I must tell you of the time that I first came to the Clockhouse Mount - a year last Spring, I think it was, friend. Do you know the place? Yes, it's in the outer South London suberbs, in Surrey really, but you have to climb along a very long hill out of Cullesdon and when you get there, you see the Green, fronting a run-down parade of shops and, further over, the "Pail of Water". Mrs. Dobb, the landlady of the Pail, she knows all the gossip of the Mount. About the Sawdusts of Number 4 Rich Land: Jackie Sawdust once blew his nose, you know, in public view, he blew it so hard that he just stared into his handkerchief not knowing it was his brain wriggling there, he stared just a few moments, yep, before he dropped down dead. About the Clerkes of Long Land: their younger son was levanted by the Surrey press gangs for labour in far off spice fields. About the losers and the winners of the terrible family feuds. About this and about that...

There is a golf-course on one side, some other cul-de-sacs leading to small-holdings and desolate fields of staring horses, tangled woods and deadfalls, overgrown bomb-holes and the rusty discards of shortly forgotten squabbles. You know, they say that the clouds swag and belly heavier over the council roofs of Clockhouse Mount... and, as I plodded up, that day, in the hope of my first homely tankard at the Pail, large drops spattered from a previously clear sky. Even at noon, dusk was gathering itself and some laggard golfers were standing along the side of the road holding their clubs like spears, making funny faces beneath their tartan berets and wriggling their chequered trousers as if in some crazy fashion show. They would soon be off, no doubt, before the light had finally disappeared.

I looked across at the downbeat parade and saw that the shops had shut, not for lunch as I had thought, but because I, a stranger, had loomed up from Cullesdon and they feared what they considered to be my unwholesome custom. I shivered for had the Pail, too, locked its lounge and saloon doors? The locals were inside, apparently persuading Mrs. Dobb to let them have further illicit flagons of the home-made brew, as I forced an entry through an unoiled latch-door. The bobbled heads looked up, scowls muttering across their faces, and one signalled for me to sheer off.

"Dear Sackalive!" cried Mrs. Dobb, from behind the bar, a friendlier aspect indeed appearing to fleet across her countenance. "I didn't think you'd make it".

"By Cock!" I replied, banging my feet on the floor, "That was a long walk up from the town."

Meantime the locals gathered closer to me and one even fingered my turn-ups in some strange rite of inspection. I looked at the posters and the customary wall-scrawl, to see if this was indeed the day of the darts match that I had been promised. But, no - imagine my despondency, when I saw incomprehensible messages pertaining to a Wicca Meet, destined for that very night ... and further bills bearing such things I cannot now spell - Cuthloo, Shib-Shubbing in the snug, Yogger-Nogging in the saloon and, what was it, an outing at the weekend to the Goat of a Thousand Young for a turdle-eating competition.

I skipped pretty niftily from the pub, for, as they say, you shouldn't turn a heavy stone if something's moving it from underneath.

I ran ... but it was difficult, for what I had thought originally to be rain was in fact now great bulbs of bursting liquid cascading from, not clouds, but shifting, floating monsters in the sky. They extended and retracted, in turn, long arms of blackness, from several interlocked central bodies and, if I were religious, the nearest I could get to describing them would be a hell's brood, an overnourished confluxion of sky and foxflesh betokening the fall of old disgraced gods ... and several smaller versions were creeping over the brims of council roofs...

I ran ... but golfers and pub locals surrounded me. One, of the name Tokkmaster Clerke, as he later told me, wielded a massive rutted file, its frightful crenellations glinting in the flashing of the wings in the sky. I was held fast by one whose nose dripped as Tokkmaster moved the file across my skull. At first, my hair fell away in lumps and dropped to the ground, followed by my skin. He grated it up and down, scratched, sawed, and ground. I could feel the hideous vibrations, reverberations stunning and splitting my head. My skull scrunched. My teeth were on edge, as the grating continued, as he honed my bone. The file stropped and serrated my pure white skull. It ground and rasped. Against the grain. Gashed and scored. Etched and furrowed. Rutted. Fretted and chafed. Scrubbed and gnawed. Eroded and Kneaded.......

* * * *

I ill recall must of that but I live now with the Sawdusts of Clockhouse Mount, and they call me Jackie... They make me worship the great old gods of the Surrey Badlands and the Southern Mysteries... The top of my head is like the skin of cold stew, so I now always have to wear a hat: Mrs. Dobb made it, kindly, out of vinegar & brown paper... and the filing Clerke, he says he's my pal now.

Published 'Dagon' 1987

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