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1984: The Killing Moon

My head buzzed with mushrooms and dope, and Stig’s

mentalist eyes were burning my soul. Stig Doyle: free

marketeer. He looked around the tiny caravan as if

eavesdroppers may be lurking within its sixty square foot of

ash, beer cans, soiled sheets and Razzles.

Having delivered a series of tortuous, complex instructions

I had already forgotten, Stig revved off on his scrambler, a

bike that enabled him to visit his regulars without using the

roads. After he’d gone, I pulled out my project: a shoebox of

photographs I’d been taking over the previous months and

which Tony at least seemed happy with.

Unable to focus, I lay down and watched branches scrape

the windows. My head hurt with cider, my belly ached and

there was nothing to drink except the cold mushroom tea.

There was a cider bottle full of the stuff so I took a deep swig,

winced at the slimy taste, then took some more and jogged

into the lounge to accelerate the poison.

It started to rain; drops thudded on the rooftop like ingots.

The caravan was expanding in all directions, each tin room as

massive as a cathedral. My project, suggested by my

desperate art teacher, seemed suddenly ludicrous:

photographs of Millmoor, Julie, Stig arsing around, six

months of work – Christ knows how much I’d spent on film

and developing.

Impatiently, I stuffed the project back into the box, vowing

that from then on art and autobiography would always remain


After locking the caravan with a rusty padlock, I pedalled

my Grifter through the woods. Still having some Polaroid

film left, I stopped in the quiet lane and looked around at the

trees heaving and whispering beneath the onslaught of rain.

Up in the sky were magic mushroom clouds. Tufts sieved

down through the branches, washing up pure against trees and

my shins.

In the first year of the sixth-form we were reading about

the great philosophers. As I snapped, a gorse bush

transformed itself into Nietzsche. I wondered if this should be

my project: philosophers as foliage. A sycamore reminded me

of Kierkegaard and an ancient oak became Schopenhauer.

There were no banyan trees in Millmoor woods however, so

Jung was conspicuous by his absence.

Feeling nauseous, I suddenly stopped dead in the middle of

the wood. Spinning, faster and faster, trees sneaking up from

behind, nobody for miles. An odd thought came to me, a

strand of some philosophy of my own perhaps, or maybe just

some deluded teen crap on mushrooms:

Here I am.


*This is an extract of “Fire Horses” by M L Piggott.

“Fire Horses”: synopsis and quotes

“Fire Horses”: buy it here


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