Amidst the welter of official “Sorry, No Trick or Treat” posters and some nicely carved pumkins, I came across this extraordinary memento mori display with real skulls.
Diabolists or theatricals… I’m not certain.
This curious assemblage occupied the pavement outside Rochester Library today. Like the prey of an oversized psychedelic spider, wrapped in multi-coloured webbing. Perhaps the bolus contained the original occupant of the chair, just the exsanguinated husk left behind.
I wonder if the artist was echoing the work of Louise Bourgeois – whose giant spider titled Maman explores notions of the maternal relationship. This clever piece perhaps references this by looking at what is left behind, the detritus that remains after the meal has been consumed.
Recently I finished the last of the blackberries I picked during the dregs of summer, before Michaelmas Day, at which point the devil pisses all over them and makes them inedible. This is the date on which the old feller is meant to have been cast out of heaven and tumbled to earth into brambles which he thus cursed.
But there are still rose hips – the fruit of the Dog Rose (rosa canina) to be had if you’re quick. A fantastic source of vitamin C and antioxidants, during the World War II children were co-opted to harvest rose hips in vast quantities to make syrup as a vitamin C replacement for the vital fruit from sunnier climes blockaded by the hunnish u-boats.
It’s connection to war is interesting, Bảo Ninh (Hoàng Ấu Phương) in his brilliant novel ‘The Sorrow Of War’, talks of NVA troops smoking the dried roots of rosa canina during what we call the Vietnam War (perhaps unsurprisingly the Vietnamese see things slightly differently and call it Kháng chiến chống Mỹ – The Resistance War Against America).
“One smoked to forget the daily hell of the soldiers’ life, smoked to forget hunger and suffering. Also to forget death. And totally, but totally, to forget tomorrow.”
I don’t need to forget tomorrow, so made a syrup. Here is the wartime Ministry of Food’s recipe for 2lb of hips.
Boil 3 pints of boiling water.
Mince hips in a course mincer and put immediately into the boiling water.
Bring to boil and then place aside for 15 minutes.
Pour into a flannel or linen crash jelly bag and allow to drip until the bulk of the liquid has come through.
Return the residue to the saucepan, add 1+1/2 pints of boiling water, stir and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
Pour back into the jelly bag and allow to drip.
To make sure all the sharp hairs are removed put back the first half cupful of liquid and allow to drip through again.
Put the mixed juice into a clean saucepan and boil down until the juice measures about 1+1/2 pints, then add 1+1/4 of sugar and boil for a further 5 minutes.
Pour into hot sterile bottles and seal at once.
If corks are used these should have been boiled for hour just previously and after insertion coated with melted paraffin wax.
It is advisable to use small bottles as the syrup will not keep for more than a week or two once the bottle is opened.
Store in a dark cupboard.
“Meaning makes a great many things endurable – perhaps everything. No science will ever replace myth, and myth cannot be made out of any science. For it is not that “God” is a myth, but that myth is the revelation of a divine life in man.”
Carl Jung – Memories, Dreams, and Reflections
Another architectural phallus tumesces appropriately on Love Lane. Such stone erections are thought by some to be connected to ancient Priapic worship, the male principle deified.
The name Love Lane appears frequently in different cities, often so named for their brothels: “in the Middle Ages the wanton women of the City gathered in [Love Lane near Aldermanbury], seeking customers, and the street thereby acquired its name” (Smith, Al. Dictionary of City of London Street Names. New York: Arco, 1970). Similarly, The London Encyclopedia cites the latter Love Lane as having been “a haunt of prostitutes in the Middle Ages” (Weinreb, Ben, and Christopher Hibbert. The London Encyclopedia. New York: St. Martin’s, 1983.). Gillian Bebbington in London Street Names corroborates this point, citing Stow in her description of Love Lane between Wood Street and Aldermanbury as a place frequented by “‘wantons’”.
As naval towns Rochester and Chatham were rife with prostitution as documented in Brian Joyce’s The Chatham Scandal: A history of Medway’s prostitution in the late 19th century