Stonehenge – Wednesday 10th October
It’s afternoon. A dank dark day. On the journey in by Airman’s Cross, we see the shell of a building being raised. Two large cranes hover over a steel grey frame.
At Stonehenge, the light is flat and grey. The sky is entirely covered by cloud. Mark sits by the chain link fence at 180°. Behind him on the road, passing vehicles already have lights on.
I sit down on a bench next to a young Chinese woman writing postcards. She very politely asks me if I can hear the booming, thundery sound echoing across the plain. I can. I explain it is some sort of artillery fire – could be tanks, could be something else, but it’s undoubtedly the MoD making the noise. Lovely Jei Lu is visiting Stonehenge on a day off from her studies here in the UK. She tells me that she’s seen some DVDs about great world mysteries and Stonehenge is among them. Luckily, although her English is excellent (I compliment her on it and she modestly tells me she considers herself a ‘Chinglish” speaker) her native language is Mandarin, one of the ten languages available on the audio guides, and so she has the benefit of all the English Heritage information told to her through the hand-held plastic pod. It seems quite clear however, that this hasn’t entirely answered all her many questions concerning the great stone circle. And so it remains one of the world’s great mysteries.
It’s quite quiet here people-wise, and strange for the lack of them. The few who are here photograph with flashes to supplement the bleak light. The crows and jackdaws meander around the stones, occasionally flying onto the grass for a quick snack. The cloud of starlings shape-shifts around the edges of the monument field.
The visitors here remain a healthy international mix. I catch English, Chinese, French and one of the Slavic languages – no doubt there will be others. But it’s really chilly here. People aren’t hanging around.
People stop in front of Mark to examine his drawing. An Asian couple stop just before they get to him, hesitate, then run quickly past as if they would for someone hovering for a photograph. It’s very sweet, considerate behaviour, if slightly eccentric.
Mark has added a small extension to his drawing paper to allow him to draw this particular view in its entirety. But, somehow he hasn’t managed to fit it all on. Stonehenge is expanding, inflating, falling off the end of his paper. He’s going to need another extension. This will be his first triptich among these studies. A little unwieldy in this weather but needs must…