17th May

Thoughts of Martha Hatfield the Puritan child-prophet who felt the “Second Coming” coming, so to speak. She saw Raw Head and Bloody Bones, Nelly Long Arms and Awd Goggie, Black Parr and the low black sow who carries off kiddies. She was afraid of fires especially those bonfires on the wastelands of the city blazing with a dim constancy and smoke curling into night fogs across everywhere…

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How then do we explain our taste for supernatural necessity, d’you think?

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Rolling shadows pressed against the window like half-glimpsed faces. Then the shriek of an owl, foreshadowing the death of another, smaller creature, bloodily rendered by beak and talons. The struggle between life and death continues throughout the night.

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Suffering these random night-thoughts – thoughts that lay bare the throbbing red heart of past, present and future. All meaning leaks pus-like from the abyss of death: voiceless, corpses with heads full of untold tales – untold not because of a lack of words, but because of a lack of tongue! Out of the dark confines of this house and across the wide moor everything is making love or death to everything else in an orgy of being, and transcendence, and blood.

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The centuries have passed and times have changed and yet all around there is a strange feeling that we are not alone, that the shades of persons passed on and over into the world of spirit are very close.

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Many rites of Witchcraft call on attractive youths, and emphasise nudity. It wasn’t until the rise of the Abrahamic religions that this was frowned upon, and slowly demonised. The rites of Pan and Bacchus became rites of Satan, these gods, predominantly phallic, sexual gods such as Pan were transformed into the Devil, and all things lecherous and sexual were his domain.

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Four in the Morning. Still dark outside, of course. The owls calling as they hunt. A beautiful, haunting sound…

Here, in my study, only my fingers on the keyboard to disturb the silence – a silence that fills the house, packs it like cotton wool.

Later there will be the sound of bells from the small church:

“ The bells of memory sound this summer day
Down the long alleys of the blue-skied years;
Shy cowslip, thyme, the haunting scent of hay…”

Foul taste in my mouth. I abandon the study with its promise of stillborn, shrouded words. In the kitchen make more coffee, rich and black. In the window I see the sky lightning; could madness ride this particular morning sky? On the wings of an owl…

Can I smash the cage and let weary words fly free?

Gabriella and Dee are curled in bed together, snug, secure – like a pair of foxes in their hillside den, safe for now from the hounds –

“The wood is full of shining eyes,
The wood is full of creeping feet,
The wood is full of tiny cries:
You must not go to the wood at night!”

No, for fear we become feckin’ owl food. Or the fox bites you on the bum.

I return to my study, my prison cell. I can almost hear the rustle of the duvet as the girls snuggle still deeper beneath it as I pass. They are both quietly pushing up the zeds in the snug tranquility of the big bedroom. Neither of them is up to much in the morning. They aren’t morning people. It’s all they can do to mumble one or two coherent words to each other…

Later, much later (it’s always after ten on a Sunday) when I bring them tea and coffee, they’ll mumble “Thanks” or “Too early!” or “Go away!” depending on how they feel.

Eventually they’ll sleepwalk to the shower…probably. If you’re lucky they will. If you’re not lucky, they’ll go back to sleep.

Welcome to my world.

The author William Feather once said: “Early morning cheerfulness can be extremely obnoxious”. I think the girls must have read that and taken it to heart. It now forms their entire philosophy for morning-time behaviour.

I tell Dee, ‘Lose an hour in the morning, you’ll spend the whole day looking for it.”

She replies, ‘Bollocks will I!’

Back at my desk I frown at the bright empty screen before me. Feck it. Perhaps I should try meditation or some light yoga? On the other hand I could WAP a shot of brandy into this coffee. That’d make a difference…

“She dreams a little, and she feels the dark
Encroachment of that old catastrophe,
As a calm darkens among water-lights.”

I’d love to love with Dee right now. Feel the curve of her back, her hips rising to meet my thrust – “Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard…” Naked our needs lock. I can’t remember ever having felt anything or anyone so soft before, not before, not ever…

For a second I’m light headed with so much desire. I have turned transparent, as if from a whiff of helium, slight as an exhalation of her sleeping breath. And I could easily suck the world’s ashes from her fingertips…

But this won’t do; won’t do at all. I must get on. Must.