UP ON THE MENDIPS
After three days stuck inside wrestling - metaphorically - with Samantha Lefebvre and her love/hate relationship with the Catholic Church, is it any wonder I hopped and skipped along Velvet Bottom like a child let out of school early?
I was up here on Saturday, too: another visit to Priddy and the lead mines at Charterhouse, another dose of mythogeography, as if I can't get enough of it. How much of this is 'authentic' myth, if that's not a contradiction in terms, and how much is myth of my own creation. It doesn't take much googling to come up with websites devoted to the legend of Jesus coming to Britain, and coming to Priddy in particular. 'As sure as Christ came to Priddy' is a well-documented old saying but there's so many pseudo-religious nutters round these parts - i.e. Glastonbury - that one has to be careful when sifting through the evidence. In The Lord was at Glastonbury, Paul Ashdown debunks the myth in quite convincing style which is a shame because it's a story that took hold of me when I was driving a parcel delivery van around Somerset back in 1988 and it's never quite let go. Our Lady of the Orchards takes the story and cranks it up another notch or two: Christ comes to Priddy, the Virgin Mary comes to the Blackdown Hills.
It's never quite let go? Let's rephrase that: it's a myth that still obsesses me, which is why I went up to the lead mines at Charterhouse again, wandered around the pitted landscape as if it were sacred ground.
Which, indeed, it is. That's the beauty of myth; nobody knows where it begins, nobody knows where it ends. It's a blurry knot, impossible to pin down, somewhere between fact and fiction.
Where to next? Depends on Samantha Lefebvre; now I'm in Wells both of us have got to knuckle down and get on with her dysfunctional narrative. Looks like Friday then, maybe an afternoon stroll to Shit 'n' Smellit and back.
I'll tell you something for nothing: as soon as I can smell the Babycham I'm turning round and heading for home!