Beer Cans, Wildflowers and a Dead Dog’s Ashes – A Dream Life Beneath the Pylon of Hackney Marsh

With the remains of his dead dog in a cardboard tube, Gareth E. Rees returns to the pylon that sparked his edgeland obsession

FILM & MUSIC: Martin Fuller / Dinlochav

WORDS: Gareth E. Rees

LOCATION: The Lower Lea Valley, London.

In 2008 I fell in love with a pylon on Hackney Marsh. Or, rather, I fell in love with the edgeland of the Lower Lea Valley and the pylon on the marsh became its compelling locus. It dominated the abandoned Victorian filter beds, power lines slung across the dirty canal, joint roaches strewn beneath its barb-wire-gartered legs.

I’d walk past it every day with my cocker spaniel, Hendrix, and take photos or just sit beneath it for a while. After a few years, it was relocated onto the edge of the football fields, just behind the filter beds’ wall. I wrote a story about it, from the perspective of a man who is erotically involved with the pylon, entitled ‘A Dream Life of Hackney Marshes’. It was published by Influx Press in their debut anthology in 2012. That anthology is now out of print, but the story is included in my new book, Terminal Zones, which collects together the weird fiction I’ve written over the past four years, plus this seminal tale – the one that got the ball rolling for me.

Sadly, Hendrix died this year, so I decided to take his ashes back to the marshes from my home in Hastings. It was strange to return to the place we walked so often, with his disintegrated remains inside a cardboard tube. The marshes had barely changed since 2008 but I had become wrinkled and greyed, divorced and relocated to the south coast, while Hendrix had turned into gravel.

My friend Martin Fuller, a filmmaker who has featured regularly on this website (check out this one), joined me on the walk. As a result he made two films, one about the pylon from ‘A Dream Life of Hackney Marshes’, and another in which I scatter Hendrix’s ashes and recall a very weird incident involving my future ghost.

A Dream Life of Hackney Marsh from Dinlochav on Vimeo.

A Walk by the River.mp4 from Dinlochav on Vimeo.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Gareth E. Rees is author of Unofficial Britain (Elliott & Thompson, 2020) Car Park Life (Influx Press 2019), The Stone Tide (Influx Press, 2018) and Marshland (Influx Press, 2013). His new book, Terminal Zones is available to order here.

“Strange, compelling and brilliantly funny.”- Prano Bailey-Bond, director of Censor

‘Fresh and disturbing stories mapping out the pressure points in the psychedelic everyday.’
– Will Wiles, author of Plume

“An outstanding collection that firmly establishes Gareth E. Rees as one of Britain’s foremost chroniclers of lives lived between the cracks.’ – Tim Major, author of Hope Island

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