Not all the references to Pixi in the Trials of Arthur mention his name.
The following is an extract from Chapter 18: Camelot (Of Cabbages and Kings).
It describes life on a protest site, but actually refers to two incidents in which I observed Pixi, neither of which were on a protest site.
The first took place in a friend’s front room, when Pixi stood up to recite a poem, accompanied by a woman who mimed to his words. Pixi did what he often did when he was performing: he invoked the fire. He asked us to imagine a scene in the woods, with the fire burning in the hearth, at which point, he launched into his poem.
The second took place in the Red Lion in Avebury. People were playing the drums in the backroom, and Pixi joined in with them. But while the other drummers kept a steady rhythm, Pixi was playing across them, counterpointing them, playing an intense cross-rhythm which lifted the beat to another level of complexity. Pixi was talking with his drums. He was communicating with them. He was reciting poetry, quoting Shakespeare, using the drum like an amplifier to beat out the rhythm of his soul.
It was intense and beautiful and my writing was a poor attempt to recreate some of the rhythms I heard that afternoon.
Do you want to know what life on a protest site is like? It’s like this. The heart of any site is the fire, the hearth. Heart, hearth and earth, maybe there’s some connection? The hearth is the heart of the earth. The fire is dug into the earth and circled by stones, as guardians. The stones hold the fire in, protecting it. Most of the time there is a kettle boiling on it. So all the elements are there: earth, air, fire and water. Food is cooked upon it and then eaten around it. During the day visitors are welcomed to it, offered tea and conversation. At night they weave their tales around it, drink and carouse, engage in ceremony, sing songs, whisper endearments, smoke, make jokes, laugh, plan, squabble, come and go, feed it, nurture it, poke it with sticks, tap it to see the sparks rise, fall asleep beside it, wake up, blink, look about with wondering eyes, dodge the smoke, before finally deciding it’s time to go to bed.
The hearth is the focal point of all human exchange, the centre point for the ancient human economy.
And sometimes magic happens around it.
Spirits are drawn to it. The ancestors gather to be with the living. Ghosts of the night flit amid its fleeting shadows.
And then someone will stand and recite a poem, an epic tale of deeds and adventure, while another will stand beside him miming to the words as they rise and fall, declaiming and gesturing with mannered precision, and it’s as if a charm has come over the world, a sparkle, as if the night woods have become a theatre, the backdrop to that most ancient of plays, the human drama. And a feeling of hushed awe descends over the company as they welcome the spirits into their midst.
Because this fire has roots, not in the earth, but in time. And back, back, through the centuries, through the millennia, back through ages past, this fire, these people have been here, back to the beginning of the human story, when the world was new, when the people were shining beings, when the world glowed with its own internal light, this fire has played here in this hearth, the force that made us human. And in its embers we read our own story. In its warmth we feel our own warmth. In its light we see our own light. And the sparks that rise up into the night sky are like angels, and in its dark heart we see the writings of the Old Ones, hoary as the flames, whose language is time. And here we read our future, we read our past, we read our present, we read of all our days and all the things that make us human and alive, that make us want to sing, to love, to laugh, to recite poetry, to give birth, to dance, to grow, to become ever more and more fully human.
And then, maybe, someone will bring out a guitar, and the songs of the heart will be replayed, songs we have known, always, deep-rooted and as ancient as the trees, and the tribe draws in, ever closer, knowing they are one in their diversity, an organism, a life form, knowing that they belong, as we belong, as the Earth belongs to us. Property is a sin. It is a lie. It is a crime. It is the dispossession of humanity. It is our enemy. It takes away what we are. Because we are the Earth, and how can the Earth be owned or sold? It’s like selling off our souls.
And then the drums might start, that deep-heart Earth rhythm like a spiralling heartbeat, racing wildly, stirring the night’s depths with rhythmic insistence, a battering pulse, running in rivulets of strung-out deep bass Earth-notes and high notes, like the rattled chatter of baboons, all the tension of the stretched skins echoing about the dark woods and through the earth, a stream become a torrent, shattering and returning, circling, weaving, running rings around the trees, lighting up the darkness, joining all hearts as one. And don’t we all feel it? Can’t we all feel it? That pulse that always sways us, that sets our hearts drumming, that sets our hips spinning, that sets our minds swirling, that sets our feet skipping, that sets our legs dancing, that sets our arms waving, that reminds us of who we are: the rhythm of the Earth.