The Hideous Kraal

February 4, 2006

The kiwiI dreamt I was walking down the road just after dawn when suddenly I saw a flock of bloodstained, half plucked, large birds. They looked like kiwi, not the kind of bird one normally sees in a flock of them running down a quiet London street, still less with their plumage looking so mangled and bloody and gritty. There was no-one about but me, and the flock stopped for a moment and one of the birds turned its head towards me. It looked horrible and distressed, and then away the flock ran down the road, no cars about, save parked.

I had to go in the direction they’d come from. There’d be the occasional bloody brush-by on a car door, a horrid feather. Otherwise, just an ordinary suburban back street, the shops not open yet, a light frost on the pavement. I was looking forward to a mug of tea and a roll in a greasy spoon I knew would be open this hour.

I turned the corner and saw huge sealions hanging like giant leeches from the top of the railway bridge, more like elephant seals, but they hung from a sucker and expanded and contracted like leeches hanging from the top of a jamjar of pond water. I could see the café, its lights on, at the end of the street. But then a blue bear walked into the middle of the road and a lion followed.

I decided to walk the long way round.

When I awoke, the phrase ‘The Hideous Kraal’ was on my lips. And I wrote it down, and the dream.