They arrive like wounded tin soldiers out of a tin box, waiting for me to put them all back together again. Jo-lighthead, eternal care giver. There isn’t much else to do in this dark back alley street human zoo. I guess I came here to see what I could do to help so it doesn’t matter that they seek me out – I wanted to be of help: the nuisance makers, truth seekers, street dwellers and ones who can’t get off the liquor and squalor of their lives. I can’t do much for the ones who have given up. I want to, but with those kind, they drink booze like medicine because there’s nothing else. I plan to make a difference here, but there are limits.
What strikes me about the town is how many pubs and restaurants there are stuck together like limpets along the sea front with the 6 half derelict churches. They’re gardening outside one of these places of worship so maybe it will become a homeless hostel or another place to talk to God. All I know is that I feel imprisoned in my attic like Anne Frank while the tin soldiers march up and down the basement stairs demanding my attention day and night for ailments, injuries and plights. They see me as the eternal mother, available to lick their wounds, bathe them in salty water and see them on their way again. They talk of beautiful women and sun drenched days spent lounging on the beach or inside an oak tree of a forest. Yet I remain indoors waiting for the next soldier to arrive. It’s like that in Pencilville – just waiting for the next wounded to appear. Otherwise they have the churches or pubs – most of course end up in the pubs. I am just above the sea between the holy places and intoxicated zones.
I wait for something else to happen and it never does. The soldiers occasionally get a bit better. Then they just drink themselves back into the old state and return to me for more respite. Maybe they think if they have to be wounded to seek me out. I thought if I could make them all better they would get on with their lives and leave me in peace. It was funny how much I had wanted to help. I don’t want hoards of them here now. I want to lie down and eat mangoes naked.
I’m warming up already with the thought of it. I want to become a tin soldier myself. If no-one comes today I’ll hibernate, maybe for the winter. I’ll put my hat and scarf on and walk to the harbour making bubbles in the air then slide back to my attic flat and look at the apple trees and fish pond in my neighbour’s garden. I’ll tell the soldiers and everyone else that I’ve gone away for the winter and won’t be back till spring. No-one will know I’m here.
What else will I do? I’ll make pancakes, cakes and bakes of all kinds then feast alone and tell stories to the ants. I’ll make mud pies and fling them at the skirting boards and mould clay dolls, stick pins in them for all the nuisance calls I would no longer have. And then I’ll go to bed at night happy and contented. I won’t call people in case they suspect I’m still at home. I won’t press alarm bells, especially the smoke alarm. I’ll bathe in rose water every afternoon and kill time by doing nothing. I will immerse myself in liquorice, banana and soya parties and eat nothing else. I will wander late into the woods and make fires, cast spells, make the ants come alive and get them to do my work. I’ll tell the fairies stories and spells and make them appear to me. I will get mystical and authentic to the point of not being myself any more yet more of my real self.
What will happen to all the tin soldiers? They will benefit of course from my increased energy and tolerance when I return. I’ll be happier, though I don’t know if I want to go back. I don’t know what will happen. Some will miss me and take to the booze more. Others will find another mother. It’s just an experiment for now.
It started at 2am on 2nd January, my proper new start as a lounging lizard instead of a repairer of tin soldiers. I was beginning to slide into my hibernation pad and bring rose buds into the bathroom. This is how it all began. It was dark but I never knew at this time of year, November, whether it was morning or the middle of the night. Someone told me not to have a clock in my bedroom to sleep better. I had one in the kitchen next door but it was too far to go in the dark. I lit a rose candle. I liked the smell of spring and flowers entering my nostrils. I liked to be alone in the dark, no-one could get me here. I was safe and alone. Where to go from here? Just roses, that’s all I wanted, lots of roses. But not many about at this time of year. I sidled up to the wall in my pink pyjamas and duvet wrapped around me from head to toe. Don’t ask me why I did it. I just lay against the wall as if it was a bed. But upright. It was like being a Swiss roll, me a splurge of cream in the middle. Felt safe somehow. I could hear a spider crawling towards me from the window. You can hear them if you listen closely enough. I heard 2 mating once. It woke me up. But on their own they are harder to hear.
The spider had a message for me. It was from my unconscious. I read this article once about insects and their reflection of our inner psyches. This one told me magic was about to happen. I circled my head three times with a dice I found on the rubbish swamped floor, next to the fire place. This flat used to be for servants. I’d done my time as a servant. The dice showed 6 at the top. That meant we were in for more magic than anticipated. According to Gypsy Rose Smith of Doncaster I had been a member of a coven in a previous incarnation. I don’t remember much, only I don’t like fires much in this life time. Funny how I applied to be in the fire brigade once – I was only 22. Fifteen years on and now I work with tin soldiers.
I laugh when I think about the tin soldiers, men and women. The spider told me to concentrate on the magic. I was going to make something different happen. I unwrapped myself from the duvet and stood on top of the wicker chair. I became naked and felt goose-bumpy. There were strange sparks across the room. Not like sparklers or car lights (you get a lot of them in here). No, it was something undefinable. I saw sparks, more like fairy lights. Anyway, I felt a bit nauseas and dizzy. My head spinning round yet my feet firmly on the chair – not ground. I wanted a bowl of hot porridge all of a sudden. Then it appeared, not like a car headlight appearing through the mist, or a pizza being delivered as a surprise, no this was like entering the middle of Lord of the Rings without reading the introduction or eating your bag of popcorn first. There it was, on the ceiling, like a mirage, no a ghost, or a skeleton from the closet – no, not metaphorical at all – this was real. A head…face…no body, but not moving like a ghost or spirit. Just a face like a TV screen looking down at me from the ceiling. It was a photo, but not. It moved like a moving image on a computer screen. No sound left its lips. A long kind of face, with pointy nose and ears. It was like a mirage as I said before; as if someone had flashed a computer image on the ceiling. Dream time. I wanted to eat porridge and now I was being invaded in my naked state. It was neither man or woman and didn’t seem to speak.
‘Do you speak?’ obviously not. It just moved its face a lot on the ceiling, twirling its lips in a funny slow speed kind of way. Its nose and eyes just twitched along with the rest of it. As if it was trying to speak but didn’t have the language. Then it disappeared. I tried to mouth what it was trying to say, funny how I did that, but think I’d seen it on some late night horror movie. But my voice changed and I found myself talking in the way a vinyl record goes on slow speed ‘Why don’t you like working with the needy people any more Joceline? Because you have had enough of this work and you need to go elsewhere. There is a better place for you and we are leading you there, in your dreams you may find the answers. Sleep now and in the morning write them down.’
I have to say I was far too nervous and excited all at the same time to do any of this. I wanted to sleep, yes, to get the answers, but I didn’t know how to sleep. I was cold yet burning hot, naked in a black room with no clock. I couldn’t see the door. It was too difficult to get to the kitchen. I found sweat forming on my fingertips, my breathing erratic and a strange beam of light which seemed to be hitting my solar plexus. Not a real beam, but a feeling of light.
‘The aliens have gone Joceline but they will be back’. It was like a loud cracking sound inside my skull calling me at high speed. So you were an alien mister voiceless! It must have all changed again as the next thing I knew it was sunshine through my curtains and I had woken up with spit dropping out of my lips and an urge to find a pen. I reluctantly faced the cold and scrambled about until one grabbed me. The paper wasn’t so hard – there were reams of it strung up in corners, on the floor and windows with notes, shopping lists, calculations and wishes – and some half blank – backs of bank statements, old tax credit letters and Internet notes on retrograde planets.
This is what I wrote:
There is a journey you must make now Joceline and it will take you to the place where you can set up camp for the people. Take your backpack and tent and wait at the Chalice Well, Glastonbury. Here you shall find the answers you seek and the people shall come.
There is too much to report from that time to this. All I can say is that my tent suddenly arrived as if by post, landing on my doorstep by ex-criminal-boyfriend – and then my backpack fell suddenly on the bedroom floor from the top of the wardrobe. I was in dream state for the rest of the day and week until I had mastered rule number 2 of psychic awakening: just let it happen and the rest will follow. And it did…
On any bright and dry day in summer or winter you may see Joceline Lighthead at the top of Glastonbury Tor surrounded by hills, fortresses and magic and the people come to her with their secret wishes and sorrows. With her new found magic Joceline and Gerelina the wise master from Sirius work together to heal and transform the people from miles around who visit the Tor. Joceline has found her treasure and no longer views the people as tin soldiers or sees faces on the ceiling as disturbances. Instead she is pleased with her wise and protective alien accomplice. In summer Joceline sits in the flower gardens surrounded by roses and gives petals and guidance to all who come her way seeking and in need. She lives in a tepee at the end of a field where smoke fills the sky to let everyone know she is at home and at rest until she is ready to do her important work once more.