I’ve Just Put the Motorbike on its Stand

I've just put the motorbike on its stand and here I am in Corsica. There's a hell of a gale blowing but there's summer sunshine on the sea over there and on the rocks. It's a long way from your platform. It was a bit hard holding the bike on the road in this wind although she's a heavy bike. But I made it. And everywhere I'm looking, stones in the sunshine and the wind whistling round them. It's a long way away. And it's 3000 BC.

The beginnings of agriculture: there was flour,
weaving, there was pottery, they probably had dogs.

All the rocks and rock-faces here have been sculpted by the wind and water and all the boulders I can see, have ears, nostrils, arse-holes. Everywhere there is granite.

When men settle in one place, they begin to be haunted by the brevity of life and the rocks out-stare them.

Out here in the wind 3000 BC there is a solitude which we tend to forget today, the solitude, not of individuals, but of the human race.

This is when they begin to make carvings themselves. Not little talismen to take with them, as they did when they were nomadic, but now working stones their own size which would stay there, when they were dead, and which would stare back at the other rocks.

I am putting out my hand to touch one of these standing stones, and I can feel little waves of warmth coming from inside, where the warmth of the Mediterranean sun has been stored since yesterday. And these stones, these carved stones, offer me company, company in this scary and heroic loneliness.

A stone the height of a man, upright as a man, it stands there as a presence, a new presence.

The archaeologists back there with you, the archaeologists sort out all these carved stones into three distinct categories. There are the simple menhirs, a menhir, you know, is a standing stone.

Then that stone demanded to be chipped at with flints, so that, even whilst remaining featureless, there was a mysterious distinction between the front and the back.

Then comes menhir-statues, with a hyphen because the stones appear a little more carved - they are still featureless, yet down the back there's a groove, a little, small groove, which might suggest a spine.
It was a question of letting an upright stone lean like a man.

And, finally there is the category of statues. A statue with shoulder blades, a statue with eye sockets, a statue with a chin.

And further chipping later, so that its top edge sloped tenderly to become shoulders which were a little wider than its hips, but without faces or limbs or a single private part, yet with the stance of a man, dear God.

The momentous step was to find a stone the height of a man, and then to plant it upright, upright as a. man. I know you're lying down on the platform over there. And I want to ask you now, now please, stand up, stand up, get to your feet, like I here, like I am standing, in front of this menhir.

Turn towards each other.

In pairs.

Take your time.

Now you're facing each other in pairs. Take your time. A century is nothing.

Go close to one another, within touching distance.

And now, now please, each one of you close your eyes, put out your arm and touch your companion.

And think hard of the menhirs.

Listen to the wind. It is not the one being touched which is the menhir.

It's the one who can't see and is waiting.

Esy, thou, toi, tu, ti...

A menhir is a dwelling place.

Housing the dead who would otherwise be all over the place.

The dead in the menhir stand in front of the living to keep them company.