Monday, 16 June 2008

Middle Earth

A very popular read amongst us in the mid seventies was you-know-what...yes, Lord of The Rings. Either Anthony or Mike introduced me to this and let's face it...for a short while it laid down a background fantasy contrasting with the dullness of living in the post industrial landscape of mid-Cornwall in the 1970's. In fact, although I'm no psychologist I think we pretty much superimposed part of Middle Earth over the area we used to roam in. Carn Brea became our Minas Tirith or Weathertop, Treslothan Woods was magically transformed into Lothlorien, The Brea Inn became the Prancing Pony at Bree. Redruth, Camborne and St.Agnes were obviously Mordor and after ascending Weathertop we used to survey it's demonic fires burning in the night below before descending in the dark back down the hill to Bag End (Tregajorran) and take refuge for the night, all the while keeping an ear out for Black Riders who might be lurking in the vicinity.

Overlooking Redruth and Camborne from Carn Brea in the 1970's. St.Agnes Beacon belches forth fire and smoke in the distance.

Some of us mysteriously began to take on Middle-Earthian personas. I was obviously Strider, only because I was the tallest and could lay claim to the title 'Longshanks'. Mike became a Hobbit and if you look carefully in some of the photos he is wearing a small leather boot...this had some significance but I can't remember what. Phil G became an Elven Prince and still likes to be called 'Prince Philbert' if you please. I'm not sure about the others but I remember one night when we scaled Weathertop...I mean Carn Brea, and one of our party, Simon Hart decided that he was in fact Gollum and disappeared into the gloom to periodically attack us as we made our way across the rocky summit towards Bag End, I mean Mike's place at Tregajorran.

Simon 'Gollum' Hart

Mike Applebee and myself were presented with a real chance to pass through a mystical portal (a window in a derelict mine building beneath Carn Brea) into Middle Earth once, from which we would not be able to return. Amazingly we chose to stay in Redruth and take the consequences. I'm still not sure if we made the right decision.

The Jimmy Cauty poster at the top of this post used to grace my bedroom wall for a couple of years. Amazing to think he drew that when only seventeen years of age apparently. It certainly inspired me in my future and current career as an illustrator.
Posted by Steve

1 comment:

Phil G said...

I think that one of the main things that drew me to LOTR was the jacket cover by Pauline Baynes. I already liked her style in the Narnia chronicles (which just goes to show that you can judge a book by it's cover), and also the importance of good illustration. I absolutely love her idea of the landscape of Middle Earth leading on into the unknown distance. Consequently as a result of starting to read LOTR (in '77?) I re-established contact with Mike Applebee - we were part of a small band studying A level art in Chiefy's classes. I noticed that Mike often drew his themes from Middle Earth; one fateful day I told him that I had just started reading LOTR, thereafter we would discuss our personal interpretations of people and places in the book. So for me LOTR became the third thread (started with Bowie and followed by motorcycling) which led to this long standing friendship.