THE WHITE TOWER – A book from the bees.
My last blog was written in August 2014 just a year from when I began it in August 2013. There is good reason for why it had an abrupt halt which I may write about some time. For the moment however, I want to write about the launch of my new book, a book which has been in gestation for over thirty five years. Yes! You read it right, 35 years.
It began in the summer of 1977, on a hilltop in Ceredigion, where the remains of a Roman fortress created a kind of ancient, jagged amphitheatre. During the course of a fascinating afternoon, where it felt that past and present collided, a friend and I circumnavigated the high flat surface and as we did so we heard a pulsating hum which we could not identify, and which was growing louder.
My friend thought the sound was coming from the ground, but I disagreed, sure that it was somehow reaching us in the wind that blew fairly strong around us. She stooped, to put her ear closer to the scrubby grass to test her theory and when she looked up, shaking her head and about to speak, she halted and an expression of fear took over. Her eyes widened and she stepped back, away from me. She stared; seemingly at something above my head, and raised a pointing hand. I lifted my face toward the sky and saw what she was seeing.
A swarm of bees hovered in a seething pillar only centimetres above my head. Powerless to move, I froze, as they descended moving as one body taking me over from my head to my feet.
They crawled across my hands, my arms, my face and in my hair. They were inside my shirt and around my ankles and feet and I could feel the hairs on my body rising to the patter of their tiny feet travelling my body as though they had a purpose in being there.
A part of me was amazed and I experienced a thrill of excitement, whilst elsewhere in me I felt the natural and desperate fear of being stung all over.
My fear won out, and I found the strength to begin to run, holding my arms up high and shrieking like a wild thing, I got to the edge of the mountain and stopped. I felt them begin to leave me and as I stood leaning against a Roman stone, panting for breath I saw them go. In a lazy upward movement they gathered themselves back into a spiralling pillar, left me and flew away.
Though I was not stung I was shaking, and buzzing all over as though I had experienced an exhilarating sauna. I was electrified, despite the whole thing only having lasted two oe three minutes, and I was giving off static for the rest of the day to everyone that came near me. And I was inspired. I had been caressed by a thousand bees who came to me and spoke their secrets through my skin. For five nights following the event, I experienced dreams like never before, full of colour and people from the distant past. I tried to capture some of them on the page by writing a play, which though it was hard for people to understand, was cheeerfully taken on by a group of alternative players in the rural reaches of West Wales who created something wonderful out of a difficult script.
After many years of trying to recapture something of what the bees brought to me, I have finally completed a novel, The White Tower, and it will be launched on Saturday 31st January at 3pm, Small World Theatre in Cardigan. There will be storytelling with myself and Peter Stevenson, heavenly music with Deuair, and divine cakes. And there will be Llanerch Press with books to be signed. What fun for us all!