4th June, 2010
Location: Brandon Hill, Central Bristol
This tree – it just keeps going – right to the top.
In retrospect… this was an awesome tree. So easy to climb and was able to get really high – quick. Great view and felt safe! Go for it!
After I climbed she put flowers on the burned ground, and said it looked like a grave. My grandmother used to say – in french – “every goodbye is like a little death”.
On another note – I feel lucky, or it seems serendipitous to meet two people who’s parents were involved with planting hundreds of trees – to have met two in one week. Is that normal? Or when you get talking to people about trees, has everyone planted many? I for one have planted not many. I can’t properly remember one I planted – yes I can remember – one or two but…ok, I’m rambling.
Basically, my point is I don’t imagine many people have planted many trees. Need to change that. Need to get us all planting. As part of a habit. Like a ritual – instead of dancing round a Christmas tree – chopped down – we all go and plant one. Or three.
But enough about that. I’m sat around a fire – burning wood – with Woody. (I decided – since this is my game I’ll be whimsical about who I interview and why. It was his name in this case. Here he is:
H: Um, Woody
W: Yeah, yeah
H: I’m interviewing you now
W: Really? [laugh] Ok
H: So you’re called Woody.
W: But it’s with a, it’s with an h after the w. So it’s more like Whoody.
H: So um, since I’m doing this tree project
H: And you’re called Woodie…it seemed fitting to, include you
W: [laughing] Yes
H: Ummm you must have heard some stories and jokes about wood
H: Come on you can do this, you can do this
W: What kind of, what kind of jokes? What you erec, you mean about erections?
H: Could be, could be…[laugh]
W: I’ve heard that a bit, but not as much as you might think
H: Right. Is that cos you look…
W: Fucking terrifying
W: Yeah yeah. People just don’t dare.
H: People…scared witless…
W: Yeah yeah
H: Anything else? Nothing else?
W: [quietly] Ahh jokes about wood…right…
H: Or like, woody wood, wood pecker?
W: Mmm yeah
H: That kind of thing
H: Or, how many woods could a wood chuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
W: Yeah, uhhh
H: Well I’m coming up with all these
W: Well yeah, ummm…
W: I like the name.
H: You like the name [laugh] It’s a good name.
W: Yeah, it hasn’t
H: But is it nice, do you…
W: [overlap] Actually no, I guess Toy Story actually, that’s been the most said probably
H: Oh ok
W: About Woody from Toy Story
H: Right right
W: In the last ten years
H: Right. What about um…like…do you associate much with the wood? The name. Or has it become just like Wood, Woody?
W: Do I think of wood?
H: [laugh] Well now, every time someone calls um, your name do you think about wood?
W: Not at all.
H: Ever? Do you ever? Like a big pile of wood?
H: Or a burning piece of wood [laugh]
W: No, I dunno, I guess a few people have called me, sort of woodland…
W: So obviously then I do
W: But just being called Woody, no I don’t really
H: [overlap] Right
W: [overlap] Don’t really think about wood. Sorry it’s going to be a crap interview, this
H: No, no, it’s good, I’m enjoying it. Woodland.
H: What other things could there be?
W: Woodster, Wood…
W: Never been called that
H: Ok. So what do you think about um, wood?
W: [laugh] I love wood
H: [laugh] Do you love it?
W: I love it, I love all the different smells of different types of wood, when you’re, when you work with ‘em, when you drill them and saw them…
H: Oh yeah?
W: The smells are particularly…
W: They’re…it’s amazing how strong it is.
W: It’s really evocative, isn’t it?
H: Have you ever smelt norwegian wood?
W: I dunno, I don’t think so…
H: Like…cos this wood it’s err…I can’t remember what it’s called…but it’s like roots that have gone into bogs?
H: They’ve been under the, under the ground, and the, the the…what’s it called, the umm…what’s the stuff inside?
H: Yeah. The oil.
W: [overlap] Yeah
H: The sap is um…it’s like err…I don’t know what’s happened to it, but it’s like, so you can actually just, you have a piece of wood, and you can just light it with a match…
H: Like and it just lights.
W: Really flammable.
H: Yeah really flammable, like really flammable. It’s really oily and mm…
W: Yeah no, I find…I dunno I think the smells are like…it’s one of the most powerful things…
H: [overlap] It is. Yeah. And I’ll tell you what, I agree with you though about wood. Wood is like, that smell, it’s like cut wood?
W: Yeah yeah, absolutely mental, it’s mental.
H: Yeah. It’s like crack isn’t it?
H: It’s like crack cocaine.
W: What the rush you get from it?
H: [laughing] Yeah
W: Yeah totally
H: [laughing, quietly] Fuck
W: Can’t imagine you going on live radio
H: Be good, wouldn’t it?
W: It’d be fucking terrible.
H: These are going, these are going on YouTube, mate
H: So, got anything interesting to say?
H: To the world, all the…
W: Nah. Nah I haven’t, really. You can go to hell.
H: So what, what’s your first, you said about you used to the climb up a tree
W: [laugh] Climb a lot.
W: Yeah. Loads.
H: What, general climbing, or just tree climbing?
W: A lot of tree climbing. Loads of tree climbing, yeah yeah…
H: When did you give it up?
W: [overlap] And this one…I gave up back in 1993, I think it was [laugh]
H: Was it? [laugh]
W: No, I remember climbing this one particular one that sticks in my memory
H: Oh yeah?
W: It was er, I think it was a fir tree..?
H: Oh yeah
W: Really, really massive fir tree
W: Err…and it’s all, all sort, quite um…it’s obviously all really, quite a dense type of tree?
W: You know with loads of really thin little, sort of spikey branches
W: I ended up sort of having to climb through, sort of, you know the kind of tree I’m on?
H: Oh yeah right, yeah that sounds good. Like a brush.
W: …Yeah, and then…
H: [overlap] Like climbing through a big loo brush
W: But still we could find good branches to hold on to.
W: And I sort of climbed…
H: [overlap] Like climbing through a letter box, with one of those sort of bristly things
W: [laugh] Yeah a bit like that. But I literally climbed until the trunk, I was sort of on to was about an inch and a half thick, you know what I mean, like right at the top…
H: [overlap] Right, up
W: [overlap] And they’re quite bendy those trees
W: And it was just a crazy feeling of being, like…I dunno how high
W: Probably 50 or 60 feet up
W: And just literally, just swaying like a few feet from one side to the other.
H: Right, wow.
W: I remember sort of tying it, we tied a flag to the top of it…remember I did that.
H: Really? You tied a flag to it? Where was this?
W: Mmm, just cos it felt kind of ridiculously…
W: …Cos it was moving so much…
W: I just thought, I probably won’t ever come back up to this point again
W: Cos it was, you know, it was very high. Very bendy [laugh]. Yeah it was good. Where was it you say?
W: Just near my parents house. Yeah just really lucky to have a big… big woodland. Loads of trees to climb. Mmm was good.
H: So why didn’t you, why were you Woody? Why are you Woody? Cos are, cos are your parents are hippies?
W: No my two older brothers…just, I think immediately as I was born just started calling me , rather than Edward, started calling me Eddywoody. And then it just, Woody just sort of stuck immediately.
H: Right, right. Is that your older brothers? Eddy Woody.
W: Well cos obviously they were 4 and 6 when I was born.
H: Yeah. Cool so your brothers named you
W: Yeah, I guess they did, yeah. Yeah!
H: That’s quite cool. That’s cool. I’m glad my brother didn’t name me.
W: What would he have named you?
H: The runt.
H: No, not really.
W: What are you doing with these interviews? Are you transcribing them?
H: I’m going to get someone to do it, yeah.
W: Transcribe it?
W: To go in a book.
H: Maybe. That’s the idea. Cool, I like your flag story, you put a flag up there, you made the flag as well Woody, what was the flag made of?
W: Ahh I can’t actually remember mate, at all
H: What did it look like?
W: I can’t remember. At all. That’s bad.
H: Did you, did you decide to…I’m going to go and put a flag…
W: [overlap] Yeah
H: [overlap] …At the top of that tree
W: Yeah yeah, totally
H: So you didn’t have a flag in your pocket, by accident.
W: [laughing] No I just happened to have a flag…yeah yeah no, it was a…
H: You could’ve, what you could’ve done was…plant the tree…then when it gets big enough, attach the flag to it…and then…
W: That’s, that’s…
H: …It would grow
H: And the flag would get up there…eventually…
W: Are you seriously, are testing my knowledge of trees?
H: No! [laugh]
W: That’s not true, at all!
W: Did you know that?
W: Well because…
H: [overlap] It grows from, it grows out…
W: Yeeah if you think, it’s like otherwise like the fences in fields
H: [overlap] Yeah yeah yeah
W: Would all be up in the air [laugh]
H: [overlap] Yeah yeah yeah yeah
W: When they go round trees…whereas a tree actually just grows around them in that, at that height, I mean obviously, to the tree…
H: To the tree. It wouldn’t work. But it was a good idea. It was a fun idea.
W: It was a fun idea.
H: It was surreal.
W: And I love the evocative, sort of imagery you conjured up
H: Did you? You loved that.
W: Um. Ahh…
H: What do you know about..?
W: How long can you record with this? Ages..?
H: Yeah. Do you know um…anything about trees?
W: Yeah, I’m mean it’s better if it’s not…a real time um interview. If you know what I mean? It’s better, I can relax…
H: Yeah don’t worry man. Don’t worry…
W: Yeah I know but I’m just really, I’m really bad at being either in front of camera or being recorded…
H: [overlap] Mate, I would be horrific, if I was you, I mean I’m, you know I’m…
H: But you’re, you’re doing great
W: What else do I know about trees, you said?
H: Yeah anything, what’s your, any thoughts about ‘em.
W: Ummm. I think walnut trees are really beautiful.
W: Silver birches.
H: Where do you get walnut trees? Do they, do they grow in England?
W: I’ve got one in my garden.
H: Really? You’ve got one in your garden?
W: Yeah yeah cos we, actually that’s another story, actually, yeah, when I was…when I, when we first moved to Devon when I was, I was 7…
W: 7 in Devon
W: Yeah we planted like 8,000 trees?
H: 8,000 trees?
W: Yeah yeah
H: Who planted 8,000 trees?
W: Sort of all of us, our family and dad’s entire…employed another couple of guys.
W: And now, it’s so weird going back there…how many years laster is that? 1988 to now?
H: 22 years
W: 22 years later, it’s just, it’s crazy…
H: It’s a forest
W: It’s just a proper…
W: It’s a woodland. A young woodland.
H: [overlap] Wow
W: But it’s just mental, and some of the trees are just massive
H: [overlap] Wow
W: And some of them are like proper, you know the trunks are like that, and it’s just like I can’t believe it, do you know what I mean?
H: 12 inches across
H: Not 10 inches
W: Maybe 10 yeah, yeah. But yeah just proper trees..?
H: Wow. Yeah.
W: And the, the ones that…
H: [overlap] We have to go there. And climb a tree.
W: Yeah, no we should.
W: Cos it will be a tree that…I planted…
H: Because, do you know Hugh? Do you, have you met Hugh? Um, I interviewed him up a tree.
H: Hugh is the er, the commissioner of the project.
Jacob: I think you met, he was, when we were at fiddlers. Doing a test shoot, and they were all drunk…
W: Oh yeah, oh yeah
H: Yeah, yeah yeah yeah [laugh] Yeah Hugh, he also they planted, well it’s not 8,000, what 8,000, 8,000 trees?
H: Ok here they planted 200, 200…
W: I’m pretty sure it was 8,000.
H: That’s brilliant.
W: [overlap] Maybe it was 8,000 including the other field of trees…
H: Have you seen, have you seen ‘The Man Who Planted Trees’?
W: Seen it?
H: It’s err…
W: I’ve read the book. I only ever knew it as a book…
H: Err…what by, it’s Elzéard Bouffier or something?
W: [overlap] It’s not John…no no, not John Seymour, that’s…
H: [overlap] It’s an animation. It’s an animation.
W: I haven’t seen that
H: About the man who planted trees, there’s a guy, one guy…
W: [overlap] No when was that? No my Dad made us all read the book
H: Is it, is it a book, is it, first?
W: Er, yeah yeah yeah. But…
H: [overlap] Do you know the name of the guy, that was the character the main character Elzéard Bouffier or something…
W: I read it when I was like…I read it years ago…years…
H: Right, right ok, I’m going to have to read that…
W: Yeah you do, it was a beautiful book…
H: [overlap] But the animation, but that animation was really beautiful. It’s even more beautiful than the book [laugh] cos I have to out-do you
W: It’s not…I think the book, I think books are always going to be more…more beautiful than a…
H: [overlap] Is that…Is that cos they’re…
W: [overlap] …Something you’re seeing
H: [overlap]….made of paper, because it comes from trees.
W: No just cos it’s…cos it’s so much more from your imagination, rather than it being, kind of…just shown to you.
H: Yeah yeah yeah, I agree.
W: This is why you should be, thinking it looks like. Mmm, dunno.
H: But that’s really impressive, 8,000 trees.
W: I hope that figure’s right
H: Who, who is (laugh) it could have been 800 trees, 80 trees.
W: No it’s definitely not 800. But we had a couple of fields up the hill, which we also…did the same thing…
W: There was a lot of them, so I think it’s maybe 8,000 including that field as well.
W: But yeah it’s ama, it’s a beautiful thing.
H: Who’s idea was that?
W: Err, Mum and Dad
H: They just thought…let’s plant a forest.
W: I guess so. My dad’s like, he, he builds like green oak framed buildings…so for every, every full oak tree they use, they plant like, 15 more, or something…? So he’s well in, you know, he’s obviously, it’s a big part of his life anyway.
H: Wow. 15 more, for each one
W: It’s something like that. 10 or 15, yeah…
H: Wow. That’s really cool. That’s a very good uhh ethos
W: Yeah it is. It’s the most important, you know?
H: Mmm. Cool, it’s really good, I mean, you know, you think oh I feel like, but it’s a good…really cool ummm…everyone has something about… a connection to trees, in some what
W: Yeah yeah. No I guess yeah, all my life I’ve had quite a close connection to them you know?
H: Mmhmm. So does your dad cut them down as well?
W: No no, I mean he’s an architect basically
H: Oh really?
W: Yeah. But yeah, so he started this oak framing company…until now they kind of, you know a load of architects and they do buildings that the oak framing company will make, but he’s kind of stepped away from it directly, you know what I mean? Cos he’s kind of semi-retiring
H: Right, right. So does he still own the forest?
W: At home?
H: With the wood
W: At his house?
W: He’s, actually, actually I do.
H: Really? [laugh]
W: Us three, he’s given it to us three brothers. Cos he’s going to be selling that house soon.
W: So he’s given it, all that land, so it’s ours now.
H: [overlap] No way!
W: [overlap] So we’ve got to sort of stripping it down…
H: [overlap] What are you going to do with it?
W: Just sell it, immediately.
H: [laughing] To a logging company
W: Yeah apparently McDonalds might want to sort of graze cows in there and stuff so…
H: Oh McDonalds…!
H: Yeah, I like your style, I like your style…
W: No just, you know, it’ll just be a bit of land that we’ll never ever sell, do you know what I mean…
H: Yeah yeah
W: Always have. Cos he’s planning on selling the house, and it’s like right on the river, it’s beautiful, you should go there actually
H: How much space does 8,000 trees take?
W: Mate, I hope that figure’s right.
H: Well it doesn’t matter, it’s fine, we can, we can we’ll go there, and we can….
W: [overlap] We’ve got like…
H: [overlap] …Amend it…
W: [overlap] I think it’s about, kind of, on the land that we’ve actually done planting on is maybe 4 or 5 acres..? But then, then at the other field….dunno, maybe another 7 acres? I’m not sure, I’m not very good at…I don’t remember it….
H: How many have you got all together then? Sorry, I didn’t catch the numbers. 10 acres?
W: Yeah I think maybe something like that
W: So the trees are like…
H: [overlap] One other last question, have the trees started re-seeding other trees?
W: I dunno.
H: Ok, we’re going to go an…check it out
W: Yeah you should man, we should
W: Well cos I want it, it would be really nice to go down there anyway and go out on boats and stuff, you know, it would be awesome to go out for a weekend down in Devon.
W: You know what I mean?
H: I’d be well up for it
W: Go out to sea and…
W: And swimming and like
W: N’yeah. Particularly for your project it’d be great to…
H: [overlap] Cool, cool
W: …And go around…
H: I’m well up for it
W: Cos it’s a mental location, like where we’ve planted all the trees is totally just overlooking the river’s arch, I mean it’s literally just on the hill above the river, it’s just amazing. It’s awesome.
H: Wow. So was it, would it have been trees there before that have been cut down? For grazing or something? And you’ve, kind of, replanted them. Do you know what I mean? Or were there ever trees there?
W: I don’t, I don’t know, a lot of it’s pretty steep…pretty steep land.
W: So it was all kind of just totally, just…covered in bracken and…stuff…
H: Right. Cool, man, good. Well we’ve got ah few leads there…for a continuation
W: What do you mean a few leads, I didn’t really want to talk to you
H: Nah, nah not interested in you at all, just wanted to make myself famous, with this book.
W: Did you say someone’s…Hugh’s commissioned this?
H: The, the young people thing. The film that we’re making.
W: Oh right right.
H: Cool, cheers Woody. Whoody.