Stonehenge – Thursday 4th October
Stonehenge looks spectacular today. The light is just right somehow. Yes, it’s shifting because of the wind blown clouds, but it’s golden and clean when it hits the stones. The sarsens look magnificent, the blue stones actually look blue-ish.
Mark is back on the bridge today finishing a study in ink. The woman with the goat head staff is here, her black velvet cloak dancing in the wind and there’s a clutch of other Druid-type women here too. Hard to explain why I think this, but it’s definitely something to do with their dress as well as their behaviour. Not cloaks, but woollen coats, generous and richly coloured, embellished with embroidered symbols; hennaed hair, beads and feather earrings. Their walk around the circle is relaxed but measured, the stones being given full attention, complete focus. These women are HERE, fully. They’re not taking pictures. They have the look of quite hip, deconstructed Viking re-enactors. And they stand out from the many Chinese visitors shouting instructions as they gather portfolios of photographs.
Watching people photographing Mark I wonder how many pictures of him and his work are out there just from being here. Some minutes there’s a barrage of shots, some minutes he’s left alone. But at a very conservative estimate, I reckon he’ll have at least three photos a minute taken of him, that’s one hundred and eighty an hour. Generally he’s here for between three and four hours. That’s a lot of photos, and I’m being sure not to exaggerate. And many of these images will be loaded into a virtual cloud and saved in some humungous building somewhere that stores data for the world’s internet users on ginormous hard-drives at the cost of mega watts of energy and may never be looked at again. How bizarre.
The military jets are out today. One does a celebratory roll as it flies over to the great delight of us on the ground.
People stand on the bridge craning over the rope to look at Mark’s drawing and take photos. There’s a steady stream of coach parties yomping round, reasonably spaced, and the usual clustering of non-payers outside the chain-link fence. The roads are busy with MoD vehicles; jeeps, flat-backs carrying other motors and a small-ish tank, conspicuously loud as its caterpillar track rattles along the tarmac.
A man with an unidentifiable accent walks past saying, “And we said to the British government we need somewhere to bring our Nimrods…” and then he’s out of earshot. I feel like a spy, but a rather bad one. I could create havoc with all the half-heard things I’ve registered being here.
A junior school party come by, girls and boys each wearing a tabard in green, brown, red or purple, tied at the waist with a bit of string over their cagoules and anoraks. They stand for a group photo shouting ‘STONEHENGE’ at the moment of the click. There are leaders with them, the National Trust logo printed on their jackets and one of them hands out some wooden bows to several children designated ‘archers’. “Okay. We’d better get killing,” I hear one of the leaders say and another obligingly lays face down on the grass while small children ping rubber suckered arrows at him.
These kids are having a great time. “Have a look at it and think of two describing words in your head,” says one of the leaders. Sounds like it should be simple, but the longer I’m here, the more words for Stonehenge escape me.