When I had the idea of collecting tree stories and specifically stories about Newbury bypass, I asked friends who had been there if they had any tales to share. In response to that request, in a gesture of magnificent generosity, my old boyfriend Simon Landin wrote me this epic poem of statements. Thank you Simon.
We got married under a big oak tree.
The high priest was a carboot warlock.
It happened under a beautiful 400 year old oak tree.
The tree was quite big anyway.
I cannot testify to it’s heritage.
The tree had a balanced aspect.
It was late in the summer.
We were married with key rings.
This reminded me of a book called “Hobson’s Choice”.
I lost the ring that you gave me.
This was a mistake.
Everybody on site left the trees unprotected and came to our wedding.
The trees were still there when they got back.
We promised “As long as love shall last”.
The oak is now probably a piece of furniture.
I fucked it up sooner rather than later but love lasted longer.
I still love you.
I cannot afford oak furniture.
I can sometimes afford pine furniture.
Mostly I can afford chip board.
Chip board is made from glueing bits of trees back together.
I have never tried to glue a tree back together again.
It must be quite difficult.
The ‘regulars’ thought of us as fashionistas but we were there because we cared – Even though we looked like the osmonds.
This was quite a good look.
You apparently cared more than me.
I was wrong.
I made a rope ladder and you prussocked into the trees.
This made me proud of you and hinted at a future in trapeze.
I did not climb into the trees.
You did not make a rope ladder.
I wished I had got a bit higher.
I was scared.
I was quite jealous of you climbing trees without a care – it seemed to be an adventure.
That was the second or third rope ladder I have made (to date).
I doubt it will be the last.
Recently I crossed between trees on a wire, but I was still afraid of heights.
Oscar was ahead of me and he gave me confidence.
He was 9 last summer.
This was a kind of childlike bravado.
I thought that I had conquered this fear.
Heights still make me feel tetchy.
It’s interesting to confront your fears.
I would hang on to my watch for fear of it falling into the water if I was on a ship.
I don’t wear a watch.
I do own one.
It is a wind-up digital watch.
A contradiction in terms.
Tick, tick, tick, tick, silence.
It doesn’t work.
I like the design of it.
I bought it at a carboot sale.
I am also nervous of having my hair cut.
Some time later, you hung upside down in front of many people.
Some of them were indifferent but many of them wished they had better lives and were inspired.
This made me proud of you.
The police were relatively efficient.
Some of them secretly agreed with our cause.
They did not admit their point of view.
This showed remarkable professionalism.
They were pinned down because of mortgages.
I was surprised to find that there were also police climbers.
These people seemed to be more hypocritical than most.
There was an unspoken common ground between us and them.
I never knew that there were people who climbed trees for a living before that.
Tree surgeons were almost unheard of at that time.
Tree surgeons cut off trees’ limbs to make them better.
Sometimes they cut off all the branches that are not on a single plane. This makes the trees more attractive in cities.
It also allows buses to pass by unhindered.
I would have thought that climbing trees would have given these people a different perspective.
Perhaps they were steeplejacks.
On top of a church you can see to the horizon in every direction.
I don’t often see the horizon these days.
The horizon is known as the edge of the world.
Horizons often inspire people to dream.
People’s dreams are not always good.
I also am a hypocrite.
I often do things that I am not proud of.
I like to get a different perspective on the world.
I like living by the seaside.
You can sometimes see the way the world curves.
I like climbing trees.
We didn’t get arrested.
Quite a few of the people we met did get arrested.
They now are logged on a database by the government.
We might be logged on a different database.
We coud find out using the data protection act.
Humans invented data.
They used to store this data on trees.
Now they store it on sand.
I know how to build a database.
I once built a database for the royal institute of psychiatry.
This is an institution that deals with the insane.
Insanity is a view which is unacceptable to the majority.
Some societies consider these people to be enlightened.
There was a young lad who thought he could change the world by sitting on a tripod.
His name escapes me.
No, I think his name was Richard.
He sat on the tripod.
He was logged on the database.
I doubt that he is now classed as an insurgent.
The data protection act allows data to be stored for seven years.
His status at the bypass protest was higher than mine in the protesters’ minds.
I was not the top dog.
He thought of himself as a new age traveller.
I met quite a few new age travellers over the years.
Their hearts were sometimes in the right place.
They mainly took drugs and had a laugh.
There’s nothing wrong with that, generally speaking.
Taking drugs gives you little flashes of insight.
It also often numbs your mind.
Flashes of insight are one step away from madness.
It just depends on the insight.
Forgetting can be better than remembering.
Remembering is better than forgetting.
We remember by writing things down.
There was a serious need for walkie talkies.
I gave the organisers my (now dead) grandfather’s CB radio.
This meant something to me.
They said thank you but I’m not sure they meant it.
One CB radio is no use to anyone.
They had a site office.
It reminded me of a construction site.
We slept in a bender with seven layers and snow outside.
I got a runny nose.
This was the second coldest night of my life.
The coldest night I slept alone.
We collected wood from the trees to warm ourselves.
There was a large field with small trees and too many police to count.
Some of the trees had people in them trying to protect them.
They looked wanton.
These protesters were in chains.
Later the police put them in handcuffs.
The trees were all cut down by the next day.
The police got up earlier than everyone else.
It was a surprise attack.
The warning systems were insufficient.
It looked like a minor version of armageddon.
The Newbury bypass was built.
The government wished it so and so it was.
People swish by the field that once had an oak tree at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour.
I have driven down this new road at speed.
We are the fastest species on the planet.
This is how we like it.
We are the top dogs.
The bypass was built to avoid congestion.
Congestion is also known as a blocked nose.
Some other trees survived.
They were meaningless to me.
If someone tried to build a bypass through Aslackby I would stop it.
Single-handedly if necessary.
Very few people have heard of Aslackby.
Some trees mean more than other trees.
At least to some people.
Does this mean that some trees are more equal than others?
Some people are more equal than others.
The people of Newbury had mixed feelings on the issue.
There was a local family who gave you a shower.
This was their way of expressing support for the cause.
Clean up the soap dodgers you could think.
They didn’t think that way.
Neither did you.
The warmth was a welcome relief.
Other local people were quite rude but not exceedingly so.
Being moderately rude is an Englishman’s prerogative.
We were on the news.
Not specifically but generally.
The story was not well reported.
Many stories are badly reported.
The British Press is considered the best in the world.
My housemate prefers Al Jazeera.
Newspapers are made of reconstituted trees.
Journalist’s wages are paid by people who wish them to think in a specific way.
Those who think differently become alcoholics or are fired.
Others go to work for Al Jazeera.
I met my old art companion Jane “Easelman” in Newbury.
She bought the drinks as we were skint.
She came from a village near a town named after a kind of gun.
Her art was graded higher than mine.
This meant that the tutors at Leeds University considered the calibre of her ideas to be superior to mine.
At the very least her thinking was more attuned to theirs.
This is called elegiac art.
Art that celebrates the status quo and modus operandii of those in power.
She did not mean her art to be this way.
My art could have had more depth.
We were young and had high hopes.
Sometimes I still have high hopes.
I should have tried at least 10% harder.
This could have made what I said 10% more meaningful.
It is good to be meaningful.
I try to be meaningful.
I also fail.
Failing is a tree with Dutch Elm Disease.
This is not uncommon amongst people.
She used to call herself “Piker”.
This is derived from a kind of fish with very sharp teeth.
The King of England’s waterways.
All rivers in England are owned by somebody.
The King of England’s waterways.
All trees in England are owned by somebody.
Almost all ideas in England are owned by somebody.
In England you cannot fish on a river without permission.
Once I nearly caught a fish with sharper teeth than a Pike.
It got away.
Bit clean through a steel line!
She was not a pikey.
She later took a career in a bank.
We met in the pub for an hour or so.
It was ships in the night.
The crucial parts of sailing ships are made from Oak trees.
Jane once sailed in the tall ships race.
I have forgotten the name of the pub.
That was the last I ever heard of her.
I also worked in the same bank for a while.
I made people work 10% harder.
Then they were fired.
Capitalism is a system based on the principles of nature.
Darwin called it “survival of the fittest”.
Becoming the top dog.
During my time at the bank I dreamt that I could have a career in music.
Those were the worst years of my life.
I don’t work there any more.
I do have a career in music.
I am very musical in my own way.
I have reached my level in what i currently do.
It’s not enough.
It’s never enough is it?
Some people consider this period in my life to have been a waste of time.
Some of these people are friends of mine.
They are not my closest friends.
they remind me that I should have a pension.
I have met many pikeys.
Pikey is a derogatory name for a gypsy.
Gypsys don’t have pensions.
Some pikeys are close friends of mine although not many.
Generally speaking gypsies have been persecuted throughout history. Many people who have been called pikeys are not true gypsies.
There were few if no gypsies at the Newbury bypass protests.
They are too concerned for their own well being to care about trees.
Who can blame them?
I cannot remember if I have ever been called a pikey in a derogatory way.
I sometimes think of myself as a gypsy.
Some local people walked a few miles with us and pointed out the sites of special scientific interest.
We walked down a small road together.
They pointed out sites of special scientific interest.
The main scientific interest was that a peculiar kind of amphibian occupied that territory.
Once bears and wild boar roamed across that land.
There was nothing but forest.
I once lived in a land where there was nothing but forest.
That was 30 years ago.
I looked on Google Earth (TM) the other day and now it’s all farmland.
For many of the people involved it was a bit of a laugh.
I did not laugh very much whilst I was there.