Sunday, November 13, 2011

last fly agaric silence

Posted by Picasa  A late nasturtium,  lit and shaded by the the low sun of a November afternoon.

In the triangular shrubbery in Berkeley Road, known as The Village Green, several fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) are sprouting from among the dead leaves. The red mushrooms with white spots were used to stun or kill flies. You left chopped up pieces in a saucer of milk and flies drawn to the milk succumbed.  As far as human beings are concerned the fungus is a powerful hallucinogen. Laplanders noticed the effect that it had on reindeer which it made drowsy. The Lapps used to swallow it in a dried state. It  induced dizziness and a death like sleep which must have had some sort of mystical significance. Don't try it at home. It can kill.

At 11 o'clock this morning everything stops in Sainsbury's in order to observe the two minute silence for Rememberance Sunday. It is always a moving moment mercifully free of politics and one hopes of national preference. In the supermarket, where shoppers stuff their bags at the checkouts and  bar code readers emit  endless competitive pinging sounds, there is sudden halt to the flow of cash in and the  flow of goods out. The unaccustomed silence has a special significance. People's faces relax as the usually frantic shoppers stand in the shopping aisles as though stunned  by an enchanter.


marja-leena said...

Intereseting to read about your version of Remembrance Day. Ours is always on November 11th, with much pomp and ceremony by veterans, military, politicians etc. wiht red poppies on lapels, wreaths laid on memorial crosses... It is a holiday for most. When we were growing up we had to go to a morning service at school then had the rest of the day off, whereas today's kids have the service the day before. Two minutes of silence with the call of the bugle was always spine tingling.

Lucy said...

I read somewhere that the Lapps stopped bothering with fly agaric when the Russians introduced them to vodka. Also that Father Christmas's robes were the same colour as it for a reason, though that may be apocryphal.

Unknown said...

M-L There is a ceremony at the Cenotaph in Whitehall with a march past attended by The Queen, the Prime Minister and other top brass in Whitehall on November 11. When that date and the nearest Sunday do not coincide, there are additonal ceremonies at war memorials all over the country and another two minutes silence. It was this second silence that I described. Odd but strangely moving in a supermarket. I agree with you that the sound of the Last Post, both sad and beautiful, is an immensely poweful emotional call.

Lucy On the whole I think I would choose Vodka too. These spotted mushrooms, usually referred to as toadstools, I seem to rememember, often featured in children's books. We were never allowed to forget that they were poisonous.

Roderick Robinson said...

Sainsbury - yes, I can understand that. Even more so at Waitrose. Unlikely at Morrison. Never at Tesco. And for all I know since I never visit them - a time of special offers at Asda.