Saturday, 19 May 2012


Ray's voice was heavy with irony... "No one watches Mercer; that's the whole point." Tossing his cigarette into the fireplace, he strode to the TV set; there, before it, Joan saw a metal box with two handles, attached by a lead of twin-cable wire to the TV set. Ray seized the two handles, and at once a grimace of pain shot across his face.
"What is it?" she asked, in anxiety.
"N-nothing." Ray continued to grip the handles. On the screen, Wilbur Mercer walked slowly over the barren, jagged surface of a desolate hillside, his face lifted, an expression of serenity - or vacuity - on his thin, middle-aged features... To Joan, he explained, "This is the empathy box, my dear... when you take hold of these handles you're no longer watching Wilbur Mercer. You're actually participating in his apotheosis. Why, you're feeling what he feels."

Mercerism is a prominent religious/philosophical movement on Earth. The movement is based on the legend of Wilbur Mercer, a man who lived before the war. Adherents of Mercerism grip the handles of an electrically powered empathy box, while viewing a monitor which displays patterns that are meaningless until the handles are gripped. After a short interval the user’s senses are transported to the world of Wilbur Mercer, where they inhabit his mind in an experience shared with any other people using an empathy box at that moment.
Mercerism blends the concept of a life-death-rebirth deity with the values of unity and empathy. According to legend, Mercer had the power to revive dead animals, but local officials used radioactive cobalt to nullify the part of his brain where the ability originated. This forced Mercer into the “tomb world.” He strives to reverse the decay of the tomb world and ascend back to Earth by climbing an enormous hill. His adversaries throw rocks at him along the way (inflicting actual physical injuries on the adherents “fused” with Mercer), until he reaches the top, when the cycle starts again… — Wikipedia

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Aesop's The Peacock and the Magpie

The Birds once met together to choose a king; and, among others, the Peacock was a candidate. Spreading his showy tail, and stalking up and down with affected grandeur, he caught the eyes of the silly multitude by his brilliant appearance, and was elected with acclamation. The magpie then stepped forth into the midst of the assembly, and thus addressed the new king: May it please your majesty, elect to permit a humble admirer to propose a question. As our king, we put our lives and fortunes in your hands. If, therefore, the Eagle, the Vulture, and the Kite, should make a descent upon us, what means would you take for our defence? This pithy question opened the eyes of the Birds to the weakness of their choice and they cancelled the election.

Perrin's The Miser And The Magpie

As a miser sat at his desk, counting over his heaps of gold, a magpie, eloped from his cage, picking up a guinea, and hopped away with it. The miser, who never failed to count his money over a second time, immediately missed the piece, and rising up from his seat in the upmost consternation, observed the felon hiding in the crevice of the floor. Art thou, cried he, that worst of thieves, who hast robbed me of my gold, without the plea of necessity, and without regard to its proper use? But thy life shall atone for so preposterous a villainy. Soft words good master, quoth the magpie. Have I then injured you in any other sense than you defraud the public? And am I not using your money in the same manner you do yourself? If I must lose my life for hiding a single guinea, what do you, I pray, deserve, who secrete so many thousands?

Friday, 9 March 2012

Danby Beacon

The T/X Aerials with Danby Signal Beacon in the foreground

The backbone of the radar provision surrounding the UK in the Second World War was the Chain Home System. Two main types of Chain Home System were built - AMES Type 1 (Air Ministry Experimental Station) and AMES Type 2 or the Chain Low System. Royal Air Force Danby Beacon Chain Home Station (AMES Type 1) was located high up on the North Yorkshire moors and was one of twenty built along the eastern coastline. The system was based on the pattern of the experimental establishment set up at Bawdsey in 1936, and in its final form it consisted of equipment housed in protected buildings with transmitter aerials suspended from 107 metre steel towers and receiver aerials mounted on 73 metre timber towers. The system at Danby Beacon was provided with buried reserve equipment which consisted of underground transmitter and receiver block, now only the buried reserves of the transmitter and receiver survive. The station was technically restored in the early 1950s as part of the Rotor programme. In all it comprised three components: the technical site, a domestic site for personnel equipment, and a stand-by set house. 
English Heritage.

CO's house (far left), army billets and one of the R/X Aerials

Now covered over by years of moorland vegetation the remains of the defunct Chain Home System Radar Station on Danby Low Moor seems to sit comfortable within the moor's Neolithic surroundings. The three low mounds - R/X Block, Standby Power House and T/X Block - which stretch across the open land have long since taken on the appearance of the many tumuli and howes that litter the immediate area. It is only when you realise that the would be processional avenue running through the centre of the site is actually made of concrete that any influence the ancient landscape may have on the area is all but undone.

R/X Block - Mound No1

Standby Power House - Mound No2

T/X Block - Mound No3

Concrete Drive/Processional Avenue

On closer inspection of the site it becomes evident the it’s decommissioning in 1957 may well have been completed with very little ceremony, the smashed up shards of concrete and the twists re-enforcement bars bare witness to the station's seemingly abrupt demise.

Entrance to Mound No1

Entrance to Mound No2

Mound No1 - Interior

Mound No2 - Interior

On further investigation the site begins to reveal numerous objects of interest scattered amongst the thick mat of gorse and heather.

Anchor point for a T/X Mast

AA Gun mount found on the perimeter of the site

But possibly the most interesting aspect of the whole site is the fact that is was built virtually on top of an already existing, more ancient early warning system.

The Danby Beacon was just one part of a system of beacon lights that were situated at specific points along the whole coastline. Throughout the centuries they would have been used to quickly alert the entire region of any impending invasions from the numerous enemies England had accumulated over ages. The modern beacon - seen in the photographs above - was erected in 2008, but it is thought that a beacon may have existed on this site since at least the 1600's - although it has to be said that when you stand surrounded by this ancient landscape it is easy to believe that the place has far more significance and meaning than the land itself is actually willing to reveal. 

Follow the link for an earlier post involving the radar station.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Desire Lines V1.5

  (di.ZYR lyn) n. An informal path that pedestrians prefer to take to get from one location to another rather than using a sidewalk or other official route.



Sunday, 8 January 2012

Buildings Of Old Whitby

 We know that an object that is not consciously noticed at the time of a first visit can, by its absence during subsequent visits, provoke an indefinable impression: as a result of this sighting backwards in time, the absence of the object becomes a presence one can feel. 

'Formulary for a New Urbanism (1953)'
                                                                                                                        Ivan Chtcheglov

The following illustrations are take from a book titled ‘Buildings of Old Whitby’ by the artist Albert T Pile (1882 - 1981). It contains over seventy beautifully rendered pen and ink sketches in which the artist manages to capture a unique point in the town's history - the slum clearance and regeneration of the old town.

Boulby Bank - 25 May 1955, 3.30pm

Church Street, Boulby Bank - 17 May 1957, 4.30 pm

Upper part of  Boulby Bank - 25 April 1958, 12.15 pm

Church Street. Demolition of Boulby Bank - 7 July 1958, 4 pm

Church Street. Demolition of Boulby Bank - 28 October 1958, 4 pm

Remains. Church Street - 8 January 2012
Church Street. Boulby Bank - 8 January 2012

Church Street - 8 January 2012
Church Street - 8 January 2012