It was frustrating. For two days we had been sitting down in the hot, humid cellar. Our wine was warm, our food was cold. At least we could breathe down here, unlike in the street above. The choking fumes clogged our nostrils, the tiny wind-blown cinders got into our throats. Everyone was coughing and the stench was unbearable.
From what they said it seemed to be getting worse outside. Last night only a few of us had come down but today more and more people started arriving. Most had not brought anything down with them in their panic. They were just concerned with getting away from the ash cloud that sat like a dragon atop the hill. The very ground had started to groan and shudder as if all the denizens of the underworld were on the move.
My father had told us that we need not worry as this had happened many times before.He stayed in the villa thinking that it would soon pass but the Gods appeared to be really angry this time. No-one was sure how to placate them. Even the priests from the temple had decided to join us.
As the daylight, what there was of it, due to the sun having been smothered by the dark cloud, began to fade for the second day we heard a strange noise. It was like a low moaning and it seemed to be getting louder.
I shouted for everyone to be quiet and as our babble subsided we realised that the sound was coming from a great wind that was flowing through the passageways. Some of the women started to wail and before long both men and women started to sob as we realised something terrible was about to happen. Strangely there was no panic and I could hear my companions starting incantations. Before long even the chanting ceased.
Wrapping my cloak around my shoulders \I took my wife and daughter in my arms. We huddled against the wall and the stifling air grew steadily hotter. I can write no more. I will sleep and hopefully return to my beloved Pompeii home in the morning.
Atop the grassy mountain
stands a stark grey silent ruin
in clearer air black ravens soar
high above the mighty tor
below, the marshy vale sits
in a sea of swirling mist
clammy moss-lined battlements,
leaning, long forgotten remnants
no bright, wind-blown flags unfurling
beating drums or trumpets sounding
gone the soldiers, all their followers,
the tourney ring bedecked with flowers,
trapped in the stones just memories
fading over long centuries
0700. Flight deck out of bounds to all non essential personnel. Embark 810 squadron from Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton.
0800 Embark 849 squadron Sea Kings from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose.
0900 Prepare flight deck for arrival of Admiral Sir John Dymond, Flag Officer Carriers and Amphibious Ships.
1000 Rendezvous with Her Majesty’s ships Embellish, Tornado, Trebouchet and Scunthorpe for passage to Gibraltar.
1030 Launch Pacific for transfer of Ship’s Commanding Officers to Indomitable for Admiral’s briefing.
1100 Revert to sea watches. Launch Sea King 923 for return of FOCAS to Devonport.
A typical morning at sea for a Royal Navy Aircraft carrier. A most epic workplace.
The steam underground
built using cut and cover
After a walk of about thirty-five minutes we came to a clearing before the trees lost their erratic spacing and stretched out before us on either side of what appeared to be a green lane. My first thought was that it must have been an old Roman road as it looked so straight but Gerry told me that it was probably far older than that. It was one of Alfred Watkin’s possible ley lines. Probably the straighest one that could be traced on the ground as well as on the map. I realised that by looking back over the way we had come I would probably have been able to see the trilithon we had been admiring earlier that morning. I was curious as to what the next point may be on the line. The answer was the old Hemingford Grey church which was just visible at the end of the avenue, especially if I used his binoculars. I took them from his hand and sure enough in the distance was the tall, grey spire just visible on the horizon. The sun appeared to be shining brightly over there, glinting off what was probably a weather-vane or perhaps a lightning conductor. Even with the glasses it was too far to make out. Gerald then turned and told me that before the war the church tower was quite awe-inspiring but sadly a spitfire pilot had come to grief at the very spot. Curious as to the story I pressed him to tell me more. I knew that this part of Cambridgeshire had many airfields during the war and there were a lot of pilot training facilities. It transpired that after one sortie a young pilot on only his second mission had been returning to his base having only one engine serviceable. Being inexperienced and not inured to the trials of war he was still quite headstrong and was certain that he could make it back to his base only twelve miles further on. The aircrew’s usual landmark for return was the spire of the church but sadly this time his second engine failed as he was passing the spire at low altitude ready to turn for home. With an injury to one arm he was unable to slide the cockpit canopy back and eject. Through sheer bad luck the plane spiralled down with him still inside, demolishing the whole spire as he plummeted to the ground and his death in the ensuing blaze. In memory of this event the authorities had left the spire un-repaired leaving it as a rather lower square tower. But to me that was impossble for had I not just seen the spire through the binoculars. I raised them to my eyes again and this time I could see only the flat crenellated tower as described. This left me in quite a severe state as I knew that earlier I had seen the church as it was more than sixty years previously. A chill came over me probably brought on by the thought of that poor airman but also because I was worried that this ley line might have some more curious tricks up it’s sleeve.
Based on the true story of hemingford church
It was not pure chance
that drove Kingdoms to unite
but faith in Alfred.
Challenging Gods in all their glory
Remember poor Arachne’s story
compelled to weave eternally
threads on the loom of humanity
as a consequence of her vanity
Under the tyrant
the people never lose hope
O hear me, ye faithless for I have a warning to retell.
My name is M’neptah and I was formerly the tutor of the son of my sovereign master Thutmose, Lord of all the dominion of Egypt.
On the night of my death I boarded the barge that traverses the Land of Nut and was brought before the one they call Anubis, before whom I knelt in subjugation.
He placed before my bowed head a finely wrought gold balance and with one swift move placed his hand upon my breast. From within he took my heart and laid it gently upon one of the scales. From his head-dress he plucked a feather and placed this on the opposite scale.
To my horror the weight of my heart was greater than that of the feather. I begged forgiveness for my unknown sins, committed whilst upon this Earth. It was to no avail . My heart was cruelly thrown into the jaws of the crocodile Ammit to be devoured and thus prevent me continuing my journey to the afterlife.
That is why you see me as I am now, devoid of flesh and condemned to lie unburied for eternity.
Traitors to their faith
whose choice was free Barabbas