Am I walking the John Muir Way?, the barkeep asks, tending to my order. Clearly my muddy boots and lack of wetsuit point to me being a stranger in these parts..
I had considered I d come up the farm track up the embankment, but, must acknowledge that in the parallel universe of the leisure industry, I did in fact, stride up the JMW. The wily natives had put up a sign out there with the word CAFE , and the lure has suckered another punter. Tick.
Viewed through the deciduous larch , from outby the badger sett , Foxlake had a sci-fi feel. Initially I thought Close Encounters , but touching down its more Under the Skin, which after all, as ‘East Lothian in the Movies’ explains, is a local triumph (a brief glimpse of Tantallon over Scarlett’s shoulder, don’t you know).
Sleek- skinned mammals in primary colours move rapidly across water attached to wires. A constant ambient whirring noise. I imagine a giant Air Loom using the shuttling amphibians as a power source to work a Grid, trapping the emotions of the surrounds , and , by night projecting them in a sub sonar beam back to their distant target in the Stars. It gives their jaded civilisation something to eat -the visceral highs of the adrenal boarders and their cheering offspring. (They cant get into Bake Off coz they’ve no mouths..)
The wake riders (see how Ah’m getting the lingo) only look human when they fall off. I greet each tumble with a small internal cheer, allowing me to send up Schadenfreude as a side for the delectation of the space monsters (best served cold).
None of the man-made paraphernalia here existed before World War Two – even the shades of paint , and the converted rail carriage where I am sheltering from the rain. Foxlake , like a good extra-terrestrial out base, is entirely modern and disposable. And hopefully a more advanced civilisation than ours will know how to dispose of plastic.
A swan wanders over for a look , then quickly retreats.
The water is chlorinated Aquamarine, the costumes are Dayglo Contrast and Black. The chat in the carriage is Corporate Hospitality and Moving Down This Way Soon. My attitude is like Polly Styrene’s* . My teeth are similarly in need of some work.
The Guy Who Sold Them The Land wanders in , showing one of his rel-y’s the New Wonder.
‘Warm enough?’ he Gruffaloes.
I nod,egregiously – (wrong answer..)
‘There’s a heater there , you know..’ he largesses, and points expansively.
(‘It was hard graft back in the day on the farm but I’ve made it to all this. Urban humanity parks its circus on my land and gratefully sit in heated rail carriages to watch their men show off.’)
I head dip in wonder – that was better.. ‘But I ‘m warm enough’
(‘Can’t he see I’m a hermetically sealed writer – I’ve even brought my own oatcakes !’)
‘You can put it on if you want’ he gestures and leans towards appreciative rel-y..
(‘Ungrateful sod. No make much oota that one’)
The croissant comes on a tiny breadboard , with a napkin under it – a strange inconvenient ritual of our time. The jam comes in a tiny ceramic saucepan. The crumbs go everywhere – deep in the woods the cupped ears of field mice twitch.
I transmit the chorus of Horace Andy’s The Big Wheel vocal out into space. ‘Tune!’ goes extra -terrestrial intelligence..
‘You gotta be thankful for what you’ve got..’
One time lead singer of X-Ray Spex – champion of scruffy unreformed humanity against the plastic teens.. see in particular ‘Germ Free Adolescents’ and of course ‘The World Turned Day Glo’.
The X-rays were penetrating
Through the latex breeze
Synthetic fibre see-thru leaves
Fell from the rayon trees
But of course you knew that.