‘Think of the good things…’

The Hallowquest lesson for this week has centred around the Wounded King:

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I will not lie: It has been a profoundly painful and disturbing week – not just for me, but for people I know and love. The wounded energies have been tempestuous. The lessons to be learned, and truths to face up to, have felt, at times, like too much of a burden. I have been tempted to give up the quest.

My heart goes out to all those caught in maelstroms far worse than mine; I feel their grief, despair and bewilderment acutely.

Peeling the scabs off my own wounds and letting the blood flow unchecked has been terrifying. The instinct to stop the haemorrhage with thick bandage, sutures or tightly-applied plaster is almost overwhelming, isn’t it? As a race, we dread – for obvious reasons – the slightest hint that exsanguination might occur, and this is as true emotionally as ever it was physically.

Blood loss is frightening. Feeling pain fully is dreadful. Sometimes, however, both are necessary.

Last night was particularly harrowing. The meditation contained within Lesson 35, though deceptively straightforward, was one of the most challenging I have ever encountered – and, during it, the face of the Wounded King changed into that of a person I really did not want to encounter in that setting. ‘Confronting‘ does not begin to describe it – but, since my First Degree Initiation, back in January 2012, such withholds in my life have forced their way in to be dealt with over and over again.

The bitter herbs I needed to consume at that point were hard to swallow and excruciating to digest.

On the Higher Self level, I knew full well that this was all necessary; on the purely human, Ali, level, I dove straight for the bottle – just felt that I needed to put some distance between myself and sobriety.

Two large glasses of red wine later, I was weeping inconsolably and listening, over and over again, to the Chieftains‘ version of ‘Brian Boru’s March’:

Condemning myself for weakness and self-pity, I was at that stage of drunken misery where a scream was rising to the surface. Not, I have to say, my finest hour!

In the darkness of that time, two friends texted me. These are kind, supportive people who are well-aware of the various strands dominating my life at present – and who have been there for me throughout.

Their gist, expressed overtly by one and implied by the other, formed the title of this piece.

I know that one cannot appreciate the Light without also being cognizant, if not always appreciative, of the Darkness – but I will confess that I DO fall into negativity rather more freely than is desirable. In tending towards the Glass Half Empty way of thinking, I hold myself back from seeing how wonderful it is to hold a half full glass of anything!

I can be, as I have said before, my own worst enemy.

Going back to my Edna, the Inebriate Woman moment (or several), I found myself in a very familiar state of mind: Furiously angry with myself for being so bloody pathetic; beating myself up, in effect, for -

And here I pause, as I did in reality.

‘Why the hell are you so angry with yourself, Ali?’ I asked myself. ‘And why, equally to the point, are you EXPECTING condemnation from others?’

‘Because,’ I said, to myself (yes, I know there is a name for this kind of thing! ) ‘I am supposed to be jolly and cheerful and happy and not a miserable heap of weeping rat-arsed womanhood, that’s why…’

And it hit me then: I was raging at myself FOR BEING UNHAPPY.

By no means for the first time.

And I was expecting some form of punishment for this heinous crime.

I had to ask myself another question – being, by now, at that stage of pie-eyed-ness where worries about possible multiple personalities had been swallowed along with the bottle of Katy Cider which followed the red wine – and here it is:

‘Do I feel angry when others are unhappy?’

No, of course I don’t.

Only when I am.

My instinct is always to protect and comfort, hug and soothe those in distress.

It’s almost as if I feel I don’t deserve love and care and kindness.

There are GOOD THINGS aplenty: Lovely friends, on here and at home, who text and email me; who phone me and share things with me; who make me laugh, let me cry and remind me that I DO matter;  delightful relatives  with whom I share the bond of blood and many years of familial humour, and sadness; a beautiful, diverse world out there, and my favourite season unfolding in all its colourful melancholy;  Ghost Weed and all the music and laughter and convivial sharing of red wine and Hungarian Chocolate Biscuits; my beloved son, currently in Foreign Parts on a History A’level-related trip, and a leader-of-men-to-be;  the fun I have performing in the local Drama Club, and the great people I have met through so-doing; my writing and the pleasure it gives me; ritual magic and all the amazing weekends I have been on with both SOL and Silent Eye.

I am, I know, blessed – and wealthy in ways far more profound than the strictly material.

My sense of humour is one of the good things, as is my Bullshit Detector – as, of course, is my bawdiness and general vulgarity.

I am NOT unhappy all the time (which IS a good thing) – and, if I can forgive myself for my negative emotions, I think such low moments will pass far more speedily.

If I can say, ‘Hey, Ali, you never promised anyone a rose garden – and this mood is HUMAN!’ the load is likely to be lightened without recourse to my own weight in alcoholic beverages.

It has been a fucktonnery of a week – but, as intimated earlier, Sorrow’s Springs are indiscriminate and there are many who have been hit far more severely by the Wounded King energies than I.

Sometimes it is very difficult to see the roses growing underneath the dung – but it is always worth listening to those kind souls who insist that they are there.

Why don’t you stand up for yourself?

This question is asked by those who find it incomprehensible that anyone, anywhere, should be unable to do so.

It is a fair question – but, in cases of chronic abuse, it can be less than helpful, because those who live in normal relationships do not fully understand the toxic dynamic of the abnormal.

In order to stand up to anyone, we need to know two vital things: one, that we have RIGHTS and two, that the person we are facing shares our sense of what is acceptable.

Bullies target both of these, don’t they?

They persuade us that we have no rights, other than those they are magnanimous enough to confer upon us – and they are so deeply immured in turning the unacceptable into the every day, in using witness statements from allies real and imaginary to prove their point and in winning at all cost that actually standing up to these people is all but impossible.

Now, in what I would call a normal argument, things can get incredibly heated – and a degree of stubbornness and denial is to be expected on both sides. No one particularly relishes criticism, and it is natural to try and fight back, to rebut the accusation, to blame the other – but most people, beneath the defence-inspired belligerence, DO know, deep down, that they have crossed the line from the acceptable to the unacceptable.

Certain categories of bully do NOT. Their view tends to be very simple: If they did it, it is acceptable, even laudable; if another did it, the whole thing becomes a crime.

The whole thing devolves into a nightmare of shifting reality, of a denial so absolute that the victim often emerges wondering whether he or she is going insane.

When someone is attempting to stand his/her ground, what, in effect, he/she is saying is this:

‘There is a line – and you have crossed it.’

Intransigent bullies counter this with, ‘You are imagining the line,’ or, ‘I’ve asked all my friends and they would have crossed it at exactly the point I did…and it’s your fault for that enormous ravine you crossed yesterday, and anyway lines don’t exist.’

If you persist with your, in the bully’s eyes, heinous accusations, your own sanity is called into question – because, from the bully’s point of view, only a mad person could possibly object to perfectly reasonable behaviour.

Very often, there is an underlying assumption (based upon years of brainwashing) that you are too flawed to deserve any rights of your own – and each attempt at asserting yourself is filed away as yet more evidence of your imperfections and deep-seated psychological problems.

The cleverest bullies use such a tangled combination of threat and emotional blackmail that you do not know whether you are coming or going. They WILL target your friends and family as part of the argument; they WILL use things you have told them in confidence to frighten you, and they are more than capable of bringing on floods of tears, or even threatening suicide, in order to bring YOU back into line.

It is not possible to stand up to such people because their value systems are so very different to yours – and because, bottom line here, your feelings do not matter to them; they simply do not care.

Very often, you lose all sense of what it was you were standing up to them about in the first place: Your ‘complaint’ is trivialised and twisted to such an extent that you frequently come away convinced that the whole thing was simply you being aggressive and attacking them for some utterly trivial, probably imagined, incident.

The true crime becomes your criticism rather than the behaviour which inspired your failed attempt at asserting yourself.

Arguments with these people can, and frequently DO, go on for hours, even days.

Resolution is almost impossible because, lacking any true empathy, bullies are completely unable to see any validity in your emotional experience – and the notion that they may have contributed to your distress is totally beyond them.

Bullies are very often PhD-level projectors and manipulators. Imbued with an inviolable sense of entitlement and superiority, they are unable to see that anyone else’s feelings need to be taken into account. Because they see others as inhuman and inferior, they cannot equate the kick (whether physical or emotional) they deliver to an underling with the pain they might feel if someone hurt them.

For this reason, asking a dyed-in-the-wool bully, ‘How would you feel if someone did that to you?’ does not work. They cannot extrapolate the needs and emotions of others from their own experiences.

Unfortunately, your inability to stand up for yourself opens doors – huge doors which can NEVER be closed again, and which let in all the Furies.

Unfortunately, your tacit consent means more of the same.

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Why stay in an abusive relationship?

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During my years as a teacher, children often used to confide in me – and, on occasions, this involved my hearing harrowing tales of abuse. Often, the child would have been suffering for YEARS, too afraid to come forward and ask for it to stop.

So, why the reluctance to share and be helped?

Why don’t such people just get out immediately?

This is the key question friends and family ask in such a situation, isn’t it?

Often with the unspoken rider, ‘I wouldn’t have put up with that!’

Is it fear? Passivity? Co-dependence?

Yes, without a doubt, all of these come into play at some point.

Trouble is, abuse of any kind breeds more of the same.

I am taking two strands of a highly complex psychological tapestry today – and will, I hope, make those who think, ‘I wouldn’t let him/her treat me like that!’ pause for thought.

Whatever the nature of the abuse, two dominant factors can be traced: The need to punish, and the need to work upon the mind of the abused – and it is these two put together which make it so very difficult to escape, even when one does finally become aware that abuse is part of the relationship package.

To put it bluntly, the ABNORMAL becomes NORMALISED. Through careful tweaking of the mind, unacceptable behaviour is seen as not just acceptable, but actually DESERVED. This means that, after a while, minor examples of poor behaviour barely register – which, of course, allows the abuser to up his or her game.

Outsiders rarely see what is going on behind closed doors – because who wants witnesses if playing such destructive games? But also because many bullies see themselves as basically pretty amazing people – who happen to be saddled with a highly difficult husband/wife/mother/child whose need for correction is obvious, and should be applauded.

After a very short while, ‘I deserved that. I provoked the situation,’ becomes the internal dialogue’s norm – and, even more worryingly, a kind of emotional deadness takes over, an inability to see what has just happened.

Of course, the flatness around feelings takes an enormous, and destructive, toll. Many abused people suffer from some form of psychosomatic illness – and may spend literally years in and out of surgeries and hospitals, trying desperately to get a physical diagnosis for something which essentially originates from severe stress.

Others, dimly sensing the truth but not wanting to face it, may spend hours, years and hundreds of thousands of pounds lying upon therapists’ couches – and wondering, at some level, why they never seem to get any better.

The tragic thing about all of this is that, with Normality and Abnormality so confused, with that which is unacceptable so blurred, victims of abuse tend to assume that all relationships are like theirs, and that they are simply bad, or mad, in some unspecified way, to feel this constant fear and unease. Many simply assume that THEY are at fault because ALL parents slap from time to time, don’t they? So why make such a fuss? ALL spouses ignore their husbands/wives for a day or two sometimes, don’t they? This is normal marital behaviour. Why make such a mountain out of a molehill? And, in the case of physical violence, OF COURSE you are going to get kicked or hit if you deliberately wind another person up. Nothing wrong with that, is there?

‘I wouldn’t stand for that even once!’ others say.

No, you wouldn’t – because YOU can distinguish clearly between NORMAL and ABNORMAL behaviour. Lucky you. You can see that line in the sand with utter clarity, and will not allow even a toe to wander over into unacceptable territory.

For the abused, the mind games, the gradual attrition of sense, is so subtle that they do not even realise what is going on until it is too late.

‘That seems like a reasonable request,’ they think, often when asked to do something others would see as totally outrageous, and they agree – thus opening the door to all manner of accelerating nasties.

It IS informed consent – and it ISN’T.

There is, of course, the right to say ‘NO!’ – but, very often, that right becomes, in effect, an illusion, because the persuasion used is so intense that to disagree becomes almost the cruellest thing one could do…and a punishable offence.

In a punitive relationship – and abusive ones are, by their very nature, structured on punishment – no physical contact is actually needed, and this, I think, is something some people find confusing.

‘Why are you so afraid? She hasn’t ever actually hurt you!’ tends to be a very common response.

But punishment does not need a foot crashing into a tender belly, a huge hand round a slender neck in mock death, a fist crunching into fragile lips; the threat to withdraw love, attention and warmth can be every bit as effective. Two days of being sent to Coventry can bring someone to their knees (or senses, as the abuser would, undoubtedly, see it) just as quickly and traumatically.

It is all about power and control, you see – and the annexing of the other’s mind is just as important as any hold over the body.

So, back to the question posed in the title: Why stay in an abusive relationship?

Often because the abused knows nothing else, or can no longer recognise the most flagrant examples of abuse – or is so terrified of the abuser that remaining in Hell is preferable to digging a hole and escaping. Or has been told so many times that he/she deserves this treatment that this has become hard-wired into the brain.

Sometimes, sadly, fear of rejection and replacement or abandonment is so acute that the abused would rather stay in a dysfunctional relationship than take the awful risk of being unloved – because, for many insecure people, the post-nastiness sweetness is the closest to love he/she has ever experienced.

I think that, as a society, we do tend to condemn those who stay in violent or emotionally abusive relationships, don’t we? We tend to assume that WE would do better, would put a stop to it, if WE were in their shoes. We often see the decision to remain, year after year, as a sign of weakness, of a fundamental flaw in the victim’s personality. We almost side with the abuser’s view that the victim deserves everything he/she gets.

But perhaps most worryingly, we tend to use the yardstick of a normal relationship to judge the halting confidences of the abused – and, in telling them, ‘Oh, my wife does that too: It’s what women do…’ unwittingly send them right back into the Hell they dimly perceive but are unable to escape.

The worst case of abuse I encountered as a teacher involved a girl who had been told FOR YEARS that she was making a fuss about nothing, and probably making it up in the first place, when she tried to explain that a male relative was touching her inappropriately – and worse.

She DID escape in the end, though I fear that the scars in her mind may never heal completely.

Many – children and adults alike – never get free.

So, what can we do?

LISTEN. Listen to what the abused is trying to say, without interposing our own judgements, our own prejudices and sense of our own superior strength into the mix – and have the humility to recognise that, if we were in the victim’s shoes, we probably wouldn’t find it any easier to leave than they do.

Nessie’s Hair Extensions…

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Ali’s imagined Nessie look!

Now, then, let me canvass opinion and ask advice…

I have been chosen to play the villain in the village pantomime this year. No acting required, as you can probably imagine!

This particular baddie is a sea serpent (of the lethally seductive variety – type-cast again!) named Nessie who, when not trying to get her slithy scales round Neptune, is causing mayhem and merry hell to all landlubberish creatures.

Without giving too much away, our director wants me to look all wild and Pre-Raphaelite in the hair department – and this is where Ali’s dilemma comes in.

I want waist-length tresses! I want ‘em orange and curly and full of attitude! I want them NOW!

The good news is that I am a tad Pre-Raphaelite in looks anyway, and I do have my very own mare’s nest of orange hair…

But it does not reach my waist. Nowhere near.

I want a cloak of the stuff. I want to be able to twirl in a mystic and menacing circle and have lengthy red strands flying out all around me.

Damnit, I want to be able to hide in the foliage, pitch a small tent in its follicular abundance…

I asked about hair-extensions and there are two serious drawbacks:

One, they cost an arm and a leg, and there is NO WAY I am spending that sort of dosh for a panto!

Two, they take hours – if not days – to weave into the existing barnet. How effing tedious!

So, I nipped online and found a bewildering array of wiggy-type things in all kinds of shades – and, frankly, made of some truly peculiar materials.

Human hair, it says – and I find myself just hoping that willing donation is at the heart of this very lucrative little business rather than Burke and Hare (HA!) type of entrepreneurial activity.

Call me squeamish, but I have no intention of appearing on stage with something which once belonged to a stiff perched atop my bonce.

We Panto Nasties have our standards, you know!

Halo hair pieces do look promising, however, and I am sorely tempted by the apparent ease with which one applies the things – and by how gloriously natural and abundant the finished product looks…

But…

The models were…models.

You know what I mean?

Young, slim, beautiful, shiny of hair and unwrinkled of visage.

It looks, if I may be so bold, too good to be true.

However…

It also looks as if even I could manage to slip my orangeness into a few yards of supplementary dome coverage.

Let me show you a picture of my fantasy look:

Have a gander at this clip from YouTube and see what you think!

Any comments?

Death of a father : Speakeasy # 165

alienorajt:

This is my entry for this week’s Speakeasy competition. I am reblogging it because, having written it on Sunday, it had become lost in the plethora of newer posts. It is a true story (as many of you will be aware) told from a slightly different viewpoint than normal.

Originally posted on ALIEN AURA'S BLOG: IT'LL BLOW YOUR MIND!:

Speakeasy # 165

He had become fragile, unstable.

The comas were accelerating.

Mealtimes and night-times had been enclaves of fear, for years, decades even.

Not his fault. He did not ask for the trauma and privation which, way back in 1957, spelled the end of his Military career and the start of an insulin habit, allied with strict Diabetic control.

Hypos were frequent in those early days before we knew him as anything other than the larger, and deeper-voiced, of our parents. We carry those memories locked tight in the sea-shell of our minds. If we hold it to our ears, harsh rasping sounds emerge – and we see, instantly, the flailing upon the ground, the rigid facial muscles; we feel, once again, the helpless terror that, THIS TIME, he will not come back.

Blood sugar, a potent phrase in our home, was responsible for the wobbles, the frantic…

View original 610 more words

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April Moon 2014, Day 11: Reflections

Today has been the happiest day I have experienced for YEARS. I would give it ten out of ten and an A*.I wear a lovely Indian print maxi dress I bought, ten days ago, in a charity shop in Glastonbury – and I know that the mediaeval style, with my red hair, suits me.  My reflection, as seen through the webcam, shows the joy I feel and radiates the special quality of this Thursday in April. Unusually, I am not going to tell the story; I shall simply show the image – and thank those who gave me such pleasure, excitement and validation.

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Teen Idol: Daily Prompt

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/teen-age-idol/

Ooh, now you’re asking!

In my pre-pubertal years, my main crush was Mike Nesmith of the Monkees. Most of my friends went for Davy Jones – and,yes, he was kinda smooth and cuddly and cute…

But, even as an eight/nine year old, I went for a long body, a tall guy – and, for some reason I’ve never been able to work out satisfactorily, that green bobble-hat was a proto-erotic symbol for me! Why, I even made sure I had my own version rammed down upon my unruly curls whenever I went out to play.

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The dark hair! The slightly sardonic smile! The quietness! What’s not to like?!

I didn’t want to possess Mike Nesmith in those early days; I wanted to BE him!

My next sister down and I used to play The Monkees – both our 45 singles of their music, and role playing the blighters themselves. It was incredibly competitive, this game, and Fizz definitely had the upper hand when it came to Bambi-reading and manipulative techniques. We both wanted to play Mike, you see – or at least, I did passionately, and she wanted to see what she could get out of me before allowing me to slip into that role. No malice, just normal little girl one-up-manship!

Her weapon was fluency of speech; mine was a sudden grab, a push onto the floor and then a thump round the ear!

Needless to say, she won every round – since the brutal option inevitably ended in a great wail of, ‘I’m telling Mummy!’ from Fizz! Fair enough: I was much bigger than she was, and a lot stronger physically!

I would usually get to play Mike in the end, and Fizz would be Davy (whom she actually preferred anyway) – but there’d always be a slight after-taste of hollow victory!

Time rolled on, and we reached our teens – and, suddenly, my passionate nature found an idol of such wonder that I near swooned away on several occasions just looking at him. Richard Thomas, who played John-Boy in ‘The Waltons’, was exactly what I wanted in a man, I decided at the tender age of thirteen!

Immensely good-looking, a writer (irresistible then, as now!), a gentle, dreamy sort of soul – OMG, I’d have married him on the spot had he known of my existence! Of course, I mixed up actor and part thoroughly, and fell in love with a weird amalgam of the two!

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Did I fancy him? Is the Pope a Catholic? Do bears crap in the woods?

Put it this way, I used to imagine that we were kissing (about as far as my imagination went sexually when I was thirteen!) and the feelings thus evoked sent me into raptures.

Now, both have aged (as have I!) – and I am no longer the innocent little girl playing at Monkees, nor am I the idealistic and passionate teen who dreamed of handsome young writers.

I wouldn’t wish to be Mike now, nor would I want to marry the still-gorgeous Mr.Thomas – though I suspect I wouldn’t kick either one of them out from under the duvet, as long as they understood that they’d have to wait for me to finish with Johnny Depp!

But, the memories are fresh, and something of that intensity of emotion still remains in my heart.

 

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VIZ: Roger’s Profanisaurus – antidote to feeling blah!

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http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/make-me-smile/

If I am feeling as rough as a badger’s arse, the tome above can always be relied upon to bring a smile to my heart and a bloody great bellow of laughter to the world at large!

Fellow Bloggers, I have a confession to make: I ADORE Viz, and am particularly partial to ‘Roger’s Profanisaurus’. Now, in some people’s minds, this probably renders me immediately beyond the pale of civilised society – and many would, no doubt, chase me out of town and force me to live far enough away not to corrupt minors (or, indeed, miners), but not so far that I wasn’t available for a light to moderate stoning from time to time.

Now, for those not abreast, Viz is a lightsome and vulgar publication full of, to me, hilarious characters and unadulterated double, treble, even quadruple entendres. We are not talking award winning literature here – more like linguistic romp through our sexual hang-ups, stiffness (if you’ll pardon the hard-on!) and inhibitions.

If you are looking for politically correct, subtle or euphemistic, Viz ain’t yer man! Put it this way, this is NOT a magazine you’d want to leave about when entertaining vicars, in-laws or curious children…

In Opinion Polls, it proves divisive, to say the least, causing hysterical laughter from people like me, and prissy, pursed-mouth disgust from other, more righteous (and possibly RIGHT - who is to say?!) souls.

The two characters who immediately caught my eye and reduced me to a spluttering heap of weeping laughter were The Two Fat Slags. No subtlety there: these two are exactly as advertised: humongously fat (why, their outlying areas would cover most of Wales!) and exceedingly loose in the morals department. Love ‘em!

Another character, Roger Mellie Who’s On The Telly, became the Roger responsible for the now-infamous Profanisaurus. Brief, history: at the end of each edition of Viz, there would be a page of vocabulary (educational or what?!) – and, after a few years, these words were gathered together, in the very best tradition of the English language, into a below-the-belt version of the Thesaurus.

All kinds of sexual references can be culled from the above (says Ali, drifting into Academic Mode!): ‘Roger’, as you know, is one of many words for the sex act, as in to roger someone; ‘profanisaurus’, I am sure, speaks for itself. I do love the play on words here, you know that little twist from Roget to Roger – just the one letter changed, but, boy, what a difference!

As soon as the Profanisaurus hit the shelves, I was out a’grabbing! I didn’t actually shoplift my copy (nay, nay: haven’t stolen a book since I half-inched all four of the Carlos Castanedas then published, in 1977!), but I was certainly in like Flynn as the saying goes…

Trembling with excitement, I opened the first page – and. amidst guffaws so energetic I actually fell off the sofa, realised I’d found my level.

As I read such classics as ‘Abnormal load: an arse so large it necessitates a motorcycle outrider’, as I cackled and chortled my way from ‘A’ to ‘Z’, I was just like one converted to a completely off-the-wall religion.

Since that day of revelation, my copy of the book has pride of place – next to the downstairs bog*, for those who really wish to know.

*’bog’ quaint English euphemism for ‘toilet'; I don’t wish any of you to think I live a kind of shadowy, gluggy dinosaur existence in a real midden or large body of marshy watery stuff.

Like all sudden converts, I was filled with unholy zeal to spread the word far and wide – and, the following Monday, proudly hoicked the book up to the Staffroom at school in order to share it with my table.

Teachers, as you may well be aware, lead very stressful lives – and often, at break, one would find the whole staffroom filled with gibbering, weeping, twitching wrecks after yet another dire hour with year eleven bottom set Rural Science (don’t ask!).

As I surveyed the seeping sea of flaccid individuals, I started to read aloud – ‘access time’, as I recall – and, by God, it was like a mass bolt of lightning. Titters became belly laughs; even Disgusted from the Shires woke up sufficiently to curse me thrice and make his displeasure absolutely plain.

My friend, Marie, and I then started the Word a Day routine (which lasted until I buggered off from teaching) – and many’s the laugh we had as we read out such classics as ‘touching cloth’, ‘wizard’s sleeve’ and ‘let Percy in the playpen’…

Oh, happy days! We became a circle of unashamed raucousness – and would emerge energised and cheered up, able, then, to face bottom set year nine last thing on a Friday afternoon without recourse to gin, weed or horse tranquillizers.

When I left the school, I presented Marie with a spanking brand new copy of another Viz classic: ‘Das Krapital’ – toilet humour at its best!

So, here for the benefit of those of you who are wondering (or, perhaps, those of you who haven’t yet deleted this post in a fit of zealous disgust!), is the definition of ‘access time':

‘n…the time taken for a woman to produce enough moip to allow smooth penetration without feeling like one is scraping one’s giggling stick on the Great Barrier Reef…’

Irresistible to a coarse wench like me!

So, if you know me in real life, next time you come round, look on the shelf adjacent to the downstairs karzi, grab the book and have a read!

You will never again even wish to say something as mundane as ‘large penis’ when such expressions as ‘girthsome choad’ are there for the taking!

Right, I’m off to revisit the hysterical howlers contained in the ‘S’ section…

 

 

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Sacred humour: April Moon 14

I am, as you know, a student of the Western Mystical Tradition and I celebrate the ancient festivals with ritual This, to me, is sacred and, often, both moving and life-changing. However, as anyone who is involved in the Mysteries will be aware, the sacred is often mixed with both the scared (!) and the downright hilarious. Anyone who goes down the Ritual Magic path needs to have a strong sense of sacred ground, respect/love for the earth and its denizens and a damn good sense of humour. Things will, inevitably, go awry during ritual – and the ability to laugh afterwards is very helpful.

As it happens, the Lodge I am a member of was due to meet, in Glastonbury, for the Winter Solstice Ritual, on End of The World day (December 21st 2012) – and there was, I have to say, an adrenaline blend of the high sacred and the utterly craven scared, nay terrified, in this member’s heart as she set off along the familiar roads to the Isle of Avalon. Read on…

Thanks to Google Images for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse below:

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Whilst the Media got its underwear in a doom-ridden twist, and people all over the globe panic-bought, or ran in frantic fear to the most remote spot they could find, a group of us decided to convene in Glastonbury for an afternoon of mystical re-enactment, followed by a feast in a local hostelry. Ritual and food! What, I ask you, could be better? Yes, I know: Hours of the most noisy and inventive sex ever, followed by a bath in Lindt chocolate – mmmmm! – but, let’s get real here!

The road to Glastonbury was slippery and shiny looking as fountains bubbled out of inadequate drains, cascading down the gutters like a severe, and county-wide, attack of incontinence; mist curled and wove and hid behind bare trees, slithering out sinisterly when least expected. The rivers, swollen as a pregnancy gone past its due date, surged and boiled ominously; the fields were already mulched and patch-worked with diamonds of water.

I had written instructions with me. They availed me not! I thought the enticingly twisty looking lane was heading for the Tor (and it may well have been, in its own serpentine way) – but, the further up I drove, the narrower the road got until I realised that a three point turn was verging on the bloody dangerous, screeched to a stop and got out.

All I wanted was a relatively compos mentis human being to tell me where the road I sought was. What I got, emerging like Worzel Gummidge from the bowels of a van which should have been put down years ago, was a dazed looking creature, all staring eyes and straw-like stooks of black hair. Vacant doesn’t begin to describe this apparition – though my father’s wonderful, ‘Thumb in bum and mind in neutral!’ definitely does.

I wasn’t sure he spoke human. Frankly, I wasn’t altogether certain that he was human. Or, if he was, how many bodies had contributed to his overall make-up!

Perkily, I asked him if he knew where let’s call it Raw Stoat Gobbler Road was.

He waved the broom he was clutching in a slightly menacing manner and intoned (or should that be ‘sepulchered’?) a, ‘No!’ so full of tombstones and crypts that I instinctively stepped backwards lest he let me have it across the cranium with the business end of a meat cleaver or similar.

Watched by this Young Frankenstein’s Monster, I attempted the Three Pointer from Hell: It took me about ten minutes and I stopped counting after thirty turns.

Fortunately for the narrative, I happened upon a cheery postman soon afterwards and he was far more forthcoming.

We based our drama upon one of my all time favourites, ‘Sir Gawain and The Green Knight’, and the whole thing was utter pleasure from start to finish – and bang on the nail seasonally because, for the benefit of those of you who don’t already know, the Green Knight appeared, with his challenge, at this time of year, and Sir Gawain had to undergo his part of the Beheading Game a year and a day later.

It always inspires me to think that this poem, written by an anonymous writer back in the fourteenth century, has survived the many tests of time, has been on the GCSE syllabus (I know this because I taught it!) and has been translated by many. I LOVE it – and would thoroughly recommend it. It is sexy, funny, scary, symbolic, highly alliterative and so vividly described that you can almost see the gargantuan and verdant Gringolet.

From thespian wonder to the trough was but a short drive!

We got stuck in, with many a laugh and a jolly (in my case, raucous and vulgar) quip. Of Death, War, Famine and Pestilence (and their steeds), there was no sign: Not so much as a note of apology. Damned rude, I call it! You can’t get the staff, can you?! Perhaps their Sat Nav was buggered or something.

Anyway, as I munched my way through the succulent salmon mousse, the ravishing risotto and the orgasmic chocolate fudge cake, I did occasionally peer out of the window to see if there might be a cavalcade of large quadrupeds, each bearing its own personal dread horseman! Nope! And the Valkyrie didn’t turn up either!

I was very relieved: Would have been really hacked off if forced to abandon my pudding for the End of the World!

So, here we all are still. But things have changed, shifted. As I drove back, abloat with good food and still sniggering from the general bawdiness of the conversation, I reflected upon the fact the each one of us is the world, and that it is up to us to sort things out. It is not the responsibility of the deities, mythological fright monsters and other denizens of the Collective Mysticism to save us. Or destroy us. We are more than capable of either of those options ourselves.

Let us go for the, ‘Sort it all out!’ option, shall we?

Ghosts

April Moon 14, Day 3. Home: earliest memory…

Ghosts

Home for me spelled, and smelled of, fear. There were many reasons: my father’s diabetes; the fragility of my parents’ marriage; the anger between them…

But I do wonder if the fear started when I was sent to stay with people I did not know whilst my next sister down was born. I was one year and three weeks old. This is my earliest memory.

Mummy and Daddy are not there any more; they have abandoned me. I am in a carriage. With horses. One is grey and soft; I stroke its nose and laugh at the warm air on my hand. The vehicle bumps over cobbled streets, and I feel scared. But the big tomato-faced people in there with me have given me a white-papered triangular packet. I open it. The lady has to help me because my fingers are very small. There are foam shrimps in there. They are sweet and yummy. I take my finger out of my mouth and eat a shrimp. The I put my finger back and suck it because I do not like this at all.

We are in a long corridor. The ceiling is really high. Miles away. There is a long, long crimson carpet; it stretches for miles; it may even go into another country. I feel very small.

The adults take me into an enormous room. The bed is too high for me to climb on to. I try. I stumble. I cry a bit, tears leaking upon my curled up finger.

The sheets are very stiff and cold. I feel as if I have been stitched in forever. I want my mummy, but she is lost somewhere.

I stand under the bright turquoise roof of a gigantic swimming pool. The water is greeny and swirling, and deep. I am frozen to the spot, too frightened to move in case I fall in and am sucked down and lose myself.

The woman towers above me. Her mouth is wide open and her face is the colour of a brick. Her eyes are all squinty and nasty. She is yelling at me, calling me a horrible little girl.

I am holding a piece of soft material, and I smooth it over my upper lip for comfort. It catches the crook of my wet finger. I try to swallow down my tears, but they come out anyway.

My bottom hurts through the thick nappy. The terrifying female has smacked me. I don’t know why. Don’t know what I’ve done.

I call, ‘Mummy!’ but no one comes.

I have been abandoned. Forgotten.

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Lantern

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A generic one: ours was much better!

Vast, it was, heavy too – sitting, for two days, in the garage awaiting its transformation from edible gourd to creepy Hallowe’en symbol.

Mother and son together, bent over enormous orange-coloured potential, lopping off its head and scooping out its stringy and pipped entrails, spoons, sharp knives, nails and elbow grease at the ready.

Much laughter and creativity; much throwing of detritus into the food bucket; some swearing at a collapsed septum, eyes which wouldn’t quite cooperate, the slant of the mouth being a tad less than perfect – but, above all, as the forty-year gap closed into shared giggling and silliness, as red headed Mum posed before camera with suave teen wearing new shirt from America and as fragments of pumpkin plastered windows and decorated walls, the chance, so eagerly taken, to bond, to have fun, to work companionably and co-operatively was grabbed with all four hands.

And we did itOur spontaneous creation took shape with few words; our hands moved in tandem, apportioning tasks almost by instinct.

Tea lights in place, Living Room curtains closed, we lit our gruesome lantern and gazed in wonder at its sinister appearance, its gaping mouth and cavernous eyes – then, grabbing camera, we captured it, and us, for posterity.

Now, it sits upon the doorstep, a signal to all passing Trick or Treaters that we are a Hallowe’en-friendly home – and that, if the children ring on the doorbell, they will be offered sweeties and chocolates from the big orange bowl.

Ah! But the whole process took me back to the many Hallowe’en parties I have organised for my son – and the wonderful joy of it all, the laughter and excitement and imagination.

I am so glad that he can still enter into the spirit of such things – and that he does not feel he is too old to enjoy Pumpkin-carving with Mum!

Ankle Snap – fiction

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Sweeping up the detritus from the latest emotional tsunami, Sarah’s mind settled upon a long-ago time – and a part of the pattern she should have seen, for, God knows, it was to be repeated, in one form or another, all too often over the next quarter of a century…

It was Autumn 1989. She can locate this with pin-point accuracy because it was just after her father, David, had been diagnosed with cancer, and shock and grief resonated through the family like a terrible lament.

It was week day. John was at work.

On the day in question, she took the little one, their first child, into a neighbouring town in order to do some shopping, and to take her for a stroll, show her the sights, expand her view of the world.

She did not see the canting slope of flagged stone as she pushed Belinda along the shop-lined streets, was too busy describing things to her, telling her small stories.

Her foot caught, with an agonising wrenching snap, and she was falling, putting out a desperate hand to grab the pushchair’s handles, pain playing sick games with every bone in her left ankle.

The pushchair fell backwards, slow as a nightmare – and was stopped by the kind hands of a passer-by, a sweet lady who scooped the terrified screaming child out and rocked her whilst strangers phoned for an ambulance, wedged a pullover underneath Sarah’s rapidly-swelling foot and brought the baby over so that mother and daughter could touch and comfort.

Placed in the ambulance, Sarah wept for her child – and the paramedics helped her to sit up so that she could hold the babe in her arms on the way to hospital, try to reassure her.

In the Waiting Room, babe upon her lap, Sarah rang John, hoping that he would come out and take Belinda , so that the baby would not have to wait in a stressful environment, possibly for hours (since the injury was not an emergency) and see her mother in pain, see her being x-rayed and strapped up.

She felt an unaccountable fear and unease as she rang the number, though she could not have said where this came from.

‘This is JOHN,’ she told herself, ‘my husband. Of course he’ll come out and help. Of course he will. I would if it were him…’

And yet she still felt as if she were tip-toeing over eggshells.

He was angry, with her.

‘I’m alone in the office,’ he snapped. ‘I’d have to get someone to cover for me. This is very inconvenient. Can’t you call someone else to come and get you?’

Frightened, desperate not to make things worse, she said that, yes, of course she could – and would.

He said he would come if it was an absolute emergency, and she couldn’t find another friend to help, but…

She did try, in those days before she had a mobile phone, to contact local friends – but the vagaries of the hospital phone system made this all-but impossible, and, though she tried, time after time, to get back to John and let him know, the phone went to answering machine every time.

She wanted to weep with fear and sadness, pain and desperation. The need to protect and reassure the child fought with the throbbing agony in her leg and the terror of what was to come afterwards.

Her name was, eventually, called – and a lovely doctor, allowing Belinda to sit on her lap throughout the examination, gently palpated the purpling and huge ankle joint, and sent her, in a wheelchair, to X-ray.

Being parted from Belinda, and hearing her little cries of bewilderment and fear,  broke her heart; because she was only eighteen months old, Sarah could not explain to her why Mummy had to leave her and go into the scary dark room and have weird photos taken; Bel must, she thought later, have felt as if she had been abandoned.

The ankle, it transpired, was very badly sprained and torn, but not actually broken – and, having been encased in a thick support bandage, Sarah would be free to go home.

This presented her with a dilemma, however. Unable to walk, let alone drive, stranded with a distressed and hungry baby who needed feeding and comforting, Sarah’s main priority was to get back home as soon as she could.

She explained all this to a nurse who asked how she was getting home – and, when phone calls to John and a friend were unsuccessful, Sarah rang for a taxi, it now being hours since Bel had been fed.

Home was twelve miles away – and Sarah felt sick with fear on that half hour journey. The cost of the cab would not go down well; she knew that – and she wracked her brains to think how she could have worked it better, so that a friend had driven her, but nothing came to mind except the dull snare-drum of terror.

She hobbled into the house, the cab driver bringing the baby in her pushchair and setting her down in the Living Room.

Driver gone, child’s hungry cries uppermost in her mind, Sarah began the long limp to the kitchen, pain knifing through damaged tendons, holding on to furniture for support…

The front door crashed open and a whirling red-faced tornado of rage erupted into the house.

‘Where the FUCK were you?’ John shrieked. ‘I got Eric to drive me all the way to the hospital, inconveniencing EVERYONE, only to find that you’d already gone. You have humiliated me in front of him.’

At no point did he ask about her ankle, or inquire how she and Bel were; his whole concern was wrapped round the fact that he felt he had been shown up in front of a male colleague.

Sarah apologised and wept, and admitted that she had been thoughtless and insensitive, that she had put herself first and not tried hard enough to communicate, that she understood how awful and shame-inducing it must have been for him.

He ignored her for a while, spinning the punishment out, watching her halting bottom-shuffle up the stairs with an impassive face…

But, eventually, mollified by her extreme apologising and ego-stroking, he agreed to forgive her, to go, with the friend she had tried to contact, to collect her car – and she was so grateful, so relieved to be in his good books once more, that she did not realise until another twenty-five years had passed (and the pattern had been repeated many a time) that this behaviour was not normal.

Now, running on empty – and still, metaphorically, trying to prevent Belinda’s pushchair from crashing onto concrete and hurting her – she knew that she could no longer cope.

Muse: My Soul Mate

It is Samhain today. The veils are thin. Later I shall write of Gwyn ap Nudd, the souls of the departed and leaping over bonfires. For now, the liminal moments between worlds are bringing in the Muse, and the soul mate.

I have visited this realm before, on many an occasion; these words have poured from the lips of spirit, collected in the Grail of Sadness, over-flowed from one reality into another.

I am not lost, simply mislaid – choosing to enter the Hollow Hills and wreathing mists of the Fey for a space. Yet, I am earth too, and the pull of the body is strong.

blessings

I write for me

And I write for you,

Beloved YOU -

But ‘you’ have changed

Over the decades,

As Time’s thin sand

Pours, ever faster,

Through curlicued

And sinuous glass,

The goddess curves rigid,

As mine are not.

I wrote

To give sadness a voice;

I wrote

To ease anger’s

Storming twister;

I wrote

The thoughts,

Fears, joys, tears;

I wrote

Because

There was no space

For tongue to rev up

And judder

Down narrative’s

Crowded highway.

And then,

In a watery liminal,

A Moon moment,

You appeared,

My Muse -

My dimly sensed other,

Priest to my Priestess,

Lover and friend,

Closer than embryos

Sharing amniotic paradise;

You come to me in dreams;

You sing to me in visions;

Your hand’s pressure

On small of back

Warms, comforts, arouses -

Your body is known,

Familiar – each salty dip

And bony crest;

We have made love,

Countless times,

In the Garden of Delight:

You have showered me

With rose petals;

Twined honeysuckle

In my long, long hair;

I have sat, naked,

Upon you in clear streams,

And cried out your name

In deep forest pools…

You are my harp,

And I pluck your strings

For the harmony of words;

You are my certainty

In a wobbly world;

You were there

From the beginning -

Yet I meet you anew.

You are the mystery,

Solar God

To my Lunar Goddess;

Yet you slide

Between worlds -

Real and not.

You are there -

In Malkuth’s Realm -

And I sense you

In an ancient odour,

Spice from so long ago;

I search for you -

And you elude me,

In part or all,

For you, my dearest Muse,

Cannot stay

For more than

The silver twinkle

Of inspiration’s stars

Shimmering, briefly,

Through heart, soul, fingers.

You have long towered

Above my words,

Colossus of the imagination:

You ARE creation’s rite.

soulmates

Carrying the Torch: Unrequited Love

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Unrequited, or one-sided, love is a part of the Human Condition – and is, I think, an essential ingredient of the maturational process. It teaches us valuable lessons about attachment, obsession, loss and humiliation; it fine-tunes our antennae and allows us to pick up the vibrations of  disinterest, even rejection, in the future.

I think we all fall in love with at least one person who is not interested in us during our life times – and, although the torch we carry undeniably lights up our immediate area, the upshot of such love is usually disappointment and, at times, excruciating pain.

If we are lucky, the object of our desires will either be completely unaware (in which case the fire normally burns itself out eventually) or will gently point out that the feelings we show are not mutual.

Unrequited love can, however, become seriously toxic and damaging when one encounters what I call a Serial Unrequiter!

Most of us, men and women alike, at some point attract the attention of someone who has a passion for us and for whom we feel nothing more than friendship – if that, in some cases. Most of us know that, no matter how flattering it is to be admired, the kindest option is to ignore and discourage – and, if that doesn’t work, to say a firm, ‘No. Sorry. Not interested!’ – or, ‘Bugger off!’ depending on the level of sensitivity displayed by the other party.

I confess to the following, less than caring, get-out behaviour twenty odd years ago when a most peculiar guy stalked me incessantly, appearing in pubs like some ghastly shadow and insisting that we were meant to be together, forever.

After a few hours one evening of him gazing into my eyes and telling me we were on a date (yeah, like, in your dreams, Man!), I told him I was going to the loo, nipped out through the back door – and, er, failed to return!

In my late teens, I was such an avid torch carrier myself that I could not keep all the damn things aloft, let alone alight. Hapless, I was, and hopeless! Many’s the evening I spent in my room at university, weeping because the latest swain had made it clear I had all the appeal of over-cooked tripe.

But at least they made it clear…

Serial Unrequiters are more like cats in their approach: They don’t actually want to EAT the mouse, but, by God, do they enjoy playing with it – for hours on end, often.

Cats display casual cruelty because they are predators and it is in their nature.

Serial Unrequiters are only interested in your interest in THEM – and, as a corollary, what THEY can get out of it. They EXPECT others to carry a torch for them, and are often very complacent about their attractiveness to the opposite (or their own) sex.

But what makes them dangerous, as with cats, is the way they play with their prey.

They show just enough interest in YOU to hook you in, suggesting, ever so subtly, that they might, one day, return your feelings – if you do A, B and C; if you can prove that you are good enough for them.

These are the ones who will tell you quite bluntly, ‘You are not my type!’ – but will be quite happy to have sex with you if there’s nothing better available.

These are the ones who see you as lesser, as prey, because of your feelings for them.

These are the ones with so little inner light of their own that they need to grab any torch going and use it until it has fizzled out – and until you are a heap of confused despair – before moving on to the next source willing to reflect their perfection back at them.

These are the ones for whom the word ‘mutual‘ in a relationship is a mystery they cannot fathom – because very often they carry torches themselves, and their inner landscape is sharply divided between the SUPERIOR (who deserve both their torch and their love) and the INFERIOR (who deserve nothing, and were created just to give).

Although often incapable of love themselves, they are experts in seduction – and will quite happily reel you in and then throw you back time after time. They will make you feel special for as long as it suits them – and then choose another, often in front of you, once they have sucked all they can from you.

These people are LETHAL because, although all your instincts are screaming, ‘UNREQUITED! GET THE HELL OUT NOW!’ they give you just enough ambiguous hope to keep you as a willing slave.

I KNOW what I am talking about, having met one in my late twenties. It took me YEARS to throw that torch into the deepest, darkest well I could find – and run for the light.

Falling in love is a delightful feeling, even if that love is not returned – and our capacity to open our hearts over and over an essential part of our humanity.

But, life is NOT a fairytale – and we need to guard against wishful thinking…

Because the sad truth is this: Unrequited love does not magically turn into the mutual kind, no matter how much we might wish it would – and nothing we say or do is going to change that stark fact. Far better to enjoy those feelings in the secrecy of our own hearts – and shun those who seek to steal our little torches for their own glory.

And, for Serial Unrequiters, you are a minuscule part of a lifelong pattern – and will be cast aside just like all the others were.

Make no mistake about THAT!

My Haunted Life – Just in Time for Halloween and Christmas

alienorajt:

Having thoroughly enjoyed Gary’s ‘The Last Observer’, I have no hesitation in alerting you all to the imminent arrival of ‘My Haunted Life’. Sounds great to me!

Originally posted on The Wacky World of G. Michael Vasey:

Yes, my publisher, William Collins Publishing, pulled off something of a minor miracle and got the Kindle version of my new book up just in time for Halloween. The paperback version may also make it today or tomorrow…..

It’s called My Haunted Life – a Compendium of Strange (But True) Stories of the Paranormal. It is a short collection of stories – true stories – about things that have happened to me, some of which have appeared on this blog. Go download it, or if a Kindle Unlimited subscriber – borrow it, and have some scary fun. Hopefully, it will make you think and wonder a bit at the creepy edges of life and reality.

It is available here at a very reasonable price indeed.

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Why write graphic sex scenes?

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Ah, this is an excellent question – and one which all of us who make that choice have to face at some point.

The ‘why?’ of that urge is, for many people, incomprehensible – and tips us over into the realm of the tart (if we are female) in the eyes of some.

I could give you many answers, and a wheelbarrow full of frustrations shovelled up from the creative stable too.

As a small number of you will be aware, I wrote an erotic post yesterday – and one of which I am very proud. Link below:

https://alienorajt.wordpress.com/2014/10/29/wood-fragments-erotica/

Clearly I cannot speak for other writers of erotica – but I AM going to share some of my motivation for scribing below-the-belt, adult material.

First and foremost, it turns me on – and, thus, enhances my aliveness.

We are in the melancholy and grey end of the year; there is a great deal of fear and sadness, anxiety and disease in our world – and people are especially vulnerable to the glooms as the light fades. Anything that can bring a moment of brightness, laughter, joy and bodily pleasure into our lives (and is not, in itself, harmful) should be welcomed with open arms/legs – and, dare I say it, erect members!

Sexuality is such an important part of our lives, and, indeed, the lives of all sentient beings. The rising of the sap, whether it be in tree, flower or human being is cause for celebration and profound happiness.

When pain is all around, and life seems like an uphill battle we have no chance of winning, delving into the Pools of Pleasure – even if this is only an act of memory – can soothe and comfort and remind us that this primal force IS still out there, even if we have, for the moment, fallen off that thrusting phallic wheel of connection.

Because, sex IS about connection. Of course it is. Otherwise we would simply take ourselves in hand and mate with a sock or a penis-shaped object.

Sex is about requiting  – not necessarily of love, but certainly of lust! – rather than avoiding, denying and pushing-away. It is about seizing that moment, sharing bodily fluids, asserting that you are alive and full of these wonderfully fallible human feelings.

But, going back to actually writing about it, I think there is a beauty and lyricism, a natural poetry if you like, in the act of making love which lends itself brilliantly to the pens of writers. I believe that arousal and inspiration are two parts of the same stream. When we are in love, or beginning a new sexual relationship, we are often also at our most creative in our particular field – hence the wonderful paintings expressing love and sex, love poetry – and the erotic scribblings of countless word-smiths down the centuries.

But you do not have to be in love to swim that stream. I think bathing in it is a marvellous antidote to the limitations and unrequited love moments we all experience in  life. It is, in a very real sense, our indomitable spirit’s assertion that our sap is as strong and green as ever it was – even if it is only now expressed through the medium of words; that passion can be ignited by that curious combination of bright words and the body’s hauntingly sensual memory.

I write through joy and pain, sorrow and laughter. I write because I must. I write in the hope that I might be able to sell my books once they are manifest in the world.

Sex IS life. Endless denial is NOT.

And, at present, I need that life force to permeate my soul, to give me back the light and laughter and daring and spontaneity of youth, to stroke my aching bones and frightened mind with hands both caring and urgent.

I need to feel that my words can capture the body’s most intimate moments – and create a hunger, or a laughing memory, or a longing sadness, in the reader. Not for ME, I hasten to add, but for the power of sexuality in his/her own life.

I need to feel that age need not wither me, nor limit the boundless leaping of my inner nymph; that my imaginative capacity for all of life’s riches remains undiminished – and that I can communicate this vividly to those who read me.

For, as long as we remain turned-on by life (in ALL senses, not just the sexual), there is HOPE.

SITUATIONS VACANT: Cartoonist Wanted

alienorajt:

Come on all you artists out there! These guys are great fun to read – some of the funniest blog posts I have ever read! Get in touch if you have an artistic bone in your body…

Originally posted on The League Of Mental Men:

pictures_u51_a06117

An out-of-date issue of a satirical magazine pictured being largely ignored last night

A well-appointed, London-based, satirical magazine is actively seeking somebody who’s quite good at drawing to illustrate a cartoon strip I’ve conceived, which features an alcoholic superhero as its main protagonist.

The successful applicant will be given a crippling deadline to produce 5 frames of half-decent cartoonery for absolutely no pecuniary reward whatsoever. However, in an almost unbelievable act of largesse, I’m offering an all- expenses-paid look at a picture I accidentally took of my foot using my phone when I was pissed last Friday night.

Bone-idle art students with fuck all to do all day other than to watch The Jeremy Kyle show and/or to masturbate periodically into a sock, will be fast-tracked to the top of the shortlist.

So if you know one end of a crayon from the other, are soundish in wind and limb…

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Pheasant-Plucking Song

Little story for you: Way back in the early eighties, I met a music teacher who doubled as a DJ at weekends – and, one Saturday night, Boyf and I sat in on the recording of his show.

Suddenly, in the midst of the serious, the ethnic and the New Romantic, I heard the first few piano chords of ‘The Pheasant-Plucking Song’ – and was on the floor, gasping with laughter, within seconds; it was one of the funniest things I’d ever heard!

I just love the combination of utterly wonderful double entendre, tongue-tangling lyrics and the completely serious tone of the various characters. As for that cheeky screech of violin, well, it gets me giggling even now, thirty-three years after I heard the song for the first time.

If you haven’t already, DO; if you have, try it again…and the song!

Word of warning: DO NOT ATTEMPT TO SING THIS WHEN UNDER THE AFFLUENCE OF INCOHOL: YOU WILL MAKE A TIT OF YOURSELF!

1038 followers on WordPress…

…and, on average, individual posts get between ten and thirty visits.

I was bottom set for Maths – but even I can see a discrepancy when one stares me in the face.

Linda Gill wrote an excellent posts on this yesterday. She wasn’t the first – and she won’t be the last.

It looks to me as if only 3% of my followers are in any sense active.

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Thank you very much, my fabulous three per cent. I am happy to have you on board, and my comments are not made out of ingratitude.

Not to you loyal people, anyway – and if you are an occasional visitor, you still count!

But, come ON: 97% of bloggers who tick ‘follow’ on my blog are sleepers, or dead, or never actually existed in the first place.

I KNOW my own limitations, both physically and psychologically – and, for that reason, I do not follow hundreds of people.

So where are the hundreds who allegedly follow me?

Now, I am well aware that no one who has a life can possibly read every post by every blogger – and I would be the first to admit that I am prolific; even I can’t keep up with myself!  – but still…

I find it very discouraging, if I am honest – because it does sometimes feel as if success on here has little, or nothing, to do with the quality of your writing – and everything to do with tactical playing of the Followers’ Game.

Trouble is, every time I write this kind of post, I get taken to task by Offended from Tunbridge Wells, or Disgruntled from Dolgellau – or even, on two famous occasions, Fucking Furious from Frampton – who accuse me of egregious and ungrateful behaviour, and more or less tell me that I should be thankful that anyone reads me at all, so vile am I!

Mrs Trellis has been know to put her oar in too – though I have yet to understand more than one word in fifty of her ramblings.

‘Twas always thus, though, wasn’t it?

Think Emperor’s New Clothes, Elephants in Rooms…

People are terrified of disagreeing with the System, with the Establishment, lest they are ostracised, taken to the Tower, defrocked or beheaded.

Being a good writer is not the same as being Prom Queen, popular, pretty, petite; nor, in my opinion, should it EVER be confused with kindness, unselfishness, sweetness or open-heartedness.

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We should not be judged, or read, on the basis of our personalities – unless we are Evil Incarnate, of course, in which case a wide berth is acceptable, nay essential!

It should not matter if we choose not to write a hundred flattering (and, in some cases, insincere) comments upon a hundred posts each day; it should not matter if we choose not to follow ten new people each week.

There is a kind of covert ‘I’ll like YOU, if you like ME‘ at work here – and I HATE it.

The worrying thing to me is this:

Building a successful blog and creating beautiful poetry or prose seem to be poles apart in all too many cases, with pushy (at times aggressive) marketing skills taking precedence over literary merit time after time.

If you have something rare and fine to sell – and are trying everything you can to make that work – this is one thing; if, however, you are manipulating the system in order to flog this odd notion we have of success, to be the blogging equivalent of a celebrity, this is something very different and rather sinister.

To put it bluntly, some bloggers on here who get hundreds of hits and likes each day are not great writers. They just know how to play the system.

There is a difference.

And I cannot help wondering if some of my ghostly 97% followed me because they thought I’d be nice and write splendid praise on their posts (I’m not and I don’t!), and if still others targeted me as one of many other pawns in the great Chess Game that is competitive blogging.

I can be lovely; I can be a complete pain in the arse.

Neither one of those has ANYTHING to do with my ability as a writer.

So, in terms of percentages, I only have 3% success AS A WRITER.

97% apparently think I am a talentless nobody!

Bit of a bugger, ain’t it?!

Wood fragments: Erotica

 Note: this is an example of the the more serious side of erotica I shall be including in my book; I shall post a funny one soon!

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Boots slipping in early mulch, they slid, laughing uproariously, down the steep bank, dragonflies whirling in a crazy kaleidoscope above them. Plunging blouse a magnet for detritus, she felt the tiny pebbles and fragments of wood lodging themselves in flimsy knickers and lacy bra, a chafing freight of oddly sexy sensation.

Laughing, she told him, ‘Wedged under my boobs, they have, twigs and things!’

He gulped, imagining that which he had not yet seen – let alone touched: the dark brown splinters brushing the whiteness of large firm breasts;the intimacy of this inanimate fondling; the way she told him, so naturally, as if unaware of the effect she had upon him.

Perhaps she was.

He had imagined her body many times, extrapolating the whole from the planes and hollows, the dips and curves on show. Pale, she would be, for those with her colouring do not tan easily and her skin was milky, almost translucent, in places.

But she was mystery too. For all her artless comments, and the great whoops of shared laughter, she kept herself to herself – did not show off the wiggle of hip or length of smooth leg with high-heeled shoes; did not push tits out with cleverly-designed bras, nor suggest the abundance below with short skirts.

She seemed…unaware that such things were possible, let alone commonplace – and he suspected, in his heart of hearts, that she simply did not care, for she wore no make-up either, was not one to accentuate the penetrative aspect of mouth with the bright red of lipstick’s scented arousal.

Trees puffed out their piny breath, filling the little glades and strange echoing caverns with memory and festival.

Lying on her back, face alight with laughter, she patted the ground beside her, feeling, but not fully understanding, his awkward shyness.

‘Wood got you, too?’ she asked, her hand going up underneath the grass-stained cheesecloth.

What could he say?

Yes, the wood had, indeed, got him too – but not in the sense she meant.

But to say so would be indelicate, would chase them out of the Garden of Innocence they had inhabited for so long – and bring them slap bang up against serpents, fig leaves, apples and temptations both Biblical and down-to-earth.

He had, in every sense, become wood…

Stiffly, he sat down by her side, his eyes drawn inexorably to her fiddlings and ferretings, her little tuts of irritation and sighs of relief.

Small branch became larger one, became mighty trunk as he watched her childlike hand flicking resinous fragments from the places he so wanted to be.

‘I’m going to have to take the whole lot off,’ she said, sitting up. ‘Close your eyes if you want. I won’t be long…’

Obedient – and, perhaps, afraid – he shut his eyes tightly, and thus only heard the rustling of shirt-removal, the small bursts of annoyance as bra hooks resisted, the whoosh from her mouth as, naked from the waist up, she wriggled and swept hands down, disturbing the earth almost as much as she did him.

‘Hmmmm,’ she said at length. ‘That’s better. Think I’ve got a splinter stuck in my back, though. Could you?…’

Eyes open in the watery green of their pine tree world, his first sight of her was the soft white of back, nubs of spine showing clearly, a few grazes from her recent fall standing out like blood upon fresh snow.

He could see no obvious sign of wood embedded in flesh, moved closer, her body radiating heat and a faint musky scent, celery and moss and salty brackish water.

He touched her for the first time – knowing, for all the ambiguity, that she was tacitly allowing more than she was prepared to say.

Wood dominated his body, stripping away thought.

One hand touching the tiny fleck of brown which had burrowed shallowly into her back, he reached round with the other and cupped her right breast, feeling its warm weight, its silky smoothness, hearing her little cry of pleasure, sensing from the way her nipple became erect so quickly that she, too, was powerless in this transition from child to adult.

All pretence gone, he knelt up behind her, pressing lips against her hair, exploring both breasts now, letting her feel his hardness so she knew, was fully aware.

He could feel that she was trying to twist her head round, to make contact, to find HIM.

Touched and turned-on in equal measure, he gently pushed her hand away.

‘No yet,’ he whispered. ‘I may not last otherwise…’

He brushed on down her belly, feeling a few remaining fragments – and, sliding his hand into her knickers, trailing down ever further, found that she was wet and ready for him, panting and making small animal noises in her throat.

‘Ummmmmm,’ she said. ‘I want you to…fuck me…up against that tree.’

She stood, naked apart from the sheer lace of knickers, facing the trunk – and he, pushing the dampened material to one side, and still stroking her breasts, entered her.

Wood against wood.

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Apple Weed: A Seasonal Triumph!

Two weeks ago, we Ghost Weeders did a brace of gigs in one weekend – and a great success they were too!

The first performance took place at the monthly Open Mic do at a village not far from where most of us live – and, for this one, being of a thespian bent, we had concocted a small moment of comedy to accompany ‘I need a dollar’. Long story which I will not share for the moment – because a couple of family members videoed our finest hour, and I am HOPING eventually to be able to share the DVD on here with you all!

We ended up playing two sets!

Sunday was Apple Day at the Village Green – and this meant that N, our gallant guitar player, was out there pressing autumnal fruit like it was going out of fashion: A most impressive sight, I would have you know. The apple juice and cider which came from this ancient and evocative craft was delectable – and, in retrospect, it may be that I was just a tad heavy on the alcohol and light of head when I tuned up, in the burger tent, with M, our singer and flute player.

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Unfortunately, MP, our drummer, was not able to make it – but T very kindly joined us on bass, and G gave it some welly on the bodhran.

The whole thing was very impromptu – and, fortified by the aforesaid nectar from local apples, we were all inclined to be pretty laid back about the lack of keyboard, amplification, sound system and so on.

The afternoon was a real example of Autumn at its most beautiful: warm and sunny (as you can see in the photos), leaves at that fine point between exquisite colour and imminent decay, children having apples painted on their faces, local cooks selling their gorgeous produce – and everywhere the smell of apples.

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We were rapturously received, most people being, by then, too far bitten by the Barn-weasel to care that we weren’t Bruce Springsteen or Aloe Blacc; most people, in any case, were so thoroughly aglow from our fabulous energy that they wouldn’t have given an armadillo’s scrotum had we been tone deaf.

Which, I hasten to add, we weren’t!

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By our final number ‘My Oklahoma Home,’ M had the blighters in the palm of his hand – and they were singing ‘Blown away…’ with an enthusiasm which would have raised the roof had we not been al fresco!

Okay, I will admit that not all of them were in the same key – or, indeed, the same song! – but their sheer verve and decibelage more than made up for Cider-inspired lack of tunefulness.

Wonderful fun! All right, it must be confessed that we are not quite ready to take London, or New York, by storm yet – but we are certainly more than capable of creating a small localised weather front in hamlets up and down the A.38!

Go, Ghost Weed!

Broken Clowns Anonymous

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This one is for ALL my fellow Broken Clowns out there, whether you blog or not…

The link between comedians and sadness – even Clinical Depression and Bi-Polar Disorder – is well-known.

Look at Stephen Fry. Tony Hancock. Kenneth Williams. Robin Williams.

Do we make light of our own sadness?

Not always, no.

Do we find humour in the suffering we go through?

Not necessarily – or at least, not at the time.

Is it a fending-off process, a defence, a way of telling the world, ‘If I can summons up a giggle, I am FINE…’? Even when we are NOT.

Yes, I think this can be true of a lot of the funniest people.

Is it a humanitarian move, a deep understanding of the vast importance of humour in our world?

I like to think so – at some level.

I AM a funny woman. I make people laugh, both in my writing and face-to-face. I often cheer others up – even when I am facing trauma and stress myself.

Many of you reading this will recognise the syndrome.

I am not, for one moment, trying to appear, or be, Holier Than Thou in saying this. I am nothing of the kind. That should, by now, be very obvious!

But I know I have a ready wit, a lightning fast riposte system and a very bawdy, vulgar – and, though I say it myself, hilarious – way with words.

I LOVE being the cause of other people’s laughter. I feel happy if something I have said or written lightens the load of grief for just one person.

I think many of us write humour through the most appalling pain – emotional and physical. We find that deep pocket of life-enhancing images, stories, poems and satirical slants on the world – and, though tears may have fallen recently, though our tummies may be spasming or heads throbbing, though thoughts of death and illness and fear may never be far away, some spark inside us keeps that Jester’s costume on, continues to jingle the bells and make the silly noises, to caper and clown around, to celebrate the human need for a belly-laugh and a guffaw of sheer joy.

Life IS tragi-comic. The famous Drama Masks say it all.

Both laughter and tears have huge healing properties, and are closer to twins than we might realise.

Laughter literally reduces us to tears at times. I rest my case.

My own view is that often the funniest moments come in the wake of profound unhappiness – that, without a willingness to enter the Stygian darkness of sorrow, we are unable to rise to the ecstatic heights of abandoned, stomach-clutching laughter.

There is a tendency, amongst some people, to imply that, if we can write humorous pieces, we are NOT sad.

WRONG.

Broken Clowns are able to grab those fleeting moments of sun in the course of a rain-filled day, and spin them into something better – even if it means turning their own woes into rib-splitting hilarity.

I AM a Broken Clown.

I know whereof I speak.

Jmuleb beachy walk: Dog speaks…

 

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‘Lo!

It are I, Jumelb, gettin’ hoofy-paw thing on ‘puter while Own Goddess in Smallest Room.

Just Walkin’ the dog,’ she do say.

I gets all ‘cited and flumps out of bed.

Where lead, eh?

Why she shut self ‘hind door?

Has she got ‘nother dog stashed away? Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Broomph clang, hydrophobia – ping pong!

Ah! Toy Lut it do make bongy noise. Now she do grab that smelly stuff and wash front paws.

Why she do that then?

Humans plenty much strange, you ask me.

Aha! That more like it: She opening back car door.

‘Jumble! In!’ she do call. ‘Walkies?’

WALKIES?!

Do she think I are puppy or stoopid or summat?

I are twelve years old, thank you very much, and much ‘telligent.

Like High Jump gettin’ into car, though. Front paws scrabble. Fall out. ‘Mbarrassing. Used to do this in one leapy thing.

Goddess shoves Jumbs’ bum an’ I fly into boot.

Huh!

She singing. Oh no, oh no. Sound like cat in pain.

Hey! We at beach!

Ooh, look, little kiddies builded speshal wee-ing tower for dogs. Used buckets an’ spades and stuff too. They very kind.

I go cock leg. Ah, that better!

Look! ‘Nother one over there. I go ‘vestigate! Got windows and shells all over. There’s posh.

Think I can squeeze bit more out. Don’t want to disappoint li’l humans after all.

Uh oh…

Big red-faced blokey shoutin’ at Goddess. Rude language.

‘Get your effing dog away from my kids’ effing sand castle, you stupid btich!’ he do say.

Sand Castle? SAND CASTLE?

Who they kiddin’, eh? Can’t live in that. Far too small.

Oh, yum yum – horse poo! Can Jumleb get mouthful ‘fore She notices?

Runned over sand. Lots of trees lyin’ on sides. Plenty much leg-cockin’. Sniffed small dog’s ‘sterior. Recent bone an’ Tuna Meaty Chunks.

Goin’ into squat on sand. Can’t do usual dance cos front foot go down deep to ‘Stralia.

Big kiddies watchin’….GO ‘WAY! Dog need privacy on job.

Hey, Goddess, why scoop up with baggie thing? Just about to bury that ‘self, thank you VERY much.

Honestly, can’t get the Goddess!

Sea calling!

‘Jumebl!’ it do call in whispery voice. ‘Come here!’

Bark, bark, jump, bark more, wavy things ticklin’ tummy, waggy dog! Sing a bit.

Goddess throw stick. Swim and grab. Fun-happy!

Chase horses through water. They race. Not catch.

Find smelly stick with eyes and mouth. Ummmmm: food and play.

Crunch.

NO, Jumble! Drop it. It’s a DEAD FISH!’

I runnin’ ‘cross big sand! She trotting after. Not having MY fish, Goddess!

She only got two leggies. I got four. Heeheehee!

Off I go!

Crap Circles: Satire

Reprising this one because, damn it, I think it’s funny and just what we all need on a grey Monday morning.

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Five minutes later, this was a minute model of Attila the Hun…

This recent craze – or possibly evidence of Alien intervention – has caused quite a furore the length and breadth of the British Isles, knocking the Corn Circle will-o’-the-newsworthy-wisp into a cocked hat.

Concentrated exclusively in the more rural nooks and crannies of our beauteous land, these stealth graffiti attacks upon the humble faecal pile have hit the headlines in villages from Poultney Wallop right down to Little Gosling By the Sea, sending reporters out in all weathers to comment, lucidly or otherwise (depending on how much Scrumpy has passed their lips,in pubs with rude names,first), upon the latest example of this foetid art.

Nazi Insignia, esoteric sigils, vulgar anatomical designs, nuns, squirrels, abstract lines – nothing is exempt from the attentions of these potty-minded people: If it’s possible to draw it, someone, somewhere, will have incised it, for posterity, in a poo!

We, at the Minging-cum-Whinge’s HERALD, have been out and about – at considerable expense and personal inconvenience, I might add – interviewing the locals, many of whom have been directly involved, from the tail end, as you might say.

Farmer Obadiah T. Giles had this to say:

‘Waaalll, ’twas loik this, see – moi Jenny, she were afflicted only yasterday…

(Editor’s Note: We THINK ‘moi Jenny’ refers to his Prize Friesian Heifer – but, frankly, in these parts, who the hell can know for sure?!)

‘She’m allus been reglar, has Jenny, and her allus squats in same places. Now then, when her wandered back past an earlier grass pancake, her fetlock went all squidgy with shock and her fell over…

(Ed’s Note: Definitely the cow – thank God!)

‘Becarse, staring up at our Jenny were none other than the face of Elvis Presley – and you don’t roightly loik to think of that coming out yer posterial, now do ya?’

Quite!

At this point, a melancholy mooing from an adjacent field made Farmer Giles choke on the piece of straw he had been ruminatively chewing throughout our ‘chat’ – and, by the time the Camera-man had grabbed him round his midsection and applied the Heimlich Manoeuvre  with what I would have called quite unnecessary enthusiasm, all thoughts of decorated cowpats had gone clean out of our minds.

General Frumpington-Bastard, who often takes his afternoon constitutional at around this time (it being past Noon and all that), was considerably more forthcoming than his yokel of a far neighbour had been – though, being both deaf and possessed of a voice like a foghorn, his bellows of rage did shatter a rather fine stained-glass window (depicting the infant Jesus stealing apples from a Bethlehem Orchard) in the church nearby.

‘Disgraceful!’ he spat. ‘Bally awful! Can’t have oiks tinkerin’ about with turds at dead of night. Damned impertinence. Bring back National Service, I say. Younger Generation – no morals, backbone or respect; wouldn’t have lasted a minute against the Hun. Where’s the Dunkirk Spirit, that’s what I want to know…’

Pausing only to dislodge a cat with his shooting stick, the General swept on his way, muttering imprecations at a decibel level which could, no doubt, be heard clearly in the primary school ten miles away.

My mistake, in retrospect, was to assume that the Fairer Sex would be more articulate in matters of the Chamber Pot. They weren’t!

Ms Peyote StarChild (dressed, for some unfathomable reason, as a Corn Dolly, and smelling decidedly VEGETABLE) took out a battered deck of tarot cards – in the middle of the High Street! – and proceeded to deal them right next to the ornamental remains of the latest victim (an elderly Jack Russell afflicted by vicious temperament and chronic constipation).

‘The Hanged Man!’ she whimpered, staring, with maddened eyes, into the middle distance. ‘The Five of Cups! Death!’

Whereupon, she folded into a Caftan-esque tent upon the pavement and wept uncontrollably.

‘Control yourself, Madam,’ I ill-advisedly said at this point.

Have you ever been bear-hugged by a menopausal hippy weighing, at a conservative estimate, half a ton?

Still, it was an ill wind – because, with her dowsing-rod, she was able to lead me to some truly ghastly examples of Crap Art, including a map of Crete created from Llama dung, and a most impressive, if malodorous, Victorian Bathing Machine drawn upon, if I am any judge of these matters, elephant effluent.

Needless to say, this egregious practice has given rise to high levels of paranoia in all local inhabitants. No dog feels safe when going into the squat – and one sees weighty and ponderous bulldogs looking anxiously behind them, whilst on the  job, clearly terrified of the end result.

Some of the more credulous folk are claiming Divine Intervention, The Second Coming – and all manner of other nasties!

But, as the saying goes, Shit Happens!

And, although I probably shouldn’t say this, some of the dreadnoughts deposited upon our verges have been greatly improved by this mysterious artist’s attentions.

Precious Imperfection

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In any kind of punitive situation, or relationship, one is endlessly held to ransom for not being perfect, for disobeying the often unstated rules. It is as if one only deserves praise, warmth and love if one can prove that one can do no wrong.

Can do no wrong? What a strange idea.

I love those dear to my heart for their gritty imperfections, their oyster roughness – and the sweet glittering pearls within; I adore, and celebrate, their flawed humanity.

The whole ‘can do no wrong’ train of thought suggests, to me, an ideal taken to the extremes of fantasy; it paints a picture of pedestals and grovelling crushes, fawning obsession, being in love for the sake of it…

It is not about real people. It is not about blood, sweat, tears, untidy laughter, human failings and frailings.

Worship a god if you must. They, allegedly, do no wrong – though I think many of us, in our secret hearts, would dispute that.

Those we love are precious and hallowed because they have touched our hearts deeply and intimately. It has nothing to do with them behaving impeccably all the time, or looking a certain way, or being clean/tidy/sweet of breath and body, kind/patient/angelic at all times.

If you want angelic, summons an angel. If you want flawless perfection, gaze long upon a marble statue.

No. I don’t want those things. I want the rasping warmth of real breath, even if it is suffused with strong spices and onions; I want the bungling attempts at a hug by the over-eager or shy; I want laughter which crackles on the top notes and is sometimes off target; I want language which covers all the bases. Honeyed words? Yes, sometimes. But the four-letter ones are just as valid. I want people who can trip over the rug, crack a mug, leave a room untidy, clutch at bits of the body deemed rude, curse a bit, eat like pigs – and fail to live up to expectations from time to time.

Do no wrong? How unutterably dull. Pass me another fallible beloved. You can keep your waxworks.

Alienora’s Book of Erotica…

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Yes!

Simple, in the end, to decide what my first Print on Demand book would be!

‘Play to my strengths,’ thought I – and, towering above all else, came HUMOUR.

Why erotica, though?

Because, my dears, I love it – writing about it, you understand, though participation in the more hands-on side of things is stupendous fun too!

Basically, I have the soul of a Bawd. In mediaeval times, I’d have been a wench wearing a revealing peasant blouse, possibly with an orange down the cleavage just in case, and with permanent straw marks upon the buttocks from energetic bouts with lusty swains in haylofts, stooks in harvested fields and wooden carts lined with straw!

But also, I like a huge hearty laugh, me – and have probably the most disgustingly dirty guffaw this side of Eskimo Nell.

So, you see, my proposed tome combines laughing and bonking most satisfactorily.

Because, although I say it myself, I am a bit of a dab hand when it comes to writing humorously about sex; why, I even make myself laugh sometimes!

But I have my poetic moments too: Can sing lyrical visions and tender touches, can describe sensual detail and love’s longing.

This, then, is what I am working upon: Gathering together all the disparate pieces of sexy writing (going back I won’t say how many years!), tweaking them like recalcitrant nipples, editing and tightening them the way you would a wayward corset and then letting them loose to lurk by the lampposts of literary back streets, picking up cruising customers…

You get the idea, I am sure!

Sea Vision: Love among the Waves!

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Did I fancy you, moustachioed and red-headed Blacksmith?

Oh, yes!

There was something rough and raw about your stocky body, your forge-grimed hands, your deep connection with the earth which made me imagine what it would be like to feel you…

You were the only man I had met who did not wear underpants – and, young though I was, I found that knowledge, that intimate picture in my mind, hugely erotic.

Generous and open, you shared food, dope-stalk wine and endless games of Bridge with Boyf and me.

Ah! That night! Clear now as it was nearly thirty-five years ago. Moon full – and, even then, the monthly glide of that stately lunar Goddess fizzed in my blood, and gave me visions of other lands.

Salmon, you had cooked for us – great slabs hacked from sturdy ribs and spine, allowed to fall any-old-how upon chipped plates, boiled potatoes raining down atop the sunset-pink of the fish, glasses of wine (smelling of hay and late summer and the land) drawn from the vast glass jars you kept in the pantry.

After our supper, and amidst whining of dog and laughter of humans, you brought out the great bowl of dope cakes – baked only that evening, still warm, fragrant and oh-so tempting – and the inevitable pack of cards.

Moon danced through the darkness outside; polite bites of the little buns became ravenous and stoned gnawing; the cards, thrown up in hysterical mirth by your girlfriend, showered down upon us, two Jokers landing incongruously in the carcass of the salmon…

Did we drive on that occasion? Or take the rattling old bus, sniggering as pot-holes caught the subframe and threw us up towards the roof, watching Fingerless Fred’s dour visage as he put the vehicle through paces it was not equipped to deal with, terror and exhilaration so finely packed, twas impossible to separate them out.

Does it, ultimately, matter if my memory plays sweet games with my head? Condensing the wide pattern into a single weave?

No, of course not!

Let us take the bus then. Come with me, Readers…

Imagine the towering trees, the squeaking rushes on their nightly sentry duty by the Cors Goch Marsh, the serpentine road; imagine the four of us, sitting at the back, high as kites, laughing and joking, making faces at the donkey in the field at the bend, bound for adventure and bonded by youth, spontaneity and that sexy whiff of danger.

Imagine the Moon-trail bisecting the rough expanse of the sea, and our perception of waves taller than Southampton Dock’s vast ocean-going liners, the fractious and rough menace and sultry seductiveness of water calling, calling, calling, its siren note higher and more luscious than usual.

We held hands, did we not, the four of us – hands warm and active, the quickness of fingers as the cakes made their wired path through brain and blood; we held hands and twirled in a circle, hair catching the Moon-rays on each turn…

Speak for the others? Obviously not! But, for the younger me, the resinous undertone of an earlier taste explosion turned me on mightily – and, as our feet etched patterns in damp sand, I watched the areas of freckled flesh which appeared whenever your denim jacket rode up, and, I now confess, hoped you would disrobe completely…

And perhaps, in an alternative universe, you did just that…

I like to think that, as I pulled my green maxi dress over my head, letting it fall to the sandy-pebbly ‘floor’, as I unhooked bra and removed knickers, as I shook out long hair and stretched arms up to the Moon’s invitation, that you were watching and aware…

The tides come and go, don’t they? Leaving all manner of detritus stranded upon beaches. Driftwood and whittle-wood, starfish and shells, the dying of animals – and, at times, people.

And so, on that night way back in Wales, the tide of lust came for us, Boyf and I – and, naked, we ran into the waves, cold though it was, and, shrieking and laughing, mottled and Moon-mad, made wild and passionate love amongst fish we did not see and friends too out-of-it to care!

The sad-tide swept Boyf out of my life not long after that, leaving the empty shells of memory – and an erotic frisson whenever I leap naked into wild water!

Did I fancy you, Ancient Briton man, as I watched your careless ease with the stallion, Woodbine perched at side of mouth?

God, yes – but pulled down your jeans and touched you only in my velvety and vivid imagination!

The Great Freeze

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2014 has been such a year of extremes. I have had some sublimely happy moments – and these are gathered together like chestnuts, ready to be roasted in the fire of my heart during the emotional freeze.

Meditation is a bridge.

When the crazy times threaten to take over, I replay the inner film of joyful experiences and feel again that little glow, that tiny hope, that connection with the world.

Or I go to far distant landscapes and learn from their other-worldly wisdom.

This is going to be a bitterly cold Winter. That is the background to my canvas. That is the dominant perspective. The Thames has frozen for the first time since the mediaeval period. I can, and will, paint colourful scenes of traders, minstrels, courtiers, pick-pockets and animals as they go about their business on London Bridge. But I cannot paint out the thick ice, the falling snow, the greyish-white skies or the ragged babies, dead before their time, the birds plummeting to their death, the animals and humans starving. I cannot gloss over truth, no matter how much I would like to.

Find the hope! This is what people want and expect.

No!

Find the point of grim reality, I say, and face that first.

Because if you don’t, hope will rise on false and flimsy wings, attached to the sprites of illusion.

My happy imaginings cannot change the bloody post-mortem of a death denied, a bereavement interrupted, a rite of passage waiting to be completed.

They cannot thaw the icicles, nor halt the advance of the Snow Queen’s sleigh.

But I break open their charred shells and feast on the pulpy sweetness anyway, for I adore hot chestnuts.

And one day they will be part of my kingdom!

Fairy Dust

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Oh, just give me a sack of Fairy Dust and let me sprinkle it where I will.

Let me start with myself, and flesh out the fearful skeleton of self-esteem, making it plumptious and ripe as a mediaeval wench.

Let me sparkle and soothe the hurt places in both body and mind; let me pour glitter into the tight tunnels of defensiveness, flushing out their dark treacle of angry pretence and pouring in the syrup of healing.

Let me use the magical dust motes to illuminate the Sword of Geburah as I stand poised to sever blackened and rotting ropes of connections dead for years.

Let me puff the iridescent shine of the Fey into the eyes of those I love, both family and friends, so that they may see their way clearly and receive love, light and blessings.

Let me empty the bulk of the bag over the surface of our wounded world – and let all the beings, animate and inanimate, receive that promise, that connection, that hope of a lateral tomorrow.

For money cannot, alone, buy any of the things that matter. It can only aid the true of soul, the compassionate of heart and the inventive of mind in their search for real value.

Print on Demand

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I have decided to go down the Print on Demand route.

This means that, if you enjoy my weird sense of humour, my prose-poetry, lunatic erotica and all the rest, you will, eventually, be able to get your mitts on a real physical book full of the stuff…

This is both exhilarating – and terrifying. It is a challenge and a risk. It is fear and joy.

The ‘What if?’ s are fighting a cosmic battle with the inner vision and need to create.

The ‘I CAN DO THIS!‘ is under attack from all manner of doubting gremlins.

Full details in a future post.

But I have SEEN my books on the inner; I know that they are, like embryos in the womb, waiting to be born. I can see and feel them already.

For too long I have allowed fear to get in the way of potential.

I know that doing this is not guaranteed to make me rich. But holding my literary ‘baby’ in my hands will give me wealth beyond mere coinage.

Now? I need to open the doors to fulfilment, creative growth and abundance both material and spiritual.

You don’t look the type…

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I wrote this over a year ago – and am reposting it because it expresses something important.

‘You don’t look the type…’

How many times has that been said to me over the decades? Too many to count. Yet, each thoughtless flinging of such appearance-based acid has pitted a bit more of my soul.

It seems, in our society, that you have to LOOK a certain way in order to justify ill status, whether that illness be physical or mental.

Pale, wan and wilting, for starters, preferably on the thin side of so-called ‘normal’ – frail and obviously vulnerable makes the point very clearly, doesn’t it? Fainting helps, as do copious public tears, as does an endearing tremble. A tendency to leap into male arms at the mere sight of mouse/spider/worm/bully also speaks volumes. Long winsome dresses, trailing scarves – a look which indicates, in so many words, that you are always a hair’s breadth away from either cracking up, giving way to Consumption or Bedlam-bound.

You see, it’s not enough to claim that you are anxious, depressed, hearing voices, hallucinating or about to cough up your gobbet unless your physique can, in some weird way, prove these – to others, dubious – claims.

Well, that’s me comprehensively buggered, then, isn’t it?!

Put it this way, the expressions, ‘pale and interesting,’ and ‘palely loitering’ were QUITE DEFINITELY not penned with an Alienora in mind.

Bucolic and rosy-cheeked from birth, I have always had more than a touch of the wench about me. I look as if I ought to be wearing a tattered rustic skirt, a revealing blouse and be disporting myself amidst the haystacks with various local youths! Probably was in a previous reincarnation.

I am a big girl. Let us not beat about the bush here! There’s lots of me. Too much, probably! Lots to grab hold of, I suppose – but not, let’s get this clear from the outset, the kind of gal who slips down drains or disappears when she turns sideways.

I went through a phase of wishing I COULD go into a swoon. It seemed so romantic, somehow, such a badge of being a Proper Woman! In assemblies at my all girls’ grammar school, the droning of the Headmistress was regularly interrupted by decorous crashes as yet another nubile nymph hit the deck.

I tried EVERYTHING! Gave up breakfast, tightened my belt until I was in danger of the complete extrusion of my internal organs, spun in mad circles at break (hoping to induce the requisite dizziness) and longed for that moment of whooshing collapse.

Might as well have been waiting for Godot.

Bog-all happened.

But this is, perhaps, just as well. Any bloke foolish enough to try and catch a felled Ali would be asking for a hernia or worse. It would be like trying to pick up a Giant Redwood, or possibly a slain mammoth!

Other than the time I went bright yellow all over (NOT a becoming shade for me!) when I had hepatitis, I always look as if I am in rude health even when I feel dreadful.

This has caused no end of problems in my life because people simply don’t believe me when I say I am sick.

‘You LOOK all right,’ they say, peering at me suspiciously.

This is bad enough for purely physical stuff, but the situation gets far, far worse when it comes to emotional and mental distress.

You see, I don’t look anxious. Although I often feel like so-doing, I do not hide in small corners, gibber under the bedclothes or shake without stopping.

Sometimes, I feel like saying, ‘Do I need to have a panic attack in front of you for you to believe me?’

The depression, for me, arises because I feel powerless, because there is no let up on the pain and panic front, because I cannot get through to people who are hurting me.

But again, I tend to be disbelieved as often as not – perhaps because I am not to be found slicing into my wrist, taking an overdose or driving my car into a tree at ninety miles an hour.

And you would not believe the righteous and defensive BOLLOCKS I get presented with by people who should know better.

‘You’re putting it on, making it up, attention seeking,’ I am told. ‘You are exaggerating.’

‘If you’re going to be like THAT,’ I am told, ‘don’t bother coming to the event!’

‘Be like that!’ I am told – or, that great estian fall-back, ‘Get off it!’

‘Get therapy!’ I am told. ‘Find God! Be grateful! Stand up for yourself! Be assertive! Get out more!’

I have learned, for the most part, to put on a brave face, to pretend all is well even when it isn’t.

Perhaps I am my own worst enemy because I do not wail and cry and scream out in pain as much as I probably should. I am not easy with my own tears, and rarely shed them in front of others. I have to trust another human being implicitly before I let go.

So, today, I am full of anxiety – and physical pain. The former state relates to the ongoing situation I am in. I would actually go as far as to say that I am frightened.

But, you wouldn’t guess if you were to meet me.

My body, as so often before, is sore all over – but, again, I give no outward sign of the inner torment. I do not grab bits of myself, or groan and go white or faint.

But, look folks, the fact that you cannot see something on the surface does not mean that it does not exist.

Looking fine does not mean that you are.

Looking normal tells you NOTHING.

Few people with mental health problems conform to our worst fear norm of drooling and making odd noises and looking weird and rocking and so on.

You do not have to look fragile to be fragile!

There IS no type where suffering is concerned. It does not conveniently alight upon those who are pale and thin.

Many of us who suffer from anxiety have a peculiar relationship with food and eating. Some, sad to relate, fall into the grip of Anorexia, starving themselves in order to try and gain some control, to wrest some power back into their lives.

Others, like me, over-eat in a desperate, and doomed, attempt to fill the enormous emotional gap inside.

But, food and meals provoke even more anxiety, whichever route you choose.

I am not going to go any further on this one because it is making me extremely agitated just thinking about it.

No, I don’t look the type. Even those who have not seen me in the abundant flesh probably get a sense of that through my blog posts.

But, looks can deceive – and mine certainly do.

Do not be mislead by appearances.

I laugh, joke and have fun whenever I possible can. I appear bold and confident, loud, jolly and gung-ho.

It is a MASK.

And, under that apple-cheeked, brazenly in yer face, effing and blinding outrageous piece of work is a woman who is terrified of being hurt, rejected, abandoned and betrayed; who goes through phases of doubting her own sanity, and of thinking that she is a complete Narcissistic Sociopath.

And who has come to believe that the only safe way is to keep feelings under wraps.

Badger Squeaks: A Tale of Two Guinea Pigs

Here I are…

Squeak! Hello. I is Badger. I is Guinea Pig. Please don’t kill me. I not very big and I plenty much scared. Tremble tremble.

Ooh, I done a poo. And ‘nother one.

Mmmmn, nice green stuff with twiddly bits up middle, all crispy and crunchy, yum, yum. Rusty gate noise. More rusty gate noise.

I share big wooden thing with red pig sister twin called Star. Silly name. She not star. She fat and furry, like me. Eek, eek, just falled in food bowl, not comfy, legs up in air. Help! Don’t eat me. I only little. Not much meaty stuff on small piglet.

Ooh, ‘normous giantess outside, making odd soundy things; she weird! She put nice orange long thing in. If I rock bowl, might fall out…

Leggies against side…not good…aaah! feel sick…

Star, she wheeking and weeing; she showing sharp pointy teeth, and pointing bum into straw; she not brave guinea pig, not like me.

A long time-a-yesterday year, huge Goddess pickeded us up, and put in slidy blue cage. We not stupid, you know. Know our colours and numbers, one, two, thirty-ten, red-and-pink-and-green-and…fnee, fnee, big hand grabbing bowl…

Back in dark pig ages, on long many bit journeys to thing called Gar Den, I ‘scaped! Me, Badger, clever little pig, saw her hand not quite tight and jumpeded – wheeeeeeeeeeeeee, all lovely through wet air, cos Ray-Ning, and landed kersplump in Amazon Forest they Youmans call Hedge.

I hided in scratchy tree den for years; it were muchfun; she couldn’t catch me cos I were scurry scurry on little paws in teeny holes and, bang, into next door’s bottles and all lovely squishy mound, bit smelly but warm.

She lied down on grass and it were funny! I could see her, and her big talky thing opening wide and my name coming out, and some rudey words too, like, ‘Badger! Come here, you little …..’

No, I not say, I very polite cavy. Not like her!

She got Big God too, with strange big stringy hat on stick. What he going to wear that for? Got holes in.

Star, she very frighted, mega wees and poos and meepy noises, and, ‘Badger! Come back! Me scared! You get eated by catdoghorse!’

It gotted dark, and plenty lots water fell from sky on me; I wet cold guinea pig, not such nice, bit scary; up above filled with silvery plate, and shiny bits on back and Gar Den, and lots of cats looking at me and making ‘OWWWWWWW!‘ noise. Not like.

Some red up there came in soon and lighted all my trees up, and made the dark go away, and some hot came in too and drieded my fur a bit.

God got out his hat and wings and flied down the Gar Den, flap flap! Goddess standed there sounding like lots of pigs having fight.

I liked this game! Till God put hat thing in my way, and Goddess stuck head in near me and made me jump in air; I runned, and called, ‘Star! Star! Help!’ but she were eating anapple.

String hat bited me all over, and I were on back, not diggiefied for small pig, and lifting high high up into sky.

Don’t drop me! Don’t kill me! Squeaeeeeeeeeek! More squeaeeeeeeeeek!

And that was end of braveness. Back in cage. No more Free Dumb. Me sad cavy.

Still stuck on back. Bit barrassing. Feel a nidiot.

‘Badger,’ I hear, ‘you silly little guinea pig! What have you done? Here, let me pick you up! There’s a good girl!’

Not tummy, not tummy, not tummy…ouch, tummy!

But she got warm hand and snuggly fur, and she stroke not bad for Youman, and I give little happiness noise like oil on rusty gate, and she make much of!

Good day night!

Cultural Spacecraft Debate…

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Aha! 10, 9, 8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 – TAKE-OFF!!

Thrusts on Super-Charge! Zooooooooom!

Very phallic, the whole thing. Come, Firmament, let me slip you a rockety length, you star-twinkling old slapper, you! Weyhey!!!

Ok, so NASA‘ s latest ejaculation, albeit of the virtual kind, is to be a variation on the old Balloon Debate Concept, is it? With a precious load of CULTURE?!

Did I hear you aright, oh Silver-Tongued One?

CULTURE?

Why? What is the bloody point?

Look at it this way: If the idea is to save the best this benighted species is capable of, presumably to populate another planet with our foetid morals and Celebrity obsessed crap masquerading as art, the underlying suspicion has to be that the world, as we know it, is buggered. And, furthermore, that all sentient life has been flash-fried, decimated by heinous disease or Dinosaured out of existence.

As long as we think, in our arrogance, that we are alone in the Universe, that we are the best the Creator could manage – ye gods, he must have been having an off-day when he came up with humanity, mustn’t he?! – we can continue to delude ourselves that the paucity of spirit, the want of talent and the thin dribblings of corporate tossers constitutes greatness…

But, we are fools, aren’t we? Any other civilisation would, in all probability, be light-years ahead of us in all the cultural realms – and would recognise the child’s tin buried in the sandpit nature of so much of what we bow slavishly down before.

Are we, in this Promptish world, going to be accompanying our prized Best Of – or is the implication that we have been conveniently euthanased so that the story fits?

My cynical self says this: Bung in an enormous vat of live yogurt (counts as culture, in its own inimitable way!) and enough spoons to satisfy the most pernickety of aliens.

I could furnish you with the epitome of the centuries – the true masters of their spheres: the great musicians, painters, writers, sculptors, poets and madmen.

But, I won’t. Because ‘culture’ has been so bowdlerized and buggered about with, so efficiently dragged down to the commonest of Common Denominators, that many of us wouldn’t recognise true talent if it used its fine cheese-wire to decapitate us.

As, in a very real sense, it has…

Do we want to confront genius? Or snuggle up to the faux comfort of duck-down, fuck-down, suck-down cultural wasteland-imprinted ‘sleb’ duvets?

The two are not compatible.

In Balloon Debates, you justify, through cogent and powerful rhetoric, why YOU should be the only one to stay in the rapidly sinking dirigible.

And I suppose, to continue my initial analogy, this NASA gig is just another way of firing millions of sperm up into the great Vaginal Vault, knowing that only one of them is going to end up meeting the great Cosmic Egg!

In which case, that metaphorical tadpole of the testes had better be the finest minds compressed into one pulsating, tail-waggling jelly – so that the true seed of cultural creation can bang that ovum, Baby, and bring forth the offspring of brilliance!

Alienora, the Blogging Brassiere…

Written in response to a Daily Prompt which asked us to produce an INFOMERCIAL.

Red rag to a bull or what?

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INFOMERCIAL?!!

Fucking HELL! What a repulsive word! Had no idea what it meant – and, having looked it up, am none the wiser…

Except for this: if you are expecting a programme of an hour’s duration, you’re on the wrong channel, mate!

Right! That’s got you sitting up, I trust! That’s pushed a few buttons of righteousness, caused a mass tongue-clicking in Tediousville.

To put it another way, if you have switched on in anticipation of Candy Floss, pert, youthful mammaries encased in lingerie or romantic bollocks, think again.

I don’t DO sweetness. I throw up over shallow and vapid romance. Bosoms I can do, but am buggered if I’m hoicking them out just to sell a blog!

I tell it – no, I shout, scream, and exalt it! – the way it is.

My blog IS me. It is, at times, big, loud, hilarious, vulgar, bawdy and blunt.  At other times, it is lyrical, mystical, descriptive. And HONEST.

If you want lies, flattery and all the other tricks of the Politician’s trade, listen no further because, sure as dicks are dicks (in all senses!), you won’t get such stuff here.

Diplomacy is not my bag.

But humanity IS.

In a sense I am EVERYWOMAN. Maybe EVERYMAN too!

I think I represent what it is to be fully human, totally open to all the chemical surges, feelings, moods and aches and pains. I flinch often – but I do not turn away from describing what it feels like to be sad, anxious, happy, turned on, despairing and all the other doubloons in the great Pirate Chest of the emotions.

I have, in the past, been described thusly: A masculine mind in a feminine body…

And there may be some truth in that assertion.

Certainly I am BUILT, as the saying goes, STACKED higher than a large freight-load  on one of those huge ocean-going buggers. We won’t go into the difficulties I have experienced over the years finding tit hammocks up to the job of supporting Cecil and Rodney (as I affectionately refer to my pride ‘n ‘joys!); suffice it to say that whalebone figures prominently, as do steel girders…

Up in the cockpit of the Alienora plane, away from the sprawling acres of the body, there is very different pilot at the controls! Definitely NOT a lady! Has none of the necessary accomplishments, frankly. Has all the domestic aptitude of a rogue tigress, though fierce in protective love for her cub. Has no sense of fashion and usually looks like Wurzel Gummidge’s  Granny – or one who got lost in the maze of the seventies and is thirty years too old to be wearing that kind of latter-day hippie trailingness! And, perhaps worst of all, one who is more at home with the four-lettered than the honeyed word.

But, do you know what?! I am PROUD of who and what I am! Damnit, I really like my bolshiness and feistiness and refusal to be what society dictates I should be! I love the fact that I am not going to conform to Authority, that I call a spade a spade, that I write so bouncily about sex – and that, defiant to the last, I wear DMs at every opportunity. Yes! Even though I am nearer Bus Pass than Male Making a Pass time, I take delight in kicking against the pricks – whilst also celebrating their wondrousness (if you get my drift!) – and screaming, shouting and generally causing as much mayhem as I can before I am carried off – resisting to the last, I hope! – in the box from which there is no bodily return!!

And this uncompromising attitude is precisely what I bring to my blog.

Some of you will warm to me and admire me; some of you might even learn to love me! Stranger things have happened!

Others will loathe me on sight (saves time, you know!) and will think I am a complete bitch.

You will, inevitably, disagree with some of what I say – and there are bound to be those amongst you who will disapprove of some of my thinking. People will get the wrong end of the stick.

Let ‘em, says I!

If you climb aboard my crazy blogging wagon, if you are up for that mad dash across the Prairies of the Wild West, I can promise you that it will never be dull, cosy or anodyne. Infuriating, yes; uncomfortable, frequently; dangerous, very probably!

But, though you may go white in the face with fear, as you cling desperately to the sides, though you may laugh until you are sick one moment and cry until your eyeballs fall out the next, you WILL be enlightened, inspired, touched, amused and uplifted.

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Alienora: the Blogging Brassiere!

Get one now, whilst stocks last!

Now, bugger off!

Anonymous Letter to my Attacker

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I wrote this over a year ago, before I knew most of you, and am reposting it.

I was sexually attacked, by a stranger, on September 1st 1988.

He was never found. I could not identify him. I have no idea who he was. That hurts still. It scares me.  I was never able to express my anguish, fear, anger and pain.

He is still out there.

People were patient for a few weeks. Then, when I remained ‘disturbed’, many grew angry, accused me of being self-centred, stubborn, of making a meal out of nothing.

I was told, ‘You were lucky. You weren’t raped or murdered.’ Leaving me with the feeling that my brokenness would only have been justified had things been even worse.

Why, oh world, do we judge and quantify other people’s pain in this way?

There are sad parallels in this, echoes for so many of us who walk around with hidden wounds – and are accused, by the empathy-free minority, of feeling sorry for ourselves and not getting over it to order.

NO gratuitous, unprovoked attack upon another human being can be justified – and those who play the, ‘Oh, but it was only…’ game are, in effect, condoning an act of violence, an act, furthermore, which could lead to far worse in the future. Because the intent to hurt another is, for some people, addictive – and giving them Licence to Wound is lethal.

 

You deserve no greeting phrase and you aren’t going to get one.

How dare you feel you can grab hold of me and throw me around, bang my head and cut my lip, just so that your shaky sense of self, your doubt about your own sexuality, can be assuaged for a few seconds?

How dare you hold me so cheap, so utterly anonymous, that, even in a situation of abuse, I was but one of seven?

How could you even entertain the thought that pain, brutality and intimidation would turn me on, make me want your disgusting probings and wounding scrapes?

How dare you think that crushing another human being to turn yourself on, to get your rocks off, is a sign of masculinity, of strength and power?

As I lay on the torture bed of that pavement, bleeding and crying and screaming out for help that never came, I was far stronger than you will ever be. Because I do not feel I have to wrest control from every situation in order to make some fucking specious point.

How dare you pretend to like and fancy women by day – and then reduce them to trembling nothings by night? Why do I say this? Because you were never caught, were you? You never faced the years and decades of trauma, self-disgust, terror and diminished belief in your own sexual allure. You never faced even a day of feeling like damaged goods.

And the fact that no one caught up with you tells its own story, doesn’t it? Someone, somewhere, must know who or what you are. Someone, a wife, a girlfriend – for all I know a boyfriend, since you CLEARLY loathed women – must have seen that unholy red in your eyes, felt the terrifying seethe in your mind – and, what? Blamed themselves for provoking you? Made themselves out to be in the wrong for not satisfying you as masochistically as you demanded?

Wherever, and whoever you are, you are living a lie. You must be. Otherwise that predatory violence and fury would have boiled over and killed someone by now.

You were, I suspect, in the Closet. Not a repressed homosexual. No. A repressed sadist. A potential murderer. A man whose loathing of all that is female was so intense that it burst out in this one night of scatter-gun attacks, of mindless punching, grabbing, slamming slapping rage.

But, you are not alone, are you? There are others like you out there – men and women – who hide their desire to pull wings off butterflies, to torment small mammals, to kick, punch, humiliate and dominate anyone perceived as ‘weaker’ than they are: people who are aroused by pain and fear, who actively enjoy  tears and sobs and pleas to stop, to show mercy and care.

You tried to destroy me because you could, because it was fun, it made you feel like a real man – even though you were clearly nothing of the kind. It gave you twisted power, a high, a glow…

And then you fucked off, didn’t you, cowardly loser. You ran away and left me. You have, no doubt, forgotten the whole thing – or, even worse, have turned it into some kind of unholy wanking fantasy.

But, I am left carrying the burden of that night, aren’t I?

You are inhuman, a man without a conscience, without the slightest understanding of compassion, empathy, kindness.

You probably justified your attack by telling yourself that I was obviously asking for it, that I was giving out sex signals or some such rubbish. People like you read sexual acquiescence into rabbit-in-the-headlight terrified and shaking silence, don’t you?

Because the truth is this: since you and your tribe have no recognisable human feelings, you give not a shit how anyone else feels: it’s all about YOU and what you want. And God help anyone who thwarts you, pisses you off or gets in your way.

Only t’ six hours? Luxury!

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Four Yorkshiremen…

This should be read in a Yorkshire accent if possible!

Wesley Otterthwaite:

Ee, it were right awful, it were. Six hours we ‘ad to wait, in ‘t broiling sun, wit’ knackered Air Con – and t’ wean screamin’ ‘is ‘ead off. Toilets were full o’ drunken Chavs, sippin’ multi-coloured cocktails wit’ names like sex acts and then throwin’ up all o’er shop. T’lad were so bored, ‘e chewed all ‘is own toenails off.

Terry Braithwaite:

Six hour? SIX HOUR? LUXURY! I’d a killed for only six hour, me. There was the one journey, only goin’ to Glasgow we were, could’a drove it in five hour, mind, but the wife gets car sick. Waited in that terminal for twelve hours, we did, and couldn’t go out in ‘t fresh air due to low-flying dirigible shaped like large naked porn star with big boobies. Kids got so bored they played leapfrog over a line of nuns – dead embarrassing, that were – and littlest went wee wee all over posh bint’s hand luggage. Then, when we got on ‘t plane, some daft bugger tried to join Mile High Club as Pilot went down ‘t runway – and had to be surgically removed when t’ Co-Pilot ‘ad to slam on brakes to avoid line of snipers trying to take out ‘t naughty balloon in ‘t sky…

Darren Scuttlesthorpe:

We really ‘ad it tough. Stuck in ‘t military airport for five weeks, to catch plane that’d took off three years afore I were born; wife in traction after goin’ arse over tit on puddle of vomit; kids playing hopscotch in ‘t middle of longest queue, trying couple’s shoe laces together, shouting, ‘I’ve got a bomb and I’m not afraid to use it!’ at Customer Services Desk. And when we got on ‘t manky old plane, after two minutes’ sleep and mouthful of molten lava for breakfast, we was four to a seat, the gangways was crammed with licensed bandits selling sarnies at a King’s Ransom a go and queue for toilet went right from one end o’t plane to t’other.

Jake IlkleyMoorBaTat:

Right! We got t’airport in 1979, just before ‘t Iranian Crisis, wit’ just the two kids. Over ‘next three decades in Terminal Five, we made nest under ‘t luggage carousel, where we lived, in ‘t cardboard box, had three more kids and waited, in vain, for Concorde to come up on ‘t board. By ‘time EasiFlop plane took off, ‘t wife ‘ad gone funny in ‘t head, we’d forgotten what country we was ‘eaded for and ended up in Manchester;  I ‘ad to lay me tools out on ‘t conveyer belt -and ‘t Pilot were a GIRL.  What IS the world comin’ to? That’s what I ask…

Bright Moon brings trailing in her wake…

 

She burns my mind and sifts through the extraneous ashes of the ego.

Such extremes she brings in the wake of her swollen belly and lazy lighted labour across the birthing stool of the sky.

She feeds my mind full of the tangled chains of insecurity – so that, locked within wordlessness, I shudder and blink and swallow tears back down into the ocean within.

She creates illusions and delusions of gross power, so that people seem larger than life and threateningly harsh in the hook-nosed parody of screeching anger personified by Punch and Judy. She paints me as a mewling miniature in the canvases of my own soul, so that I run from room to room, picture to picture, magnifying glass in trembling hand, searching, searching, never finding…

She brings me dreams of such bright and colourful eroticism that I am convinced, briefly, that the man’s tongue is teasing open my wet lips and that the full swell of my breasts is parting to receive him in a pre-penetrative act.

She leaves dark red and black stains on the floors of my mind so that I feel I am a bloodied afterbirth, a nothing, a mistake that should have been rubbed out long ago. The spears of her rays – mysteriously flame in colour – both wound and heal. But the pain is severe and lasts for a life time of seconds, hours, time frantically looping back on its essential non-existence.

She cuts clean through, a circular saw of milky radiance, deadly and beautiful. She cuts me down to size, reminds me that the ‘I’ causing such anguish is thistledown in the wind of eternity, is tethered only lightly to this universe – that my preoccupations and fears and sadness count for nothing in the gigantic fresco of the Ages of Man.

But, as my lower self crashes and bashes and cries and hides amidst the ruins of former selves, she reminds me that, from the jagged rocks of the inner Wasteland comes the sprightly hare, the White Hart, the Salmon of Wisdom – and, stepping lightly through the ashes, tall, flame-haired and commanding, my higher self, the she-cat in waiting.

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Wayne Trebilcock and the Durex Boys: Part 2

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In this section, Wayne Trebilock 2, the Welbeloved Brothers (jobbing builders renowned for their Weapons of Mass Seduction) arrive –  to lay rubber on the bottom of the school’s moat – and Geraldine finally gets to meet Wayne!

The Archers, based upon members of the Craft Department at the school I taught in, relieve stress by firing arrows from the battlements of the castle/school!

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CHAPTER TWENTY ONE

The builders moved in the next day, though the horse was a bit of a surprise, I have to say. It was break time and I was up on the battlements with Jasper and co when we spied a most peculiar entourage toiling its way up the steep hill to St Thelma’s. First was a Land Rover, crammed to the gunwales with men. Behind that there was a Volvo that was pulling a caravan and, bringing up the rear, though not apparently being towed by anything, was the horse.

Red started to whistle the theme tune from ‘Steptoe and Son’ and, as the caravanserai turned the corner, his reasoning became obvious: craning out of the far window of the Land Rover was a wisened little party with a pipe in its mouth and great blasts of smoke blowing back down the hill.

‘It’s Old Man Steptoe!’ Cap cried, having finally decoded Red’s somewhat tuneless dirge.

‘It’s bloody Grandad!’ Jasper muttered. ‘Sod gets everywhere!’

We watched, fascinated, as they rattled over the drawbridge before coming to a stop in the courtyard.

‘God, they’re not setting up camp down there, are they?’ said Jasper. ‘They’ll be mobbed by nubile fifth year girls, the jammy buggers!’

The builders had got into a huddle outside their vehicles while the horse, having evidently got rid of its last meal on and around the drawbridge, was now settling down to a nice soothing graze.

‘Maybe they’re not the builders,’ commented Red. ‘Look more like the Antique Gypsies to me!’

They looked far from antique to me, more like toned twenties, but I could see where Red was coming from: there was a certain, how shall I put it, shiftiness about them which suggested a life at variance with the strict letter of the law.

Red must have realised he’d confused me because he carried on, ’They come round to people’s houses, sniff out any valuables, rubbish the lot and then sneak back under cover of darkness and purloin anything which can be flogged at auction.’

He might have said more but, at that moment, the Head swept out to meet the men.

‘This should be fun,’ Red said.

The horse chose this moment to relieve itself at great length and with evident enjoyment. A better stale I’d rarely seen.

The Head leapt nimbly to one side just in time, otherwise he’d have been wearing it.

‘And you’d be?’ the Head said pompously.

One of the men stepped forward and put out a hand, which had clearly seen better days.

‘Fred Wellbeloved, brothers and Grandad,’ he announced. ‘Layers of rubber for the whole of Cornwall. No job too small. Satisfaction guaranteed. And the horse,’ he finished somewhat ambiguously.

‘Well, you can’t camp here,’ the Head said recovering some of his equilibrium. ‘Health and Safety rules are very strict about livestock near educational establishments.’

Fred laughed. ‘Sorry, squire,’ he said, ‘but Hengist here ain’t livestock; he’s part of the team being as you’d never get a steam roller down into that there moat. And we got special permission from the county council to set up camp right here on account of it’s protected and so forth. Don’t want us all freezing our gnadgers off, now do we?’

‘But…’ stammered the Head.

‘Don’t you worry, gov,’ said Fred. ‘You won’t hardly know we’re here. Quiet as mice, we are.’

The Head looked most put out: this clearly was not going the way he had envisaged.

‘But,’ he said,’ what about, er, latrine facilities vis à vis the horse?’

‘Don’t get yourself in a lather, mate. When nature calls, Hengist answers, if you get my meaning. Your missus grow roses? Brilliant for roses, is horse manure, brings them on a treat. People pay serious money for dung, you know, and you’d have loads of the stuff for free. Look on the bright side! Now, if you’ll excuse us; we got work to do. See you around, squire!’

‘Round one to the builders or whoever the hell they are!’ Red announced. ‘They should brighten things up no end. All the first year girls’ll want to pet the nag, while the fifth year ones will want to shag the blokes. Just as well they are rubber layers, eh?’

‘Oh God,’ said Cap, ‘believe it or not, I hadn’t even thought of that. Must be losing my touch! But if you think of it in those terms, they are about to put a giant prophylactic down a moat aided by a horse – sounds like a porn film, does it not?’

‘We’ve had the Dulux Dog,’ quipped Red. ‘Now we’ve got the Durex Men!’

We watched for a bit longer. The five men tethered the caravan and began to unload their equipment. Soon the courtyard began to resemble a builders’ yard. The horse appeared to be asleep – or dead; one can’t always tell with horses.

I had more pressing matters to occupy me, however: next lesson was to be my first meeting with Wayne Trebilcock. I just hoped that Clive had been singing my praises loud and clear. There are times when it is important to let a child make up its own mind – and this was definitely not one of them. I wanted him firmly and speedily on my side, to make up for the ones I’d already lost in that class. I had a little longer to wait than I’d initially thought, however. The little darlings had performed a preemptive strike and locked me out of my own room. Fortunately, there was a connecting door leading from Tom’s classroom. As I walked through, I could see that Giblet was nesting once more. Perhaps he thought he was a hibernating bear cub. Nothing about that boy would surprise me.

I felt quite angry by the time I got into my room, but decided not to play into their hands by admitting it. ‘We have a new boy starting in this class today,’ I said brightly.

‘We know,’ said Gary lugubriously. ‘That’s why we locked the door. ‘E’s a nutter, Miss.’

Pot. Kettle. Black. ‘Oh?’ I queried.

‘’E’s got ‘is own coffin!’ added Gary.

‘It’ll come to us all in the end,’ I replied. Perhaps Wayne believed in forward planning?

‘No,’ said Kevin, obviously feeling I’d missed the point. ‘Not for being dead in!’

Call me conventional, but I couldn’t offhand think of any other obvious use for a coffin. I mean you can’t cook in one or plant your begonias or have a bath.

‘’E sleeps in ‘is coffin,’ shrilled Gary, ’with the lid down and all.’

‘Does he wear a shroud?’ I asked sarcastically and, as it turned out, unwisely. I’d forgotten how easily a single word could, as it were, ignite a red herring with this crew.

‘What’s one of them, then?’ Kevin, inevitably, was caught on the revolving door of vocabulary, unable to come in or go out.

‘”S one of them sheet things what you wrap deaduns in,’ said Gary proudly. ‘Like the shroud of Tulip. I seen a telly programme on that.’

‘You don’t have to use a sheet,’ interrupted James. ‘My nan wore her best clothes. You look stupid in a sheet.’

‘In any case, ‘said Peter, who’d been mercifully quiet up to now, ‘It’s Turin not Tulip. Honestly, can’t you get your facts straight, Gary. It’s not exactly nuclear physics, is it?’

Fortunately Gary was too absorbed by the whole coffin/shroud dilemma to take offence at Peter’s words. ‘Ow does that Wayne breathe anyway?’ he asked the class at large.

‘Praps he’s one of them undeads,’ suggested Kevin. ‘Praps he’s all sewn together under his clothes, like that Frankincense monster. He’s prob’ly got someone’s else’s brain.’

‘Bit like you then, Pendoggett,’ muttered Peter. Despite himself, he was obviously as gripped by the macabre rumours as the next man. ‘I wonder if it’s silk-lined or just wood?’ he mused.

‘What? His brain?’ asked Gary. ‘Wood for brains! Wood for brains!’

‘No, his coffin, you spaz,’ Peter said viciously.’ Tight fit, I should imagine: snug. You couldn’t turn over in the night.’

At that moment, the door – which I’d unlocked – opened and in came the putative zombie, Wayne Trebilcock. The rest of them were instantly as silent as the grave. I have to say that, just for one brief moment, the desire to make the sign of the cross came upon me.

‘Oi gart larst,’ were Wayne’s first words in a Cornish accent so broad, you could have mangled a whole field of wurzels with it. ‘E told Oi to go roight dewn thart corridar to the cattycoomers, but there were a gurt brick wall…’

‘Never mind. You’re here now,’ I said. ‘Sit down.’ I gestured to the chair next to Kevin and Wayne sat down.

With the idea of catching their attention while they were stunned, I said, ‘OK, now Wayne’s here, I’d like you all to get out a pen and, Karen, give each person a sheet of paper please.’

We had made progress since September in this area, if no other: each pupil now had a pen, of sorts. The original owner of the Sherbet Fountain – who had turned out to be Peter, who else? – still brought a selection of sweets to every lesson, but even he lined a revolting looking pen up by the side of his tuck.

There was something horribly familiar about the shape of Wayne’s huge bag, now I came to look at it closely. I know a sarcophagus when I see one, and I was looking at one right now. Wayne unzipped the lid and took out a skeleton-shaped pencil case, from which he extracted a pen adorned with a skull motif: Very fetching.

I had decided to base this month’s work on a series of tasks based on the poem ‘Jabberwocky’ and had already written the poem up on the board, fortunately. Striding up and down, doing the actions where possible, I recited. I gyred and I gimbled; I paused in uffish thought; I even staggered manfully under the weight of an imaginary head on the end of my vorpal blade.  There was a baffled pause at the end.

‘So ‘e died then, did ‘e?’ Kevin asked.

‘Who?’ I said.

‘The brillig,’ Kevin explained. ‘im what got his ‘ead chopped off in that machine.’

‘What machine, thicko,’ said James, ’there weren’t no machine.’

‘There was,’ insisted Kevin. ‘Didn’t you listen to miss? It’s like one of they combined hamster things what farmers use and its blades went snick snack snorum as it cut ‘im to pieces.’

‘OK,’ I said. ‘I’ll explain the storyline for all of you…’

‘Oi met one of they jabberwockies when oi was outside moi bardy the other day,’ said Wayne.

I couldn’t hope to compete with that, so I quickly dictated the story of the poem and then got them copying while I thought about my latest class member. Fortunately, they all liked copying because it meant they didn’t have to think. We’d also come to an agreement last term whereby they could use any colour of pen they wanted as long as the work got done. The standard of handwriting was execrable, Kevin’s being the one exception, but the colours were vibrant.

By lunchtime, when I went outside to snoop, the Durex Men seemed to have a very cosy little set up. The caravan, tight against one of the inner walls, now had a small flight of steps leading up to the door; long planks lay in piles all around and the boys, reclining on deckchairs, were drinking cups of tea and smoking. Of Hengist, slightly worryingly, there was no sign.

The battlements were calling, so up I went. The usual suspects had beaten me to it and were leaning over, as if indulging in a sponsored vomit. Jasper spoke first.

‘Fun though this is undoubtedly going to be, chaps, I can foresee a problem – viz, they’re going to restrict our practice times considerably. Tempted as I am to use that bloody horse or, even better, Grandad as a target, I can see that this would be frowned upon in certain quarters. Any suggestions?’

Red suggested moving the whole centre of operations down into the staff car park and aiming down the hill. ‘Can’t do that,’ Bilbo objected. ‘I’ve nothing against picking off a few of the more noisome of our teaching groups, but I think a hail of arrows meeting perfectly innocent visitors is slightly over the top.’

‘Or through the gizzard, as the case may be,’ said Cap. ‘No, I think we’re going to have to move to the opposite side of the battlements and use that space pointing out over the forbidden hill. I don’t see any other way round it. It’s got that socking great iron fence to stop the little buggers getting in. Bit of a challenge, I say.’

‘Bit of a bloody climb,’ Red said. ‘Looks as if it’s practically vertical. We’re none of us as young as we were, except Gerri, probably all keel over with heart attacks.’

The Trappist, who’d been communing with nature, suddenly reappeared.

‘Look!’ he said succinctly. ’Here comes the jail bait!’

Since we’d last looked down, things had moved on. Fred and brothers had gone, as had a fair few of the planks, which suggested that they were actually doing some work. Hengist remained conspicuous by his absence, but a loud and tuneless voice was bellowing snatches from ‘Have some Madeira, my dear!’ It seemed to be coming from the inner sanctum of the caravan. Suddenly a posse of fifth year girls, tarted up to the nines, came in from stages left and right. Flouting the strict rules on the use of make-up, they teetered in on high heels so precipitous that I would have kissed both ankles goodbye had I so much as tried them on. With their undulating buttocks and swaying hips, they resembled a platoon of fighting camels going into battle.

‘…it affects yer prowess!’ screamed the voice from the caravan.

The girls, not seeing the objects of their desire, had evidently decided to take the bull by the horns and were mincing up to the caravan.

‘Have some Madeira, my dear…’ warbled the voice getting into full chorus mode.

Lana, of the Himalayan appendages, knocked firmly on the door. The voice stopped in its tracks. There was a pause, during which the girls giggled and adjusted their skirts.

The door was thrown open with a suddenness that took the girls by surprise. They jumped back. With the inevitability of Greek Tragedy, there stood Grandad, in need of a good iron, wearing a gaily hued beach towel and nothing else.

It was a splendid moment. You could see from Grandad’s face that he thought his luck was in. He leered; he smirked; he wiggled his posterior suggestively. It was like the courtship dance of an elderly turkey. ‘Come in, my lovelies!’ he said in what was probably meant to be a seductive voice, but sounded more like a vulture choking on an awkwardly placed rib.

The girls lost their nerve almost immediately. They slunk off like a bunch of deflated meerkats. Had it not been so funny, I would almost have felt sorry for them.

‘Good lesson in reality,’ Jasper said heartlessly. ‘dream of fit young things and princes and what do you get? Grandad! Not so much a frog as a skunk. Bitten off more than they can chew there, methinks.’

Wayne Trebilcock: Part 1

 

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Three of my favourite characters in my novel ‘Long-Leggety Beasties’ are Wayne Trebilcock, Kevin Pendoggett and Seth Golightly. The last of the three is the Head of Rural Science, a man who lost a leg during an unfortunate accident involving a rooster and a rake and whose prosthesis lives a troubled life of its own.

Wayne and Kevin are two year eleven pupils – and what they lack in brain cells they more than make up for in personality! Kevin’s parents loved the name ‘Kevin’ so much that they called his brother Nivek! Like you do!

Wayne, a new arrival at the school, is introduced in the pre-term House meeting for staff.

Anyone who has ever taught in a secondary school will recognise much of what I am saying, even if the characters are wildly exaggerated…

In the second part of this (which I will post as a separate post), Geraldine (the narrator of the novel), and the rest of her bottom set year eleven group, meet Wayne for the first time…

Bart Hogg is Geraldine’s Head of House, a man, as I put it, ‘...of the Easter Island style of good looks, with a voice like a hamster in a blender…’

When I started teaching, year eleven was called the fifth year – and I have kept that name in the novel.

 

After a few more general notices, Bart came to the real shocker:

‘We’ve got a new inmate starting tomorrow: Fifth year boy, with form.’

There was a groan at this. I must have looked as puzzled as I felt.

‘As you can imagine, Geraldine,’ explained Bart, ‘ just after Christmas of the fifth year is the very worst time to start a new school, but this one’s going to be trouble with a capital T. I’m warning all of you to be on your guard. He’s going to be a bottom setter, I’m afraid, which means he’ll be in lessons with all the other fifth year head cases. I’m sure I don’t need to name names.

‘He has been expelled from several schools, to the best of my knowledge, and the comment from his previous school was brief and to the point: “Future member of Dirty-Raincoat Brigade. Avoid at all costs.”

‘Unfortunately the reality is that more pupils mean more money and even if this child committed an act of gross indecency in front of the Board of Governors we’d be hard put to refuse him entrance.’

‘Does it specify what his particular penchant is?’ asked Seth Golightly.

‘Buggering owls, perhaps?’ suggested Tom who, like me, was a third year tutor.

‘There’s no evidence that he finds our feathered friends any more erotic than the average man,’ Bart said, rifling through his notes. ‘Though there is a small note here to the effect that the lad is obsessed by death.’

‘What’s his name?’ Tom asked.

‘Wayne Trebilcock,’ Bart answered, not a muscle moving in his face.

‘In name only, it is devoutly to be hoped,’ muttered Seth.

‘I expect you are beginning to realise, Geraldine, that certain names carry connotations in teaching. Waynes are inclined to be below average in intellect and above average in nuisance value, I’m sorry to say. You’ll find that, by the time you are ready to have children, there will be very few unsullied names left.’

‘Have we a likeness of the blighter?’ asked Seth. ‘Know your enemy and all that.’

Bart turned a page and frowned. ‘Yes,’ he said. ‘He looks distinctly syndromey to me!’

‘Ye gods!’ said Tom. ‘It’s Cro Magnon man! It’s the missing link! Look at that forehead! You could balance a tea tray on it!’

I took the photo from him and drank Wayne’s visage in. He looked like a gorilla.

‘Is he unpleasant sort of trouble?’ I asked, knowing there was a 50/50 chance that he’d join my English group.

‘I don’t know,’ Bart admitted. ‘But, for what it’s worth, my guess would be no. I suspect he’ll out-giblet Giblet, if you see what I mean. I doubt he’s bright enough to be a Peter Dixon. He should really be in an ESN school, but they don’t want him either, on account of his unspecified trouble.

‘I know it’s difficult, but we must try and give this lad a chance. If he doesn’t last, he doesn’t last, but it behoves us as professionals, and adults, to try and help him fit in.’

‘As long as I don’t have to procure cadavers for his gratification,’ Seth muttered.

Break arrived and, as I was on duty, I saw the children arriving. Quite a few came into the office to say hello to me, which was lovely. Once I’d chucked a few girls out of the toilets, I went along to the fifth year tutor bases, basically to see if I could catch a glimpse of Exhibit B. I’d checked and he was in the same group as Clive Penderby.

I walked in and Clive was lounging against the radiator talking to some of his friends. When he saw me, he raised a languid hand in greeting and strolled over.

“Good morning, Miss Dolan, and belated compliments of the season to you. A word in your ear: we have a new chap – lift doesn’t go anywhere near the top story, if you catch my drift. Definite example of Mr Hogg’s pet theory.’

I was intrigued. ‘What theory would that be, then?’ I asked Clive.

‘One with which I heartily concur,’ replied Clive. ‘The bigger the school bag, the smaller the brain. Works every time! As soon as I clapped eyes on our new recruit, I thought to myself, “Aha, here’s a man who’ll have a portable trunk for lessons!” And I have to say I was bang on. I’m not sure what he keeps in there – his bed maybe – but he’s asking for scoliosis to add to all his other infirmities. Take a look!’

Casually sauntering to the teacher’s desk, as if looking for something in the drawer, I gazed at the new boy. He was thickset and long of arm, with an almost continuous line of eyebrows and the deepest eye sockets I’ve seen outside the primate house in the zoo. To be fair, he didn’t look unpleasant as such. I saw immediately what Clive meant when I saw his bag – or should I say suitcase? – the sise of which tended to suggest that he was in another country when brains were being handed out.

A sudden inspiration hit me as I walked back to Clive.

‘Clive,’ I hissed. ‘See if you can befriend him, will you? I dread to think of the company he’ll keep otherwise.’

If Clive was shocked, he certainly didn’t show it.

‘Consider it done!’ he said with a faint smile. ‘I cannot promise blood-brotherhood, but I’ll see if we can rise to the dizzying heights of matiness!’

 

To be continued…

So, what HAVE I written in my life?

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‘What makes a proper writer?’ people often ask…

We get the answer to this one wrong all the time, don’t we?

We tend only to count those who are successful – wealthy and with many published books to their names – as TRUE writers.

Somehow, writing a blog doesn’t count. Nor does writing a journal, or letters, or emails. Nor does self-publishing.

Aren’t we completely missing the point here?

It is the WRITING that matters.

The only real question to ask is this:

Is writing your heart and soul, your life-blood, your very breath?

And, if the answer is an unequivocal, ‘Yes!‘ then you ARE a writer even if you live and die in complete obscurity and never publish a single syllable.

I have felt a failure this weekend. Why? Because I have not been traditionally published. Because I have no writing-generated money in the bank. Because I am not well-known. Because, despite my unusual name, I am NOT a NAME.

And then I thought, ‘Hey, hang on just a minute…look at what you have actually achieved!’

I started to make a little list, and here it is:

1) Four novels: ‘Heneghan‘ (set in Mid Wales: a taut prose-poetry novel); ‘Long-Leggety Beasties‘ (set in a fictional school in Cornwall, and a riot of bawdy humour, with some of the most eccentric teachers – and pupils! – you are ever likely to encounter); ‘Riding at the Gates of Sixty’ (novel on Virginia Woolf) and an unfinished one, set in Oxford where I was dragged up and written when I was in my late teens/early twenties. Of these, ‘LLB’ has been self-published on Amazon Kindle ((http://www.amazon.co.uk/Long-leggety-beasties-Alienora-Taylor-ebook/dp/B00A0XPUGG/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413097155&sr=1-2&keywords=long-leggety+beasties)- and the other two named ones both won prizes in the South West Arts Writers In Progress awards back in the eighties.

2) Play scripts : I wrote the first one when I was eleven – and have written several more since then. One, my own take on Noel Langley’sThe Land of Green Ginger‘, I am hoping will eventually be performed by the local drama group.

3) Journal ……..: There must be a hundred or more volumes of it by now, stretching all the way back to January 1972, when, aged thirteen years and 363 days, I wrote the first date (January 7th) in a school exercise book, and so began what has become a forty-plus year habit! My blogging style comes from the journal.

4) Blogging.…….: I am, from habit and inclination, a disciplined writer – and, during my twenty-eight months as a blogger, have written something virtually every day. I must have written well over a thousand blog posts – though, being very self-critical, I have deleted over half of them because they did not come up to my high standards.

5) Reviews………..: Since I saw Living Spit’sThe Six Wives of Henry V111‘, back in April 2012, I have written several play reviews; I have also reviewed books in my time – and was, in fact, asked to to so for the first time when I was nine!

6) Letters/emails: During the seventies and eighties, I was a prolific letter writer; now, I am equally prolific on the email and text front – and I absolutely LOVE communicating with friends and family this way; it gives me immense pleasure.

7) Criticism………:For thirty years, that was my job in a sense: Every night, I’d come home from school with a huge pile of exercise books – and would spend HOURS correcting errors and writing constructive criticism!

8) Poetry……………..: Writing poetry started at around the same time as the journal – and, although I don’t see myself as a poet, it is something I enjoy reading and writing.

9) Essays…………..: As previously stated, I did English and History A’levels (both essay-rich subjects!) and a degree in English Literature, followed by an English/History PGCE. Loads of essays!

And this is not counting all the stories and projects I wrote as a child, and all the little bits and bobs I scribble down now – humorous lyrics, for example, and rude verses!

What have I written today?

Three posts, six pages of journal, a few texts – and some notes relating to magazines I can contact about either Greeting Cards gaglines or erotica!

Do I write every day?

One way or another, yes, I do.

So, to finish this off, let me just say this: I am not famous, or lionised; I am not wealthy or the recipient of prestigious awards; I do not appear on chat shows or watch my books being turned into highly lucrative films…

…though I think ‘LLB’ would be absolutely hilarious on the big screen!

But, I DO write, all the time – with love, creativity, humour, colour, bawdiness and passion for life!

And, if that isn’t being a writer, I don’t know what IS!

Publishing Short Stories the Traditional Way

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After two weeks of fretting, and tears, and sleepless nights, it suddenly hit me that I already have the raw material with which,  potentially, I can make a small living.

My words.

All this time, I have been cudgelling my panicking brain in a desperate attempt at stirring the beginnings of a new novel – and, of course, nothing came.

All this time, I have been spending hours online looking up jobs as a cleaner, or a lunch time supervisor in schools – or even as a Teaching Assistant – and have felt my heart and spirit dropping ever further into my boots, have felt the stress of it all taking me back to my final high-anxiety weeks and months as an English teacher; have felt this sense of, ‘Oh God, I really don’t want to go down that road again…’

Mike Steeden (one of the LOMM writers, as well as the owner of a damn fine blog of his own: http://mikesteeden.wordpress.com/) gave me some much-needed inspiration and encouragement yesterday, after I wrote my ‘Vulgar Verses‘ post.

His suggestion – that I should write gaglines and rude verses for Greetings Cards – was so staggeringly brilliant that I was knocked back, and grinned all all my face at the very thought that I could, potentially, get paid for doing something I adore: Writing rude, risque and raucous material!

Thanks, Mike!

I have investigated and have already found a company in the USA which looks right up my Boulevard, and am going to write to them and send examples of my work!

And then it dawned on me: I have hundreds of short pieces I have written since June 2012, some of which I am very proud of, some of which are excellent pieces of writing in their own right – and the idea is taking shape rapidly.

‘Why don’t I gather them together in genre groups,’ I thought to myself, ‘and see if I can find a traditional publisher to publish them as books of short stories…’

One could be all humorous pieces, another prose- poetry; still another could be my growing collection of erotica, both funny and more serious; yet another could be family-related stories and so on…

I know I could do this as another self-published e-book – but let me be honest here:

I KNOW that the Amazon Kindle publishing route works like a dream for some, and you hear bracingly bright stories of unknowns going viral, making millions, appearing on Oprah and all the other tricks of that particular trade – but it has not worked that way for me, and ‘Long-Leggety Beasties‘ (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Long-leggety-beasties-Alienora-Taylor-ebook/dp/B00A0XPUGG/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413097155&sr=1-2&keywords=long-leggety+beasties), though admired and supported by some (Sue has been incredibly supportive, for example, as has Gary Vasey), has languished in virtual obscurity since it was published nearly two years ago.

I have made almost nothing from sales of the novel, and it is not being widely (or even narrowly!) read…

I think I was, in some respects, a fool to publish humour first. I say this because it is, apparently, a notoriously difficult genre to shift in the financial sense, unless you are already a known comedic writer – which, of course, I am not.

In addition, I made the mistake of not realising how crucial appearance was/is in selling a product (be it book, hair extensions or clothing) and chose a truly dreary front cover which in no way reflects the lively and anarchic satire upon education which lurks within.

Shot myself in the foot there, I’d be the first to admit.

To make matters worse (is this possible?), few people were familiar with the Scottish prayer from which the expression ‘Long-Leggity Beasties‘ came – and, having gathered that it was set in a school, assumed it was some kind of sleazy romp involving gym-slip-clad nubile teenage girls, with legs up to their armpits, having sex with, and accepting ‘punishment’ from, much older predatory male teachers.

Not what I had in mind at all! Yes, there is a bit of bonking in it – but not of that variety, and strictly of the adult/adult humorous kind!

Now, I need to find companies which will either take me on as a writer they are willing to publish (without it costing me an arm, both legs and my liver) or at least give me the chance to get some free copies made for distribution to friends and others.

If any of you have any ideas, publishing firms you have worked with in the past or contact details you could send me, I would be enormously grateful.

Meanwhile, I shall start combing through me genres (sounds bloody painful, does it not?!) and transcribing them onto Word Documents ready for this latest initiative to become manifest in reality.

Start with erotica, do you reckon?

Or should I go Amgel and Prose-poetry first?

What do you think?

I am not yet ready to give up the writing dream, or to assume that I do not have the ability to get out there and be read in physical printed book form.

I WILL do this, one way or another. I WILL see my work in print, and I WILL make some money too!

And, although my father is now dead and my mother no longer compos mentis,  I am determined, in my own way, to make their spirits (if you like) proud of their first child.

Tales From The Tulgy Wood: Satire

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Imagine, if you will, that the denizens of the Tulgy Wood, in Lewis Carroll’s famous poem, have been turned into the vile and variegated members of a bottom set English class being, as it were, taught the poem of their adventures. The narrator of the poem becomes, therefore, the teacher, God help him, her or it!
Narrator: ‘Twas brillig and the Slithy Toves
                 Did gyre and gimble…
Slithy ToveNo, we didn’t!
Narrator: I beg your pardon?
Slithy ToveWe didn’t do none of that gyring and gimbling stuff, did we, lads? That’s libel, that is!
Narrator: Yes, well, passing swiftly on
                 …in the wabe
                 All mimsy were the Borogoves…
Slithy Tove: Ha, ha, ha! He’s callin’ you gay, Gove! Mimsy, mimsy, mimsy!
Borogove: Eff off, Tove, or I’ll punch your lights out, you gyring gonk!
Narrator: Now, now, boys, let’s  all just calm down, shall we? Don’t want an inter-species war on our hands, after all, do we?
Borogove: Bring it on, mate!
 
Narrator:  If I could just carry on with the lesson? Thank you...BANDERSNATCH! PUT THE JUBJUB BIRD DOWN IMMEDIATELY!
Borogove: Yeah, pick on someone your own weight, Fatso!
Bandersnatch: Aw, Sir, can’t I just a quick nibble? He’ll never miss a leg.
Narrator: Certainly not, Snatch; you know full well it never ends with just the one limb. Why, only last week, you ate the entire Front Row of
the Rugby Scrum, and a perfectly innocent vicar.
Can I carry on now? Or would anyone else like to put in their six penny worth of irrelevant and time-consuming balderdash? No? Excellent!
Now, assuming for the moment that the Mome Raths are not going to make an almighty fuss about their relative state of outgrabeness, or,
indeed, not outgrabeness (Ye gods, this lesson becomes ever more remininscent of the Schrodinger’s Cat Conundrum), can we now move on to
verse two?
                  Beware the Jabberwock, my Son!
                  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch;
                   Beware the Jub Jub Bird, and shun
                   The Frumious Bandersnatch…
Wock! Are you sulking there, boy?!
 
Jabberwock: ‘Snot fair! I shouldn’t have to share a verse with them two THINGS.  I’m the one that does all the action stuff. What does that
bird ever do, eh? Tell me that? What did the Jub Jub bird ever do for us?
Narrator: Don’t whinge, lad; you’ve got more lines than anyone else. You must learn to share!
Jabberwock: Jub can’t hardly read anyway; he has to have a ruler underneath the line – and even then he gets his letters the wrong way
round…
Jub Jub : Don’t!
 
Jabberwock: Do!
 
Narrator (shouting):
                      He took his vorpal sword in hand…
Prince (diffidently): Er, it wasn’t actually a Vorpal Sword, Sir; it was a surface to air missile. Sorry!
Narrator: Doesn’t scan! Completely ruins the flow, Cloth Ears. Listen:
                       He took his surface to air missile in hand??!!
                       RIDICULOUS!
So, to summarise… Yes, Wock, you’ll get your moment soon! Do stop muttering!…The Prince takes his weapon in hand (don’t be so disgusting,
Snatch; you know exactly what kind of weapon I mean!)  and waits ages for the manxome foe. Wock, you either accept manxome or you can go
straight to the Headmaster’s Office for six of the best. Your choice!
Jabberwock (excitedly): Ooh, is this the bit where I comes a’whistling through the wood and we has THE FIGHT? And I win, and I eat
him?!
Prince (nervously): Um, not exactly WIN; not as such; sort of more like, er, lose…
Bandersnatch: And it weren’t whistling neither. Sir told us that last lesson, but you wasn’t listeningYou’d look a right plonker going through the wood whistling! 
JabberwockWhad’ya mean I don’t win? Course I win? I’m here, aren’t I?
Prince: Actually, and terribly sorry and all that, old chap, but the poem is quite clear on this pointI blow you into the middle of next week
with my mighty missile!
Narrator: Snatch, if you say one word – just one word – you’ll be in detention for the rest of your time at this school!
Dear God, why do I bother? I’d be better off banging my head against a brick privy! Prince! For the last time, you do not have a missile, mighty
or otherwise. You have a sword – and, with this sword, and after a bit of ‘One, two, one two and through and through…’ ing, you part Wock from
his head with a nice clean swipe across the wezand. Do I make myself clear?!
I’ll take that as a ‘yes’, shall I?
Now, Wock, before I blow a gasket, or have a heart attack, you do not whistle or swagger, nor do you go for a wee behind the tree;
you WHIFFLE, ok? Perfectly simple. A child could do it.
PrinceAnd then I kill you!
Jabberwock: Yeah? You and whose Army?
Narrator: One,Two, One, Two, and through and through,
                  The Vorpal Sword went snicker-snack!
                  He left it dead, and with its head,
                  He went galumphing…
 
DING DING DING DING!
NarratorSit down, Snatch! I know you’re hungry; you’re always hungry. Tapeworm? The bell is my signal, not yours…
…back!
You may now leave, boys, and we shall plumb the linguistic depths of the final two stanzas next lesson!

One Visitor? ONE VISITOR?!!!

‘Strewth, Bruce: Try pressing that little lot!’ 

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Are we in Glitch Territory or something?

I ask because things seem to have slowed right down to a crawl – a backwards crawl at that.

According to the Delphic Oracle which delivers up my Cosmic Predictions (or blog stats, as they are also called!), only one visitor has arrived on my blog site today.

This is most peculiar.

Now, I know that I have been swinging between sites for a while, and that many people may not, therefore, realise that I am back on here – but still, it is bloody odd, to say the least…

But, I would just like to reassure you all that the usual Search Term Trolls are getting through with no trouble whatsoever. Gladdens the heart, does it not? To think that, whilst my hits are right down, and only one real human has visited, creators of the following classics of their kind can navigate their way even through a glitch!

. sexually frustrated old grannie

. adult dirty words

. boob pressing in kama Sutra

. full moon effect on thyroid

The one in bold has made me chuckle, particularly so because I attended (and Ghost Weed played at) a lovely and very successful Apple Pressing Day last weekend – and I just wonder, in my inimitably bawdy way, quite how one goes about pressing boobs, and whether the resulting drink is alcoholic or not! The mind boggles!

Anyway, doubt if anyone will see this since I appear to be down to single figures…

 

Update: Now, how’s this for a miracle…

I went out for a couple of hours to help a neighbour in need – and, Lo-and-Behold (that well-known village in the Cotswolds!), when I returned, I found several LOVELY comments and forty-five new visitors!

There’s tidy, as they say in Mid Wales!

Orange Hair-Extensions – update!

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Well, my dears, things have moved on as far as my Luscious Long Locks Plan is concerned…

Aided and abetted, albeit from a distance, by the equally vibrant and marmalade-tressed Sue Vincent (who, as ever, gave me a shove in the right direction…), I signed on to ebay and began the search for El Cheapo extensions in earnest.

What a bewildering, and hilarious, array!

I viewed long stringy things, which looked like dangleberries from a sick sheep; I gawped at riotous manes more befitting a proud stallion – or mare, as the case may be – than we humble humans; I thrilled to tonsure-hiding topiary so silky and smooth that I yearned to stroke it – and I winced in horror at headpieces which looked as if they had been woven from a warthog’s privy hairs (and probably had!)…

Then my seeing orbs lit upon the glory shown in the photos above – and I was, as the saying goes, in like Flynn.

Burgundy-red,  I was promised by the blurb – and, as this looked like my sort of colour, I thought, to myself, ‘Oh, YES!’

Now, some of you may already have caught the flaw  contained within my spontaneous approach to such matters – and may well be head-shaking and tutting quietly in the background as we speak.

You see, I have no idea what colour my hair actually IS at the moment – and dragging a hank of it up to the screen for purposes of comparison availed me nought since I couldn’t see my own hair clearly enough to judge the match!

Still, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it – and, after all, I can always get my own crowning glory dyed to match the extensions next time I am being done!

I read the ‘literature‘ and it seemed to be implying that one piece of the stuff covered half a head – so, in a moment of typical rashness, I ordered two!

Now, I can confess that, had I opted to have this professionally, it would have cost me upwards of £300. Frankly, I don’t pay that much to have my hair dyed in a YEAR never mind in one fell swoop!

But these tempting burgundy-red numbers will set me back just over a tenner – yes, you heard right: £10!

As an experienced Car Boot Sale buyer, and enthusiastic prowler round all Charity Shops, that’s MY idea of a bargain!

Now, it could well be that reality and dream will be appallingly discordant and that I’ll look like roadkill when I clip the damn thing on. It could well be that one will prove to be more than sufficient, and t’other will be surplus to requirements.

In the former case, I shall just have to scream and scream until I am sick – and go back to the Vanity Drawing Board.

In the latter, I can either use it as a Merkin (thus ensuring that Collar and Cuffs really DO match) or hand it over to my fellow orange-haired wonder, Sue, so that we can swan about hill and dale together, a pair of slightly unconventional land-locked mermaids!

My mother: a natural musician

My mother was one of the most talented untaught musicians it has ever been my pleasure to meet. Possessed of a beautiful soprano singing voice, she had an inbuilt vibrato and soared gloriously above most other people.

She had an accurate and inventive ear, and could catch not just the tune but also the more subtle harmonics within it, and could accompany others, making the descant up as she went along, or so it seemed.

She sang around the house constantly, little snatches of folk songs and Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, strange melodies from far distant lands, pop songs from the charts – and music her own mother had hummed whilst bustling around the home doing the chores.

She would, I know, have LOVED to have played an instrument – and, when we finally got a piano (when I was fifteen), she would sit at it and pick out tunes by ear, smiling with pleasure at the achievement and sound. Whenever I practised, she would be within earshot. She was so happy that I could play so many tunes on the recorder – and felt, I think, that I was doing what she had always longed to, and was, if you like, living out a little bit of her musical dream.

There are many numbers I associate with Mum, and I have found YouTube clips of three of them. Let me talk you through them.

My paternal grandparents lived in a big old house, named Flagstones, in Budleigh Salterton, and every Summer we used to make the long and evocative drive from Oxford to Devon – and, as we drove, we would sing, me, my mother and my next sister down. Because we would go through the Dartmoor village of Widdecombe at some point, we always launched into a spirit and sepulchral version of the folk classic, ‘Widdecombe Fair’, really giving it some ghostly and deathly welly when we got to the infamous phrase,  ‘Tom Pearce’s old mare doth appear ghastly white‘ in truly dire cod Zummerzet accents.

The word ‘ghastly’ alone got about twenty-five syllables on a good day, with a fine pastie behind us and the sea approaching our excited gaze over that final hill.

And Mum would be hooting with laughter, and joining in with complete abandon.

Two other songs bring tears to my eyes whenever I hear them – and a wide smile too. Strange, the mix of emotions music can bring, isn’t it?

As she cleaned and hoovered and darned and sewed, and did all the other mysterious things mothers did while their children played, Mum would sing, very sweetly, ‘Dashing away with the Smoothing Iron’ - putting just the right amount of tremulous warble, weft and lyrical weave into her voice for the final line of the chorus.

I have tried, over the years, to emulate this magnificent achievement – but, although my own voice isn’t bad, I will never reach Mum’s effortless octaves, her sheer joy and wonder at each note, her infectious enthusiasm.

The final piece I wish to share with you is the brilliant ‘When the Boat comes in‘  – which, in the seventies, became the theme tune for the television series with the same name starring the then-rather-gorgeous Geordie actor, James Bolan. I don’t mind telling you that the tune became welded in my mind (and lower bits!) with nascent lust for this versatile actor!

So, when I hear it, I am plunged straight back into the sixties and early seventies – and, mostly, Mum giving it some really authentic Newcastle spirit, for she was a superb mimic and had as good an ear for accents as she did for music. Her Irish voice had to be heard to be believed – and she was one of those people who segued naturally into the accent of whomsoever she was gabbling away to on the phone.

Our American friends? Yup, she’d be twanging away within seconds. Japanese? Don’t go there! Russian? Oh, yes! The Steppe and Red Square could have moved into our Living Room!

As children, we found this talent acutely embarrassing, and used to cringe and cover our ears and beg her (in our heads) to stop and, ‘Talk like Mummy’ as we put it.

Back to music…

Her memory for the lyrics was equally impressive, and we all learnt a vast number of classic folk tunes at her knee.

My siblings and I have all inherited a love of music from her, and most of us either sing or play instruments. My next sister down plays piano and sings with Girton Operatic (a Gilbert and Sullivan group); my second sister played violin (far better than I ever will) and got as far as Grade 8 – and I have always sung in choirs and played various instruments pretty roughly but with great verve!

Unable to read music and having never had an instrumental lesson in her life, my mother outperformed us in every respect – and I feel very proud of her accomplishments, of her zest for music, of the way she gave us such a wonderful gift.

Now, in her home, and with her mind crumbling by the day, I do hope that some little echo of those tunes till remains – and that she can still hear, in her head, the huge collection she once shared so generously with friends and family.

On being Passive-Aggressive…

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I am a classic example of the above, I’m ashamed to say – and I don’t always like myself very much for these traits.

I can be an awful whinger, moaner, seether and blamer of others. I can refuse to take responsibility for my own less-than-perfect character, whilst feeling sanctimonious about the flaws in my nearest and dearest.

I can be, in short, a bit of an old bitch.

One of my worst faults, in my eyes anyway, is the stealth attack through writing.

As an adolescent, I exploded via the journal rather than face-to-face.

Fear really is no excuse for such cowardly behaviour.

Now? I am more than capable of doing this through the medium of the blog.

It is self-pitying, pathetic and stupid.

My inability to stand up to others is my problem, not theirs – and, as such, it is something I need to sort out because no one else can do it for me.

Those who are assertive and have strong personal boundaries tend to be far healthier emotionally, tend to attract fewer bullies and are able to defend their corner without descending to the wheedling and manipulative ploys of the Passive-Aggressive.

Oh, I have some very positive strings to the personality bow.

But this is not one of them.

When you are a weak person (as, in many ways, I am ), it is only too easy to blame the World and His Dog for your every heartbreak, trip and source of misery; it is terribly tempting to fall into ‘I am powerless: poor little me!’ mode – rather than getting off your backside and doing something about the situation.

Self-righteousness is a well-hidden pit in the Forest of the Psyche – and is one I fall into frequently.

I can be very unforgiving, and hold a grudge so close to my chest that no one is able to prise it away from me.

So, what am I going to do about this?

Speak up, that’s what, face whoever it is that I wish to express feelings to and tell it the way it is like an adult, not a sulky five-year-old!

Wish me luck! This is going to be confronting, to say the least, because I have conditioned myself to this bad habit over a fifty-six year period.

Gulp!

The Family That Sneezes Together, Stays Together…

My mother has Alzheimer’s Disease, sad to relate, and has been in a home since 2008. She is deteriorating and we know that she may not last a great deal longer. She is at the end of her life’s span – and will, I am sure, be remembered for many things, versatile lady that she was. But, I should like, in this post, to pay homage to one outstanding talent she had: THE BEST SNEEZE I HAVE EVER HEARD! Sometimes humour is a great way of coping with pain.

The humble nasal eructation, the siren hoot of the hooter, can be such a bonding experience, my dears!

Take my mother – PLEASE! Free to a good home. One careful (ish) previous owner. All inoculations up to date. Full set of quirks guaranteed…

…as a classic example.

Her sneezes, in those halcyon Headington days, could stop wars – and regularly did. Why do you think the Korean conflict ended when it did? Ah! I am sure you have been fed all the convenient slop about politics, winning sides and so forth. Actually, Mrs Judy Browning released such a splendid fusilade of snoutal gesundheit that the troops froze, like Meerkat, and stopped fighting IMMEDIATELY.

Same happened with our next door neighbours: they were prone to a familial spat or twenty, especially when the Moon was Full, and could often be heard ranting and raving and throwing garden furniture at – or in the general direction of – one another on a summer’s evening. Better than the telly, it was!

Summer’s eve is a bit of a give-away as far as my mother’s delicate constitution was concerned. Her allergies were so wide-ranging that they had allergies of their own: hay, sun, grass, dust mites, small children, husbands – her airways responded to them all with the kind of cheerful lack of discrimination which made her such a byword in the neighbourhood, and drove her offspring to distraction.

Partly, it was the timbre of her sternutation: in some mysterious way, each blast encompassed the entire spectrum of colours – and all notes upon the musical scale. Simultaneously! The fact that there was a distinct hint of Four Minute Warning in there, with perhaps a soupcon of Avalanche, and a pinch of Bloody Humungous Tempest is an indication of the bigger picture.

My mother’s nose was a weather system in its own right in our neck of the woods.

There was usually a warning whuffle or two – thus giving the rest of us time to don the protective gear and dive for cover: normally, this involved ear-plugs and a most undignified scuffle up the ladder and into the attic.

Once in situ, and with the attic trapdoor sealed by blankets to prevent after-shock, we would kiss our keisters farewell, and await the nuclear holocaust from below.

Distantly, we would hear a ‘Whaaaaaaaaaaa‘ and the odd crash as roof tiles cracked and fell under the strain.

This would, inevitably, be followed by a road-ripping ‘Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa‘ – and then, as traffic stopped on the dual carriageway outside, and local cows gave birth backwards, the terrifying, ‘Cheeeewwwwwwwwwwwwaggghhhhhwheeeeeplasma…’ would be launched upon the world.

Those near neighbours who had not been instantly vapourised used to find the whole thing utterly hilarious – and the marital shindigs referred to previously were as nought compared to the gales of laughter produced by just one smallish sneeze.

Mrs B-next-door swore, in later years, that my mother’s shattering Symphony for the Sinus saved her marriage: she and Mr B fell into such paroxysms of mirth that they kissed, made up and decided to give it another go. Part of that decision, I suspect, sprang from the fact that they could not decide who would get custody of Judy’s sneeze!

The Browning cackle – er, laugh! – is equally memorable and has regularly caused babies to cry uncontrollably and Significant Others to cringe in toe-curling embarrassment.

Unfortunately, we have all inherited some of my mother’s allergies, and, whenever we do meet (a rare event, you will be relieved to hear), the cacophony of snorts, sniffs, nose-blowings, coughs and sneezes – all at a decibel level guaranteed to bring on early labour – usually empties the room/building/park/county within minutes.

Now, one or two of you reading this may well be experiencing a twinge of jealousy at your own somewhat meagre attempts to really give it some welly via the nasal passages.

If so, take heart!

One can reproduce a most satisfactory explosion from the beak as follows:

Divide your family (or self, if you are accoustically sophisticated – or mad, as it is also known!) into three. One group says the word ‘Russia'; the next, ‘Prussia’ and the last ‘Austria’, all at the same time. Loudly. Do not hold back. Imagine you are on stage! A very large stage – with a somnolent audience.

On the count of three, YELL, ‘Russia/Prussia/Austria!’  – and then accept the plethora of handkerchiefs, cough sweets, and Eucalyptus-soaked tissues which will follow.

Or, befriend a Browning sibling and wait for the hayfever season!

HaaaaaaaaaCheeeewwwwww!!!

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My mother, in hysterics, after a particularly gargantuan sneeze: she demolished the house next door and managed to ‘suck’ a perfectly innocent dog, intent upon its business in a park five miles away, onto her lap…

The Suffering of Small Animals

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Watching a human suffering is agonising.

Watching a pet in pain is almost as bad.

Do you find that?

Ten days ago, Si noticed a big lump on the back of Badger’s head. Now Badger, as some of you may recall, is the Houdini of the Cavy pair – and was, in her youth, a frolicsome and lively little number.

Now she and Star (her red-headed sibling) have reached three plus, they are elderly maidens of sedentary habits, disarming docility and natures as sweet as Candy-floss.

They also eat like it was going out of fashion – with the result that both are now on the corpulent side. In Star’s case, she is broad of beam – or, to put it another way, has fine child-bearing hips. She would, I suspect, get stuck in a cat flap…

Back to the story-line…

So, today, I put Badger in the carrying cage and walked down to the vet’s. The poor little soul was shaking so hard that the box was rattling, and when the vet examined her, she squealed piteously.

The lump having been palpated, and diagnosed as an abscess, out came the syringe, the antiseptic wipes, the gloves – and the Receptionist (because I couldn’t bear the thought of holding my little pig and having her associate me with agony for the rest of her life…).

Shaved, shivering and terrified, she trembled as the vet gently made a hole with the needle – and then squeezed.

I have seldom heard anything as heart-rending as the noises from my small pet over the next few minutes. She squeaked and shook and tried to pull her head away. I was close to tears myself.

The people in the Waiting Room wondered what on earth was in there – and what was being done to it.

We now have antibiotics, which have to be squirted, via syringe, into the corner of Badger’s mouth twice a day. She is not keen, to say the very least – and, the first dose was met with frantic little paws scrabbling to dislodge the instrument of torment.

Harrowing.

Dowd’s Reel: Jordi Savall and others…

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Dowd’s Reel

I came across Jordi Savall quite by chance during the Spring. I was returning from Clevedon, having dropped Si off at orchestra, when this amazing music came on the radio.

Lady Mary Hay’s Scotch Measure


‘Lady Mary Hay’s Scotch Measure’,  it was called – and it featured the Celtic Viol.

I was transfixed immediately – and, when I got home, found it on YouTube and played it to my heart’s content.

More recently, during a time of huge emotional upheaval, I discovered ‘Dowd’s Reel’ (a version of which I first heard, back in 1977, by Steeleye Span):

Peter Knight playing ‘Dowd’s Reel‘ in the early seventies…
And, finally, a wonderful playing of the tune by Lydia Warnock during the All-Ireland Fiddle title (which she won) in 2013:

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Much as I love the Steeleye and Lydia Warnock ones, Jordi Savall’s interpretation has an emotional depth which works at many levels – and usually reduces me to tears within seconds.
This was very healing, actually, during the week in August when everything was a whirlwind of pain, fear and endless waiting.
I share all three with you, and hope that you will enjoy them as much as I do. I have deliberately put my favourite at the top: We are all busy people, and I am well aware that you may not have either the time or the inclination to listen to more than one.

Too soon for laughter?

Humour is one of life’s great gifts. Animals may show signs of being funny, but they do not generate laughter the way humans do.

Humanity is flawed. Our world is imperfect. Imperfection is, or can be, hilarious. And hilarity is healing. Physically and psychologically.
But I think several factors need to be brought into the humorous equation. One is timing. Both comic and humanitarian. Another is sensitivity, and a third is appropriateness.
But, let me make one thing very clear: there are some things in life which are not funny, no matter how much you turn your back, thicken your hide and hide your head in the sand of denial.
Other people’s anguish is not even remotely laughter-inducing, though their actions – when replayed at a safer and later date – may be.
This takes me back many years to a conversation which should have appalled me at the time – but didn’t because I was besotted with the person concerned, and not, at that stage, willing to lift the rock of his psyche to see what crawling horrors lay beneath.
I cannot now recall the precise words – but the nub of the so-called humour centred upon a woman who had suffered the heartbreak of a stillbirth.
Now, to me, there is nothing on this earth of ours which could make such an event anything but tragic and ghastly.
Death and illness are two obvious, and contentious, candidates for the, ‘Can it be funny?’ award.
And my feeling is that it depends on the context. Let me share a few thoughts with you.
My father’s death was, and continues to be, traumatic and deeply upsetting.
Yet, on the day of the funeral – June 19th 2007 – there was a brief moment of, I believe, healing and necessary laughter.
We Brownings – my mother and the five of us – went in the lead car, right behind the hearse, on the way from the church, in Headington, to the Crematorium.
And, on that slow journey, with Daddy’s flower-bedecked coffin in clear sight, we became almost hysterical with laughter – just much-needed release, and the inherent silliness of family jokes, vocabulary special to us, our nervous and fractured love for one another.
We were not laughing at Daddy’s death. I think we were simply cementing the bond between the survivors with black humour.
Illness, too, is a difficult one. My father, as some of you will be aware, was an insulin-dependant diabetic for fifty years. The condition eventually killed him – and was not, in itself, the least bit funny.
But, Daddy used to laugh about it when he could. He used to make light of its injustices and indignities. He tried, where possible, to see the bright side of his suffering.
I try, when I can, to make other people laugh with exaggerated tales of my various ailments. It is not always possible. My experience of anti-depressant induced Hepatitis, for example, was a nightmare from start to finish – and even now, seven years on, I cannot find anything to laugh about in that year of profound anxiety and pain.
I do make jokes about my low acting thyroid, however – focusing particularly upon the fact that I blew up like a dirigible prior to being diagnosed and treated.
Two of my aunts have had ovarian cancer – sad to relate, one died from the disease nine years ago – and, both very forthright individuals, they made light, and at times raucous, comments about aspects of their treatment.
You cannot assume, however – and nor should you – that anyone else’s sense of humour (however robust it is under normal circumstances) can survive serious illness or bereavement or awful injury.
It is, I think, appallingly insensitive to broach subjects in a throw-away, ‘let’s have a laugh’ manner to anyone who is fragile and vulnerable, bereaved or wounded.
Post sexual assault, I got at least one person sidling up to me and saying, on the upward wave of an unhelpful guffaw, ‘Oh well, at least you weren’t raped! Ha ha!’
I do have to say, though, that for myself – and I can only speak for me – the areas of my life which resist laughter are the ones which are most stuck, painful and intractable.
Some people laugh too easily. There is a falseness, a hollowness, to their sense of humour. They very often accuse others of taking life too seriously. Their laughter can be seen as a defence, almost a physical tic. It covers up a lack of emotional versatility.
On the other hand, there are people who resist laughter at every opportunity, who insist that everything should be taken seriously. Who accuse others of being insensitive clods if so much as a giggle escapes.
I adore laughing. I love comedy. I revel in shared humour, word play, puns, jokes. There is something truly addictive, and wonderful, about being with another human being and laughing so much that both cry and ache and fall about in mirthful paroxysms.
But, if someone else in the room is weeping, or trembling, or trying desperately to keep head demons out, you might be laughing too soon, too hard and too long in order to keep their suffering at bay – and your own unacknowledged negative emotions out.
There is power and wonder in the act of satirising, sending up and exaggerating an incident for comic effect. And I believe that, when we are able to do that freely, we are on the road to recovery.
As long as we have grieved for its painful side first.

Welcome to my parlour

Come in, come in! Draw up an armchair and sink into its luxurious depths. Better? Oh, good…

I have a stockpile of fragrant wood in that basket over by the hearth, all ready for the cold spells ahead.

Tea? I have all manner of varieties, colours and aromas: Peppermint, Rose, Orange, Earl Grey, Camomile, tea bag (for the undiscerning!)…

Coffee too – rich and dark and aromatic, percolating away merrily just for YOU.

Hungry?

Oh, I am glad: I baked a cake only this afternoon, and there is a box full of delicious Hungarian Chocolate Biscuits, lovingly made earlier.

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Help yourself! Dig in!

Now, if this is your first visit, do allow me to explain my little system.

As you will be aware, most of my precious literary jewels are still in storage in the WordPress archive vaults, and I am bringing them up, from below ground level to the surface, a few at a time. Mining, you might say, letting you see the old and the new…

I have culled ruthlessly, Cariad, the way you have to sometimes – because too much from the past can close the door to creation in the NOW, can’t it?

Here, let me top up your mug!

Now, this little Tea/Coffee/Cake Ceremony is partly driven by the sheer joy of seeing you in my home – but is also in the nature of an experiment.

I would love to receive some comments – though I appreciate that this may prove tiresome or troublesome – and, most of all, I would be so happy to know that YOU, my special friends, are actually receiving these virtual envelopes crammed with Ali’s words.

I ask because the whirligig of moves recently has certainly got my head in a spin, so I dread to think how confused YOU must be!

Symbolic of my life, bach, very symbolic…

I’m all spooked and a’tremble at the moment, splintered like ancient wood and grained of eye from the freight of old tears held back.

There’s silly.

But, so glad to see you I could dance a merry little jig and twinkle my heels till sundown…

So, once you have left – and I do hope you will stay for hours yet, maybe even take dinner with me – I shall send this ‘letter’ to all those in my Google Circles. Very exciting!

Now, enough business…

Would you like the guided tour?

Follow me…

Today I made a doctor laugh…

In I went, told Dr D. that I suspected my right forearm (which I gashed a few days ago) was infected – then ripped off the duvet-sized plaster – never being one to do things by half! – and showed him.

He wrote me out a prescription for an ointment which sounds more like a sex act (FUCIDIN) – and then recommended that I keep the wound uncovered so that the air could work its magic.

He must have seen the dubious look writ large upon my face, because he then added, ‘Unless you’re one of those people who keeps banging the site…’

Well,’ I drawled, ‘the fact that I ripped myself to pieces colliding with a wooden box probably tells you all you need to know on that front!’

I won’t say he ROFLd, but he certainly LOLled – discreetly at first but then, when I added, ‘Do you really think, with that track record, you could trust me with a sharp surface?’ he burst into window-shattering guffaws.

Before adding, lugubriously, ‘Of course, if it splits open, you’ll need intravenous antibiotics…’

Which had my face falling faster than a tart’s undercrackers.

‘But I think you’ll be all right,’ he added just this side of Ali Panic Attack, and then subsided into another fit of whinnying giggles, bless him!

Po-faced when I arrived, that was one cheered-up medic by the time I left.

Glad to have been of service…

They ought to hire me out on the NHS!

A kind of peripatetic ‘Carry on, Patient!’  - that’s me!

Opening the Wound

This post, written on September 27th, symbolises much that is going on at present, and ties in with the Hallowquest.
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I am angry. But, beneath the anger, there is deep unhappiness and, I suspect, fear.

The whole thing has manifested physically, as it so often does, in a painful metaphor.

Wednesday morning, I was making up the bed in here for visitors, when my right forearm scraped heavily against the rough and broken edge of the big wooden box standing against the Southern wall.

It hurt. I looked. There was a long ragged gash, seeping blood. Not bad enough for stitches or emergency treatment, but nasty-looking.

Large plaster at the ready, I covered it – and then, later when it had stopped bleeding, let it dry in the air.

But it was throbbing and sore – and, by yesterday evening, I realised that it was looking red and puffy, and that it was dotted with dark bits which I realised, with a sinking of horror, were fragments of wood from the box.

I knew I was going to have to open the wound, clean it and pull the many splinters out.

I filled the upstairs sink with water as hot as I could bear and, cotton wool balls nearby, started the ghastly process.

It was a stinging and miserable quarter of an hour or so – but, by the end of it, the now-widened injury was free of darkened wood and flowing freely with blood.

Near tears, I covered the whole thing over with a large Mepore plaster, and am just hoping that the small pockets of infection I noticed don’t get any worse.

It’s a mess, a jagged and horrible trench – and there’s a big part of me that wants to keep the plaster on forever and just not look at it, just hope it’ll go away and sort itself out without my active intervention.

You can, I am sure, see the parallels with my life. I do not need to labour the point, not really.

Except to say this: All too often, I fail to clean wounds adequately after they have happened, and am very poor at getting the tweezers out at the right moment and, painful though it is, digging deep in order to remove foreign bodies and potentially damaging detritus.

Thus, I set myself up for infections, for worse pain, for more serious procedures at some point down the line – and for eventual healing which leaves a prominent scar upon skin and soul.

Too often, I have simply turned my head away while applying the biggest plaster I could find – and then hoped, against all sense and logic, that the suppurating cut underneath would just disappear.

Deep splinters may eventually work their way to the surface – but they can wreak havoc while so-doing.

Better, by far, to risk the pain and the streams of blood and remove them immediately.

‘Elizabeth 1: Virgin On The Ridiculous’ – review of Living Spit’s Latest!

Elizabeth’s Wooing Frog is Voted Out!

Ah! What a fabulous night, a chance to catch up with the lunatic energy and sparkling wit of that terrific twosome of thespian delight, Howard Coggins and Stu Mcloughlin, equally well known in the borough of Bristol as Living Spit...

Back in April 2012, just after I left teaching, I became a community reviewer for the Theatre Orchard Project - and my virgin gig involved a traipse up to the Old Vic, and my first (of five thus far!) glimpse of  Howard and Stu in ‘The Six Wives of Henry V111’…

Being a bawdy old bag, I took to them, and their material, immediately – and, although I have subsequently reviewed half a dozen other shows, Living Spit touched a part of me that no other brush would reach!

Frequently outrageous, pushing the boundaries of language and humour in a way I thoroughly approve of, their madcap and maverick approach to matters historical has won them a strong following in the South West, and a chance to show Edinburgh what they are all about. Quite right too!

As tends to be the case, the six foot plus Stu gets the frock (in this case, a fetching pinkish effort, teamed with pearls) and the abundant red curly wig – and Howard (that Henry V111 look-alike) plays all the blokes!

Tattooed and clearly a masculine presence, Stu’s donning of female attire shouldn’t work – but it does, gloriously, time after time. The pink diary and pen, used as Elizabeth’s way of confiding her feelings and sharing exposition with the audience, was both funny and curiously touching: So true to life in terms of early teenage girls, and thus a universal theme of fantasy life, loneliness and the need to be ‘heard’ somewhere, by someone.

The relationship between Elizabeth and Robert Dudley was tender and funny and ultimately tragic – and the hardening of the young Queen’s heart (and loins!),after permission to marry was refused, was powerfully enacted and eminently believable.

Howard, an endearing Dudley with his blue t-shirt (and, later, his farcical marriage to a lettuce named, with stunning originality, Lettuce!) and air of slightly uneasy bumbling, was an effective foil to Elizabeth, and the bit where she was informed of his death was sensitively handled.

Audience participation was encouraged, nay demanded, as we all, for a few minutes, became the infamous Privy Council – and, ‘encouraged’ by Howard’s ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ signs, voted the young French suitor out and, ironically, loveless virginity in.

A Living Spit production would not be the same without the musical accompaniment. Both Howard and Stu are accomplished and versatile musicians, playing a wide range of instruments – and the performance was enlivened by such wonders as ‘OMG‘ and ‘The Spanish Armada‘ (CDs of which are available at all shows).

They do a wonderful line in stepping out of role and bickering amongst themselves, alternately supportive of one another and tetchy as a long-married couple – and last night was no exception, with egos being paraded naked and the audience brought in to boost Stu’s supposedly flagging morale! Great fun!

Elizabeth’s speech at the end was beautifully written and performed – its simplicity a touching contrast to the lively eccentricity of so much of the action.

Howard and Stu are experts at watering history’s dry soil with the hose of humour and humanity

Catch them in action if you possibly can!You will have a brilliant evening!

Burial at Sea

My novel ‘Heneghan‘ ends with the burial at sea of one of the main characters, Edwin.

Now, so many years on, I can fill in a bit of the back story.

In the Summer of 1976, when I was eighteen years old, I worked for an agency in Oxford called Oxford Aunties – and, through them, I got two jobs as a live-in nanny/general help. The idea was for me to raise some dosh for university.

The first experience involved a family named Eykyn*. They lived in a most beautiful house in Gloucestershire, and had three boys, the youngest of whom was my little charge.

From them, I moved to Paignton and a fabulous family of three. The Ms (Nina, Wadir and their two year old daughter, Lisa) lived in a village near Oxford, and I was to accompany them on holiday to Devon.

Nina and I bonded immediately, and she was a dream to work for, and with. Lisa was very sweet and extremely beautiful – half Egyptian, with the most gorgeous eyes.

During the two week holiday, I was introduced to a friend of theirs, Archie. He was pretty old and a wonderful character. He wore a bracelet round his wrist which said, in so many words, that, if he was found dead in the sea, it was by choice.

I cannot now recall whether he knew he was dying (which may well have been the case) – or had just decided that, when the thread of his life was frayed beyond repair, he would submit himself to the great amniotic sac of the ocean rather than face the indignity and pain of a hospital end.

I admired him enormously – and have never forgotten his take on death.

Edwin, in the novel, is based on Archie – and, faced with incurable illness, the former walks into the sea one wild and stormy night.

I knew, instinctively, that Edwin (who was ex-services) would have wanted to be buried at sea – and so, in August 1988, I rang my father who, as an ex Naval Officer, would know about such matters.

In my naivety, I had assumed you just rowed out to the deep and bunged the body in – but it is a great deal more complicated than that: You have to get permission from the Rear Admiral at the Admiralty. The body is then shrouded in a hessian type sack, or put in a coffin. If the deceased is an ex Service man or woman, the whole thing is conducted with full Military Honours: The draping of the flag, the service, sometimes The Last Post – and then the slide into the sea.

This section of the novel, written when I was thirty, was an incredibly emotional journey: It incorporated my memories of Archie, the strong military strand in my family and an attitude towards death which has influenced me in the decades since then.

There was something special about ‘Heneghan’, I think because it captured a time and a place so intensely – and I think I have delayed editing it because I am afraid. Afraid of losing Aberystwyth, of writing something which is diluted and tame; afraid that the last links with my soul land will melt if I touch the novel.

But, although it has raw power (and some beautiful descriptive passages), I am well aware that the novel is far from perfect, that it needs attention and revision if I want to go ahead and publish.

For nearly thirty years, I have been afraid of what I might lose in the re-writing.

But what I should be focusing upon are the potential gains. I have grown and matured as a writer since those days, and am far more able to produce something tight, taut and tense.

I have to be realistic, however. If I decide that the novel is dying, I may have to make arrangements, sew it up in a metaphorical sack and give it a decent burial at sea.

* By an extraordinary coincidence, I met one of the boys five years later when Boyf started teaching at the school all three children attended!

Alienora, one of the ‘alive’ people. Guest Post by Stephen Tanham

Originally published on Blogspot in September, I am re-blogging it on here because I love it – but also because it’ll give Steve’s links more exposure.
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 My second guest blogger is Steve Tanham. He will be known, I am quite sure, to many of you as one of the directors – along with Sue Vincent and Stuart France – of The Silent Eye School of Consciousness. He is the Director of Teaching at the school, and is a lovely man.
 
This post has moved me to tears, so I shall say no more other than heartfelt thanks to Steve. Read on…
 
 
Ali has agreed that, at my request, I can use this guest writer’s spot to talk about her.  As fellow writers and bloggers, we tread a path that can sometimes feel narcissistic – but we have to trust that we can write journals that are of interest to a wide range of people. I wanted to write about her because she writes so honestly about herself. 
But, there is much more to Ali than she sees in that personal reflection . . .
People, and their spiritual potential are my main interest. The Silent Eye School is all about people; what types they are, what motivates them, how each type can follow a path of self-development and how that journey to what can be a radically different view of the world can be shared with others.
Ali has always fascinated me. I first met her, when, like Tigger, she bounced into a magical workshop that I was helping to organise in Cheshire. She came into the tea area, looked at me and smiled. Now people have been known to do that, before, but this smile was different; this one was among the most full-of-life smiles I have ever seen, short of those given by my own children, when they were in that magical age range, between two and ten.
Ali has what I call imperishable zest - a wholesale appetite for what life has to offer. True, she wears her heart on her sleeve, and the full-on life fest can be tempered with some sadness. But the honesty that underlies that is profound. How many of us would dare to be that brave? Very few, I suspect.
Ali and I have worked together on many occasions – and I use the word ‘work’ in the context of spiritual effort for “The Work” – that grand sweep of the re-unification of men and women with their own spiritual natures. Let me stress that this is not a fixed thing, and that each person’s path may well be legitimately different, but the various strands that work together in this mixture of traditions, ancient and modern, make up a wonderful collection of people. There are extremes of course – a room full of fairies may not be your thing, but neither might a room full of dour folk in perfectly lined up chairs, intellectual debating the rights and wrongs of a supposedly divine perspective.
Somewhere between the extremes lives a seam of very dedicated people who put in an enormous effort to set up events where the conditions for spiritual growth are present and where the sheer magic of a well-intentioned gathering is unmistakable.
The Silent Eye uses what we call Ritual Drama, based on the same principles that underlay the Greek Mystery Plays.  Others may refer to it as psycho-drama, but essentially it goes beyond (well loved) conventional ritual in that each person is allocated a single character role for the weekend in a continuing story whose depth is slowly revealed as the plot thicken. Because of that formula, we come to ‘live’ the parts in an almost method-acting way. Due to this disciplined focus, the energy, and therefore the potential for spiritual growth, intensifies over the whole weekend. We run Friday evening to Sunday lunchtime. By the Sunday morning, you could fry an egg on the temple steps . . .
None of this requires that we be oscar winning actors; nor that we need learn a weekend’s worth of lines off by heart. No, we simply read from scripts, attempting to bring them to life as best we can. it’s a time-honoured approach, and one we learned at the hands of great teachers.
Two of our best times with Ali have been at such workshops: in April 2013 when she came to play her role in our official birth as a School, and April 2014, when we built on the success of that ‘temple as enneagram’ formula to create a deeper psychological and spiritual working in which each person acted out the life of a crew-member of a starship that had been deliberately sabotaged by the ship’s computer.
This is a familiar sci-fi scenario, of course, but the role that Ali was asked to play was far from standard. We cast this part around the real personality of that feisty woman, and true to form, she rose to the challenge, ranging across a huge span of emotional responses as her character changed from rebellious chief-victim of the rather sadistic computer’s attentions, to glorious woman-redeemer of his childish ego, which her responses had stripped bare. Not your average pantomime role . . . I played the baddie – the control-freak cyborg, a humanoid extension of the ship’s computer who was a metaphor for the negative (and ultimately positive) forces of the ego.
I can still see her in the final act, kneeling between my bound thighs (yes, we know how to have fun!), holding the laser device with which ‘I’ had terrorised her into obedience, with the now-impotent cyborg begging her to “finish it” – and then the magical transformation when she came into her full power, transcending her imposed role and seeing that the way forward was to neutralise the machine by sparing his life . . . Details of Ali’s roles in both workshops can be found in the references below.
As humans, we suffer the fate of having twin natures. Biologically, we are animals, albeit highly intelligent ones – but we are not alone in that. Psychologically, we appear to be something different, having a concept of ‘self’ deeper than anything we can compare ourselves with. The Self lives in a world of values, though science may pay too little attention to these in our intensely materialistic age. Deep appreciation of values, which is what Ali has, can create an uncomfortable life at times, as our true essence grinds against the dull and lifeless rules of the world.
There are many who, despite centuries of failed attempts, believe that life is all about ‘transcending’ the human animal; and living only in the mind. There are a small number who speak of the necessity of embracing all that we are, and giving the whole stack of our potential its true life.  Ali is one of these. She is a joy to watch and to be with. I’ve seen a room light up as she bounced in on more than one occasion – and to watch her play fiddle or get drunk with us on the Saturday night of the April workshops in the next-door Queen Anne pub is a thing of joy . . .
She writes from the heart and from the body. She is as at home describing the finer points of ritual as she is reliving white hot passion on a beach. She takes life by the scruff of the neck and insists that it play – and the world would be so much richer if more of us (me included) could have just a bit more of that in our lives!
And, as we say i’t north, we love her to bits . . .
The April 2015 Silent Eye workshopis called “The River of the Sun”. It’s set a hundred years after the fall of Akhenaten, the ‘heretic king’.  There will be a complex interplay of nurturing and confrontation, much like life, really. I’ve not asked her to play her new role yet – I’m saving that  . . .
References:
 
Steve is present on Facebook (Stephen Tanham) 
and has a daily blog at:
 
He is the author of two books:
The Land of the Exiles
The Song of the Troubadour
 
Both are a combination of the scripts for the Silent Eye’s weekends of 2013 and 2014, mixed with personal experiences from those who were present. The Land of the Exiles also contains alternating Enneagram theory sections which introduce each chapter. 
 
Both books are available as Kindle and paperback editions, see:
 
Steve has an author’s website at: http://stevetanham.wix.com/silent-eyelid
 
The Silent Eye School can be found at www.thesilenteye.co.uk
 
Details for the River of the Sun workshop, in April 2015, can be found on this link: