Wednesday, 1 October 2014

The Gift That Keeps On Giving - Flash Story

JANUARY: To see in the New Year and to prevent her head turning and casting a roving eye, I bought her a heavy choke chain necklace


FEBRUARY: For the designated month of love, I splashed out on pearl drop earrings


MARCH: Easter came early this year as did my beneficence, since her egg was a Fabergé one


APRIL: Ducking inside from a particularly squally Spring shower, I found myself imprisoned in a jewellers and could only secure our freedom through the purchase of a gold (contra-) armband


MAY: For my faerie queen I bought her a filigreed wreath, albeit it more closely approximated a diadem. Actually it was a diadem


JUNE: Flaming June and another coruscation of light refracted off gem facets. This time a diamond encrusted watch. Yet still she was forever late, perhaps getting lost in gazing the diamonds and losing track of time


JULY: To prepare for our Summer travels, she had to get her accessories in order for our evenings out. Several handbags were purchased in different materials while I silently implored there to be no crocodiles or snakes where we were heading for surely we would incense these animal gods by culling their progeny and then flouting the fact


AUGUST: I had anticipated an expensive Caribbean holiday to suffice for outlay this month, but she insisted on a memento of the trip and that meant some expensive pearls which may or may not have been locally sourced. Then there was the 'small' gift from the Duty Free, just to exploit the tax situation on offer, because it would be remiss not to.


SEPTEMBER: I was given a month of for good behaviour. However I was exhorted to make a sizeable donation to her pet charity for pets


OCTOBER: I didn't know she was Jewish, no matter how much she had strayed from that particular faith. They apparently have four different new years and this month saw not only one of them, but the most significant. Even though it was the month of atonement and expiation and a laying bare, so that on the High Holy day itself leather shoes are not permitted as man is not to raise himself above the beast. She purged all her footwear and after the ceremonies were over, we had to go out and restock her wardrobe for an entire array of soles


NOVEMBER: Arrogating as many holidays as humanly possible, we were also marked to honour Thanksgiving and more importantly the start of the headlong rush to shop. I had to show my gratitude with a generous purchase of a bracelet bedecked with precious stones. I was a tad charmless in the store I admit.


DECEMBER: And what did Santa bring her for Christmas? Why an eternity ring of course. A same- again for next year and all years thereafter cast iron platinum plated guarantee. And what did he bring for me? A pair of fur-lined handcuffs.






Sunday, 28 September 2014

The Importance Of Story Titles

When you've written a novel, the title is very important. It has to leap out at a potential reader, it ought perhaps also to suggest what the book is about. It represents the first hook, along with the cover design.

But when one is talking about a collection of short stories, then the title of each of the individual stories is released from such a burden. Then the author can think about the title's relationship to the story, whether it adds a layer of meaning, revealing something that isn't perhaps so accessible just from the text itself. Or perhaps it offers a counterpoint that takes the story in a wholly different direction from that seemingly in the text.

One of my favourite films Nick Roeg's "Bad Timing" is a twisting and turning non-linear narrative, which the viewer comes to realise all hinges around the title itself. I love that idea, that everything stems from and ultimately comes back to the starting point of the title.

I've published 4 collections of flash stories, some 128 tales. I went back over them and picked out my favourite ten titles and below explain what I like about them. The common theme is how they integrate with the thrust of the story, but that doesn't mean they all came first before I wrote the story itself. far from it. Some come part way through, many came only after the story was finished. it's quite rare that I have a title and that everything flows from that. But finding a title at the end of the process of writing often comes from a way of sewing it all up in a pleasing way, even if that way offers some echoes that reverberate after the story has ended. See what you think.

1) "Lunar Tic" (from the collection "52FF")
A man is in prison with the electric light on 24 hours a day so he can't distinguish night from day. My spin on werewolfism, as he is afflicted with a mental state where he longs to see the moon for the transformation it enables. The title puns his mental affliction with the catalyst that brings it on.

2) "Cry Baby Bunting" (From the collection "Long Stories Short"
A story about a child being snatched during a street party to celebrate a Royal Wedding. I originally wrote and published this on my blog in real time on the day when such a royal occasion was being celebrated up and down the country, though not in my area. Writing live, the title was "A Royal Weeding", but when I came to turn it into something more honed, the metaphor of bunting features heavily in the story as both celebration and mocking threat, that I knew it had to have a central prominence. Then a dim and distant recollection of the nursery rhyme came to me and it was perfect for the story.

3) "Ur, Um" (from the collection "28 Far Cries")
I think this is perhaps my favourite ever title as it tickles me with its sense of playfulness. It's a literary story about language with a title that seems to represent a total lack of literacy and articulateness. The ancient city of Ur is taken as the first ever human city and the prefix has come to stand for the primal or the first in many fields - in this case an Ur-language, that is the ancestor human tongue from which all languages subsequently developed, which in my tale a man wakes up one morning to find he can only speak in this tongue. Since it is related to all our current languages, people think they recognise it, yet can't understand him. hence the 'Um'. The story is subversively comic as he becomes a celebrity and a diplomatic incident all at once.

4) "Strains" (from the collection "16FF")
Like many words, 'strain' has several shades of meaning. Firstly there is that notion of straining to attain something at full stretch. Then there is the notion of straining a liquid through some sort of filter or membrane. There is also the notion of a family strain, as in being related to the same (genetic) strain. Finally there is the meaning of strain as distant music or sound in the air. This tale combines several of those different strains of meaning (did you see what I did there?) It is about trying to recapture the quality of sounds heard while still in the womb, but forever being denied the membrane of the mother's abdomen through which such sounds were filtered. It's a simple one word title that perhaps suggests more than it reveals until you have finished reading the story.

5) "The Caller To The Bingo Caller's House Calls House" (from the collection "52FF")
I like the repetitions of the words in this, but each time the same word has a different meaning. The whole story is contained within the title, as the tale is told in bingo calls by a man who comes to prey on the Bingo caller's house while he is away calling numbers. This title was definitely the last piece in this particular jigsaw and only arrived when the story had been finished.

6) "Just Aphasia Going Through" (from the collection "16FF")
A pun on the word 'aphasia' as sounding like 'a phase you're' "Going Through". For a story all about creeping dementia and the loss of recall of words. unfortunately of course, dying brain cells are anything but 'a phase'. This title came about halfway through writing the piece.

7) "28 Grams" (from the collection "52FF")
This was an easy title to come up with, for the piece was literally that, 28 lines, each containing a word with the suffix 'gram' in it. It also was intended to echo other titles such as the movie "21 Grammes".

8) "Tendering Her Resignation" (from the collection "Long Stories Short")
Tender is a wonderfully multi-layered word. Nurses tender. Money is tender. Jobs are put out for tender, while when we've had enough of a job, we tender our resignation. When we are resigned to our lot, that such a job is not for us. In this tale, a daughter gives up her own life to stay at home and tend to her housebound mother. but her frustration bleeds out around the edges, much as with her mother's ulcerated wound staining each fresh bandage. The daughter is both tender and resigned.

You can sample the full story here.

9) "Calliopes, Caltrops and Cantos" (from the collection "28 Far Cries")
This title took an age to come up with. It's a story about a poet-soldier and I knew I wanted to show that seeming contrast between the creative act of poetry with the destructiveness of war in the title and that I had it in my mind it should be alliterative. 'Cantos' represented the poetic, 'caltrops' (an anti-cavalry defence) symbolised the war and 'Calliope' interceded between the two, both standing for the epic muse of poetry and song, but also being a discordant steam organ emitting squalling sound as the antithesis of Calliope's divine singing.

10) "Per Capita" (from the collection "28 Far Cries")
'Per capita', that slightly technical economic term derived from the Latin. Meaning per head, which is exactly what i wanted to allude to in a tale about a beheading video. I wanted to explore how these videos are designed to play on the emotions, they are recruiting ads within their constituency after all. The victim is a pawn in a much larger game of symbols, so that even as they are decapitated, their fate is calculated to boost support to the cause of the executioners. After 3 per capita videos, the US and the UK have recently decided to declare war on ISIS. I've blogged on the legality & impact of these videos here.

11) "Compulsory Consumer Choices Even Unto Death" (as yet only published to blog)
I wanted a long-winded bureaucratic title to reflect the world gone mad in this dystopian tale and yet one that also meant exactly what it said. How even in death and the manner of our despatch into the afterlife, we are faced with choices.




Is Viewing A Beheading Video A Crime?

While indisputably morally repugnant, viewing a beheading video is not a crime. Sharing it online however is a grey area. A crime has been committed, that of homicide. But who do you report it to? The act happened in Syria, so reporting it to your home police force isn't going to achieve much. The intelligence services of the West couldn't find Osama Bin Laden for 10 years and they're unlikely to track down "Jihadi John" unless a ground campaign kicks ISIS out of Syria. Sharing such videos, which after all are designed to inflame passions to the extent of recruiting more followers to the ISIS cause, could be deemed to be incitement to commit terrorist acts, which would constitute a crime. But no one took FB to court when they (albeit briefly) hosted beheading videos in the name of debate, until public outrage forced them to take them down.

There is a parallel here with sharing images from the London riots of 2011. Many people on the streets were not participating in the destruction, violence and looting. But they were stood there recording the action on their cameras and phones in order to share on social media and blogs. Again one could say they were committing the offence of not reporting a crime (or rather a lot of crimes), but who exactly would they have reported them to? The forces of law and order were completely stretched and overwhelmed by trying to deal with the riots. Phoning in an incident would not have prompted any police response. In that case, posting images to FB probably wouldn't be regarded as incitement and certainly not to terrorism. But the point remains, what is the responsibility of file sharing of contentious footage?

I've written fiction about a beheading video. But my exploration was about how these are designed to wreak an effect, what the symbolism is about and how it works. And of course existing solely in words, there isn't the instant visual force of a video, much as has centred around the argument this week over Hilary Mantel's short story about the assassination of Margaret Thatcher, which has seen senior political figures call for a police investigation into the legitimacy of the story as art, or whether it represents a crime. So I don't think I have to turn myself in to the cops just yet.

Clearly the boundaries need still to be defined.


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Compulsory Consumer Choices Ceaseless Even Unto Death - Friday Flash

He hadn’t been shopping in a store like this for years. The last time must have been when he and his wife bought a king-sized double bed. As newly-weds they had ensured to try every mattress available, lying down and making out on each one. All in the name of test driving the springs. When his bride to be donned that Learner plate for her Hen night, she had already been thoroughly road tested. But their bed was one-sided now. He got lost in its voluminosity. The only place in this satellite system world where it was still possible to become lost. That is until they invented a GPS of the emotions. They probably already had, but presumably there wasn’t much call for it in this hurly-burly world. People were perpetually on the move and had no time to ascertain how others were disposed. 

She must have undertaken her own version of this shopping trip without him knowing. When it was still voluntary perhaps. She had opted for being dumped at sea and becoming fish food. A second mode of human transport sending her into the beyond after she had died in a multiple pile up on the motorway the size of a back alley. However the immersion in a flotation tank which he had just undertaken, had only made him throw up. He had never been terribly comfortable in water. And with this experience, he had certainly not fulfilled the brochure’s promise of losing all sense of his bodily boundaries and just gently flowing with the pacific swell. Nor had they introduced any fish to pluck at his flesh. But then the brochures never advertise that do they? 

So he wasn’t likely to be buried alongside his beloved. Even though a GPS could probably muster the location of her remains. These days humans were tagged like biological specimens in the wild. Now that they had no actual creatures left to tail after reclaiming their habitats for tarmac, leaving a mountain of tracking tags going spare. It wasn’t clear to him if the push for cars led to the upsurge in GPS devices, or the other way around. He was tagged of course, under the shoulder. But there would be no one interested in picking up his path now. 

The heft of this actually felt okay. None too weighty. He couldn’t sense the touch of the wood against any part of him. He hadn’t expected that. Maybe the wood was coated with some mild neural numbing agent. A bit of a cheat to encourage sales. Somehow he was possessed of the perception of a ton of earth on top of him, but he wasn’t experiencing it pressing down on him directly. The wood must be bearing the brunt. He could smell it though. Redolent in his nostrils, clammy, like potato skins. But he knew that he must have that inverted, tubers smell that way because they spend their whole growth in the earth. What did any of this matter anyway? He was only afforded his senses because this was a dry run.

Since he wouldn’t be able to feel the sides of the coffin’s wood when he was gone. Soil would possess no smell for his corpse to inhale. He wouldn’t be imagining he could feel the weight of anything by that point. And the contrivance of an ambient temperature, controlled by the store for the recumbent comfort of customers, would be irrelevant whether it was purchased for eternity, or not an add-on feature purchased for greater outlay. Besides, everyone knew this was a con trick. There were no cemeteries any longer. Devoured like the rest of the land beneath the ever hungry demand for roads. The human delusion of rushing around somehow forestalling the abrupt cessation brought by death. A coffin purchase could only entail a cremation, though he wondered how the authorities advised their authorised death service dealers to allow the customer to sample an incineration.

He reckoned that the ever more frequent motorway pile-ups, which had led the government to demand pre-planning with regards to body disposal, were also prompted by the car manufacturers. After all, the GPS devices should have been able to forestall most of the crashes shouldn’t they? But he couldn’t figure out how if the numbers of drivers were reduce by crash culls, how that could enable them to sell more vehicles. But what good did any of this speculation do him? He’d had the same car for a couple of decades now, so he was not a target customer dead or alive. He’d taken his wife’s wreck to a chop shop where they’d merged it with another chassis. Just so he could stay close to her. Inhale her dying breath every single day. 


Next on the menu was an air funeral. He had always liked buzzards and vultures at the zoo. Maybe there might be some spiritual communion to be had here. At least they wouldn’t try and hide the incontestable fact of your flesh being devoured by creatures with this one. He was shown into a gallery with a glass screen as a carcass of some poor animal was wheeled into the room beyond the glass. All he could see was his wife’s broken body there on the trolley. He was sick again. 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Vanilla - Friday Flash

*Content warning*  Allusions to sex and violence


“I demand to see my personnel file”

“The Agency is sorry for your loss. If there’s anything you need to help with the funeral arrangements, you have all our resources at your disposal- ow!”

“I w-a-n-t to read my file”

“Well you can put in a request in writing to access it-“

“Take this gun at your forehead is my request. Six bullets in the chamber, that’s double triplicate”

“Real tough guy pistol whipping someone sat on a chair”

“That barely scratches the surface of what you’ve had me do in the past”

“Course the psych report did highlight certain ego issues. But not the id. That was all in order I’m glad to report”

“Just give me the goddamned file”

“The missions are in another file-“

“I’m not interested in the mission stuff”

“But if someone tried to kill you, you’ll need to look back over the missions to work out who”

“I know who tried to kill me. It was you fuckers”

“Don’t flatter yourself”

“How do I know it was you? I saw the timer and the device rigged up. It’s all Agency kit”

“On the job even when on the job eh? Ow! One of our enemies could frame us, make it look like we put the hit on you. I mean a beheading for goodness sakes. I know it's all the rage, but just not our style"

“I k-n-o-w it was you, because you screwed it up. Big time”

“…Well?”

“Well what?”

“You’re waiting for me to say it”

“Say what?”

“That we screwed it up because we couldn’t put our best agent on it”

“Nice double bind play. Prove I really did have ego issues if I agree with you”

“Found what you’re looking for yet?”

“I never screwed up a single mission. So you can’t be icing me for that. Never disobeyed a directive, never gave you any trouble. It’s not about any money…”

“It’s always about you isn’t it? - Ow!”

“No, it’s about my wife who is lying on my bed in two pieces, fully bled out”

“Yes no more receiving head from her I’m afraid”

“You motherfucker! I’ll rip your head off your shoulders, see how you smile on the other side of your face across the room then”

“Ow, ow ow!”

“Fuck, there’s nothing in the file”

“Oh there’s everything in the file. Pass it me, let’s see if there are any clues there? Sexual orientation… Hetero”

“I was married for fourteen years. Longer than working for this backstabbing outfit”

“She wasn’t stabbed in the back- Ow! Stop hitting me”

“Stop playing games then. You know why this has happened. The directive would have come through your hands at some point, if you didn’t issue it yourself that is”

“I keep returning to the sexual orientation. You ever play away from home?”

“No. I loved her too much”

“Not even any honey trap missions? I’ll need that other file…”

“No. I never had any of those. You better not be playing for time here. Someone comes through that door and I plug you first”

“I’m simply trying to help you get some closure here. I’m telling you, it’s all about the sexual orientation”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“You may not have done honey traps, but you’ve done enough surveillance work where you’ve recorded the mark making the beast with two backs before you lay him out on his back for good”

“Yeah, so?”

“Well we, um know the sexual predilections of all our agents as a matter of course”

“You snap us having sex?”

“Well it makes for good currency, or at least it did anyways before people started making their own porn and posting it online”

“You sick fucker. I bet you watched it in your downtime right? Made you all hot and hard did it?”

“Not really. And that’s kind of the point. In your case we didn’t have to update it. Ever. Like clockwork you two. Same night of the week. Exactly the same time at night. Same place within the house, the marital bed…”

“What’s wrong with that? We had a very loving marriage”

“If you away on assignment I bet you could just as effectively phone it in- Ow!”

“You’d know if I did, since you’re sure to have bugged my phone”

“It’s all just a bit… vanilla isn’t it? Ow! Well, tonight was the designated night of your termination from the Agency-“

“Why?”

“We felt you were, well, just too set in your ways. Not able to respond to our changing times. Gone stale”

“What, based on my sex life?”

“Of course not. But that was the exclamation mark on our analysis. Anyway, for years and years we’d seen you and your wife gently doggy. I ‘spose so she didn’t ever have to look at your face, while you couldn’t see her disinterest and going through the motions- ow! Ow! Okay okay, that was a bit gratuitous I grant. So anyways, on this one carefully planned night, with all the contraption rigged up and primed, there you guys go and change up on us and she’s on top, her head where yours was supposed to have been. And, well you know the rest…”

“If you wanted to take me out, why not just do it and dump me in an alleyway or the desert? Why was she supposed to have to witness it?”

“Because it would ensure her silence. She would know the price of opening her yap”

“You do know, you of all people, that I have been trained in all manner of torture. Affronts to the body. Grievous physical afflictions and psychological degradation”

“I’m fully aware of that. I wrote the textbook on it”

“Well you’re just about to become reacquainted with it. A refresher course”

“End of the Vanilla Man. I’ll have to make a note in your file before you get started on me”

Sunday, 14 September 2014

If Music Be The Food Of Love - Songs about food

American Pie, songs about women called Candy, bubblegum pop... food is meat for coverage in music. So feast your senses on this cornucopia of nourishment, or not as we tuck into a chart of ten songs about grub. Enjoy!


1) Lee Scratch Perry - "Roast Fish & Cornbread"
Traditional Caribbean repast, traditional (ie pre-commercial) reggae. If you listen to some of the songs of this era, you can hear the water background as befits an island culture. Moreish.



2) Gary Clail - "Beef"
A song lacerating the treatment and slaughter of cattle for our consumption of meat. People preferred Morrisey's reedy exhortation that "Meat is Murder". I know which one gets my vote. Juicy.



3) The Undertones - "Mars Bars"
Throwaway song on the B-Side of the "Jimmy Jimmy" 4-track 7" single, but it grew a life of its own. More boyish than laddish which encapsulates the band. Toothsome.



4) Pink Floyd - "Apples And Oranges"
One of Syd Barrett Floyd's last offerings, this is a curious mix of the Beatlesque and psychedelic. it almost seems that the vocals are trying to catch up with the instrumentation, or that there are too many words to deliver and fit into the rhythm. Very odd. Tart.



5) Gang Of Four - "Cheesburger"
I love Go4 but they really seemed to have lost it by the time of their fourth album "Hard" where this track came from. Maybe they'd just sung all their protest lyrics that they had and run out of ideas, while the punk-funk vibe jarred with the critical nature of their lyrics. Since their recent return however, they seem to have rediscovered their mojo and their first album in years isn't half bad. Gristle.




6) Cop Shoot Cop - "Eggs For Rib"
If you want a bit of beef in your music, or even a bit of full English behind it, takes a bunch of Americans to deliver this glorious greasy spoon fry up of a song. No idea what the lyrics are on about, but love it all the same. Calorific.



7) The Carpenters - "Jambalaya"
Carpenters do Cajun, who knew? Hey it's the Carpenters, so what could be bad right? Is it in bad taste to include anorexia sufferer Karen Carpenter in a food-themed music chart? Piquant.



8) Jack White - "Sixteen Saltines"
Do the English have saltines? I love my crackers, Ritz, Water Biscuits etc, but can't say I've ever knowingly bitten into a salteen. To me it sounds like a dried fish or something like anchovies. Still it's a good riff and a half decent song. Seasoned.



9) Squeeze - "Pulling Mussels From The Shell"
A classic. I myself don't trust seafood as to its healthiness given the pollutants pumped or jettisoned in the seas, so don't indulge. But then I guess this song warns against trusting too much as well so I seem to be in step with its sentiments. Squeeze were one of those bands who you were glad populated the charts with a level of edge and quality that kept the bland pap music in check, but you never actually went out and owned any of their records yourself... Brackish.



10) Portishead - "Biscuit"
Not sure what this has to do with biscuits, but oh my what a voice dripping emotion. Savory.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Life Class - Friday Flash

They seem to keep their pets in two display cases towards the top of their countenances. Some double reinforce the case with vitreous frames, while others provide a little vitreous porthole for greater viewing. We had thought the creatures to be fish, but their range of movement seems very limited within their restricted space and really only laterally, as if bobbed from side to side by the waves. So perhaps they are planted and therefore closer to anemones or jellyfish. They don’t do much these pets, just press themselves against the perimeter of their cases forlornly. Occasionally some water is displaced through imperceptible movement and leaks out of the case and down the countenance. Peripheral flesh sluices react very rapidly to this from below and sweep the water away, but the surface beneath remains shiny, although there me be residue of salt. Little shutters come down at night veiling the pets from sight, presumably to allow the keepers access for maintenance and feeding. These shutters themselves seem organic as they can flicker and vibrate at various points during this period. Perhaps that is resonant from the pets’ sheer pleasure at being fed. Perhaps the keepers are visiting unimaginable acts upon them.  


The next structure is a mystifying one. We had thought it to be some sort of chemical grow bag, with two holes at the bottom for infusions and we have certainly seen the powdered white fertiliser and nitrates inserted. There must be some internal duct piping for channelling the nitrates up against gravity. Yet we have also seen red liquid dispensed back down through the apertures, so the crop yield seems to be a liquid one, though we have never observed this liquid being properly retained and stored in any systematic fashion. We have also regarded a heavier, more sludgier green deliquescence emanating through these outlets. They get swept up with a white plane of fabric and balled up and tossed as compost. This fluid is so viscous, we wonder if the white powder might actually be insecticide, or rather simply salt to assault the slugs that may plague the contents of the chemical grow bags inside. Yet we have never seen any dead slugs tumble forth from within the chamber. Truly it must possess some remarkable properties to so defy gravity. Further study is required.


Are the sides of the ensemble are two opened mother of pearl-like shells, although they lack for any nacreous sheen. Maybe there is some muscle memory at work here, for the cores are frequently plugged with tiny white buds dangling from the end of white strings. Boxed sounds emerge from these, perhaps to conjure up the lost sound of the sea the shells have been parted from. That the shells stand upright on their points, may suggest that they have been specially carved in the shape of the relief that receives and holds them in place. This is unclear at present. When they are not sealed with the recreations of pearl, sometimes wispy strands of seaweed can be seen creeping out of the cavity. Others, rather than the tiny nacreous boulders sealing the cleft, instead have huge architectural erections covering the whole of the shell. Again the sound of the sea is pumped through these dolmens, though these waves seem to be crashing far more voluminously. Sometimes these shell caverns are completely covered up by the creepers and vines that trail down them from above and they disappear from sight. Only a hanging groyne or buoy right at the tip of the isthmus marks them out as such and sometimes only one of the pair is thus pointed. Usually in those with less dense tendrils and shoots overhanging. Presumably since there is less unseen danger to signal.



The last feature is a grotto leading on to a series of miniature tombstones. Some tombstones are draped in metal presumably to protect the stones from grave robbers and other scavengers. Stringy green moss and lichens adorn the stones after they have been plied with scouring materials on the end of tridents thrust against them. A second wave of cleaning happens when night falls and a white abstergent is applied via a brush and then hosed off with water. None of our scouts have ever observed the transformation, but we know that when these miniature tombstones are removed from the grotto and planted in the earth, they grow and become much larger tombstones. Initially they darken in colour, but develop a glossy sheen to them, but in time this sheen fades and becomes dull. The elements and in particular acid rain bite into the tissue of the stone and leave marks with either straight lines or curlicues, which superficially could be misconstrued as some sort of symbolic communicative system, but these soon become eclipsed by mosses and lichens adhering to the stone that are not this time attempted to be erased.

The level of evolution is adjudged to be low to middling and therefore no further time studying them is proposed.