Stonehenge – Wednesday 19th September
We had to wait today at temporary traffic lights by Airman’s Cross. The normally quick journey was delayed by several minutes giving us the chance to look at what is happening around the building site. The road is being widened for the entrance to the new visitor centre. At present it looks like they’re cutting an ever-extending circuit of racetracks into the landscape.
How I ever wondered if there would be school parties up here, goodness only knows. It seems that there are nothing but school parties, education groups and International colleges visiting Stonehenge. The majority of students seem to be from Europe. I can hear German and another tongue I can’t identify but could be a Slavic language as the main conversations.
Mark’s drawings are following the sun, and at this time of year the shifts are swift and dramatic. He’s getting a study from 200°, sitting right up to the chain link fence. Outside by the road, there’s a man, English, taking a photo of and for an Asian gentleman.
“That’s good. Inside, a sign – welcome to Stonehenge. I take picture for you next to sign!”
Why is he speaking like this? I presume he’s a native speaker and fluent in English.
“When did you start that? Today?” a middle aged moustachioed man blurts out to Mark. “I’m sorry. I can’t talk.” Says Mark as he desperately tries to keep the line of ink steady on the paper. I explain that he’s working and the man seems satisfied that he’s had some communication. It’s tricky though.
People casually take photographs of Mark’s drawing as they go by.
I heard an interesting ‘thought for the day’ on Radio 4 earlier – the issue around the right to take photos of others. They touched on the old notion of stealing the soul along with the capturing of an image but revised it by discussing the basic principle of respect for a fellow individual, in opposition to the modern day indiscriminate objectification of someone else through the lens.
A woman stands in front of Mark to take a photo, other people stop to wait for her to take her photo and in doing so, stand directly in Mark’s eye-line stopping him from drawing. The primacy of the digital image is an interesting phenomenon.
Some tall German youths walk by and put their thumbs up as they compliment the artist.
It’s a beautiful autumn day, sunny with a chilly breeze. The jackdaws and crows come and go. Another coach load of world youth pours onto the walkway. A crow lands on the chain-link fence to our left and shouts loudly at the passing tourists.
A woman outside the fence struggles to fit her iPhone through one of the holes. She twists her wrist and eventually wrangles the device monument side. She takes a shot of the stone circle then wrestles the phone back through.
It’s interesting being by the fence. There’s a definite feeling that people are on the last leg of the ‘tour’ of Stonehenge. The whole set-up here encourages that. The path is particularly narrow and it’s formed of that heavy-duty hexagonal matting. It’s a path out and towards the exit, towards the gift shop, not a place to linger and look. Though for everyone outside of the fence, this is the only place to linger and look. This is their main view, their only view of Stonehenge.
A woman takes a photo of the two of us, me writing, Mark drawing. Why? It beats me.
A military jet flies high above, the boom echoing across the site. A group of starlings peck around inside the guide rope, the youngsters still identifiable by the remnants of their light brown plumage.