It’s made of oak and is very heavy. Sir Gawain of the Round Table knelt at it to have his neck severed by the Green Man in ‘Leaf and Flame’, the Silent Eye’s 2016 workshop by Stuart France and Sue Vincent.
I know, I played the part of Sir Gawain, the knight who wanders in search of his death, a forfeit undertaken to protect the life of his beloved King Arthur. It’s a role I’ve played many times in my mystical life, and not through choice – he’s a complex and not always pleasant character.
Gawain doesn’t die, of course, though the huge axe is swung in earnest by his seeming oppressor, following the attempted seduction by his wife. But the blade, with ferocious accuracy, does nick his neck. The small flow of blood satisfies the honour for the act begun Arthur’s packed Christmas Court.
As objects go, it’s definitely mine…except it isn’t…
The small, furry object in the photo, above, is Misti, our exotic rescue cat. “I’ve been expecting you, Mr Bond” is the most frequent comment when people meet her, or even see a photo.
The problem is, for the five years since the workshop, ‘Gawain’s execution block’ as we have come to know it, has been living at the foot of the stairs next to Misti’s feeding table, which is raised to prevent Tess, the collie, from stealing her food. We only put it there out of expediency, but soon Misti was using it as a kind of high-speed runway to complete her frequent dashes around the house…ending, paws up, on her bowl.
If you have a cat, this manic behaviour might be familiar.
And so Gawain’s execution block stayed where it was. Until recently, when with the approach of the winter months, I decided it would be better restored to its original position by the door, thereby allowing us an easier position for tying the laces on our outdoor boots – essential equipment if you live in a muddy Cumbria.
The cat agrees. She can have much more fun by the door, she says, it’s a wooden block for heaven’s sake. Which just shows the power of the imagination. And cats…sigh.
©Stephen Tanham 2021
Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.