Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bees in the Cellar and Nomads

There is an old three floor red brick building, possibly Victorian, possibly older. At one time it may have been a house, but probably was two houses connected - in England they call that semi-detached houses. Now it has been converted into flats. There are two front entrance doors, each has a faded classical plaster bust over the door. The left door has a male bust, the right door has a female bust. A single key will get you into both sides. There are about eight flats on each side.
I lived in a ground floor studio flat on the right side. My ground floor neighbours came and went. A lot of them were nurses because of the nearby hospital. One of them was a doctor, he looked Indian. He was there for a long time. At one time the other ground floor flat had a group of teenage metal heads. They put a sticker on their door like a road sign - it said "New Metal" and had a red line through it.
Upstairs on the first floor there are two or three flats. In one of them lives Simon the dope-smoking jazz guitarist. He was there when I arrived, and he was there when I left. As far as I know he is still there - he is probably the longest-running resident in the building. We used to talk about music, art, psychology, and atlantis. Once he did some kind of palm print reading for me, which was a bit lame. Luckily he sticks mostly to music. He believes that classical Indian music is the highest, most advanced form of music known to man, and I believe him. Also on the first floor lived Steve. He is a film director, we used to write scripts together.
If you go through the left entrance, you can get down to the cellar. When you come through the entrance door you will find a box on the wall for mail. It is always overflowing with letters, largely because of the high turnover of residents - many bills aimed at former residents pile up in the box. A stairway leads up to the first floor. Sometimes you could hear singing coming from upstairs. I have no idea what the singing was about, but it was group singing, and it sounded religious, like some kind of island chant.
Underneath the stairs is a door to the cellar. You can't get into the cellar from the right side - this is the only way. A rough set of wooden stairs lead down to the cellar. There is a single naked bulb in the cellar, you turn it on from a switch at the top of the stairs. When you're down there, you really get a sense of how old the building is. The walls are bare stone and it smells mouldy. The cellar extends under the whole of the building. There are many rooms down there, but none of them except the first room have light, so you have to have a torch.
The cellar is a dumping ground containing mattresses, washing machines, furniture, boxes of junk. Over the years I think residents put their surplus goods down there for storage, and when they moved out they left the stuff they didn't care about.
In a corner of the first room there is a large black metal trunk full of books. They are the books I left behind because I couldn't carry them to America. Maybe the trunk is still there, maybe it isn't. Inside the trunk is a book about bees.
About four years ago I made my first (and so far only) purchase from ebay. I can't remember the circumstances, it was probably the result of random surfing. I bought two old books. One was a scientific study of bees, the other was "THE ROYAL HORDES Nomad People of the Steppes" by E.D. Phillips.
When I moved to America I had to be very choosy with what books I brought, and what books I left. Luggage weight restrictions on airlines are brutal. For some reason I chose the nomads and left the bees.
"The nomads are of special interest because their way of life was an alternative to civilization, not a mere absence of it."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Shooting Bees

The only bee I ever photographed was this one. I shot it 5 or 6 years ago in my brother Joel's garden in Manchester. He lives there with his wife and three children.
Then I messed around with it in Photoshop to make the other picture.
I don't think I've ever drawn a bee. I've only ever drawn wasps, which I always preferred.

Bee v Wasp

The house I've lived in for the last two or three years is fairly old, and made of wood. When I moved in I decided not to use any commercial chemicals in the "garden" as we have a well and septic tank that apparently works as some form of mini eco-system (I haven't worked it out yet). I stuck to my rule, except in the case of the many wasp nests that constantly crop up under the eaves. As far as I know there haven't been any bees, but having said that, I might not even be able to tell the difference in America. Perhaps they're hornets - I don't really know what a hornet is. I'll look into it.

I once wrote a story about a man who transforms into a crippled wasp after his colleague smashed the wasp with a newspaper.

I think the dream agents were definitely bees and not wasps though. I have no idea why, but I was certain at the time, and I'm certain now.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Out of the Strong

When I was growing up we always had a tin of Lyle's Golden Syrup in the house. I love the packaging, today I read that it is considered to be the world's oldest brand.

I remember once laughing at the picture on the label because it looked a bit like the lion is dead, and has flies hovering over it. I thought this must have been a pretty bad mistake by the manufacturers. My father explained to me that the lion is actually dead, but the insects were not flies but a swarm of bees that are nesting in the rotting carcass:

In Book of Judges, Chapter 14, Samson the Israelite was travelling to the land of the Philistines in search of a wife. During the journey he killed a lion, and on his return past the same spot he noticed that a swarm of bees had formed a comb of honey in the carcass. Samson later turned this into a riddle at a wedding: "Out of the eater came forth meat and out of the strong came forth sweetness".

Some kind of allegory on resurrection/love/the devil.

In both of my dreams it seemed that the bees were not just nesting, I think they were actively linked to the decay or eating-away of the house, like termites. I thought this was strange because that's not something bees do.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Concilio Et Labore

The Coat of Arms of the City of Manchester

Blazon: Gules, three bendlets enhanced Or; a chief argent, thereon on waves of the sea a ship under sail proper. On a wreath of colours, a terrestrial globe semée of bees volant, all proper. On the dexter side a heraldic antelope argent, attired, and chain reflexed over the back Or, and on the sinister side a lion guardant Or, murally crowned Gules; each charged on the shoulder with a rose of the last.

Motto: Concilio Et Labore

Like all heraldic coat of arms, almost every component of the Manchester Coat of Arms has a symbolic meaning. At the centre of the shield (in a shape known as '13th-century', which Manchester chose for reasons unknown), the three diagonal stripes represent the three rivers of Manchester: The Medlock, The Irwell and The Irk.

The ship at the top of the shield represents the trading relationships of Manchester, and above the shield the terrestrial globe covered in bees also has significance. The bee in heraldic terms represents efficient industry, and to this day the bee is often used as a shorthand emblem of Manchester and can be see on many street bollards around the city centre.

The heraldic antelope with its gold chain represents the engineering industries. The lion's crown is a castle, a reference to the ancient Roman fort of Castlefield: the first known civilised settlement of Manchester. The red roses they each wear on their shoulders are references to Lancashire, a symbol that is still used widely today to represent the county Manchester historically belongs to.

The motto can be loosely translated as 'Wisdom and Effort' although some prefer to read it as meaning something along the lines of 'Think about the consequences of your work before beginning it'.

The Cream of Manchester

At Strangeways Brewery in Manchester, next to Strangeways prison, they brew Boddingtons, which is also called "the cream of Manchester".

It's a pale ale with a bright amber/golden colour and a creamy white head. The logo has bees on a beer barrel.


Manchester City Council has bollards to prevent drivers from entering pedestrian-only areas. Every bollard has a bee on it, so it must be some kind of official emblem for the city.

Manchester Town Hall

It's an amazing Victorian gothic construction (you can see it on the right of the picture below). Inside there are bee mosaics on the floor.


What a great city. I lived there for several years. I suddenly remembered that bees have some kind of symbolic meaning in Manchester - they are all over the place.

Bee memory

I'm thinking about bees, and I can only remember one particular bee incident: Probably when I was 9 or 10 I was riding my blue bike in a local park. The park was actually a small green on a steep hill. In winter it was the best place to sled, in summer it was fun to ride your bike down the hill really fast. I was flying down the hill, and at the time it seemed like a bee (large fuzzy kind) attacked me, but I'm sure in actual fact it was just flying past. It made me crash.
Not exactly the stuff of legend, but that's all I've got. If I dredge up any other bee memories I'll add them.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Being my older brother, Clive took on the aspect of a god to me when growing up. Probably more so than my father, Clive had a heavy influence on my early character. He was always a lazy, cynical and sanguine creature. I aspired to his level of nonchalance.
It was only in my twenties that I slowly came to realize he was not a character to contend with, to compete with, to live up to. He was a lonely, passive, and surrendered soul.
He has always been the benchmark of truth to me, because of his supreme intelligence and smirk/sneer at whatever ideas or concepts were being presented by the mainstream. He is a prince, and he is immune to trends and fads.
There came a time when his observations and criticisms seemed too passive for me, and I began to question his ability to creatively engage.
To Clive I owe my intellectual freedom from the norm, my hatred of popular belief systems, my cynicism. By rejecting his passive nature, I owe him the realization of my own creativity and active involvement in the world.


Mike is from Kentucky. He is a friend of a friend and I have met him probably 5 or 6 times. He lives with an actress who is close friends with my fiancee. We first met at a wedding reception. We instantly shared a love of liquor and cigars, and ended up spending the night in Ybor with our women. When I think of Mike I think of an old fashioned friendship. He is conservative and traditional in the way he thinks and acts. We are not friends but could easily be, even though he loves sports and I love arts. Every time I have met up with him we drink cocktails and smoke cigars. There is something very nostaligic about him and my relationship with him - he is faithful, but has a hemingway attitude.


The second message also came in a dream, the following night.
I was in a place that seemed to be a mix of my home (not resembling the house where I live) and the garden section of Home Depot.
I think there were people walking around, probably shoppers. I was with my older brother Clive. I noticed that in quite a few places, close to the ceiling, the walls had been eaten away and bees were nesting. I was going to get some chemicals to destroy the bees. My brother stopped me and said that we could deal with the bees in a natural way, by using birds. Sure enough, birds flew in. I'm not sure what kind of birds, but could probably identify them. They were some kind of finch or jay, possibly blue jays. They immediately started consuming the bees in large beak-fulls.


The first message came in a dream, in which the foreign agents took the form of bees.
At the time, I thought I had had a dream the previous night in which the bees also visited. This would mean that this was the second message, and they had actually contacted me three nights in a row. But I'm not sure - I might have just dreamed that I had already dreamed them.
There were two situations:

I entered an estate with a female companion (can't remember anything about her). The estate had the feeling of a hospital/spa/sanitarium. Then we were on foot, walking around the main building (which was like a Georgian town house). We observed that massive amounts of bees were nesting around the house. On closer inspection, the ground was alive with bees, like it had been transformed into one continuous giant hive. I wasn't afraid of the bees, but didn't spend too long looking at them because it felt like the ground would give way beneath my feet so I continued to the entrance of the house.

In the second situation I was inside a house. Like I said, either this dream took place on the second night, or it was all one dream and it just gave me the impression that I had already met the bees the night before.
It was my house, but didn't resemble the house where I live. It was a big house, and the only room I remember was the living room. This was similar to the living room of one of the houses where I grew up in Lancashire. It was night and some kind of party I had arranged. The purpose of the party was a game, like a murder mystery type game, that I had organized. There were about 8 people, a mix of men and women, and we were going through the preliminary preparations of the game, still waiting for a few more guests to arrive at the house. I only recognized one of the people from my waking life: Mike. The only other guest I remember was a "larger" girl. She wasn't obese but most people would probably call her overweight. I was attracted to her. Mike could see this, and did not approve. I looked at the wooden floorboards and noticed that in some areas the wood had been eaten away and bees were nesting there.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

The scenario

I received communiques from unknown agents, two nights in a row.

Disposition of agents: Unknown.
Number of agents: Unknown.
Intention of agents: Unknown.
Message contents: Encrypted. Key required.

Primary objective: Decrypt and interpret the message.
Secondary objective: Upon interpretation of the message, take whatever action I deem necessary.
Secondary objective: Gather intel on the number, disposion, and intention of the agents.