Wednesday, 27 June 2012

A Trilling Dream

I have recurrent dreams about ICI, the company I joined as a keen young PhD chemist fresh from university. The preoccupation might result from my intense disappointment that such a great institution has disappeared into industrial history, another footnote in the story of UK manufacturing decline. Having said that, most of the businesses still exist in foreign hands, a bit like the UK car industry.
      In the dream I turned up for my first day's work and was shown into a vast laboratory with benches stretching out as far as the eye could see. There were three other people in the laboratory who introduced themselves to me. I was surprised to hear that each of them was called Dr Trill. Of course I don't remember anybody in ICI called Dr Trill so I searched for the word association.
      It wasn't too difficult because a few days earlier I had been reading a poem that I wrote several years ago. The poem commemorated my finding a four hundred year old fossil fish, Dipterus, in Achanarras Quarry near Wick. Dipterus was the immediate ancestor of the lung fishes who crawled out of the sea and set evolution on the path to mammalsThe first verse is reproduced below.

I'm in a quarry, probing the devonian layers.
The ring of my searching hammer
echos across the moor and returns 
as the warning trill of the curlew,
self-appointed guardian of the fossils

It seemed to me that the association with trill was a call to revisit the quarry; perhaps another find awaited me. This time we didn't hear curlews on the approach but found the quarry occupied by a flock of common gulls, perched on the surrounding fence at the start of their breeding season.
        The fossil beds are currently under water at the bottom of the quarry, so prospecting is limited to the surrounding spoil heaps. These have now  been well worked out, most stones have been split and I did find something, not a fish and I'll report later when I know what it is. Turning my attention to the gulls,I quickly found a few nests containing a total of three eggs. There had to be a three somewhere.
The Stuart Agenda by Alan Calder, published by Willow Moon. e-book and paperback at all Amazon sites. See www. for reviews.

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