Cover painting: Triss du Maurier at work, late at night (circa 1965)
(To view as a Gallery, scroll down to the bottom of this post)
INTRODUCTION TO BOOK TWO – A NOTE ON THE LABYRINTH.
This project – The Reckless Fruit – touches each generation’s “teenage odyssey”.
When we are growing up, we are confronted with an archetypal Labyrinth. It may have been the experimental music and imagery during the 1980s and 90s. My daughter grew up with “The Cure”, and drew and painted and lived her labyrinth. Later, came Spider Man and vampires – some cult movies of 2009.
The 1960s culture produced a crop of joyous avant-garde art and wholesome-looking rock bands. The underside was the stress of celebrity, pill popping and guitar smashing.
Looking at feelings expressed in adolescent art universally – intense isolation, longing for expression, fascination, destruction, the obstinate extremes of narcissism and disgust – I am convinced we all need to find our own thread with understanding, through whatever “popular” mode the Labyrinth presents. It is our personal initiation – however eccentric – to adult life. Before towns grew up, the young were sent into the forest. This archetype also informs the silver screen.
In my childhood, I was fascinated by mazes. I doodled grotesque ones at school, and dug under-and-over tunnels with my hands in builders’ sand at home. For a short time, I even wanted to be a pot-hole explorer in deep limestone caves. The drawings and poems in The Reckless Fruit are a primitive or “naïve” art. I understand by this, a response to the environment, which is passionate but unsophisticated and uninformed. It is therefore very direct.
Living in Somerset, I saw beehives, leather and winkle pickers. Brief gleams of Sassoon and Quant appeared in magazines – we were a year behind the times. When I visited London, I sensed the hub of fashion, partying and progressive pop music. Not knowing where any of these exciting nerve centres were, I fell in love with, and drew what I saw – cosmopolitan crowds of people in the streets and Underground. The odyssey is not with the labels. It is in the hunter’s horn.
When I was about half way through putting together this project of The Reckless Fruit, I discovered in my school rough-books, these pages: the buried presage of a path I would later follow and make my own. We were doing Yeats for A level, and the English teacher in the Lower Sixth had an intelligent interest in the Rosicruceans and in Kabbalah.
Each tempest of life perhaps, awakens a “Prospero”, deep down.
BOOK TWO – CHAPTER ONE, 1965 –
“Let’s Spend the Night Together”
VOICES … “SHE TAKES, just like a woman, yes, she does – She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does – And she aches just like a woman – But she BREAKS just like a little girl.” /Bob Dylan (1966)
“IN THE chilly hours and minutes,
Of uncertainty, I want to be,
In the warm hold of your loving mind….” /Donovan (1965)
Taunton in the Back Streets
I prowled again
the black sky in yellow streets
unshrivelled by the sun.
A shell unhouses my soul;
as under the footway, I hear
the rasp of Donovan’s harp – “may as well
try and catch the wind…”
Who lives here?
Why am I unplaced?
Through the house and out, the dull
and countless feet are blind.
Cold lamps flood
the yard at the back
whose scarred chimneys tower the night,
to ring with silent stark phantoms bright
those daytime High Street
shop front shut eyes
for the prams
and price of meat.
75: La Ronde – The hussy house– her expression – mirrors the one in (74), “On the Wall” at the end of Book One – this happened subconsciously. How strange it must be to live here, with a public “right of way” to Taunton High Street through the ground floor of your home, the restless steps of strangers to and fro … To the right, a stair descends to the promised land.
76 : Slow dance cellar. La Ronde – a coffee-bar for the after-school games of chance. My licentious fantasy converts it to an underground disco. The blonde girl wears grey, and ribbed grey stockings – this was very fashionable, for a short time. It reminds me of the singer Twinkle: “He rode into the night, accelerated his motorbike …” The beehive metamorphed to sleek pageboy – the sexy-innocent Marianne Faithfull look reached Taunton – and her lips whitened. She has smoky eyes. I remember the slow shuffles, tipping on the edge, the warm, insistent pressure of thighs and knees, like water, and …
Dick Tresilien is in the background, and – top left corner – two amateur bouncers at the door. Tickets for the tunnel of love, cost just a few bob, thanks, enjoy the band.
“DON’T hang me up and don’t let me down
We could have fun just groovin’ around AROUND and around
Oh my, my … Let’s spend the night together
Now I need you more than ever” /Jagger/Richard, Rolling Stones
pulled me up the ladder
into the tree
to the dark, the juicy
fruit is there,
I clung around him “Quick, quick” said the bird,
“in here, don’t be heard”
door open, quick inside
the fruit, he
and my dress
dripped down the stair
77: Let’s spend the night. This drawing was warmed up by the Stones’ Let’s Spend the Night Together”, and the Kinks “Tired of Waiting”. It excited my brother also, who was nine: “What are they going to do?” “They’re going to find a place to you-know-what, kiss,” I replied, to my mother’s indignation, who tried to preserve in her children, a respect for relationships. Simon like myself, dug the Kinks and the Stones.
This pair left the dance, and seek a “refuge”. Sex before marriage was forbidden fruit. The stairs go on up to the street – it is part of an ongoing story.
“IT’S YOUR LIFE
And you can do what you want” /Ray Davies/The Kinks
Seeing a Sketch
Those crossing shadows on the window-pane still
bar with impenetrable night
the moon on charcoal’d dancers,
pinned to the wall.
78: Don’t keep me waiting. They are the seed in the Reckless Fruit.
VOICES … “Do what you like … But please don’t keep-a me waiting … TIRED of waiting for you … “/Ray Davies/The Kinks
Before you see me cry.
I don’t want you to tell me Just what you intend to do now.
Cause how many times do I have to tell you, darling, I’m still in love,
Still in LOVE,
With you now?” /The Moody Blues
79: Outside upstairs. These horny alley-cats on the upper ground, like sentinels, are very tired of waiting. You can just see the top of the stairs in the foreground, and then there are more stairs to climb up into a house, a bit further on. The slanting perspective allures me along this pungent fissure.
The lovers turned right, half way up the stairs. At the top here, the passage opens to the left. The drawings led me along, as arcane stories pictured in my mind: usually, about four or five ahead of the one I was doing. The songs – brief quotes – I heard them all the time. They were alive and wicked. They quivered among old brick shadows, charcoal and mystique.
“… … YOU KNOW I love those little things in my ear
that you say when there’s no one near… “/Dave Berry
The touch of two flints
drops the spark
of the universe.
kiss of a candle ignites
in fusion’s flame.
Fire once fed
is a boundless
lost as little fish
Fire in the grate
burns through aeons of life
O, fire in shell,
your way in the Sun
is coming home!
80: Crossing the car park. They are crossing a derelict open space, to where soul’s mansions kiss again. In a story I wrote, called “The Shadow”, this place was “Gallows Yard.” I feel what they are, from their feet right up to their hair – strangely lifted along by the street lamps opening ahead, and leaning towards each other.
I know that you
see out through bars and sing –
little things you do
– your noughts and crosses
flit through my everlasting
Inside my room,
each window pane a picture tells,
each flavour from the pit, a story smells
and I have no cage, no frame
until it flutters
yourself flown in, whose song
only utters …
81: Window. If you had gone up the second flight of stairs, to look down into that same cleft where the stoned cats are tired of waiting, this might be your window. It is like meeting a person or looking into deep water. So many wires and bridges cross the space, you can hardly see the ground. This view for me is inhabited, a total immersion.
“YOU DON’T try very hard to please me
With what you know, it should be easy
Well this could be the last time
MAY BE the last time – I don’t know … “/Jagger/Richards, Rolling Stones
A Stoned Tantrum
I made the buildings taller still
across the frame
like mothers and fathers
looking on, alarmed
at wildness breaking out
from their child there on the ground.
Well, this could be the last time
he ever fights that crazy Chrissie
who turned his head to shame
without a sound.
82: The Last Time. A reconstruction of the backs of Taunton High Street, from the shoppers car park aslant, while listening to this song by the Stones – all those bricks and eyes.
I watched the flood in sunlight clamour the pavement glamour trafficking who can't get a move on, who wait on tippy toes, haven't finished though they try and they try to get groceries done, that dead end job, kids home; they hobble and grimace and cuddle and scold and flash the brand new gear in the car; it's no butlins holiday camp for 365 days when a Rocker leans against the glass and stares, Bowler waits for a cross-now sign; they built earth's architectonic gilt in a way for sat- is- fac- tion to cushion the jag.
Thoughts of Genesis by Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders
“THE PURPOSE of a man is to love a woman and the purpose of a woman is to love a man … It started long ago in the Garden of Eden when Adam said to Eve, baby, you’re for me -
“So come on BABY let’s start today, COME on baby let’s play
The game of love, love, la la la la la LOVE …”
Lucifer Bright Angel
As bud from branch, new forms
of life which thrive
are brought out from
the old, to strive.
the great star fell
out of heaven’s equilibrium,
to renew discovery, hey man.
Playing his own rhythm
& blues band, how could Bright Angel tell
that the tree of life begetting him still
beats the drum?
(inspired by Milton’s Paradise Lost at school)
“He opened the book of her untrodden land. He may have walked her fields … but it was long ago, before he was born: and nothing she is now, belonged to him then.” (a Karmic KOAN).
Breaking through into aeons still unknown, the existential sphere expands. The man and woman make love, and the animal and vegetable kingdoms grow up to clothe them, and mountains, valleys rivers and deltas are born, untold.
To long for a past innocence, is blind. We take responsibility like a child must, dropped from the nest to learn; for the fruition of a cosmic circuitry. Ultimately, the long toil of human individuation is co-creative with totality – the Divine innocence.
When I was twelve, I opened a book of mountains. Its author across the sea became a symbol, like prophets do. The book – looking back –inspired the circle of my life, so much did I aspire to understand and grow. It has Himalayan snows, a warm human urgency, and deep urban roots. I see the Lotus. Hail flower, roots embedded in the river mud; hail Mount Kailas – the jewel in the nut-brown hills of Tibet …
83 and 84: Panorama One and Panorama Two. These landscape drawings join together in the middle. I made many careful sketches on the spot, and strung them together at home. As old human shells face demolition, their walls and windows come to life. I felt passionate with their poignancy. I couldn’t say why. I just had to draw them.
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