target date - 10 February 1980]
On Friday, Pete Bench said
that he wanted us to produce a figurative drawing
of an item of clothing. So I chose a flight-hat that
one of my brothers had found on a nearby rubbish tip.
It was entirely appropriate, since I wore a red spacesuit
for most of last week.
I set up an easel and put
on some music - 'In the City' by The Jam. It was whilst
searching for a pencil that I discovered a crumpled
note that had been stuffed into my jacket pocket.The
note contained an unexpected confession from Jane,
my old girlfriend, in which she asked me to forgive
her mood swings and 'warned off' my friend Chris,
who had tried to reconcile our relationship. I wasn't
sure how long the note had been there or when I was
supposed to find it? I read it over a number of times
before consigning it to history and returning to my
easel. The drawing exercise would at least take my
mind off the matter.
Later that evening, in an
introspective mood, I spent some time out in the back
garden star-gazing. The activity fuelled my subconscious
and after lapsing into a deep sleep I experienced
a recurring dream where the setting sun was accompanied
by a larger, orange disk in the sky.
Closer inspection revealed
bands of colour and a giant red spot swirling violently
across its surface. The planet Jupiter had somehow
broken free of its orbit and was on a collision course
with the Earth. As the dream unfolded, I realised
that some of the scenes were culled directly from
the 1950's science fiction movie 'When Worlds Collide'.
The apocalyptic theme was
combined somewhat incongruously with village life:
Teenagers riding bicycles around the illuminated doorway
of the fish and chip shop on Park Avenue. My Grandmother,
shopping bag draped over her arm, climbing aboard
Woods green-grocery van to buy fruit and veg. In the
background, the pit 'blower' signalled the start of
an evening shift as house-martins dive-bombed red
It was about seven o'clock
in the evening and still light outside. Two of my
young cousins were searching the kitchen for ice cream.
Like everyone else in the village, Theresa and Duncan
appeared to be oblivious to the impending disaster.
A narrow window in a cramped corner of the kitchen
provided an ideal vantage point. It was possible to
see right over the terraced houses on the next street
and out into open plane of the yellow cornfields Something
was moving across the fields. Changing direction in
abrupt, staccato movements, a number of airborne 'war-machines'
began raking the distant fields with their deathrays.
This was classic science fiction; 'When Worlds Collide'
'Robinson Crusoe on Mars' and 'War of the Worlds'
all roled into one.
My heart was in my mouth as
one of the crafts soared up over the house and out
of view, it was beating so fast I thought my chest
would burst. There was a flash of light and the subsequent
explosion shook the house violently, causing tons
of glass and masonry to rain over my cousins, sealing
them in a kitchen cupboard where they had taken shelter.
I left them to their fate and scrambled towards the
The war machine had slipped
back over Harlow Street and an the sky Jupiter was
almost totally obscured by a billowing cloud of purple
I dashed across the street
to Woods' grocery van. Athough the blue bodywork of
the converted coach was beginning to blister, busy
shoppers were acting as if nothing was happening.
I hit the deck as a nearby explosion rocked the suspension
of the vehicle. 'It's like the blitz all over again'
said one of the old women reassuringly as I rolled
around the floor with half-a-dozen cooking apples.
It was the apples that gave the bus its distinctive,
An assistant tossed a bunch
of grapes into a brown paper bag and spun it over
a couple of times to seal the top. "We'll
be alright duck" she said casually, "we've
seen it all before haven't we Phyl". My Grandmother
nodded "Ah, burrat least you've got some bananas
un proper eggs this time'. I wiped a spot of blood
from my nose with my sleeve and got to my feet. The
women were still cackling and reminiscing about wartime
food rationing as I jumped down the steps at the back
of the bus. "They're all mad" I said to
Spanner's Alsatian dog was
howling pityfully as houses burned all around. It
always sounded like that when it was chained up in
the garden. Behind me was the looming spectre of Jupiter
and to the left and right of me burning buildings.
There was only one place left to go where I might
find sanctuary and that was the forest or 'foggies'
as it was known locally. There were several hiding
places in the forest; dens and tunnels left over from
our childhood gang, the 108 club. But, I couldn't
reach the forest, because the dream started to loop,
repeating the kitchen sequence over and over until
I finally woke up to the sound of Spanner's dog, howling