Jeremy Dennis is Jeremy Day (cleanskies) wrote,
Jeremy Dennis is Jeremy Day

The War Monument Dream

A dream I had on Wednesday morning started with us living in a house in a smaller town. It was built into a hill, and we had a short back garden full of mosses and ferns that abruptly finished on a cliff, taller than the house. There was a pick-your-way down path that lead up it to the grassy topfield, which was ours up to a tall spreading Oak tree. Beyond that it belonged to the school, a boarding school full of serious children who misbehaved, but quietly. We knew they snuck into the field and even sometimes down the cliff - I had in fact planted some good springy bushes along the base, to minimise the damage should somebody slip - but no damage was done, not even the cat scared.

One day I went up the cliff for a walk and as I turned back from the tree, saw a little knot of children pressed flush to the ground in the hollow which lead to the path. I glanced back, and sure enough, a teacher was walking across the school field his view of the children obscured by the rise of the grass. I walked back across the field, through and over the hiding children, and then back down into my garden, pausing to wave to the teacher.

After that a few children were sent round to apologise about some infraction, but in the usual way we ended up making friends with some of them, and asking some of them along sometimes whenever we went out on visits that might be seen as improving.

We'd decided to go to a war monument at a church ("but not like any you have ever seen") and we took three of the children with us. They poked round the church while we irritably looked at the monument. It was white and carved in an abstract-realist way, of a wounded soldier half-raised from his bed, looking irritable and fretful. The vicar approached us, and said, "You really want to look round there, that's where the interesting bit of the monument is".

We turned right from the nave, and saw before us a huge green vivarium tank, the glass wall neatly dividing it from the church, from thick rich soil at the base to tropical forest in the canopy, as high as the church. In it were large low glass tanks, as big as church pews, and creatures swum up curiously to see us. One of them, a Peacock fish the size of a pheasant, skipped up out of the water, spread its tail, and turned into a cautiously displaying Argus Pheasant.

Tim called me over to a small utility staircase. "Ah you've found your way into it," I said, "brilliant!" and we spent the next while wandering through huge beds of plants and groups of animals being studied and bred and improved and cared for and examined and admired. At some point we looked back (standing on a concrete and steel cover over a large underground water tank) and saw people on red modernist balconies on the new build quasi-natural environment that had grown out of the old church like a fabulous metal flower and realised we should head back.

The children reappeared on time and we went for one last look at the monument. The vicar came over and waved his hand at is, sending a shadow across its face. "I fought in the bloody war!" the statue said, activated by the shadow of the vicar's hand, in an old, angry, querulous voice, "The least you can do is save the fucking whales. Sort it out!"

On the way out, we quietly discussed what we had seen, and left a donation in the box.

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