Saturday, 30 April 2011

Beltane Eve.

I’ve just come in from burning my Beltane fire. I don’t want to go on at length about this, but I would like to say that the experience was something for which I was completely unprepared.

I expected it to be little more than having a nice bonfire. We all like bonfires, don’t we, and I’ve had a close relationship with fire all my life. It turned out to be much, much more than that.

Never have I felt such a sense of communion with the essence of nature. Never have I been so enthralled by the close proximity of its abundance: the massive sycamore trees that seemed to be watching me, the burgeoning growth in the garden, the breeze that was fanning the flames, the birds and animals, and the feeling that I was far from being alone out there. Never have I felt such a sense of gratitude that all these physical and metaphysical outcrops of nature’s connectedness had accepted me into their company. Believe me, I have never felt that before. And how long is it since I understood the definition of celebration? I don’t remember, but I understood it tonight as I sensed I was bringing something real and meaningful back to my little piece of earth. Avalon revealed at last.

This is all true. Tell me I’m losing the plot if you want to. As far as I’m concerned, something very remarkable happened tonight.


I’m hoping this is the last time I shall feel moved to write a post about The Wedding.


So, three final points:

I had hoped we could now consign all those vomitous William and Kate ‘documentaries’ to history. Silly me. Now they’re repeating them.

Somebody came to my blog by searching Does the fact that William has been made Duke of Cambridge mean he’s been demoted? No; I was being facetious. Royals get these titles handed to them as a matter of course just for being there. Think of them as something akin to plastic trophies covered with gold paint, handed out and then put away in a cupboard because nobody gives a toss. Or you can think of them as being like having another tattoo on the other buttock, if you like.

Viewing figures indicate that 40% of the British population watched the wedding on the TV. That’s huge, apparently – puts it in the all-time top ten of programmes watched in this country. I’d prefer to take the half empty approach to this one, and find some small comfort from the fact that 60% of people didn’t watch it.

Over and out. Off to do some gardening.

A Clever American.

It appears there’s a clever person in America. Apart from Bill Gates and Donald Trump, that is. (I tell you, if that man ever becomes President I really will consider emigrating to Bhutan. It’s probably about the only place in the world he hasn’t groped with his selfish, slimy tentacles. I wonder if he knows that in Britain, ‘trump’ used to be a euphemism for ‘fart.’ I think we should revise the tradition the next time he visits Scotland. If golf is a waste of a good walk, D Trump Esq must be a waste of good oxygen.)

But no, what I’m referring to is this.

Nearly every time I make a new post, especially at this time of night, Google stats tells me that somebody from America visits it within minutes. Yet they never appear in either of the other two stats trackers. How do they do that?

Magic Bluebells.

Now, here’s an interesting thing.

My favourite wild flower is the bluebell, and I was pleased to find that there were a couple of plants growing in my garden when I moved here. The same ones have flowered every year for the past five years. My neighbour Fred, however, had several on his side of the path that separates the two properties.

You might remember that Fred died in February, and here’s the odd bit. All the bluebells on his side of the path have disappeared. There isn’t a single one this year. But several new ones have sprung up on my side. I’m seriously wondering whether the fey have been busy moving the bulbs. Or did the bluebells make the move themselves?

Three Landmarks.

The curtain has finally come down on the Windsor Pantomime, so maybe now we can have a break from all the gooey stuff. Wil has been made Duke of Cambridge, apparently. Lucky old Cambridge. But he used to be Prince William. Sounds like a demotion to me.

According to, my novel is now published. That’s what I spent all night doing. Problem is, Lulu’s publishing process isn’t always logical or helpful, and I’ve no idea what happens next. They sent me an e-mail telling me I need to take another step ‘which is free,’ yet when I go to the page they direct me to, they want £25 off me. I’ve e-mailed and requested an explanation. Bottom line is that the whole thing seems up in the air at the moment. I’ll post an update on this blog if and when things get sorted, just in case anybody’s interested.

The lovely Mad Melanie of Anthropomorphica is leaving the homeland for sunnier climes. That makes me sad, but I wish her a splendid time in all her endeavours. Hope the breeze in the Channel doesn’t rock the boat too much. Good luck, Mel.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Knowing Where You're Wanted.

There’s been much consternation in some quarters over the fact that the last two prime ministers, Labour’s Blair and Brown, didn’t get invited to the royal nuptials, while the previous two, the Conservative’s Thatcher (vomit) and Major (yawn,) did.

I think I might have stumbled on the reason. There’s an advertising bar at the bottom of one of my widgets, and today’s offering is God is at home. Could this be mere coincidence, or could it be that messrs B&B are simply in more esteemed company, watching the pantomime on his TV?


I’m in the process of self-publishing my novel through I’ve got as far as formatting (which was a pig of a job) and uploading the text file, but now I’ve hit a snag. The preview is in pdf format. I’ve been resisting the acquisition of Acrobat Reader because the last time I downloaded it from the internet it crashed my computer big time. So what do I do now?

As they say in Sydney (apparently) Oh Fuckity!

Nearly There.

Three words are becoming a waking nightmare.

William and Kate.

They’re everywhere, creeping insidiously through every chink in my armour, insinuating their unwelcome presence into my already jittery consciousness, slipping slimily out of the mouths of untold numbers of royal correspondents and daft members of the public who seem to believe they have some personal stake in the matter. I caught sight of prize toady Nicholas Witchell tonight, looking very dapper (and I mean ‘dapper’) in a flowery tie and sporting a presumably expensive but vaguely absurd haircut. I turned the TV off with unaccustomed haste, shivering the sort of shiver that typically comes when you spot a whole tribe of maggots swimming in your cock-a-leekie soup.

I’m hoping the media might crawl back under the paving slabs once the Beautiful Couple have decamped to some place that only the very rich and privileged can go for their honeymoons. I’ll bet they don’t.

Here’s the funny bit, though. In an earlier post I called them Harry and Kate. I only just noticed tonight. Maybe it was prophetic. One five second clip I couldn’t avoid while I was trying to find the TV remote showed the bride and her prospective brother-in-law sharing a limo on the way back from wedding practice. What a hoot that would be. We all know which of Will and Harry’s dads their dear mama preferred, don’t we?

Thank heavens the Tower of London is only a visitor attraction these days. There was a time when I would have been privileged to make its intimate acquaintance.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Striking a Balance.

Going back to my rants about publishers, I think it only fair to point out that not all small press publishers play the god role. I’ve encountered several who are friendly, courteous and respectful of the symbiotic relationship that exists between publisher and author. They’re the ones who say ‘thank you for letting us publish your story,’ and I can cheerfully say ‘thank you for publishing it.’ The ones whose links appear at the bottom of A Handful of Stories mostly fall into that category.

Sensibilities and Priorities.

Why are you looking at me like that?

I want to do something erotic.

You mean you want sex?


Oh. What then?

I want to take all my clothes off, and then I want you to rub baby oil into every square inch of my body.

Sounds messy.

You really haven’t got a soul, have you?


This isn’t a fantasy, it’s a memory. (Come to think of it, it’s both now.) The test is to guess which one is in italics. Here’s a clue:

I was wheeling my trolley around the supermarket today, when I felt something soft under my finger. It turned out to be a bogey (does anybody other than Brits call them bogeys?) Somebody must have picked their nose and then deposited the crop on the handle of the supermarket trolley. I wasn’t amused.


The good news: Sainsbury’s were selling litre bottles of Bells for £13 today. News doesn’t get much gooder than that.

An Empty Rant.

Why can’t I have one bloody day without some new problem presenting itself and stressing me out? I think my planets must be engaged in civil war. That’s why there have been no posts today. I’ve been struggling to get things sorted. Unsuccessfully.

Poor MJ had just woken up, and now he’s in the teapot again going


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Ode to Uncertainty.

If life would only treat me right,
I’d let her in the house at night,
And tell her tales
Of worms and whales.
I would.
At least, I think I might.

MJ has woken up, but he’s in a strange mood. Comas have that effect. Please humour him, but don’t take him too seriously.

Avoiding the Good Angels.

Still searching for a suitable place to send my novel, I just looked at the umpteenth small press publisher’s website. I took a peek at the editor’s blog to help get a feel for the ‘tone’ of the establishment.

I wasn’t encouraged. The post I read was typical of the position a lot of small press editors take. It isn’t any great exaggeration to say that it runs roughly thus:

Think of me as God, and this publishing house as my heaven. This is how you must approach me; this is what you must do; this is what you must not do; this is what I will not tolerate.

And he illustrates all this with an anecdote about how a certain author transgressed the rules. Not only that, he argued about it. Said author is now condemned to burn in the fires of unpublished obscurity. This is proper punishment for the sinner that transgresseth and repenteth not.

But then I read the comments. They were typical, too.

Oh, mighty one, you’re so right. This author deserves no better. He is a malefactor possessed by the Evil One and must not be suffered to live. How dare he presume to take issue with thine Esteemed Being? I, on the other hand, am hereby demonstrating my willingness to give myself up to your judgement, if it means I may lick your feet clean and bathe in your luminence.

What the hell is going on with this burgeoning mass of wannabee authors? They’re the very reason I withdrew my novella from three different small press publishers. I just couldn’t stand being downwind of their sycophantic fucking smell!

Sorry. It just gets my goat a bit. Self-publishing is looking increasingly like the only option.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Favourable Forecast.

The weather is forecast to be wet and windy for the pantomime on Friday, so I might just tune in after all. Not in the hope of seeing Ms Middleton’s mascara run, you understand. I’ve no reason to wish discomfort on her, just as long as she disappears quietly afterwards and doesn’t court the obsequiousness of the peasantry once she’s officially a royal. I hope she has the sense to realise that she’s merely joining the ranks of the amusingly anachronistic.

No, it’s bedraggled dignitaries I want to see. I dislike dignitaries.

Enjoying Sex.

No, not me; no opportunity these days. What I’m getting at is this.

Why do people enjoy sex, or eating, or anything else for that matter? The clever dicks can tell us all they like that enjoyment drives the natural imperatives, but that isn’t the point. The point is: what is enjoyment?

I’ve often been prone to an unfortunate tendency. Just when I’m enjoying something, part of my mind breaks off and asks the question: ‘Why are you enjoying this? What is this sensation?’ I feel a bit like Douglas Adams’ sperm whale, newly created by the infinite improbability drive and trying to make sense of a sudden plunge into awareness. Only, in my case, the effect is to make the whole thing seem illusory and meaningless. It’s like waking up out of a dream.

Enjoyment is obviously an abstract phenomenon, and it clearly resides on the level of consciousness. If I could get to the bottom of that one, I’m sure I would get to the bottom of everything.

In the meantime, I’ll try to give myself up to enjoyment if and when it ever comes my way again.

Finnish to the Finish.

My brain is imploding. I just got a visit from Finland, and what should immediately pop into my head, but this:

The girls in Helsinki are sexy and slinky
Until they decide to be kooky and kinky

They frolic in saunas,
Hang out on street corners

And drive the boys wild with a wave and a winky.

Nowhere near right, am I?

But Not Dumps.

Isn’t it odd how so many words ending in –umps relate to things sticking out?

Humps, lumps, stumps, bumps, mumps...

Monday, 25 April 2011

Belated Zombie Valentine.

It’s two months late because zombies take so long to get anywhere. I never understood why people find zombies menacing. You only have to blow on them and bits fall off. Where’s the menace?

Anyway, I’m sending this with my job application to Hallmark Cards. I fear it might be a bit too accomplished for their end of the market.

I wish I had a stone, she said,
I’d like to hit you on the head;
And bash and bash until you’re dead,
Then lay you out upon the bed
'Til all the linen's running red,
And feed you to my uncle Fred.

My internet connection is in zombie mode tonight – slow and stuttering. Better be careful I don’t sneeze in that direction.

What Price Value?

The World Professional Snooker Championship is taking place in Sheffield at the moment. One of the leading players, Mark Williams, has criticised the organisers for dropping the £147,000 prize that used to be awarded for a maximum 147 break. He says that players won’t bother to attempt the feat now there’s no money at the end of it. This raises two disturbing questions.

Firstly, it throws into focus yet again the crazy value system that we apply to human activity. Why should a snooker player be paid £147,000 for ten minutes work, albeit skilful, while a deep sea fisherman gets paid a small fraction of that in a whole year for risking his life to provide food?

Secondly, it raises doubts about the value of sport now that it’s been almost entirely consumed by the dubious ethos of the entertainment industry. Players simply won’t bother if there’s no reward, says Williams. No reward? Whatever happened to doing it for fun, for pride, for kudos, for the sense of achievement?

Independent Follower of Fashion.

‘...full of hipster women,’ wrote Zoe. Hipster? Oh right, this is yet another American expression (or maybe just a modern one) that’s passed me by.

So I googled it and was directed to the urban dictionary. The first expression used in its definition was ‘independent minded,’ but then it gave a long, long spiel which confirmed that they’re merely followers of their own subset, just as mainstream consumers are followers of theirs. It said that many of them typically have liberal arts degrees. No surprise there, then. It also said that some of them have science degrees and are capable of high levels of analytical thought. But of course they are.

This is a repeating pattern.

Waking Mad Jeffrey.

I wish I could get back to being silly. I do so want to be silly, but it isn’t something you can force. To do so only results in being the wrong sort of silly.

Starting the List.

Right then, I’ve decided I need to start making a list of the things I want to do in my next life. Number one is to learn some languages. I haven’t done that this time round. I once had just enough French to get a free 200-pack of Gauloises fags from a French lorry driver I helped with some directions, but that’s about as far as it got.

So why languages? Because language is a major component of culture, and as such it has its benefits and drawbacks. The benefit is that it unites people who speak the same language and helps give them a sense of cultural identity. The drawback is that it tends to divide people who speak a different language, and thus encourages cultural intolerance.

‘He talks funny so he must be foreign, and if he’s foreign it’s OK to shoot him.’

Exaggeration, maybe, but it is a psychological fact that we’re inherently inclined to be mistrustful of people who speak a different language, and more likely to behave in an offhand, unfriendly or aggressive manner towards them. It seems to me, therefore, that speaking only our native language makes us prone to being more insular. The British have a bad reputation in that regard. We’ve always been reluctant to learn other peoples’ languages. If they want us to accept them, they have to speak ours.

So it further seems to me that learning languages must have the opposite effect; it surely must make us more expansive and accepting in our attitudes to people of other cultures. In other words, it must promote a sense of equality. And that has to be a damn fine thing.


I’ve mentioned in a couple of posts how I’ve started to feel some sort of subtle energy in the air when there are no people or vehicles about in the evening. I referred to it in a story once as ‘the tingle of the earth energies,’ which is interesting because I hadn’t felt it so strongly then. And yet it’s an apt description; that’s what it feels like. So what I’m hoping is this:

I’m hoping it means that my consciousness is becoming more attuned to whatever lies behind the wholeness of the natural world, and I’m further hoping that the proof will come in the behaviour of the animals and birds. If I’m right, I expect them to start coming closer. Not because they’re consciously thinking ‘This guy has been around for a while and he hasn’t hurt us yet, so maybe we can trust him,’ but rather because they recognise that I’m at home in their world. I don’t expect them to become my ‘friends’ as such. Why should they? I would only expect them to view me as they would a cow or a rabbit – something that isn’t alien but belongs here and doesn’t threaten them.

That would be most fulfilling. We’ll see.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Five More Days, then Maybe We Can Forget About Them.

I discovered today that a feature film exists called ‘William and Kate: The Movie.’ Since it was made in 2011, it’s evidently intended to be seen as a biopic of the William and Kate, although the opening credits include the words ‘Inspired by actual events.’ Only ‘inspired?’ Mmm... I gather it was made by one of the tackier, 9th rate, chocolate-box-romance specialists, and was shot entirely in America. It’s being shown on Brit terrestrial TV twice this week, and the review I read said ‘It’s worth tuning in to gawp at the sheer tackiness of it all.’ Sounds about on the right level, then.

I heard somebody suggest the other day that the royal wedding should take place in the early hours of the morning so that Americans can watch it live on TV. No disrespect to Americans, but that would suit me just fine. Preferably after 3am when I’m usually dead to the world, or at least drunk enough not to notice.

Morning Randomness.

Three considerations have been impressing themselves into my thought processes this morning, whether I want them there or not: one question, one notion, and one suspicion.

1) To what extent am I the human known as Jeff Beazley, and to what extent am I the consciousness that’s using this mortal machine as a temporary host?

2) Life as a human being seems far too short to worry about whether it has meaning or not.

3) The human brain is as capable of understanding any credible concept of ‘God’ as a single leaf in a forest is capable of understanding the complexity of the earth’s whole physical environment.

I don’t think they’re in competition.

Then again...

...when you say 'forever' to a priestess after whom you've named your apple blossom, its power lies in a wholly different area. Yes indeed.

Thought I'd better add that just in case anybody came to the previous post expecting it to be romantic or something. It's this sense of responsibility I'm cursed with.

Forever Makes the Difference.

Do you know what I like about Googlemail? The spam folder has a delete button that doesn’t merely say ‘Delete.’ It says ‘Delete Forever.’

So when you get some bozo sending you a bit of scammy crap that reads Douglas King: International Police Authority United States Section, expecting a few even dimmer bozos to be fooled into trembling and thinking ‘Oh, my gosh, this sounds serious. Better open it up and find out what it’s all about,’ you can click


...and it makes you feel really good. Yeah!


Can I stop being serious now? Time for a drink.

The Mystery is Why There's a Mystery.

While I’m on the subject of Easter, here’s another thing that leaves me floundering: the Turin Shroud.

A couple of years ago there were two documentaries on Brit TV that were shown several weeks apart. They purported to be totally individual programmes; there was supposedly no connection between them. And yet the first half of both featured many of the same interviews with the same people. The second halves featured different interviews with different people, and they came to opposite tentative conclusions. One favoured the belief that it was the burial cloth of Jesus, the other that it wasn’t.

But... This is the bit that leaves me floundering. Both documentaries presented two facts that I’d already heard in other programmes.

1) If the cloth really had been the burial shroud of a person and an image of that person had somehow come to be imprinted on it, the image would be disproportionately wide because of the three dimensional effect of the wrapping. As we all know, it isn’t. It’s perfectly proportioned.

2) The cloth is in two halves – the bit that supposedly covered the front, and the bit that covered the back. On both halves the figure is perfectly proportioned, but the one on the back is taller than the one on the front.

Now, am I being dumb here? Don’t both these facts even taken separately, let alone together, amount to conclusive proof that the image on the cloth can’t be an imprint of somebody buried in it, be it Jesus or anybody else? So why are people still arguing about it?

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Considered Paranoia.

After fifteen months of writing this blog, I’ve finally had a visit from DC. Oh dear, what have I said? We Europeans are inclined to regard Washington DC with some suspicion these days. We tend to associate it with shifty men in black suits seeking an excuse to ship people off to some East European state where they don’t have anti-torture laws. Let’s hope the visitor was one of the good guys. I assume there still are some who haven’t yet been shipped off to some East European state...

My Alternative Easter Message.

And so I make it to yet another Easter, the time of year when Christian fervour is at its height, when it’s hard to avoid being force fed yet another telling of the Passion of Christ. It’s a bit like trying to find something different to do with bits of dead turkey at Christmas. I know that makes me sound pompous to a lot of people, and even disrespectful to some, but it really does get on my nerves. So maybe now is the most appropriate time to make my position on Christianity clear. I’ll try to make it brief.

The most prolific version of Christianity is the Roman model, the one that took root in Europe and then spread to the Americas, the antipodes and other areas of the globe that came under European influence. It’s based primarily on two volumes of writing: the four canonical Gospels and the letters of the supposedly reformed Saul of Tarsus who claimed to have had a ‘vision.’

I assume I don’t have to write loads of tedious stuff on why those four Gospels permitted by the early Church are a highly unreliable source of historical fact. It’s been pointed out often enough that there’s nothing new about the Jesus story, that everything from the virgin birth to the miracles to the crucifixion and resurrection appear in older traditions. This leads to the credible suspicion that Jesus of Nazareth was just one of many religious zealots wandering Palestine in the first century, and that much of what’s written about him in the received canon amounts largely to a manufactured myth. As for Saul’s vision, who knows? Was it a vision, a dream, a hallucination, some other form of mental aberration? The fact is, we can’t know, any more than we can know who Jesus really was, where he was really born, what he really taught, how he really died, etc, etc. There are even those who’ve studied the subject carefully, and seriously question whether he even existed at all. I think he probably did, but let’s be clear about one thing because this is what’s important.

The Christian religion is founded on one foundation and one only – the doctrine of Redemption. It requires of its adherents that they believe three facts:

1) That mankind is born in original sin as a result of the Fall in the Garden of Eden.

2) That Jesus was the one and only avatar who willingly took human form and offered himself for sacrifice.

3) That in so doing, he somehow absolved the human race of its inherited guilt so that they could rejoin God the Father.

The keystone here is original sin. Without it, there would have been no reason for Jesus to make the sacrifice. To put it another way, anyone who doesn’t accept the doctrine of original sin has no reason to regard Jesus as the Christ, or any justification for calling themselves Christian. And if you don’t believe me, ask any theologian. I heard a Christian bishop say the same thing recently. His words were ‘Without acceptance of original sin, Christianity as a religion has no validity.’ Quite.

Well, I don’t believe in original sin, I don’t believe that Jesus was an avatar, and the notion that his ‘sacrifice’ somehow provided absolution never made the slightest sense to me after I reached a sufficient mental age to give the matter serious consideration.

But of course, if anybody does choose to believe these things, who am I to suggest they shouldn’t? After all, I believe in fairies on no more tangible a basis than people choose to believe the Jesus story. It’s just that I don’t go around turgidly pushing it in everybody’s face and claiming it to be absolute fact. Neither do I encourage the committing of assault, torture, genocide and a range of other depravities in the name of fairies, as certain elements among the proclaimed followers of Jesus have done, and continue to do, in his name. For more on that, read this. (Those brain dead bigots of the Bible Belt sure know how to praise the Lord and pass the pitchforks.)

I could go on, but I won’t. All I’ll say is this. I respect the celebration of the equinox because it’s part of a natural cycle. I respect the celebration of Beltane because it makes a certain sense to both the rational and metaphysical elements of my make up. Easter means nothing to me at all.

Precocious Plants and Friendly Fey.

It’s been a day of firsts today. In the herbaceous border, several of the plants that don’t usually bloom until May have got their first flowers. In the vegetable patch, the onions, potatoes and broad beans are all starting to show much faster than usual. And the best of all: my fabulous friends the house martins are back from Africa. Several of them treated me to a typical display of aerial mastery before moving off over the hill. I’ve no doubt they’ll be back.

Problem: all this comes just as the weather forecasters predict a change to much colder conditions from Monday onwards.

On the subject of the garden, here’s something odd:

At the end of last summer I lost my pen knife. It was an indispensable tool in the garden and I was none too pleased. I searched every pocket of every garment I ever wore in the garden, I searched the garden itself, I searched the shed, and I searched the greenhouse. In the end I concluded I must have accidentally dropped it in the green waste bin and that it was gone forever. All winter I’ve been meaning to get a new one, but I kept forgetting.

Today I needed it. I was mowing the lawn and decided to take a crop off the burgeoning comfrey plants to add to the grass cuttings in the compost bin. I went and got a knife from the kitchen, took my crop, and then went back to continue mowing the lawn. There, lying in the middle of the lawn quite unmissable, was my bright red pen knife. I’ve been walking all over the lawn frequently for months, and it hasn’t been there. I last mowed the lawn a week or so ago, and it certainly wasn’t there then. It seemed that whoever had taken it had realised that I now needed it again and had done me the kindness of returning it. So I said thank you.

Nihilism and Present Fears.

I’ve just been reading Wikipedia’s article on nihilism. It says:

Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value.

On that basis, it seems I’m 2/3 a nihilist. Good. That explains 2/3 of my madness then. It continues:

Moral nihilists assert that morality does not inherently exist, and that any established moral values are abstractly contrived.

Couldn’t agree more, except it doesn’t cover the distinction I make between morality, which I consider abstractly contrived, and ethics, which I don’t.

Never mind, let’s just carry on and see how things develop. At the moment I’m more concerned about the very convincing illusion of the here and now. Just when I thought my problems with the letting agent were sorted, I get another worrying piece of correspondence from them. The sense of insecurity engendered by these people is unsettling. It must be obvious from recent posts just how much living here means to me. This piece of earth and I have grown so close that being separated would be very painful.

A Personal Mythology.

A new mythology is taking its first faltering steps inside my head. I’m not listening to anybody else’s any more; I’m creating my own.

So far it has priestesses whose symbol is the apple blossom, only in my version it’s called Jenny Blossom or the Wren Flower. Pretty, you must admit. (Jenny is a priestess of my acquaintance. She’s putting me through the mangle of uncertainty at the moment. I love it and I love her. I don’t love many people.) The god realm is called Annie’s Land after my favourite goddess – the only one who’s ever graced me with her presence. (respects, madam.) And the way to access realms beyond the mundane is through the subtle energy of stillness. The means of doing so can be learned from birdsong, once you know their language.

That’s it so far. It will grow as long as nobody in authority scoops me up and takes me off to an asylum.

“I didn’t see nothin’. I don’t want to go an asylum.”

I was going to make a post about Easter, but it seemed suddenly insignificant after I’d spent half an hour floating in the sublime sweetness of my garden at twilight. I daresay I’ll be all left brained and serious in the morning, and will probably make the post. Being sane feels normal until you move beyond it and smell the scent of something better.

Where is everybody, by the way? Have I said something offensive, something about the sanctity of life perhaps? That seems to offend a lot of people these days. Life isn’t about life now; it’s about convenience. Not in my new mythology, it isn’t.

Friday, 22 April 2011

A Couple More Bits.

How long do you wait for somebody to talk to you before you decide you must be history and might as well walk off into the sunset?

I was painting outside in the sunshine today. There’s something pleasant about painting outside. Wonder why.

Listenin’ to the Wailin’ Jennys.

Being Earnest.

There were two women standing at one end of an aisle of the supermarket, apparently discussing something very earnestly. One was tall, skinny and middle aged; the other was short and elderly. As I approached, I caught the very end of their conversation. The elderly woman was looking up at her companion and saying, in her best Edith-Evans-as-Lady-Bracknell accent:

‘Do you think it might have had something to do with the kippers?’

More Bits.

In case anybody’s interested, the reason I’ve hardly posted for the past three days is the fact that I’ve been unusually busy with practical matters and haven’t felt in blogging mode.

Even so, I’ve been meaning to post something for Easter. Problem is, I can’t decide what approach to take or how detailed to make it. Maybe tomorrow.

I watched Donnie Darko again tonight. For some unaccountable reason, his girlfriend kept reminding me of somebody and I don’t know who. I think it’s somebody I’ve encountered through this blog, but how can that be since I’ve never met anybody I’ve encountered through this blog? It’s something about her manner and her way of speaking. Oh, well. My favourite character in that film, by the way, is Donnie’s dad. He’s my kind of bloke.

I get the impression I’ve fallen out of favour with one or two people.

Slovenia and Roscoe, Illinois continue to be tantalising mysteries.

The field on the other side of the lane from my house got its new intake of summer heifers yesterday. I love seeing them on their first day. They look so happy after being cooped up among the concrete and steel of market pens. They run about madly, kick their legs in the air and have little play fights with each other.

I was sitting at my garden table this evening, drinking in the atmosphere as usual, when it occurred to me yet again that it would be a fine place to die. And then I wondered how long it would be before anybody found the body. I don’t get much mail and there’s nobody living next door yet, so it could easily be a week or even longer. I decided that my friendly robin would probably notice, since he’s the one who most often keeps me company while I’m gardening. And do you know what? Just as I thought that, he appeared on the table and stood there looking at me. Strange.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Harry and Kate Go Disney.

YouTube are running a ‘Royal Wedding Book.’ This is very sad.

Somebody else is running a TV ad for HD boxes: ‘Get it in time for the Royal Wedding,’ it says. This is also very sad.

One of the news headlines today was ‘Kate Middleton Gets a Coat of Arms.’ I’d be more interested if all the pictures of her and her bloke got an obscuring Coat of Paint.

Mr Cameron says ‘If you want to have a street party to celebrate the Royal Wedding, you have a street party.’ Now, if Mr Cameron would only force the fat cat bankers to pay for the mess they’ve created, then I might consider celebrating. His deflection technique is sadly transparent.

What I really want to read is:

We have pooled our resources to charter lots of jet aircraft to whisk you off to some place in the world where there is guaranteed to be sub-zero interest in the Royal bloody Wedding, at a price that even poor people can afford.

My credit card is ready and waiting. It irks a little that the fat cat bankers would make some interest out of me, but that would be a small price to pay to escape the sickly, sycophantic sludge into which Britain will be plunged that day.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Getting Noticed.

Having mentioned Patrick Stewart’s support for assisted suicides in a recent post, it seems my blog is now listed on a suicides website. It’s so easy to attract attention these days. And me so pro-Life in all her forms, even when she isn’t pro-Me.

Sensing the Subtle Scent.

I think I’ve hit on the essence of why I so like living in the countryside.

Much of the time it’s pretty much the same as anywhere else. When people and traffic are going up and down the lane, or when a farmer is working his fields, or somebody in the distance has a chainsaw going, the energy of people going about their business isn’t so different than it is in the towns or suburbs. It’s a dense energy, the energy of human endeavour. But when all that stops, when everybody goes home, when the long lulls appear in the occasional bits of traffic flow, that dense energy subsides. Maybe it sinks into the earth or rises to the sky, I wouldn’t know. But what’s left isn’t just an energy vacuum; it isn’t merely silence. What’s left is that subtle but tangible buzz that I referred to in an earlier post, the thing I can only describe as the energy of peace and connectedness. And that doesn’t subside; it touches you with the light caress of a gentle breeze. It’s almost that palpable. Until, that is, a vehicle drives down the lane or somebody fires a shotgun in the distance. And then the dense energy of human endeavour descends again and buries the subtler form beneath its unwholesome obesity.

I’ve taken to wondering what it must have been like before the human animal came onto this earth. Dangerous maybe, but replete with the scent of purity.

Or maybe I’m just being fanciful. Or unduly reclusive.

Monday, 18 April 2011

A Couple of Questions about TV Drama.

I watched a TV drama tonight, in which a character – apparently a well educated young woman – said to her father ‘This is the last time you will ever see me again.’

I assume the person who wrote that was a professional scriptwriter. I assume that he or she got paid to write it. And I assume the production company employs at least one script editor. So...

And have you ever noticed that in TV dramas and films, whenever somebody drives a car away from a parked position at night, they always turn on the headlights before starting the engine? I’ve been driving for a long time now, and I’ve never done that. I’ve never known anybody else do it either. It doesn’t make sense. I’m hoping to meet a director of films or TV dramas one day who can explain it to me.

Forget It.

According to a news report I read today, a Cambridge academic has claimed that it’s inaccurate to celebrate Maundy Thursday on a Thursday, since he’s calculated the date of the Last Supper as Wednesday 1st April AD33.

Having survived a brief paralysis of incredulity, I was going to write a long post about this. But then I realised that too much was uncertain. Firstly, I couldn’t decide whether my rant was going to be about the ease with which people take irrational cultural dogma, the pronouncements of the Church, and the unreliable canonical Gospels at face value, or the absurd lengths to which an academic will go to get his name in print. Secondly, journalists do have an unfortunate habit of twisting stories, either through stupidity, ignorance or ulterior motive, so I had no way of knowing whether the story I’d read was any more reliable than the canonical Gospels. Thirdly, I questioned whether I really cared anyway. Much about both religion and the world of academe strikes me as absurd already, so why should I care if both were disappearing up their own arses singing Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam?

In the end, I didn’t bother.

A Question for the Ladies.

Which is the bigger turn-on? Controlled and relaxed, or petulant and vulnerable? Just curious

Going to bed.

Sir Patrick.

I was happy to discover today that the venerable Sir Patrick Stewart is quite a bit older than me. His latest ‘thing’ is assisted suicides. Good man, Sir Patrick. Good values.


There’s such a lot of work in the garden at the moment. Gardening is a pleasant activity, but it’s a pottering one. I’m not the pottering type. I like to identify the needs of a job, go all out to get it done, and then chill. That isn’t pottering. But the weather is set to stay dry, sunny and warmer than average for at least another week yet, which means another week of pottering. I should be grateful, I know, and I am.

Zoetrope and Other Bits.

Zoetrope: ‘A device that produces an illusion of action from a rapid succession of static pictures.’ I’m not being sarcastic, just gently facetious. ‘Zoetrope’ may be taken to mean ‘wheel of life’ according to Wikipedia. Nice one.

The football team that I used to support as a teenager won their FA Cup semi-final match 5-0 today. That means they’ll be playing in an FA Cup final for the first time in their history. Why didn’t they do that when I was a teenager?

Another word I like is ‘piddle,’ as in ‘Hey, Missus, thar cat’s just piddled on mar strawb’rry plants.’

I heard it said recently that I am related to every person descended from anybody living in Europe at the time of the Norman Conquest. That’s some extended family. Mind you, it was Stephen Fry who said it, and he does get a bit carried away with his simplistic pronouncements. He also said that the only effect of banning tobacco advertising was to save the tobacco companies money, completely missing the fact that the point of advertising isn’t just to compete with rival companies, but also to generate demand.

Some bloke in England faces the prospect of losing his job for putting a Palm Sunday cross on the dashboard of his company van. It’s against the rules, apparently, to ‘personalise’ company vehicles. We’re in danger of being suffocated in Britain these days by legislation, rules and PC no-go areas.

The classic song Mad About the Boy wasn’t written as a woman’s song at all. It was written by Noel Coward, dear old queen or queer old dean, as you prefer.

There’s a post up at the Finding Life Tumblr, a quotation from Baudelaire extolling the virtues of being and remaining drunk. Recommended. On my way.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Bereft of Life...

So, tonight I was reduced to sucking the air out of a stubby beer bottle to create a vacuum, and then amusing myself by letting it dangle off my top lip. At this time of night, wouldn’t you think I’d just go to bed?

This is what comes of having had no e-mails for five days, and being entirely bereft of even the slightest prospect of entertaining a dusky maiden with a cup of cheer and my accustomed joie de vivre.

I did exchange a few words with a centipede journeying with apparent purpose across my kitchen floor earlier. Well, not exchange exactly. I talked and he walked. Or it might have been a she, I suppose. Not easy to tell with centipedes. Did you know that ‘centipede’ means ‘hundred feet?’ Thought you would. They don’t have a hundred feet, of course, but they do have rather fewer than a millipede, which also doesn’t have a thousand. That’s an example of the scientists’ mania for classification meeting the more right brained, figurative approach of the naturalist. I think.

2am. Mmm... Gardening today, more gardening tomorrow. I have to make something out of wood and glass to protect my carrots.

Is this the most scintillating post ever?

Saturday, 16 April 2011


This is a quote from Sky News:

Oscar-winning actor Nicolas Cage has been charged by police in New Orleans after being accused of getting drunk and arguing with his wife Alice Kim in the street.

So, who hasn’t? Ah, but he also hit some vehicles (which must have hurt) and shouted at a policeman.


Why Libya?

It seems the failure to maintain military or diplomatic credibility over the Libya intervention continues to promote a sense of incredulity. It would verge on the amusing if only people weren’t suffering in the middle of it.

I had serious reservations over that issue from the outset. Not that I have any reason to support Gaddafi, of course; it’s just that I’m innately suspicious about the motives behind the military alliance. Lights flash and bells ring when I see America, Britain, France and the Arab League joining forces to ‘subdue a tyrant,’ especially when the tyrants in the Arab League have their own rebellions to contend with. I think I’m right in believing that the US in particular has a proven track record of supporting tyrant dictators when it suited American interests, and we didn’t send NATO off to bomb the Chinese when they were committing atrocities in Tibet, did we?

Pulling the Wool.

When I was walking through the shopping mall the other day I saw an advertising poster showing a young woman looking so joyful because she’d just acquired the latest mobile phone. I hate that sort of thing because, whatever the arguments for and against running a society on free market principles, one of the things I find most disturbing about it is that it shamelessly peddles the Great Lie:

Having things makes you happy.

And people believe it.

Whatever Turns the Tap On.

Some people burst into tears at the sight of suffering. Others, like me, are more inclined to react emotionally when witnessing the joy of deliverance from pain or bondage. I saw a woman in tears on the TV tonight because she’d just won £75,000.

Of course, I don’t know her personal circumstances. Maybe she had to pay a ransom demand for a kidnapped relative, or maybe she needed to pay off a loan shark to avoid having her fingers shattered by a blow from a blunt instrument. Not very likely though, is it? The fact is, people do get emotional when they suddenly come into a lot of money.

And that’s what I find incomprehensible.

Being Me.

My multiple personalities are fighting tooth and nail for the driving seat tonight. So far, Mr Boring and Serious is proving hard to budge. Mr Soppy and Romantic and Mr Ranting and Aggressive are fighting one another to a standstill, while Mad Jeffrey is still asleep. I keep on playing the video of Mad Gerald to him, but to no avail. He sits up and giggles for a bit, and then falls asleep again. Mr Worthy and Workmanlike makes an appearance in the afternoons, but clocks off early. Oh to be a Simple Person now that April’s here. And it isn’t surprising that the scotch is disappearing faster than usual. Look at how many people are drinking it.

Worship by Any Other Name.

I’ve been browsing a few Tumblrs lately and I’ve noticed that there seems to be a trend among young people to be in thrall to excessive sex, excessive violence, excessive darkness, and the mindless version of anarchy.

I think I’ve made it plain that I’m no moralist and no great fan of the Establishment, but I do like balance and I dislike the worship of excess, darkness and anarchy just as much as I dislike the worship of God, morality and the system. It strikes me that running with the crowd one way is essentially no different than running with the crowd any other way, and worshipping things is generally a symptom of running with the crowd.

And just in case they should happen to read this post, I should add that I’m not referring to either Zoe’s or Carmen’s Tumblrs here.

Finding Avalon.

I’ve been to a lot of places in my life that were both beautiful and quiet, and yet it occurred to me recently that only three of them had that something extra, something that set them apart as special, magical places. I don’t think the words exist to do them full justice; the best I can offer is to say that the sense of peace and timelessness was so profound as to seem palpable. They engendered in me a feeling of connectedness, that everything was as it should be and working perfectly without threat or danger of malfunction as long as they weren’t invaded by anything that would pollute the energies and tip the balance.

One was a spot on the cliffs overlooking the sea near St David’s Head in Pembrokeshire. Another was a low wall that bounded one side of the courtyard of an old youth hostel in the Yorkshire Dales. I sat on it one evening, looking out over the Swale Valley in a light summer drizzle. The third was the garden of a pub in the Lake District, a little off the beaten track so there was no sound of traffic or noisy tourists.

For me, those places held the essence of Avalon, and whatever it was that suffused them was sublime but also fragile. Now I can add a fourth: my garden on a warm, still evening when the lane is empty of vehicles and the only sound is the trilling of birds and the hoot of an early owl. This is my Avalon.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Setting a Good Example.

When I went to Derby the other day I was approaching the glass doors that lead into one entrance to the mall and saw a woman standing the other side of them. She was looking at the area over the top of the doors, apparently searching for something. I assumed it was the sensor that operates automatic doors. It appeared she was having trouble understanding why the doors weren’t opening.

I happened to know that the doors at that entrance aren’t automatic, so I pushed open the one next to her, walked through it and held it open for her. She looked at me for a second, looked at the open door, and then staggered out.

I assumed she must start on the anaesthetic rather earlier in the day than I do.