The Height of Absurdity: Penzance 3.3

22 March, 2016 by katelaity

The Height of Absurdity 1

The Captain had no such prejudices lingering it was apparent, for he spoke with great animation the entire trip, heedless of the usual delicacy accorded the gentler sex, but instead plunged on into all manner of explanations, theories and outright speculation about his project that confounded all my reason, but then I have so very much less of it, it must be admitted. At university I had always been dismissed as a dreamer and while I might have acquitted myself well enough in the world of finance to get by as a junior sort of clerk, truth to tell I often set aside my ledgers out of sheer boredom to peruse volumes of poetry instead. In short, my heart was not in the financial world but the extravagant world of poesy. Though I respect the need to keep the wheels of commerce turning and know that it important to have a practical approach to the world,

Man was made for Joy & Woe

And when this we rightly know

Thro the World we safely go.

We got out of the Captain’s carriage at the mysterious location and I was most surprised at the peculiar nature of it. I have long heard of the mysteries of Stonehenge, the work of giants or so our histories tell us (I do remember some of what I was taught after all), but the giant who built Mên-an-Tol had an extra measure of whimsy to share with the world.

If you have been there yourself, you will know the peculiarity of the site. If you have not, nothing will prepare you for the absurdly particular shape of the stones. Unlike the dignified uprights of the more famous stones in Wiltshire, the centerpiece of the apparently higgledy piggeldy site is a round stone with a hole in its middle, much as a Scottish doughring, though of course it is of a much greater size. The whole looked large enough even for an adult to pass through.

Indeed, as the Captain explained to us while the wild Cornish winds whipped around us (for we were on moorlands very near the ocean side of the peninsula). ‘That way lie the Nine Maidens, another ancient site of great mystery and myth. And over there,’ he swung around to point in another direction, ‘lies the Ding Dong Mine.’

I suppressed the desire to make a witticism about the likely output of such a vein for I could see Tansy was eager to hear more adventurous stuff and after all, those kinds of humorous idle remarks are better suited to the club room than to the wilds of Penzance.

‘I understand that the stone is believed to have curative properties,’ Tansy said, looking expectantly to the Captain for confirmation of this supposition.

‘It is not an unusual thing and the hole being so large,’ the Captain gestured toward the stone, ‘it was considered a good idea to pass children through it to ward of any variety of illnesses they were prone to, rickets in particular I recall. A century ago they would have told you that it held the power of the King’s cure but of course we know now that some sort of electric charge was chiefly passed along in certain circumstances, perhaps conducted through the hand of the monarch and collecting charge from the metal in his crown.’

‘The wonders of science!’

The Captain chuckled. ‘The wonders of the ancients remain with us and, as rational as we believe ourselves to be in this modern world, we have much to learn from them yet. Many things remain unexplained and we find ourselves most astounded at times to find that our ancestors had wisdom beyond our ken.’


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