The temperate rainforest began at the bottom of my garden. In the green cathedral, where the bark was furred with fresh green moss and pale lichen, you could get a feel for what this land had once been. No: that was a guess on my part. I was projecting, for how could I truly know?
I could make informed guesses about the ecosystems and fauna and plant life of the past, but of the people who lived in the dripping forests, I could know nothing. All I had left of them were a few rocky symbols, shorn of meaning, fenced off or scrawled with graffiti.
Others wanted to project too. They projected themselves over my garden fence, or tried to sneak in via the overgrown alleyway that ran alongside my house, home to fighting cats, foxes fucking, nettles and rusting beer cans.
They wanted to use the temperate rainforest – that they said once smothered all of England – for their own rituals and versions of the truth. Some were benign, with their bent branches and offerings hung from the trees and small dollies fashioned from holly and bark. All of that made a sort of sense to me; why not give thanks to the things around you rather than the invisible and abstract. But there were others who fetishised the temperate rainforest, even as they destroyed it. They claimed that they belonged in the forest, and others did not. But others were already there.
It was in the temperate rainforest at the bottom of my garden that I found a group of these self-proclaimed indigenes taking their busy fists to a lone Neanderthal. They laughed off my talk of flower-burials and said if I didn’t like it I could join the degenerate in hospital. I protested, saying the forest had space for all and that none of us could truly claim ownership. They bloodied my nose, called me a traitor, questioned my masculinity, and threw me out of the forest.
The following night I headed into the forest with a petrol can, a cheap plastic lighter and conflagration on my mind. I listened to the screech of felines in the overgrown alley. It would all have to go, and be truly purified.