Year: 2005

stonehenge solstice
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Dave escapes the gravitational pull of London, stopping off for a mid-winter visit to Britain's best-known megalithic site... I should have had these photographs online a week ago, but a series of events - some unfortunate - conspired to prevent me from doing so. I had to endure moving back London to Dublin (utilising a car ferry), a broken exhaust, a bad cold, moving house in Dublin, Christmas, and hell knows what else. After having spent the last quarter of a year in England, it's early on the night of the 20th that I finally escape the gravitational pull of London. Once beyond the M25, and plugging along the M4, I achieve escape velocity, make for Devizes. The next morning, 7am, I'm riding shotgun in Neil Mortimer's car. Neil's a resident of this neck of the woods, and an expert on the surrounding antiquities. Salisbury Plain was enveloped in fog....

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'Christmas in America. Or is that Holiday Season? What the fuck am I supposed to call it again?' Amber Brown reports from Stateside. Well another year almost over and the dark shadow of Christmas, or the Holiday Season, looms above us. Normally, this time of year is anticipatedwith cheer, charity, gifts (wanted or not), booze and the hilarious possibility that your boss will drink too much and publicly make an arse out him or herself that will forever be immortalized on video. But not this year. More and more people I talked to claim they just don't seem to have that Christmas spirit. Should they call it Christmas Spirit? It's no wonder that people are finding it harder to that special seasonal feeling this year. Seems you can't step outside anymore without offending someone. Wish them a Merry Christmas and you are politically incorrect. Say Happy Holidays and you are...

Charles Fort's House, London
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Last weekend, I went to see Charles Fort's former home, at 39A Marchmont Street in London, now a hardware shop. I took some photos of the building, and off the silver plaque on the wall. Charles Hoy Fort (1874 - 1932) was an American writer and researcher into anomalous phenomena, known for his tongue-in-cheek sense of humour, and his studies into strange events. Without him, there would be X-Files, or no popular accounts stories of rains of fish or frogs. Really. He even coined the term 'teleport. More here » So, I'm outside his house where he lived between 1921 and 1928, close to the British Museum, fiddling with my camera and tripod. A young guy came out of the shop, and walked across the street towards me. 'Damn it, I thought, he wants to know why I'm making photographs of his shop, and is going to try and chase...

Treadwell's London
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Let's face it: xmas shopping is as dull as fuck. So, it's a rarity that you stumble across a shop that has stuff you like and friendly people staffing it. Like we did the other day. Allow us to introduce you to Treadwells' Bookstore: a fortean haven. This saturday past, Blather went xmas shopping. Not that we normally do this sort of thing as a group activity, you understand. It's just that two of us are in the same city for once and we figured a quick trip round some of the more interesting bookstores of London might actually produce some xmas presents above the standard garbage that we hand out every December. Where's the Fruit and Veg? First stop Forbidden Planet. Now, I'm sorry, but the current owners and managers of Forbidden Planet can go and fuck themselves from a height. I distinctly recall when Forbidden Planet was a...

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The River Slaney, Wexford, seen from Crossabeg, above, Killurn Bridge A beautiful Irish environment under constant threat. Dave reports from his home turf. Back in 2004, I mentioned the EU Pollutant Emissions Register and the Slaney Valley. At the time, I was unhappy about the fact that out of 153 top registered polluters in Ireland, two of them - the disastrous county dump and a massive pig farm - were very close to where I grew up, in the beautiful Slaney Valley. At the time, I had no idea that things could get worse. According to the website for the Crossabeg Killurin Local Environment Group, NRGE Limited / Reenard Farms, one of Ireland's biggest pig fattening companies, have proposed the construction of a huge waste processing Anaerobic Digester at the historic and beautiful rural Killurin area in the River Slaney valley in County Wexford. The company, which produces many thousands...

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Long lost Blather correspondent Sue, resurfaces in Clare with some rather strange paintings... An exhibition called 'Hidden Depths' can be found in the basement of Byrnes Restaurant in Ennistymon, County Clare, in the West of Ireland. It runs from the 24th of November to the 7th of December and is open Monday to Saturday, from 11am to 5pm. The exhibition has been organised by a local art collective known as Trading Spaces. I had barely arrived in Clare before I was kidnapped and drawn into this sinister group. I hope to be seeing daylight for the first time soon, when the doors of the basement are opened... My 'Artist's Statement' goes something like this: "I arrived here on a steam train in an early morning in 1905. There was a mist rolling in from the sea, and the colours hurt my eyes. I had tired of the Vaudeville scene in...

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Tomb by tomb, pharoah by pharoah the Theban mapping project is an online guide to the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens and a little known tomb called KV5... Initially conceived and built by egyptologist Kent Weeks, the Theban Mapping project website is a fast-growing portal of information on New Kingdom Egyptology - that's the period including the Ramesean kings and the ever popular Tutankhamun (whose possible mother/aunt Nefertiti is pictured). 'Since its inception in 1978, the Theban Mapping Project (TMP, now based at the American University in Cairo) has been working to prepare a comprehensive archaeological database of Thebes. With its thousands of tombs and temples, Thebes is one of the world's most important archaeological zones. Sadly, however, it has not fared well over the years. Treasure-hunters and curio-seekers plundered it in the past; pollution, rising ground water, and mass-tourism threaten it in the present. Even...

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"I have too many stories to tell, and if just a few of them get read, the ones that real people will understand, then maybe someone will know what we did here". Amber Brown gives us the lowdown on an important book. "I have too many stories to tell, and if just a few of them get read, the ones that real people will understand, then maybe someone will know what we did here. It won't assuage the suffering inside me, inside all of us. It won't bring back anyone's son or brother or wife. It will simply make people aware, if only for one glimmering moment, of what war is really like." So starts the non-fiction book by John Crawford, aptly titled "The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell: An Accidental Soldiers Account of the War in Iraq". I spotted it in the bookstore the other day. I was...

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Recently, a joint Blather-Strange Attractor-3rd Stone group went on a trek around the ancient megalithic landscape of Avebury, in Wiltshire. And Dave, as usual, took a silly amount of photographs. The Avebury reminds me a lot of the Newgrange area in Co. Meath, Ireland. The two places are, in themselves, not that spectacular - but the sheer scale of megalith construction has changed the rolling, fertile farmland into a ritual landscape. About two hours drive out of the horrendous labyrinth of London, the tiny village of Avebury is a National Trust site, besieged by a constant stream of visitors. Even the local pub, the Red Lion, has a queuing system in order to deliver surprisingly edible food to the hordes of hungry passersby from Swindon and farther afield. Over Guinness and pies, we discuss our hatred of the term 'thus fortified' as a potential introduction of our hike around Avebury....

Bonfire Night Lewes
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Blather goes to Bonfire Night in Lewes - complete with exploding government ministers, some fine-anti-popery, fireworks-dodging and general weirdness... November 5th 2005 was the 400th anniversary of the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot - when Catholic extremist had a go at blowing up Westminster (now part of London, in England) in an attempt to kill James I, but were thwarted before the big bang. Strange as it may seem, the denizens of Albion celebrate this non-event. As a baptised but (col)lapsed catholic, and an Irishmen too, I felt it my duty to partake in the madness, and find out what all thisfine anti-popery was about. It was with a charabanc full of intrepid bonfire hunters that I arrived in Lewes, Sussex, where traditional 'celebrations' are held to commemorate both the Gunpowder plot and 17 Protestant martyrs who were burnt at the stake in the town during the Marian persecutions of...