Thursday, 6 May 2010


There are things that matter and things that are matterless. Dunsany, that writer who's words run like distilled reality through the minds of those who look beyond the fields we know, captured this beautifully in his short story "The Day Of The Poll". I am removed from politics; science has yet to invent an instrument sensitive enough to measure how little I care about these things so today, when those who would govern us ask us to place our heads in their snares, I shall be reading Lord Dunsany and thinking about what really matters.
The Day Of The Poll
In the town by the sea it was the day of the poll, and the poet regarded it sadly when he woke and saw the light of it coming in at his window between two small curtains of gauze. And the day of the poll was beautifully bright; stray bird-songs came to the poet at the window; the air was crisp and wintry, but it was the blaze of sunlight that had deceived the birds. He heard the sound of the sea that the moon led up the shore, dragging the months away over the pebbles and shingles and piling them up with the years where the worn-out centuries lay; he saw the majestic downs stand facing mightily south-wards; saw the smoke of the town float up to their heavenly faces--column after column rose calmly into the morning as house by house was waked by peering shafts of the sunlight and lit its fires for the day; column by column went up toward the serene downs' faces, and failed before they came there and hung all white over houses; and every one in the town was raving mad.
It was a strange thing that the poet did, for he hired the largest motor in the town and covered it with all the flags he could find, and set out to save an intelligence. And he presently found a man whose face was hot, who shouted that the time was not far distant when a candidate, whom he named, would be returned at the head of the poll by a thumping majority.
And by him the poet stopped and offered him a seat in the motor that was covered with flags. When the man saw the flags that were on the motor, and that it was the largest in the town, he got in. He said that his vote should be given for that fiscal system that had made us what we are, in order that the poor man's food should not be taxed to make the rich man richer. Or else it was that he would give his vote for that system of tariff reform which should unite us closer to our colonies with ties that should long endure, and give employment to all. But it was not to the polling-booth that the motor went, it passed it and left the town and came by a small white winding road to the very top of the downs. There the poet dismissed the car and let that wondering voter on to the grass and seated himself on a rug. And for long the voter talked of those imperial traditions that our forefathers had made for us and which he should uphold with his vote, or else it was of a people oppressed by a feudal system that was out of date and effete, and that should be ended or mended. But the poet pointed out to him small, distant, wandering ships on the sunlit strip of sea, and the birds far down below them, and the houses below the birds, with the little columns of smoke that could not find the downs.
And at first the voter cried for his polling-booth like a child; but after a while he grew calmer, save when faint bursts of cheering came twittering up to the downs, when the voter would cry out bitterly against the misgovernment of the Radical party, or else it was--I forget what the poet told me--he extolled its splendid record.
"See," said the poet, "these ancient beautiful things, the downs and the old-time houses and the morning, and the grey sea in the sunlight going mumbling round the world. And this is the place they have chosen to go mad in!"
And standing there with all broad England behind him, rolling northward, down after down, and before him the glittering sea too far for the sound of the roar of it, there seemed to the voter to grow less important the questions that troubled the town. Yet he was still angry.
"Why did you bring me here?" he said again.
"Because I grew lonely," said the poet, "when all the town went mad."
Then he pointed out to the voter some old bent thorns, and showed him the way that a wind had blown for a million years, coming up at dawn from the sea; and he told him of the storms that visit the ships, and their names and whence they come, and the currents they drive afield, and the way that the swallows go. And he spoke of the down where they sat, when the summer came, and the flowers that were not yet, and the different butterflies, and about the bats and the swifts, and the thoughts in the heart of man. He spoke of the aged windmill that stood on the down, and of how to children it seemed a strange old man who was only dead by day. And as he spoke, and as the sea-wind blew on that high and lonely place, there began to slip away from the voter's mind meaningless phrases that had crowded it long--thumping majority--victory in the fight—terminological inexactitudes--and the smell of paraffin lamps dangling in heated schoolrooms, and quotations taken from ancient speeches because the words were long. They fell away, though slowly, and slowly the voter saw a wider world and the wonder of the sea. And the afternoon wore on, and the winter evening came, and the night fell, and all black grew the sea, and about the time that the stars come blinking out to look upon our littleness, the polling-booth closed in the town.
When they got back the turmoil was on the wane in the streets; night hid the glare of the posters; and the tide, finding the noise abated and being at the flow, told an old tale that he had learned in his youth about the deeps of the sea, the same which he had told to coastwise ships that brought it to Babylon by the way of Euphrates before the doom of Troy.
I blame my friend the poet, however lonely he was, for preventing this man from registering his vote (the duty of every citizen); but perhaps it matters less, as it was a foregone conclusion, because the losing candidate, either through poverty or sheer madness, had neglected to subscribe to a single football club.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Hunts & Wars

TenHornedBeast’s third album for Cold Spring Records is titled “Hunts & Wars”. Recorded over a three year period from 2006 to 2009 this album introduces subtle changes to the established TenHornedBeast sound with shorter delicate interludes separating longer tracks that rage with heavy distortion and doom-drone barbarism.
“Hunts & Wars” progresses the established TenHornedBeast sound using leaden, sub-tuned bass guitar to create rhythms and riffs that dominate a battlefield of vast ritual percussion and droning walls of electric dissonance, creating epic and expansive textures that by turns burn with frost and freeze with fire.
Heavily influenced by the oneiric visions of Robert E Howard and Lord Dunsany. ”Hunts & Wars” seeks to evoke the elemental, anti-modern fantasias of these writers and is presented in a lavish digipak designed by noted American graphic designer Kevin Yuen (Sunn 0))), Wolves In The Throne Room) to its full grotesque glory.
The days have come when the steel will rule. Titans arise, monuments fall. Ballads of victory and defeat are sung aloud as from the highest steps we are swept on to the eternal Hunts and Wars.
Track Listing:
1. Reaching For The Stars We Blind The Sky
2. Hilnaric
3. Father Of The Frosts
4. Ironborn
5. I Am The Spearhead
6. Cimmeria
7. Hunts & Wars
Released 7th May 2010 by Cold Spring Records. Available for pre-order now.

Snow Tracking: Red Fox

The Fox and the Hare in Winter The Hare is able to support himself even in the coldest winter. He is satisfied with the buds he finds in hedges and shrubs. One cold winter, the hare me the fox. Surprised, the fox asked the hare, "How fine and well fed you look! What are you living on these days? I am so hungry and I cannot find anything to eat." The hare replied, "I have been living on eggs of late." "On eggs! How on earth do you get them?" the fox wondered. The hare answered, "This is what I do. There are women coming along here with basketfuls of eggs that they are taking to market. When I see a woman coming, I let myself fall flat on the ground before her, as if I were wounded by a shot. Then the woman puts her basket down in order to catch me and to take me to the market. Just as she thinks she had caught me, I stagger on for about ten steps and let myself fall to the ground again. I repeat this several times, until I am far away from the basket. Then I hurry back to the basket and carry it into the wood, and there I have enough food for a whole week." The fox replied, "I like that. Wouldn’t you help me get some eggs, too, in these hard times?" "With great pleasure," replied the hare, "if you will be kind enough to let me have my share." As agreed, they took their positions behind a bush on the road. The fox got a basketful of eggs in the described manner, and he hurried into the wood with it. The hare followed him in order to get his share. When he reached him, the fox had divided up the eggs into several little piles. The hare asked him with astonishment, "Why so many shares?" Pointing to the different piles, the fox replied, "This one is for my father; this one for my mother; the other one is for my brother and my sister and the last one is mine." "And where is my share?" asked the hare in surprise. "There is nothing left for you," was the answer. Too weak to punish the fox, the hare left angrily. But decided to watch for a chance to pay back the fox. After some time, the hare and the fox met again. It was very cold, and the earth was covered with snow. Again the fox wondered at the hare’s prosperous look, since he himself was suffering terribly from hunger. Thus he asked, "What are you living on now?" "On fish," the hare replied. "Please," said the fox, "couldn’t you let me have some as well to appease my hunger?" The hare answered, "I shall help you once more. Not far from here by the castle, there is a fishpond. The inhabitants have made a hole in the ice in order to catch fish. In the evening I go there; I stand on the ice and put my little tail into the hole, and after some time, I draw it out and there are plenty of fish hanging on it." "Well," replied the fox, "this sounds all right to me. With my long tail, I should be able to catch a lot." The hare said, "You will find me at the fishpond tonight." At night they met at the appointed place, and the hare said, "Sit down by the hole, put your tail into the water, and remain like this until I come back. I shall go over to the garden to eat some cabbage." The hare went away, and the fox remained there patiently, happily thinking of appeasing his gnawing hunger. After a while he tried pulling and found that his tail was getting heavy. But he continued to sit there, just as the hare had told him to do. It was a long time before the hare came back and asked, "How are things going?" The fox replied, "You have been away for a very long time. I have tried once, but my tail is so heavy that you will have to help me get it out." The hare said, "Pull hard!" But the fox could not get it out. He pulled as hard as he could, but the tail was frozen fast in the ice. Now the hare approached with a stick, hit him over the head, crying, "This one is for my father; this one is for my mother; this one is for my brother and my sister; and the last one is for me!" He knocked him on the head from the right side and from the left, until the fox fell down dead.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Snow Tracking: Brown Hare

Tracking in the snow covered winter woods of December and January revealed just how much brown hare activity there is in my local woods. I have flushed the occasional animal from deep cover along field margins, especially from large mature blackthorn thickets, and I once had a close encounter as one of the critters walked casually across the path in front of me with it's long, gangly spider-like legs but with the snowy substrate showing up the tracks and the musket-ball like single pellets clearly I discovered how busy the place is for hares.
Another interesting find was a common latrine site used by both roe deer and brown hare. Different species will use the same game trails through the woods but this is the first time I have found different species depositing scat in a common site. The site was approximately 10 metres inside the wood from a stretch of open farmland where I have often seen roe.