearly knocked us off our feet. He belayed us with the axe wedged in the rocks. Scafell Pike summit was barely half a mile away. With lights like this if we were two competent, fully equipped mountaineers we could surely have done something. If people were alive over there they could surely have shone lights at us. We couldn’t imagine anyone would be among these mountains in winter without torches. We saw nothing. One or other of us thought we heard the whistle but never both of us together.

“Could the whistle be in the rocks?” I asked him. 

“Could be, and I hallucinated the symmetry.”

“So did I.”

“But you didn’t know the distress signal?”

“You know what I think about ‘knowing’.”

The wind had shifted to the north and gusts felt murderously colder. Suddenly there was a high pitched whistling and ferocious caterwauling seemingly right over us. Our torches picked out a whirlwind of snow. 

“Back!” said Anthony, seeing me moving in the direction of the tent before he pulled out the ice axe. Anthony told me to get under the flysheet before taking off my crampons. Once I was in he followed. We sat in the tent each with our feelings. 

“I’m calling this off,” he said.

“No!” I said. “I was looking forward to tomorrow.”

“I think we’re more exhausted than we think. If there is someone on the Pike they might just get rescued in time.” 

He went out with his flare gun and fired three flares two minutes apart. 

“It brings them to the wrong mountain. So, girl, if the rescue comes we’ll go with them. Or if they come by helicopter in the morning. I don’t think either of us is fit to walk out over Coniston Old Man tomorrow.”

I was really looking forward to that walk but he was probably right. By afternoon a blizzard from the north was sweeping the fells.

At the first creep of the day we were up and breakfasted and packed. Only the flysheet stood to give us some shelter. It had been a long, strange, complicated night, nothing like we imagined it would be, and did it all come from our minds?

As the sun peeped over and crept along the horizon there was ten minutes when it was the most beautiful sight in the world, the snowy crags from near the summit of Scafell. Then we were interrupted by a sound of boots. A young man came jogging down. 

“Was it you that set off the flares last night?” 

“Yes,” said Anthony and gave the story. 

“I decided it was too dangerous to move, especially if we’re hallucinating. If somebody was in trouble they’d need the Rescue. Sorry if it was a false alarm.”

“Nay.” He pulled out a two-way radio. There was no response. “I need to get back up. You stay here unless you’re good to go. Where are you going?”

“Coniston.”

He thought about it. “You’ll need to be quick. If you’re hallucinating the doctor’ll have to see you.”

His radio came to life. He gave the story in an accent not designed for English people. Ius helped me lens the words.

“I’ve got two from Scawfell. Maybe heard whistles on Scawfell Pike. Maybe hallucinating. I’ll walk them to the summit.”

We heard the helicopter climbing out of Eskdale and then saw it rising above and settling down near Scafell Pike summit. We told the young man where we thought we’d seen something. He relayed the information. We saw figures moving down then a voice clearly saying “They’re dead.” Anthony and I looked at each other in deep shock. “Is it them?” Said our young man. “Frozen solid.” Said the voice. “Looks like.” “They’ve been missing two days.” He said to us. “Likely they were dead yesterday. Nothing you could have done. We’d have been fishing four bodies off the mountain. Come up to the top and we’ll get you down.”

He roped us together with me in the middle and more or less hauled us up the mountain on our stiff legs. We paused at a levellish place out of the full blast of the wind. The helicopter sidled over. The young man push us in and hands pulled us. Sounds of metal clips snapping. I reached back for the young man but he was waving us off. We were jammed in a space with icy lumps I realised were frozen bodies. The face I could see was of a young man. I needed all the help of Ius not to go into a screaming fit. 

We were left in a field along with the corpses and the helicopter headed back up the mountain. Later that day we met the parents of the two young men. It is something I have never forgotten, their terrible sadness, or know how to think about the whole incident.

After a day’s rest at Wasdale Head and with a good weather forecast, Anthony and I felt sufficiently restored to try another walk to Coniston. It was good walking on hard, wind packed snow along the Old Corpse Road to Boot and thence via a path skirting Harter Fell and finally The Walna Scar Road to Coniston. It was not as high a walk as we had intended but high enough and certainly long. The last part we completed on head torches, relaying one then the other to prolong our batteries, finally saved by the Moon. There was never any real danger as we had full camping equipment but felt the need to reach Coniston to tell the Mountain Rescue we were alive. At 10pm, by the dazzling light of La Luna, we marched into Coniston and rang the Mountain Rescue from a pub. We also booked a room. Driving back to Liverpool was unthinkable and even impossible from Coniston because of the snow. There was talk of a snowplough. Or we could walk to Windermere and catch a train. Leave a local garage to pick up our car when it emerged from the snow. All in all we were feeling restored but we never forgot our night at Fox’s Tarn when we both might have been dead. I had my own explanation for what had happened but I don’t think Anthony quite shared it.

After two days at Coniston, snuggly abed except for meals, and with more snow coming, we finally accepted we had to walk out. People were covering for Anthony in Liverpool but he couldn’t stay away forever. We first walked to Windermere, no trains. We pushed on to Oxenholme and caught a train the next day and arrived in Liverpool the day after, nine days from leaving Keswick. Anthony was more and more impressed with me  especially after saving his life on Scafell, and my capacity for love. Whatever his mind might say his  being was overwhelmed.

He had a choice, to make a daughter of me or a wife. In Nature’s way he needed a wife before parenting and especially necessary after his vows as a priest. And he had my desires to reckon with, the person he had already called Mahadevi. In the Hindu pantheon she is an equal great god, even if not for women in practical reality. That metaphysical difference requires adjustment and what small but huge adjustments they will be. A world where what women say in matters of State really count. Of what she says about every little thing. And I would say, from my own experience, how she comes to saying it. For Anthony the gnome incident was like being hit by a bus. And when you know that about her, that she has ways of arriving at real outcomes beyond reason, which reason alone was unequipped to discover, then you take her seriously on all levels, not just the historical caricature of woman. She has magical powers and if you don’t want to believe in magic you can build a world without it quite easily. But that world will die. 

From where I am writing now in 2022, facing the heat death of a habitable planet, we are living in a world completely devoid of magic although we say primitive magic has been replaced by the far superior magic of science. That’s true because both of those are technologies, not the living magic of love that is infinitely unpredictable. That can so easily be destroyed by the monster gods that grow from unbridled science. Listen to the dolorous account they give of the far future. But future is the invention of humanless, humourless science drawn out from the attenuated living moment. What is alive in a trillion years is alive now. What is a superconducting machine of some far future when all matter has gone? It lives only in love. In love, as love. It is great poetry using simple words. It is the moment when the joke catches you and your whole self laughs. It is the best of that forever. It is the heart of the meaning of forever with no pain of wanting, which is not the same as the living desire to create. Times come and times go but the heart of creation is always present and can always surprise you but you at least have to say hello, otherwise how will it know you are somebody who suffers and not just a piece of the furniture to knock nails into, and even then a lot of empty chairs can be having the best time in the world while the restaurant manager is in despair. Sit in one of your chairs, good man, and feel the laughter. It is not at you but is the great giving of itself. Even a chair or a table. 

The autistic man who sleeps in front of the theatre and shouts, he picks up all the rubbish of that little neighbourhood, and what bags and bags he finds of it. What are his special gifts that we have lost from not nurturing his talents all the way. And here we are already deep into the natzification of the world when all the intelligent people with awkward talents will be culled once again. How often can we afford to do this before we are wiped out of cosmic memory by our own ever increasingly mechanical creation?

It is one thing to be proud of what we can accomplish by well schooled trickery, it is another to be astonished by love.

Our being held together by snow had been a deep revelation for Anthony. For the first time in his life he knew what a coherent state of being is and it comes to man from woman. And it’s not rocket science. By the time you have evolved to be man born of woman you know ALL you need to know of everything. And the same for woman birthed of man. Nothing can go wrong, except everything has gone wrong. The lesser functions of man have stolen him away. He has stolen woman’s birthright, her power, by inflictions of his physical strength, by torture allied to rational performance, with which you can prove anything, but is there love?

Anthony had a lot of catching up to do and I had other fish in my sea. I had just discovered theatre and art parties and dancing and music. Being with people wasn’t confusing or horrible when we danced. I had met a boy I could eat three times daily for breakfast. The way he moved and played guitar with such a soulful expression. I knew he was made for domestic bliss and wanted his union as quickly as possible. None of those rubber tubes Betty had given me that I had used all up on Anthony. I wanted his naked white flesh, all of it. 

Anthony was getting desperate as he realised what he had that he alone understood and was on the brink of losing. Either he took possession of me or we were both lost. So while I was scudding through the autumn leaves of Sefton Park with innocent George and getting him to practice kisses and anything else he might desire, Anthony was talking about marriage.

“That way I can protect you. If anything happens to me, like it nearly did on Scawfell, you won’t be left destitute.”

I never got a clear idea of what that meant. I had a post office account started by Betty, which contained £8 10s. When we were out, if anytime money was needed, for a taxi or a room or a meal or a train ticket, Anthony just paid it, either with cash or a cheque. I felt like a kept woman. I didn’t mind. It was better than rough sleeping and the fear of rape by diseased and brutal men. Once or twice I offered but he said. “What’s mine is yours so it’s the same in the end.”

I didn’t completely get what he meant but our conversations took in the prospect of marriage.

“It’ll be years,” I said. “Why not just enjoy what we’ve got?”

“Yes, but I worry about your future. What will you have when I’m gone.”

“Yes.” I have the freedom of a city I’m beginning to enjoy but only because I have a secret room and you, someone who believes in me.

“I could adopt you as a daughter.”

“Isn’t it a bit late for that?”

“I’m trying to be practical. Family and inheritance. You’d have more rights as a wife.”

“Can you marry?”

“Not as a Catholic priest. I should have to leave the priesthood, or we could live in sin. Which doesn’t respect you.”

“Anthony, what happens when I’m grown up, if I can grow up.”

“What do you mean?”

“Boys. All that innocent kissing in the park that is a necessary stage of my development?”

“Do you?”

“I love kissing George. He’s so innocent. Much too young.” Which is what John Lennon said about him, but I said it first! “He’s eight months younger than my official birthday.”

“You’re changing, Maisy, aren’t you, coming out.”

“I love sex. It’s like the Sun inside.”

“Am I not the only one?”

“You are so far. You’re the only one I’ve done it naked with.” By which I meant without a condom.

“Should I let you go?”

“No! They’re just boys. They have nothing to offer!”

That’s a judgment to remember.

One day Anthony handed me a letter.

“A birthday present,” he said. 

He had done some research, obtained statements from people and leaned on officials. It said all evidence gathered indicated that the day of my birth was in 1941, some time immediately prior to the 11th May when I was found and brought to the orphanage. I was so excited!

“That means I am sixteen now! I’ve left school already! And they can’t make me do anything. I’ve gone!”

“We still need a document to that effect.”

“Let’s go to Gretna Green tomorrow!”

“No, Maisy.”

“You can get married at twelve in Scotland!”

“Three hundred years ago. It’s sixteen now.”

“Nawwwwww! Betty’s friend from Scotland. She was married at fourteen. She had seven kids by the time she was twenty-one.”

“Impossible.”

“Two ones, one two and a three.”

“Really?”

“Really!”

All this talk of ferocious fecundity must have given Anthony a wobble but there was a worse wobble coming which sent him back the other way. Ever since he had, by his own high standards, underperformed on our long walk in the Lakes, he had been feeling ‘under optimal’. A letter came before Christmas giving him a diagnosis of cancer. That was a blow to all his dreams of the future. The much postponed reunion with Tilman in the Himalaya.

“Bill’s taken to the water. Last heard of in Patagonia…”

“…And you. Not much prospects now girl.”

“I can look after you.”

“Who’s going to look after you?”

“Asante.”

“Your imaginary goddess.”

“No less imaginary than your god.”

He made an appreciative nasal hmump.

“Correction. Far less imaginary.”

“How do you contend that?”

“Look at all the physical things she can do, from find secret rooms to save your life. Your theology explains why God acts as if he doesn’t exist, to do with testing faith, nothing to do with not existing.”

“If yours exists why doesn’t mine?”

“I’ve wondered about that a lot. I think it’s all the killing. ‘Every man, woman, child dog and beetle.’ If there’s no god giving these instructions then it’s just madmen driving people to do their bidding. And then they have to justify it with all the mental and physical torture of everyone else. You don’t have to torture me to make me love you, I just do. Asante and Ius are all the hidden women. Take your foot off their necks and your god may start to breathe a little life.”

“And all the people who experience God in their faith?”

“Real God is real but your church is a mutation. God is Nature.”

“Beautifully put, Maisy.”

“I thought so too. It must have been Asante speaking.”

I saw his eyes, the worship in them, how he loved me.

“This is it, Anthony.”

“Yes, Maisy.”

Anthony performed his priestly functions into the New Year and then retired. It caused a big ruction but cancer outplayed immorality and marriage rumours. There was even a bit of just vengeance in there to satisfy the faithful.

We applied to be married. We were told the Catholic Church would consider it in five to ten years but would accept a marriage in an Anglican church. Anthony wanted to ensure there was no danger of its being annulled in the future. We wanted to be married in May at the earliest opportunity, when there could be no argument how old I was. The only building available was the unfinished cathedral. For a claustrophobic agoraphobe the prospect was terrifying but Sister Joseph offered to support me, and there might be others.

I had expected to dress informally but an idea took possession of me that I would wear a dress I had known all my life. In one of the great bombing raids at the time I was born a bride to be had been killed and her dress had stood in the shop window ever since. In time it became a legend, even a kind of shrine. After much negotiating I was allowed to hire it for 24 hours. Then when it came to paying, the shopkeeper said sixteen years of sunlight had pretty much destroyed the material. She’d give me the dress or make me a copy for £8. A copy wasn’t what I had in mind. The body of the dress was intact though faded. Replacing some of the lace refreshed the dress and the faded look appealed to me. The fact that the dress matched the age of my life touched those centuries of time I felt inside me, beings who occupied centuries and knew aeons. Just a tiny part of the characteristics of a great goddess.

Anthony wanted absolutely no publicity, which given the scandalous and romantic elements of the story already at large, was never going to happen. 

I was not taking any of this very seriously and was still enjoying my new found ability to see other people. With the help of Betty and some of her younger friends I was learning to go out on the town. Liverpool was always a lively city with its pubs and clubs and theatres and concert halls and people and their language, which could keep a visiting Martian like me in fits of laughter all day long. There was a formula to life or a spirit to living which transcended the cyber languages they are trying to inflict on people in the 21st Century. People were just people a secondary feature of which was colour of skin and ethnicity. Bob was Bob with whom one hung out and talked and listened to his stories and could even end up in bed with and he was black. This was the first and last thing you noticed, both of them unimportant. The language of his white friends was staggeringly racist by modern standards and yet I felt it came with a deal of respect and affection which, once you’ve cleaned up the language and made them feel shit about it, is also lost, which is exactly what the controlling classes want to achieve. Divide and rule. I truly believe that Liverpool had something which extraordinary phenomenon like the Kop at Anfield and the Beatles naturally expressed and which central mind control cannot replace. There was something about this spirit that this autistic freak could feel at home in. There was always a club open somewhere at any time night or day. I’d go to hang out just to feel that spirit in the talk. I didn’t smoke or drink but I’d come home reeking a bit. Anthony didn’t like it but clearly got excited by this quietly sinful sexiness I was bringing back.

I’d been at George’s place listening to him playing his new guitar and even having the odd pinkle. I’d helped his mum hang the washing out and make lunch. It was a happy house and I enjoyed being there. 

I came back and Anthony was all in a state. Apparently he had received a warning that problematic people were visiting England. Sitting about in Liverpool preparing for a public wedding might not be the wisest course of action. He should disappear, particularly because he no longer had the protection of the Church. 

My capacity to question Anthony’s stories never really arose in his lifetime. For everything that has caused doubt something else has brought confirmation. From where I am sitting in the 2020s history has brought so much corroboration that I have come to accept everything he said in that he was criticising an entire world view as the engine that produced so much dark history. If gangsters weren’t after us that night as we left Liverpool it is only because something so much worse was, the systematic destruction of the world by overconfident, corrupt, greedy and ruthless, people hating organisations, eventually every single one of them, although it would take until the 2020s for us to really see that. A time when deeply flawed algorithms ruled and humanity itself was on a universal death sentence.

We drove through the night. There were no motorways in those days. Travel was long and slow. I had no idea where we were going. In time I had no idea if I was even human. Strange creatures ran beside us down the road. Demonic trees opened out into giant cathedrals. Eventually we arrived at a city with strange, familiar names. Uxbridge and Putney. We stayed in a hotel by the river while Anthony sold his car and made preparations for a trip to France. Now I know he was setting up a false trail. This included a projective marriage ceremony which would become affective on the 4th of May whatever happened to either of us in the meantime. This allowed me to be written into his passport as his wife. It was, as a lawyer later told me, ‘all a bit dodgy’. ‘The State would only do this if it was part of some other agreement we are unaware of.’

“Your husband fought in the Balkans?”

“Among a lot of other places. It was said. He never confirmed or denied it.”

“Do you know what he did?”

“He once said he taught Partisans to eat worms. I think he was some sort of survival expert.” 

We took the boat train to Dover, even went through passport control. There we met a man who led us through a side door to a waiting car. Anthony gave the man something, which I later learned was our passport. He then drove to Canterbury, to a discrete boarding house where he shaved off his kingly beard and moustache – Wow! Did I approve or not! – . I opened a case which had been in the boot. Wigs and dresses and female shoes. 

“I’ll never wear those!”

“It’s just to get us over the first part. From now on we are Mr and Mrs Simpson, Tom and Anna. Can you manage that?”

“Anna is very like Anu.” Asante’s first name. 

“That’s what I thought.”

“More poised than Crazy Maisy.”

 We drove on to London and left the car in a basement car park near Whitehall. We took the lift to our room where Anthony dialled a number on the telephone, spoke some letters – TWWIH? – and put the phone down.

“What was that?”

“The Wild Wolf Is Home. It means various things to various people  – that they can pick up the car and clean it, for instance.”

“The Wild Wolf.”

“That was my call sign.”

“You are a spy?”

“Not really. I’m more like you – or Eric – an agent unto myself. Just occasionally what I believe aligns with governments. There was a time when both National Socialism and Communism sounded like the way of the future over kings and inheritance systems which had enslaved people for thousands of years. It just shows you that they’re all the same, these men who go for power. And women. They bed with the victor.”

“I don’t.”

“Who do you bed with?”

“Anyone who lets me be me. I never dreamed a priest would.”

“No. The last person, I would think.”

Anthony bought a Volkswagen Bus, camouflage painted. With a camouflage net thrown over it, parked in discreet places it would be very hard to see. This was not always an advantage. Over long distances it could be found by map and compass but over short distances it could be a devil to find. So we learned not to hide it too well or leave a marker.

It was fitted as a camper with seats or double bed. It even had a toilet for when sleeping in cities, and a sink and a shower of sorts and curtains. As we left the city I had the sense of an enormous weight lifted from me. We went first to the Norfolk Coast and camped at the edge of great stretches of sand, of gulls and the wind. We moved at the pace of an impulse strong enough to move us. After our first taste of hills we swept through Derbyshire to the Lake District. There we did what we could never do in the past, just hang out and occasionally climb a hill. Picking our days we had the best of it all, Derwent Water from Hall’s Fell Ridge and Fox’s Tarn the ‘easy’ way, sleeping out under the stars, inviting the ghosts to come and be at ease with us. 

Camping at Wasdale Head we met again the young man from the mountain rescue. He lived and worked here on a farm. The better part of a century later I discovered he had become a ‘legendary’ mountain runner, holder of many records. Now in his eighties he still lives there. These hills, which mean so much to us as occasional visitors, have been his entire life as shepherd and farmer and runner. It takes me back to that day I learned to skim over stones and Alexandra David-Neale and the Tibetan Tumo runners and humans embedded in a landscape  How many worlds come together here and what are the gods that hold them all, from the machine men who, under the deadly force of their logic, say there are no gods, to what I have glimpsed in Asante and Ius and their place in the life giving Allthing. 

What was his name – Jess? – Jess! How strange. I called myself that once! Jess, the dog that barked me on when I RAN for the train, for my life! There’s a clip of him running off the mountain onto a road and it’s over the edge between falling and flying where a fall would break your bones. Far from twinkletoesing, as I did, his feet smack the ground like pistol shots. He dives like a falcon. I’m Alexandra David-Neale catching a glimpse for a moment of other worlds lost to modern people. 

The van was our house, a safe retreat, but we loved it in the tent, naked with the rain lashing inches away, our rhythm with the wind. Even in the rain I loved to be outdoors. Making tea on the Primus in a stream gulley. No fancy camping in those days. Some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. Cooking in a lava pot on the west coast of Scotland surrounded by sea, mirror still. We were happy. Often, for days, we were the only people on a beach. Just the seals. Living naked, swimming in the cold sea with my god, the light in the water was eternity.

But it wasn’t all naked in Nature, washing the love made earth off us in deep mountain pools. Anthony had ideas about how I should look. We dared to visit civilisation, charity shops and even more formal places. He liked pastel colours and skirts of a certain quality and length. He wanted me to look like a queen or at least a princess but also, daringly, a priestess. In a library he showed me pictures of Greek urns and Egyptian queens and volcanic Hindu goddesses. He told me stories from the Bible about women, such as Judith who beheaded Holofernes, and read from the Song of Solomon. ‘Who is she who looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.’ Was he inviting me to kill him? In my worst times I think I might have done, that my memory of the blood of the deer is really him. A deed that was enough to have shattered me into pieces I could never put back.

Whether I outwardly resembled boy or girl, during this time I completed my transition into woman by becoming pregnant. Something in me had switched on which might be called universal love. Wherever I was,  which might be the brick streets of some dark city, was transformed into the matter of Paradise. As I moved on its street was not weight and gravity but the substance of love. I would catch myself in a moment of infinite tenderness contemplating a lamp post. My husband lover, the creator of this awesome state, was more than the sun and the moon and the stars. My relationship with that within me was so profound that I was even protective in our love making lest it be harmed. At the same time my desire had a nuclear intensity that was like the very deepest binding of Nature, as when the long fall hits the ground or when the comet slams into the Earth. I had to have him now like a death. That terrible hole in me, black as all black, the original elemental moment of becoming. 

The pregnancy lasted ten weeks and then I miscarried. Whether my intense, consciousness obliterating climaxing had anything to do with it, all I knew that light was gone for me and also for him. Our lovemaking shifted into another register which was not bad, simply differently intense, where we started the whole process again. Ours was a very visceral relationship. I suppose they all are. I don’t know if I was ever pregnant again. Perhaps for short times. All I know is I am eternally grateful for that experience of woman as the supreme power, and a world which tries to make something of itself in any way without her full embodied self is only striving to die.

In a way it is good that men are thick in these matters because woman, at the ends of her emotions, could never be running the world. (Unless now when I am eighty and something like a state of wisdom has overtaken me?) But there is thick and thick. Listen to me, not to my words but to my heart. Yet if I cannot speak it how can you hear it! Most of the time I cared about nothing but the thick moment of penetration and climax and the singing afterwards when something is accomplished like catching and cooking some food. I think he was obsessed with me, which meant a kind of equalisation. When he couldn’t move I could and I had more receptors, outer and inner. It is obvious to me that lovemaking transcends metaphysics, which is why it was created, why it created itself from the metaphysical background. I have learned over my lifetime so much about it that I would want to then give to my Anthony. Instead I give it to you. It is a sad story but it has been sad for all of us. One day it will be different, when your life’s priority has become to listen to me or people like me, who speak the truth of their weird selves with Nature’s inevitable integrity. By which I mean how water forms a thing of mesmerising beauty when it plunges as a waterfall into a sparkling fern and flower rimmed pool lit in piercing fragments amidst the shimmering shadows of its trees.

Which reminds me that not all our love making led to wildly rooted climaxing. It went in cycles, day cycles and week and month and even seasons, especially the long days of Summer. At Rydal during a picnic beside a waterfall he loved my toes with fingers tips and lips engendering a hundred thousand orgasmic ripples amidst shimmering angels. It’s what first gave me the thought that yoni could heal. In more secluded places I pressed her over his nipples channelling these angelic embodiments of super form to cancel his cancer and wash it away. He knew fear in these moments as though yoni was the black void opposite of angels, the crucible of life and thus death. But he experienced this as mad priest stuff as old as religion and politics. The climax in his chest was only just distinguishable from a heart attack. Hold it, hold it, hold to her hot, streaming, life giving power. Still alive and the terror gone he lay open to the beauty of love he experienced pouring from her. He lay wide open receiving the angelic power. In his eyes, in his whole being, she knew her own beauty as the supreme gift of life. In healing circles I have met they speak of laying on of hands but laying on of yoni is much deeper and forbidden to imagination.

Anthony kept in touch with the world by telephone with his sister and occasionally his lawyer. Hard to imagine now, we’d go weeks without contact. Scotland can be the most beautiful place for living on the land, or a close cousin to Hell. After nearly losing everything in a flash flood, including ourselves, we spent a few days drying out in a hotel. The idea of having four walls to retreat to was very appealing. Enquiries led to the George Orwell cottage on Jura. It was available and sounded ideal, remote and yet accessible to Glasgow and its hospitals. 

We both felt the strangeness and wonder of Barnhill, a place at the very edge of the physical, psychological and spiritual worlds. No wonder and yet great wonder that the era’s defining dystopian novel had been written here. Less than three miles from the pool of Corryvrecken that twice a day susurrated in the air over the wash of the sea, rising to a rock thrumming roar under the full tides that follow the Moon. 

What did Anthony imagine, going there with me? That we would write some alternative masterpiece? We had been Alice in Wonderland, then Lolita unfolded into 1984. Had we between us a better song to sing?  Unfolding woman, the strangest and most natural thing of all, sister to Corryvrecken and black holes. Still needing to be a fantasy princess, I walked the goddess-virgin with this extraordinary man. 

There was still in Anthony the ache for manly adventure. He had been one season short of joining Tilman in the Himalayas. Uncompromised by woman, Tilman was now gone into the sea. A continuing but ever receding star Anthony would never follow. 

Was I worth it? Nanda Devi, Annapurna, Sagarmatha-Chomolungma, great mountains that stand right up there in the zone of total death for humans. Woman, as the source of life, has to be their equal. But it must be hard, when you have stood on the highest, remotest place, to feel she has any significance at all. I do think Anthony saw me, much as he might have glimpsed Sagarmatha on the far horizon, as I glimpsed myself, first as orgasmic power perpetually overwhelmed by man, and then as healer flash learning in this hypergolic union. We went far, I think, and I could have joined him in the great climbs. We know now women can be great at these things. We have now the record of Reinhold Messner calling Alison Hargreaves the greatest mountaineer of all. Instead, we flash bonded together in our deepest, basic souls. Almost touched, I think, naked on white beaches. Flesh union stillness in eternity behind consciousness, spirit treasures spilling jackpots of orgasmic love upon the blitzed day. Emerging so hungry and he needing special care. I cook for three days driftwood fire smoked meat with sour kraut and rehydrated vegetables and beans and vitamins and love, so much love. So it would be true to say we made love amidst much food. And camp fires sparked deep nostalgia for far horizons where women were hardly remembered. 

Our adventures had been deeply gratifying for a male and a female together, especially for those times, but he ached for the far horizons where I had never been and traditionally never would go. Incredibly rare women like Alexandra David-Neel would prove it was not impossible. I was incredibly rare but of a sort never imagined. He knew and knew now he could never go anywhere without me, not even to death..

“We could take a boat. Sail around the world.”

“And where would I be when you died in Patagonia leaving me wondering which end of the boat to point for England?

“I’ll teach you. It would be one of those things you’d be good at.”

“Except that I’m terrified of water.”

The idea gained momentum as the Scottish winter closed around us. 

I’d only been in a hired boats with Anthony on Sefton Pond and Derwent Water in a sailing dinghy. I’d LOVED it, apart from being whacked on the head by the boom. Once was enough. I LOVED capsize practice, even volunteering to partner the nutter who wanted to turn right over. I was only terrified, I found, when I had time to think.

We paid a year’s rent on Barnhill, An offering towards the great book I might finally be writing, and left Scotland while we could. The plan was to find the family boat and bring it back.

The boat belonged to previous sailing generations of Anthony’s family. It had fallen into the keep of a generation who weren’t really interested and was borrowed by sailors. We arrived on the Mersey, where Anthony thought it was only to find no trace of it. It might be in Bristol or it might be in Southampton or it might even be in London. Or it might be anywhere in the world. Arousing the family octopus in order to find out was not, Anthony said, a great idea. 

The person in the boatyard most likely to know had retired but still lived locally. We went to see him and invited him for an ale tasting. Si (Simon) had crewed the White Wake when Anthony’s father raced it. Si had some pictures of her, himself as a bronzed young god and Anthony’s father looking like a retired sea lord.

“Racing, she had a crew of five,” said Simon, “three to open the champagne and two to manage the boat. On a reach she was the fastest thing in her class. We won a few races but his lordship got bored when we had to fiddle faddle with the wind.”

“Who else was interested?”

“They wouldn’t tell me unless they wanted crew. Your sister asked about taking her to Australia.”

“Why?”

“About finding the uncontaminated country? I said haven’t they got enough boats in Australia? She said not one I’d feel at home in.”

“What was she planning to do?”

“You’d have to ask her.”

“My sister is an artist,” Anthony explained to me. “She likes to go to extreme places and paint them.”

I nearly dropped my drink. “So does Asante.”

“I thought of it as compensation for lack of talent.”

“That’s a mean spirited thing to say.”

“Isn’t it.”

“In Asante’s case what would it matter? Who’s to judge if you’re good or bad when you’re the only artist in the universe?”

Anthony gave me one of those looks that lie between terror and infatuation that cry out for immediate intimate grounding.

“Let’s go,” I said. 

“See you later, Si,” said Anthony.

Fortunately our bus was pulled up by instinct in a quiet corner of the car park. He came into me out of lost terror of the mad and awe of synchronicity. Whatever the truth we can scarcely touch with our minds it is all there in our lives and our life can overwhelm us in its potency.

“You aren’t afraid of dying,” I said.

“No.”

“Then why are we ducking and diving as if we are?”

“Are we? I thought I was trying to live in the present and leave a future for you.”

“Then why have we rented a cottage in the Hebrides we don’t want and are now searching for a boat.”

“Because a boat is a perfectly natural machine, especially one built in 1920 of mahogany and oak.”

“Really!”

“Of course, it has an engine, which the Vikings never had, or Christopher Columbus. Just wind and oars.”

“How many sorts of natural machine could there be?”

“Bicycles, skis, gliders?”

“No. I was thinking others types of worlds. Could there be sun skiers. Could infinity machines, if they are necklaces. Could it be as simple as the wind? If Asante’s life crosses mine? Crosses everybody’s with the same touch?…”

“…Anthony, you have a big house in Wiltshire?”

“I used to have. I gave it to my sister, all but the East Wing.”

“That’s yours.”

“Yes.”

“We could live there.”

“It’s a full time job running a country estate. I’ll inevitably end up running it. The curious thing is, when I die you will become the Countess. I don’t know how that will go down with my relatives.”

“You’re a Count?”

“Yes. Well, strictly an Earl but my wife is a Countess.”

“Why didn’t you tell me? I could have dressed up and acted posh.”

“You’re terrifying enough as it is.”

“An Earless. Ear less.”

“An heiress. Not much money but things, venerable and beautiful. I gave my sister the house but kept the art.”

A Countess. How strange. Will I have to visit the Queen and have tea at Sandringham?”

“I wonder if she would understand.” He made a movement of embodiment. “Fifty years alone on Mars. How many years as a queen. They live a long time those women. They must have something in common.”

“You think – I might be the go-between? What none of the science fiction writers imagined, the first meeting between the future and its past, two ladies from the extreme ends of town having tea.”

“I wonder. You also must have something in common.”

“Asante is me.”

“But you also believe she is the future?”

“Yes. When all of us can extend ourselves to feel the future crosses us like a rope thrown across a high wire. Like Blondin over the Niagara Falls.” (Nowadays I would much more use the image of Phillipe Petit and the Trade Towers – which do not exist!) “The Event. The high wire is us living our impossible lives. The high wire is Asante living the utterly impossible which becomes the possible in us when we acknowledge her. She is the wire, we are the rope. We are the wire, she is the rope. When our impossible world and her impossible world are contained in one something that’s always there and we know it, then both impossible worlds are gone leaving only – Love. The most impossible world of all, but of the worlds of consciousness the only one that’s real.”

Anthony was rapidly scrawling my words on paper.

“What are you doing?”

“You’re a bloody oracle.”

“But it doesn’t mean something in the afterwords, only in the present.”

“How do you do this! You’re only seventeen!”

“But it’s all there. All we don’t know is always present, so it doesn’t matter what you know or don’t know or will never know. All of what is real is present. So if we all act as if.”

“It will be crazy.”

“So isn’t it crazy now, with battleships. And atom bombs. You think that has a future? But this, you and me. This crazy kissing someone we know nothing about. This could last forever from beyond time.”

Sometimes I think I frightened Anthony so badly he was scared to have sex with me. That is a moment I treasure, when fear has stretched love to its limits and it hangs on.

After days of searching we found the boat at Mylor in Cornwall on hardstanding and looking not so forlorn as some of the dilapidated orphans around her. An engineer’s report suggested she was on the cusp between repairable and scrap. A boatbuilder said you could spend a fortune replacing ropes and sails.

“I’d put her back in the water and see what breaks. The hull’s mahogany and oak. Water improves it…”

“…some paint. Service the engine and try her out. Replace what breaks.”

So that’s what we did. I got very involved in the physical work, sanding down and painting. I love physical rhythm and can be totally lost. Perhaps it’s where I first discovered the pleasure of laying on paint. It has nothing to do with the aesthetics of making pictures but the dance of the body and the body and spirit or soul, if those are different things.

Every time I saw my boat after my paint sang to me of days of brush and the sun.

Eventually she was in the water and we held our breath. She leaked a little to begin with but the wood expanded and the leaks sealed. We tried her up and down Carrick Road, first on the engine and then the sails. One day we pointed her straight through the gap between Pendennis and St Anthony’s Head and out to sea and I started to get my first serious instruction in riding a sea horse. 

It is not like living in a tent or a van where the demands of living accommodation and transport offer little interruption to sexual activity or sleep, here the demands of boat, wind and tide require constant attention. A current may take you three miles in an hour so you turn around to go back where you came from and find it has completely vanished, so instead of going north you must go south west and with only light winds you might be better heading for an anchorage and waiting for the tide to turn. So after your one hour mad spree you finally get back to your mooring seven hours later ravening for fish and chips but you missed it unless you drive 20 miles, which you do. In those days people didn’t think twice about blowing a gallon or two of hydrocarbon so frivolously. 

Later in the month, with much more planning, we undertook the trip to Fowey. Dolphins leaped across our bow. I tried to touch their backs. Time stopped under a vast canopy of gold. Great, haze flattened ships debated Eternity. I arrived in a state of anxious awe. We tied up to a jetty and had fish and chips on the harbour. You’d think I had crossed an ocean I felt so charged.

Back in Falmouth – ha! – just like catching a bus. No, a lesson in wind management, tacking into a brisk south westerly. 

Anthony saying, “come in closer but not too close. Catch deflection from the land. We’ve got to avoid ‘overfalls.’” His large finger on the chart. We are swept into Carrick Roads on a fast current and have to start the engine to bring us to our buoy. I catch it and hang on as I’m nearly dragged into the water.

In the still evening we swing to the falling tide.

“Everything moves,” I said.

“Yes. And the good sailor knows why. What state of the tide? What stage of the month’s cycle of tides. The big ones follow the Moon.”

I was amazed. “It’s like one great animal.”

“So what do you think of our boat?”

“It’s like being gods coming out of the sea.”

“Want to go back to camping?’

I smumphed. “Depends where.”

In truth there was plenty of downtime around boats, especially with the Cornish weather. We had a vague plan of the Canaries or Azores, which didn’t seem far when you thought of Tilman in Patagonia, reached in a boat very similar to this. And here we were, halfway to the Scilly Islands, stuck in Penzance. We enjoyed what amenities of civilisation Penzance possessed. Along with Newlyn and St Ives a plethora of art galleries. Some of the artists exhibiting were famous.

“Even I’ve heard of Barbara Whatsername.” Said Anthony.

One gallery had paintings of herring girls from the 19th Century to the present, majestic women following the herrings shoals. Photographs with massed masts of wind ships. “ God!” I said, thinking of the sex they’d be having when their men got home. Of one painting, which seemed to have pride of place, Anthony said after reading the caption.

“This is my sister’s.”

It was a depiction of the modern equivalent of herring girls. A keyside and boats, seagulls blown over women like rocks. It reminds me now of a Manet, a cluster of women in moonlight awaiting their fishermen’s return.

“Does she live here?”

“Has a studio, I believe.”

“You don’t know!”

“We’re of a different generation. Different mothers.”

He asked the gallery owner, who had a card.

“Are you driving?”

“Sailing.”

He gave him a card for a taxi.

“Or train to Carbis Bay and walk.”

He gave Eve’s card to me. “It might come in useful.”

The idea of visiting his sister came strongly from me but he didn’t want any fuss. “The practical stuff is in the hands of the lawyer. Relatives are not the unalloyed blessing that you think, my darling, especially if they smell an inheritance. I want to make my peace with the universe, not turn over a wasps nest.”

Our time in Penzance was not wasted but it dampened our ambitions. Anthony had thought, upon reaching Tenerife, he might climb Teide, the volcano, not as a mountaineering challenge but a test of his altitude fitness. As it was when the weather improved we headed for the Scillies. It was early season and quiet. In addition many sailors were breaking free from British waters and heading for the Med or the Caribbean. Francis Chichester was already sharpening his keels to bring single circumnavigation of the globe into history. We entered the Scillies and a new order of experience. 

I do not believe in magic waters. I know. I’ve been there. The Scilly Isles is a little cluster of tiny islands on the edge of the Atlantic that are the door handle to much larger islands of the ocean interior. There are at least one or two magnitudes of islands, one being as large as half the North Atlantic, paralleling the myth of Atlantis (what America might have been if some other embodiment had found it), the other more towards the size of the Great Nebula in Andromeda, an island that lives as islands are supposed to be, somewhere dark gods cannot follow or even remain in existence. 

From the moment we entered to the moment I left, the magic of magical dreams became our reality. There was nowhere to be other than this white beach or floating in this impossibly clear water. Nowhere. I am not driven to follow a dream when this now surpasses it. 

There are no questions that this does not answer. If the will says we should be moving the reality answers where should we go after this? Not that every moment was unalloyed ecstasy. We were still ourselves with a man dying.  There were moments on the beaches when the dead afternoon was like the holocaust of God knowing everything humans had done to destroy themselves. He knew, investigator of deep truth, and I felt. Part of the horror of 3.33 in the afternoon was the knowledge that if he didn’t no one would or could. This apex of vision of the human condition would never be seen again. As if this was so and perhaps none of it was so. That he was simply mad. And his companion wife, drawn from the stinking hovels of slums of a melting pot port was all the companion such a freak of Nature deserved. Such afternoons when the Pope, with his head in the stars and his feet on the bed of the sea, consigned all reality, all Nature, every good thing we ever knew into everlasting fire. 

But then it became five o’clock and six on a midsummer afternoon and Eternity breathed with us again. 

Where my foot walks through the clear water a hundred thousand angels are missing, not needed. This foot knows everything, is everything and all knowing is its little cousin, its baby infinity laughing.

Strange things happened on the islands. We walked in a wood on Tresco but could never find it again. On St Martins was a great sound of bees in the bushes but not one to be seen. The rational mind, which was always present, said they must be under the leaves. Then we heard them again at Troytown Maze on St Agnes where the height of the bushes is a tundral 2 centimetres, where you could not hide a pea let alone a bee let alone enough of them to be the voices of everything. We were sat in a pub – where? – no, I don’t think it was a pub but where was it? A little old lady walked past, smiled at us and went around that corner. And she did it again, exactly as before. And she did it again! Each time she looked more like my gnome, and we saw it together.

“What are these islands!”

“Are we both going exactly similarly mad?”

Something was looking back at us. 

It was not something that was other than the human eye can see, most of the time. But how can you see then lose an entire wood on an island smaller than Hyde Park!

And the women, like the little old lady, or the woman I kept seeing on the beach, that sat or stood or walked with a child with such authority. And I could never go near her. I tried, then something took my attention, and she was gone. No time to have gone anywhere other than to have vanished. Or was it me and time, pieces missing?

And the lighthouse. Bishop’s Rock Lighthouse, always on the horizon. Calling. Not. Calling. Not. Calling.

We were there for June, July and most of August, whatever that could mean. Long days that began before the sun rose and had not ended ten thousand years later under stars that visibly hung in space. 

Anthony began to write, a sudden flushing out of words, thoughts, visions. He ran out of paper and started writing on the boat. He ran out of pens. No, we won’t go to St Mary’s. No towns. We’ll live on fish. He wrote with a filed six inch nail – into my varnish! That was older than time. Or he’d sit for hours, like a lizard under the sun, staring at the horizon. Sometimes at me. We both did. Lost in living eyes.

“Eternity,” one of us would say, and turnings of galaxies later the other might reply “yes.”

Three months ago we’d seen the tests. There was no future for his body. It was a matter of choosing when to go, which is why we were there for so long. 

Fires on the beaches here and there, mostly here in this less accessible part of the islands. Occasionally another boat anchored and we’d offer them our hospitality, such as it was. Mostly it was them gifting to us, a bag of flour, a tin or two of tuna. They seemed to know, we had become the oracles of the islands, of all islands. 

There came a time when he could not get to shore. The fire on the beach was no longer our home. It couldn’t be long now. Days of watching a man die in pain, lost to me, because I could not bear one second of knowing he was dead. We had laid a plan. The weather was changing. Tonight would be better than tomorrow and beyond that the Atlantic would rise up out of its long deep sleep. 

We motored out of Hell Bay through the islands to the deep channel between St Agnes and Gugh and anchored near to the southern end.

I couldn’t bear it.

“Don’t go!”

We sat holding each other in the dark. This moment and this moment and this moment. Soon it will be daylight again. Our excuse is we are waiting for the tide. I dress him warm for he is cold. I wear nothing but rubber gloves and am hot. I get him into the dinghy with the spare anchor tied to him where I should be. And he has the gun. Should I ever be coming back the lights on the boat will guide me. I row us out through the sound into the bigger swell of the sea. 

He helps push the oars. 

“This is like Sefton Pond,” I said. 

The first day of our life together.

“So it is, with the strength reversed. It’s a pity we never put all we knew together. Perhaps it isn’t over.”

“But you’re a priest.”

“I’m not really a priest. Your Asante and Ius, and you, girl, you’re the great one. It isn’t over. It can’t be over. What was it you said. The real is there no matter what we believe. Get them to see that at least.”

“They’ll have to see it for themselves. Shoot me first.”

“I can’t, girl, there’s only one bullet…”

“…if you don’t go now you’ll never make it.”

“I’d see you sooner.”

“There is no time.”

We embraced fiercely and kissed. I slid into the water and sank for a moment. Die now. But I couldn’t disappoint him in his last moments. I surfaced and saw the lights and him, a shape in the dark. 

“Goodbye.”

I swam backstroke so I could see him or where he was in the dark. The tide was turning. I heard the engine start. I swam as hard as I could to not feel anything but my movement in water. At last the boat. I haul myself up and towel myself off before I drape the towel over one light and place myself in front of the other. Then I take the towel off and sit on the deck waiting for the gunshot.

I’m not sure what I heard but I heard the birds. I knew he had gone as though I had cut off my life. My scream must have been heard all over the islands. The gulls of Gugh exploded upon the night. When they had settled he remained filling the world and leaving it. 

In that moment I wanted to get back into the water and drown. Don’t leave me in body and soul.

Somethings you cannot begin to put into words. When you know the end is the beginning. When I have failed you I know I should have treasured you from the start as though the failure to do so would mean the living loss of my immortal soul. We never get second chances. This isn’t true but the death of those we honed our ignorance upon is very final. I would get a second chance with other people but in that moment the pain was so great that I felt responsible for even the death of my parents as though the great possibilities they had created me for and died for would be obliterated by me killing myself to kill the pain. 

This is victim thinking in the extreme. But the pain of such total soul loss means you die or it breaks open a door to such profound depths of sorrow where everything is loss including the knowledge that not everything had to be lost. We could always have behaved in the best sense like a human being instead of the idiot who never knew this and sold the world for a mess of pottage, a heap of coins, a great ideal which turns into rags and weeping in the reality of death, not end of a full life death but premature where so many strands of life have been cut off by selling ones soul for worthless advantage even of the greatest creations. Not inert works of art but even infinity machines that can simulate life itself to a perfection that life itself could never attain. Even that was worthless in the face of human love we have destroyed.

Why was I thinking like this? I had not destroyed him. I had helped him destroy himself, put him out of his misery like a sick animal. All the great of Creation for this little animal relief. Easily said when you are not in pain. I had found the bullets. Useless for killing oneself without a gun. Knife was pain. I just wanted no more pain. 

I had the knife in my hand as I heard something? – like a mosquito? An engine? Not uncommon, but at this time of night? Cut. Bumping alongside. In torchlight he was clinging to a line in the dinghy with water sloshing in the bottom. I daren’t get into it but handed him the knife. He cut the ropes and the anchor fell. I reached down and helped him pull the rucksack off, grabbed the painter and made the dinghy fast. Carefully, desperately urgently, I helped him up until he was safely in the boat. I got him into the cabin and out of his wet clothes and under covers together. He was ice cold. He might yet by morning be dead. My whole body was convulsing in a unique mixture of crying and climaxing that might even have been shivering. Was this a dream, a nightmare, were we both dead?

He was trying to explain but not making much sense until I realised he was saying what I had experienced. That cosmic guilt for human death made far more sense for him than me. Through sleeping and waking and talking and getting hot soup and drinks into him I got some sense that we had been sharing consciousness, which I had accepted as the presence of his death. Knowing he wasn’t dead would give me much food for thought over the coming years that our minds are far more shared than we realise. Culture is the biggest part of what separates us.

At that moment we had no culture, just raw reality.

If you tell someone they’re mad and you convince them then they might, very likely will, lose confidence in themselves. I was aware of a right royal darkness behind Anthony and I wasn’t going to live with it any more. When I brought the dinghy in I’d found the gun under the water. Part of my domestic activity was drying it out thoroughly with a tea towel, finding the silencer, testing it under a pillow into some spare timber, making sure the safety was on. I didn’t want to kill him accidentally.

I sat outside the Fo’castle, from where he couldn’t immediately get at me. I made sure he was awake and had seen the gun. 

“This is working and fully loaded. You know I’m very accurate with it. If I miss you I mean to.”

I had surreptitiously slipped the safety off and fired one round into the hatch timber, slipped the safety on again and pointed it at his head. He was alert, not at all like a groggy invalid.

“Don’t move an inch. After last night I can’t live with this. Your life’s on a hair. You know I have powers. You may have been faking believing in them. I hope not, because I know things about you. There is a darkness behind you. Is it you or something else? Are you just mad? I don’t think so. You never tried to convince me I’m mad or bad like others. So why the darkness?”

“May I look at you?”

“Ok. No tricks.”

He moved his head so he could see me eyes. What he saw moved him, but if he was a great actor you’d expect to see that.

“The darkness is what I’ve told you. Institutional darkness through all mankind.”

“I don’t believe you. When I was in love, yesterday, I still did.”

“What changed?”

“I’m asking the questions.”

“You’re good, Maisy.”

“Patronise me another inch and I’ll kill you.”

“Would you believe I really love you?”

“That was the meaning of my life, yesterday.”

I was trying not to cry. The gun was beginning to shake.

“Would you mind pointing it just a little past me?” He even pointed which direction past him so he could get a glimpse of the safety.

“It was your scream that said so much, amplified by the gulls as though it was life itself screaming. The message was clear as a bell, life first. All this about me first, disguised as work for others. Killing myself for an idea of what was best for you. I saw it all clearly as vanity, even if it was true…”

“…As I started to turn the boat I realised I was very unstable, top heavy. I had a knife in case I changed my mind but the rope was tied over the pocket. I couldn’t get at it. I had the gun. One bullet. Would it cut the rope? I couldn’t get an angle that didn’t threaten a part of me or topple me into the drink. And what would you think when you heard the gunshot? I didn’t know you already thought you’d heard it. I managed to lie on the bag of stones and steer the boat. I was now going into the current and shipping water and I was getting very wet…”

“…It was classic Romeo and Juliet. Would you kill yourself before I got back. Would I die in trying to reach you. And I was hallucinating.”

It was searingly painful to hear this. What kind of hell had we sunk to? 

All this could have been blather but it so matched my inexplicable feelings of guilt last night that it was as if we had been one mind.

“Then why the darkness? It felt very personal to you.”

He had difficulty saying. 

“Stop acting and just say it?”

“Maisy, it’s your genius working against you. I’m only acting to your infinity eye. As far as human reality can ever tell, I’m speaking the truth. Of course, it’s not society’s truth.”

“There’s more. You’re hiding something.”

“Not really. There is an aristocracy of the spirit. Rumours of it exist in normal society, but it’s all silly stuff. Cordwainer Smith calls it The Instrumentality. Even Jung fell for it with his studies of alchemists. The real masters barely touch their breath into this world. Some live in the body. Some don’t. Such is the corruption of our society that those who do are nearly all men. I met one of them in the Himalayas. We were there to overwinter at nineteen thousand feet in a prefab hut which had been helicoptered in. Deep in the middle of winter a man walks up, barefoot, wearing a cotton robe. He sat on a rock nearby. He completely ignored all our attempts to invite him into the shelter. Nineteen hours later he was still sitting there. The snow had melted from around his feet. Our doctor examined him. He had very slow heart rate and breathing. His feet were hot to touch. After the examination and photographs he walked away – up the mountain. It’s all there in the book the doctor wrote on mountain medicine. After that my life was changed. It was as if a great deal more had been imparted to me than these physical anomalies. There are some people in the world who claim to represent this community through action in the world. Last night I had a rendezvous with one of them according to a world wide plan but your scream shocked me into a much broader state of mind more in keeping with the man I’d met in the Himalayas.”

“You were going to leave me!”

“Yes.”

“For this greater plan?”

“Not without horrendous regret. Now I’m back, to do it all with you.”

“And your friends?”

“They are a global network. A sort of league of gentlemen who think very highly of themselves and not much of women, except as necessary vessels of procreation. They’re international so no country can touch them. They have their fingers in many pies. The reason that various mafias work for them at the not very profitable business of human trafficking is because they pay them, mainly to take off their hands the people who are of no use to them. On the other hand, if they see value in you there is no limit to what they will do for you.”

“Including you?”

“Yes. Last night I turned them down for a mere girl. They might wonder why. Whatever, it’s drawn their attention to you.”

“So, what would have happened to me if you’d gone with them?”

“I would have tried to persuade them that you are something special. As it is, my action may have suggested it. Not that I turned back for mere lust for a girl.”

The block seemed to have largely dissolved. He had told me something of the truth, even all of it as far as he knew.

“Are you sick?”

“Yes, hence the urgency. But last night I saw clearly that no conscious system or ideals of action are worth more than a life. That’s a helluva thing to realise in a planet where murder on a global scale is the universal business model.”

“What will happen to you, to us?”

“I doubt if they’ll waste a bullet on us. I imagine they’ll wait and see what happens. They seem immune to normal human corruption, perhaps because they’re running it from a level beyond human emotion.”

I made sure the safety was on and tossed the gun to him. He released the bullets from it and put them in his pocket and tossed the gun back to me.

“Can I get back to being sick?”

“You’re really sick?”

“I was. No doubt I will be tomorrow. But in all the excitement.”

“Do you need morphine?”

“No.”

“You weren’t acting?”

“Being sick is a kind of rehearsal for being more sick.”

“What do we do now?”

“Live it day by day. If there’s only one good day then we should live it accordingly. Make love, eat and consider the implications.”

“Of what?”

“Everything I’ve told you. How can we, you and I, touch these things?”

“Love making hits the spot for me.”

“Yes, and if we follow kundalini we will achieve mastery.”

“You know?”

“I learned a lot in India. When I thought I was missionising them they were more than missionising me. A lot rubbed off.”

“Love making?”

“Yes. One day at a time.”

“Afterwards, can we make it to Saint Mary’s for fish and chips. I’m sick of cooking.”

“Why don’t we beach the boat at high tide and walk to the Turk’s Head? You can have fish and chips and I’ll have roast beef or something.”

“Can you?”

“We’ll see. One day at a time.”

We reanchored the boat nearer the head of the bay and took the tender ashore. 

The walk to the Turk’s Head was under a quarter of a mile but it was far too ambitious. I left Anthony sitting above the sand bar and walked to the pub and explained our predicament and that I had to get back to him. They were happy to deliver, even supplying wine and glasses. I paid and returned to Anthony, who was sitting as I had left him staring at the world. He smiled as he saw me. 

“It’s all so beautiful. And you. How did it happen?”

“Let’s not waste time chattering, Anthony.”

I started kissing him movementarily, then grew still. Or movementarilily very small. It was like the swarms of bees which had sounded on St Agnes, only it was swarms of kisses and swarms of little star fish hands. This is it, when the cultural imprisonment is swept away, all the kisses of everywhere are gathered in one place. 

“HKHM.”

Our meal has arrived. Wine in a bucket of ice. Plates of food still slightly steaming. Two people, a man and a woman have brought them. They don’t work for the pub. They are customers who heard my story. 

“Why don’t you stay,” I said. “We can share this. Anthony won’t eat more than a potato. And that’s enough alcohol to ensure we both drown when we go back to our boat.”

They stayed a little and had a few chips. Anthony explained.

“I’ve got cancer. I tried to commit suicide last night. It didn’t work but it’s made me feel a whole lot better.”

He laughed and we laughed and we all laughed. In the very presence of the graveworks

“The pub says you can leave the plates and the glasses here. They’ll pick them up in the morning.”

“I can bring them back. It’s only five minutes.” 

But the pub knew better than me. I left them stacked with a note on a napkin for the Turk’s Head as we took our bottle into the dunes. Anthony’s condition might have wiped out his muscular skeletal integrity but his flesh was not so impaired. A strong ghost of his solar potency was drawn by me towards the surface like horses escaping into the wild. His breathing was so chaotic I thought I had killed him. Eventually we moved back to our tender and to the boat.

This little expedition required a day’s recovery.

“Before we go further, how about we get you to a hospital and some tests.”

“No.”

“Creature, if you’re with me you don’t have any fucking choice. You don’t seem quite so at death’s door as you were yesterday. I have to know what I’m dealing with. You very eloquently explained the spiritual position. I need to know the physical position. Are you dying or not?”

“One day at a time you said.”

“I did not say, you devious, lying bastard. You said.”

I whipped my knife out and instead of slicing his head off, as my gesture suggested, I slammed it into the deck at his feet.

“Maisy, calm down.”

“I am perfectly calm except when you behave like a total prick. You said yesterday that the human is more important than anything. Whatever stupid idea you have about dying incognito does not consider me. My desire is perfectly simple. I need the latest diagnosis of your condition so I know how to deal with you.”

“What if they don’t let me out?” 

“Then I know. I don’t drag you to the Turk’s Head and you don’t make fifty yards. You don’t understand, you pestiferous moron, you’re already dead in me. It happened the other night. Everything else is bonus but I want it on my conditions. I don’t know if you’re not the mad one. Going out to meet the Instrumentality with an anchor tied to you and bag of fossils on your back. If you’re the mad one,” I said, pulling the knife out of the floor and waving it at him. “I want to know. It doesn’t mean I love you any less. Maybe more. I want your life, alive, in truth, that’s all.”

“You’re right. If I die in a hospital?”

“You can walk out of a hospital.”

“You can’t until they discharge you. They’ll send the police after you to bring you back.”

“Really?”

“Yes. Doctors have the complete control over you when you’re in their care.”

I put the knife away.

“You want to live with me one day at a time?”

“Yes.”

“No advice from anyone else?”

“Yes.”

“What do you want to do? What do you expect to happen?”

“What we’ve talked about for years. Live life on the edge. Live life in the heart of the world.” 

“I always assume that’s like being a fit athlete.”

“It may be, but why don’t we try kundalini, it’s just breathing.”

“What do we do?”

“You know the pictures I showed you of Shiva and Shakti.”

“Yes.”

“Like that. But I can’t sit up for it or even lie down with you on top of me.”

“Side by side?”

“We can try. Even front to back.”

“And we just breath?”

“Yes. At first. That might be enough. Everything might happen from there. Or we might have to prime the pump with a little imagination.”

“Okay. Do you want to start now?”

“After breakfast?”

It was only what we’d done at the Presbytery for years. Stillness. Instead of ‘praying’ we ‘medied’. And even, as our journey unfolded, ‘nothinged’. As few words as possible.  Being very ill is not a great foundation for this but it was very effective in dealing with the illness. One day at a time became ten, during which I expected each one to be his last. My job, apart from thinking about the boat, was to be with him, feeling the moment. 

Where are you, great man, already in the realm of death? There is the dark nothing for our everyday awareness, but even that knows and sometimes remembers dreams. There is the great dream that is even less known in our everyday, although it can be approached when we are very still or in some other extreme. Without morphine he was not experiencing it as frightful hallucinations, torment without meaning. I held my hands near the pain and willed it away from him and it went. Sometimes it came into me. Sometimes I used the Cross to protect me. Always I used APIO. My hands were filled with Ius and Asante and the Professor and the Oracle were the affective field of infinity of which life is among the core states, one of a company. The fairies, angels, elves and toenail giants I knew a decade ago in my childhood gathered around me, us, happy to be of service to the living. A great white wolf came and fiercely ate the cancer. The Cross, which at first was in the drearest pit of hell, brought us like lightning bolts into a great beinged sky. This we shared in conversations I didn’t think of as theological.

“Man Sky. I don’t seem to mind Man Sky. It’s clearer, spacious, like mountain summits. Surrounds the Virgin chapel with its thick honey-rose.”

“When you say it I know I’m feeling it.”

I surrounded him with flowers, sometimes bought, sometimes picked from river banks when we were emerging from winter shelter in Penryn River. The man was then stronger, walking a plank from shore carrying boxes. 

Another time we were sailing the Bristol Channel to Lundy or extending ourselves into the Irish Sea. Everywhere boat people knew us. It seemed we had a notoriety. Whoever had the White Wake was like that. It was a boat built for story.

Days became years and every one of them we walked a world between. I knew one day, always soon in my mind, he would be gone and I would be alone. Alone as I could be amidst such a panoply of beings. Or perhaps they would be gone too. I had glimpsed the hell of life without him once. But this time would surely be different? I lived his death day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, and those minutes and days were joyful. I often afflicted the hour and the day of the boat by singing as I chopped vegetables and he sang too. He had a good voice if a little croaky. It was a happy boat. I was always pleased to see it after a day ashore. It was beyond happy. It was a storied boat. It was our house and temple upon the tempestuous ocean. Almost as if the planetary ocean was made for it. Made by it. They had been conceived and born together. 

The 1960s came unnoticed by us. One day, sitting in a harbour pub, perhaps it was Belfast, I heard a voice on the radio. ‘She loves you, Yeah Yeah Yeeeeeaaaaah!’

And so I reconnected with George. The whole world did. How our lives had diverged. If Anthony hadn’t ‘rescued’ me from him what might have been! Although it would be a while before I knew the composition of the Beatles. I was a creature of the open air, not even superficially resembling the weekend yachters fresh down from the City. Even in those days Anthony called it the Laundry, meaning an unspeakable evil. He would know.

Sailing in the death zone. Floating in harbours here or there. Riding out a storm. It’s all one great sea memory, an art enactment, a sailing for pleasure and meaning that even our sea going ancestors could never afford. Yes, they worked great wind ships but it was more a commerce of Hell. How often did that world catch their breath with its beauty. Perhaps every day. Or were they, like Captain Smith, under pressure for a record and meeting an iceberg. There is no doubt that the world of ships is a beautiful and awesome wonder. Every day when the tide comes in, like every time you see the Moon, it catches your breath, it touches your soul. No real racer had ever owned this boat but I knew when I held its sail like a razor cutting the wind I had touched the spirit of this boat like one in a thousand sunsets, she had spoken to me out of infinite depths. 

Those days, years with Anthony among the islands, on the great and living sea, at anchor in some uninhabited bay between one tidal breath and another. We talked of striking out for farther islands but living one day at a time, the impetus was not really there to see the whole world. This bay could be any bay and these wild, windy shores had their own great beauty. The farthest we got was the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, which is as wild a place as any for a storm wrecking. We rode out one blow in a good enough anchorage beside the Callanish Stones that would, through Ius, figure so large in the future of the world and ensured it would live out its natural span as a home for life. Big things our little lives were stepping into and creating.

Three summers Anthony lived after his first death, healthy throughout most of them. We lived a thousand days one day at a time, practicing our form of kundalini meditation as a single body. My beautiful chaos of gnomes and crosses began to take coherent form as inner light union. It was sexual and spiritual as a single state. From it everything took on a character of sexiness. No mystery now as to why the ocean is beautiful, or the tree or the stone or the woman. The works of Man were often beautiful, a cathedral or a fishing harbour, or a cow evolved for milking or a race horse, though controversial, and landfill is better than every shoreline drowned in litter, but these are early days of a vast future. What I have seen of the inner life suggests to me we have enormous capacity for loving living. It is the nature of life. Left to ourselves we would do it, but leaders are another sort of animal. Whether or not there is a solution to them, like there must be solutions to landfill, I am inclined to doubt unless what we have discovered about union breathing becomes universal. Recent experience in the 2020s with Pandemic, isolation and social distancing suggests government’s first instinct is not towards people’s union and unity, indeed divide and rule is becoming an epidemic at all levels and layers of society. The answer is our choice. As individual people we have to be the universal power of connectedness, which is very much visceral and somatic, not mind and its potentially useful but usually useless algorithms. Unless there is a major somatic element to society we are a world of the living dead no matter how dynamic it may seem. My relationship with Anthony gave him three more years past the point where he was expected to die. And that’s in a world which knows nothing about somatic union and unity, which is hellbent for self destruction and all solutions sound like separation, isolation and imprisonment. Algorithms before people, profit before people, Hell is Heaven. Goodbye, sweet world, I wonder if anything will remember you?

I now come to an aspect of my story which I cannot explain. It is a joke and yet true that I have several heads, some capable of living completely separately from the others. Explaining this is impossible because I cannot think about it without feeling I am dynamically disintegrating. In my later years I feel I have become more of a single person remembering one history in different selves but there is a lot left out. Occasionally I still have that weird feeling of another stream of memory which I cannot place anywhere in my recorded life. Perhaps Ius and Asante will finally be revealed as people I have been all along, that my life extends into centuries I have not been permitted to remember. If I tried to write my story as I have lived it you could never read it and I would go mad. I suppose that’s a stupid way to put it because I am mad but at least I can fake normal and get away with it most of the time. In normal terms I am successful. I saved Holy Wood from the planners – what a euphemism! It is now the world wide centre for neo Tantra. Human gods roam its corridors and startle visiting old ladies if they would like to be laid out in the woods, by which they mean not prepared for death but have the life within them fully revealed.

The power of the northern islands captured us again, those piercing, empty beaches, not a man or a dog, only the sound of a seal like the voice of a god. We have rented a place even north of Barnhill. From here Corryvreckan’s outfall is visible like a boiling scar extending into the sea. it’s great voice shakes our nerves and pulses through our dreams. 

We both became obsessed with Corryvreckan. It nearly killed George Orwell. No 1984. On quiet nights you’d hear it, feel it, in the pull of the Sun and the Moon. It’s the pull I feel the most, the black hole at the heart of everything. He has gone. Gone into it? I wanted to join him but the waters terrified me on too deep a level. I spent days searching the shore. I found his clothes and spent days more waiting. Wearing his jacket for warmth and touch I found a letter. It took me years to be able to read it. It’s still impossible. Those bleak Jura skies still haunt me. Part of me is frozen in time sitting by his pile of clothes. I meant to join him. I still have the gun and the knife. 

After Jura I wandered, looking for that place to die. I had his cash and the address of a solicitor in Bristol. I daren’t go near Liverpool. I wanted sky. I had the bivvy kit and the skills he’d taught me.  In those days you could call on a farmer to camp in a field anywhere and they wouldn’t refuse. Most of the time I’d get a barn or a couch or a bed and dinner and breakfast, an invitation to stay. They were always grateful for labour. At one farm I was driving a tractor, delivering plywood to build a hut. There I reread Tess of the Durbevilles. I would go to Stonehenge and die on the altar alongside Tess and all the other wronged women of the world. An immortal sacrifice. 

I walked south into England, down what would become the Pennine Way. It took me a month. I had a compass and a map of Britain. It was easy to get lost. But I was lost anyway. Wherever I was was the next beginning. There is something desolate about sleeping in the dead reaches of civilisation, doorways and benches, factories and field boundaries threatened with borderland people or in ghost protected graveyards. 

I closed in on Stonehenge by random encounters. I slept in cars, got fed by my drivers, and propositioned, but when I brought the knife to their attention, saying in best Liverpool gobshite – 

‘I’ve cut up bigger animals than yous.’

They thought better of it. 

The final driver was the strangest of all, a Frankenstein monster in a little Austin Seven. Like the distillation of seven thousand years of the real evolution on these islands, escorting me to the place of truth. I wouldn’t dare show him the knife if he came at me. But he let me out at Stonehenge, which in those days really was the middle of nowhere, hallucinating into the sunset, walking in among the giant stones, under the vortex of Corryvreckan. I lay on the Altar Stone with my knife in my hand and must instantly have fallen asleep. The next I knew John and Polly were sitting either side of me, looking like angels. John was holding the knife and said.

“Are we interrupting something?”

They were artists and Jungian therapists. Polly particularly knew “Carl Gustav” very well. They were on their way back from Cambridge after “burying a relative”, and had paused at the Stones because of a dream. In those days they really were a tumbled ruin upon an open moor. So finding a young woman asleep on the Altar Stone with a knife beside her was unusual even for them. They had been hoping to reach Falmouth that night but when they began to hear my story Stonehenge became the centre of the world. After a few minutes Polly said.

“What is your name?”

“Maisy.”

“Do you know a painter called Eve?”

“Yes. W-we’ve never met.”

“Who is your husband’s, ex-husband’s, sister?”

“Yes.”

“He died of cancer?”

“Did he?”

“You’re telling me.”

“Oh. He had cancer. I think he drowned himself in Correyvreckan.”

“When was this?”

“I don’t know. Before the harvest.”

“Does Eve know?” Asked John of Polly.

“Not if it was that long ago. What was your husband’s name?”

“Anthony.”

“What did he do?”

“A priest.”

“Has to be.”

“I never knew his real name, if it was different. Sometimes I think he faked his death. I don’t know which is worse, believing he was dying or thinking he was lying.”

“Either way, you came here.”

“And you know his sister?”

“And we stopped here because of a dream and because I’m a student of Carl Gustav, the chief advocate of the collective unconscious through the study of dreams.”

“Anthony talked about that. We had a lot of shared dreams.”

I told them about the one at Langdale.

“The next day we took a room at the inn and we got married.”

“A very portentous dream.”

“That’s funny. I’ve only just put those two together. We talked about that dream a lot.”

“And we found you here asjeep,” said John. “I should have asked what you were dreaming instead of all this chatter.”

“Very abstract,” I said. “They usually are. Moving colours in petri dishes with a long hooked wire. Move it in one, the colours change in another. Blobs of colour. Four then six.”

“Action at a distance,” said John.

“Perhaps it’s how Asante influences the present from the future. She’s an artist. It was careful work. Very very careful.”

“That was my dream,” said Polly. Circles within a circle. We weren’t going to stop. Driven past it too often. But it was such a beautiful sunset. Such colours!”

We sat there in the wonder of the moment, of each other, Polly in particular, an artist in fabric, a goddess of colour.

“You were sent.”

“We chose. Five minutes later we wouldn’t have. It’s a long drive.”

We sat on as the planets came out, a beautiful configuration of Jupiter, Saturn Venus and the crescent moon. And then the stars. 

We talked of many things. A strange conversation by the standards of the time and even now, lightly noosing Asante and the Instrumentality, action at a distance in space and time and the power of colours. 

“Working with colour I worship God all the time,” said Polly, “Not just for an hour on Sunday.”

Later John asked, “Shall we go? Are you finished here?”

Not even realising that’s what we were doing. What extraordinary people!

“Shall we stop at Eve’s?” Said John.

“I think so, darling. You’ll need some shuteye.”

I was asleep when we arrived and in the morning it was misty so I didn’t realise what a vast house it was. Polly spoke to a butlerish person. We were provided with cold meats and cellared wine and slept three in a bed to save fuss, as Polly put it.

So in this memory stream I arrived in Cornwall by car, was offered a room in their house in Falmouth. They were artists, John in paint and Polly in textiles. Almost at once I earned money as a model at the Art College and also privately. Eve was one of the local artists who taught there. She enticed me to St Ives with an offer of 7/6d an hour, which was a fortune by labouring standards. So two very different lines of my life came to a common point. But which was real or if both how do they relate I cannot tell you. Those who might are long dead and as your universe is an illusion of a multiverse, my experience is certainly of a reality which can never be explained to the common illusions of mankind.

I do not remember a single lifeline. I have written this as if I do partly because as I get older I have more of an overview of my life and partly because I do not want to cause a reader unnecessary confusion. The real story, APIO’s active influence on your lives the success of which, like remembering a dream, is entirely down to you, is difficult enough already. So I am only giving you a little taste of what was once my whole experience. 

In another stream of memories I am on the boat but Anthony isn’t there. I am in the channel between St Agnes and Gugh of the Scillies but for the life of me I cannot trace how I got there or where Anthony is. For all I know he has gone ashore and will be back soon. Or something very severe has happened and I have switched in order to forget.

Some people have pulled up alongside to check if we are ok. 

I am feeling very strange as though there is a giant event I can’t remember. 

“Why do you ask?”

“There was a disturbance in the night. Screaming and shouting. We couldn’t get over because the bar was up.”

“I don’t know. My husband has disappeared.”

They came aboard.

“He was a sick man. The dinghy’s gone but I don’t see it on the beach.”

I showed them the papers on the table. What might be a suicide note, though neither could make sense of it unless, perhaps, he had lost his mind!? It was attached to a letter which explained much more about him and raised many more mysteries. But it would be weeks before I’d get to read it.

“Have you called the police?

No. “He might come back.”

So they called for me. In a while a policeman came, delivered by one of the ferry boats. The lot of an island policeman cannot be the worst of its kind. He had an irremediably jolly look which he could not suppress even on this occasion. He sat in our cabin reading my husband’s note.

‘Well, Maisy, of all our conversations, this is the big one, and it’s very brief. For you timelessness proves immortality and when I am with you I know what you mean. So perhaps there is a kind of immortality to this strange and beautiful existence. I don’t believe it exists in any of the works of men, but that is sure to be too extreme an opinion. As you know, as we know, the truth is there whatever our opinions. And death is not the gate. Life is the gate, if we ever dare allow it. Maisy, you have the most extraordinary talent for embodying the spiritual of anyone I have ever met. So live. I don’t suppose the life you have lived with us has prepared you in any way to fulfil your gift. But that may be all we could give you, the conditions of reality which are not the truth. You know it is my belief that by the time writing was invented the human race had gone completely wrong in some fundamental way. We have given our souls to an ephemeral meaning in words that are not transcendent as they claim. This transcendent is the key to the passing moment which is the key to the transcendent. It’s all here now. All of it. We just have to have the courage to let life live. So this now is the point of our relationship. We tak’ both roads together.’

The policeman looked at me with his mouth open as if trying to formulate an appropriate sentence.

“What does this mean?”

“If I think about his body I’m grieving but if I think about his mind he isn’t dead. I’m sorry, officer, I think this note was meant for you.”

“Ah. To police and other interested parties.”

He began to read and kept asking questions.

“I don’t know much about my husband’s life. I first knew him as a priest, but he was very unusual.”

“In what way?”

“Well, things the Church used to burn people alive for, he was interested in, fairies and magic.”

“Like a scientific interest?”

“When I was young they thought I was possessed by the Devil – not him. He rescued me from them.”

“Why did they think you were possessed by the Devil?”

“Because they’re primitive, superstitious savages brainwashed by heartless psychos – oh – I can’t answer these questions now. It’s a long, complicated story and I don’t know – anything – about what my husband was doing. Some people think he lived a fantasy life based on a kernel of truth. Some think he was an agent for the Government. That fake identity was part of it. I think he was a freelance and an embarrassment to the Establishment. They didn’t want to know what he was up to but he could still call on favours from them. And there’s what I think he thought he was doing.”

“Hmmm?”

“I can’t really put it into words because it always sounds like something else, like something we already know, and it isn’t…”

“…I can’t talk about this now. It’s too long and complicated and as far as what my husband was really doing, I don’t really have a clue. I think he’s probably dead. If I can help you with that.”

“Right. So what do you know about his death?”

“I don’t know that he is dead, but with all that” the notes “and that he’s disappeared.”

“You think he’s still alive?”

“No, but he might be.”

“Have taken my own life while I am still able. Am still able?”

I shrugged.

“‘Went out on the spring tide so will be miles away. Am tied to the spare anchor and the stone samples bag, Bristol fashion, so there’s no use looking for a body.’ We better look anyway.”

He called for the lifeboat and any available ferry men to search. Before leaving he asked if he could borrow the papers Anthony had left in order to write his report. Among them he took the survival package Anthony had left for me. Neither I nor the police realised for several days and it would be a while before the package caught up with me. 

The lifeboat came and a couple of off duty ferry men to nose around the uninhabited islands and reefs to see what could be found. They found our dinghy floating in one of the channels but no sign of a body or a man. This suggested that he hadn’t gone out to sea but had landed. The ferry man said the boat could have come back on the tide.

The lifeboat went back to its station. A ferry brought the dinghy. There was nothing in it but the unmounted engine. The anchor and the rucksack of stones were naturally not there. That was three years ago but had we still kept them? The sight of it broke my heart. 

I winched the anchor up and headed out to sea. It was hard to see through the tears and the rain started. I heard his voice saying inside my head ‘set a course’ ‘get into your waterproofs’ ‘haul in the dinghy’  ‘close the hatch’ I wondered what was this voice in my head? Some amalgam of me and him? That he lived on inside me? I knew I was going mad but I would live with it. I had lived with it before. Then he had come as my go-between. Now he would always live inside me as my translator of the world. It was better than absolute death. Just a little bit more than a memory. 

I managed to set a course. This was good. After a few hours the land loomed large before me. Rain curtains sometimes obscured it so I had to trust my bearing. This is the most unforgiving coast to get wrong.

I don’t know where I am but catch a glimpse of a town. I think its Penzance and turn towards it. Now the waves are catching me sideways and the boat is rolling unpleasantly. I see a harbour, lots of masts. I come around to face the entrance. Waves rolling across it. Timing. I invoke Anthony. His confidence. Silly but it works. I shoot into the harbour and quickly reverse and stop. It seems to be all fishing boats. Penzance looks different from what I remember but I’m used to strange changes from the Scillies. It’ll be a time slip of some sort. 

The harbour master wants me gone but I’m not on the radio to receive the message. A big error. He comes marching down the Quay, and then catches the name of the boat and recognises it. He beckons me over and catching a shroud and the mast swings himself aboard. I am astonished by his agility for a man past his youth. 

“Who’s aboard?”

“Me.”

He looks at me. “Just you!”

“My husband died yesterday.”

He looks around for a body.

“He went overboard.”

“Can you take her in over there?”

I am not doing well.

“Move over.”

He takes her expertly to a berth.

“This is a working harbour. You can stay for the storm. Penzance is just round the corner…”

“…Your husband died yesterday?”

“Yes.”

“Have you reported it?”

“Yes.”

“Good.”

He climbed onto the jetty.

“Come to the office. We’ll sort you out.”

On my way to the office I passed fish preparing tables and asked the harbour master about a job. He told me who to see.

I told him about my husband’s cancer and probability of suicide.

“He left my certificates and information and money but I can’t find it. I had it in my hand. So I’m temporarily broke.”

Next day I asked the fish market man for a job. 

“What can you do?”

“I’m good with a knife,” I said, whipping out my hunting knife and whacking it quivering into the table

“This is not a circus,” he said. “You’ll cut your hand off with that gutting fish. We have our own knives”

He asked one of the women to look after me.

“Be careful,” he said to her, “she juggles knives for a circus.”

“We get all sorts,” she said to him. And to me, “Are you a student?”

I laughed. “They’d never have me. I’m self educated.”

“What do you do?”

“I slice fish.”

“Let’s see how you do.”

I saw the point of their short, razor sharp knives. No accidental slicing of arteries. I was slow to begin with but once I hit my stride I was impressively quick. One or two stopped to watch. The pain of my body and mind was lost in physical movement.

“You can slow down, girl, or we’ll all have to work so quick.”

I was slowed by tears, which kept running.

“I can’t work slow,” I said, “or I start thinking.”

“What about?”

“My husband died yesterday. Yes, it was yesterday! Seems like years ago.”

“Should you be doing this?”

“If I don’t I might jump in the harbour. I haven’t any money.”

I relaxed into a more reasonable rhythm and we became one jesting, working animal. I already knew that acceptance by people who work with their hands was already possible for me and these few days in Newlyn added to that confirmation. But what did work with your hands ultimately mean? Musicians work with their hands. And artists. These towns of artists. I was for and not for abstraction. I was for and not for figurative. I was about something that I’m still thinking about sixty years later. It’s what emerges through your hands when they are letting be what they make. And some day you may give birth to something utterly amazing, like a baby, that will define your human existence forever. I am mother of… This is my daughter… I would like to be the mother of something that stopped the world forever in amazement, something simple like water but endlessly mysterious. Was I thinking that then as I filleted my fishes in Newlyn. I think so. My way was always my way. I would never be famous. I might be famous. It really didn’t matter. The less such a corrupt world knew about consciousness and its deep companions, and especially now in the third decade of the twenty-first century. We have finally seen what we could scarcely imagine in the nineteen fifties, despite George Orwell and my secret Anthony, the total corruption of all social institutions, religious, scientific, commercial, financial, educational, the total corruption that is possible but not inevitable. If circumstances had not intervened I might have become a fish gutter forever and been not particularly unhappy. Although now the industry has gone. What I am experiencing is memory, a world grown direct from prehistory, which would terrify us to return to, which we can no longer find.

At break, which is when the fish stopped, or ten minutes for a cup of tea taken in tandem with your mate, I walked away, my whole body zinging with its alpha life. 

I screamed. Not a great scream which might wake an island but a stifled one. I had suddenly seen a woman appear in the corner of the great shed. She was almost the colour of the stone, what I could see of her, for she was behind an easel. For a moment I had all the feeling of the mysterious woman who appeared and disappeared, almost from memory, on Scillonian beaches. But this one persisted. She was actually there and I had not seen her arrive, or had she been there all the time? 

I tentatively approached, expecting her to vanish. She was sketching quickly on a pad not on the mounted canvas. As I came near, her eyes were huge like a child’s in the face of an adult of majestic beauty.

“I didn’t see you here?”

“I’ve seen you.”

“Are you painting – us?”

“Yes. With the agreement of everyone. I’ve not seen you before?”

“I’m new today.”

“You’re very good. I’ve tried it. I wasn’t too bad after a day but you are magical to watch, like a dancer.”

“It must be your artist’s eyes. May I see?”

She held the pad to her chest but indicated the easel. For a moment consciousness was not present and returned in fragments. It was a picture of us but seen like colossi seen through some translucent lensing medium. The background of harbour and boats was more realistic. It reminded me of something I’d seen in an encyclopaedia. Was it Manet? Fishwives waiting the return of their men. A very dark painting, a dark little huddle of desperate women clinging together in a hostile world that had no regard for them. This painter saw us as colossi of living energy. Manet’s was a great painting but a cold cousin of Darwin. This you might guess was the work of a woman containing us in a amniotic sack of light. There was a past and a future somehow contained in a presence within the present. I’m sure I didn’t think all that. I saw mystery and majesty and beauty.

“You have an incredible eye.”

“The eye has me.”

I looked at the woman who said this. It was somehow the words of a sister.

“What are you hiding?” Looking at the pad held to her chest. 

“Oh.” She showed sketches of me which must have been done in the minute since I left the table and came to her. She made me look so magnificent. No curdled brain slashing at Nature here. 

“I look so beautiful.”

“You are so beautiful.”

I looked into her eyes. “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.”

“That is Love.”

“I would like to know more.”

She quickly wrote her name and a phone number in the corner of the pad and tore it off. I slipped it into my pocket.

“I would like you to sit for me.”

“Here!”

“I have a studio at St Ives. I pay seven and six an hour. Do you have money?”

I registered that as significant money.

“Until they pay me I’m totally broke.”

She took out a wallet and handed me a pound. I tried to refuse but I needed it.

“It’s a gift,” she said. “No obligation.”

“Why?”

“You’ve already earned it.” 

I walked back to the table and back to work.

By the end of the day, which was early afternoon, she was gone. 

I walked back to White Wake and collapsed. Sinking deeper and deeper into the profound loss of Anthony, I drowned in tears and sleep. Waking an hour later I started looking through my things in the hope of finding Anthony’s package. I did find my post office book from Betty, still with eight pounds ten shillings in it. That was a great relief. I now felt relatively rich. 

After a sea water douche I headed into town and blew a shilling on fish and chips. At that rate my £9.10s was worth £2000 at 2020s prices. I never see anyone working it out like that, that the real cost of living has gone up 20,000% or 200 times. Or, take rents. The cheapest rent I saw was four shillings a week or a year for ten pounds. The cheapest rent I know of in London is £7000, a difference of 700 times. By comparison the average wage has increased 70 times. The answer, we know now, is money laundering as the major industry  of elites protected by a culture of secrecy. That the 1950s was the high point of modern society is a horrible thought to anyone who was there, and that it’s been well and truly downhill ever since is a more staggering fact than all the wonders of science. This is why, without my secret understanding, which is no secret but you have been ruthlessly educated out of respecting anything so simple, there is absolutely no hope of this species creating an intelligent future. The ordinary people are dumb but the elites are staggeringly stupid considering they have all the equipment to know better. The way through extinction and Asante seems all that can happen. We are working on trying to make it that you will succeed despite your shortcomings. This is the whole story of human life up to the very near future.

I returned to White Wake and watched the night pass inside me. I opened up myself to Asante and great comfort came to me. I was her fifth, last and ablest child, Ius, sometime about when she was three and going through a period of great curiosity about herself and her mother and then the nobody anywhere. Her mother is saying they’re all inside us, all the beings that ever exist. It is natural as females that all is inside us. But what about him, your brother Candor, should I have made him a classic man, focussed on penetration and resulting gestation without any inner knowledge. – Both I and Ius say no. – Well, I didn’t, but that doesn’t mean one won’t evolve. All of us are being born on Earth but that doesn’t mean that we will save it. You, my dear, have had a hard life but all that is about to change. This doesn’t mean you will grasp the opportunity. Or that the opportunity is there like a known prize. Your failure may be the success of an unknown kind that we are looking for. 

Did I think all this then? In a way I did because my brain was young and agile and could do advanced calculations in its sleep. Not number calculations but of the five senses stirred in a pot of love and community. This was before the shattering which would render me into parts for nearly sixty years. It’s hard to explain but it’s like being an actor entering a part. Instead of living in the common illusion of being somebody, I imagined I was and played accordingly. It was like being in love with oneself. Instead of simply wearing clothes like a law abiding robot I revelled in wearing them. So it made me seem fascinatingly alive to others and even myself, but whether it was more alive or only a mask over emptiness, who can say? I suspect it was a way to find a way to an inner sense of being. It was being professionally human without the sordid narrowness of money. I am like a prostitute who charges you nothing but the awakening and engagement of your soul. It may take fifty years for you to realise the price. It’s never too late. Come and see me. 

Even that night as I bought fish and chips I was beginning my career as great awakener through somatic repository of soul. The words have no descriptive meaning. Once you have it you can say anything. Though on the way there are string bridges of words which can clear the deck and prepare the map. That day in Newlyn, walking back with my fish and chips, savouring their deliciousness, while youchingly negotiating their hotness, I was aware of feeling happy without imaginable reason. Anthony is dead, just yesterday. No, yesterday’s yesterday. And already my new life has appeared as if already happening. Containing the woman artist whose picture I favourably contrast with Manet. 

I sit on the harbour wall with a bottle of beer crying for the great lost, in the next breath feeling deep joy in the great that is coming. I study the bottle. It says Artist’s Ale. Perhaps it doesn’t and I only think it. It is even stronger than Old Peculier. I decided to get to the boat while I still have perambulation. I sit in the cabin while the world spins. It is bad. It is delicious. I take another swig. I look into myself as God would, must be doing. Hello God. Welcome to my world. To me. I am a bit drunk. I am the finest product of evolution. I am open, like I was for Anthony. The moment. A very bad boy. Who cares? The moment. Can we come together? I am in love. Your dick. This bottle. Your dick is like into all the characteristics of this body. In the seeing of these eyes. In the feeling of this skin. In the hearing of these ears, the wash and slosh of the tide. In the embodiment of this breath. In the bodiment of this body, singing, zinging with a slick day of working. Without a body I don’t have to bury my husband. Let him be eternally half alive in me. I could cast off now and start sailing and never stop till death takes me. I am not the clinging to this life type. But strange, I am so resolutely me. This moment and this and when I wake up tomorrow. So. Come to me, great Allthing, and pin yourself to this life of mine.

My head was very clear when I woke in the storm of Newlyn and went to work. She was not there that day. The fish cutting was not so urgent as I had some money, so the artistry was all that remained. I sliced fish not like a human being trying to survive but like a performer in a circus of myself. I was primeval woman meticulously slicing the line that ensured one day there would be civilisations filling the stars.

The next day she was back and we finished before she left. She was very absorbed so I kept my distance. I realised yesterday was a dead day and now it is alive. I don’t want to be her model I want to matter to her soul. Isn’t that the same thing? It might be.

She looked up. “Have you finished?”

“Yes.”

“What are you doing now?”

“I don’t know. I need to be doing something.”

“Do you want to model for me?”

I nodded. “It sounds as though that would give me time to think and that may not be so good.”

“You rather not think?”

“Not at the moment.”

“Would you like to come anyway?”

“Come where?”

“My studio.”

“You mean now. I need to wash and change.”

“I have a shower and lots of clothes for the models. I can bring you home.”

This invitation felt so visceral and knickerless. 

“Are you sure?” Indicating my overwhelming fishiness.

“I’m sure.”

So there I was sitting in her little car with the windows open motoring to St Ives.

Her studio was out of town. It looked like a chapel. Inside was a vast amount of art and artists materials.

“All yours?”

“Most of it.”

She showed me the shower and the model clothes and said she’d put mine in the washing machine. I picked a yellow dress because it caught my eye but was different from what I usually wore.

“I’m not very domesticated,” she said, “but I can offer you eggs on toast.”

“Wonderful. Shall I do the toast?”

“Are you domesticated?”

“I don’t know. I just do what calls to be done.”

She laughed. “I was brought up with servants. Most of my friends were. We’re all at a loss as to how to look after ourselves.”

“I’m good at that. We lived wild in Scotland. First catch your bunny.” I mimed shooting with a pistol, which was not generally what we did, though shooting with an air pistol had come into it. 

Ancient gods living in a sea cave. And he was gone forever.

She later told me the transformation of my face was the strangest thing she had ever seen. For a moment quite terrifying. And I was curled up on the floor weeping like the end of the world. She held me and my story came out, broken piece by piece. 

“The mad widow,” I said. “When I take the boat back to Mylor and pick up the van that’s it. Nobody.”

Eve was sitting on the floor with me in a state of complete shock. She fervently wished she could go back to ten minutes ago. What she thought could be wrong but it was so horribly unlikely.

“What was your husband’s name.”

“I’m not sure I ever knew his real name. I always knew him as Father Anthony.”

“What is the boat called?”

“White Wake.”

“I’m not sure that I want to tell you this because it means we’re glued together for life. I think your Father Anthony is my brother.”

“Eve. You’re Eve. He used to telephone.”

“I spoke to you once.”

“So you did.”

“Tell me what happened.”

“I don’t know. I really don’t know. I woke up and he and the dinghy were gone. He committed suicide twice, three years ago and now. I rowed him out the first time and helped tie him to the rucksack of stones and the anchor. I swam back and he went on on the engine. When he knew I was aboard.”

“How did he know?”

“I’d mask the lights three times. Then he’d shoot himself.”

“Why so elaborate?”

“He wanted to escape from the human system.”

“Does that make sense?”

“It did. Three years ago he came back. We developed a way of being together focussed on healing – one day at a time. For a while he did get better. For nearly three years. We thought it was a complete remission. We must have come back to exactly the same place between Gugh and St Agnes, and this time he must really have done it. But I don’t remember.”

Eve was very quiet but I could feel her head whirring like a Catherine wheel.

“When did you arrive there?”

“The previous day.”

“No. Which year?”

Eve described the next moment as the strangest experience of a human face in her entire life. It was like the random soup of a chrysalis before it turns into a butterfly, a sort of nothing but with lineaments of agony. As if the soup from which my characters emerged was of primordial pain. The deepest question of my life, perhaps of all life was, is the base layer of existence, a scream of pain or a cry of joy.

I have spent the rest of my life working on this and she has spent the rest of hers observing me.

I realised she could tell me something which to the very bottom of my being I didn’t want to hear. In that moment I went in and came out not a different person but having parked something of my capacity for pain.

“It must be.” But I couldn’t say it. “We went there in 59.”

“59 is now.”

It took days to grasp it but not even the rest of my life has allowed me to trust that this time is real.

“It was all an illusion?”

“No. It was a creative act.”

Creativity, as I know well, spills in and out of reality. I know now much of that journey must have been in another realm. When I did first hear the Beatles on the radio it was in a harbour side pub and I knew I had already heard them. It was on a journey with Eve that would involve reaching the Stones of Callanish as well as many other elements of that ‘journey’ with Anthony. We have had many years to think about what it all meant and where I had been.

Perhaps all my characters are living in time all the time and that is the 600 years I am so aware of. Perhaps I am Ius and Asante and we are one being strapping together the two sides of the Cataclysm ensuring that the monoconscious, pre-Cataclysm species do not make themselves extinct. A job which none of them are yet able to imagine. Which so far is to the good, for monoconscious imagination is a kind of death. 

But we are still back at the cusp of the 50s and 60s and Eve and I are in serious overstretch.

“I need evidence that your Anthony was my brother.”

“There are all sorts of documents on the boat.”

“Shall we go and see them?”

“I can’t find them.” 

Then I remembered the policeman taking what was on the table. Could it have included the packet Anthony had left me?

“Could I use your phone?”

She pointed to it. 

I called the Scillies. The constable I wanted was out. He would call me back. Within ten minutes the phone rang. He realised its personal importance when he saw all the cheques, cash, certificates and contact details but I had disappeared. I then had to explain that.

“We don’t want you ending up on a murder charge, Mrs Simpson, so you’d better contact the Mainland police.”

“A murder charge!”

“It hasn’t got to that yet but your various marriage certificates are very confusing.”

“Various! There should only be two. One when I was sixteen and one when I was eighteen.”

“And two passports?”

“One was our cover identity. My husband worked for the Government and was targeted by criminals so they gave us a false identity. We had two marriages, one under each name.”

Eve came and held out her hand for the phone.

“Hello, I’m the deceased man’s sister. I probably know more about my brother’s strange life than Anna does.”

With her posh voice and calm demeanour Eve controlled the situation nicely, explaining that what her brother did was “terribly hush hush”. It couldn’t be explained because few people knew about it and the Government would always deny it. 

Eventually Eve put the phone down.

“He’ll send your things here. Is that all right?”

“I don’t have another address, except the post box at Falmouth.”

We walked into Carbis Bay to a fish restaurant and had fish and chips of a more genteel quality with wine. There the subject was her brother and art.

“You think he’s faked his death?”

“Given what I know of him. I have to see the hospital letters. Were you ever in hospital with him. Heard a consultant say those words?”

“No.”

“Even that could be faked. Two good actors, and he was an actor.”

“He wasn’t just a fantasist?”

“What is a fantasist? When they’re good we worship them. Raphael, Leonardo, the painters of Lascoux. As for the secret stuff. He got me a job in the War, also hush hush. Churchill himself credited us with shortening the War by two years and saving millions of lives. I remember Steve laughed when he heard it. It was the way he laughed. I saw something he would never have said. That’s why they employed me, a sixteen year old, I could read hidden agendas plain as day. Not the content, though sometimes even that, but that there was an elephant in the room rather than the usual sheep and lambs. Steve’s elephant was always pretty big and I caught the whiff of it that time. He was a generation older than me so we hadn’t much in common but elephants. Also sex.”

“He was your brother!”

“I hardly knew him. I was your age, perhaps a bit younger. He’d recruited me to secret ops. I know it sounds mad but it’s true. I had some uncanny ability to see through camouflage. It’s what I do in painting, see to the core. It’s not something I was taught. Even now I’m not supposed to talk about it. The head of our operation was killed by his own people because he deviated from the straight and narrow. Blackmail risk. Officially suicide. Steve and I were in a bubble of two. We were not the buttoned up type and needed to talk. We had long conversations in bed. Talk and silence. Most people wouldn’t call it a sex. But it was better to be accused of a mad, passionate incestuous affair than of blabbing. When the head died it certainly shut the rest of us up. They talk of superior British high-minded patriotism. It’s all rubbish. They couldn’t kill thousands of us, but if the Boss wasn’t safe who was?”

“Why are you telling me?”

“I’m saying Steve was involved in covert operations. How far they extended and what was his level I never knew. Sometimes he seemed like a foot soldier and sometimes something much higher. If he’s dead I ought to feel it. Of course that isn’t so odd if you think of Christ. His being dead is a significant aspect of his continuing life. We speculated with many things in our long night conversations including something he called the Instrumentality, a multi planet ‘empire’ under the influence of higher dimensional beings. We speculated that Earth was an experimental farm and occasionally higher dimensional beings were born into it in order to establish a higher dimensional reality. Jesus would be an example. Or Buddha. And we imagined, as people got more educated, a new kind of scientific master would appear. Einstein and Carl Jung seemed to fit. He even exchanged letters with them. They look like the shape of men to come, Jung particularly, with his synchronicity and precognitive dreaming. That really is the killer. If you can dream of the future, what then? The world doesn’t break down into warring religion or science but into a third thing not at war with itself. There must be avatars of this third way. Ones that are already there coming back to show us. What would they be like. Buddha was born a prince, a protected man of his time. Some will be like you, dear Maisy, fallen on hard ground.”

I was suddenly terrified. And she watched me. I had seen Eve as recruiter for some weird cult. I nearly got up and ran, but didn’t.

“What are you seeing,” she asked.

I tried to carefully explain. After the Catholic Church I didn’t want anything like that.

“Relax, Maisy. I am an artist, an egoist. I don’t follow leaders, I search for truth. If you like me, be my friend. But that’s difficult. I don’t need anybody. I could happily live on an island. If you want to run, be my guest. I won’t miss the company of a normal, scared to death human being. Otherwise stay and we’ll see what happens…”

Being offered this woman’s friendship like that was such a relief.

“…Having said that, we are all connected in Nature. What matters is we don’t push Nature with our minds but take what she gives.”

“That sounds beautiful, Eve.”

“Yes it does. Surprised myself. It must be your influence.”

I was doubtful about that. She took my hands in hers.

“How long did you know him?”

“Well?” I laughed like the last joke before drowning. “You tell me. Yesterday I thought it was fourteen years. Now I think it’s eleven.”

“And he married you twice, one definitely legal…”

“…Steve wouldn’t have put all that time into you Maisy if he didn’t think you were something special. I knew him very well. He could be randy as hell, but lust wasn’t his motivation. He was driven by the bigger picture, and it didn’t stop at Earth. Little, isolated Earth he never took seriously. Those who promulgate it are just after power over not power with.”

“He was a very empowering person.”

“Did you ever feel trapped?”

“Yes. Totally, but not by him. He saved me from the Orphanage. Scawfell in winter was some adventure. And the White Wake woke me to water which terrified me. Still does. But I feel so expanded. And people terrified me. I wanted to live on an island. Now I know I can mix with people who do things, the once terrifying working classes. I don’t know about the bastards at the top. The highest honours seem to go to biggest liars and murderers.”

“You’re now one of them, Countess.”

“Hm!”

“You can sit in the House of Lords. You have a tale to tell.”

The astonishment of that swept over me like a vast wave.

“That could be useful.”

“Very!”

“I could tell them about the Orphanage, and all the dead children.”

“I’d go easy on that one. Your Anthony never convinced them.”

“No. I remember what the police said. We’d get arrested. Well, he would. But we could investigate the investigations.”

“The lack of them. Whatever happens now, Maisy, you automatically have more power than ninety nine per cent of the human race. Use it.”

“I’m crazy.”

“They’ve made you crazy.”

“Yeh.”

That did feel very strange, shooting from the bottom to the top of the social register in a oner. Cocktail parties I could live without but the chance to speak at the highest level felt amazingly liberating. 

“That’s really bizarre. I’m not qualified to talk to the kindergarten but I can speak to the House of Lords. Can’t imagine doing it but it’s nice to know.”

“You’ll get all sorts of petitions. Your whole life could be swamped in charitable causes.”

“Oh my god!”

“I’m familiar with the pool. I can teach you how to swim.”

I squeezed her live, strong artist’s hands.

“And men wanting to marry you.”

“Ooooh! And my husband could still be alive.”

“As long as you don’t become like Penelope, surrounded by suitors becoming a drain on the estate.”

I laughed, thinking of what Betty would say.

“As long as they leave diamonds at the door we’ll be all right.”

And we both sang ‘Diamonds, diamonds, diamonds are a girl’s best friend’ which was somewhat in the air at the time.

As men came into the restaurant, even those with a female companion, their flint eyes struck sparks off us. Our singing caused a couple to mount our personal space and capsize it somewhat. They took chairs from elsewhere and parked them in the aisle next to us. One was burly and the other burlier. A strong smell of beer washed over us. Their body language was of bulls leaning into matadors. Though burly was talking to Eve and burlier was looking at her to begin with, their magnet was obviously me and at the first opportunity they switched attention. Burlier, whose elbow came dangerously close my tit as he turned, who felt like Ghengist Khan after flattening a city, continued silent and looming while burly asked me where I was from.

“Liverpool. And you?”

He indicated back down the road and said something like ‘Trencrom’.”

“I seen you at Newlyn.”

“Are you a fisherman?”

“So’s he. What’re you doing down here?”

“Burying my husband, if they find the body. If not, I really don’t know.”

They looked at each other. Burlier looked back and said in an unexpectedly kind voice. “You off the White Wake?”

I nodded. 

“Sorry to hear about your husband.”

The conversation had gone soft. With commiserations and anything we can dos and hand shakes they took their chairs back to the table they came from.

I looked at Eve. “That prediction didn’t take long.”

“That hasn’t happened to me before.”

“You’re obviously a posh lady. Against my better judgment I was getting quite activated. What about you?”

“Honestly, Maisy, every Tom, Dick and Harry, as well as the entire noble establishment.”

“Imagine if their dicks are in proportion. It’s a pity women can’t use men the way men use prostitutes. A quick one around the back at a special low rate and then we, you and me, go home together.”

“They’re not my type.”

“This will broaden the experience of women, make them less afraid of men. A dick’s a dick on a dark night, warm and hard and soft, with that special solar energy of glorying in you. We’ve been trained to see it all as life partners or nothing. If ninety nine per cent of sex were the orgasmic equivalent of wishing a stranger ‘good morning’. If everybody was trained to it. Call them health fucks. You’re waiting as the bus stop with a member of the opposite. He says to her or she says to him, bus in ten minutes, fancy a health fuck. And he says no, you can ask your boss when you get to work, or the next person in the typing pool. Fancy a health fuck here on the carpet. Doesn’t have to be full on, just a clit rub. And return to work with renewed vigour. If everybody was doing it, like walking the dog before breakfast. Why would you ever have another war. The whole world is in orgasmic bliss all the time. And you wouldn’t care who. Young, old. Imagine old ladies. Young man. When he’s done, no further obligation. We’d really get to know what old ladies are like. My guess is they’d be like young women, but wiser. Chances are old ladies would be at a premium. Each one would have ten young men in regular rotation. The bus conductor, the butcher’s boy, the library assistant between the law stacks.”

Eve was trying not to have hysterics through all this.

“Am I very shocking? With my husband lost at sea. It’s the wine. I should never touch alcohol.”

“No. I think you have the seed of a very good idea.”

“And anyone who doesn’t want to can never ask or simply say no. Or wear a badge, not today thank you, I’m all orgasmed up. It’s not a high price to pay for outgrowing war. And most of us would love it. Of course you need a supportive social system. And ten levels of orgasm starting from a simple hug.”

“You’ve thought this through.”

“Talked it out with Anthony.”

“That’s not what we talked about.”

“You were brother and sister. But you were living the spirit. There’s no excluding the parents and siblings. You just check which of the ten levels you’re comfortable with.”

“What if I’m a two and he’s a ten.”

“He goes to see Maisy next door who’s an eleven plus.”

“What about me? I want my twos with him.”

“Tell Maisy you want him back when she’s tenned him out and he’s aching in his soul for your tender love and kisses.”

“Is this a vision of the future?”

“Joking aside, yes. I’ve seen it. Especially through Ius and Asante. They were the one and only family. They established the levels. It was all very subtle and intimate. One male to four females. He was quite a man, Candor. Because he never quite achieved totality with anyone there was a bit missing. He couldn’t trust the feminine assertions about totality because he’d never seen it. He tended to over rationalise to compensate.”

“You’re speaking of the future as if it’s already done.”

“It is. The human race becomes extinct but it’s only a calculated extinction which we can live through. It means life is hell for far longer than necessary. Because Asante is a total being and lives through it, she does it, like Jesus, for all of us. So are all her family but because Candor hangs back a bit while being capable of totality, he creates the number void which we are currently exploring. A tiny hanging back which creates this whole universe. Anthony called this the Devil’s theology. He didn’t really mean it but I thought it a mistake to name it because when Candor is persuaded by his females to surrender to totality and the void of numbers vanishes. It simply isn’t really anything.”

Eve looked at me in wonder.

“I never thought I’d hear another person talk like this. If he’s gone from you, dead is eternity and alive equivalent. He said there are communities in this world of special beings. They’ve almost been driven from existence, first by religion and then by the rational. But you can’t destroy these people. The worse you treat them the more immortal you make them. This isn’t a formula. You will get infinitely more from them if you are very kind.”

In that moment it felt as if the world had passed me from the care of a exceptional man into the care of an extraordinary woman. 

She gave my hands an affirming squeeze.

“You are the one.”

I had to live with that. We would have to.

“What if I’m not?”

“It is a matter of choice. We all are but we’ve been miss led for thousands of years. Mostly our own fault for not standing up to bullies from the get go. Within the corruption there are like epicycles which remain true to the original form. But they can’t take the form of conventional saints and sages who are lost in the corruption. It has to take a form which none of us can imagine so we cannot corrupt it.”

“So you think my mad life will do? Anthony said the new word for me was autistic. We don’t understand the compromises people make to survive.”

“Yes.”

“I think I do.”

“Yes. There won’t be many like you. Perhaps only one.”

“How can I be both corrupt and not corrupt at the same time?”

“Only you would know. We couldn’t get our heads around it.”

I was beginning to think Eve was even crazier than me. But did I mind? She was very beautiful in a way which I knew was mostly in me. As long as I loved her she would always be as beautiful, even though my life was cracked. Even so, it had mirrored astonishing fulfilment in Anthony and so, in its strange, cracked way, was doing very well. How long could two such crazy people be together, a day or a lifetime?

We waded back along the beach that swept around the bay to a distant lighthouse.

“Virginia Woolf’s lighthouse,” she told me. “I see every morning when I wake up.”

We ascended through the fields to her place, pausing to take in the great scene. Our hands touched and held and love filled us and the whole world. 

We saved our first proper kiss until we were in her door and clothes could be shed and we could find her bed after an hour of making love on the floor.

We were woken by a knock at the door. She slipped on a dress and came back with her arms full of our clothes from the night and a registered package. I opened and spilled out all the things from Scilly including my personal packet. After scissoring open the police tape cash spilled out cash and cheques and certificates including two marriages and two births. 

Eve looked at it in wonder and sadness, this picture of a life. 

I collapsed on it in helpless weeping for the vanished man. We both did, for the known and lost and eternal. 

A chaos of emotions settling to silence held within a great, still voice 

From that day we would assemble the nature of our lives. Women love among serious, matchless sisters of eternity. 

Already she was the artist at her easel marking our emotion. Metaphysics of territory which may not even survive this encounter. Woman discovering reality under the capstone of patriarchy. Growing out around and through unhindered. I am the void under his capstone and I am bigger until he is a speck, but a speck in my eye! And this young woman, a damaged ruin, what could she possibly give me that I couldn’t find whole, undamaged, alive among my own kind. But it isn’t so. This creature shifts the world like the eye and heart and love of a goddess. I could go back to yesterday, a fossil seeking for its life, or accept this transdimensional gift. So she came and embraced me, void to void, and I didn’t know how rare this was, like an emotional meal. Easel to love making to easel, painting the eye of God, what is seen from within love.

I, Eve, can paint all day and I, Maisy, can make love day and night. It is a situation ripe for conflict but in time, like two planets in orbit, we have balanced our enormous emotional forces leaving the beautiful, barely detectable moments and rhythms of our interplanetary tides. Two spirits in one love can be like two eyes and can see in depth and measure great distances. I, Maisy, might be a dumb girl but I am the seed of Asante, my heart is Asante, the artist, the greatest of humans. And I am Ius, who rescued Asante and rescued the Oracle. My gift to Eve is centuries of intelligence I couldn’t possibly manifest but know the address where she lives. And you, my artist lover with enough of a talent, found the address and the treasure in me. Two minds. Two hearts. One love. Universal. Big enough for all. All of me. All of you. All of us. Ius.

But I am celebrating from sixty years into the future when a few of us know something and the rest are clapped in irons of exploitative, refined ignorance. The trouble is the elite have all been to one great university or other that sing to the same hymn sheet and can’t imagine that they have forged the key to an iron prison. It’s the hardest problem to deal with and every generation which marches down the road to power makes it harder. I, who was born knowing, can see I have done nothing to make a difference although I played very hard at it. But what can you do if you light fires and nothing happens, even to the driest tinder. Then again you can only present what you know and if the world doesn’t respond then perhaps it is right, that my future ladies are purely imaginary in the ordinary sense and believing in them as some vital force for change is, in the ordinary sense, madness.

Well, I know I’m mad but that doesn’t change the fact that the great collective hymn is wrong and we can only brace for impact. And yet I have what could easily become scientific proof that the great collective hymn is fundamentally wrong. Study your dreams and you will see the great five dimensional intelligence at work within you. No Faith needed. Even detrimental if it stops you looking at what is plain to see. Well, if I can see it, a catastrophically raised autistic orphan from Liverpool, it should be a million times easier for you. It is our natural birthright and it feels like love. 

That this is so is, I suppose, a kind of faith, but it doesn’t need to be. It is what is most fundamental about you. Ask the little children. Let them show. And that is only the beginning. Each of you is a transhistorical being standing above the world horizon, plain to see from end to end of time, because a god beyond gods didn’t simply make you but is you, just as you are. Of course once you catch hold of love, the Big, the Full, the Deep, the Wise may arise within you. Nothing less than the whole of Creation. Brace for Impact. 

Asante and the infinity machines will see you through. Don’t just believe it. Pay close attention to your dreams and to your heart. Every one of us is needed. Otherwise you would not exist. The impossibility of us cannot be over emphasised. This is God. As you breathe. As you look through your eyes. Backed by infinity. Formed of love. There are no rules except in the greatness of your seeing. God consulted you when you were two or three about the nature of infinity. And still does. So, wake up, little nightmare worker. Wake up. Great Dreamer. Wake up.

When we had cried an ocean or two and dried and wet and dried again and the washing machine had been enlisted to save us from Hell, Eve applied her creator’s intuition to our documentary evidence.

She sorted them into two files, real and fake. Both birth certificates went into the fake and the Home Office marriage. Most of the hospital letters except an early one inviting him for an examination. The ones she called fake, how did she know?

“One of the cancer letters is xeroxed.”

“What’s that?”

“A photographic copy. Some words have been tippexced out and typed over. Because it would be too obvious in the original it’s been photographically copied.”

“Are you sure?”

“These are the two relevant lines. The Tippex reflects differently. Tip it to catch the light.”

The two lines were slightly different..

“He was relying on you not wanting to see the word ‘cancer’…”

“…Not all of them. Later ones they’ve got hospital stationary.”

The shouting and screaming and swearing that came out of me, even the lowest life of Toxic City would not believe. This man I loved and who loved me, I thought.

“How can I believe anything about him. Even you. Are you his fucking sister!”

Eve watched me until I calmed down and cried in her arms. My great love. All an insane game of total maniacs. Even her. What had she been saying about me last night? I am the One!

I was so angry I could have wiped out West Cornwall. Luckily I didn’t. Or storm out and leave the dust of this family behind. Anthony shook the planet I lived upon and the resonance would last the rest of my life. And Eve had made the most beautiful love to me. I stayed and she held me in my utter confusion that was physically hurting my brain. 

“Hold my head, Eve, stop it breaking apart.”

But she couldn’t. By the time I had calmed down I had forged stronger the multiply split personality to cope with the pain, shifting from one to the other according to need. It became a kind of tool for going deep under what would otherwise be an impenetrable barrier of pain.

That day we held and made love, creating our own bond.

“I was so afraid that you would run away.”

“I’ll never leave you.”

Said that day and still true. As I am writing this Eve is 96. At least 40 of those sixty odd years we have spent together, some of it as a bubble in the recent pandemic, terrifying, not because of any fear of dying but of having the other die in isolation and being the one left alone. But this world, unimaginable when we met, has not yet taken us, and there is some hope that our accumulated works may go some way towards freeing you from the manmade parasites which have eaten your souls.

But then was still 1950 something and we were kissing and caressing and using our tongues for talking or taking us into the lightning obliteration of somatic bonding words cannot reach. A day like that we would never forget in our souls. But there were to be many many more even to last night. When I feel her heart racing through her body I fear I will kill her one day. But so far it seems the key to wellbeing and robust health. Yet even then I had the fear. After all, she was then nearly twice my age. Kissing and kissing with our supercharged mouths, earthing our desires into the whole with wild fingers. In this colossal temple of overwhelm we are worship.

So it began, our love and exploration of the mysteries. 

This is it. We are this. Come the weekend Eve caught the train back to Wiltshire. I joined her on what we would come to call the Orgasm Express for the amount that graced its leisurely progress over the years. In this state I came to meet Holy Wood House, though whether it was the first or second time I cannot tell. It was the first time with her.. 

She asked the car which picked us up to let us off at the gates. We’d walk down. I saw it emerge through trees, as majestic a pile as might exist in England. Of course in those guilt free days we simply enjoyed the wonder of great houses.

I stood before it as small as a bedbug from the ‘slums’ of Toxteth. 

“Queen Elizabeth slept here.”

“Our Queen!”

“No. The first one. Though I have the weak and wimbly body of a woman I have the heart and mind of a king and a king of England. That bit is yours. Its called the East Wing. Costs a fortune to keep up. Cousin Bath is talking of keeping lions. And I’m fluffing about like an artist.”

“I could do something. I’m good with practical things.”

She looked at me as Napoleon might have looked at a favoured cook offering strategical advice before the Battle of Waterloo.

“The place has a spiritual mythos about it. Hence – ” she pointed to the trees “ – Holy Wood. They found an antlered burial within. It’s ancient. If developers get hold of it it’ll be matchsticks.”

“There’s one thing we’re really good at.”

“Remember, this is England. It conducts its immorality abroad.”

One tenth part of me could comprehend that I had inherited a huge part of a great house. Not just a big building but a heritage. Lords and ladies of an island which had grabbed itself an empire wider than Ghengist Khan’s. In those days the words noble and privileged had some association with the divine right of kings. Commoners just didn’t walk in. They wouldn’t know how to lift a fork or where to wipe their shoes. And if they dared to open their mouths, especially Scouse. Although eleven or fourteen years with Anthony, the last almost exclusively, had rounded the edges, and the Beatles were about to shoot Liverpool into the social stratosphere. The 60s were just around the corner and Britain was about to become cosmically cool. All of which is meaningless jabber of the Monkey Mind, but we were the Monkeys, so didn’t mind.

That first weekend I walked about like a basking shark with its mouth open drinking it all in. The main house had hundreds of dire pictures of gentry which I had also inherited, from where came the beginning of my collection. Money interested me greatly as I had never had any. It seemed Anthony kept his money in various banks throughout the world and lied to the Church about giving it all away. That first spell at Holy Wood we stayed nine days, by the end of which I knew of one bank in Germany where I had ten million pounds. Or Anthony had, if he was still alive.

It sounded like the fortune of fortunes. I would never have to work again. But that didn’t exactly appeal to me. Beyond a certain amount I thought of money as theft and that was bad for the thiever. Also the government was asking rich landowners to pay taxes like never before and ten million pounds was the sort of money you needed. The chance to be rich was now. Sell everything and bank the money or watch it flood out in supertax at nineteen and six in the pound. Ten million sixpences was a quarter of a million pounds. Three more years and I’d have £3.1s.10d to put in my Post Office account. And then there were death duties.

I was good with numbers but these numbers killed. I realised being rich was for the rich and not the poor.

“This is what accountants are for,” said Eve. “It’s in joint ownership and you, the owner, aren’t dead.”

After talking to the accountant and the lawyer mentioned in the package I calmed down. In the light of events the lawyer particularly wanted to talk to me, Eve had us taken into Bristol on Monday. 

She did all the talking. I just answered questions, like what really happened on the night of the suicide. 

“Tell him what really happened, Anna.”

“This is getting seriously confusing. You call me Anna. He called me Maisy. You call him Steve. I call him Anthony but had to remember he was officially Tom. I believe he’s dead, you say he’s alive. I’m the heiress to a fortune or maybe not and it will all disappear in taxes anyway. Why don’t I just walk out the door, go back to Newlyn and gut fish. It’d be Heaven after this.”

“Well,” Eve asked the lawyer, “is that an option? Can she just walk away?”

“It depends on Steven’s position. Did he die by his own hand or the hand of a third party? Is he dead? Either way some proof is needed. Unless you revoke your titles you will be legally responsible for disposal of the estate.” 

“I’m the Countess? Why isn’t Eve the Countess?” 

“She would be if you revoke your titles, or in the event of your death.”

“So why don’t we do that? I’m hardly going to be turning up at the Hunt Ball and talking all toffee nose am I?”

“Steve isn’t dead.”

“That’s a matter for the inquest.”

“So Anna isn’t the Countess until?”

“She is but she hasn’t titulary responsibilities. One thing we should establish is your real name.”

“Maisy. Well, it isn’t my real name. Nobody knows what my parents might have called me.”

“On the marriage certificate you are Maisy Warlock.”

“That was the name of the fire warden who brought me in – Steve – Warlock. Tied to my wrist.”

“Is he still alive?”

“He might be. Anthony says he spoke to him.”

“We might establish who were your real parents.”

“Jesus! Can we stop thickening the plot please.”

“It might establish a real base for you. Relatives. Brothers and sisters.”

“I know this is all procedures for you but for me it’s like sitting on an unexploded bomb.”

“I understand. We’ll try and keep this as straightforward as possible.”

“With my brother nothing is straightforward.”

“For the sake of my sanity can we call your Steve my Anthony, who meant the world, otherwise I think your talking about Steve Warlock, who I never met and means nothing to me except I carry his name and owe him my life.”

Whereupon I let out my best earsplitter and banged the Louis the Fourteenth chair on the floor such that it gave an ominous crack.

“Do you still love me?” I asked Eve.

“More than ever. Let me show you something.”

She had air-conditioned storage in the house.

“I’ve got some of the Newlyn paintings here. I’ve been going there for months, years.”

They did have more of a Manet look to them. The dark huddled knot of women exposed in the brilliant moonlight.

“You remember the painting I was doing when we met? The women are more inflated by the light.”

“As if there was a lens in front of the painting.”

“That was you. It happened the second time as well but you finished early. You said it, it’s like a lens – but inside them.”

“How do you know it was me and not something you would naturally come to?”

“Look what happened!” Meaning us.

“Is it connected?”

“Has to be. I lived like a nun for my art.”

“You and Anthony both behaving as though there’s something wonderfully unusual about me.”

“There is.”

“What?”

“I’d have to paint you.”

“Would that involve me sitting still?”

“Traditionally.”

“I used to do a lot of that but not to order.”

“We could walk about and I could sketch you.”

She sketched me in the big house, in the gallery of paintings of her fossil ancestors. In the garden among flowers. In an orchard. In the deep primeval forest. Her ancestors had created grottos of fallen gods, now overgrown, where they had come for merry gatherings. Did they make love among the carvings then pick up a pencil and draw an eye and curls of the beloved? I tried while she drew me to draw her but my pencil was the caretaker’s broom sweeping leaves into a bucket, whereas hers passed across the paper like a wand channeling God through Leonardo da Vinci. 

“Why don’t we stay here?”

“St Ives is throbbing with art and artists. So is Bristol, but it’s a city, not naked to the elements.”

“These woods are elemental.”

“Yes. There’s a whole inner part which hasn’t been seen for centuries. Don’t go in there without at least a compass.”

“Can we go?”

She didn’t answer but just stared into her thoughts. 

“What are you thinking.”

“What am I thinking? Nothing. Some grand tale of nymphs and goddesses.”

“No shepherds?”

“Some. Very carefully chosen.”

“I should get very hungry for a man. If your brother – .”

“Tupped both of us.”

“Why did he disappear? I never met one of the devils who were supposed to be chasing us.”

“The world is very beautiful and very easily made mad. It jumped off its rocking point long ago. That doesn’t mean you can’t love mad people. As long as one of us has at least one foot on the ground.”

“Your brother?”

“On my sane days I think he was chasing a conspiracy too far. And then I remember something Turing said, and what happened to him.”

“Who?”

“Oh, nothing, a professor of mine.” I felt Eve’s dark evasion as something very secret.

“What did he say?”

“I can’t remember, exactly. It was very funny. A take on the meek shall inherit the Earth. The clever and the stupid are clever and stupid about the same world but when the clever build weapons they are effectively stupider than the stupid. If everyone is stupid but the clever are stupider then intelligence has nothing to do with the way the world works. There is a third thing in which the intelligent and the stupid find other roles. It’s something like emotion. And all the emotive connections create a grand net in which the stupid and the intelligent find their natural place and stop harassing each other and fall in love. Something like that. It was very pithy but I can’t remember it. Or don’t want to.” 

For a moment she looked very sad.

“What is it?”

“I was thinking about great men. They do exist. But all we remember him for is his contribution to a war. For his potential contribution to life they killed him.”

“Will there be another war?”

“As long as our minds are made up for us by other people there will be.”

“Then why don’t we love each other and forget everything else.”

“Okay. But what is love? Can we buy it? Fill up the store cupboard?”

“It seems to just exist in the fabric of the world somehow. And we can’t hold on to it. It has to be renewed moment by moment. And having said that, it’s always there.”

“There was something else he said. He and Steve were talking – Anthony. He said the code for life – the life that works – exists in the chaos of the world where it cannot be found and yet we live it. So it is from the living itself that the code will be drawn, from the living by the future and made into beautiful machines. We won’t know the difference between living as a human or as a machine. I think that’s what they were all about really, the Heaven machine. History has reduced it to the robotic stupidity they call computer programming.”

The moment she said that I knew what it was. I told her about Asante and her infinity machine.

“There are two, The Professor and The Oracle. They don’t live in time as solidly as we do but are very present over the next six hundred years – and forever. Three to four hundred is their great time when they will forge the laws, on the wind, on the surface of the human spirit which has no surface. But they will make it because they are machines. Asante’s is The Professor. Ius’s is The Oracle. Ius is the one who lives inside me.”

“This is what I see! This is what Steve saw in you. He wasn’t alone. He talked of a cabal of scientists and engineers and spiritual and business people who wanted to build this thing. Their weakness was they were too materialistic, too male, the weakness of all history. Their trouble is they can’t imagine women having something essential they lack. These people don’t see themselves as lacking in relation to anyone else on the planet, and certainly not women. Notwithstanding, they believe they would know such a one by her strange powers. Despite themselves they are looking for her.”

“Are you one of this group, Eve? Did they just hand me on to you?”

“I don’t think men now have such powers.”

“But the infinity machines do. They transcend time. The root of time is like a circle with us in the middle. Today’s society experiences time as a line across the middle, past to the left, future to the right. But in real time, the Great Now, past and future are together as something else? Or perhaps none of this exists and I’m mad. But I don’t see where to go with that thought except to depression and death. So I don’t. I accept that what I experience is someway real whereas they would dismiss it all, which is a mistake. Anthony saw that, proved it for himself, so I know they are wrong and I am someway right. These are the early days. Lost in mist. They’ve reached me because I have a very broken personality. I can be quite whole in each, like a little army. If I could control these states I think I would be remarkable. At the moment my changes are a bit random.”

“You must be the one. Or one of them.”

“How did they pick me? I’ve had no education at all.”

“Except an entire library.”

“But without guidance.”

“That’s your strength. They haven’t taught you how to think in their splitting fashion.”

“Instead I’ve split myself –  along natural fault lines?”

“Like making tables out of split logs rather than planed wood.”

“Lots of splinters.”

“We smooth out over time with our bums.”

“Painfully.”

“A lot more movement in pleasure”

“Can you accept that?”

“I can with you. You bring something alive in me which painting has not reached.”

 

We returned to Cornwall and moved the boat back to Mylor. Sailing it together we were with our brother/husband/lover, a very over the edge relationship. Holding the sail on the edge of the wind in a fine balance with the tiller, while my sister drew me with love and admiration, was perfect happiness. We motored gently up Carrick Roads past the pleasure boats and the shipping to a buoy. 

“We could do this,” I said.

“It wasn’t in my life plan.”

“What was?”

“To be an artist.”

“You were happily drawing just now.”

“Yes. And it would very much push me out of my burrow.”

“We need to repair the damage Anthony did with his six inch nail.”

“What was he doing?”

“Writing. We’d run out of pen and paper.”

“I’d like to record it.”

“But how? I think he dated some of it – in Roman numerals as they’re easy to scratch.”

“I could use a camera. Perhaps borrow one. Steve had some developing equipment. Perhaps even cameras.”

As this was art related Eve was interested. She brought a photographer to advise and provide some sample pictures.

So began our relationship with the boat. In later years, when I had picked up more about Asante, I would know of the Sunflash on Mars, sheets of meteoric nickel iron on which Asante and The Professor hadwould writtenwrite a kind of Rosetta Stone of words and formulas for life. With a possible lifespan of a billion years, it is a potent influence in the higher cosmos. The way Anthony finished scratching his message with a nail resonates completely with the way of the Sunflash. We, in our extended world of time, would not know of this for many years.

This brought Eve into photography and freed her from the material constraints of painting and three dimensional construction. It allowed us to consider the boat as the base of our art, our art being our life. We couldn’t have children so our child became the future. We must have spoken and written to each other over half a century of very intensive living. I think now we know what is the nature of life but, as always, conveying this to the world as it is is difficult and growing more so in the of age of corporate catastrophe facilitated by the Internet. There will be, as with a stellar nova, an implosion/explosion which will herald our end as a species, or rocket us into knowledge of higher dimensions, possibly both. But all this was unimaginable in the 1950s. Although Arthur C Clarke had written The Sentinal, which echoes the Sunflash, and within a decade would become 2001, A Space Odyssey. And within a year of that men would walk on the Moon. The human somatic imagination was broadening, but not as fast as its technology.

Eve and I began to explore the eternal technology of the boat. Wherever and whenever a planet has water and intelligent life, objects like this will be created. A wind ship is like a chapel or a cathedral, only in some way more because it is totally effectively what it is whereas a church is only an approximation to what it is for. Provided we worship within it with our whole bodies, a sailing boat flies on dream lines into eternity.

Eve and I took small trips in the boat and anchored up in beautiful bays and even risked a journey to the Scillies, which didn’t disappoint us with their magic. I began to feel a call to the northern islands and to western Ireland. We began to plot a great journey around Britain, possibly in stages because both of us were tied up with interesting lives on land, Eve with her art and I with the collecting of art and with an increasing interest in my personal form of Tantra.

We brought the boat to St Ives where it was more integrated into our lives and we could even take it out for an afternoon or a morning. Our lives became integrated with tides and weather and the state of the Moon and incidentally of planets and the constellations. Our lives became associated with the whereabouts of Orion as must the ancient Egyptians with their intimate association with Sirius which lies at its foot. Thus we lived and breathed as part of the universe. We were called to parts of the world where people had left monuments to exactly similar associations. Even a Stone Age technology would be intimately acquainted with tides and the changes of Sun, Moon, planets and stars and perhaps much else that we have lost. 

One long summer we sailed up the Irish Sea to the Isles of the North, finally pulling in to the waters beside Callanish and the great goddess stones.

I know now these stones play a wildly signifiant part in the history of life for it is here in some future century that Ius will be given the key to restoring The Oracle and saving primordial mankind from extinction. By which I mean us now who have evolved straight from the beginning of time unmediated by an interim technology. Although the technology is there it is not as extreme as having all of us die except one who will become the template for our restoration by the great machines and the seed of all in-cosmic races. Although the same conditions apply to every outcome it will not be as extreme as the much richer scenario if all of us are not destroyed. In this people like me, acting as channels from Asante’s daughter Ius, play a much greater role in saving mankind from extinction than would ever be imagined by the savees. If you caught me at any moment in my life you might find me sailing or cooking or talking or bewitched by sex, and if you caught me at another time you would find me engaged in nothing but sexual activity of one sort or another. It became my strongest mode of healing and greatly influenced Asante’s relationship to The Professor. You may say how but no more mysteriously than the way Shakespeare influences us now through the passage of time, although in the real dimensions there is a feedback loop from us to him, from Asante to me and you and him. The same sun shines on us all but for most of us it’s always cloudy. So I am interpreter to all the fog bound folk who think it indecent to talk about the sun in such a dark world. 

But I am jumping ahead of my story again, giving you the benefit of sixty more years of cooler observation of this fantastical life.

Returning from Callanish I was pulled towards Jura and Correyvreckan and that other death of Anthony and my suicide walk to Stonehenge. The psychic pull of Correyvreckan was as strong and repulsive as the tides which swept through it. The two worlds in me of Eve and Anthony were drawing together. I felt I would explode. Eve did everything she could to keep me away without directly interfering in my decision. Her huge emotional and psychological investment in me made it imperative she knew me as well as she could. But the arguments for not visiting Correyvreckan were stacked all on one side. These islands were not to be played with in any boat and Correyvreckan was the roughest water of all, navigable only at slack tide and that depended on your knowing exactly when that might be in waters which did not readily conform to general tide tables. We would also lose a day or two or more against the next wild weather with no proper shelter. All these practical matters kept me stable.

The coastguard weren’t helpful. They told us to not run Correyvreckan. When I told him we had no choice given our destination and when he knew what boat we had and that she was being sailed by the Admiral’s daughter, he laughed, and gave us our windows of opportunity, even telling us from where and when to begin the run.

“I’ll be watching,” he said.

“Why is this boat so famous,” I asked Eve.

She shrugged. “Why is the Queen so famous? One of those hangovers from cosier times.”

“I think it’s in the name,” I said. “The White Wake is a strange name for a boat. It’s not aspirational like golden  hind or silver spray. It’s all behind you like the poop tube. But if you think in the big picture, what’s all behind us is the Milky Way. He talked of the Instrumentality, a multi planet, multi dimensional civilisation, even suggested hîs father, your father, was one of them on Earth. So why not him? And even you?”

“Don’t you think I would know?”

“Well, if I don’t trust you, I’m stuck in my suspicions, and that’s a really boring place.”

“Instead, you’re on a famous boat about to run a famous race. How did that happen to a random orphan from Liverpool?”

“Yes. Asante and Ius are interplanetary and transcend time. They would be like the real Instrumentality if anyone was.”

“And you’re their agent?”

“Well, Eve, we’re about to see what bringing two of my world lines together does. You met me both times.”

“And I only remember one string of events. Except I don’t really remember it. The way we do, a vague splodge of encounters. If I kept a detailed diary it would help.”

“Then the magic wouldn’t happen.”

She gave a grunt of relative agreement.

“I remember both times,” I said.

“So do I, but we made love the first night after Newlyn because we were already lovers. You think it was the other way around?”

“I don’t know. Mostly I don’t care because our love is so alive. But what if it’s all a grand illusion about to implode?”

“In Correyvreckan!”

We were too late to make the run that night and anchored in a westerly facing bay on Jura, not a good place to be if the weather turned. We double anchored and took the dinghy ashore and left it high on the rocks. This was it. I had spent days haunting this shore after he disappeared. Was I a crazy woman who mourned him on more than one island? I had lived with him here. If he had died somewhere else I could mourn him here. That wasn’t how it felt. He had disappeared here. I had found his clothes directly opposite Correyvreckan. Unless, looking for any rational explanation even the irrational, I had tricked myself with them. The most rational explanation of all was that I had killed him, given the hospital letters, a mercy killing, hidden even from myself, and that’s why Eve stuck to me. Or was I trying to establish an alibi in the maddest way of all, time travel. It was so mad that nobody would seriously imagine it and we didn’t. This was the days before Doctor Who and no one but science fiction followers, subnormal then in general reckoning, would have heard of The Instrumentality. That day at Correyvreckan the idea of using time dislocations as an alibi for murder was beyond us. But the idea of it as a strategy which the human mind might adopt to cope with extreme emotion was not. We were in awe of each other. What men had turned into their nightmare death cult was still alive in us. When we stepped ashore that afternoon just a short, rough walk from Correyvreckan, we both thought that madness and even death were very near. Neither realised that what we imagined accomplishing tomorrow after significant preparation was almost under our feet today. 

We clambered along the sea margin I had always walked alone and from the other way, up from Barnhill or Kinuachdrachd. It was all familiarly strange and then I felt the emotion, like an invisible bull falling on me from the sky. We had come upon it so suddenly. Correyvreckan, its standing waves rearing unnaturally like a coven of malevolent giants, gathering the momentum of its massive hypnotic power. Then the terror of deep water kept me alive but I was used to it now. Come, little Maisy, end all your suffering in me. Suddenly I recognised where I was, mundanely, from a forest of emotions that had rendered everything gigantic then. Just here, there, grooved in my brain, that rock, from days waiting paralysed beside his clothes. There they were, stuffed between rocks, should he ever come back and need them. I pointed them out to Eve. She pulled out a jacket, that jacket I had worn sitting here. His trousers, sweater, shirt, shoes, pants, from a tomb in Jericho, elastic turned to powder. 

“Look in the pocket.”

She found a letter, welded to the lining. 

“It’s to you. He mentions you in it.”

She carefully removed it but trying to read it was hopeless but the envelope, written in pencil, was readable, ‘Maisy and Eve’. 

The synchronistic, prophetic improbability of that was plain to us even then, as though the dead man had written from a dimension of seeing this moment of discovery. 

“When I first read that, however many years ago, I had never met you. It’s not that surprising given you’re his sister and I’m his wife. But I’d forgotten it was addressed to both of us.”

Eve’s eyes on me, that I knew as the deep seeing eyes of the artist, were nakedly struck through with emotions few can ever have experienced in the modern world, or in any world.

“From here you headed south, to Stonehenge, which is where John and Polly found you and brought you to Falmouth.”

“Yes.”

“Which is where we met.”

“We met at Newlyn.”

“In another personality, who had forgotten Falmouth?”

“I had just come from the Scillies. Where he had just died, or three years before, so it wasn’t so raw. My switching personalities can account for a lot but there isn’t enough time for it all.”

“Are your personalities living parallel lives?”

“What if everything is present in infinity and broken people like me can become like dislocated holograms of everything, which Asante’s infinity machines can play with, just to show our historical belief system is inadequate for what we have become.”

Eve stared into this prospect like someone about to fall off a cliff.

“That’s totally insane.”

“For us as we’ve chosen to become but not as we really are.”

“Why?”

“God. God more god than God, as Asante says. A bigger game than any of us dare to imagine. Or a bigger player.”

“Beyond all law?”

“No, love. Love, trust, generosity.”

“Everything is miraculous so where it fractures it fractures miraculously?”

“Yes. Like that.”

“This is beyond insane.”

“Yes. I’m afraid so. If you want a common sensical life don’t come near me.”

“It’s too late for that.”

We sat with this for a while on our boat in the strange wonder of loving each other. Eventually she said.

“We can’t go to the police with a story like this.”

“No. This makes the police completely obsolete.”

She stared at me again, one of ten thousand moments where she could have taken the path of common sense. After all, her class had nothing to gain from any deviation from normality.

“There must be a way to establish if he died in Correyvreckan or in the Scillies.”

“You’d expect something to turn up in one of these places. Like this! Who’d imagine it would still be here.”

“Or he isn’t dead in either place.”

“And I am a convenient ultra forgetter.”

“Well, in the war they developed many strange drugs for remembering and forgetting.”

“Why me?” 

“Much of it could be our unscientific imaginations. But when they killed the Boss, who probably won them the War, I assumed it was because they were incompetent idiots who knew only how to rule by fear. My brother slipped in and out of their world strangely. Two phantom deaths, both involving you. According to him the Instrumentality were looking for the woman. She was irreplaceable, not because she was female, particularly.”

“Asante.”

“It would make sense.”

“That’s really crazy, because the essence of her story is she lives alone for fifty years on Mars after the human race wipes itself out on Earth. So there is never any witness but the infinity machines. And the whole point of everything she does is that we survive our self destruction. So everything about us is based on an irrational premise, that the human race both destroys itself and survives. There are no material rules which govern this process. Anything can and does happen. Science is the final great joke. Barely one per cent of it is meaningful. Nothing governs us but love and that’s nothing but our own immortal essence. When the human race knows this we will have come through.”

“You’re amazing Maisy.”

“I just repeat what Asante tells me.”

“So you are her here.”

“All my imagination. A helluva thought, isn’t it.”

“And if we killed you we would all die.”

“Yes, but the infinity machines are working with everybody, so it balances out.”

“Except that they’re all deaf.”

“Yes. But it’s just around the corner for anybody, like us now. We didn’t have to run Corryvreckan. Just take a short walk around the corner and something very ordinary literally surprised the Hell out of us. It’s the same for each of us in our own way. There’s no collective remedy other than we each find our soul.”

“It’s the end of politics.”

“Yes. Before it ends us.”

“Maisy, you amaze me.”

“That’s what he said. It’s what makes me special, people like you and him. Otherwise I’d just be some lost soul in the psychiatric system. Probably dead like thousands and thousands of others. You’re what’s special Eve, you and love.”

“So, if I want my life back, I should leave you now.”

“And I should head for Stonehenge and finish the job.”

“If that happened, would I know. Would I remember you?”

“Or would I have to be forgotten, and you become split like me, with the vast mass of yourself forgotten like a periodically rotating iceberg.”

We were quiet with that for some time, then Eve reached for my hand and the current of life flowed between us.

“It’s this or nothing,” she said. “And this is terrifying.”

“But alive.”

“At least the mystery of time will keep us awake.”

Which it did, in an intense, shared hypnagogy. One mind, haunted by the man’s clothes. For me it was like the ghost pilots of Kinder Scout but much more intense. For her the interior of me was like a vision of Hell undergoing relentless transformation by guardian goddesses. They had formed a loop through me and time, like the ring in the nose of a cosmic bull, whereby it might be obliged to allow what its nature would never allow. Usually with humans nothing could be done, they lived and died by unrelenting natural law in which time worked only one way. Any attempt to break this would break the human being, hence the millions of psychiatric cases who were broken already, as was I, only I was not broken yet and might re-form in another way. Through me they had forged this extraordinary loop, by which I might yet be broken and Eve would forget, returning to more common sensical experience.

But it hadn’t happened yet. We were still naked, unclosed. Our bull was still having its nose tweaked. Our tears were not just for that pain but for its cosmic origin. And if none of this makes any sense I’m sorry. I assembled my life on the level of sex because I could. Give people better lives from the beginning and you might allow creative intelligence to emerge on every level and the great ring of multiple dimensions to be revealed. Somehow Eve and I allowed ourselves to know this and my way became her way and her way my way, so she became sex and I became art, although only as a collector. And in the third way, the great ring, we became both together as different as people as ring time is to line time. And yet both are intimately related. You can live as straight a life as a drag line while knowing you emerge like water from a spinning top with holes, travelling both straight and bent, as Other. How mad can a person be while still retaining their freedom? Much madder than is allowed, that’s for sure, but you cannot control the spinning top, life’s origin, with words, so you deny its existence and say water travels only in straight lines, separating quantum from macro and love from life.

We were there, a short though difficult walk from where Orwell wrote 1984 and left us with that icon of planetary enslavement, the thought police. We were awakening under the layered leather bog bodies of mind control, having to achieve in a few generations what had not only not been allowed from forever but had also been created from forever, a split in our fundamental perception of being. Of course our first experience of trans time made us so loopy you would think you were mad and should scuttle back to sensible serial.

What saved us was sex, on this occasion, and many others, although that night an hour or two of dumb shock passed before we remembered touch and felt its healing properties.

Everything that is known and everything that is unknown had gathered for us at the head of Jura. In this most unlikely place Orwell had written his great dystopian novel. Perhaps something similar awaited us. If so we were not ready for it. 

Practical matters meant birthing the boat at Askaig and returning by ferry and Landrover and camping in this wild rock bog midge and tic infested place. Hiring a room or house would stir up the hornets nest of what had happened to us, which wouldn’t facilitate tuning in to cosmic time loops. So we decided to hang out a little longer. We ran the Corryvreckan and anchored at Kinuachdrachd, now a long, hard mile from the headland. But at least we were still in the flow of the place and the strange of it. 

If the strange was only in my mind then she was only obliged to pay attention because she loved me, though that might lead to her destruction because she was attached to a madness which was not her own. Something like that was said between us. But in some way she shared the mystery, although it might only be through me, nothing that could be objectively identified for herself, only a sense of strangeness about how we had met. Holding on to that might be a part, an act, of love. A potentially fatal collusion. But so is all love? We are born from it, it kills us. In the macro view it made the stars to be an arena of life. Her little, narrow, blinkered Englishness could be broke open to greater experience – by my insanity? That’s the rub. I was like a bear trap with my imaginary beings from the future, which I overtopped the illogicality of by invoking Allwhen. That I could see, and love made her defend it against my logic. We were young and in love and on a great adventure which might burn us all up. But what did that matter if we could live with the fire now! 

So we were living in the mystery and intensity of a great collusion, which broke us – her – out of the narrow and conventional and let me live my madness. So we were enlarged though narrowed to a wonder world of two. I suppose all love affairs are like this, dangerous on so many levels, and yet the great healing of the dark. In some ways it takes great courage for the designed difference of man and woman to know one another. When it fails there are established conventions which make it survivable, but for two women, or women of that time, the risks were so much greater. There was no net to catch us. Quite the opposite. And if one of us was mad and the other colluding because she was an ambitious artist in possession of a rare dragon who might any day dissolve beyond all semblance of meaning and beauty, it could only end badly. So we lived as I remember living with Anthony in that strange, unaccountable time, day by day.

Our walking that day to the headland involved touch and drawing such that by the end of the day when we were back at the boat our first job, after ravenous eating, was to nakedly examine and treat each other for deer tics. A little though potentially serious lesson from the world. Looking back from sixty years it amazes me that we held it together and grew throughout. Or if we haven’t we are pretty amazed by what we have become.

Eve had her art, sketch pads and a box of paints. Art revealed what her mind could not see, and even I couldn’t see for me in this hard place at the end of the world. 

We were no nearer solving the mystery of what had happened to Anthony except that here common sense said he had killed himself in Correyvreckan. The objection to that was my memory of him doing the same in Scilly. But that was only my memory and a police record of my report. The simplest solution was to accept my madness and have him die in Correyvreckan. Here is where it gets very complicated for he would have died in Correyvreckan before the suicide attempt in Cornwall. Then things start to get really complicated, leading to a pan dimensional outfit we called the Instrumentality.

Sixty years on we still don’t know but whereas I now believe belief in the Instrumentality in the first instance is naive, many people sit in fields waiting for them. But all this is far in the future when neither of us could imagine still being alive.

&

We returned from the Hebrides not in any ordinary state. Well, Asante was ordinary for me but the minute someone else shared it in any way positively I immediately imagined telling the whole world, and the world was hostile to things infinitely less extraordinary than Asante. Even now, in the 2020s, you can’t talk to the scientifically trained, or any member of the correlatedly educated establishment, about precognitive dreaming, and that is nothing to the reality of infinity machines literally reflecting all time at once, tying up a tyrannosaur’s toothache with the oceanic gods of one billion AD. And beyond that, far far beyond, making us flesh gods in the moment of our living simply for our waking, right now. And what do we do with it! Let the music of the psychopaths overwhelm us, body, mind and soul. The prospects aren’t good given the extreme truth of love against our revealed collective stupidity but I believe we do make it. This optimism, as the 2020s unfurl, seems increasingly misplaced. My hope lies in the imaginary friend of an increasingly experienced as madwoman, even by myself. 

The contradiction to this is that as I grew older I grew clearer, more able to appreciate facts as the world lost the ability. The reality of Asante and APIO came to seem more impossible as the need became clearer, as the incoherence of actions taken by governments became madder. For instance, making it a legal requirement to use twenty-six pronouns for human gender instead of those based on Nature’s male and female. And right now, in what I always thought of as the relatively sane country of England, it will become illegal, with up to a five year prison sentence, to look at a woman ‘in a sexual way’. As most of what we do is unconscious anyway, it is basically outlawing seeing or institutionalising blindness. Orwell’s thought police were bad enough but this requires the surgical removal of human nature. 

As I know from sixty years of exploring neotantra, human health and happiness come from men and women getting closer together, living in a tantric society where sexuality is a neighbourly norm like shopping and breathing. Historically governments have always come between us. Now, instead of using their increasing sophistication to allow and assist natural enlightenment they are using it to institutionalise separation in ways never formerly possible. This is clearly about making life so miserable that no one will want to be alive, of legislating us into extinction. Why is not clear. Perhaps the Instrumentality are machines. Perhaps there are two sorts, ones which fear life and ones which nurture it to is greatness. And they are the same.

I used not to believe this but now I know it is true. There is a class of political animal, going back to the origins of religion, that considers human beings flawed and better replaced with robots. This would be meaningful if you could build them at what I call the Fifth Dimension or the level of Nature itself. But if your science only permits you to function in four dimensions, where time is linear and the future can have no influence, then your robots will be very unhappy creatures if they ever attain consciousness. Of course the 5D influence isn’t simply future, it is totality, what Asante calls more god than God, where the key to everything is love and consciousness. At this level the human being is both created and creator. Before you replace us you should know us. 

It would be so easy to go the other way towards health and happiness, particularly as Asante and the infinity machines are so close to us but not dominating our present in the way of live politicians. There is a code to reaching Asante which is knowing we and ‘the future’ are one.

“The infinity machines, where do they come from?”

“We make them.”

“How do we make them, it we are such idiots.”

“It’s easy. We entertain the concept that anyone is free – above and beyond anything.”

“Do any of us have any idea what that means?”

“It should take about three generations, corruption, exploitation and stupidity notwithstanding.”

“That’s the killer.”

“But we are the creator. We say this is how it is from now on despite all the evidence to the contrary. No more saying the world is a hard and horrible place. It starts with me.”

“So you make the job of destroying the world easy. I lie to you.”

“You won’t, eventually. Love is infinitely more fun.”

We returned from the Hebrides much richer in ourselves. In addition to sketching and painting Eve discovered photography although not until she was at home in the dark room at Holy Wood did she start to discover its full potential. Although she preferred painting because the picture evolved in your body, she enjoyed thinking about pictures in a photographic way and started to explore colour. Nowadays people who’ve heard of her probably think of her as a photographer whereas she sees herself as a painter who explored photography as an extension of the scope of making art but not for her the real thing. For her painting engaged what we would come to call all five dimensions of her being whereas photography was always somehow outside looking in. For her something more like the real work took place in the dark room. It was never as real as paint and brush on canvas, which was the living, breathing engagement, which sailing more closely resembled, a living process which you had to get right because your life depended on it. Of course you could make photography real like that by taking it into a war zone or somewhere, in an Asantesque way, on the edge of the possible. But painting wasn’t like that. It was living from the first touch of the brush, growing in some organic cathedral inside.

Hence her favourite subject to paint was me because she already knew so much of us on the inside. Of course adventures tested our relationship severely but we survived with extended knowledge.

Our trip to Callanish was because of my internal imaginings about an artist of whom I had no grounded knowledge. The same when she was invited to Tasmania on the strength of her photographs in the late seventies. She had to explain photography was not her art. For her painting came from the soul of the world and she doubted the soul of Tasmania wanted to be disturbed at this moment. The reply came back, we want you more than ever. She said she would come if and when she was ready. The reply was, no worries, come when you like, go when you like, go where you like, see what you like, say what you like. So we went and it nearly killed us. David Bellamy probably did more for their cause by one paddle in the Franklin River than we ever did. Although I know that can’t be true because Eve met her own field of Asante in painting the soul of an island whose original population were completely gone, or that’s how it was seen at the time. Now we count descendants. I think that’s what Eve caught in her paintings, not just the ghosts of the gone but of the unseen living. Perhaps her paintings nudged something deep after all. And it fits very much the spirit of both the extinct and the living human race coming through from Asante. Whatever, this business of the living and the dead and the unseen ghosts is strong meat at any time. We are all God’s children, even the worst of us, and who is to judge that? Where judgment suppresses evil grows. There is, we must say, good and bad judgment, and which is which comes clearer with experience. And it all began with a Big Bang and something similar is set for our immediate future. Whatever we expect it will be different and far more beautiful. The politicians cannot stop us although they could. It has to be a real danger to be understood when it is overcome.

But we are back at the cusp of the 1960s just returning from Callanish and Correyvreckan in the first buds of our love and the great ghosts of the Stones. Future and past, living and dead, are becoming the way with us. The inquest over Anthony is awaiting further evidence. Anthony is both alive and dead at this moment. They are going to send divers. I have told them everything that I can. If I cannot sort out the time lines into a single coherent narrative perhaps the professionals can. I had thought of psychoanalysis but not police. A difficulty for them is bilocation. A person cannot kill themselves in two locations so might they have been murdered in one? 

A policeman told me, in an attempt to winkle a confession. “You are so mad they will never convict you.”

“What if time anomalies could be scientifically proven?”

And he looked at me the way a rock might look at a snowflake.

So a murder charge hangs over me. Strangely, it doesn’t feel as bad as eternal damnation, as described by Sister Mercy, for stealing food which someone else had stolen. 

Eve has all her magnificent works and I have only my body. And she is jealous of me!

“You have Nature itself.”

“You’re not idealising deprivation and disorder?”

“Since I’ve known you, as you know, my painting has come alive.”

Something I am slowly learning is when not to have an argument. “I want to experience that tangibility. Asante is powerfully inside me, but her life and work are in the future.”

“Then I’m doing it for you.”

“And I will build you a temple.”

“It is you. There is nothing more beautiful than your naked soul.”

“She is Asante and Ius.”

“Which is all in you. Not one atom of her exists except as you.”

That extraordinary thought held us very still.

“Then how is this possible?”

“I think you are the bridge between these worlds. And I am building the bridge to you.”

I was in tears. We were. It was all so beautiful and so fragile.

Within two years of our meeting the bulk of our encounter was structural processing, the creative equivalents of yoga and meditation rather than classical love making, although that informed everything else. Love making is messy and smells and every month we bleed foundationally. All the glass and steel cities are rooted in this red wet femininity that has flecked your underskirt with heart melting love I remember like yesterday. Love possesses me. It is like all the soil of the world from which things grow. I study it by attention. We study it by making art. It washes over us like ocean tsunamis. It matches the wider world. When the Big Bang was first discovered or Richard Nixon sweated on TV, we were there witnessing menarchically. Such a little thing, so enormous in the dimensions of totality. In that decade, in our small part of the world, it would become legal to love the same sex. Not that it was ever illegal for women thanks to the unimaginative or broad minded Queen Victoria. But it helped to loosen the corsets of our confinement, gave us the feeling of more room in which to breathe. 

I never imagined I would not have more man in my life. Indeed I did, but it was all within the formalities of embodied creativity, what we would call now Somatic This or Tantric That. As we began to experience the power of the sisterhood we realised what an extraordinary thing had been suppressed by man. At first we were rather profligate. I was particularly. Eve had her art but my art was my body. I slept with many women and an occasional man, but I always came back to her. It was risky. I could easily fall in love with somebody else. I did but I could never stay stable with them because they lived in time for time whereas I lived more in the totality where time is not fundamental. I think this is the difference that historically we divided into material and spiritual, whereas it is how we can imagine the structure of a single reality which I call Totality. Eve knew this from within whereas with others it had to be taught. So I began to conceive of a purpose for myself in the wider world, the teaching of the depths of sexuality, for which I needed the foundation of my relationship with Eve. It helped that she was older and more stable and such a driven artist that in some ways she hardly noticed if I wasn’t there. There art had its all consuming momentum. If I had never been she would have lived a very full life without me. As it was we were in balance. Where she had gone had only been to a greater depth of knowing me. When I returned it was only to a greater wonder of our being together. I suppose I am talking about the whole of our lives, for though we have lived between us the better part of two hundred years, the Totality approaches to timeless. A good example is the words of Jesus in your ear, or Shakespeare, or Eve’s paintings. 

If life were not entertaining there would be no life. The purpose of this book is not to entertain you or to not entertain you, nor to inflict on you some serious idea. In ultimate reality nothing is serious or not serious. It is something else. I have spent my life teaching something else through sex. But it is only sex. It is not the creation of space, time and stars. What I am teaching or revealing is to let the misunderstandings melt away. What is left, however improbable, is reality, or it’s approximation for the living.

In my life I have been a number of people. I am like a Swiss Army Knife in that I have different personalities that are so distinct they are like separate people. In one I am a knife, in another a screwdriver. It is not really true that one doesn’t know of the others, though I have played on that, and occasionally I have been lost in one when it has become too hot in another. Sometimes they are closely related. So my screwdriver is also a bottle opener. I can change from one to another in an instant that you will not recognise the person you have just been talking to. If you are trying to arrest me in that moment, unless I am wearing a scarlet yellow dress, you will wonder where I have gone. It is something for Eve’s sake I have tried to overcome, to master so that I am one multitool with many talents.

It is strange that Eve is not the Countess. Sometimes we say that she is so as not to cause mental breakdown, especially among the island British. To other nationalities, even to Americans, it is not obvious that I am a guttersnipe from Liverpool and she talks like the Queen. Mind you, after 11 or 14 years with Anthony, four of them almost exclusively, the edges have been knocked off. And just around the corner the Beatles are about to launch Liverpool into the social stratosphere. And I will again see George, the boy Anthony saved me from to eat worms in Scotland, and be haunted by him for the rest of my life. I never could have been Mrs George, could I? It’s touch and go whether they represent hypernormality – crossing Abbey Road by the pedestrian crossing – or nudged into my world. Sergeant Pepper is more the way I see normality, which is not the way it sees itself. When I look at Patty Boyd and see what Eve has made of me, I realise they are just boys, even Eric. Or perhaps I am mistaking fashion for substance. I am looking, with my Twenty First Century eyes, at a time that was a living wonder. I do remember what it was like to wear a mini skirt strolling through Carnaby Street or the King’s Road with every male skull washed empty and agog and thermonuclear war over the hedge, but we felt free of the endless austerities of history. It is extraordinary how politics crushed that. When she was only a touch away Patty might have had, to George’s hand and eye, all the substance of a goddess. 

I travelled a different road, many roads, all with a single purpose, to manage the teams of my madness in the service of life. It wasn’t easy. I had no commanding substantial passion like Eve other than to serve her with all my powers and thus to serve the world. In the beginning it didn’t look great. The world of great houses was passing from the fiefdoms of aristocratic families to what? The fiefdoms of rock stars, conference centres, museums, safari parks and housing estates.

Holy Wood would go its own way. At first taxes and our incomes looked like refloating the Titanic with a tea cup. Because of Eve and my inheritance of paintings of an aristocratic family, some by famous artists, my mind was channelled into art collection. We knew how to store, we knew the scene, my magpie brain knew endless facts about the subject starting with the Palaeolithic caves, much of which we saw live on a tour of Spain and southern France, the greatest collapse of human time known to me, tens of thousands of years not just as many centuries. 

With my internal experience of Asante and The Professor and Ius and The Oracle, I had the power of foreseeing trends. This wasn’t just like a parrot or an infinite monkey, I had the living experience of fundamental reality, which is God love, Goddess love that loves the world in human like infinity. Such little things as you seldom notice – though it’s infinitely better when you do – that we would not imagine being so huge in the future, or in the Allthing that enwraps past, present and future. So it was a living feeling that showed me paths and roads. Asante, Professor, Ius and Oracle – APIO – made haunting art auctions like a great adventure in love. So as not to be laid by everybody and chased by marriage proposals from end to end of the planet, I had to adopt a more businesslike persona I called Joan Kemble. This didn’t mean I couldn’t drop her in a moment if I spotted a loving opportunity. So I acquired the likes of Morandi when he cost three carrots and is now worth thousands. Eve’s art factored in to these calculations. As I channeled APIO to her the precision of her work rang underwater bells, a whole carillon of bells startling from under the Sea. See! It was not as if, while we were alive to life, there was any conflict. This supreme mystery and moment of life had no conflicts within it. Conflicts came when we fell off the highlow place. We forget the menstrual powers of the Beloved always smells like roses. Gradually, painfully beautifully, the water level of our assets rose until they drowned all creditors and Holy Wood was safe from that threat at least. 

I was filled full, fully filled with love, and knew, as one does, what I should do with it. Focus on channeling it to women to raise their self esteem in being women rather than becoming artificial men at men’s present low level of consciousness. That is a challenge. Men are more willing to play than women, and you have to let them, but without taking over or we’re back at the crap of our dark ages. Fortunately APIO knows everything or can identify the ground rules and directions as if everything was known. It is a little the way machines have learned languages, by having trillions and trillions of living examples of spoken words and their outcomes. Only there is more to it. APIO is focussed in a bubble of time of approximately 600 years. In this period it has to maximise the transition of the human race to full transdimensional consciousness. Nothing less will ensure anyone will be alive in the 27th Century. 

It is a long time in which to learn the simple trick of being yourself. And yet it will be gone in a blink, either to the being or the not being. The not being knows nothing of the 14 billion years so far. The being enfolds it all within itself the way a woman enfolds the essence of eternity. A fabulous economy of creation. Men are part of this too. But the great flower has to open in women or we are stuck with the worst legacy of Charles Darwin unto extinction. So this is what I teach. And I have not even been to school let alone to university. But what university would ever teach something so fundamental as total liberation when their whole purpose is to acculturate us to the rat-mill forever. So, I am the beginning and the end of such an institution. In 600 years there might not be more than one of me. Even one is numerically extraordinary given there is unlikely to be more than 20 billion of us in 20 generations. 400 billion people. This is not a particularly astronomical number. In a field of infinity only held by love every single one of us is important. The most powerful thing anyone can do is know themselves. P

Easily said, impossible to do without an appropriate society. What that looks like I can’t really say. I only know my part of it, which is female energy as a universal power released into a society built to contain it. This involves male energy in a matching state. Whether or not this is the foundation for the whole world, which is how I see it, I cannot say. It will depended on how supporting aspects are handled, whether they remain in support or move back into dominance.

My life has consisted of endless experiments in societies of love. I still don’t know if I’m a failed pioneer or a very sick person whose grand idea for the world ought not to succeed. I’ve disowned or been disowned by or outgrown everything I’ve tried to create. I’ve retired to write a book, which so far consists of a thousand beginnings. Perhaps that reflects life, generation after generation, endlessly new. I can only assume what I am doing is beneficial for the world. To think otherwise is to self consume myself for the triumph of my opponents, which, I believe, would bring the world to a crashing end.

Although the current phase of writing is from 2022 onwards, the latest round of events started in 2015 or 16. As always I am vague about dates because different parts of me seem to live in different times. Whether or not this goes back to the Orphanage and them losing the first year of my life I couldn’t say. I tend not to see cause like that, but from within, not from guilt and other demonic usurpers, but overwhelmingly with love. As love is pretty much driven out of all human transactions I can appreciate your not knowing what I’m talking about. I would agree with you most of the time and on a bad day have to perform mental gymnastics in order to rediscover it again.

It is Autumn now and the fallen leaves are very beautiful in the byways of Hampstead. All dead things but the children and the old ladies and the lovers kicking through them are still happy. 

Well, not exactly happy in the time of the Pandemic, but there is memory of happiness kicking through the leaves or of whispers of happiness somewhere. Ten years after Sister Mercy froze me into line with voice like winter, I was kicking through leaves in Sefton Park with a boy called George. He was the beginning of the future. And then he was gone, made forever young and eternal and unreachable as a one of a rock group, “more famous than God.” And now dead. Rounded like a ring.

There is a voice in the leaves. There is a voice in everything like the voice of the autumn leaves. You may not hear but I hear it in you. The more dead the more we hear together. Can hear, though you have the interesting habit of complaining. For me, who do not distinguish between wet leaves or dry, it is all wonderful. Though wonderful wonderful is like flowers of Spring, insanely optimistic. But Autumn is more like me in that I live. But what is forever when I have no time? How can I even exist? I like those who ask that. More crunchy leaves. It is so easy, so hard. Is it so hard? So easy? This life you are I am this life you are. It is infinitely inward naturally, so it is naturally everywhere. All the shapes and the times are inevitable and necessary. You are, fleeting fly, infinitely inevitably necessary and exactly as you are. The fly does not need to be told, and you, human, are free to not know so that you may more consciously know and be me. A little and all of me for I do not exist, cannot exist and yet am all existence. There you are, being and becoming the greatest of the possible. When did you last think of yourself like this?

Where could such a world possibly come from? Nothing nothing or its immeasurable source, a love that might light Eternity! 

The most interesting one in all of this is, of course, Asante. Her story is that after the human race on Earth destroyed itself and humans on Mars exhausted themselves, she was the last human and the master pattern for us all. 

It’s hard to get one’s head around that it wasn’t about recreating the human for her future but for all time, even we who lived before her and for whom she may never exist, although she must because the chaos of infinite being needs templates, which each of us is for ourselves, both the template for infinity to be the template for ourselves. And if you get that then you will also get that there is a special relationship between a one body and an infinite creative being. Old legends are full of it and we are taught to think that’s because people at that time were naive and thought the world revolved around themselves, which it does because of love. The great love is God for the living being and the living being for that love. And perhaps we can love God not just God’s love. I say we can. And that’s how I understand Asante. How one person could live alone for fifty years and not disintegrate but grow strong enough and clear enough to inspire the God to begin the journey to find her and become her. And that’s you, if you want. There is only one Asante as there is only one you. Knowing this in experience is slightly though totally different from knowing it in any kind of theory. 

So, as you are reading this, any story which makes sense is only true for you and will change as you live with it. Obviously the one I am writing makes sense to me, but I have been living with it all my life and I have lived almost as long as a human being can live. That is not a qualification for understanding and understanding is not a qualification for truth unless it supports and enhances life through the immortality of love. All energy action must ultimately be in love’s service so my story must be beneficial somehow though in ways never intended.

I hope that makes everything as good as clear and if not pretend that it does. This is the placebo effect, which is up to 25% effective, the reason being that Creation itself is like a wish and a dream and it’s that power you are harnessing .  

There is, therefore, something at the bottom of this story which is holding it, enhancing Maisy’s thin grasp of reality. And then there is the final transcripter, Tony, but Tony is nothing without Maisy to bounce off and all her vast, timeless emotion machine. Where Maisy’s and Tony’s psyches touch is in the line of god source like a welding torch. A union of worlds. We look at the welds afterwards, the few that we can actually see, and hope to read the fire again as we might in a work of great poetry.

Love makes God of all of us.

There is no god but love..

The love that we create or find is the living god. There is no God but the Love. God takes every form, is infinite, from dark to light. The dark becomes light through appropriate attention. The dark ends of the spectrum ultra violet and infra red, became ‘light’ through scientific attention, then became tools of targeted will. The God version of this is pure attention. There is action also but the action is a consequence of attention. The attention forms the universe. It is huge and infinitely varied in itself or what it attends to. It is witnessed and you are the witness. There is a god form of witness and a human and they can be perfectly attuned and complement each other, be one. Even so, there is a lot to learn in being that. Talking about it abstractly in English, a shifting amalgamation of tribal languages, is hopeless. It’s better to tell as a story or, better still, as a dream. 

Any dream will do to demonstrate ……. but this one I’ve just had as I am writing this must be most appropriate.

DREAM

The Tin of Sardines

I am the female slave of a business man who commutes to London. He lives in a very large, detached house in the suburbs. He is dressed in a traditional dark London business suit with hat. He is very large and of benign appearance but he only ever exists floating behind me in the air of my mind as I perform my duties for the day. He has gone to work and will return in the evening. I am performing some kind of rite or ritual which is renewed each time by me. I have done this now for many days. The day is sunny, as were all the preceding days. This contrasts with his formal, dark business suit. I wear a long dress of a pale plum colour. 

My ritual involves extracting some subtle energy from a fruit tree at the front of the house and walking with it along the side of the house to a hut at the back. The hut has wardrobe like swing doors which open the whole of the front. Or rather like a dolls house. Inside is elements of a tree with pieces of wood in the main fork on which rest a can of sardines. I give the subtle energy which I have gleaned from the tree at the front and carefully carried it, rather like a candle flame, and given it to the can of sardines, which is rather golden and brightly lit by the sun. 

I am the man’s slave. I perform the ritual with total care so that the sardines are perfectly ready for him when he comes home. I do this again and again and again. I have done it for many days, as though there was no beginning. I have done it many times today, each time subtly and significantly a little different, almost as though I am a moon held in orbit of a planet. 

Now something is different. I must have taken a fruit from the tree at the front. Candle fruit I call them because they grow upwards, the top part the colour of my dress. The fruit in my hand seems different, more like a greenish pear. It might be poisonous. Certainly a huge departure from the subtle sensations I had been carrying to the sardine tin before. The business man will be very displeased. At one end of the fruit is the finest of growths, like dust. It is poisonous, do I think cyanide? I have scraped the tiniest amount off onto a wooden spatula, the sort a doctor might use when examining a tongue. It is a very small amount of poison. I think of increasing it each day. There is a small gap between the flaps of the tin lid, which are now hinged, like Tower Bridge. I push the spatula into the gap, making a deep slot in the sardines, like the slot in a post box in which you post letters. The slot doesn’t even fill with oil. It is so obvious an interference. I open the hinged lid. I try to hide the slot by smoothing it over, leaving many tiny marks. It cannot be hidden. He will know. It is the end.

End of Dream

What I particularly notice is there are only two beings in the world of this dream and really only one. The business man never comes. He is like a great balloon floating in my mind. It is like Waiting for Godot. The only action of the dream is hers/mine. Perhaps what I’m trying to poison is my own behaviour. A very small, ‘homeopathic’ dose. 

A couple of days after this dream we were craving something sweet at midnight and fell upon a tin of peaches. I said it’s a pity there’s no cream, whereupon S whipped some up, thickened with a handful of raw cassava flour. Being a curious person she soon discovered raw cassava contains cyanide. Further reading, including that there are no signs of cyanide poisoning until there are, and then it’s too late. This led us to ring NHS 111 and they made us an appointment at the hospital A & E for 2.45. am. We walked through the dark London streets to A&E where we encountered nurses, M & F, who ridiculed our concerns particularly in view of lack of symptoms other than headaches, tingly tongues and arms, which could be lack of sleep. My pointing out according to our reading, by the time you have symptoms like vomiting your dead. Clearly, they didn’t know. It was a 6.5 hour waits for a doctor, by which time we would be dead. The Waiting Room was a nightmare of human desperation. We decided to go home.

A grim experience of the parlous state of our medical system.

An interesting follow up to the dream and with the white disk another ‘precog’.

I wonder now if precognition isn’t a glimpse of natural intelligence, whose broader form has been lost to us or was never known.

Lots of religious symbolism. 

The fruit tree and the poison fruit. 

The hut containing the sacred tin of sardines, which was rather golden. Its wardrobe doors reminding S of the object containing chalice on Catholic altar. What is this called? Wiki doesn’t know.

Similar doors on the sardine tin but rising upwards. 

Asante, one person, how can she be the template for all?

Self responsibility. 

Which if it can be inspired in all of us means we don’t have to die as a species for the betterment of life

The poison …..  the homeopathic dose.

The power of our imaginations. ……. 

FINAL STATEMENT BASED ON THE ESSENTIAL STORY OF THIS DREAM

THIS IS AS FAR AS I’VE GOT. THE ENDING IS BEING WORKED OUT IN DREAMS.

IF YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS THE DREAMS AND THE DREAMER WOULD BE MOST INTERESTED TO HEAR.