Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Spirit of Place: Brum in the #foxnewsfacts trend

Now you may say that this is old news & doubtfully about the spirit of place, but I was reminded of this trend today as I passed through one of the areas of the city where non-Moslems are supposed not to be able to go. I love this trend, it always makes me laugh, & surely ones own blog should entertain it's author. I have left the authors' identities on these tweets by way of credit.

Sent from my HTC

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


What an unattractive word sobriety is! To me it brings up images of worthy, wholesome, evangelical Christians, looking down on anyone enjoying themselves in any way. Of course that is not really what sobriety is, nor is it really what temperance is, which ought to be the moderated use of things. What sobriety really is is probably best defined here by the World Health Organisation:
'Continued abstinence from alcohol and psychoactive drug use (see recovery).
'(2) As often used in Alcoholics Anonymous and other mutual-help groups, refers also to the individual' s achievement and maintenance of control over and equilibrium in his or her life in general. Synonyms for sober, particularly referring also to illicit drugs, include "clean" and "straight''.
'(3) Now less frequently, moderation or habitual moderation in drinking patterns, as in the earlier meaning of temperance.' (Source)
In turn, the WHO defines the psychoactive substances it refers to above as:
'Psychoactive substances are substances that, when taken in or administered into one's system, affect mental processes, e.g. cognition or affect. This term and its equivalent, psychotropic drug, are the most neutral and descriptive term for the whole class of substances, licit and illicit, of interest to drug policy. 'Psychoactive' does not necessarily imply dependence-producing, and in common parlance, the term is often left unstated, as in 'drug use' or 'substance abuse'.' (Source)
In sum, therefore, sobriety is a most witch-like thing, of returning to a state where one sees things as they are, from a point of view where one is who one is. Sobriety is of personal reference to me in two ways. I have an addiction – although my substance of choice is nicotine rather than alcohol – and therefore can see the way an addict relates to their substance or behaviour from a mile off. I also have a bit of a funny relationship with alcohol. My mother was brought up as a primitive Methodist and so for her drinking alcohol at all tends to be alcoholism. I have been in the homes of genuine teetotallers where there is no alcohol at all – although what makes people think grown adults want to drink orange squash with a meal, I can't begin to think – and the fact that as a child our sideboard always groaned under the weight of the bottles, which bizarrely were never drunk from, is a contradiction my mother seems never to have noticed. I have a little drink in the evening, and am cautions to make sure I only ever have one of the tiny glasses I have and to have nights off so that it will not increase and I won't transfer my dependence to another substance. I cannot smoke at all, because I cannot keep that under control.
This to me is a sensible way of dealing with addiction. For me it is the result of getting my shit together over a long period of years. And it is particularly the result of a full and frank inventory of my own shit, without being under the influence of anything psychoactive. I'm not going to publish the exact role that tobacco plays for me, because it is simply too embarrassing.
You were wondering when Golden Boy/Cock Tease was going to make an appearance here, weren't you? I abandoned my candle spell in mid hissy fit. How obvious does it have to be that we are going to have one of those tempestuous relationships where we circle round each other until we eventually get it together and are bound together like glue in a relationship which nobody else can understand?
Anyway, in one of my periodic times when I tell myself we're off for life, which are always the times he pursues me like nobody's business I had a dream in which I told him I wished he would stop drinking for the reason that I wanted him to – ahem – retain his sexual function. Of course in my dream I didn't phrase it like that and went into explicit detail about what I wanted him to do to me for years to come. So given that he wasn't going away and I wanted him to at that point, I thought I would just plain tell him. Even he had to acknowledge the irony that he was reading my text suggesting her really ought to do something about his alcoholism, with a hangover. He tried to turn it into a joke, so I just went there. If you should be reading this in London, the glow you've seen this week is his face!
I have a funny feeling about this, though. He's gone quiet, and my friend who's a snapchat friend with him tells me he has stopped posting pictures of what he's drinking every night. Alcoholics only admit it to themselves after a shock, and I have a feeling I may be one of those shocks. I'm just a man-magnet, in my own peculiar way. It must be the real me that does it. The sober one. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Moscow Pride

Great news! The recent legal restrictions against homosexuality in Russia have been lifted & preparations (pictured) are under way for the first Moscow Pride!
In all seriousness, Putin does a really good job of looking like a gay man. Lovely drag, dear.
D'you think we should tell him evidence (here) shows homophobic men are aroused by gay porn?
(Image credits: lots of different places on the internet, including Wikipedia, the Guardian,,, and probably several others I haven't noted, but of course I will happily delete copyright material if asked)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

40,000 Page Views Guest Post: Gerald Gardner Talks to Young Witches

As is my wont, as this blog passes a round number of page views I have sought a guest post to celebrate. It feels painfully ordinary to have a post by a real person, when I have previously had guests posts by fictional characters, but not to fear, this one is dead. This is a transcription by Patricia Crowther of Gerald Gardner talking to young witches towards the end of his life. Gardner is of course a somewhat controversial figure in the modern witchcraft movement. Personally I don't have a problem with him, but then I'm speaking as myself a dirty old man who makes it up himself. For me the most important thing about any witch is whether they can come up with the goods, and Gardner definitely passes my test of living purposefully and magically. In fact his whole writings are redolent for me of someone who is definitely the real thing, not a thing one can say about a lot of modern witchcraft authors! 
'Of course it [witchcraft] isn't a thing that belongs to everybody. Some people have a sense of the old things, a desire for peace, a sense of wonder, and a sense of companionship and good fellowship, and that's what witchcraft gives you.'
On being asked how to work magic:
'…You've got to know exactly what you want. You've got to get it into your mind exactly what you want. It's not a vague thing: 'I want John Jones to get well.' You must know what's the matter with him. What particular part of him you want to treat. You've got to fix that very firmly in your mind. And you've got to get the people who are helping to know what you are working at.
'Then, of course, it's a question of raising your nerve power. Well, there are many ways of raising nerve power. Of course the simplest and possibly the oldest one is dancing round – and, actually, yelling and screaming helps. But, of course, it is a thing that is apt to take your mind off things, and I simply… I have not the breath to dance, so I've got to work in other ways. But there are a number of ways you can work magic. I don't want to go into that because you will be taught, and these are secrets.
'Of course, another way – a very old way of working magic – is the Hindu Yoga thing – that is, a method of intense concentration: fixing your mind on the thing; sitting there. You've got to get yourself into one of these Yoga positions – immobilize yourself. Forget your body, only concentrate on the one thought and work on that - work on that; will and will and will and will – and, of course, they say it works. I don't know whether it does. I never tried it; it's too much like hard work to me.
'But, of course, the thing is to try the form of magic that appeals to you, and find out if it works. I think the Yoga system is too apt to lead to illusions. I don't doubt that people get great pleasure out of it, because the concentration produces the effect of an opium dream. They have wonderful illusions, and they enjoy themselves very greatly. If that's all you want from it, it's a cheap way of doing it. Of course, a lot of my countrymen do the same thing with a couple of bottles of whiskey! Of course, sometimes they have a headache the morning after.'
(cited in Patricia Crowther: One Witch's World. Robert Hale, London, 1998, pp. 23-25)
(Image credit: here)

Film Review: Haunting at the Rectory

In common with many another weirdo, my way into the world of the Other was through the kind of things which were fashionable in my youth. There was a roaring trade (as always) in mediumship, ghosts, you name it. The real key to the weird for me, though, was when I eventually talked my mother into letting me have an 'adult' library card. Precocious brat that I was, there was nothing in the kiddies' library that interested me. As a result in my early teens I read my way – incredibly credulously – through Doris Stokes, various books about anything which could vaguely be described as paranormal, and ultimately discovered Harry Price's books about Borley Rectory. I read them as credulously as I did everything else, since at the time I didn't have the critical apparatus to hand to see through his apparently 'scientific' stance. It is interesting that, to this day, it is difficult to find an appraisal of the Borley events which is not either totally credulous or totally dismissive.
I'm looking forward to the film about Borley starring Reece Shearsmith. Mr Shearsmith can do no wrong in my eyes (apart from being heterosexual, of course), but while I'm waiting for that film I was interested to come across this film recently. I had already read the online reviews which tended to slate the film, but in my INFJ way of storing up information, perusing anything related to my one of my pet subjects, so that I can fit it into my mental spider diagram, is always welcome.
This film focuses solely on two of the characters in the Borley drama – admittedly two of the more colourful ones – Marianne Foyster and one of the random men who are supposed to have passed through her life at one time or another. This film turns her from the chronically bored, unstable, randy, rector's wife, into the neglected wife of a barely-sexed vicar, who is seduced by the randy gardener. This is, of course, to change the bare bones of the Foyster-d'Arles part of the Borley story into a great romance (I would recommend here as a calm account of the facts, minus some of the more hysterical accusations of murder, etc, which Marianne seems to attract). In fact the film would be great if you want a romance. If you're into that sort of thing there's quite a bit of straight sex, and in fact it's worth watching simply for the sight of Lee Bane smoking a pipe in the bath, which unfortunately wouldn't work as a screen capture so I'll choose his Mellors-esque appearance to illustrate this post. 
And of course this reframing of the Borley events into a great romance leading to tragedy is this film's downfall. The titles open with one of the classic pictures of the real Rectory, which implies, together with the statement on the box that it is based on true events, that the film will be about the Borley haunting. As an account of the haunting of Borley Rectory this film falls down on all fronts. The trouble is that the Borley story is actually such a rich mine of possible events for film-makers, and yet the makers of this film have both chosen one of the events which is marginal to the main story, and then messed it up by turning it into a scene of horror, with touches of horrific supernatural events. The Borley story is full of things like disembodied voices, wall writings, apports, skulls, nuns, coaches, tunnels, monasteries, bells ringing, doors locking, and so on, that it is a waste of an opportunity to miss them out. The film also ignores another simple fact at the heart of the story: it is about a huuuge house with almost no creature comforts in the middle of an English rural community, which instantly makes the story into one of loneliness and desperation. It is not about the comfortable yet apparently isolated existence lived by the Marianne in this film.
So in summary, this is not actually a film dealing with the Borley story in any great way. If you want a romance which turns into a tragedy, it may be just your thing.