The web page of the Albion Beatnik Bookstore in Oxford, now closed (as usual) for business: muses and misspills on books, jazz, poetry, stuff like false flags and smoke screen: was randomly decrepit and proven to be more than neo-bankrupt: it was so analogue it was anal and now deceased.
My fascination with hands was temporarily usurped, almost.
Viz. Che Guevara’s: cut off after his execution, preserved in formaldehyde, then flown to Argentina for fingerprinting and identification, laid upon newspaper as though chiselled from a Bernini torso, and photographed lifeless. But Che’s hands never became iconic – rather it was his feet (many shoes worldwide have been branded with his name).
Asked in 1961, six years before his death, what was the most important tool for guerrilla warfare, he surprised his interviewer by not mentioning munition or men, but mobility – to illustrate he tapped his shoes and his feet. This answer was prophetic, for when ambushed in a ravine in the southern Bolivian Andes, Che’s feet were found in a dreadful state, wrapped only in rough leather (he had lost his shoes in a river mishap). He was unable to escape capture.
I have experienced sympathy with his plight recently. Wearing a bobble and not a beret, I celebrated my disavowal of capitalism by scrabbling up the otherwise gentle incline that is Orrest Head wearing bourgeois brogues, my companion with middle class hush puppies. Like catastrophic human waterfalls we made our way, heroically sans Sherpa, shaped as mobile stalactites (though my stalagmite ambition held sway, mostly). Ascension on tenterhooks, followed by a glowing fulfilment: the view was stunning. Previous visual whispers of Windermere became fulsome and incandescent in the sun. From on high we marvelled at its tapering form, basked as a snake, stretched and sunning itself across the landscape below.
Dusk had set in by the time we had descended to the water’s edge, a lengthy trek down chaotically stepped, cataract slopes, shards of slippery stone carpeted by lush, patchwork grass. I was aided by a stick, a divining tool that kept me from stumbling. Then to chase the lake’s contour, to head for rest and repast. Also reflection. Seated outside under the cold, starlit heaven, yet warm with thought, I enjoyed moments of peace beside the soft, murmuring swell of the lake. Its gentle lash of hushed and rippled movement offered balm. My invalid feet had been shown to be mortal, but all day my hands had been raised in awestruck salutation.