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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

'out of a black cloud came a bird'

this is an on the ground unedited 'as it happened' commentary of a plane crash at lukla airport in nepal nov 08

i am at lukla airport, a plane has crashed on landing as i am waiting to get a flight to kathmandu, pasang dawa called me outside from departures to tell me about a new hotel and transfers from the airport, i was talking to a german man when hundreds of people started running out and down the runway, a buddist nun to my left starts wailing, a friend put his arms around her, there seems to be one survivor who is now in departures, my english friend, a heart consultant is with him and an english medical student called michaela, i think the survivor is nepali or sherpa, maybe in pilots clothes, there is blood, i heard from a german translation that there was a fatal confusion between the plane taking off and one coming into land, it is a cloud covered misty morning, it seems the plane came in too low onto the very short steep runway, there was a fireball on impact, i hear some germans getting their sherpa guide to rebook their rooms in lukla, now rumours abound, there is the smell of burning fuel in the air, people are milling, some are crying, there is shock, the german man i was speaking to is staring out the window, i am very cold in my down jacket, another woman is crying, i need to speak to ‘light in dark places’, i must speak to my sister and my mother and father, i must get a message to them before the rumours do, i see three men walking across the runway, one military, two civilian carrying rifles, i left my little plastic pearl necklace i bought with ‘light in dark places’ with the prayer flags over the pass at zetra la, the heart consultant just ripped down a dividing wall to use as a makeshift stretcher for the survivor, there is a hospital here at lukla, but there is nothing in the hospital, its empty, this airport has no emergency procedure whatsoever, there is a bad smell, people are watching voyeuristically, i am writing voyeuristically…i am fixed to the page, i have stayed out of the way, there are so many people trying to help and seemingly some qualified medical people that were actually at the airport waiting to board the plane with me, i don’t believe i can be of use, i wonder if my notebooks would survive a plane crash, an american couple next to me at the himalaya lodge this morning were talking about the possibility of a plane crashing, their sherpa guide hushed them saying these things are not spoken of in this country, that to speak this way brings bad luck, children are running about excitedly, men are gathering at the windows, there is a glint of facination and excitement, a crime scene, i hope this doesn’t make the news at home or there will be panic, i must get word to them….i am selfishly thinking about my bag which is ready outside to board a plane, ‘silverback’ i havn’t told him i love him, would the letter back at the summit hotel in kathmandu get to him eventually if i had been in that plane?, a woman is shouting outside, a medic i think, i am very cold, i gave dawa sherpa my knife as i was running for the plane very early this morning, i was given a 5 min ‘get out’ as pasang dawa had managed to get me a plane ticket, a helicopter has just taken off perhaps with the survivor, somebody filmed it, i think about ringing ‘silverback’ and then i cry, i cry for me not them…i always cry for me, a few feet away people are burning in their seats, families, lovers, children devastated and changed forever, irretrievable…the reality: the plane i was supposed to be on crashed on landing….i need to tell him, i must tell him…one survivor…a german man asks if i am ok?, where do i come from? am i alone?...the place has cleared somewhat..i wonder about my baggage…ma and pa are up on the mountain making their way to high camp on mera peak…the pilot survives, the co pilot is dead in a blue bag on a trolley over there, his burnt feet are sticking out…i am sitting outside now with the heart consultant, an american is phoning home on his sherpa’s phone, we hear that it was a german party on the plane, yeti airlines, not my plane afterall, they say local people were stealing luggage and rucksacs from the crash sight as bodies burned in their seats (the value of a pair of walking boots would probably support a family here for a year), someone was spooning water from a stream with a washing up bowl to put out the fire, the passengers were killed by burning fuel…i have called ‘light in dark places’ and asked him to get a message to my sister, the phone cut off but i got the message through, i called ‘silverback’ and left a message on the answer machine, i called from himalaya lodge, someone was on the internet looking at pictures of the crash, my bags are back here now, i have been given room 104, dawa sherpa is erecting tents on the lodge lawn for a morgue…they seem to have been taken down now, the heart consultant and michaela did the best they could, the co pilot died on the runway, the heart consultant saw him alive but then he died, locals were telling him to massage the co pilots chest, bring him back to life but the heart consultant said he was very dead, pasang dawa is supposed to get sonam to sms pasang sherpa on the mountain and let ma and pa know whats happened and that i was not on the plane..don’t know if that’s happened but at least my sister knows, she will probably have the initiative to sms them on the satellite phone, a big military helicopter has just landed, a crowd of people are out on the lawn, the buddist nun is there too with her robe over her head, she is in mourning i would hazard, the german man who was about to catch the plane with me and share the transfer at kathmandu wonders what the german government will make of this, pasang dawa took me to a table and introduced me to his friends, suggested we eat together and then go for a walk to his mothers house down in a village below lukla, i did not feel like joining them, the buddist nun is in the party, i keep writing, the blue, green and red roofs of lukla, body bags, i am traumatized by hearing ‘silverback’s’ voice on the answer machine, stretchers are coming up the runway now to the military helicopter, an old crippled dog lies on the lawn, reminds me of venus’s dog, the daughter of pasang dawa’s brother works here, she came and asked me for 400 rupees for the two phone calls, she reminds me of janey madlani, i wonder if janey has sherpa blood, i am still freezing, i have put my thermals on now i have my bag back, the dead co pilot in the blue bag was lying next to my jagged globe bag with my ice axe and crampons unused, i am craving salt, perhaps whiskey, dawa sherpa is walking the lawn, a trauma medic who was also at the airport assisted as far as the first helicopter that took the pilot to hospital, he is sitting on the the lawn with his girlfriend witness to continuing events, a black crow pecks at the earth, two moths in my room, one half dead or half alive depending…i let them out the window, there are too many people crowded round the military helicopter as usual, there are always too many people, the black crows are circling above the prayer flags, more people are at the helicopter…what is wrong with these people?…years ago i gave my father a book called ‘himalaya dreaming’, i found it in a junk shop on archway road with ‘silverback’, same place i found my brown leather hat, there is a picture of pasang dawa on the back, very young maybe twelve or fourteen years old, smiling broadly in a yellow jumper, there is a thick fog now, i think the helicopter with the bodies is preparing to go, i am not in there, i wish ‘light in dark places’ was here, the crippled dog sniffs the air as the blades begin to turn, the crippled dog stands and hobbles a little closer, he breaks into an awkward trot, his tail is up, he is seeing them off, ‘silverback’s’ friend was supposed to be on the plane that crashed over locherbie, he missed his flight, the helicopter is off the ground, RAN 38, it moves away down the runway and into the clouds, the crowd begins to disperse, a crow lands in a tree, it is raining, the american couple at breakfast walk into the lodge looking very white, the old dog hobbles past the rooms i stayed in with ma and pa on our incoming journey, i remember that the heart consultant told someone with a camera at the scene to fuck off, i think he is in shock though stoic and english, i don’t want to see the crash scene again, i wonder how and when i will get out of here, there are no roads into lukla, it’s completely cut off cept for the airport, it’s a three day walk to a bus for an eight hour journey to kathmandu, i consider this, we are nothing, isn’t that right? just a scratch, we were supposed to come down from zetra la today, me and dawa sherpa, we made it back a day early, i think all communications here are done by satellite so it doesn’t make a difference if you call a landline or mobile, very erractic connection, i think the cloud cover is clearing, the weather here is in constant turmoil, lukla is nearly two miles above sea level, i am looking out the window, now i hear ‘the tyre didn’t work’ when the plane attempted to land, i see an australian man, an older man, earlier i saw him howling into a mobile phone, he was saying that he wished it was him that was dead instead of them, he’s not crying now, the buddist nun is back at the table with pasang dawa, i hope and pray that my mother and father are ok, perhaps i will walk to the internet shop, i lost the details of how to contact the satellite phone, i should email my sister and she can tell them to call her and she can explain, its unclear if pasang dawa has asked sonam to send an sms to pasang sherpa up the mountain, the heart consultant talked about getting a helicopter out of here, i would buy into that…me and my writing…i’m still fixed to the page…i wonder if it seems cold and remote to others, people are taking comfort in humour and one another..i have been looking for ‘heart stones’ up in the mountains, i have my whiskey, i am warmer, my feet are in a cold sweat, i had a dream many years ago, maybe twelve, that a plane crashed into the sea, i was trying to get people out of the fusilage but a firm disembodied hand stopped me saying i must not interfere with karmic law, the following day there was news of such a plane crash, at dawn this morning i woke with bonnie prince billy lyrics in my head ‘at the break of dawn, I’m ending all of it…’ i don’t like this song very much ‘so don’t say we had a ball…’, a flying phobic looks for threads and connections, the german man i was supposed to transfer with keeps looking in my direction, pasang dawa’s brother comes over and asks me for my plane ticket and boarding pass, he wants the cover it was supposedly issued in but i was never given one, he himself issued the ticket to me this morning, i was sitting in bed, curled up in my sleeping bag very early this morning doing the i ching when dawa sherpa banged on my door and tried to come in (as he has done in the lodges on other occasions when we were alone in the mountains together), he said to come very quickly, that i have a ticket for the plane, i have a bucket full of pee next to the bed and thank god (depending how you like to think) i didn’t have to put away my ‘impossible to put away’ thermorest, i had seriously overheated in the night at this lower altitude and thrown off most of my clothes, my face is nearly back to normal after becoming a very swollen and flattened with altitude (i looked like i had been in a boxing ring, eyes fat and closing) but i look knackered and didn’t sleep well, i have minutes to pack and load out, dawa sherpa is still at the door trying to get in the room, i am getting angry but keep it at bay by the means i always use, cold, remote, shielded, unreadable and unapproachable, i lock down inside, retract my feelers and harden my shell, the job is done and i soften as dawa sherpa the lama is actually kind to me despite his wayward hands, which though annoying are a lack of education and like all of us he is just operating with the tools he has been given…i am rushed downstairs and dawa sherpa disappears with my back breaking bag, i am given black tea and the urgency seems to abate, can’t remember much now but pasang dawa’s brother hands me a ticket maybe at the airport which is about a 100ft from the lodge, pasang dawa himself says something about a different hotel…i didn’t catch its name, transfers etc, the summit hotel is fully booked, pain in the arse as i have to go there to get my left luggage, my computer etc, i have been told i’m on the first flight out, when i meet the heart consultant at the airport our tickets are different colours, mine is yellow, maybe ‘silverback’ could walk across that lawn towards me…what would he do though?..don’t know..perhaps he wouldn’t be angry, he apologized to me when ‘pig’ died, as if the ‘real thing’ broke his cloud cover….is all this why i always see that lone red prayer flag on the mountainside in my blindspot?..the sound now of something about to fly, i wish it wouldn’t…can i overland home? ‘light in dark places’ would come with me..i don’t have to go to japan if i don’t want to, i have a map of India, ‘light in dark places’ gave it to me, another helicopter leaves, the one that brought the crash investigators, i need some foot warmers now, two girls have just arrived from the mountains, they look healthy and bemused but they have heard the news as they walked into lukla, they seem unburdened unlike the rest of us who will have it for the rest of our lives, it has happened and that cannot be changed…now i feel my shock and grief are no longer using ‘silverback’ as a filter, those 20 people burned alive as i was watching, i didn’t hear a thing, just the nun wailing as the horror made itself known..hundreds of people tipped and spilled, down the runway into the vortex of a terrible coming

my diary was not supposed to end like this

the american couple are beginning to argue, they are down the hall, they are shouting

there is a picture of me and dawa sherpa at the zetra la pass in the clouds with the prayer flags, it was taken by a beautiful blonde german man, it’s the only picture worth keeping other than the magical bull yak, the yaks were incredible that night at chutenga tea house, i had to go for a piss in the night and they had completely surrounded our tents, they were silent cept for a low moan and the near soundless knocking of a bell, a cloudless, moonless night sky, bewildering stars

for some reason the slip given to me by the woman who looks like janey madlani for the phone calls has fuel intake, plane weight etc on the back of it, i keep the slip (the plane exploded in such a devastating way because it was carrying so much fuel)

does this country act as a catalyst for ones deepest darkest fears?..or is this thought just my self obsessed solipsistic nature realised

i fly out of lukla the following morning on the 2nd flight out, we fly over the wreckage, i fly out with the wailing nun, it turns out the wailing nun is infact the singing nun, very famous in nepal and currently no.1 in the nepali charts, people want their picture taken with her at kathmandu airport

i was just talking to an australian called rob by the pool, he and his friends were all supposed to be on the flight that crashed, he said in hushed tones that the german party had pushed in front of them (they still actually have tickets for the plane that crashed), it was reported back home in australia that they had been on the flight…he says that they are all being quite philosophical about it, they are mostly paramedics and therefore somewhat trained or prepared to look these things in the eye…they would have been on that flight cept for the fatal eagerness of the other party


Friday, June 27, 2008


there is a cross stitch and a blanket stitch, they are merely decoration, the stitch you need is with fishing gut, a purposeful intent to seal and contain these ideas and see that they make their way into the world, so many of your troubles are due to bad stitching, things coming away at the edges or fabric perished and unable to contain the load, this is important, get strong and see that there are no leaks, for when there are, the parasitic elements crowd around for the free feed, so here you have the answer, why do you never get paid while everybody seems to feed and grow fat from that that is not their own?, keep yourself protected from elements that seek to undo you, they look for all manner of ways to slip in around the back, weaken the fastenings so again you loose your power and in turn it is wasted by another, they gorge upon it but put it to no use, they just become fat in their sense of emptiness, they will never be filled but are wasting and using your precious resources, this is not yours to waste, it has been entrusted to you and it is your duty to see that it makes its way safely into manifestation, you are somewhat a 'dropped stitch' in the tapestry, you know how this can be fixed and fix it you must, meditate everyday to secure your moorings and make fit your skien that no other can cut you open and spill your crill, waterproofing of your etheric body

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Monday, August 20, 2007

black butterfly - a letter to joe simpson

a letter to joe simpson, mountaineer and writer of, among other things, his auto biographical account - 'touching the void'

20th august 2007

hello joe

i heard you on the radio and i thought i would let you know, i too have a black butterfly on my shoulder, just there, winking away in the blindspot

when death catches us up on her needle and thread to swing us out over the precipice, we are never able to be truely 'alive' again, at least not in the same way, by this i do not assume you to be a 'depressive' or malfunctioning, i've just found in my own experience that something like this fundamentally changes the excepted and apparently 'learned' understanding of a so called 'life', perhaps it nudges and flicks away at our dna, goes quantum with worm holes, i don't know

but with the waterproofing gone, the cold thumb of death pins her down and gashes her open with a nail, spilling the sodden meat for the gulls, a trembling fleck on the lip of a collosal wave, the tiny glinting eye of creation witnessing itself, forever suspended in that cusp moment, a meniscus, the tiniest fraction of a second looped and forever on replay, never reaching but prior to the inevitable, terrible fall

i lived on a boat as a child/teenager, with infinity above and six miles of water below, we encountered pirates, sharks and storms as we sunk deeply into the beauty and monotony of endless days at sea, and now as a so called 'adult', terrafirma folds away (collapses) beneath me and i cling to my string with the black butterfly fluttering just above my left shoulder, somewhere in the blindspot

perhaps i am talking gibberish, careless i take the risk because you struck a chord with me

i send you my love and wish you well in all things

yours in appreciation

katiejane garside


Sunday, August 12, 2007

39 butterflies - darling, they've found the body

personal possessions and the ghost therein scare me, the trail, the smell, johns old gold watch all hold a sadness for me that is too much, i turn away, i could say there is no real content in my life, just soap operas and plans of escape not acted upon

scott died, this ended an odessy of family, love and adventure, adult life never came to bare, there i am on a glassy ocean, six miles of water beneath and infinity above, i could never grasp a thing, the sowing machine allowed me to make threads and badly drawn maps out of thrown away things, she's a rusted relic of a bygone age, huffing and puffing steam out of her watchtower as we make our way across oceans, i make and remake and remake til there is no more thread left to hold together, 39 dead butterflies with their little arms folded over their chests, how do you measure and weigh a life?, a trail of dust, gossamer thin light through tissue paper clothes, bits of string, are we nothing without our memories? are we nothing without giving birth to our own children? my infantile (but growing old) body seems not for the making of a child

i wake sometimes in the night and i am falling, falling and falling, i see my ship pulling away over the horizon in silouette and there i am drowning and forgotten with my cat 'los christianos' and scotts cat 'princess', both cats drowned at sea, probably eaten by sharks, i allow myself to be a mermaid, it dignifies my nothingness and inconsquence, so i spill over in dreams and streams of an apparent consiousness and even dare to plant a prayer flag and call it art, my attempt at a fingerprint, the location of a body fallen into a ravine

scott died because i didn't drop the keys, if i had done something different, changed anything, the timeline would have set a different compass baring and that head-on collision been would have been averted, so you see by a terrible fraction of a second i killed scott

i leave a trail of threads and broken things (things that he would recognise) in the hope that someday he will find his way back to me

i went to the meridian hotel, i left a letter there for you stuck to a lamp post but you had already left for syria

Thursday, April 13, 2006

the lift

self preservation comes at such a price, sometimes, most times i want to be left clean alone, though its worth remembering the walls start jostling for position when alone is too alone, context is everything to be 'amongst', life was 'bad' back then, now you could never call it 'bad', it is stimulating, dangerous, challenging and the work is working, so i did escape, what can i say more than that really, 'do you want to fucking fight me?', welsh accent, well yes, better that than lying down for the long sleep, better than endless attempts at miraculous healing, here's the news: there is no illness, i just got trapped in a lift for a while, nothing more, when you can't open a door it is fucking frightening, fight and flee in enclosed spaces is messy and sometimes the door never opens, nobody turns the power back on and infact the building has collapsed in on the lift shaft and you are entombed, it does happen but it hasn't happened to me yet even though i have lived most of my life as if that were my perpetual state

not today though


i think i'm awake

Friday, April 07, 2006


immensely corrupt and a journey through treacherous landslide, collapsing corpus and teeth, he makes me cry, i am humiliated, humiliated is not a state i like to be in


dancing on a window ledge
15 stories high
i take it up upon myself
to learn me how to fly

i got a step on natures brim
and a head above the clouds
to take the leap
and dive right in
and learn me how to fly

the surface tension
snapping back
her walk-on-water eyes
consoled for mysteries deepest depths
would let me down to cry

would angels borrow me their wings
a surface tension lied
to tease me up against the brink
and learn me how to fly

but fear all made corruption be
her twisted wings denied
she could ever reach the stars
so i lay me down to die

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

buoyant in all storms

elijah speaks (seems to have an american accent today) part.1:

wild horses got a devilish (nevillish ha!) instinct for homecoming, they know when they have been led astray and make their way back as if by birds and stars, you have this instinct in your heart knowing

the tide is turning and your beacon has been spotted in these long dark nights, 'blackspring' is aware as are you, we would always pull these hearts in reflection of one another

'elijah am i making this up? you know cos this is kind of what i want to hear

his vicinity is close and this is no collision in the dark, the compass sets her course and the light was spotted, its a homecoming out of the hands of your tiny will, quiet child and allow the mystery to unfold before you, thunderclouds and the electric atmosphere of the dark days make for reinvention and realisation, things turn over in broiling storms, things are bought up from the sea bed long buried and forgotten, a fissure, a crack and molten lava building new structure and horizon, this is very beautiful and you are most beloved

'a word for venus please'

there is a seed procurring, hasten not and be awake at dawn for the morning star is blinded with yesterdays news, clear and cast away, the birds have news, redirection and electric lines have entailed (enabled?) and re mapped the forest floor

a gentle hand stroking her face so beloved

elijah speaks part.2:

upstanding i can see your head above the clouds, the storms may rustle away in the basement but you have the longer foreseeing, calm and warm your face as the sun traverses her way across the snowy undoings and hear the song that is in your heart

'shall i go to ireland elijah?'

all doors open, the music is where you are


hearts pressed together resonate with a beautiful climate, the music is deep and heartfelt, cold kisses left at the door and enter the room, the walls speak and stroke your hair and the loveliest starburst that you could bring into being

what of neville?

a child and his box of tricks is tricky for sure and his vein is true when he hits the right mark, heartwarm your music, it is in you

'clear me out of the way, i would like to hear you '

announcements across the stars whispering to one another, there is a storm and your head is above the clouds, crisis management, you are not in need so calm the spirit

'please direct me'

tidy things away and then get on a plane

elijah speaks part.3

pack warm clothes for there is a freeze and you must remain warm, lampoon and request deliverence of all the beautiful cards in your heart, this is not a game of cards, we must place our hand face up on the table, only then can the mask drop the to floor behind us as we take our walk through this extraordinary life, there is a buoy adrift in the ocean, tumultous currents and adventures, coastal waters are treacherous only for those with bindings, we cannot be caught in the rapids, we are of a nature that corrects and rights imbalance so let go the mourings and allow the adventure, bouyant in all storms, the iceage will come and go and still we remain as a breath, as a witness to the extraordinary unfolding, cut the strings and float away, no kittens drowning in a bag