Tuesday, 24 February 2009


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On a July 1998 afternoon while walking from Bivio Geraci to Gangi along the SS120 road an unexpected incident occurred which caused me to remember much happier childhood images and word associations. The words were “Helter Skelter” which I had always associated with happy fun fair days when extremely excited kids (myself included) sometimes hurtled shouting and screaming down “Helter Skelter” chutes down down and around and around to the ground.
It was a warm sunny day, I was 4 kilometers or so from Gangi, the walking was pleasantly easy, with the open road gently leading downhill through lovely grassy landscapes and in fact at the time of the incident (as I later reflected) the traffic was so light that it was truly fateful to have ever happened. Looking up above and around me I suddenly caught sight of a large winged butterfly fairly close by, near to the verge side. It was circling around, gaily carouselling around, quite carefree as though without a care in the world, much like I’d seen them so often.
Bit by bit, gradually, the colourful carefree creature’s circles were causing it to descend while in my very same view I suddenly noticed, also heading towards Gangi, towards the butterfly and myself, the relentless steady approach of a very large big wheeled articulated high roofed lorry. Seeing the driver sat quite high up in his driving cab I easily realised that he could not be otherwise than totally oblivious to the butterfly. Although it was very unlikely it seemed to me that if the butterfly didn’t unexpectedly somehow change its own repetitive downward spirals then it and the driving cab roof were very likely on a collision course. Each time the butterfly completed a single circle it over-ran the verge side into the space above the road unaware that it was putting itself in danger. There must have been only the remotest of chances that it would avoid injury when the vehicle passed alongside. Of course the vehicle continued along its course and I continued to hear and reflect upon its progress. I found myself watching events that I was totally powerless to stop happening. I continued to hear the relentless steady purr and quietly ticking whir of wheels.
The circling light winged buttefly impacted with the near side high roof of the driving cab and bounced off it. It immediately fell to the ground, into the verge side grasses almost like a dead weight, like a stone, dead. It was pretty upsetting, I had been totally powerless to prevent what I had watched realising that it was virtually inevitable. The lively fateful “helter skelter” pattern of the butterfly in its final flying moments along with what seemed to be the relentless though steady journey of that very large solitary vehicle etched itself into my mind. In my Notebook I wrote the words “Helter Skelter how my heart sank down”. And I definitely meant it.
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