Hunched Among These Shimmerings…

More than twenty years ago, I wrote a short piece in which I described being hunched among shimmerings. Looking back, it occurs to me that I didn’t really know what I was talking about. I was just blathering. I often blathered in those days, both vocally and when doing my scribblings. I think I was simply unclear about what I wanted to say. Much has changed, for now I have a clear, eagle-eyed vision, and am somewhat better able to communicate it. Oh, I still fall prey to blather, more often than I ought to, but I have learned to nip it, if not in the bud, then before too many tendrils have swarmed across the sun-dappled pathway that leads to truth and beauty and insight. You see, there really is a bright magnificent upland upon which we can prance, if we can but reach it. I know that now.

So when, twenty-odd years ago, I wrote about hunching among the shimmerings, I was unable to do much more than to simply report the fact. The significance of my experience escaped me. But last week I found myself once again so hunched, among shimmerings, and now I am equal to the task of writing about it properly.

It was Tuesday morning, and I was exhausted after a sleepless night. Fuelled by Vimto and boil-in-the-bag liquidised macaroni, I had been sitting up studying the flight patterns of bitterns and sanderlings to prepare myself for a bird-related Q&A session I was due to attend. There are many such calls on my attention, and I usually decline them, but this one was a fundraiser for a cause close to my heart, so I was taking part. If I could help to raise a pittance for the Tord Grip Tracksuit Museum, I was ready to immerse myself in bird flight patterns for as long as it took. And, if truth be told, I found the subject fascinating. By the time Tuesday dawned, however, my poor brainpans had turned to mush, and I needed some fresh air.

Not far from where I live, beyond the pollarded willows by the canal just before the level crossing, there is the shack of a mystic. I am in no doubt that, like most mystics, the mystic who dwells in the shack is a fraud. Like TV psychologist Dr Raj Persaud, he is an incorrigible plagiarist, culling his mystic pronouncements from other mystics, some of whom live like him in shacks by level crossings, some of whom live in palaces, and some of whom are dead. Yet I often find it refreshing to head out at dawn and to bestir him by throwing pebbles at his shack. That, at any rate, was my plan. I filled my pockets with pebbles from my pebble pot and thudded out of the house, stamping my feet with vigour upon the green earth. I do not mean that the earth upon which I thumped was literally green. I am trying to impress upon you that I am attuned to nature, a true friend of the earth, a sort of pebble-throwing version of Jonathan Porritt. It is true that I do not care two pins about my carbon footprint, and perhaps that is why I do not get to jet around the world in gleaming aircraft to attend conferences on global warming. But I do not complain. I have my little bailiwick, and I trudge the green earth, hugging the occasional sycamore or yew tree when to do so takes my fancy.

On this particular morning, though, I did not stop to commune with any trees. I was fired up, and in a hurry, and I whistled as I made my way past the weird caves and the duckpond and the industrial funnel manufacturing compound and Zaleski’s gazebo and the enormous cruncher and the two different statues of Condoleezza Rice towards the shack of the mystic, beyond the pollarded willows by the canal just before the level crossing. I am no expert whistler, by any means, but I am enthusiastic, annoyingly so, and as I walked I whistled Existential by prag VEC from their 1978 debut EP. It suited my mood.

So there I was, purposeful and full of vim, yet within ten minutes I was hunched among shimmerings, my pockets empty of pebbles and my teeth chattering. I wish I could tell you how it happened, but I cannot. The eerie shimmerings engulfed me with terrible suddenness. I sank to the ground. The pebbles in my pockets somehow dissolved, or vanished, as if they had never been there at all. The air grew cold, then hot. I hunched there, defenceless, a tiny blob in a vast universe of shimmerings.

This had happened to me before, two decades ago, as I mentioned. Then, I wrote: Hunched among these shimmerings – forget what I just said.

Forget what I just wrote.

One thought on “Hunched Among These Shimmerings…

  1. I wonder if Mr Key would be kind enough briefly to clarify about the ‘industrial funnel manufacturing compound’? Is this a manufacturing compound where industrial funnels are brought into being, or is it rather an industrial manufacturing compound whose output happens to be funnels?

    Lest I seem to be splitting hairs, I should perhaps add that the former instance might well be a case of two amiable widows occasionally meeting in, let’s suppose, a disused pig-pen or similar compound where they desultorily pop a few more rivets into their long lives’ work, a single immense funnel of statuesque and sturdy conception; whereas the latter case might imply a colossal foundry or other such satanic installation which churns out, in their tens of thousands, minute funnels of such a definitively non-industrial calibre that they buckle, or actually wither to dust, under the mere weight of the potential customer’s scrutiny.

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