Last Summer

The cove is not much visited. It is isolated, hard to reach and haunted by the restless souls of shipwrecked sailors, drowned when their vessels were torn apart on the treacherous rocks hereabouts. The story goes that on certain windswept nights a ghost ship rides the wild surf and the screams of the drowning sailors can still be heard above the roar of the tumbling waves.

On the walk to the cove we pass through a hanging river valley: it’s been cut short of sloping into the sea due to erosion of the cliffs by the wild Atlantic waves. The day is full of sun and the sea calm. The valley is rich in wildflowers and heathland butterflies. A species of wild Chamomile grows abundantly here, but is very rare throughout the rest of the UK. It is a good place to pause for a while, make love without fear of interruption, and afterwards picnic on sandwiches and champagne.

During stormy weather, sea foam is driven into the cove by the wind and vortices form against the sheer cliffs resulting in small tornadoes of sea foam. This spume at twilight resembles myriad dancing phantoms…


quite harmless

January 12, 2020

‘….I imagine it’s been going on for hundreds of years. It’s quite harmless, just a vision of something from the past that is permanently or temporarily fixed in this place. I doubt that even Groves could capture it on film: I expect it’s something that produces an image in our brains. . . .’

David G. Rowlands
A Job Not Done

Time is merely our imperfect perception of a new dimension of space. Time and motion are both illusions. Everything that has existed from the beginning of the world exists now. Events that occurred centuries ago on this planet continue to exist in another dimension of space. Events that will occur centuries from now exist already. We cannot perceive their existence because we cannot enter the dimension of space that contains them. Human beings as we know them are merely fractions, infinitesimally small fractions of one enormous whole. Every human being is linked with all the life that has preceded him on this planet. All of his ancestors are parts of him. Only time separates him from his forebears, and time is an illusion and does not exist.

Frank Belknap Long
The Hounds of Tindalos

go back to the dark

January 5, 2020

Where do fairies come from? From the dark. To find the origins of fairies, we must go back to the dark — dark of our own past, dark of the world’s past.

Diane Purkiss
At The Bottom Of The Garden: A Dark History of Fairies, Hobgoblins, and Other Troublesome Things

Every time Hans Christian Andersen had a wank, he would put a mark in his diary. “Today I had a visit from such-and-such a person, they’re so sweet,” he would write. “When they left, I had a double-sensuous ++.”

In Denmark, Andersen is regarded as a national hero with a whiter-than-white image. His fans argue that the reason he never married or had sex was his desire to remain pure. Most biographies about him are very boring. But there’s one, Hans Christian Andersen: The Life of a Storyteller by Jackie Wullschlager, that is fantastic. Wullschlager approaches aspects of his life that have never been discussed frankly and openly – not only sexuality but other shady sides to his character.

When he visited Paris, for example, he would go to brothels in the Porte Saint-Denis area, not to touch the women, but to speak to them, return to his hotel and wank off. Then he would write about it in his diary.

Robert Lepage
Bedtime stories


December 28, 2019

History, like light, consists of particles and waves. The particles show up in our attics and archives, in letters and treaties and postcards. All that looped cursive, all that Kodachrome dusk.

Dominic Smith
Mr. Blue and Mr. Light

The war to end wars…?

December 25, 2019

Man, when preparing for bloody war, will orate loudly and most eloquently in the name of peace. This dichotomy is not an invention of the twentieth century, yet it is in this century that the most striking examples of the phenomena have appeared. Never before has man pursued global harmony more vocally while amassing stockpiles of weapons so devastating in their effect. The Second World War – we were told – was the War To End Wars. The development of the atomic bomb is the Weapon to End Wars. And yet wars continue. Currently, no nation on this planet is not involved in some form of armed struggle,  if not against its neighbours then against internal forces. Furthermore, as ever escalating amounts of money are poured into the pursuit of the specific weapon or conflict that will bring lasting peace, the drain on our economies  creates a  rundown urban landscape where crime flourishes and people are concerned less with national security than with the simple personal security needed to stop at the store late at night for a quart of milk without being mugged. The places we struggled so viciously to keep safe are becoming increasingly dangerous. The war to end wars, the weapons to end wars, these things have failed us.

Alan Moore

The Word ‘Cunt’

December 24, 2019

The word cunt and humble beginnings
do not go hand in hand:
the first gal, way before Eve, Sheela,
stooped down into the birthing position
and spread her lips like sunshine on snow,
like sand on the ocean bottom,
like honey around a spoon,
like truth fluttering like wings to escape the cave.
The word cunt, once a proud word used by many,
once an old Norse term, Kunta, simply meaning vulva,
has been forced into the shadows of shame,
shoved to the trenches of indecency.
Once, many an Old Norse woman shuffled over to the village medicine doctor,
said, hey, doc, I need an herb or two to soothe this kunta of mine,
what with the fifth born,
what with my tribal husband leaving,
beating his hairy knuckles against the enemies’ doors, eventually
losing his crusade against the Angles, the Saxons, the Jutes,
and then
did we have hell to pay. What with St. Augustine and his cronies discrediting our language, our strength, all because he was afraid of St. Teresa in a g-string.
Never do we hear this most venerable of words
uttered on the holiest of pastimes,
the TV.
To do so
would be immoral,
afraid we might get strong again,
vilify the cock and ball, back into submission.
We wear the mask you gave us.
Call it burka; call it Cover Girl;
Call it Maybelline;
it’s all the same when you scrape
the blameless pea, button, pearl, either with knives or pantyhose.
So, next time, girls,
some guy spits his forked tongue at you
because you don’t warm up to his advances,
sidle up to his lewd expectations, and hisses
cunt, remind him where he came from.
Tell him.
“Oh yes,
remember me – I am the woman
god warned you about.”

Michelle A. Ladwig

the dead

December 24, 2019

The ancient Greeks believed that when you read aloud, it was actually the dead, borrowing your tongue, in order to speak again.

Ruth Ozeki
A Tale for the Time Being

extraordinary pornographic

December 17, 2019

Fifty years ago, an extraordinary pornographic novel appeared in Paris. Published simultaneously in French and English, Story of O portrayed explicit scenes of bondage and violent penetration in spare, elegant prose, the purity of the writing making the novel seem reticent even as it dealt with demonic desire, with whips, masks and chains.

Pauline Reage, the author, was a pseudonym, and many people thought that the book could only have been written by a man. The writer’s true identity was not revealed until 10 years ago, when, in an interview with John de St Jorre, a British journalist and some-time foreign correspondent of The Observer, an impeccably dressed 86-year-old intellectual called Dominique Aury acknowledged that the fantasies of castles, masks and debauchery were hers…

Dominique Aury, lying on her side in bed with her pencil and her school exercise books, did not intend the work to be published. She wrote it as a dare, a challenge and an enterprise de seduction for her lover, Jean Paulhan. They’d met during the German occupation, when she distributed a subversive magazine, Lettres Françaises, which he edited. Probably, they were first introduced by her father, in the hope that she might solicit Paulhan’s aid in publishing the volume of 17th-century devotional poetry she had collected.  (She did, and it was.) Subsequently, they worked together at the literary magazine Nouvelle Revue Française and at Gallimard.

Geraldine Bedell
I wrote the story of O
The Observer 25th July 2004