Weekly Diary


June was rushed to hospital when insect wings began to grow out of the top of her head. A man in a green uniform and riding on a red horse arrived in our woodland retreat in the early hours as I stood in the middle of the road dressed as semaphore railway signal (I wanted one from the Southern Railway but could only get the Great Western). The dog was wearing her new camouflage pattern tutu. Poppy then changed into a fireman’s fatigues as we collected June from the hospital; the rugby playing taxi driver was dressed in a Royal navy uniform of the Napoleonic era – I could still smell the powder burns as he turned corners with an army latrine for a steering wheel. We all reached the water’s edge later in the day – the sun in the sky having been replaced by a roast dinner with fluffy cloud veg.



June was feeling better and we walked to the nearest village; which was situated on the underbelly of a large, and I thought extremely friendly, dog. June wanted a skirt to wear as a hat and I wanted an ornate fountain for the circular rug in the front room. We had a meal on the way back in an eye of a needle restaurant: we couldn’t stop too long as it was expecting the imminent arrival of a camel. All the waitresses were insects and the diners had very long coiled up tongues. Just in front of us was the sea with the waves lounging on the shore like a pyjama party for ephemeral beings. We walked home above the paper torn cliffs and below the multistorey clouds to the Easter Island head chalet we are renting for the week in. The night was an Indian ink stain on cartridge paper – we curled up like cats.



A cold morning in a cardboard house, I took an early walk after making a door by following the perforated lines. I thought the sea looked like a twelve inch vinyl disc with the sun the stylus although I couldn’t quite recollect the song and eventually took the time signature back to the chalet with me to show June – she said it resembled a rickety ladder going up a mountain and I immediately replaced it with a knotted rope (I pretended that some of the knots were ancestral hearts). Poppy was asleep in a tuba throughout the climb and I woke her with a deep sound as June sat down with a harmonica mouth – she smiled in C major and then we all followed the pavement staves of the cliff path for lunch. The shining sounds slowly became silent and we then had a relatively idle day asleep in sea shells.



I had another early walk along the cliff top; there were already a number of yachts as small as cake decorations although the icing looked far too choppy – sand martins were pulled on strings and rock pipits jumped into gorse bushes as if to change into their swimming costumes. The weather had already changed into a dark swimsuit and I could feel spots of rain on my head – as it turned out it wouldn’t last and the afternoon was hot. June had washed up with the dog instead of the dishcloth and we decided to take a pebble walk to dry her off. We past a lake of polka dot swans and a man on a horse pulling a boat across the dry land. A bit further on another man was flying a little girl instead of a kite. We later found the kite abandoned with an impossible dream of becoming a jet plane.



I went out alone in the early morning to walk a woodland path. I had already dreamt I could hear voices coming from the fragment of wood just below the chalet – in the dream I had thought they were pebbles and I skimmed them across the water’s surface before they sank with an unpleasant plopping sound. I returned for a bath in a cold war slit trench and dressed in the regalia of the Praetorian Guard. June and I had already decided to have a trip out and we found the rugby ball man again among a box of circles and spheres (I thought I saw a moon of Neptune right at the bottom among the multicoloured sea urchin skeletons). I thought all the yachts in the harbour were actually sand clocks slowly emptying time – two old people disembarked from the nearest boat holding a child.



We walked to the nearest village cum town again but couldn’t find anything to buy. On the way back we ate a farewell meal in the eye of an needle (which blinked in time to the crashing waves), saw a tree that looked like a wood nymph discussing the philosophy of Immanuel Kant with a languid faun and then made a face on the pebbles with driftwood – I studied its expression intently and resolved to draw a strip cartoon about the sordid adventures of bedroom furniture. At the end of the day we stood on the cliff top and looked out at sea. The clouds made me think of an army of dirty pillows looking for the occupants of an innocent village to suffocate and I surreptitiously photographed them from inside a Mark One tank of the First World War which was stood on the cliff top admiring the view.



The end of our holiday and we walked the cliff top parapet one last time: beneath us the horizontal curtains hardly moved. I saw the sea music again but couldn’t hear a sound. June took one last photograph with her Venus Looking Glass camera and I plucked a melancholic bass drum and then banged my guitar as hard as I could before we all returned to the chalet: which was still crouching among the trees and I suspect is very cold in the winter. We were picked up some time later by a pair of rooks that had got permission to leave the rookery and took the long way home, seeing nodding cattle with windscreen wiper legs and salt and pepper shaker trees. The house smelt of other people and the garden had changed its caterpillar skin.


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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