t u r n

08:34 friday 31 december , penzance heliport

a thick fog shrouds land and sea . it has just been announced that there will be no service until visibiity improves . anna and adam waved a bleary farewell from their doorway in hayle just forty minutes ago .

the spirit will be waiting against hugh town quay shortly after eleven . i’ll be able to meet her so long as a flight departs from here by 10:30 .

this shall be my last crossing to the islands for the forseeable future .

21:47- rosevear , st agnes

just about to don my costume and walk down to the island hall . i was planning to lift some remarkable seventies clothes from my parents but was mortified to discover they had all been sent to jumble over the last year . so we cobbled together a sort of psychadelic african guise . could catch on …

the helicopter was delayed an hour by the fog , but i made it . had a chance to catch up with nick lishman on st mary’s . the first time i’ve seen him since the workshop was founded . lots to sort out for the next month .

some of my friends are already in the next millennium . my turn will come soon , and other friends a little later . there is a great sense of a sphere rotating majestically , a perimeter between lght and dark sweeping across a rounded surface .

the afternoon was clear , with wonderful vivid light .

chin chin everyone

see you next time

: cH

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j i n g l e

18:17 friday 24 december – gable end , sandhurst

the eve of christmas . my parents’ house . gusts of wind hurl hard rain against the glass and the floodwaters rise all about . by tomorrow the village may be cut off and once more i shall find myself on an island .

i made it to the mainland without hindrance . the seas were not too steep to reach st mary’s and the wind decreased sufficiently to permit flight to newquay . i was the sole passenger on the twenty-seat twin otter , heavily outnumbered by the three pilots . all the customary announcements were made but ” ladies and gentlemen ” was replaced rather self-consciously with ” sir ” . the view along the north cornwall coastline was tremendous , surf crashing on granite .

from the airport , a bleak semi-military concrete bunker , i was driven to truro by a cornishman who spent the journey berating london and its government . how remote , how arrogant , how uninterested in life outside the metropolis . i sat in uncharacteristic silence mumbling assent where it was required . there had been time only for three hours’ sleep , sufficient to dull even my sense of injustice .

the little website on which i’ve spent so many hours is at http://www.simplyscilly.co.uk . the text was written by the council’s tourism officer and only the three photos of st agnes are of my taking .

then london . my final week as a student with the school for social entrepreneurs . i spent the whole period feeling fatigued , sensing how much the previous month’s labours had cost me . i withdrew myself from the closing presentations and sat , a little ashamed , with my cameras . amongst the students there was a sense of beginning as much as ending . sometimes i hardly felt as if i were there .

there were other liaisons besides , friends and accomplices , many glad reunions . but i wanted nothing so much as to rest . by the time i left london , three days ago , i had the beginnings of the chest infection which remains with me now . i have slept almost constantly these last days .

yesterday i went to buy christmas presents for my family . the prospect repelled me but less so than the knowledge of the hurt which would be caused if i did not . this year of solitude has left me more fervently anti-consumerist than i reckoned . shop after shop sent me reeling with nausea from its piles of brazenly worthless trash , fighting for breath amidst the gleefully purchasing hordes . the solitary oasis was a sparsely-stocked interiors place where i spent quarter of an hour talking about travel with its young sri lankan owner .

london . what can i say of london ? the fever is at full flood . one friend commented ” it is germany in the thirties … everyone is clinging onto what they can ” . there is a relentless pre-occupation with trivia , a dangerously indiscriminate desperation for belief , a wilful abandonment of civilisation . but for all this there is hope too .

the scillonia digital wokshop was founded last saturday in my absence . fate determined it would be so . perhaps this was appropriate in any case . another association will come into being in the closing minute of this year , the votes to constitute it cast electronically . this the seas cannot interrupt .

i wish the world joy .

: cH

t i m e l y

01:56 friday 10 december – rosevear , st agnes

well we didn’t manage to found the workshop last tuesday . we tried again this week , but had to postpone it til today . but today the wind was so strong and the sea so lumpy that the boats were cancelled and our foundings frustrated .

i also heard today that the workshop has been granted its first dollop of european monies . £18000 , levered from the £2000 earned doing the website for the isles of scilly initiative . a modest sum , but enough .

this makes it rather urgent that we get the wretched thing founded before i leave the islands for my final week as a student with the sse . which i shall be doing on saturday . so a meeting is fixed for 10:30 that morning in the information technology room of st mary’s secondary school . pray for calm seas .

the last week has been a continuing frenzy of web construction , constitutional tweakings and stationery design . craig dropped down from london for the weekend , a wonderful diversion . the spirit lost an engine on the way over in the steep swell so he was landed by dinghy on covean . i could see the big grin on his chops from ten or fifteen yards .

: cH

d e f r a g

11:01 tuesday 30 november – penninnis head , st mary’s

alone on a high rock ledge . around me the massive granite forms . lichen-stained in green , mustard , black . etched by a thousand thousand winters into fantastic curls and spurs . far below me the sea churns and growls a cold restless green .

today the scillonia digital workshop may or may not come into existence .

it occurred to me some time ago that i know quite a number of people who produce interesting material and that i also know quite a number of people who appreciate original work .

so i have set up a simple mechanism to bring them together . an email list : defrag@egroups.com . anyone may submit work by sending it to this address . anyone may join the audience by sending an email to defrag-subscribe@egroups.com . any kind of material may be considered : text , image , animation , interactive content , sound , video . all accepted material will be published unaltered . no file exceeding 200k will be accepted . only original work will be considered . in the first instance i shall act as editor , distributing those pieces i like and rejecting those i do not . i’m not inclined to impose any standards of taste or decency , so delicate souls should be warned .

: cH

s t r e a k

02:39 monday 29 november – rosevear , st agnes

i feel i’ve been neglectful of these transmissions . but the fact is i’ve worked more or less non-stop since returning from london .

putting together the isles of scilly initiative website , building the distributed apprenticeship pilot around it , preparing for the legal formation of the digital workshop , designing the final version of the logo for the school for social entrepreneurs , working with the school’s design group on innumerable stationery layouts implementing it , building homepages for everyone connected with the school , setting up a pilot for a distributed seminar with the school , throwing round ideas left right and centre about infrastructure technologies .

i’ve had a couple of visitors too . james smith , the sse’s director , and simon darling , a friend who used to be unilever’s e-commerce potentate . it was a pleasure to show them both round , a chance for me to remember what it was like to see the islands for the very first time . but each visit had its ulterior motive and incorporated long stretches of intense debate .

this is harder than i’ve ever worked before and i’m finding it tremendously exhilarating . i don’t know whether i’ve used this analogy before , i’ve certainly thought it , but the experience makes me think of surfing . a sense of being thrust forward by huge forces , a mountain of green water constantly poised to collapse over me . but so long as i remain nimble , so long as i judge my posture and attitude well , i continue to ride it onward .

usually i get up around midday , eat a leisurely breakfast , then work until seven or eight when nik and i will cook and eat together . after that i’ll get back to work until four in the morning . i manage to find time to get outside for a bit most days .

yes , it does pain me to spend so much time in front of the screen and so little time on the rocks or the sand or the heathland or passing the time of day with the islanders . but there are things i must do whilst i have the energy and the opportunity . i do not expect this intensity of focus to be required of me for long .

but i think i need a day off . maybe sometime this week .

it’s been great sitting down to supper with nik each evening , the first time i’ve shared a meal regularly with someone for a long , long time . we’ve both been pretty adventurous with our cooking , and we’ve got into the habit of baking bread . in fact i took a couple of loaves of wholemeal out of the oven a few minutes ago . kneeding dough is splendid relaxation .

i handed over the big bedroom to nik this evening and transfered to the smaller one he’s been in until now . the last of my chatels came over from st mary’s on thursday ( the third attempt ) so i could unpack my futon and spread it out . the mould had got a bit rampant in my absence , but a quick hoovering soon saw to that .

so i’m all in one place again , the first time since the beginning of may .

having finished my work for the day i made some dough , kneeded it and left it to rise while i went out for a walk . there have been strong winds for the last couple of days but this evening it fell still and a thin mist rose . i walked out onto wingletang down , my heart thrilling as the sound of the ocean grew louder . to my left i could hear the high-pitched crash of surf on the southern tip of gugh . to my right i could hear , or rather feel , the awesome sub-sonic rumble from horse point and the western rocks . i rested on a granite boulder, able to discern the foaming whitewater in the darkness . the great waves of the south-westerly swell driving in relentlessly and destroying themselves upon the rocks . the bishop’s sweeping beam punctuating the hazy sky , silhouetting distant black islets .

as i turned and set off home i could see the distant light from rosevear , the rest of agnes sleeping . later , as i neared the house , the light spilling from my studio windows onto the lane seemed almost indecently bright .

: cH

p a r a b o l a

01:45 thursday 11 november – rosevear , st agnes

my eye lights upon the clock in the corner of my screen and i realise i have lain here three minutes already , unsure how to begin . how complex i make simple things . how easily i lose myself in the infinite possibilities .

i returned to the islands on tuesday afternoon after seventeen days on the mainland . my longest absence since arriving . the birdwatchers , the islands’ last invaders , are gone . the tourist shops in hugh town are closed and their windows cleared . the tripper boats are laid up , no longer jostling against the quay . the harbour moorings lie empty . the islanders have the place to themselves once more .

these are the islands i discover , so transformed from those i left . the sky is perfectly clear , the granite glowing in its low golden light , the calm water appearing soft and mysterious . my heart lifts .

the time in london has been extraordinary . on none of my previous visits have i packed my time so tight . the city is ablaze with the twin fevers of web speculation and the impending millennium . it is a strange place , vivid and dangerous . as my visits have punctuated the year i have sensed the rising tides and sought for ther direction . the change i perceived between september and october was greater than between any previous months . i know not what i shall find on my next foray , due in mid december .

a few fragments :

i saw tippett’s opera king priam with my aunt clare at the colliseum . one of the finest productions i have ever seen . a drama of destiny , choice and consequence with the power to hold a non-specialist audience’s attention through three acts of abstract music .

i had lunch with michael young and felt humbled by the astuteness of this octagenarian’s quizzing of my designs for electronically-distributed democratic systems . i made him promise to summon the patience to learn how to use a computer , even if he only gets to grips with email . he asked me if i would consider joining a group of about thirty people to go and live on an uninhabited island for a year to see what kind of constitution we would end up with . he seemed certain that some kind of religion would emerge . i thought insanity was more likely and told him to ask me again after i’d spent six months on a slightly larger land mass .

i tried to explain my model for the school for social entrepreneurs’ communications infrastructure to the staff and my fellow students . it was all a bit rocky and incoherent but slowly i’m beginning to find the language to communicate some of my ideas . the group’s questions and challenges were useful .

i met tom perrett for the first time in a year , just returned from adventures on the other side of the world . the same but different .

i had dinner with dinah moule , an inspiring young lady who aims to set up an organisation providing a space on the web where children can discuss their problems and access information .

i met mark czapnik , a traveller from melbourne , alighting from a bus at two in the morning and spent the next three and a half hours in conversation .

i walked the streets of west london with my friend henry hawkins quietly lamenting the difficulty of life .

the litany need not continue i think .

03:15 friday 12 november – rosevear , st agnes

just returned from a star-lit walk by the shore . seems a long time since i last did this . the sea is so still i did not see its margin and found myself treading in a couple of inches of water .

i stood and turned my face to the stars for an unmeasurable period . how wonderful they are , how ceaselessly compelling . as i watched a big meteor ripped across the sky leaving a trail of fizzing light . childlike i made my wish .

nik schultz arrived here on monday night and was in the house when i arrived . it was quite a gamble deciding to live and work under the same roof over the winter having never met , but somehow it seemed perfectly natural . i’ve been ranting on more than usual the last couple of days . maybe it’s because of all the stuff going round in my head or just because of the unaccustomed luxury of having an audience . he’s been very polite anyway . meanwhile we’re delicately negotiating about who has the big bedroom .

nik met andrew may , a director of the islands’ main flower marketing business , on his way over and there’s the prospect of a web project . fast work , and more apprenticeship opportunities for the workshop .

i spent much of this afternoon preparing supplementary material for the workshop’s european funding bid . i failed to persuade the laura ashley foundation that it would be a good idea to give us another few grand . lets hope we have more luck with this one .

: cH