Cave Art is supposed to be pre-technological, yet when I entered the underground system beneath the Abbas Chalk Mines as a producer for a TV programme on popular aesthetics, I was astonished nobody had noticed a scratched image in a dark corner that only the strong camera lights (needed for such a venture) could sufficiently illuminate for me to see what I could only describe as a modern domestic cooling-fan complete with electric flex.
Of course, it only looked like one. On closer scrutiny, I could see it was just an accident of chance shadow and my imagination that made the 'whole' from the bits and pieces of expertly dated caveman art. Abstractions as well as cunning representations.
The flex was indeed a queue of what appeared to be animals – two by two – just made out with a magnifying glass. How the cavemen had had the wherewithal to create such precise down-sized figures – with just a stone implement upon a rock wall and in utter darkness – was quite beyond me.
We were the fist TV crew allowed on-site and I had yet to meet the head curator of the Abbas underground system. His girl assistant had led us down – more concerned with her love life, no doubt, than what she was showing us.
Indeed, it appeared she, too, was surprised by what the TV lights and magnifying-glass revealed.
“They are like lemmings slowly heading towards some vast spinning-contraption,” I said.
The adverb ‘slowly’ seemed an odd choice of words in the circumstances, I guess, but I am not a scientist. I am an entertainer and reporter, and sometimes the two became far too close even for my comfort.
Eventually the programme was made. On my instructions, we did not feature the mysterious Lilliputian zoo creatures heading towards their own collision with Fate. It was a great success. One does need to balance truth with secrecy. The showing of the bizarre interesting bits in the corner would have undermined the whole Abbas project, even if those bizarre bits were just as real as anything else we showed. In fact, I later suspected that the only genuine caveman art in the Abbas system was that depicting the zoo animals and their fate while the remaining more believably ordinary images shown on our TV show had earlier been completely fabricated.
Who says crime doesn’t pay? The crime of concealing bizarre truths in favour of boring fabrications.
I wonder how many other projects, artistic or scientific, are dogged by similar considerations. It makes one wonder. I only report this here for my wife to post on the internet when I am gone. It seems right somehow bearing in mind where we first met.
You see, the flex had no plug.