Island-Hopper : Ge-Odyssey details, chronologically, the earliest period described in The Cuppalot Chronicles, but forms the last part of the book, being told retrospectively, with The Incontinentiad (of the Emerald Poets) being told first, followed by The Birth, and Love, and Alchemy of Gwri Golden Hair.
It was a warm August evening and I was sat under the jasmine at one of the Morrocan-style tiled tables on the terrace of the Jolly Sportsman in Easy Chiltington, East Sussex. This is, as Captain Cuppalot assured us, one of the locations of the Great Pyramid of Khufu. At any rate, it was idyllic. Two leafy oaks tower over the terrace, which is borded by a lavender bed. Many other plants - ferns, miniature conifers, a grapevine, flowers and exotic grasses - also surround the eating area, and lanterns of coloured glass hang down from the rafters of the overhead trellis. It had now been several months since Cuppalot and crew had returned from Egypt. As you have just read, his return was followed by the exciting discovery of a treasure-filled Ancient Egyptian chamber inside the hill of the Cerne Abbas Giant.
This in turn had lead to a far greater discovery still, the plan of the Egyptian-commissioned British geodetic scheme, a cognative geometric geography incorporating the two Pyramid Plans, the southern one and its rotated northern counterpart.
It was on this evening in East Chiltington that Cuppalot chose to reveal to us - and by 'us' I mean, apart from myself, my lady friend .... the curatress of the British Temple of True Helen and Sminthean Apollo, and a few of my fellow fledglings from the British Academy of Aesthetic Philiosophy - to this group he revealed that in fact he had already been introduced to this geodetic scheme, including the Pyramid Plans, before the discovery of the Cerne Abbas chamber, but that he had not realised at that earlier time quite what it was that he was being introduced to.
We had that afternoon set off from Ditchling, after spending some time munching baguettes from the Ditchling deli while sitting next to the village pond, notable for being surrouded by ancient megalithic stones, for being home to three old turtles who love to climb out onto said stones to bask in the summer Sun, and also for being the favorite haunt of a large grey heron. From Ditchling we had walked to East Chiltington along the paths and bridleway that follow the course of an old, straight Roman road, which took us via - and the pun is unintentional - Streat and Plumpton. Much of this route is under luxurious tree cover, with frequent vistas being afforded south to the long scarp of the Downs and north across the great myserious expanse of the Weald.
It had been back in Ditchling that I myself had asked Cuppalot, our tutor at the Aesthetic Academy, if he had any thoughts on what methods of measurement the Old Kingdom surveyor-officials used when establishing the British geodetic shceme.
"A good question, Charles," Cuppalot had replied as we strolled along. "Latitude - the fraction of the north-south distance on the Earth - is not so very difficult to assertain. They could have worked with Solstice noon Sun inclininations, or with the inclination of the Pole at any time of year, both of which provide relatively simple latitude figures.
"Before I go on to talk about the Egyptian traditions related to these things, I might first point out that we do actually have written records of this kind of measurement in Britain in ancient times, and one of the measurements is of particular interest. A Greek philosopher called Pytheas, a citizen of the Greek city of Massalia, now called Marseilles in the South of France, is known from Hipparchus' work to have measured varying Sun heights during a voyage up along the Atlantic coast up to and through Britain. A couple of the actual measurement he took in Britain itslelf are known from Hipparchus' work. One of these is believed to have been at the stone circle of Callanish on the Isle of Lewis off Scotland. Barry Cunliffe head of European archaeology at Oxford describes this as a distinct possibility in the new appendix to his book on Pytheas, because of the match up of descriptions of the alignments with recent research. The other measurement is the one that is of particular interest in connection with the Pyramid Plan, because it is 54'13'', which is the latitude of the three massive circular double-henges of Thornborough."
Cuppalot hoisted up the white linen of his robes as he climbed over a stile and then paused in his monolgue until the rest of the group were also over it. We were now walking along a narrow path with a meadow of sheep to the North and woodland to the South.
"Do you think there is some connection between Pytheas and the Plan?" asked one of the fledglings.
"Well, not directly, but remember that this is a very significant latitude in the scheme - it is the northern establishment of the 'Balance of the Lands', with Thornborough itself being where the Orion Shaft line bisects it, as with Cerne Abbas in the Southern Pyramid. Pytheas seems to have had knowleadgable local guides. As Cunliffe writes, he probably spoke Celtic himself, since the Celts were in and all around Marseilles, the city being located in their old homeland region in the South of France. Cunliffe notes in his appendix that Pytheas seems to have been taken to and told about the Callanish circle of Lewes by people who had retained knowledge of it from much more ancient times, since the alignments to the rise of the Pleiades, Equinoctial sunset and southern moonset of the site link to references in Diodorus Siculus on a circular temple in Britain that are thought to come originally from Pytheas. References to Pytheas' lost work also mention that he recorded that he had been shown by the natives 'places where the Sun lies down', in other words alignments upon Sunset positions. "
The Captain, being robed in his customary toga, and striding onward boldly surrounded by our little group of attentive listeners, attracted some curious looks from the various other dog-walkers, cyclists and horse riders that were out that afternoon.
"So was the situation regarding the Thornborough Henges similar? Had he been taken to them, as to ..., because they were considered by his Celtic guides one of the wonders of Britain not to be missed, and did he similarly speak to members of a priesthood there who told him that the latitude was somehow significant, causing him to make note of it? It is quite possible that he visited this inland site because he is recorded as having not just sailed but also travelled overland extensively in Britain.
"Not that Pytheas didn't know already about latitude measurement, and when wondering where this knowledge came from one possibility is the Pythagorean knowledge, since it seems to be amongst the this group that knowledge of a spherical Earth entered the Greek world. Pythagoras, like Pytheas, lived in a western Greek colony, in this case in southern Italy. Pythagoras himself travelled extensively in Egypt, which may be where he learnt about the theorem of right angle triangles, since we now know that this was known to the Egyptians. But might he also have learnt there about latitude measurement? Afterall, there are Egyptian inscriptions describing the very old ceremony called Stretching the Chord which speak explicitly of measuring the length of shadows with the utmost of accuracy, and which also make references to sighting the polar region of the sky. Location of the Pole of the sky is believed to be the method by which the pyramids of Giza are so accurarely aligned to the cardinal directions.
[give details of Stretching the Chord and of Pytheas method of Pole location possibly linked to the Four Sons of Horus.]
These technical discussions occupied us as we walked along the old track to East Chiltington, and then it was once we were seated at our table outside the Jolly Sportsman that Cuppalot decided it was time for a change of style. That, he said, would do as far as technical matters were concerned. Noe he wanted to tell us a story, for, he said, the Pyramid Plan had already been introduced to him through a kind of mystery initation. Now the story he then proceeded to relate to us is one that I myself find, in certain of its details, almost impossible to believe at a literal level, but it appears that the Captain intended it rather to communicate truths of a different kind. The tale as he related it runs like this:-
The thing came about like this. I myself, Captain Cuppalot, had recently been to a dinner party at the cottage of my close friend and relative, Thomas de Puggalot. During the evening I had met and fallen deeply in love with the nymph Myrtale, who took the form of a myrtle bush. Myrtale’s feelings for me were of a similar nature, as far as it was possible to tell, and it was our mutual wish that we be wed as soon as possible. de Puggalot told me, however, that Myrtale’s father Agrarius was a great reader of the old stories, and in emulation of them he could not bring himself to favor any match with his daughter if the suitor did not first agree to a challenge, rather as was set for Jason by Pelias.
The challenge sounded simple enough: we would have to fetch for Agrarius the Hairbrush of Portsmouth. With this we would be able brush his hair in readiness for our wedding. There was a catch though, because the exact whereabouts of this hairbrush were written on a piece of paper contained inside a box in the house of one who sometimes assumed the name of Garth of the Island of Tre Taliesin, and the only person who knew the real identity and address of this Garth was Edith of the Island of Filey. This Edith would only agree to give us the information we sought if we were to present to her a handwritten love-letter written by Timothy of the Islands of Thornborough. Really, if Agrarius thought this had the makings of a gripping story, he was surely mistaken, but, according to de Puggalot, my sweetheart’s father, a full initiate of the Temple of Britannia, was adamant that these things be carried out in this way.
And nor was that the end of it. Timothy of Thornborough would not easily be convinced to write such a letter to Edith, for her looks were not commonly described as beautiful. It was well known, however, that Timothy was very partial to a particular vintage of Pinot Noir from the Sedlescombe Estate, the last bottles of which were held in the cellar of Heather of West Bromwich. Timothy might be persuaded by a gift of this elixir to pen the necessary letter to Edith. And so it went on: Heather would only part with a bottle of her wine if she was to be brought the Handbag of Clare of Croft Hill, who would in turn not part with said item unless her flowerbeds were fertilized with some seaweed brought freshly from the beaches of Lowestoft and some manure from the dung pile of Harold of Whiteleaf, this Harold being reluctant to part with his precious excreta but that he should be brought a puppy from the litter of the Bitch Freda of Dorcheaster-on-Thames, who was in the care of one David. David was currently away in Eastern Europe, and the only person to whom he gave the authority to sell the puppies of the Bitch Freda was Katherine of West Kennet.
On and on went the list that de Puggalot related to me, and truly I think it would be better for you and for me if I was to cut it short at this point and simply tell you that prior to visiting the places mentioned above we would have to go, in reverse order, to the islands of Divizes, Glastonbury, Cerne Abbas, Worthing, Brighton&Hove, Lewes, Wilmington, Hastings, Canterbury, Woking, and, first of all, Medmenham, and that along the way we would be fetching from one place to another an argyle sweater of a creamish hue, a whisk at least half as big as any now available for purchase, a pair of trousers with the magic property that though they be soiled on the inside will there yet be no apparent effect for those on the outside, a DVD that had been borrowed a full twelve-month previous, various household items, and first of all a mysterious small package for Quentin of Medmenham which was given to us by de Puggalot himself, and he was emphatic we were not on any account to open it lest we incur the wrath of Aeolus who marshals the winds.
Week 1: The Island of Medmenham
On the beautiful and peaceful Island of Medmenham, between Marlow and Henley, we spent a pleasant week making necessary adjustments to our yacht, the H.M.H.M. Henry-Moorehen-ry-Mooring. Medmenham is one of the locations of the Great Pyramid of Khufu.
We had time on our hands for a few days, as Hawaki was still readying the craft for action. We went to see Quentin of Medmenham in his bohemian underground den with its wisps of strange incense, and once we had woken him we delivered to him the package from de Puggalot, obtaining in this manner the magic trousers that would so please Arnold of Woking. Quentin entertained us with his sitar playing and plied us with tea, and later in the afternoon we visited the site of the Barrows of Osiris, but they can only be seen from the air. Professor Hatpins said they looked great all the same.
Hawaki spent some time painting watercolours of the romantic old haunt of the Mad Monks of Medmenham, and Hatpins paid an evening visit across the water to the nearby Island of Maidenhead, an experience that was to have far reaching consequences for us later in our trip. The next day he told us about his adventures, and this is what he related to us:
‘I must say, dearest Cuppalot, that it was a somewhat odd evening in certain ways. Really I just wanted to find a nice hostelry where I could settle down and edit the hardcopy of a thesis I've been working on recently. But as I look around, nowhere really seems to fit the bill, until I spied a place called the Honey Pot. The name sounded rather sweet, so in I popped in. But when I did so the sight that greeted my eyes different a little from my expectations. First and foremost I was surprised to note that the walls had been painted as black as pitch, as black as pitch Cuppalot. It seemed a slightly odd choice, but I'm here now, I think to myself, and get a drink, sit down, and start editing. But then after a while I looked up and saw a young lady in little more than a frilly bra and a what I believe is called a g-string, wandering around bold as you like. Well, I have to admit I found this a little distracting but I directed my attention back to m'hardcopy. And then more of them appear, more of these nymphettes wandering around.
And then suddenly one of them is nuzzled up behind me, looking over m' shoulder, inspecting m'hardcopy. She reads out a few sentences.
'What's this about then?'
'Um...it's about the Maya people of Central America? About their calendar?'
And she replied, and I quote: 'What's that like the weather and stuff?'
'Um...no, no no no, it's about their method of counting time.'
And we proceeded to have a little chat about this and that, and then suddenly, out of the blue, she asks me if I want a dance. Well despite the fact that no-one else was dancing, a gentleman simply doesn't refuse a young lady who asks him to take the floor, so of course I said yes. Then she leads me into the corner of the room, and draws some curtains across, and then begins what you must believe me was one of the most unusual dances I have ever come across. The music was not suitable for my preferred dance, the waltz, but it transpired that she rathered that I simply assumed a sitting position.
'Oh I say...is this a variant of the foxtrot....good heavens...do you
realize that...actually I think you're on my...my word, did you realize
you're now completely...gracious me...I think we're a bit behind the times
back in Marlow...while your here, I wonder, can you help me with the
spelling of Teotihuacan...the large ceremonial complex near Mexico
city...great big step pyramids and so forth...oh well, not to worry...I
say, I think you're sitting on my hardcopy...oh, are we done then?...most
unusual...money? Quite, yes, how much do you need?...yes I think I can probably manage...there you go...now go and buy yourself a nice pair of trousers. It's quite chilly for the time of year.'
Needless to say I left quickly to find a place where I could give my hardcopy the attention that it now so urgently demanded.’
So I said to Hatpins the next day that it did indeed seem a most curious drinkery. However, I said, I am a little concerned that you may have been visiting Thomas de Puggalot for tea again. You know how you often have your little dreams after teatime at Puggalot’s. Are you certain that this event was entirely real?
And Hatpins replied: "My dear Cuppalot, I assure you most assuredly that this incident was a waking one."
CUPPALOT: Never-the-less, Hatpins, I think you should give me the address so I can go and make sure.
However, I did in fact find alternative entertainment, for I myself, Captain Cuppalot, went along to Marlow Regatta, where I penned the following lines:-
River Bankers in Summer
People of Bucks
River Bankers all,
Hark, yon bunch of bankers,
The summer season is upon us
The regatta has arrived
Hasten down to Marlow
For the crowds are a-gathering
Buckwits all, and merry
“Come on number five-one-two!”, you cry to a lady rower, as she skulls past in her figure-hugging suit of blue
Do you not realize,
That the race is over,
And now she is returning to the start
Like a racehorse ambling along after a race
From whose rippling muscles rise whisps of steam?
Or like an athlete who has finished the dash
And now lopes lithely around the track
Allowing her muscles time to warm down?
You have worn your tie short and fat this year
I commend you for your shiny shirt
And your messed-up hair is certainly the fashion
But I would rather not speak of the six hours it took you to perfect your appearance this morning ready to go on show at the Marlow regatta
My time would be better spent were I to use these words in praise of the Buckwettes
Flitting through the throng in their light summer dresses
Seeing one, it is as if she has risen naked from the dark waters of the Thames, her tanned limbs dripping with river water, whereupon a flock of brightly colored butterflies
With wings of gentle silk
Have alighted upon her naked body:
Such is the ephemeral summery nature of her dress
With hair of solar gold
It is as if a naked angel of the Sun
Emerging from the velvety heart of a flower
Her body still sticky with the nectar of the Sun
Has proceeded to roll in a bed of summer petals
Which have adhered to her
And now flutter gently in the breeze
Perfuming the air
With their heavenly scent
Such is the delightful lightness of the frocks sported by this years’ Buckwettes at the regatta
Leave the enclosure
For one who would stride boldly through the middle
One who has worn his tie long
For I - Cuppalot of the generous custom - have arrived upon the scene
Make way for a real man
One who sings an ode
To the beautiful Buckwettes
Any of whom would be honored
To allow him into their VIP enclosure
Make way for one who would maneuver the prow of his craft
Through the churning waters
A bunch of reeds on my shoulder
As love carries us over the waves
Though you are dressed in garments of the most elegant nature
You have stepped out of your high heels
And now pad with bare feet like a primitive across the ground
Amongst discarded plastic cups
I like that
Though your calves are trim
Though your thighs shapely but yielding
Though your smile is like the chorus of a thousand sparrows at sunrise
Despite all these things
I cannot deny
That your friend
Is nice too.
To summer time!
Week 2: The Island of Woking
During our journey down from Medmenham to the mystical Island of Woking, we pulled in at the quaint little harbor of the Island of Ascot, where the inhabitants are far-famed as a people of the horse. Ascot is, like Medmenham, one of the locations of the Great Pyramid of Khufu, the significance of which is not to be considered in any way diluted by the fact that the same is true of Medmenham. In fact, the significance is increased by this.
While we were in Ascot harbor we experienced one or two minor technical difficulties. Hawaki had popped into town, and I was below deck when Hatpins came down as a bearer of urgent information. And I said:
Do you mean to tell me that?
‘Cuppalot, what I mean to say is that it is of the greatest of urgencies that we do, without any tangential counter currents, attend immediately to the situation which has presented itself.’
Very well then, elucidate for me, in the quickest way you can, and describe to me the nature of this situation that you have just alluded to.
‘Alluded I have indeed, and to the very situation that I shall now describe to you.’
Yes, and take care not to waste moments of time on trivialities, if the situation is as urgent as you seem to be saying that it is.
‘Indeed I will not waste time on trivial matters, for, as you correctly surmised, this is indeed a situation that calls for immediate action.’
I am glad to hear that you will not be wasting time on unnecessarinesses. Now, please, what is the nature of the emergency that you came below deck to inform me of? Tell me, and make it fast, in straight language, for when a shiphand comes below deck to inform his shipmate of a pressing emergency, it is only fitting and appropriate that that same shipmate should listen attentively to that which it is which his shipmate has come below deck to inform him about.
‘You have spoken rightly, and with honor, and it does great credit to whomsoever it was who taught you in the ways of seamanship.’
Thank you, and now, without more ado, what is this situation?
‘Well spoken again. It shows true shipmanslikeship that you demonstrate thusly your willingness to get straight down to important matters by asking me to move directly to the main topic of our conversation.’
‘That’s quite alright.’
Cup of tea?
‘Don't mind if I do.’
How d’you take it?
‘Same as ten minutes ago. Black, two shots of whiskey.’
A fine choice.
And so we make tea, and sit down to enjoy the view from the cabin’s porthole.
And now, tell me, did you not have something you wanted to say?
‘We’ve run aground.’
That means we’re not going along, doesn’t it?
‘It means that we’ve become fixed directly to the seabed.’
And so moving at the same speed as the seabed?
‘Absolutely, which means that…’
…That, relative to all fixed points on the Earth’s surface, we’re stuck. Without a paddle.
Up that infamous creek without a paddle, yes?
‘The simple fact of, my, the, dear, matter, Cuppalot, is: this: we wouldn’t be any better off if we did have a paddle, because we’ve run aground.’
The paddle or lack thereof is not the issue, you’re telling me?
What would you recommend, then?
‘Let me turn that question around, and say, then recommend you would what?’
I? The answer is obvious. Music. We need music. Also, fetch the compass, I want to get a bearing on our course.
‘What kind of music would get us moving again?’
I should have thought that was obvious…we need music that is moving, music that engenders movement, and e-motion. Something poignant with a groove and a bit of bounce. Haven’t we got some poignant ambient dub or something?
‘Something like this?’
Perfect. Turn it up. Now, let me look at the compass. Aha! Just as I thought. The alignment needs adjusting. We need to align the boat to a seked value of 5.5. with respect to the cardinal directions. Quick, let’s jump out and realign it. Then we’ll start to move: motion through the fields of Time, don’t you know.
‘Activation of the 4th dimension?’
Exactly. By bringing the four elements into balanced alchemical synergy, we activate the fifth element: Time. As we activate 4D we become aware of our movement through time, and the epic adventure continues, we feel the beautiful sweet winds of the Forever upon our faces. Though we are stationary in space, really space cannot be separated from time, and we are always journeying through time, and we just need to FEEL that movement to experience the adventure of life. But you knew that, didn’t you?
‘Not in so many words. I can understand it when I hear it spoken, but when I try to speak it I get the pronunciation a bit wrong.’
OK, so jump. Now push about four inches forward at the rear. Excellent. Now, back into the boat. Sit in the middle here with me. Cross-legged on the rug, like this - good. Air in the East, Fire in the South, Water in the West, Earth in the North. Now let the music move your Soul.
‘My goodness, I think it’s working. Yes, I’m sure she’s shifting free! Well, well, well. Let the adventures continue! Hoist up the sloop! Unfurl the mainsail! Three sheets to the wind! Great joy for Odysseus as he at last leaves Calypso’s isle!’
Three sheets indeed, my dear Hatpins, three sheets indeed. Cheers.
‘Down the hatch.’
And with this little success, combined with some other technical matters to do with ropes and anchors that Hawaki was easily able to solve once he got back to the ship, we were back on our way! As we sailed along merrily, I wrote a few extra verse to add to my song:-
Hatpins then came down below
And said ‘Don’t be alarmed,
But for the last few days
The ship has been becalmed.
Why, I do declare
I still can see the shore
From whence we did depart
Several days before
I recognize the blackthorn hedge
Fifty yards to port
Maybe there’s a current
Or p’raps our keel is caught.’
You must have been too long, I said
Sitting in the Sun
We’ve journeyed many thousand leagues
Lie down and drink this rum
And then, before I had time to complete the poem, suddenly we were pulling in, with a great feeling of wonder, curiosity, romance and excitement into the beetling harbor of Woking Island. Traders from the far corners of the Britainaean Sea and even beyond were milling around holding things like dead octopoi, amphorae of cuttle-squid, rubber plants and pithoi of unmixed Cornish sardine-wine, and everywhere there was the smell of pomegranate peelings. It was clear that little had changed in the last 5,000 years.
Our excitement at arriving at Woking Island was not unjustified, for Woking is one of the locations of the Great Pyramid of Khufu, the significance of which is in no way diminished by the fact that the same is true of both Ascot and Medmenham, the locations being complementary.
Our week on the Island of Woking was spent not only in the lively taverns of the port but also in pleasant exploration of her secret coves and idyllic inlets, the magic, mystery and evocative beauty of which were greatly enhanced by the fact that we were rarely far from the majestic view of the Great Pyramid of Khufu.
We found time to deliver the magic trousers to Arnold of Woking, who gave us in return the extra large whisk with which we would be able to convince Eileen of Canterbury to part with the DVD she had borrowed twelve months previously from Gary of Hastings.
Woking was home of course to that honey-throated bard who needs no introduction, but let us luxuriate like a maiden in a bath of saffron-crocus wine in one of his fine verses:-
The Sacred Flame
The golden barque across the waving grass is boldly driven
On a bearing set with reference to the starry skies
So that when its distance in the southward sense is seven
Distance in the eastward sense will equal half eleven
In this way its steady course it plies
An ark is placed upon the deck to make a moving shrine
So the precious cargo’s carried down along the line
Across the ford at Medmenham emerging from a dream
Amid the oaks of Ascot like a mystic ray from heaven
On the marsh of Woking too the Fireboat has been seen
Half eleven east still matched by southward measures seven.
Hatpins expressed a desire, whilst in Woking, to find a place where the sitting-down dance was performed as it was in the Honey Pot, in Maidenhead, for he had in retrospect decided there was something rather intriguing about it. He did not at this point make any moves towards finding out if there existed in Woking a tavern where such a dance was performed.
We visited the great Barrows of Osiris, and Hatpins wondered where the third was, and then it was time to set sail again, following our bearing down to the Island of Leith with its mysterious tower, and then heading eastish.
Week 3: The Island of Canterbury
After a couple of day’s sail we reached our next destination, the great, beautiful and far-famed island of Canterbury, location of a vast and exquisite temple to the Vesica Pisces, at the Place of Intersection, result of the First Movement. It is a temple which those who understand the Mystery from its genesis will recognize as the Gothic Cornerstone of the British Arch-itecture, noting the appropriateness of the name of the old people of this place, Cantiaci, the People of the Corner. The island was settled by the Classical Latins, and fine it was to watch some of the old dramas in the amphitheatre!
We dined well in Canterbury and found the people to be of gentle, clean and peaceful custom. It would have been no chore to stay longer on this many-fabled island, idling in the grounds of the Great Temple of the Vesica, but our journey called us onwards.
We were growing and learning as a result of our journey with its various challenges, though I don’t presently recall the exact details of this growth or the challenges that were to it as rich manure is to rosebushes.
Week 4: The Island of Hastings
Most of our time on the picturesque Island of Hastings was spent in a delightful café located at the corner of the main square, or rather, upon the diagonal that leads to that corner of a foreign field that is forever Angleland. Their coffee is first class but it is said you have to arrive early and ring the bell fast if you wish to see the full extent of the service. We, however, did not deem this wise, and did not in any case find it to be necessary.
Week 5: The Island of Wilmington
We left Hastings minus Gary’s DVD but plus the kitchen appliance that he owed to Justin of Wilmington. The Island of Wilmington was marked out long ago as the site of He-Who-Enchants-the-Scorpion-Goddess-so-that-Osiris-setting-due-West-as-Herne-the-Hunter-might-rise-again-in-the-East-having-renewed-Himself-in-the-Field-of-Reeds. As we enjoyed our evenings on this magical little Asclepiac island we could sense the proximity of those Ancient Egyptians who had established this site as being at the Balance-of-the-Lands, lotus and papyrus.
Just for a few days Hatpins allowed himself a few puffs on his mariners’ pipe, and by now he was speaking incessantly of the Sitting-Down Dance. Hawaki swam, sunbathed, and painted watercolours while I befriended some of the locals and reaped the reward of this amiability in the form of some fine Wilmingtonian cuisine, served al fresco before sunsets so resplendent that the poignant longing in my heart for my dear Myrtale was transformed into an exquisite symphony.
Week 6: The Island of Lewes
From Wilmington we made the short trip across the water to the steep-sided Isle of Lewes, one of the locations of the Great Pyramid of Khufu. On the subject of this island we cannot avoid mentioning that great Lewesaenian bard, and there need be no great argument about which of his verses to include:-
The plans of Khufu’s chambers hide
Amid our British greenery.
The form is printed far and wide
Where slopes of gold on either side
Run down to meet the sea.
The Mansion of Osiris stands
Upon the Balance-of-the-Lands.
The Earthly and the Oceanic Powers
Are measured in the scales equally.
The Mansion stands amid the Field of Flowers
Enduring like the stars, eternally.
The Triangle Egyptian boasts
Which spans the land from coast to coast
Invoking Beauty by the most
And I would like to build again
Not with stones but with my pen
That pyramid, from fragrant words of rhyme
By the poet’s deft technology
To stand in the collective human mind
Enduring like the stars, eternally.
In times of quiet contemplation
Neither pen nor book in hand
I like to let my meditation
Fly to sites around the nation
As a man in drugged inertia
Feeds his gaze on rugs of Persia
Peacefully observing the design
While phoenix-fire flickers in the hearth
So I let the eye within my mind
Journey out along some ancient path.
Come inside, drop gard’ning things
Unfurl the feathers of your mind
When teatime’s four o’clock bell rings
Sit you down and spread your wings
With your course aligned
So southward distance equals seven
And eastward equals half eleven:
Khufu’s Angle ‘cross the southern Weald
Over Plumpton’s plain to Lewes town
Osiris’ road traverses many a field
Leading onward over vale and down.
Not without good reason is it that they do not fail to not untell a story of this mysterious island, and those who understand the Mystery will not miss the significance of it, as told here:-
Osiris, a divine king of Egypt, who ruled with benevolent genius together with his wife Isis, was out one day hunting waterfowl in the marshes beside the Nile. Suddenly he spied seven white doves in a group together next to seven Egyptian geese, and it seemed to him that it might be an omen, and if not, a good meal. Not sure yet whether to hunt the geese or to interpret the groups by augury, he stayed the throwing stick in his hand, and instead followed them in his magic boat when they flew off.
The seven doves were in fact seven sister nymphs who had been transformed to doves ready for ascension back into the heavens from which they had come, while the seven geese, though normal birds, had indeed come as a sign to guide the king.
And so he followed them in his boat as on and on they flew. In time they left Egypt altogether and flew out over the Aegean. In fact, they flew over southern Greece, then over the Adriatic and northern Italy, and continued across Europe and headed out over the English Channel, Osiris following them all the while in his boat. When the seven doves reached the chalky shores of Britain and saw that Osiris was still following them, they appealed to the gods in fear that they might be hunted, and so they were changed to the pinnacles of chalk off Beachy Head still known as the Seven Sisters. The foil worked, and Osiris passed them by, still following the seven geese. Osiris came ashore at Cuckmere Haven near Seaford, and proceeded from there towards Lewes along the Ouse River.
In the marshy flood plain south of Lewes, Osiris hid among the rushes, and the geese settled down to rest and feed. The course Osiris took is known as the Road of Osiris and is still to be seen as a straight track bordered by reed-filled ditches, and also known as Pool Bar Track. At the site of Lewes Osiris founded a town, building a conical pyramid from chalk blocks, and placing a temple on the flat summit to be the town’s acropolis. He also instituted certain rites involving the carrying of torches through the streets.
Then one day the geese took flight and headed off towards Surrey, and Osiris followed them, continuing his journey.
This journey took them over the flat Wield, and to the North Downs, where they passed through Holmbury St Mary (where more fire ceremonies were instituted) and at Leith Hill Osiris built a tower at the highest point in the whole region. The king was led on through Woking, where again the geese rested and fed a while by the River Wey, then on through Sunningdale and Ascott, and when at last the geese came to the Thames Valley, at Medmenham, between Marlow and Henley, they rested again, and some of them gave birth. And their descendants, a colony of genuine Egyptian geese, can still be seen along this stretch of the river. Here again Osiris formed a settlement, building mounds and a large enclosure at Medmenham, and instituting annual boat races on the river to recall his own boat chase of the Egyptian geese.
In time the geese flew on once again, and it is said that they headed off in the direction of Shakespeare country, and Britain’s central city, Birmingham. It is not recorded whether Osiris caught up with them and if so what occurred, and it is from this fact of the story having no ending that we get the phrase ‘a wild goose chase’.
Before we left the island of Lewes we visited the Barrows of Osiris at Landport Bottom.
Week 7: The Island of Brigthon&Hove
And so we set sail for the Isle of Aphrodite herself, at the Balance of the Great Green and the Great Blue, called Brighton&Hove. By nine-thirty in the morning we could see the white fronts of her seaboard temples risings above the shoreline, and twenty minutes later we could make out the very spirals of the Ionian columns. Brighton has a large marina where we were able to dock the Henry-Moorehen-ry-Mooring, then step ashore and breakfast in style in one of the quayside restaurants, slurping down rich dark coffee as the Sun swung round toward the South over a great glistening sea.
Rather like the Isle of Lesbos in the Aegean, this island has a community of women who are paired with other women, but it also has a community of men paired with other men. It is not recorded whether this was due to some great argument in the past, but a steady influx of settlers ensures that the population does not dwindle. In fact, the two groups seem on amiable terms and together celebrate their homosexuality in a great festival.
While we stayed on the Island of Brighton&Hove the festival of homosexuality was not in progress, but we attended some of the performances at the Great Dionysia, which was in full swing. The inhabitants of this island have devised their own version of the calendar of Dionysian festivals, and they actually hold their Great Dionysia in May!
On our second morning on this island I, Captain Cuppalot, wandered down, after supping a foamy cappuccino, onto the beach at Hove. The sky was a summer blue and the Sun was bright, and the seething sea was being blown into large Mount Fuji waves by a high wind. Foam - mythically, the cream of Cronos - from the surf collected and was blown up onto the pebbly beach. I watched as it collected, cappuccino froth, while the water roared and hissed, high waves and sunshine. The froth as one body danced as it was blown by the winds, like some primordial creature, laughing, hysterical. Suds were blown free from the mass, tumbling and dappling the pebbles, the larger blobs like unset meringues. The mass as a whole, the hysterical wobbling army, advanced landward slowly, laughing, a joyous invasion. I gazed out into the sun-bright surf-crested sea.
My face was now delicately brine-sprayed, and I decided to continue my stroll. I found myself wandering into Palmeira Square, and with ideas of Sheldrakean Neo-Platonic Aestheticism hovering in my mind, I saw the Regency architecture of this sea-front location with the enhanced sight of an initiate. I idled amid the evergreens and rustling sycamores and to me this was a classical cove, a haven, a seaside Arcadia. I settled down upon a bench. I saw lavender beds, a birch with shining leaves. I saw gulls, but heard the short chirps of sparrows, puncturing the air as they did around the villas of ancient Naples where as Plautus I made love to Ipsithilla, chirping too around the Minoan market of Knossos where as Daidalia I sold necklaces, multidimensional chirps puncturing lofty portals between times’ sweet idylls.
Here in Palmeira Square the apartments of the gods surround the undulating green - the ornate stonework cream-white in the Sun, and moon-white in the shaded places; these frontages are exquisitely hewn chalk cliffs, the elegant faces to caves of treasure, the roosting places of what creatures I cannot say. These balconies are the stalls, the royal boxes overlooking the great sea-opera.
I decided I would linger a while and smell the lavender and rosemary, or gaze out at the sun-bright sea.
There is also a story told of Brighton&Hove by Mythmalaeus in his Hermetica Brightonica that I think is worth mentioning here.
The Story Of How A Balance Was Established Between Land and Sea
…For it is written in the Bible of Mythic Appropriatenessism, in accordance with the doctrine of Mythic Integrity, that, at that time - which time? Long ago, which is to say rather deep in ever-present Mythic Time, the Lord of the Salt-Sea Waves, who the Greeks called Poseidon, called Lyr by the Celts, did become covetous of certain lands of the isle of the goddess Britannia, she of the shield who is akin to the Minerva of the Romans, Athena of the Greeks, and the Egyptian goddess of the shield, Neith. However, at that time Britannia was yet to acquire her ‘Shield with Arrows Crossed’. What follows tells how it came to be hers.
Now Britannia, so it is written, was for her part of no mind to relinquish her soil to become home for crabs rather than badgers, to give up the fields of Amaethon to have their corn replaced with kelp, the forests of Bran to be racing grounds for dolphins rather than deer and wild boar, and so she stood firm against the advancing waves. Legend recounts that such a battle then ensued that Poseidon and Athena became known as the Two Fighters, and all people in the land craved and hoped and prayed for resolution to the quarrel, for peace.
And lo, the Great Council of the skies, whose spokespeople, by their Greek names, are known as Hera and Zeus, agreed that it was time a resolution were found. Astraea, who the Egyptians call Ma'at, was asked to conceive renewed order, and so Tehuti, equated with Hermes of the Greeks, called, some say, Ogham by the Celts, utilized his great balance to measure a place of equilibrium most suited for the establishment of a lasting peace. By this method a balance between Land and Sea was measured at Yorkshire's fine coastal Filey in the North, Brighton in the South, according to the pattern known as the Shield of Neith.
This done, a plan was sought by which Poseidon would be bound to honour the boundary, and the goddess who devised such a scheme was in fact Venus, who the Greeks call Aphrodite, the Egyptians Hathor, the Celts, some say, Branwen. First Venus went to her husband Vulcan-Hephaestus-Ptah-Govanan, and asked him to help her craft gifts of the most exquisite beauty, spiral ammonites and conches, scallops, clams, oysters containing iridescent pearls, and in many of these she placed toothsome delicacies which she infused with the essence of her own Aphrodisiac powers. Then, appearing before Poseidon in all her charming beauty, she offered him these gifts, saying that she would cause them to decorate his underwater realm if he would but respect the boundary that the Great Council had agreed upon, passing through Brighton in the South, Filey in the North.
In Greece it is said that sparrows pull the chariot of Aphrodite, but in Brighton it was seen to be a great flock of starlings, and their descendents are still to be seen swirling in great clouds before sunset as they come in to roost upon the struts of the pier.
At first it appeared that Poseidon would accept the terms, but then the encroachment of the sea continued, and again Britannia-Minerva summoned Astraea, who the English call Justice, and the Great Council to witness the breach of contract. Again it was Venus-Aphrodite who devised a plan. She asked Eros, the winged god of desire who some equate with Angus of the Celts, to shoot one of his arrows, its tip smeared with a magic potion of romance, into the heart of Poseidon's mistress Amphitrite, causing her to fall in love with a handsome youth who lived in Brighton, the son of a fisherman. The name of this youth was Bartholm, and when Venus saw that Eros' magic arrow had struck deep in the heart of Amphitrite, Venus visited her and made certain things clear.
"If Poseidon's landward advance continues the farmstead of your beloved Bartholm will be inundated, his livestock will be driven from their pastures or drowned, he and his parents and brothers and sisters will be made homeless. But if you convince Poseidon to cease his advance at the places of balance that have been measured, I, Venus, will cause Bartholm's heart to swell with a great love of your briny realm, and he will whenever he can make his way to the beach and play in the surf of the waves where you may curl your loving watery tentacles around his strong thighs and mingle your waters with his very sweat."
Venus raised an eyebrow suggestively as she said these words, and Amphitrite smiled at the possibilities, then went to her moody lover and made terms of her own. If Poseidon should respect the boundary of equilibrium between land and sea favored by Ma'at and the Great Council then she would do all in her power for him, but if he should continue his invasion of the land then she would withhold her woman's pleasures from him. Poseidon's brow furrowed in anger and he began to gather the winds as if in preparation for a great sea storm, but before long he was forced to agree to the terms of his mistress, and ceased his advance at the place of equilibrium which had been measured.
Venus kept her part of the bargain, and daily, in the warmer months, handsome Bartholm would come down to the beach, strip off, and play in the waves, Amphitrite close at hand, delighting in his beauty. And it is said that this was when the custom of bathing naked began in Britain, and still a part of the beach in Brighton is set-aside for this.
And so it was that Venus, the goddess of romance, beauty and desire, and Gaia’s neighbour in the circles around the Sun, achieved in Brighton and in Filey a mediation between Britannia-Athena and the Lord of the Salt-Sea Waves, and while some say 'Brighton' comes from a shortening of ‘Bartholm's Town’, others maintain that the real reason the city is so named is in honour of the goddess Britannia, she for whom Venus by her wiles effected a victory over Poseidon and thus held onto this part of her isle. And sure enough there stands to this day upon the seafront a great bronze statue of Winged Nike (“Victory”) holding Athena's olive brand, just as Nike once stood in the palm of Athena in the Parthenon to celebrate Athena's similar victory over Poseidon in that place.
In celebration of the peace achieved here at the Balance of the Two Realms, Bartholm, inspired by Britannia-Minerva, raised a magnificent white temple, two-storied, classical in style, and it still stands in Brighton, now used as the town hall.
And so the days went by pleasantly in the Isle, the coolness of the northern latitude mitigating the heat of Summer and Poseidon’s warm Ocean Stream mitigating the cold of Winter. Bartholm and his family prospered, as did his town.
The Great Council were delighted with the way that Venus’ plan had worked, namely that Amphitrite’s love of Bartholm’s beauty was as a shield for Britannia’s isle. In commemoration they asked Apollo to design a shield for Britannia, and this he did, after the model of the Shield of Neith. Apollo passed the design for the shield to Hephaestus-Ptah, who crafted the shield and presented it to Venus, who in turn gave it to Britannia.
And that is how a balance was established between land and sea. So it is written in the Bible of Mythic Appropriatenessism.
There is in fact another story told of Brighton&Hove, with some intriguingly similar themes. The Whitehawkians, who trace their heritage back to Egypt, agree that Venus achieved here a successful mediation, but they call Venus by her Egyptian name of Hathor and say that this mediation was affected not between Athena and Poseidon but between Ra, who is the Sun, and Isis, whom they equate with Demeter of the Greeks, the Earth goddess of the fruitful soil. They say that Britannia at that time - that is Angeland and Cwmru together - needed a new king after the death of As-Ar, whom the Greeks call Osiris and the British Arthur. There were two contenders for the throne, the son of As-Ar and Isis-Demeter, whom the British call Saint George and the Greeks call Horus, and his uncle, whom the Egyptians call Set and the British refer to simply as the Dragon.
Now at this time young George was visionary and sensitive, clearly sharing some of the excellent qualities of his parents, while Set was strong, powerful and bold, qualities often regarded as necessary in a leader, but he lacked the intuitive, visionary qualities of his nephew.
A council of the gods sat to determine which of the two should take the throne. Now Ra-Helios, being a god of fire and heat, tended towards fiery Set, while Isis-Demeter, an intuitive goddess of the Earth, favored her visionary son, Horus - such a visionary quality being necessary if a nation is to follow the model of a High Culture and ground the genius of the stars.
This argument between Isis-Demeter and Ra-Helios seemed to be becoming drawn out, with neither side willing to give in. Both the Sun and the Goddess of the fruitful Earth refused to discuss the matter further, and retired into sulking reclusions. With neither the life-giving energy of the Sun nor the fruitfulness of the Earth in operation, it became of paramount importance that a resolution be found to the dilemma.
It was then that Hathor-Venus performed a merry, beautiful, intoxicating and seductive dance which delighted Ra and brought him from his reclusion and similarly brought joy back to the heart of Demeter. It was while Hathor-Venus was dancing along the beach of Brighton&Hove that Ra and Demeter, Sun and Earth, decided to return to the negotiating table, and for this reason it is called the Place of the Mediation of Hathor of the Shells and also sometimes the Balance of the Circles of Sun and Earth. According to this version of events, Brighton was originally called Bride’s Town and is in fact named after the Celtic goddess Bride, a goddess of milk and in this sense a Celtic Hathor.
The rest of the story is well known. First an agreement was arrived at by which Set and George were each assigned half of the Great Square of Britannia, the border being called the Balance of the Lands. Then later George became stronger and Set was finally made to see that his claim to the throne was false, and this is when George chose Brighton as his royal capital and had his Pavilion built there.
The Whitehawkians hold much store in their version of the tale, claiming strongly that Poseidon has been unjustly maligned by the better-known version. For this reason they remember an old poem which translates roughly as:
It is not true
What they say of the Fish Lord
No invasion did he plan (did he plan, did he plan)
He who is entwined with kelp
Never did advance upon Britannia
In the way that they say (that they say, that they say)
Let it be noted instead that
Poseidon and Britannia, in their love making
Make the white surf on the shells
When the waves caress the shore.
Not they but Ra and Demeter it was
Whom Venus brought back to the court
Dancing the Dance of Gold.
The Aesthetic philosopher Gerald of Hove held still another viewpoint regarding the Surf Birth. In the speeches he would make from the western portico of the Temple of Bartholm in the center of Brighton he expounded the idea that the surf from which Aphrodite was born did come, as the old myth says, from the semen released after the castrated member of Cronos fell into the sea, but only at an allegorical level. He held that Cronos here is simply Time, and that Beauty and Love transcend time and distance and that the dismembering of Cronos by Zeus really represents the transcending of linear time that occurs in the presence of Love and Beauty, mythically the Birth of Aphrodite. In his last writings however it seems that he was starting to contemplate an about-turn, at least in as far as acknowledging that it was by means of a beautiful dance that the mediation had occurred. It seems he linked this dance to the Golden Section and the Sacred Great Year known as the Pythiad or the Double Olympiad of eight solar years or thirteen Venus years, but he also continued to maintain ‘till the end that the dance itself was the Dance of Sacred Time that transcends linear time, still allegorically a victory over Cronos. It was these last ideas that were taken up by his student and successor as leader of the Academy of Aesthetic Philosophy, Adrian of Shoreham.
We ourselves shall leave the discussion of this issue at this point.
Hawaki painted in oils some of the finest classical architectural features of this island city, and Professor Hatpins paid several visits to a Brighton venue known as Top Totty, where he said that the Sitting-Down Dances were really top class. Shortly after this he sprouted a pair of donkey’s ears, much to his consternation and our surprise.
The exquisite island of Brighton&Hove has of course been showered with the gifts of poets over the ages, so let us sample a few of them now.
The Venus of Brunswick Square : A Saphic Ode
Leave Crete, Surf-Born, for Brunswick’s glade
Where sea-breeze whispers in the tops
Of thick-grown firs that cast their shade
Under the copse
Around the green the terrace lies
Where frontages, curved round in bays,
Make lookout posts for seaward eyes
To cast their gaze
The column curves catch varied light,
With spiral capitals of cream,
And finely frame a bounteous sight
Where wavelets gleam.
Corinthian pilasters hold
Their load upon acanthus leaves
Still spiraled, as their curves unfold
Under the eaves
Aphrodite, come, we pray
And grace this finely crafted cove
And softly smile upon our play
In surf-flecked Hove.
Aphrodite Brightonica : An Invocation
As water runs down temple steps of marble, one by one
So let our recounting mark the reasons once again
That hallow out this place so as to make a goddess’ home
Calling and enticing Her step forth from the foam
Solar Amun has the centre of the mighty square
From eastmost point to westmost, and from north to south as far
Hermes has the inner ring, and builds His city where
His distance fords the River Thames, old Oxford’s in his care
Gaia, most voluptuous, just meets the outer square
It’s Venus who divides the Land and Sea in balanced share
She places by her slimmest part within the outer square
A square of half the area, which meets the southern shore
At Brighton, where the surf rolls up between the land and sea
Just as in Her ancient myth the surf gave birth to She
Who fills our hearts with Romance, beautifying all we see
Such elegance befits You; this city is for Thee
A Choral Ode to the Balance of Land and Sea
Strophe : Odyssey, The Ode to the Sea
[A First Chorus can be imagined, dressed as Nereads, fish, dolphins or other denizens of the sea, dancing leftward from the right side of the stage while singing]:
Come Epic Muse down to me, and now sing a fine Ode to the Sea
Singing “O, to the Sea”, sing an ode, To the Sea sing the story in me
On the Roads of the Sea his crew rowed, as Dawn’s petals fell on the dark Sea,
Like a Rose from the salt-waves She rose, Epic Muse sing the story in me.
Antestrophe : Ge-Odyssey, The Ode to the Land
[A Second Chorus can be imagined, da Britannia Massive, dressed as Dryads, cattle, badgers, or other denizens of the land, holding Union Jack shields and dancing rightward from the left side of the stage while singing]:
But no Sight can be found as he sails, homeward bound, as the comforting mounds
Of the Hills of his home where he’d roam, in the fields with his favorite hounds
Singing “O, to the land” always standing, its ground as the winds whirl around
Standing Strong and secure, firm and sure, the great rocks of the shore standing sound.
Epode : The Balance of Land and Sea
[Both choruses can be imagined standing still together in the centre of the stage, singing]:
With her Compasses Queen Aphrodite, a synthesis brilliantly found
For by Halving the Square she has measured, the balance of land and sea
So the Two Realms at Brighton agree, to the ruling of Zeus they are bound
With BritAnnia and Neptune in balance, he’s finished his Odyssey.
Venus of Hove
If in many-pebbled Hove,
You slip into a dream
In which you see Her stepping out
Where morning waters gleam
Or if among old Brighton’s lanes
You catch a waft of rose
Drifting on the evening air
Then you might suppose
You see the Queen of Beauty
And appreciate Her beams
That glow amid the flowers and
Illuminate your dreams.
Nectar of an amber rose
Ambrosia of love
Dewdrops from the Sparrows’ song
Honey from the Dove
A wren in a rose, a halcyon
Perched in a fragrant bower,
Honeysuckle frames the view
With many a fragrant flower.
Velvet curtains drawn aside,
A golden dawn begun,
Iridescent humming bird
Angel of the Sun.
The Sun is a honey churn
And Venus is a flower
As I compose in silk-soft sheets
Upon my waking hour.
Often does She pass this way,
Barefoot, upon the moss
And when I’m in my Amber Rose
There’s no such thing as loss.
Palmeira Poem II
Let this poem recall my joy
Of the immensely beautiful immensity
Of Homeric technicolour cloudscapes
Ranged distantly above the sea
Sun-tinted in time-faded creams
And hanging in static pose
Like prancing Olympian figures
On a high pedimental frieze
Dry-footedly above the horizon
Of the yacht-traversed immensity
Of the abundantly immense and immensely
Abundant blue-gray sea
Far off amid the western haze
There lies, they say, an Isle of White
Behind me Palmeira’s pediments shine
And celebrate sunlight.
Palmeira Poem III
Let these few lines recall
(My joy of) the immensely longstanding solar passion for coniferousness
(As there has long been in the case of) soaring dinosauriac velvet green-scapes
Vaulting haunts of pelicanariac fish-feeders
Myrrh-shady alligator-limbed perch-branches of white-feathered squawkers
(And as there also is in the case of this Palmeiran pine.)
The Albion Line
The gods hang out in architraves
Where Evening throws red gold
As Luna creeps into the parts
Where shadows feel the cold
Revelers lean from windows
All along the Western Road
And throw rose petals in the footsteps
Where the giant strode
His image in a wheeled boat
Will ride again tonight
Lit up by burning torches as they
Cast their flick’ring light.
Week 8: The Island of Worthing
When we were due to set sail westwards towards the wondrous Island of Worthing, Professor Hatpins was nowhere to be seen. I told Hawaki to sail on ahead and that I would search Hatpins out and follow on behind. I finally found him nursing a triple scotch in a pub in the Lanes, saying that he could not possibly leave this island with its top draw totty. I beseeched him to think of his home, of his cottage, the garden, his neighbors, of all the things he loved, but, in his drunken state, he stubbornly refused to leave the island. I had no choice but to drag him off by force, and we then followed Hawaki to Worthing by riding on the back of a fast-swimming tiger that we found prowling around on the shore. The Henry-Moorehen-ry-Mooring had in fact by this time already cast anchor just off of Worthing Island. We caused quite a stir when we rode up onto the beach, not just because we were riding on a large tiger, but also because Professor Hatpins’ donkey’s ears were now full grown, and added to this he had also grown a large horse’s tail and his phallus had grown to enormous equine proportions.
It was by this time quite late in the evening, and it was hard to find a tavern that would serve us food. However, an elderly fisherman who had heard of our plight insisted on giving us a large crate of sprats caught that day so that we would have something for our dinner, and so in the end we feasted well, barbequing the tasty fish on the beach and eating them with salt and freshly fried seaweed. The elderly fisherman also gave us lodgings for the night.
In the morning Hawaki and I were woken by a loud knocking on the door. It was the fisherman, who complained to us in rough Anglo-Saxon that our long-eared colleague of the equine endowment had been found wandering drunkenly through the vineyards of Highdown Hill, a winegrowing estate some way outside Worthing’s main town.
It turned out that Hatpins had set out in the night with the intention of rowing in a stolen skiff all the way back to Brighton so as to sample more of the pleasures of Top Totty. However, he had got lost on the way and ended up in the vineyard where he had been entranced by the sight of the entwining vines lit up by the Moon and then later illuminated by the sunrise, and had wandered lost in this leafy labyrinth, singing songs of the vintage. Some local shepherds had taken him for one of their pastoral gods and followed in his wake accompanying his drinking songs on their country pipes, until the owner of the vineyard had found them all and become concerned that damage might be done to his vines.
For the rest of the time on Worthing Island we had little choice but to place Hatpins under effective house arrest, his passion for Sitting-Down Dancing having now escalated to wild proportions.
The poets have not scorned the vine-clad slopes of Worthing Isle, and it was of this place that the anonymous bard of yesteryear sang:-
Jachin, the Green
Jachin, Joachin, Jack-in-the-Green,
Jack in a handbag, a sight to be seen.
Jachin, a pillar, supporting the porch
Lead on and we’ll follow, lead on with your torch.
Dancing, around, a pole on the green,
The face in the leaves is suddenly seen,
Jachin, Jack Worthing, Jack-in-the-Green,
Jack up a chimney, a sight to be seen.
Worthing is indeed far-famed in song, for they tell a tale of this sacred isle, which runs as follows:-
A young lad, little Gwion, had been set to watch over a cauldron by a great witch, Ceredwen. She was making a drink in this cauldron with the power to inspire great insight and eloquence and magic art, and she meant to give it to her own son. The bronze cauldron is still to be seen, on display in the Worthing museum. While the witch was away three drops spat out of the bubbling cauldron and landed on the Gwion’s thumb. Without thinking, he licked them off. The powers Ceredwen had intended for her son were now bestowed upon Gwion instead. When the witch returned, this fact soon became apparent, and she chased him in anger. Using his new powers he turned himself into a hare to run away more quickly, but she turned herself into a greyhound and continued her pursuit, heading westward. The hound chasing the hare is to be seen commemorated on an ancient glass vessel in the Worthing museum. The chase continued as far as Cornwall, and involved various other transformations, but eventually Taliesin changed into a grain of wheat and Ceredwen changed into a hen, and gobbled the grain down. She then became impregnated by the seed, and the lad grew again inside her, in due course being reborn from this new mother. Ceredwen could no longer bring herself to destroy this beautiful child - her own child - so instead she placed him in a leather bag and set him floating in a little coracle on a stream to be found by others who might foster him. But the bag drifted out to sea at Kelynak, near Land’s End, and then drifted north through the Irish Sea. Eventually it was blown towards land and on an incoming tide was washed into the estuary of a little river, and almost immediately got caught in a salmon weir. This was in the village since named Tre Taliesin on the Welsh coast. He was found by a young man called Elfin who, together with his wife, looked after the amazing foundling.
Later Taliesin fell in love with a maiden of aristocratic birth who had, as it happened, been placed in Ceredwen’s care. Neither Ceredwen nor Taliesin knew at this point that she was his mother, and she refused to consent to the marriage unless he could prove that he had suitable parentage. Then the bag she had placed him in as a baby was produced, and it functioned as a token of his ancestry, showing that in fact Ceredwen herself was the mother, albeit his second mother, and now she could no longer stand in opposition to the marriage.
Of course it was with this story in mind that Worthing’s most celebrated son crafted those lines of delectable rhyme:-
At first I was a normal lad like you
My gift was knowing how to make ale brew
The art of making liquor froth and foam
Then one day I wandered from my home
And met two witches round their cauldron seated
I showed how, without it being heated,
Liquor can be made to boil and rise
Seeing this the two showed great surprise
They turned to me and then began to ask
If I would do for them a certain task
They had to go and gather herbs of power
And to find a soothing yellow flower
While away they could not tend their brew
This simple task I then agreed to do
The purpose of the brew I’ll now explain
One of them, Ceredwen her name,
Had a crow-child, harsh upon on the eyes,
To compensate she thought she’d make him wise
Once imbibed the potion would impart
Great beauty to his words, and great art.
Ceredwen was clear as she could be
The contents of the cauldron weren’t for me
But while they were away the bubbling broth
Spat drops onto my thumb, which I licked off
At once an eloquence instilled my mind
And knowledge of a strong prophetic kind
Such that on returning they could see
What had occurred, and I was forced to flee
I changed into a hare and quickly raced
She, a black grey-hound, angrily chased
I dived, a darting fish, into a lake
And she an otter-bitch’s form did take
Then, a little bird, I rose in flight
She followed as a hawk of piercing sight
I saw a barn and flew in through the door
And there I saw a pile upon the floor
Of winnowed wheat for use in making beer
I quickly hatched a plan to disappear
I shrunk down to a grain of tiny size
And fell into the pile in this disguise
Ceredwen came in, a fire-red hen
She searched and searched until she found the grain
Now there was no place for me to hide
She gulped the grain down into her inside
As this seed I journeyed through the gloom
And found my way into the witch’s womb
Seeding myself there inside the hen
And in this chamber I was formed again
And so, grown from that little seed of corn,
I, of second mother, was reborn
A mother’s kindness cooled the witch’s wrath
Towards the one who’d drunk her magic broth
But still she would not raise me as her own
Into a leather bag I was now sewn
This bag she placed inside a little boat
There upon the river’s flow to float
In that darkness secrets I was shown
A wisdom without words was then made known
And just as I was running out of air
Suddenly, fair Elffin, you were there.
Week 9: The Island of Cerne Abbas
From Worthing Isle we continued to follow that chalky island chain that is known as the Downs, onward into the west of the Britainaean Sea. Eventually we reached an island at the Balance-of-the-Lands where there dwells a great, rude giant, who is called Herne the Hunter. It was with cautious step that we went ashore on the giant’s island.
The island of Herne is the location from which a shaft is aligned in one direction upon the sky and in the other enters the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid of Khufu. Consequently, our time upon this isle was well spent. I speak of course to those with ears to hear.
Hatpins escaped from us one evening on the isle, while Hawaki was making some repairs to the ship and I was composing some more lines to my poem. The professor stole off in a dingy in the direction of the large island of Dorchester-in-Dorest, and we are to assume that he managed to find some Sitting-Down Dancing there, for shortly after his return his condition worsened, and he actually turned fully into a mule, half horse half donkey. This was of some considerable concern to Hawaki and I, and would have been more so had we not encountered a wise-woman in Herne’s single inn who told us of a way to cure him and return him to his normal form. She told us of two holy springs below the sacred hill of Glastonbury, one of red water and one of white, sacred to the Goddess of a Thousand Names. If Hatpins was to drink from both of these in short succession, and then browse on the sweet flowers of the rose bush, he would be returned to his former shape. This would, however, be a temporary reconfiguration; the way to affect a permanent cure was for Hatpins to know true love for a woman.
Notwithstanding the fact that one of us had been translated, we left the Giants’ Island unscathed. No Polyphemos was he, and we had no need to steal his cheeses.
Week 10: The Island of Glastonbury
From Herne’s Island it is but an easy day’s sail northwest to Glastonbury. Of our time on this mystical isle I may not speak openly, but I can tell you that the wise-woman’s cure worked a treat, and Hatpins was restored to his good old self, at least for the moment. I am also permitted to quote a few lines of the old poem:-
The Voyage of Bran
Up from the western cape they came
Bran’s heroic crew
For every fathom sailed North
They Eastward sailed two
Ever watchful of the Bear
To keep the bearing true
For every port-ward furlong ploughed
They forward furrowed two
At length they came to Burrowbridge
Site of the famous mound
To which they tethered up their ship
And time for rest was found
The distance up ahead of them
And that which lay behind
Stood in golden ratio
Pleasing to the mind
Onward then they sailed again
And every measure North
As before was half as many
As furlongs furrowed forth
Amid the mists of Avalon
They drove the sacred barque
Towards the place where Arthur sleeps
Entombed in a golden ark
Rising high the noble isle
Of Glastonbury fair
Within its heart a grotto hides
Which nymphs have made their lair
In this place two crystal founts
Flow up to meet the air
And sanctify the apple groves
Of Glastonbury fair
Here the Hill of Faeries
The line it does divide
So the whole is thrice the large
When by itself multiplied
And so the ship was brought ashore
And Bran’s heroic crew
Stood and gazed and wondered at
The fruitful mystic view
In bliss they stayed upon the isle
A full six days and nights
And then renewed their course
The centre in their sights
I believe I may also mention that the two sacred waters, the white and the red, are the Two Eyes of Horus, the healing balms by which the blinded god had his sight restored by the goddess of the Sistrum.
Week 11: The Islands of Divizes and West Kennet
Ah Divizes! We were met at the dock by hoards of hoteliers vying for our custom. We allowed one of them to lead us off to his premises, which proved to be satisfactorily luxurious. After we had unpacked and had a cup of tea we headed out to conduct the errand that was by de Puggalot’s reckoning necessary to our completion of the Quest for Myrtale.
Divizes is the island of which it was written:-
In bliss they stayed upon the isle
A full six days and nights
And then renewed their course
The centre in their sights
For the town Divizes named
Divides the trail in half
The distance lying up ahead
Equals that to aft
Sail on, sail on, heroic crew
Across the verdant sea
Each year these fields are marked with art
Devised from geometry.
Those who comprehend the Mystery may grasp with ease the connection between the Isle of Divizes and the Temple of Dionysos on the country estate of Dionysophanes, of which it was written:-
The garden was exceedingly beautiful, even compared with a royal garden. It was two hundred yards long, on raised ground, and a hundred yards wide…it contained many kinds of trees, both fruit-bearing, such as apple, myrtle, pear, pomegranate, fig and olive and also, around these, as a protective wall, uncultivated trees such as cypresses, laurels and pine trees. Over the fruit trees their grew a great vine with grapes starting to empurple, and likewise over the uncultivated trees grew ivy with berries that were big and black and looked like bunches of grapes. There were also many flowers such as roses, hyacinths and lilies, and uncultivated ones like violets, narcissi and pimpernels….In the very middle of the length and breadth of the garden were a temple and an altar sacred to Dionysos. The altar was surrounded by ivy and the temple with vine-shoots.
We stayed half of the week on Divizes, then sailed off again following in the wake of the verses of the old poem until we reached West Khemet. Great was the sight when Silbury Hill hoved into view! This is the island of which it was written:-
Sail on, sail on, heroic crew
Across the verdant sea
Each year these fields are marked with art
Devised from geometry.
On the fourth of fourteen rings
That gird the globe around
Beside the spring of Kennet stands
Silb’ry’s Mother Mound
They brought the ship to rest upon
The summit of this hill
And by this act a destiny
Bran’s heroes did fulfill.
They slept the night but come the day
Away they sailed again
Until they came upon the place
The Thames conjuncts the Thame
The Egyptians were celebrating a feast of Hathor, the bovine and serpentine goddess of joy and beauty, and we were invited to join them. Much was the merrying that evening.
It was at West Kennet that we paid a visit to Katherine, who had the authority to sell to us a puppy from the litter of the Bitch Freda of Dorchester-upon-Thames. The only means we had to persuade her to do so was the gift to her of a signed copy of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake previously owned by, and with notes in the margin written by John Lennon. This treasure had been given to us by Derek of Glastonbury. And sure enough one look at the book was enough to persuade Katherine to come with us to Dorchester so as to arrange for us to purchase the puppy.
Week 12: The Island of Dorchester-on-Thames
And so we continued to follow in the wake of those well-hewn verses until we came to Dorchester-on-Thames:-
They slept the night but come the day
Away they sailed again
Until they came upon the place
The Thames conjuncts the Thame
Here again the distance left
By ratio of gold
Compared with that behind them
A wonder to behold!
The larger to the sum
Equals the smaller to the large
Here in Thameside Dorchester
Where they parked their barge
The little puppy that we purchased here to give to Harold of Whiteleaf was a most endearing little fellow by all accounts. He took a particular shine to Hawaki who reciprocated the feelings sully.
In all but the very smallest of our journeys around Dorchester we were conveyed from place to place by gondola, all the more surprising since the streets of the town were not flooded at this time of year. As the locals were only too keen to reminds us, Dorchester, which was for thousands of years the sacred chief city of all Angleland, location of the national omphallos, has an ancient and noble tale associated with it:-
At a certain time there was in Britain a plague which took the form of a terrifying scream which was heard each May Eve over every hearth. The scream was so horrifying that men lost their colour and strength, women suffered miscarriages, children lost their senses, and animals and trees and soil and water all became barren.
Llud was king at this time, and his sought the council of his brother, Llevelys, who was at that time king of France. They spoke to each other by means of a long tube of bronze, having first washed it out with wine to cleanse it. Llevelys told Llud that the plague was due to a fight between two dragons, a territorial battle between them, a boundary dispute. In their struggle scream is sent forth across the kingdom. Llevelys told Llud how harmony could be achieved. Llud was to measure the length and breadth of the island, and at the Place of Gold to dig a pit in into it to place a vessel containing golden honey mead. In this way would the two dragons, the red and the white, Set and Horus, be pacified.
Llud did as Llevelys had suggested, and the place that was found by measurement was called Ffaron Dandde, ‘Flaming Pharoah’, also called Dorchester-on-Thames, near Oxford. Llud built a temple on the local hill that has been called Snowdon, which was in fact a scribal corruption of the real name, Sinodun.
Week 13: The Island of Whiteleaf
Continuing on along the Golden Diagonal brought us to Whiteleaf, of which it was written:-
And then they sailed straight and true
To Whiteleaf’s cross of chalk
Which lies beside the sacred path
The Chilterns’ Ridgeway walk.
Here upon her eagle wings
Soars Isis as a kite
Circling round with poignant power
And distance piercing sight
Here we made an exchange that did not immediately seem a fair one - the cutest of little puppies for a couple of sacks of pungent manure. I knew, however, that this manure would be transformed to perfume through the alchemy of the rose Love once it had paid the way to achievement of the Quest for Myrtale, so much was it desired by Clare of Croft Hill. It was Hawaki, however, who took the loss of the little chap, who he had now given the name Hylas, particularly hard. He tore at his shirt while it was still on his back and screamed that this whole quest was nothing to him now that his heart had been broken. After this it was in somewhat pensive mood that we sailed on towards Lowestoft, Hatpins and I exchanging raised-eyebrowed looks.
As we passed the village of Markyate, south of Luton, I made a decision. I could not bear to see Hawaki in such a state. Besides, the smell of the manure had become quite overpowering.
That’s it, I said, now we turn back for Whiteleaf. We’ll give the manure back to Harold and claim back the puppy, and Agrarius can shove his silly quest. Myrtale and I will elope. It’s the only solution.
But Hawaki would have none of it. He said if we turned the boat around he would dive overboard. The puppy had probably by now become attached to his new owner, but my Myrtale was at home pining for me, this is what Hawaki told me. And so we pressed on, in somber mood, the smell emanating from those loathsome sacks being something akin to the fumes that rise from the maw of the Skylla, her jagged teeth hung with rotting flesh, or the from the very bowels of Hades where the thick waters of the Styxx bubble and steam with the pressure of their own noxiousness, as Hawaki sobbed quietly but incessantly.
As the Henry-Moorehen-ry-Mooring laboured on over the Great Green a dark gloomy fog descended, and it would have been no stylistic betrayal of this atmosphere had the island of the three Graeae, those sisters who compete for one eye between them, loomed up out of the mists.
Presently I had an idea. Rather as Odysseus had stuffed his crew’s ears with wax when passing the islands of the Sirens, we would stuff tissue paper up our noses to block out the smell of the dung. Things seemed a little brighter after this, as the green swells of the Chilterns subsided and gave way to the flat calm of East Anglia.
Week 14: The Island of Lowestoft
On towards the Eastern point
Sailed Bran’s heroic crew
And every league they measured North
They East-ward measured two.
With such a verse did the poet of old complete his poem about the voyage of Bran’s heroes. We reached Lowestoft at the beginning of August, and were there for the celebration of the Festival of the Oak King and the garlanding of the King Pillar, Boaz.
Next morning we went down to the beach at low tide and collected some of the seaweed that was craved by the owner of the handbag that was in turn the desire of Heather of Bromwich, whose Pinot Noir was little less than the Holy Grail itself to us in its power to speed us on the Quest for Myrtale. The skies were clear and there was a fresh sea breeze, and Hawaki seemed much brighter, his mood seeming to have lifted with dawn and his sorrow to have ebbed away with the tide.
Week 15: The Island of Croft Hill
Then we sailed west to Croft Hill, concerning which, as those who know the Mystery will no doubt have recognized, some cryptic lines appeared this June last in the Leicestershire Advertiser:-
At first this Universal frame
From harmony began
Da Vinci from Vitruvius
Learned the Square of Man.
With head to east the giant lies
His arm’s stretched ‘cross the land
Leonardo’s drawing shows
The secret of the span
There is a hill upon a plain
Find it if you can
A place of golden harmony
The omphallos of Bran.
Great joy was there amongst my crew when we offloaded foul smelling excreta in exchange for a handbag, and so as we pulled away we poured an offering of wine onto the ground to Plouton, god of the fecund riches of the Underworld, in thanks for our not having been driven to complete insanity by the fumes of the manure.
Week 16: The Island of West Bromwich
Thence to West Bromwich we sailed, with a fair wind. This isle, which is the location of the mysterious capstone of the Great Pyramid of Khufu, is of course the site to which is attached that already-mentioned line:-
Solar Amun has the centre of the mighty square.
Those who understand the Mystery will be aware that this is of course Amun-Ra, the Sun. Has not the Hermetica Brightonica said that Britain is an image of the Cosmos and the gods, who are the planets, dwell here, in this, their sanctuary?
Bromwich rises above a forested plain, which is called Arden, named after the goddess Arduina, also called Artemis, who is the Moon. Sol and Luna are here.
Ay, now we were in Arden, and at Bromwich at eight minutes past twelve on the clock of Greenwich the shepherds lead their flock into the day’s shortest shadows, and do not pipe for fear of waking Pan.
On the Isle of West Bromwich there is a cave that is both pleasant and obscure. It is sacred to the nymphs and inside there are bowls and capacious amphora formed from stone, in which bees deposit their delicious honey. In the cave are long stony beams, on which the nymphs weave purple webs wonderful to the sight, and perpetual waters flow within the grotto.
There are two gates: one towards the north gives entrance to souls descending into mortal life and the other towards the south affords a passage to souls ascending into the immortal, intelligible realm.
Heather of West Bromwich entertained us sumptuously for a whole week, drawing up the finest wines from her cellar. Over the course of the week she invited Hatpins to her bed on a number of occasions, and he did not refuse. We all ate well and drank well and thought little of our quest. But when the week came to an end we had to wake ourselves as if from a dream; after all, it was the Quest that had brought us to this island paradise in the first place, so it was to the Quest that we must keep our loyalty. And so we waved goodbye to Heather and glided off once more in the Henry Moorehen-ry-Mooring.
Week 17: The Island of Thornborough
From Bromwich we sailed due north to Hebden Bridge, upon which we were welcomed hospitably by the islanders. Here we spent one night, and then, after waking on pillows of finest silk, we set sail again in a northeasterly direction until we reached the three sacred isles of Thornborough, the Barrows of Osiris. Thornborough cannot have been far from the poet’s mind when he wrote that couplet:
The Mansion of Osiris stands
Upon the Balance-of-the-lands.
At Thornborough a shaft leads directly into the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid of Khufu, the whole having been inverted by Merlin’s magical arts. Here Hathor, who circles Kheper at his glorious rising; who protects Amun at the peak of his power; who twinkles in the hair of Atum in his beautiful setting, here Hathor mediates between the Two Lands on behalf of Osiris who has called for Ma’at.
When the three islands hove into view we did not know which one to land on in our search for Timothy. We searched the first but found no sign of human habitation. The three islands are joined by two long straight peninsulas, so we walked along one of these to the second of the islands, and again began to explore. Suddenly, as we entered a clearing, a great stag appeared, panting hot air from its nostrils. Then we heard the mighty and heart-stopping thud of horses’ hooves, and two great white hounds whose coats shone with the starry light of Annwwn ran into the clearing chasing the stag, and hot on their heels came the horse itself, carrying a rider appareled in gold brocade and with a three-jeweled hunting horn hanging at his waist, its strap slung over his shoulder. Over his other shoulder hung a string of geese. Seeing us, he reined the horse in dramatically to a stamping halt, and came in at a slow trot to within a few feet of where we stood.
Excuse me, I said, we do not mean to intrude upon your hunting; we come merely in search of Timothy of Thornborough. Know you of he?
“Follow me,” boomed the Hunter, and turned his horse around. We followed it along a track through tangled undergrowth until eventually we came to what appeared to be the entrance of an ancient burial mound, but with a heavy oak door fitted within the massive megalithic trilithon of its doorway. Alighted from his horse, he operated some kind of pulley system that had been previously concealed under ivy, and the door swung open slowly with a long creak. Hung on the stone wall just inside was a burning torch which the Hunter detached and then carried before him down the passage way, beckoning us to follow. He lead us down some rough-hewn stone steps, and we could hear the echoing sounds of a carousing feast coming along the corridor from up ahead. As we reached the bottom of the steps we emerged through a beautiful marble archway into a great feasting hall that boasted a pleasing contrast between rough stone walls and the finest woven wall hangings, and between great rude oak tables and the most costly of cloths laid on them and an abundance of food laid in turn upon the cloths. All around the walls were hung with bright burning torches which cast a flickering golden glow across the hall.
The Hunter held out the string of geese to a man who approached and then took them off in the direction of an arch which we assumed led to the kitchens. In the centre of the room was a great wooden throne and before it a wonder: a fountain flowing with an abundance dark wine. The Hunter lead us forward to the fountain, and bid us pick up each one of the perfectly hewn calcite chalices which stood on a ledge beside it. He placed his own chalice under the fountain and it rapidly filled with the rich red liquid. We followed his example. Together we raised the goblets to our lips and took a draft. It was indeed a fine vintage.
The Hunter then went and sat on his throne, asking us if we liked the wine.
I answered that we had rarely tasted finer.
“There is none finer,” he said, and then his brow furrowed. “Except, of course, the famed 1986 vintage of Sedlescome Pinot Noit, of course.”
“Of course,” said Hatpins.
“Great is the favor I would do for anyone who could give me but one cup of that wondrous elixir. But alas, one person alone hoards the last remaining bottles, Heather of Bromwich.”
I asked the Hunter for his name.
“My name is Arrawn, as anyone here will tell you.”
“But locally I also go by the name of Timothy.”
Well, there it was: we had our man. Not only could we give him a cup, but a whole bottle of the beverage he sought, and once he had drunk deeply it was a small matter to extract from him the love-letter for Edith of Filey. While we were saying our farewells a group of white puppies came to play around the feet of the Hunter, clearly of the same line as those great hounds that had ran with him on the hunt. Hawaki looked down at them with a mixture of fondness and also sadness as he remembered Hylas. In fact one of the puppies came and nuzzled affectionately against Hawaki’s ankles.
“These fellows must be a delight to you,” he said to the Hunter.
“Yes, and also a weight on my mind, for I must find another home for at least one of them.’
Hawaki’s eyes lit up, and you can imagine why. So it was that we had an extra shipmate as we left the isle, one of the four-legged kind.
Week 18: The Island of Filey
And so, sailing due east from Thornborough along this line of balance, we reached the sacred Isle of Filey, where the beautiful goddess can truly be said to mediate between Athena-Britannia and Poseidon at the place of surf, here where the Great Green meets the Great Blue. And fittingly it was the power of Aphrodite which allowed us to complete this section of the quest, by giving to Edith the love letter from Timothy of Thornborough. It may be said of Filey, just as of Brighton, that:-
With her Compasses Queen Aphrodite, a synthesis brilliantly found
For by Halving the Square she has measured, the balance of land and sea
So the Two Realms at Filey agree, to the ruling of Zeus they are bound
With BritAnnia and Neptune in balance, he’s finished his Odyssey.
Week 19: The Island of Tre Taliesin
And we too had nearly finished our Geodyssey, for Edith had been much pleased with the letter from Timothy and only to happy to reveal to us the true identity of Garth so that we might search him out on the island of Tre Taliesin and thus learn at last how to obtain the Hairbrush of Portsmouth.
We sailed due south from Filey along the Worthing Meridian, until we reached the border of the Two Vitruvagons, then we sailed due west, passing once more the isles of Croft Hill and West Brom where we renewed recently-made acquaintances. Tender indeed were the embraces between Hatpins and his lover Heather and both gave assurances that they would meet again as soon as the Quest was over. Now Hatpins had received that permanent cure for the asinine affliction that had formerly overcome him. The nymphs of the cave gave us two wonderful woven gifts for the wedding, a mantle of gold for Myrtale and one of rich purple for myself. And on due westward we sailed from West Brom until we reached that most mystical of isles, Tre Taliesin. Richly bestowed is this isle with the gifts of the poets, for it this is where Taliesin was found in the leather bag by Elfin. We have already heard from the poets about the birth of Taliesin, but let us now hear about Elfin finding him in the salmon wier.
The Tale of Taliesin
And so it came to pass one day while Elffin sat beside
His father’s salmon weir, he saw a bag of leather hide
Bobbing in the weir tossed by the waters of the stream
He dragged the bag ashore and quickly picked open the seam
Then to his amazement he beheld a wondrous sight
A little child burst forth surrounded by a golden light
More amazing still, the little babe began to sing,
And in his song the infant boldly sang to young Elffin:
“Elffin, how your hopes were high to take home from the weir
The many silver salmon that pass through this time of year
Strong was your desire to please your father Garanhir
You prayed and prayed within your heart for treasures to appear.
Your treasure has appeared Elffin you were not wrong to pray
Though you sorrowed deeply when the salmon stayed away
You’ve changed your luck for good now and the change has come today
The greatest catch in Gwyddno’s weir has come this Eve of May.
From the river’s depth, from the bottom of the sea
To those willing to feel long sunken treasures are set free
Thought I’m but an infant now your prayers are met in me
There’s treasure on my tongue and to your profit it shall be!”
Elffin asked the infant who he was and how he came
To be within the leather bag that floated on the stream.
The infant sang the tale of his strange birth in every stage
Using words uncommon for a baby of his age.
We sailed back via a scenic route, stopping at the island of Kelynac at the Western Cape, the corner the Great Green. And so we went on to obtain the Hairbrush of Portsmouth. Nothing now stood between me and my love Myrtale, who had waited patiently for my return.
We did not want to take too long planning the wedding. It was Myrtale who came up with idea if a boat trip, and then by chance Proffessor Hatpins then received the following email:-
in cahoots with Stephen’s Steamers invite you too
I could want to presentation at you this exciting auxiliary, and it will be our greatest pleasant for you to have a presence on those, whether lonely, with family or weddings and office parties also. Furthermore, what is it that you will succumb to our envelopment of this in our journey to you, in the courtesy of Stephen’s Steamers.
Originally, you gonna be having a meeting with your tour taker, who will be playing you accompaniment on this ‘voyage of discovery’. In the center of the morning, you will be gonna holding this meeting, in Marlow by the bridge. The embarqment will be occurring propitutitoulsy, to join you into on this ‘voyage of discovery’, costing your pockets the only prices of 10 pounds small. Down passing Henley, the most lovely of all, you can be floating, ‘amid the delights of the quaint Costwold villages’ here on this ‘voyage of discovery’, to give you the celebration of ‘sampling the gallic charms’ and to offer of you several times to ‘enjoy the scenery of the Scottish Highlands’ here in rural Oxfordshire. Then is going to be offloading your selves at Dorchester-on-Thames the most beautiful of all, where the party will take High Tea, and it will be our greatest orgasm to have your presence on those. And those who want have opportunity take Even Higher Tea. Wandering about in accompaniment to the several localities of local interest and, the re-embarking will be produced after tea and lunch time, or the day to come after, to be bringing back to Marlow. Everyone will be sing most gratitude to be having had on this boat existing during its movements. So…encroach hurriedly!
It seemed ideal. The wedding party would sail up from Marlow to Dorchester-on-Thames, where the wedding itself would be held. Hatpins sent an email direct to Angleland Tours detailing our special requirements. However, the reply read as follows:-
It has come to my attention that the Maltese travel agents Phuntours-R-We have somehow got hold of my email password and have been using it to publicize tours under my name, and the name of Angleland Tours. I wish to categorically distance myself from Phuntours. If you receive any more of these emails, please disregard them. I have cancelled the contract I had with this company because the work they did for me can only be described as shoddy. The amateurish approach of Phuntours would not, I feel, have a positive impact upon the public image of Angleland Tours. As regards the Stephen’s Steamers Oxfordshire cruise to Dorchester-on-Thames, we will not begin this service until next spring. If you receive notices from Phuntours regarding any other trips to places like Canterbury and Cerne Abbas, please be warned that THESE ARE NOT OFFICIAL ANGLELAND TOURS. They are arranged by Phuntours only and have no connection with myself.
Sure enough Hatpins then received another email clearly from Phuntours:
HAPPY PHUN IN CUNTERBERYY!
It is ‘with great sadness’ that Angleland tours association with the Archbishop of Cunterberyy warmly welcome to you to those. We thinking you gonna be having a very happy to be coming in this decrepit old town next March! For the small pricely sum only of 12 pounds small, you gonna be having flagellation and walking on your knees. This exciting auxiliary gonna give you ‘peaceful retreat from the stresses and strains of everyday life and’. Like pilgrims from the media-evil times you gonna be seeing, of the Canterbury Tales Experience! Don’t miss this exciting auxiliary! Encroach please!
We talked about the possibility of going on the fake Angleland Tours boat cruise with Phuntours, but at length decided the quality could not be guaranteed. So it was that we came up with an alternative solution. H.M.H.M. Henry-Moorehen-ry-Mooring would take the role of the wedding barge, leading the way, and the other guests would follow in a great fleet of other small hired vessels. In this way would the partygoers make their way to the wedding venue.
And it is told that beside the golden bridge of Shillingford just outside Dorchester-on-Thames and beneath the sacred Britwell Barrow a fantastic banquet was thrown in celebration of the wedding. It is told also that all those who we had met on our quest were included among the guests, such as Quentin of Medmenham, Arnold of Woking, the wise woman of Herne’s Island, the old fisherman from Worthing who had given us the sprats and the shepherds who had followed Hatpins around the vineyard with their rustic wooden pipes. Timothy of Thornborough is also said to have made it, and Edith of Filey, and Agrarius with his hair looking sleek having been combed to smartness with the Hairbrush of Portsmouth; they were all there, and not forgetting Thomas de Puggalot himself of course. Amid them all, her beauty shining out like that of diamond set in a crown, was dear Myrtale, looking radiant and joyful by my side.
And it is also told, although I'm not sure by whom, that during the festivities a chariot burst in through the great doors of the hall, drawn by two leopards, and driven by a tender-faced fellow with ivy wreathed around his temples, who climbed down off the chariot and proclaimed himself a god before all there assembled.
It must be said that some doubted the veracity of this proclamation since the youth would not drink wine except were it to be mixed with spring water, and before long he transferred to fruit juice cocktails consisting of pomegranate juice, the essential oil of Egyptian blue lotus and the juice of the noni fruit, known also as morinda citrifolia, and alternately to a bitter tasting drink containing St John’s Wort, Wormwood and Fijian kava kava.
'Surely as an immortal god you can drink neat wine all night and day and still be none the worse for wear,' said someone.
'How do you think I came to be immortal?' was his reply. 'By moderation and a knowledge of the skill of mixing drinks wisely.'
'But isn't noni fruit beyond the range of plants that can be considered to be Dionysian?'
'Let's get something straight. I have ranged far and wide over the mountains of India. Haven’t you noticed that my culture carries that some of that eastern flavour? Who do you think it is they call Shiva? And the music you will find that comes closest to the Dionysian music of ancient times is the wild and trilling Indian flute music. Noni, morinda citrafolia exists within the aruvedic catalogue. Cheers,' he said, and drank another gulp.
Someone remained skeptical:
'Do a miracle!'
But just at that point there was a loud clinking of knife against glass, and the assemblage turned to where de Puggalot had taken to his feet ready to say some words, and it was a most eloquent speech that he gave, at the end of which he made an announcement: Heather of West Brom, who was present, had consented to a marriage with Hatpins that would take place the following Spring.
And so it was in a sense a double marriage, a two-fold celebration, and at length the hour approached when Myrtale led myself, Cuppalot, away from the throng and off towards the chambers of consummation, palatial in their fineness, heavenly in their beauty. There beyond the little pool with its fountain and water lilies was the marriage bed, with its four white marble pillars at the corners, and with sheets of silk of the vermilion of erotic desire and the blue of loyalty, the whole perfumed with rose, ylang ylang and neroli and littered with cushions of the gold of alchemy and the rose of love. And there was that night all the lustiness of the mule combined with the sweetness of the rose, a gorgeous alchemical wedding. We seemed to ascend to the very skies as if we were Angus and Caer transformed to swans in the old tale.
As we danced the Lying Down Dance a warm late summer breeze caressed and moved the white silk curtains around the tall windows, beyond which lay the sleeping magic of Dorchester-on-Thames, and out beyond in all directions stretched the beautiful expanse of the Great Green.