Instructions on the Destruction of Time.
Upon leaving London the original intention was to bury the clock in the centre of the Large Hadron Collider, Geneva. However, over the course of the journey through conversations and exploration it seemed fitting to deconstruct the clock into seven elements. These components became sacred objects in a series of ritualistic performances that took place within the circumference of the Large Hadron Collider.
Clockface - Sundial
Clock Mechanism - Windchime
Clock Frame - Doorway
Clock Pendulum suspended and partly submerged in river
Clock Key released on balloon
Clock Weight suspended from tree branch
Clock Front standing in field
Clock Back - woodhenge
Der Wanderer Too
Jim shielding Tom from the elements, Silas definitely needs a Jim too.
Stories are shared with fellow travellers
The second part of ‘The Journey So Far’ concluded with the boys’ brief foray into Zurich. A series of sweeping roads and brightly coloured tunnels took them through and beneath the Alps to Vaduz, the capital of the tiny principality of Liechtenstein. Dusk was upon them as they arrived and, once settled into the shared dormitory at the youth hostel (amongst some sultry Italians), they ambled into the centre in search of a drinking hole. The entire place resembled a ghost town, but, to their relief, there was one open sign lit up, above the entrance to the New Castle. They sat at the bar nursing beers under the suspicious gazes of the assorted locals.
They awoke the next morning to find a landscape buffeted by waves of snow. The mountains that loomed over the town were completely obscured, and the black paintwork of the hearse was soon shrouded in white. Undeterred, Tom, Silas and Jim went forth into the wintry terrain. Yet again, the town felt deserted and it dawned on them (by this time they had lost all track of the days) that they had come in the midst of a series of religious holidays over the Easter period. They found their way to the picturesque castle of Vaduz, home to the Prince of Liechtenstein.
Lunch was eaten before the snowy vista afforded them from the castle. It consisted of sandwiches bought from the only eatery they could find open, a Subway outlet. It was located in a desolate shopping mall, whose only denizen was inexplicably a live crocodile, seemingly enjoying having the place to himself.
The triumvirate headed into a forest. The snow had ceased and sunlight was creeping through the clouds, thawing the snow in the boughs of the trees, which fell about them in ice-cold globs as they went. Some attempt was made to producing some artwork, but the piercing cold soon sent Tom and Silas scampering back to the warmth of the hostel. Jim, however, was undaunted and decided to hike halfway up the nearest mountain in search of a ruined and secluded castle.
The next destination was Lake Como in Northern Italy. The hearse tackled the roads climbing up through the Alps. A stop was made at Splügen, a small village nestled amongst the mountains, where the grandfather clock, which had lain recumbent since the beginning of the trip, was hulked up a slope thick in snow. And then, with Tom seated in it’s case, the clock was tobogganed to the base of the hill at a surprisingly exhilarating pace.
Then followed the treacherous Alpine pass that descends into Italy. As Jim negotiated the steeply meandering curves in the hearse, heavily weighted with cargo, he discovered a newfound appreciation for Hannibal and the feat he undertook. Hannibal, however, did not have to contend with bolshie Swiss drivers repeatedly attempting dangerous passing manoeuvres on the single carriageway. Perhaps more galling was the fact Jim could not break his concentration from the road to ogle the beautiful scenery playing out beyond the windows. Fortunately, the other two had made video footage for him to view afterwards.
No less treacherous than the Alpine pass were the twisty and cramped roads that creep around Lake Como. Again the drive was punctuated by risky overtakes, this time by impatient Italian motorists. After such a stressful day of journeying, the trio was delighted to find a lakeside paradise in the form of Camping Paradiso. A delightful little apartment was procured. As night encroached the problems started, the apartment was designed for summer vacationing and was constructed out of uninsulated breeze blocks, which offered little protection from the bitter temperatures outside. And the boys realised to their dismay that the bed linen consisted of the skimpiest sheet imaginable. They went to sleep that night shivering. As they were about to leave the apartment two nights later it transpired that the unexplored wardrobe in the bedroom had an inexhaustible supply of luxuriantly thick woollen blankets.
Us at the centre point of the Large Hadron Collider with golf ball and thyme plant
The answer to the ultimate question…
Inflatable world is found
Hearse in the car park nearest to the centre of the Large Hadron Collider
Tom hasn’t slept for 30 days (mainly due to the snoring of Jim and Silas)
Rosemary, our Coleman Milne hearse, has treated us very well indeed. We completed the 2300 mile trip to Geneva with no troubles!
27 days on the road, London to Geneva, via; Bristol, Swansea, Oxford, London, Paris, Reims, Freiburg, Zurich, Vaduz, Lake Como, Genoa, Monaco, Cannes and Marseille
Man with ice cream
The last, and indeed only, post of ‘The Journey So Far’ concluded with the passage from England into France. Of course, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, and over the next few days it is hoped that this oversight is remedied.
Having exited the Channel Tunnel train, the trio of Tom, Jim and Silas progressed to Paris. It was a lengthy motorway trip that culminated in a tricky negotiation of the streets of central Paris, made all the trickier as they arrived after nightfall. Having left the hearse in a subterranean car park (amid some nauseating and perpetual ambient music), they made their way to their accommodation, a swanky apartment in the centre of Paris. Here they nursed beers and engaged in flighty and philosophical discussion with the occupants of said residence. Clément, a techno enthusiast, provided musical accompaniment with his various boxes of knobs and twinkly lights. The next day in Paris was spent sipping coffee in cafés, exploring the rues and boulevards, and, naturally, producing some artwork. The weather until this point had been nothing if not glorious, but it became apparent that it was not set to continue as hoary clouds increasingly dominated the skies.
Next stop was Reims in the Champagne region of France. Imagine the boys’ excitement as they came to the summit of a hill to find a vista of vineyards before them, a view tainted only by the inclement weather. This weather, indeed, should have offered some portent to the travails to come, for after much driving it became evident that the campsites around Reims were invariably shut for the off-season. And so dusk found them parked nary two feet away from a campsite fence with little option but to spend the night sleeping in the hearse. Even the roadside pizzeria they parked behind was closed for business, and they prepared for restless slumber with the assorted snacks that Tom’s friend Allan had thoughtfully provided prior to the trip and some cans of high strength Belgian lager. Dawn was made painfully aware to them by the cockerel they had unwittingly parked alongside, who crowed with alarming regularity for two hours solid.
Thankfully, a youth hostel was open in Reims and, once settled in, they set about investigating the city, which seemed to be in a sleepy hiatus before the summer. The three wanderers were made four by the arrival of Derek, a friend of Tom and Silas’ from their Swansea days. Pope soon discovered an abandoned sofa in the local park. Yet no sooner had he begun to use it as a prop for a photograph, some youths, previously loitering in the vicinity, pounced on it, presumably affronted by his intrusion on their territory. They were, however, the unsuspecting stars as he had surreptitiously started recording their antics on film.
On their last night in Reims the quartet did the inevitable and took to a bar to sample the local tipple. By all accounts it hit the spot.
The weather until this point was unfavourable but, at the very least, tolerable. This was to change as the hearse crossed the Rhine into Germany and the Heavens immediately opened. The rain battered the car all the way to what the, now three again, travellers were reliably informed was “the sunniest city in Germany;” Freiburg. They hotfooted (or rather wetfooted) it on arrival to a fine drinking establishment, which made its own beer and provided sausages and other typically German fare.
They made an excursion to the nearby Black Forest, wherein they found shops selling cuckoo clocks, a device long associated with the area. They certainly made Pope feel ill at ease, although there was some succour in the fact that none of them told the right time; every few minutes a mechanical bird would pop out of its nest to sound an illusory hour. They later delved into the dark recesses of the forest, wandering among the oppressive trees and through the dense foliage matting the floor. They happened upon a clearing, where Pope performed a sun dance with a battered yellow umbrella. Later that day it appeared that the ritual may have had some effect, if only momentarily. They retired to the railway station bar only to find a cantankerous old sop that, upon ascertaining their distant origins, delighted in shouting “Liverpool” at them.
The following day was spent exploring Freiburg itself. The open drains that course the city like veins were an ideal opportunity to make some work. There was also a granite crocodile basking in a stream, reminding those assembled of the creature who plagues Captain Hook with his internal clock in the story of Peter Pan. It was not lost on the trio that they themselves had allusions to the story, with Pope as the boy outside of time and his tireless companions playing the roles of the lost boys.
At the point of departure from Freiburg disaster struck, one of the tyres on the hearse had, while unattended, emptied itself of air. It clearly had a slow puncture and meant another night in the city while assistance was sought. Early the next morning an animated German mechanic turned up and a new tyre purchased.
Again the point of departure came, and as Jim negotiated the confined space of the hotel car park his accursed foot slipped from brake to accelerator and sent the reinvigorated hearse careening into a wall. Life and limb were spared although the hearse was missing a sizable chunk from her bumper, and a rear taillight lay scattered in shards on the floor like a kaleidoscope. The remainder of the morning was spent in stunned silence and then a hectic search for a Ford garage in the hope they may have a replacement 15 year-old Ford Scorpio taillight. Alas, it was to no avail, but the jovial mechanic took pity and provided some special tape (in return for a couple of snapshots of the ailing machine) to stick the assorted fragments of glass together again. The result, if a little haphazard, seems to do the job. Finally they could depart and without any further hitch they made it to the Swiss border.
After the grilling the boys received from customs to get into France and the numerous warnings about the stringency of the Swiss customs, they reached the border with trepidation. All fears were allayed, as the officials seemed in high spirits and, despite answering the usual questions about the purpose of the trip, the affair was altogether good-natured.
A brief stop was made in Zurich in the afternoon. The trio made a beeline for the Cabaret Voltaire, the original setting for the Dada art movement. After a coffee in the Cabaret café and a sausage from a nearby shop (all criminally overpriced), they set about making a rubbing of the Cabaret Voltaire wall for a friend back in London. The problem arose when they realised they had neither a crayon nor a piece of paper. And a rigorous search for a stationery shop drew a blank. The last resort was the Lush soap shop adjacent to the Cabaret where they pestered a beleaguered shop assistant for the most appropriately crayon-like soap in the place. And then using a paper bag… voilà. They hastened out of the site and back to the hearse. By evening they would be in Vaduz, Liechtenstein.
Jim’s sensual gaze with the egg, Tom and Silas’s sensual gaze with each other.
Twinned towns; a home away from home
Two palm trees, two legs, three feet
A boule throw is a good measure of any distance
Tom in green
Dipstick: Jim finds himself out of his depth