EDITORS NOTE: I asked Ralph for Gardening Tips and he sent me this terrible screed and the following message:
“I did this weird story about a Toadstool Island that appeared one day on a moss covered root on an old dead tree!? See if you can open it and make gardening sense of it….There is a Gardener in it called Alan who hates flowers…….R”
Well, it seems that the story might take place somewhere within or at least close by a garden, so it will have to do…
-Clayton L. Luce
By: Ralph STEADman
And so it began…..everything froze- even the ice froze- twice. ‘Can’t take much more of this!’ said Owl, whose face was obliterated by a blanket of snow.
‘How do you think I feel?’ said Crow, who only moments before had been as black as the Ace of Spades. The massive flurry of snow had made him look like a giant snow flake who was vaguely discernable on his underside- as a black inky smudge. His beak was also, miraculously, poking out, as though his sheer personality had projected itself beyond the delicate snowflakes, which looked so pretty as they floated down from a featureless grey sky like a silent curse.
‘Hey!!’ said a voice – that seemed to emanate from a spot somewhere between the Owl and the Crow. ”sthat you Pidge?’ enquired Crow- who was always nosey. ‘It rhymes with Crow, see?’ said Crow who was always trying to be witty.
Pigeon was weeping. ‘BooHoo!” it wailed and Boohoo again just to emphasise its sad plight. “Nobody cares for Pigeons’ it continued. ‘ Nobody thinks that Pigeons have feelings- but they do!’ Its blue feathers looked bluer than ever.
‘Coo! Coo! It cooed.
‘Why do you say coo! Coo? Said the Owl- ‘ when I say. ‘Toowhit-too whoo?’
‘Well, I say ‘Caw! Caw!! And that rhymes with More! More!!’, said the black Crow, who looked so black he could have been wearing one of those suits that people wear who attend official events. The official events referred to as particularly official- only really happen in one place in the whole world.
The place I refer to is known as TOADSTOOL ISLAND!
No such place exists!! I hear you say. Many people say it! Most things people do not believe in are denied. There is a natural animal fear in most people to dismiss places where fantasy exists, or is claimed to exist. But this Island was there for perhaps twenty four hours- at most.
I saw it and I watched it –and- I actually recorded it as something that would not be believed after the event. I could only believe in it myself during that period.
It was a pleasant day, sunny- but late autumn. There was a touch of frost in the air. Funny!, I thought. I didn’t see that before? I was referring to a sharply bright, white Toadstool, that stood proud upon a piece of root stump protruding from the soil. It was like some tree plant that had been placed there so specifically- it was meant to be observed. I had not only noticed it, but I resolved to capture it on film- for, I somehow knew that it would not be there twenty four hours from that moment.
I took photos of it from every angle to make sure that I would have this Toadstool recorded from every angle I may need to establish its existence. Even now I wish that I had taken even more pictures- but I did not truly know that at the time , the next day, there was no sign of this extraordinary growth. It was a Fairy Tale Moment- a mirage of pure imagination- and I wonder now if I saw it at all. Only the Photos I took of its existence persuade me that it was there.
I am certain that there were creatures on this island. They would have been tiny and indeterminate to the human eye. Creatures of MY imagination, maybe, but most definitely there, living a life of tiny Supercreatures. Maybe they were living off the Toadstool itself. Why not? There was some moss and lichen- and smudgy pieces of wood bark and green leaves and flowers of the Nasturtiums- the only exotic species growing at that time around the monstrous stump of Horse Chestnut tree left standing.
I believe that the stump of dead Horse Chestnut had become an Altar-piece – a place of worship for the creatures who loved the Toadstool- and in its turn treated that as its true object of reverential worship. One thing is certain….These creatures were vegetarian in outlook and conviction. The Nasturtium leaf is an exquisite addition to any salad and even on its own is a leaf resplendent with flavour.
So I suggest that the creatures of Toadstool Island worship the very greenery of their sacred island, gather strength from the single Toadstool, during its existence – treat it as an all-giving symbol of abundance- and then devour it during one gargantuan feast as the leaves on the trees around it turn golden, from the dying wish of autumn- in themselves a feast for the eyes for everyone who love such enriching colour for their own sake.
‘I know about it too’ said the Crow, not to be outdone
‘Well, I know about it too!!’ said Pidge, not to be outdone- even though he really knew nothing at all. Pigeons are like that. All mess and no effluence control. Pigeons are probably the filthiest creatures on the Planet. They are probably only happy when they have covered everything in their nesting area with white Guano! That is their unforgiveable sin. And for that, I loathe them.
Anyway, Toadstool Island wandered on through its uncertain history.
One day, a strange creature landed on the island like a white bird. It had double wings and was practically white all over.
‘I have come to visit the ruler of this Island’. it declared.
“So have I!!’ said a creature- menacing and full of loathing. ‘I need to engage with something more menacing than me!!’
‘Well you have come to the right place, ole sport!!’ said the white bird. ‘ My friend the Owl will take on any comers!!’
‘Why not you?’ said the creature, menacing and full of loathing.
‘Well , I don’t fight’ said the white bird.
Owl was looking fierce. ‘I will fight anyone!!’ said Owl- and he meant it.
There was an intense flurry of feathers and bit of Toadstool flying about all over the place- and quite suddenly the Toadstool disappeared. The Island was bare leaving only the green lichen and moss.
Copyright 2015 – Ralph STEADMAN
Printed here for GonzoToday com with permission from the author.
Photos and art by Ralph STEADman.