So I’m going to be travelling to all the working piers in England and Wales in two weeks. A round trip of 2,035 miles. I know. My mom’s first reaction was “Jesus Christ Danny, you’re wasting your life” but I see it as quite the opposite. I intend to write a book based on the experience. Look here.

The book will be co-written by Jon Bounds and the narrative will be split between me and Jon, both accounts probably varying wildly but giving the reader a better idea of what actually went on. Finding The Truth by triangulating different reference point on the same map.

The third person, ingredient X in our mad brew, who will not have a voice in the book but will be keeping his own account of the journey is Midge Diabloik. Midge is a Birmingham feature, a spirit loci of our alternative scene. We ambushed him at a barbecue with promises of fame and Monster Munch.

Now this mixture normally gets on in a social environment, but I worry about the trip. And, of course, as much as I worry, I also know that a little tension will actually make the book a lot more interesting than ‘I went to the seaside, it was nice’.

You see I come from a background of hedge magic and chaos dabbling and one of the overwhelming legacies of this is the tendency to see the overlaying symbolic and resonance with the old myths, reoccurring archetypes, and superstitions of the past.

Please don’t let that put off the hard line sceptics that, amusingly cult like, have sprung up everywhere and are asserting themselves everywhere at the moment. I just think that the brain works using layers of symbols and stories, by playing with these we can bring about new ways of thinking. And like it or not the ways we think influence the world.

Earth, Fire, Wind, and Water were probably first identified as the elements by the Babylonians in the ancient world, and survived via the Egyptians and into Classical thought; right into the terrible cartoon Captain Planet where the idea died. Now this idea could be dismissed as hopelessly reductionist and outdated, I would argue that its useful because of its reductionist model.

Group dynamics are complicated and nuanced, by reducing them down into four different parts we can at least have a model of how to begin to understand the relationships and roles, and set our foots down a broad path of cohesion.

The best example of The four classical elements relating to group dynamics is The A-Team. Colonel John ‘Hannibal’ Smith is the leader so naturally the Fire of the group, he’s the instigator, the catalyst of change and the most dynamic of the group. People associated with the Fire element often are portrayed as bad tempered and stubborn something that Hannibal is defiantly shown as. The rest of the team often refer to Hannibal as ‘being on the jazz’ meaning exactly that. And while its worth noting that in the film version Hannibal is shown as a master tactician displaying many of the elements of Water, in the TV series nearly all of his ‘plans’ involve a full frontal assault, which show more of the impatience and drive best represented by fire, than anything else.

Water is Lieutenant Templeton ‘Face’ Pek, mercurial and laid back, able to fill and role given to him. Face is the one with the deepest emotion life of all the characters often having relationships and life outside of the narrative.

Master Sergeant Bosco Albert ‘B.A.’ Baracus is Earth, practical and grounded, his concerns are real world logistics and transport. He makes the fanciful ideas and drive of the others a reality, normally once and episode he would be welding something or unscrewing nuts with meaty gold laden fingers. Even his fearsome prowess and ‘bad attitude’ are used more than a reliable resource than unpredictable personality elements. His penchant for gold can even be viewed in as an affinity to a base mineral and concern with physical resource.

Finally Air best exemplified by someone who is changeable and flighty, concerned with ideas and concepts. In The A-Team cleverly turned into the worst that this type of personalty can offer a unpredictable emotionally damaged Captain H.M. “Howling Mad” Murdock, who out, technically, outranks Face but can never be relied upon for leadership. Both figuratively and literally the character of Murdock has his head in the clouds and in this model predictably clashes with the Earth sign, B.A.

None of these are set in stone, Hannibal could be argued as the water sign (he is after all a ‘master of disguise’, but lets be honest his disguise were terrible). The the way Murdoch’s madness represented itself was a rotating cast of personalities, which could be Water, but B.A’s temper could be also interpreted as overwhelmingly Fire which would still make the clash between them cromulent.

It doesn’t really matter about the interpretation, its using the model as an insight into the group dynamics.

But what does this say about the trip? for a start there’s three of of us. I suppose one constant in the trip is the sea, so maybe the role of water could be argued to be taken up with actual water. As Midge will be driving and mostly sober, lets call him Earth, it’s a good fit especially when you consider that he studied Physics at university. The thing that bothers me is what role do I take? Naturally I suppose I would gravitate towards Air, intellectual, communicative, social and helpful. But then who or what is Fire? Jon won’t mind me saying that he certainly won’t be.

Or maybe, as usual, I’m thinking too much. That while this model is good for understanding relationships that already exist, it’s pointless trying to plan using using them because nobody really knows how the chaotic human personality will react.

It’ll be bloody interesting finding out though.

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