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  • Writer's pictureMatt Hopper

Botched Escape Plot.

There once was a row of shops on our council estate. They were not very exciting shops: a newsagent, a kebab shop, a hairdressers and another weird one that was never open. I used to go for walks at night, wallowing in the lonely oblivion that was my life and taking crepuscular pics of the dead streets. One evening in 2006 I took one of myself in front of these shops. I used the self-timer and jumped as tho I was levitating then posted it on my blog (no FB or Insta then) along with a juvenile poem about stone circles, death and resurrection.

A few months later there was a huge bang in the middle of the night. There had been an explosion in the kebab shop and the entire row was trashed. The buildings were demolished and the land was grassed over. A couple of years later the council decided to create a stone circle on the site, around the spot where I had attempted my levitation.

I became excited, remembering my stone circle poem. The council had delivered my very own ritual shrine, right in the centre of my mythical suburban kingdom. I'd always been drawn to the mysterious monoliths and henges that haunt our landscape, but this one was different. It was not troubled by thousands of years of history. My temple had come into existence because an arcane branch of our local bureaucracy had just randomly dumped a load of excess rocks from some abandoned civil engineering project or other. Mysterious Bronze Age architects, ley lines and reputed astronomical alignments didn't enter into the equation. In my mind this gave it more power than Stonehenge or Avebury. Shit, maybe I manifested it?

I used to go and sit on the stones at night and sometimes I'd convince myself that I could feel a subtle buzz of municipal energy modulating the distant hum of the city. Maybe it was just the PG Tips. I made a large concrete sculpture of houses with a stone circle at its centre. For the stone circle I used pieces of slate which I broke off after walking around the stone circle 13 times on the winter solstice.

While wheeling the heavy work out of the studio it cracked in half. I was gutted until I realised the fracture ran through the stone circle where the shops would have been.

I made a little film about these events and decided to make a painting of the circle. I wanted it to be an epic work to rival the power of the old masters. I would paint myself 30 feet tall, levitating naked above my stone circle like some kind of transcendent megabeing. Titian and Rubens would have nothing on me!

Of course it turned out shit. I blocked in all the basic colours and shapes but never finished it.

All magic has to end. The council sold the land to a local developer who squeezed in a few cramped, gardenless dwellings for atomised consumers. I followed the construction process with crushed acceptance and began to wonder if the stone circle had ever even existed. When the houses were finished I walked the pristine tarmac of the car park. I felt sure there'd be some kind of sign there. On the tarmac where the western end of the stone circle had been was written the number 33.

In occult circles this is a hugely significant number, a Master Number....a number that has bedeviled me for the last few of decades. It's the highest degree of initiation in Scottish Rite Freemasonry, we have 33 vertebrae and jesus christ was crucified aged 33. Russell Brand has it tattooed on his arm, FFS!! I went home and had a cup of tea. L'univers reste noir. Nous sommes des animaux sinistre.

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