May 28, 2019

This beautifully titled novel is, I suppose, a fairy tale, since there are fairies in it, or, anyhow, beings called fairies. They aren’t visible to everyone, yet can affect the lives of people who don’t see, or don’t believe in them. In that, they play in modern industrial England something like their role in the folklore of the past. They don’t, however, fit conventional notions of what a fairy looks like: they aren’t the tall, fair ones who carry you off under the hill, nor yet the tiny Peaseblossoms and sprites the Victorians loved, and they are most definitely not Tinker Bell. Walton’s descriptions suggest that the great illustrator Arthur Rackham was one of the people who could see them: “In the same way that oak trees have acorns and hand-shaped leaves, and hazels have hazelnuts and little curved leaves, most fairies are gnarly and grey or green or brown, and there’s generally something hairy about them somewhere. This one was grey, very gnarly indeed, and well over towards the hideous part of the spectrum.”

Mori, the protagonist and narrator of the novel, has always seen and known the fairies. Though she’d like them to be Tolkien’s Elves,  they aren’t gracious and powerful,  but frustrated, marginal, somehow diminished. Some of them are probably ghosts. They are untamed, uncivilised, and unpredictable. They speak Welsh, mostly. They don’t answer to any name, but if asked properly they can grant wishes. They are like fragments of the wild, surviving only where a trace of woodland survives, haunting whatever remains of the unhuman: old parks, pre-industrial, untilled places, forgotten roads out past the edges of towns and farms.

Ursula K Le Guin
Review of Jo Walton’s Among Others
The Guardian 30th March 2013


Diary 8th May

Yesterday was a nothing day. No work to speak of, although I did organise a BBQ indoors because of the heavy showers in the afternoon. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. Certainly there was no food left over.


I watched a DVD of “The Hallow”, which was written and directed by Corin Hardy and stared Joseph Mawle and Bojana Novakovic. The film was shot at a beautiful location in Ireland – its fine cinematography enhanced the air of spooky menace overshadowing all. Irish folklore provided the background, along with modern concerns about the environment and the ‘restructuring’ of Irish debt. Fairyfolk provided the menace – for these are not the ethereal little people of Arthur Rackham, but more like a nightmarish overspill from the dark imagination of the late H R Giger.

Highly recommended, boys and girls.


It’s really muggy here this morning. The met office have cast their runes, examined the entrails of a recently slaughtered Ox and predicted a day without rain…a day of sunshine and soaring temperatures.

Well, I’m all for that, providing they’re correct…


Many of the locals will attend Sunday morning service later in the village church with its tall tower and four corner steeples. They will sit there, the paupers, the wealthy, the farmers, the bankers, and the has-been civil servants enjoying their pensions; they will listen to all the usual clichés, their blank faces and blank eyes…the old perverts (and the younger ones, too) eyeing up the new tits of the Fraser girl or imagining the dark sex of her mother as a second mouth ready to gobble them all up whole.

At least the church’s interior is cool and dim and will deaden the secret lusts of the congregation. Or we hope it will…

Although even the Vicar’s wife has this hot little fantasy about shimmying semi-nude on some appalling stage in front of the village men…

Yes, village life is like the worse, most slimiest beachball you can imagine, tossed about with gay abandon. No one can be sure whose lap it’ll land it next, nor whose lap it last occupied – although, praise the Lord, there’ll always be the gossip afterwards.

Never mind. There’s the village pub for after the service. Alcohol can be a most merciful and forgiving God. A couple or four drinks, and, “Lo, you shall be cleansed…”