Sunday, 4 April 2010

The Butterfly Effect: An Easter Coda

Good Friday. Opened my curtains to the open-wings of the butterball, seen through a halo: still in the same spot, on the grass under the tree beneath my window. Footballs fly into nets; butterflies fly into nets – butterfly nets. Goalposts are made out of wood – have a crossbar; Jesus was - captured - crucified on the cross. Butterflies are crucified in display-cases.
It’s Easter; but I don’t start the day on an egg. Tofu-on-toast. The label on the bread (from Waitrose) says, ‘The Terence Stamp Collection’, and there’s a picture of the actor’s head – Stamp’s head – the size of a postage stamp, on the wrapping. Stamp played a butterfly collector cum kidnapper in, ‘The Collector’ (the 1965 film of John Fowles’ book of the same name). John Clegg (Stamp) is a lonely man - with non-existent social skills - who one day wins a fortune on the football pools. With his new-found-wealth he gives-up work, buys an isolated house in the country, kidnaps a young art student – whom he’s been long admiring from a distance, but with whom he is unable to make normal contact - and adds her to his ‘collection’ of beautiful petrified objects (butterflies).
Greg’s, Clegg’s, Stamp’s, hopeless obsession with butterflies - a fantasy made true by football - observed from a distance: a socked football - that once flew - chewed (by a dog). Dogs are kicked; Dogs fly; and there’s a breed of Spaniel called, The Papillion (Butterfly) Dog. I chew-over these associations, as the tofu sticks to my tongue, like a stamp. 
It’s Good Friday and another kind of ‘collector’ – the cleaner - patrols the garden, collecting rubbish. What stopped me making ‘normal contact’ as she plucked-up the butterball between her pincers? Why didn’t shout out the window: “Don’t kidnap my butterball. Leave my butterball alone”? I’m still in that big sock (my own butterfly net), and a mouthful of tofu is no excuse for allowing a rare butterball to become landfill: extinct. 
Jesus rose from the dead on the third day – from a cave. In ‘The Collector’, Stamp keeps his young art-student, prisoner, in the cellar. 
I fall through the rubbish-shoot into the basement and join the butterball in the bin. At last, I’ve shed my sock - my sin: like Jesus shed his shroud; but I'm not him. And so it came to come: the butterball rose from the dead on the third day and ascended to my bedroom, on a broomstick. Why not? Jesus travelled on a cross.

The Collector’ was published in 1963, and the film was released in 1965. I was born bang in between, in 1964. 

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