365 Days on Tor (part 4)
In part four of the fictitious journals of hippy-botherer James Gladwin-Turner, James does something very naughty indeed.
These posts take the form of edited highlights from the imagined author’s imagined book ’365 Days on Tor’, in which the author climbs Glastonbury Tor every day for a year, and attempts to understand what the Hell the 2012 phenomenon is all about. Here’s Part one, Part two and Part three.
March 24th 2012
Everyone in this town is a freak. I’ve been here three months now and feel qualified to make that statement. Guru-worshipers, Goddess-worshipers, Animists, Odinists, Machicheans, Zoroastrians, Alchemists, Buffalo talkers, Dog whisperers, Anthroposophists, Crowleyans, Weedians, Immortalists, Tantrists, Druids, Theosophists and Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya Sufis. They’re all here, plus no doubt a bunch of others yet to be discovered – Pastafarians and Cookie Monsterists perhaps. Suppose I can’t complain, but I should be gathering some quotable insights on the 2012 phenomenon from this lot and, to be honest, the prospect of a shift in the Earth’s magnetic poles – plunging continental Europe into a new ice age – seems fairly prosaic compared to the ritual sacrifice of small rodents to a second-century sock-puppet snake god. Which is something that could well be going on in Glastonbury for all I know.
If you can’t beat ‘em then join ‘em – that’s my current theory. I’m staring into the mirror in The Shack’s pokey bathroom, considering a shave. I have two week-old stubble, well on the way to becoming a proper beard. It is 94% grey and makes me look a good ten years older. But I need to fit in better so, even though it itches like hell, it will stay. I peer close at my reflection. My eyes are like maps of London – surrounded by lines; the Thames is a red vein that writhes across my eyeball, emptying into a muddy-brown pupil. In a few months I’ll be 53. My best days have passed.
As I shower I contemplate my four friends in this town: Elrond (actual name), the burnt-out hippy who, like me, climbs the Tor at least once a day. The main difference between us is he sits up there for a lot longer – hours at a time – smoking his way through an ounce of cannabis a week. Then there is the wonderful Ligeia. Despite ruining our Valentine’s Day date, I have chosen to forgive her – mainly because the weird friends she brought with her the evening of our supposed romantic dinner for two seem to be actually quite interesting. My only truly sane friend is Roger, the retired college lecturer – roughly my age and a Robert Fripp enthusiast, so we get on like a house on fire. And finally there is Rat the cat (typical Glastonbury logic), who belongs to Penny two doors up, but likes to sit on my lap of an evening and emit foul-smelling farts.
For a community that embraces so much worldly wisdom, I find it strangely insular. I am vaguely aware of things going on in North Korea, problems in Iran and Israel, the Pope in ill health, but that’s about it (there’s no internet connection in The Shack – thanks Don.) I haven’t read a paper since I arrived; perhaps I’m already going native – I know more about the town’s forthcoming Spring Equinox meditation than I do about current affairs.
My agent, Don Gluck, calls, and asks how things are going. ‘Slow’ I say. ‘Any juicy gossip?’ he asks. ‘No’ I say. ‘Well pull your facking finger out son’ he says, radiating London vibes. I hang up.
It’s no good. I need a news fix. I trot into town, buy The Mail, and read it in the yard of the Blue Note cafe, smoking a roll-up (proper cigarettes are too metropolitan.) Blah, blah… Global recession… Blah, blah… Russian riots. If apocalypse really is at hand, Glastonbury seems to be strangely indifferent; I should’ve rented an apartment in bloody Moscow. A short article catches my eye: New Age types are flocking to a mountain in France in the belief that it has mystical properties, and is the only safe haven come the end of the world on December 21st. Interesting.
Back at The Shack, Ligeia drops by for a brew with her two weird but interesting mates in tow – the same that gatecrashed my Valentine’s dinner. As you know, Lars is tall and intense, carries a carved staff, and believes he is receiving messages via ESP from an extraterrestrial intelligence. Bruno is shorter, stocky and a shaman-in-training (natch.) They don’t say very much.
‘When are you and I going to get some time alone?’ I ask Ligeia.
She bats her hand dismissively, and completely changes the subject. ‘How’s the book coming along?’
Playing hard to get. I like that.
‘it’s coming along slowly’ I say. ‘Apart from you lot, there doesn’t seem to be much interest in 2012ology around here.’
‘Then you’re not looking in the right places’ says Ligeia, her slim features enveloped in cigarette smoke like a 21st century Nico.
‘I did hear something interesting though’ I say, leaning forward. ‘There’s a sacred mountain in France called Bugarach. Thousands of nutters are heading there ‘cos apparently, on December 21st 2012, the non-human intelligences who live in the mountain will emerge to save any true believers from the apocalypse.’
In the time it takes to exhale a lungful of tobacco, I have a brainwave. My pulse quickens a bit and I lean forward even further. ’And do you know something else? I met a French bloke today. He told me that Bugarach and Glastonbury Tor are both part of a chain of Earth chakras. There’s a network of sacred mountains around the planet, connected by tunnels. The aliens or whatever they are that live underground use the tunnels to move between sites. And on the winter solstice 2012, these high places will be the only refuge from total fucking annihilation.’
All three of them look sceptical, and a bit shell-shocked. They say nothing; I can almost hear their brains working, computing the implications if it is true. I watch Lars in particular, who frowns and stares at my manky carpet. Then, finally, he speaks.
‘This is very strange’ he says in his deep German accent, ‘because I had some kind of vision about these things. It is like, deep down, I have always known this secret. And now I know that it is true.’
I lean back and take a sip of tea (mainly to hide my smirk.) They’ve fallen for it. Hook. Line. And sinker.