What You Should Know About Swallows
Updated: Mar 3, 2021
The Swallow, is... a record. A record I bought in a charity shop in... Southampton I believe. It's a shit one as it turns out (sorry Keith). You'd hope... I'd hoped, it would be some epic, undiscovered slash unremembered, incredibly cool folk track from the 70s emerging from one of those hippie communes in a Californian desert. Hopefully not one where anyone had been massacred! That's my dark humour. That may come out from time to time... But alas. The artwork however. A slick matt, white sleeve with an angular, geometrically poised arrowhead of an aerodynamic, sylph-like swallow, slicing through the air, balanced on a breeze. I mean.
From time to time, I will possibly elaborately/overly/accurately, describe something. Description words are like my way of conveying, as clearly as I can manage, how I hope you will FEEL and experience, as fully as I imagine, in my mind. Like layers of paint applied over and over on a canvas. The full depth, in all its range and colour, in beauty and in ugliness often, revealed in lumpy application, layered strokes of indentation and texture, slashes, cracks and scratchy perspective. Anyway, back to the story.
It also had a beautiful white pressed vinyl record. It could have been cut I suppose. Something I learned all about recently from my beautiful friend Martha's lush documentary Cutting It. Anyway I digress again. The point is, it sits on a my desk and is a voice of inspiration for me.
Swallows, ... are small birds, the whippets of the skies. Glossy backed with long tails, they dart, swoop and soar in agile grace, catching their prey on the wing and migrating south each winter. Delicate but strong I would say. Feisty and antisocial, they'll mob a predator and stay clear of humans (who can blame them) but they'll mate for life.
And so they've come to symbolise love, care, affection, loyalty and fidelity. Returning home, sailers earned their swallow tattooed badges of honour in 5000 treacherous nautical mile increments with two or more denoting the grittiest of experienced and valuable sailors. Inked on each shoulder, the swallows would supposedly lift their souls to heaven should they drift into danger on the perilous seas.
Themselves endangered, their habitats rapidly being destroyed and by the fluctuating climatic conditions that make their long sea voyage as hazardous as that of the sailors they'd saved. Hedgerows bulldozed to create mega fields, for mega crops, to feed our mega diets, leaving us nourished as poorly as the swallows. A delicate ecosystem of existence faltering at both our creation and decimation.
And so it came to me, that I should take them as my muse and name sake for my own journey. To love and know love, to show care and great affection. Reveal beauty, expose ugly and embrace imperfection. To explore, to learn and to traverse life's turbulence. Hoping for safe passage, to duck and to dive, glide and reach new heights, to see a hopeful shore, travel to a warm clime and return home to a safe harbour.
To let words out. To express, in muddled words musing, restless hell-raising ranting, painful poetic unravelling, drunkenly spilling stumbling, clustered, disgruntled, belligerent with a murmur... of haven.
This is my black forked silhouette saluting triumphant against a wide whitened sky, a monochrome hopeful chime at an otherwise dark time.
Below: Someone with Swallow ink, but not me