Persephone and Orpheus meet for a date
It’s a strange old other world. I was passing a church in in the gloaming, along a street in a place called Bloomsbury. A soft light was radiating from the building and it drew me in. Attracted by an orange glow at the altar, I saw an old man there on the floor, and I picked him up.
He seemed confused. He looked at me and said “And you have wings, fledgling wings on each shoulder blade with baby feathers, soft as gosling down.”
“Ye gods!” I thought “He’s demented. A crazy!”
I looked into his chiseled ancient face and recognized him. Hades! What the hell was he doing in a place like this?
I couldn’t deal with it. I dropped him right where he was and left the church wondering whether he’d managed to deconsecrate it while he was there.
I was at a loose end so I decided to give Orpheus a call.
“Hello” I said, “You’ll never guess who I’ve just seen! And by the way, I’m not telling you unless you agree to meet me. I need an evening out.”
“Oh, Eurydice…” he replied. I could hear him picking at his lyre.
”No Orpheus. It’s not Eurydice. It’s Persephone and I’m talking about a change of scene, just the two of us. Some Persephone time. You dig?”
“Persephone baby, let’s do that. Where shall we meet?”
“You’ll find me in a place called Grafton Way. You don’t need me to tell you how to get there. You’re special. Just keep edging upwards, upwards towards the over world.”
I get there before him, looking for it. The cinema, that is. I’m walking through a gate towards a big hole.
“Bloomsbury and Islington health authorities cannot accept liability for damage to vehicles. But there are no winged chariots here. Flats that belong to another world. Graffiti. Walls just peeled away.
I’m looking for the screening of a Norwegian adventure film, but there’s no cinema. I want to capture the spirit of the over world and sit amongst 2500 mortals watching a big screen in 3D. I want to experience “the most exciting adventures of land and sea known to man” together with Orpheus.
But we’re too late by 53 years in mortal time. Orpheus will be gutted.
I look down the ladder to the hole. It goes deep, deep, deep into the ground, and still deeper. As I’m looking at it, smoke is emanating from that hole and I see Orpheus climbing upwards, upwards towards me.
“Persephone” he shouts “ I’m so looking forward to this!”
“Me too” I lie “But there’s a little change of plan. The cinema closed early.’
We walk down the stairs together.
“What’s all this?” he says. “After all, I’m having time out from the underworld.”
Good grief! We’re looking at ghost figures of ourselves fashioned by mortals. Plasters, cast away into the new underworld where they’ve destroyed this other place we came to see.
“It’ll be educational” I suggest “We’ll learn about the day world, forget the under one. Learn about the dream world. You know?”
“ I just read that the mortal, Freud, said that their “dreams” were the royal road to the unconscious,” I add.
“Well, I don’t buy that” he replies. You brought me up here under false pretenses. We all know that the dream world is the underworld. Always has been. This is boring. I wanted to see that mortal cinema thing.”
And with that, he descended, descended, descended the stairs until the hole widened and he disappeared through the crust of the earth and into the void.
There are fallen trees from Sunday’s storm. I smell coffee, see young, eager students surrounded by academia as I walk through Bloomsbury’s green squares in hot pursuit of nuggets of knowledge and Claire’s bidding across stepping stones of rapid thought to “The Dig”- Daniel Silver’s ArtAngel installation on The Odeon Site in Grafton Way WC1.
Foraging post-war memories of London’s bombsite playgrounds; hiding in huge sewage pipes; sharing humbugs and sherbet in a poke, and licking sticky yellow fingers bone clean.
Kneaded clay marks of a hand-fist, pelvic bones in decease or old age replaced with metal or plastic. I heard on the radio someone had had seven joints replaced – indeed a bionic human!
Casts, carvings, sculptures reminded me of Anthony Gormley’s ” Field” – smaller forms over a larger space.
Bodily parts, totemic carcases holding Assyrian dreams, Egypian mythologies and Hindu shrines, and a glimpse of ET and gnomic garden gnomes.
I descend to the basement and walk across alluvial mud covered in footprints arising from a stagnant green pool, a bulbous female form unzips a child from her belly… another dreamer joins this derelict Palace of Dreams.