I won’t weep for lost time. I turned thirty eight when I came out as trans and there’s no use swimming in melancholy about the past but I would like to rake the soil of my subconscious for lessons from a late blooming and so I present six lessons a long time coming.
“I woke alone, in the wild. After five years of building a small self-sufficient paradise my partner needed to leave and I was left with foxes and owls for neighbours and it was here alone, beneath the stars, that I gave up trying to be a man.
I’m often asked if being here helped. Did the silence of the hills midwife my waking? Wouldn’t that be a romantic thought — that leaving society behind for the howls of the night creatures crumbles our social artifices, leaving us naked and real. That the wild strips away social shit like fierce wind blasts away stone leaving the core, twistingly beautiful, ferocious and true.”
“Like writing a plan to harness the passion and energy of Hitler’s stormtroopers, converting their mass movement into one based on love and green principles, it’s hard to see it as anything but a most dangerous, delusional utopia.”
Read my response on Medium to Paul Kingsnorth’s call for a green nationalism.
I bought this land without words. Witlessly I negotiated down the price of a house and land in a country I’d never heard of. I thought I was in Spain but Spain is an English word. I’d learned España from a book but España is a word for people who believe in España. I get ahead of myself. I, wielding the few Spanish short course words I had, stood before him speechless; my partner beside me with fewer words than I. The numbers I understood: quince mil, fifteen thousand, but he saw our doubt. With a faceful of weary wrinkles he blurted trece mil, thirteen thousand. He had some shrewdness to him. He’d allowed us to camp over on the land for a long weekend, clear our own paths in its wordless wildness and fall completely in love with it. And now he wanted us to buy it. Thirteen thousand euros is a good price. I didn’t know what to say. I stuttered and looked at Andru who shrugged. Sure; we’d probably take it for thirteen thousand. We probably would have taken it for fifteen; we were just nervous about committing there and then. I looked into the void for words; there was nothing. My tongue had been torn out; my mouth, hollow. The tools I was raised with to communicate were useless. This wrinkled, weary anarchist ready to be rid of the land panicked: doce mil, he said. Twelve thousand. I opened my mouth but nothing came out. He wrung his hands nervously and then, after a wordless pause, raised both of his hands, fingers splayed— each finger representing a thousand euros: diez mil. Ten thousand.
Shocked, we shook on it.
Continue reading “In Galiza.”
“Nothing is less sensational than pestilence, and by reason of their very duration great misfortunes are monotonous. In the memories of those who lived through them, the grim days of plague do not stand out like livid flames, ravenous and inextinguishable, beaconing a troubled sky, but rather like the slow, deliberate progress of some monstrous thing crushing out all upon its path.” Albert Camus
A small official sheet of paper tacked to the market door announced his death. We would have completely ignored it like we ignore other births and deaths flowing around us but for one word caught in the corner of the eye: Barxa.
The market door provides news for this small rural town and all the hill hamlets that swirl around it. Our raggedy half-wild farm is one such satellite.
This was a death we had to investigate—we knew of this man. Our farm lies on a broken road falling away from a remote village. Beyond it is a foot-path to the broad river Sil and a crumbling abandoned village. This man was the last resident of that village, Barxa. With him goes its memories, stories and secrets. This was reason enough to investigate the death: to try and collect those words before they scattered into the wind and the river. As for the cause of death, we suspected plague. Not black death, nor bubonic nor pulmonary plague, but an unrelenting invisible pox devastating Galiza, the country we live in. And so my partner and I packed our bag for the journey. Continue reading “Barxa: Death in the Countryside”
Ours is the story of two young London men who fell in love and decided to return to nature. We wanted to feel the seasons on our skin and to work and live in such a way that the hard grey lines between us and nature dissolved. We wanted to be self-sufficient, to grow all our own food and build our own house. We wanted to leave the city for the wilds.
Inside us, even in the metalscape of the city where seasons signify passing fashions, in our bodies’ dormancy, is a yearning. For some it sleeps, in others it stirs and kicks and for a few it pounds. We want to know that adventure and exploration still exists and that we ourselves might actually be able to do some of it. We need to feel that this drab world of ikea, i-pads, and immigration detention centres has not destroyed every last hiding place of nature and that we have not completely driven the wilds off the planet. We seek it out where the ecologies are thickest: teeming with layers of beasts, plants and spores. As humans we seek out the wild in the bleakest lands where fragile ecological networks scurry away from the burning sun or freezing wind. Continue reading “Chasing the Wild”