If a tree falls in the forest and no-one’s around,

Does it make a sound as it hits the ground?

I once set out to answer that question, you know, and in fact got something of a result.

Although, given the facts that we were both ‘young & foolish’ and tripping on magic mushrooms at the time, these results might be said to be at best, “inconclusive”.

And as you will come to see, this may be a good thing. For, like the exact moment of the Death of Schroedinger’s Cat, there are some things, perhaps, that man is not meant to know.

Anyhoo, me and my Personal Assistant of the time, (a lovely lass if somewhat moody) were wandering innocently around the countryside, high as kites and free as birds, when I spotted a precariously tottering tree on the side of a creek bed.

It had long since died, and the creek’s running water had exposed its gnarled roots from the red, volcanic soil. Merely putting my hand upon the trunk caused it to creak alarmingly.

I must have been in a Zen-Buddhist frame of mind, because I immediately thought of the old zen koan, or riddle on falling trees.

Then I had a Eureka moment!

Ha!” I declared, “Now is the perfect opportunity to solve this Age-old Conundrum!”

For despite the fact that we were both naked, my personal assistant still carried upon her person a large cassette tape-recorder, with which to capture any stray words of wisdom I might happen to sprout. (Yes, despite her nakedness she still took her secretarial duties seriously. She wasn’t just some floozy I picked up off the streets, you know. But I digress..)

Now this was the pre-digital age children, so I’m talking about a device about the size of a weet-bix packet that ran on eight D-size batteries and recorded in mono. Nontheless, it would suit my purpose.

So we flipped the tape, set to record and left it nestled at the base of the tree, whilst we wandered off in search of a cool pool in which to swim. It was a gusty day, I thought, surely the tree was due to meet its end. We would return at sunset on our way back to the car and collect the casstte. Once home I could study the tape at my leisure. Or so we planned.


What with one distraction and another, we tarried longer than we had intended, and so it was already darkening rapidly as we retraced our footsteps, and my assistant was getting cold and crabby.

One tree looked pretty much like another in the deepening gloom and for some time I splashed and stumbled fruitlessly along the creek bank, poking into spider-infested nooks and crannies, whilst my assistant whined about the cigarettes & clothes  being left in the car.

Eventually I located the cassette-player by dint of stumbling across the now fallen tree and standing on it, cracking the case in the process and causing the tape to unspool rapidly in a Gordian tangle. I shrieked loudly as the casstte-player and I slid down the bank into the shallows.

If you fell over a tree in the forest and I wasn’t here to hear, do you think you’d make a sound?” sniggered my disrespectful Assistant.

Ignoring this, I gathered the remains of my dignity and the cassette player and carried them both back to the car. Irritably I was determined to overcome both minor obstacles and my assistants scoffing.

So I took the tape home, patiently reassembled and untangled it, dried it out and labouriously fitted it into a new case. Finally, I was able to play it successfully on my home stereo-system.

Well, as I said, the results were somewhat inconclusive,

but I’ve narrowed it down to one of two possibilities;

Either (a) Trees scream like wounded Banshees as they die; or

(b) the dip in the creek did something weird to the tape, because the whole thing was filled with a terrible garbled screaming, like something out of Lovecraft’s most eldritch, hideous nightmare. Terrible, terrible sounds. Imagine dogs being boiled alive.

So I have hidden these foul sounds away from human ears, put the tape away under lock and key and never played it again to a living soul, not even my Personal Assistant.

For like I said before, there are perhaps some things man is not meant to know.

No, nor woman neither.


This week the Reverend has the Flu’

And so there is no book review

but next week will be back, no fear,

with a cheery chat on Germaine Greer.


The Reverend Hellfire is a practising Performance Poet & an ordained minister of the Church of Spiritual Humanists..Look on his Works ye Mighty and Despair!



~ by reverendhellfire on January 9, 2011.

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