Some things you just have to touch. Sure, you can stand there and admire them. You can even fantasise about the touch of them beneath your finger tips. But looking is not sufficient. And fantasies can be so… frustrating.
Oh yes, I remember it like it was yesterday. I had to get my hands onto them. Everything that was me demanded that I do so. And yet there was a problem.
Today’s story is about this problem and the photo immediately below was taken at the conclusion of my story.
But let us step back for a moment. Let’s look at the events that lead up to me grinning like a Cheshire Cat, for obviously I had got my clammy little hands on them. But what was the “them” about which I so lust.
A few hours previously I had found myself presented with this iconic view:
I am certain that most of you should recognise this. Naturally it is Stonehenge, a five thousand year old monument built upon the Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England. The year that I stood here was somewhere in the late 1990s – my memory being almost asÂ vague as the origins of this venerable set of standing stones.
Now is that a view, or is that a view?
Let’s have a look from a few different perspectives.
Yep – looks very remote and all. But hang on! Peer through some of the stone doorways and you see incy-wincy people gathered in a way that suggests a long queue.
Naturally those people are not actually that small. It’s just that this photo was taken some way away from them – with a telephoto lens and all. And Stonehenge itself is somewhat large. So you see how such confusion can arise.
But yes, the sad fact is that remote Stonehenge is not quite that remote. Sure, it’s on Salisbury Plain, but nearby is a traditional modern visitors’ centre and lots of bus parking. The following two photographs (Nicole in one, myself in the other) give a better idea of the nature of the place. The bearded bloke to the right is my late father who looked surprisingly like Doctor Evil once he shaved his whiskers.
Now really scrutinise these photos. What do you see other than the early hints of a double chin on me?
Yes – you’ve got it (or at least we shall pretend that you have). There is a path. And that path leads you around (not through) the Standing Stones. Quite a way around the Standing Stones. Nowhere near touching distance. And the rangers (or whatever they are) stop you if you decide that a jolly little jaunt near the stones is appropriate.Â Damn! Damn! Damn!
Now I am sure that the more learned among you will applaud this. We don’t want any grubby, acid-sweating fingers touching such magnificent monuments. Think of the long term damage this will cause. It’s bad enough that all those pesky tourists go tromping through places like Pompeii and Venice causing all sorts of problems wearing away stone and such.
I acknowledge this.
I respect this.
I can honestly see this viewpoint.
BUT… I… WANT… TO… TOUCH… SOMETHING… MADE… 5000… YEARS… AGO!!!!!!!!
Ok – that’s out of my system now.
Luckily I had something that so many other tourists that day lacked. Yes, I had a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) where I had majored in History and English. And this degree provided me with all sorts of useless arcane knowledge. And one particular bit of arcane knowledge turned out to be not quite as useless as many would suspect. For, you see, I knew that just up the road was a place called Avebury. And Avebury, though not as iconic as Stonehenge had stone circles almost as ancient – give or take a few hundred years. Better still, Avebury’s stone circles ran through the village, so it was impossible to fence them away from people with grubby little touchy-feely fingers.
People just like me.
So the very first photograph, the subject of this sordid tale, is the photo of me finally touching a standing stone carved and placed here around 2600 BC by Neolithic (“New Stone Age”) people.