Elixir:An Exciting Parcel!


The doorbell ba-dunged. A lady stood without, bearing a large brown box. I knew immediately what it was: The copies of my five books I ordered recently (and wasn’t expecting to see for another month!).

Scrabbling inside, removing packing paper and cardboard dividers, I drew out the twenty-five volumes. Such delight! Such excitement!

This is a welcome physical reminder that I am a writer as well as a supply teacher; that my books are real paperbacks and not just words floating in the firmament of the mind.

Even more touching and important, to me, is this fact: This is the first delivery of my works I have received since moving to Glastonbury three months ago. It marks another step forward in the liberation of Alienora!

Elixir, indeed!

Jumble, Pippa and the Garden!


I love my animals dearly – which is why I volunteered to have custody of them after the divorce (not that my ex put up much of a battle!) – but, corporately and individually, they have tried my patience in recent days.

Last week, my friend, J, very kindly gave me a bag of raspberry canes to plant – and, Lad and Lass about to arrive for for a Mothers’ Day visit, I decided to utilise their youth and strength in order to create Phase One of Alienora’s Garden.

All went swimmingly. It was, as some of you will know, an exceptionally beautiful and warm springlike weekend – and the Young Things dug and planted and hoed while I did a mercy dash to B&Q for compost.

The canes went in a treat, as did the tulip bulbs from another friend and two lovely plants, one my all-time favourite, honeysuckle, from my son. Green garden wire was then dug in around the two most vulnerable patches, compost drizzled like some delectable coulis in a fashionable restaurant and, in a blast of sun-baked optimism (or possibly madness), the Rabbits of War were released. Okay, technically there is only the one – but she is so vast that the plural seems more apposite!

Now – indulging myself in a little aside! – you know what they say about rabbits! Yup! Well, by the time they are two-ish, most female bunnies have had more pricks than a second-hand dartboard, and have warrens of kits to prove it. Pippa, by contrast, is, as far as I know, virgo intacta, and, if I am any judge, not overly thrilled by it! Rotund, rampaging and randy, that’s my rabbit!

Spring is in the air. The sap is rising. Buds are shooting out all over the place. The urge to mate is strong. Pippa, her double dewlap wobbling in ecstasy, is, I suspect, in season.

So there we had it: Three enticing new areas, gravid with bulbs and potential fruit, and a rabbit keen, if you’ll pardon the phrase (and even if you won’t), to fuck a buck.

I can only think that she saw the third, unprotected, patch as her nest (for those phantom kittens) because, sighting it, she was in like Flynn, first burrowing deep and uprooting most of the bulbs and then spraying the whole area with urine. Putting, as you might say, her micturational mark on the place.

I rushed out and moved her on. Not easy with a rabbit of that size! Stupidly, I turned my back for about five seconds – whilst I located a part of my spinal column numbed by the sheer leporine weight – and, blow me down, she had, somehow, found her way into the enclosed raspberry patch and was merrily trying to dig the canes up!

This time, I descended like a Mongolian Horde, screeching, shrieking and showing my teeth in a growl. She frolicked up and down, evading my hands, for a while, but I caught the little sod in the end and, muttering darkly about jugged rabbit and dumplings, hauled her out, and back into her hutch/run combo.

Releasing breath pent by frustration for what felt like hours, I sat down upon the garden deckchair to relax – and allowed Jumble to wander round the garden. Not my best idea, as it turned out. Being a complete novice about gardening, I had not fully realised the extent to which compost is composed of – er, well, basically, poo!

Jumble didn’t need telling, however. As I said to the Younger Generation later, he must have thought he’d died and gone to Heaven. With an arthritic grunt, he waddled into the faecal fray (so to speak) and began to eat his way through as much of it as he could cram in before I noticed.

Fortunately, he no longer has the leaping power required to gain entry to the raspberry patch, though he very kindly (?!) hoovered up all the spillages around it – but he did manage to denude the raw, already peed-upon, patch of most of its succulent goodness before I let fly with a most unladylike fusillade of Anglo-Saxon and chased him back into the house.

Phase Two I completed yesterday morn, without either of the animals this time, and now have a line of pots in front of my shed’s suntrap wall. Herbs, tomatoes, flowers – they should brighten up all the senses once they begin to sprout.

If, that is, I can keep Pippa from eating the seeds and Jumble from siphoning off the composting layer!

I love my animals dearly…

Acceptance: On being FAT: Facing the final taboo!


https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/acceptance/

I am fat! There, I’ve said the ‘F’ word that lurks in closets and writhes with shame. F.A.T. According to many, I dare say I am not simply fat, but grossly, morbidly obese – and should, I am sure, be marched off by the Diet Nazis (those who genuinely believe that a size 12 equals extra large!) and force-fed fresh air until my unsightly curves dwindle to a more acceptable size…

I am fat! And, for the first time in my life, I do not give a shit! I have given up weighing myself, though I know that my current weight lies somewhere between twelve and thirteen stone. I have stopped obsessing over diets created by Sadists and measuring myself tearfully to see if my vital statistics are anywhere near the ideal. I have ceased to see my fat as an automatic deal breaker when it comes to men and sex.

To use a vile glossy magazine-type euphemism for all fatties everywhere, I celebrate my curves – and if, on the beach, I look more like something in need of harpooning than a conventional Beach Babe, who cares?!

Yes, I have extra flesh! Crime of the century, this appears to be in modern parlance. Ye gods! My overhang – a result of giving birth and not been a zealot when it came to busting my balls (as it were) in order to spring back to a size and shape acceptable to the world at large – makes me laugh. Yes, shock horror, I admit in public to an overhang, to plumptiousness in the abdominal area; to a weight so far above the idyllic size zero that slim women are torn between shooting me (though not eating me: The carbs, darling!) and patronising me to death.

According to those lovely little weigh yourself machines in major supermarkets, I have a BMI of an elephant and am well into the obese section of the graph. I am, therefore, according to some, a weak-willed, unattractive, greedy pig of a female, a disgrace to womankind and one who wilfully lets the appearance-related side down.

To compound this catalogue of sack-able offences, I am not the slightest bit interested in designer clothes, handbags, vaginas or anything else which, to my mind, puts a label and loadsamoney way above common sense and comfort. I have one handbag. I do not do shoes for every occasion. Or coats! To me, spending more than I make from teaching in a month on an item of apparel or a pointless accessory is daft.

I am also not in vogue when it comes to bodily hirsuteness – and would rather have root canal treatment without anaesthetic than have some bugger, no matter how well-trained, rooting about with wax and God alone knows what else in my hold! If I wanted to look like a pre-adolescent in the minge department, I would have been a bit more fanatical about dieting myself into perpetual childhood when I was eleven or so.

We say the word ‘fat’ with much the same dread and disgust as we say, for example ‘paedophile’ or ‘axe-murderer’. Spare flesh is regarded as abnormal, revolting, a sign of gorging in lonely bedsits with only a cat for company and the shopping programmes on the telly all day long. It is, in many people’s mind, right up there with moral turpitude and a one-way ticket to Hell.

I am FAT. FAT. And I am not ashamed. Because there is nothing to be ashamed about. I do not have a waist men could encircle with both hands – but why would I want to have one? I am a woman, not an egg-timer!

I have, in the past, been down the whole diet, laxatives, binge road – when I was size 12! Ridiculous! I damaged myself for a size which, in any sensible person’s head, is on the slimmer side of things.

In truth, our size, our fat quotient, has no automatic connection to our levels of happiness, aliveness and well-being. It is society’s rigid expectations, and the comments of others (gleaned from the more cretinous articles in the glossies) which sting and draw blood and make us feel that we are abnormal, revolting and hideous.

I have been fat for most of my adult life. I have also been a nude model – and a locally successful one – at both a pottery class and a life drawing one. Beauty does not lie in a minute waistline or a perfectly flat stomach. You do not have to be eight stone or less to feel good about yourself as a person, as a woman. You do not have to beat yourself up because you wear size eighteen clothes.

I am FAT – and I am proud of who I am!

Acceptance and liberation!

Condoning Abuse


I freely confess that, last night – going to bed at 7.30 pm and cocooning myself in a King Sizex duvet – my mood was grim, my smile absent and my tank all-but empty. Little incidents, on top of the accident last week, have chipped away at my physical confidence, and allowed me access to unhealed scar tissue (metaphorically) which needed to be removed so that fresh blood could cleanse the site and proper healing could begin.

I have, as stated many times before, weak boundaries when it comes to other people’s behaviour and attitude towards me. I have come to call this my weak filter in that it is a sieve which lets the detritus through as well as the good stuff.

This weak filter has a serious downside, however: It causes the abused, time after time, to blur the boundaries of good sense and to allow people who have sided with the abusers – and, indeed, the abusers themselves – to Limbo-dance back under the door of their lives.  Why? Because the filter is not strong enough to say, ‘They have wronged me. They can bugger off!’ Instead, they go into a melted huddle of self-doubt, thinking, ‘What if I have read this wrong? Why can’t friends like both of us?’

In a mutually-agreed divorce/split up, it is, I think, possible to remain on good terms with both parties because sides do not have to be taken: The relationship has just run its course. However, when a marital ending involves some form of abuse, sides cannot be avoided – and, in the end, it does come down to this : One person’s word against the other. In other words, people are being asked – however unfairly in their eyes – whether they believe that Person A was abused or whether they actually think he/she insane, demented, a Drama Queen/King and making it all up. There is no other alternative. There is no way of marrying (pun deliberate) these two starkly opposing viewpoints. There is no way of remaining on more than superficially good terms with both if one is a friend or member of the wider family. There is no way of remaining close to the abused on paper if you actually side with the abuser’s way of seeing him/her – and vice versa.

For too long we allow other people to tell us that we are wrong, that it is possible to avoid taking sides. Those who side with the abuser, and give the abused sparse and superficial engagement, do not count as true friends any more. Their decision to take the easy way out indicates, to me, that they never were strong foundation friends anyway.

An element of ambivalence is possible in many relationship breakdowns. It is easy to see, in other words, that both were at fault, both contributed to the problem. But abuse is far more black and white, isn’t it? Either Person A abused Person B or he/she did not and Person B is a deluded liar. The bottom line is this: Those who side with the abuser are tacitly saying that, in their view, the abused is lying, deluded, mentally ill and losing his/her marbles. Why the hell would anyone who has been abused want such people as friends, eh? Why the hell do so many people escaping abusive relationships delude themselves on this subject for so long?!

The last thing I want to say is this – and it is stark: All abusers claim that they were provoked and will often warn their prey, ‘Don’t provoke me or else!’ But don’t we, as sentient human beings, have a duty to control our tempers where possible – and to admit that we are in the wrong when we lash out at another?

Condoning abuse because you want to believe that the abuser is incapable of such behaviour is still an act of implicit permission and approval. It is the kind of attitude which, all over the world, allows abuse and worse to continue. It is saying that it’s acceptable to behave in cruel, controlling – and, in some cases, violent – ways – or, perhaps even worse, that certain sections of society (women, children, people of different colour, belief and sexual orientation) deserve such treatment because of who, and what, they are.

It terrifies me to think that there is, apparently, this inherent and unspoken carte blanche at work in our world: That somehow it is acceptable to make abusive comments, or launch unprovoked attacks, upon the LGTB community, women, people whose religious beliefs do not accord with our own. That, in some sick and twisted way, this does not count as bona fide abuse and is seen, by some, as just desserts. That, to belong to a certain sub-section of society is reason enough to be attacked. That blame is cast upon a whole religion, or nation, for a war that happened a thousand years ago. And, finally, that the ultimate provocation is triggered by who or what you are rather than anything you have said or done.

As long as we, corporately and individually, are fudging this issue, and saying, ‘That’s not really abusive because he/she/it deserved it…’ we will continue to allow abusers into our homes, schools, churches, workplaces and positions of extreme authority. As long as we see charm of manner and good looks as proof of decent character and integrity, we will miss the paedophiles who crawl into our children’s beds at dead of night. As long as we blame the abused and protect the abusive, the darkness will continue to grow. As long as we allow the weapon of ‘reasonable’ doubt to win, on the grounds of fear (of giving offence; of getting it wrong; of enraging the mighty and powerful), the current level of wide-spread abuse will continue to flourish and expand.

Abuse is abuse. Nothing warrants it. No provocation is sufficient excuse. It is wrong.

My Books: Conquering the fear of being thought pushy…


https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/conquer/

It hit me, seeing the word ‘conquer’, that there is a huge barrier between me and getting my books out – and it is this I need to conquer: the fear of being thought big-headed, arrogant, repetitive, unfeminine, untalented and delusional; the fear of pushing myself forward, of being brash and insensitive.  I cannot conquer the world of literature if I am not able to conquer my own dark and foetid fears, to break free from the restrictions, originally germinated in others, which I enforce upon myself.

If I cannot conquer my terror of being read and disapproved of, read and disliked, read and scorned, how can I hope to persuade anyone else to read my words?

I wrote the words below, 70% conquered by this thought: ‘No one will want to read about my books…’

But, in a genuine attempt at vaulting this barrier, I am sending my post out again with the prompt attached. Doing this brings profound anxiety, but I will not be held back by my own fears and inhibitions any longer. I will conquer this!

This is me – and this person lies behind all of the novels, blogs and diaries I have written. Some writers are distinct from their creations. I am not of their number!

Each one of my books represents a part of my personality, or a facet of my wide-ranging interests; each book is a key to my character’s bureau. This is, I am sure, true of every author (whether published or not) and I am not claiming anything new or revolutionary in penning these words – just that such a conceit has only just occurred to me.

I have always had a flourishing inner bawd – since well before I knew what such a concept, such a word, meant – and was one of those, no-doubt-tiresome, little girls who could be relied upon to pass on the most vulgar limericks to her primary school classmates. The humour inherent in sexuality and sexual congress (heehee!) was obvious to me well before I surrendered (with no reluctance) my maidenhood. I am, in many ways, unreconstructed, rude, vulgar and, to some, downright offensive. So, ‘Come Laughing!‘ was, in many ways, inevitable – a series of thoughts and feelings just waiting for me to be old enough to write down; just waiting, I should perhaps say, for me to pass through the ‘giving a shit what people think’ phase and out the other side!

I have always had a ripe, robust, ribald, raucous – and, some would say, inappropriate! – sense of humour, and was able to see the funny side of secondary school teaching very quickly. I could have written a far more serious novel than ‘LLB’ had I chosen to do so because there is much about the education system that infuriates, upsets and worries me. But, while my reactions are, I think, very clear to read, albeit subliminally or as a kind of buzzing sub-text, I have chosen to wrap them up in a light-hearted and colourful literary duvet cover!

Since childhood, I have loved, and studied to degree level, literature: Poetry, prose, plays – all grist to my mill. And, as someone who did History A’level, and had an abiding interest in history anyway, the lives and times of my favourite authors absorbed and intrigued me. My fascination with the Bloomsbury Group – and particularly the splendid Stephen sisters, Vanessa and Virginia (who became Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf when married) – started when I was at university and I read most of the books then available about their lives. I identified especially strongly with Woolf (whom many people said I resembled as a young woman) – and it was, perhaps, unsurprising, that my first full-length novel, ‘Riding at the Gates of Sixty’, should have been a re-telling of parts of her story through the eyes of Vanessa, Virginia herself and her husband, Leonard Woolf. By a sublime irony, given that we were both born in January, I am now almost exactly the age VW was when she killed herself (on March 28th 1941) – and am, indeed, myself now riding at the gates of sixty!

Another part of me is an enduring love of landscape, of seasons, of the tides and times of the Moon – and this has come out in most of my novels as a backdrop. But, in ‘The Lyre of Logres’, I pay homage not just to the physical landscape, but also to its mystical counterpart, the ancient land of Logres. This book, which consists of many short stories, also draws upon my life as part of the Pagan community (for want of a better word).

The Pagan link is made much more specific in my fifth book ‘My Esoteric Journey Volume 1′, in that I discuss much more openly the journey I have taken, from training in the Craft Tradition with Paddy Slade, through my association with SOL and ritual magic and on to my links with the Silent Eye School of Consciousness.

My output has been eclectic, to say the least, and this has had both positive and negative results. On the one hand, I am difficult to categorise because I do not stick to the one genre; on the other, there is a versatility and freshness about my work (though I say so myself) which is, I think, appealing – and, for all that I do not adhere to any one tradition, I think I have an easily recognisable style, an Alienora way of writing!

As some of you will be aware, I have five copies of each book being shipped over from the US – and am hoping to find a home for some of them in the local area.

Have a look, if you haven’t already:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Alienora-Taylor/e/B00QGUIHFI/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Reblog: Everyday


A fabulous post about the emotionally intimate and physical details of loss and recent bereavement. An immensely brave piece by a friend. This lady started her blog when she knew that a beloved member of her family was dying – and I have followed her thoughts and feelings since January. A must-read blog for anyone in this situation.

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I miss the way I could never have a lie in. Always getting hounded for wasting the day and apparently spending my whole life in bed. I miss the tug of the covers and the throwing of pillows to shift me out of my comfortable duvet den. The morning news on full blast and all the doors open so no-one could get peace. I miss making four eggs, now only making two; just half a portion mushrooms instead of the mountain that we would share. Leaving the washing up and getting penalized for never making my fair effort with the chores. The huffs and the rows about how long a walk the dog needs in the morning; rain, sleet, snow or hurricane. I miss you turning up unexpectedly to join me on those morning walks in you smart shoes that always got muddy. Your deep laugh full of joy when…

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LLB: Animals and Archery Contests! Nervous Moment…


https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/nervous/

Marketing my own books does, actually, make me pretty nervous – and so, for over a year, I have avoided it! But, my new start involves facing up to nervousness, so here goes!

I have always loved animals, me – though only platonically, you understand! – and they appear as characters in their own right in ‘Long-Leggety Beasties’.

Though a loather of all team sports, in the active sense, from the earliest age, I have long been fascinated by Archery (which my father and younger siblings got involved in during the eighties) and Fencing, as in sword fighting not mending garden barriers, which Son and Heir did for ten years.

When I started to write ‘LLB’, some time back in the early noughties, four animal types suggested themselves to me as potential, nay hilarious, creations: The Hens, and Cock, of Doom, Hengist, Fluffy and the Holy Goat.

The hens and their randy swain were based on a true incident at the school where I taught. The Rural Science Department had a motley collection of our feathered friends lurking somewhere at the back of the school (an area I rarely visited!) and, on one hysterically funny occasion, the buggers escaped and the male of the species was chased frantically by the Head of that department, causing a witty colleague of mine (who, like me, was watching avidly from a classroom window) to exclaim, ‘Oh look, Smithy is chasing his own cock!’ – a saying which has gone down in history, and was borrowed shamelessly by me!

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The hens in ‘LLB’ cause merry mayhem – and, slightly later, the basic ingredients for a very profitable roadside stall set up by the Wellbeloveds, a rough quintet of toothsome builders who, along with their horse, the aforementioned Hengist, set up camp on the school grounds in order to lay a rubber bottom to the moat, like you do, to make fire alarm practices slightly less lethal.

The Wellbeloveds – renowned, far and wide, for their Weapons of Mass Seduction – range from the brutish, but slow, Amos to the evil, conniving and well-sexy Jethro. They cause rising skirts, and shortening temper, throughout the school.

Hengist appears in one of the two al fresco sex scenes – though as transport only, I hasten to add! – but really comes into his own in the final chapter (which deals, at climactic length, with the School Pageant), when he is ridden bareback during a Visigothesque raid up a sloping field, during which cheese is used for offensive (in both senses) purposes!

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Fluffy is a cat given to Geraldine when the rodent population in her rented half of a farmhouse (Yup! Based firmly on reality once more!) threatens to overtake that of the village in which she lives. ‘Fluffy’ is, of course, a complete misnomer as the feline in question is built like a small lion, has claws like rapiers and a temperament to the Right of Vlad, the Impaler. Anything less fluffy would be hard to imagine.

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The Holy Goat is another side-product of the Wellbeloveds’ entrepreneurial streak (not so much a streak, actually, more a canyon!) – and, having been born (in a scene full of blood, groaning nanny goat, Congo line of Wellbeloveds and wild stormy weather) on a significant date, is used ruthlessly by the brothers in a largely-successful attempt to deceive the credulous dinner ladies and set the scene for a staged miracle of Biblical proportions.

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The only other creature to get a fictional look-in, as you might say, is a blameless eel which, minding its own business in the rapidly=drained moat, is tripped over by Seth Golightly (who, on this occasion, did nothing of the kind), Head of Rural Science, and concussed by his artificial leg.

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Archery? Well, the Archers weren’t given that name for nothing, you know. More in my next post!

Or read the book!