Weekly Diary


I woke in a tree, not realising that I had been living in a forest all this time, I beat my chest as if I was both captive and captor in the white slave trade and then climbed down an invisible liana to find June astride an African elephant cleaning dirty spots off the ornate ceiling lights – I said that light wasn’t contagious and then went out into the hole in a shoe garden to find a log to incise my name on. After “I Woz Here!” was written as the afternoon trudged on like a test match settling into a draw, June and I went out to dinner. I wanted Chinese and June wanted European but we finally settled on a country somewhere in between. We came back carrying shopping on giant tortoise backs. She settled down to watch candles being lit on an ice rink and I went off to work inside an old fashioned milk churn.


June went to work early as I travelled across the garden wearing newly invented hover boots; the blackbirds in the electric flex bushes were wearing Prussian military uniforms from immediately after the Napoleonic Wars. Their buttons were so polished I could see small faces reflected; when I realised they were not my own I turned round and saw what I imagined to be choristers from a celestial choir – I found out later that they were only the combined effect of pan pipe chords and moonlight shining in the middle of the day. As the cloud wrote with an increasingly finer pen I thought of the woman I had met in the art shop hanging out her voices like just washed clothes – musing on how much safer the world would be if I was still the child’s side of the shop counter I moved plants like draughts pieces.


I got up as daylight merged contiguously with electric light and the new flats across the road rose from the railway embankment mist; the occupants of the top storey had ballistic missile heads which launched into the vertical atmosphere as I caught the horizontal and slow bus to the next County. I said hello to the man whose speciality is painting grey squirrels on hazel nuts and then entered the shrunken head house, making anagrams from the word childhood as I did so. After talking about the weather forecasts found in the the poetry of William Wordsworth I left again to catch an even slower bus home – although not before studying a map of the world as it was in the early Nineteenth Century on the ever smiling door mat. I thought about my oh clod hid all the way home.


I got up before the drip could fall from the marble statue’s nose (actually it was a plaster cast with imprints of ivy stems and the marks made when a jenny wren became a golden eagle in the imagination of a young child) and descended the stairs like a nude in a painting – I ascended them again some time later as a painting in a nude with a typewriter smile and a miniature stream plough making lines like organ pipes across my bare chest. I spoke to the bronze age warrior buried in my fore arm (it is said in a fetal position to keep himself warm) and then rode to town as part of the posse looking for the outlaw Belle Starr – when we finally met we became close friends and I carried her Deadwood shopping home while she balanced a pitcher of used bathing water on her head.


I started the day wondering why I lived in a place where even ghosts have to wear thick coats, the east wind sand blasting my forehead as I opened the from door to man who had only recently proclaimed himself king. As I don’t recognise royalty I shut it again wearing a long cloak and holding a sickle – he left a note in the letter box and I then left a note by a gnarled old willow tree where the river Anton splits into as many parts as a sub-atomic particle collision (incidentally I had thought about writing a play about atomic nuclei for an audience of orbiting electrons). As the day curtain fell (as usual trapping one of the performers on the wrong side) June and I decided to go out – as a statement of ethereal intent we used the mirror instead of the door.


I turned the cheap newsprint page of the morning and entered a new story (I didn’t know the reporter although I remember her once bungee jumping over an ornamental bird bath when I was standing in a wood planting dead trees for a local wildlife trust). June stood in front of the microphone and coughed, the audience clapped, and she called the doctor. I accompanied her to an interview on top of a balding head: she had her blood pressure tested while I drew a nuclear submarine navigating a bayou on a helmet I had previously borrowed from a retired policeman – he was guarding a bag of chips by the door (I made a joke about aiding a prison escape but he never smiled). I returned the helmet some time later with alligator teeth marks and a hand written note from King Alfred the Great.


June went to work (strangely for a recumbent Saturday) in a chariot pulled by tabby cats. I stood in front of the mirror as Balder but saw Loki. I then pulled a small world from above my head and placed it in an auroch hoof print in the immortal garden – once a flower is planted it never fades. I told the postman I was awaiting news and then read my letters as a stream of water instead of carefully folded paper. I couldn’t help thinking that the couple next door had a carefully folded life as they sang Germanic hymns on the Scharnhorst when it sank off the Falklands during the First World War. Later, I took the cast of a production of Twelfth Night for mammal like reptiles and put them in the greenhouse as it hurriedly put on a tutu for a cold garden ballet – I had promised to watch the matinee.


About Gerald Shepherd

Gerald Shepherd is a painter, graphic artist, sculptor, digital/multimedia artist, photographer, writer, curator and arts administrator. He has also been involved with science art, performance art, conceptual art, installations and environments (as well as peripheral creative pursuits such as garden design).
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