Sunday, August 31, 2008

I love your blog

Bo at The Expvlsion of the Blatant Beast has kindly nominated Nemeton for the "I love your blog" award.

I have already nominated eight blogs at MetaPagan, so I won't repeat those nominations here, much as I love those blogs.

So, here are some more blogs that I love:

{feuilleton} - a blog mostly about art, films, and writing, with occasional forays into the occult & the world of gay. Now returned after a brief hiatus due to a technical hitch (that's good, I was getting withdrawal symptoms).

Curious Expeditions - a blog about the weirder corners of life (and death), including Victorian mourning customs, tragic songs, stuffed things, hair sculpture, and weird things in jars in museums.

The Silver Eel - thoughts on literature and life

The Woolamaloo Gazette - more thoughts on literature and life

Notes from underground - blog by Methodius about Orthodoxy, Inklings, and South African politics. Fascinating.

Liz Williams: journal - an SF writer and Druid in Glastonbury

Kathz's Blog - a Quaker writing about pacifism, green issues and literature

Necropolis Now - this blog started as an exploration of funerary monuments, but has now broadened to art and goddesses

There are other blogs I enjoy reading from time to time, but these are ones that I visit regularly.

The rules are:

1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Link to the person from whom you received the award.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Put links to those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message on the blogs nominated.

NB - it is not compulsory for nominees to also nominate blogs.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Justice for Jean

The Justice for Jean campaign has started a new blog, as the inquest is starting on 22nd September.
After more than three years, the inquest into the death of Jean Charles de Menezes will finally open on 22nd September 2008. It is expected to last three months.

The inquest will be the first chance the family of Jean Charles will be able to put their questions to the police officers responsible for his death. It will also be the first time we will hear evidence from the fire-arms officers who killed Jean and the civilian witnesses to the killing. The inquest will be taking place at the Oval Cricket Ground in South London and Jean’s mother and brother will be coming over from Brazil for part of it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

deep and Crisp and even

More exciting news from the world of Crisp - they're making a sequel, An Englishman in New York, which was the title of the second part of Quentin Crisp's memoirs; though I can't hear that phrase without humming the Sting song inspired by it.

Alas and alack

John Coulthart's excellent blog and website have disappeared - temporarily I hope. Oddly though, the RSS feed still seems to be working. I hope this is not a case of ISPs getting prissy and prudish. All URLs under the domain currently redirect to

Bring it back, bring it back
Don't take it away from me
Because you don't know
What it means to me...

The Naked Civil Servant

We watched The Naked Civil Servant last night (recorded off the TV a while back), a dramatisation of Quentin Crisp's life made in 1975. Considering that it was made 33 years ago, it really is a classic bit of TV drama. The thing that was the most disturbing about it, however, was the way in which nearly everybody in 1930s England was violently homophobic. Quentin Crisp used to get slapped by passing women in broad daylight. You forget sometimes what really vicious homophobia is like, until it happens - again - to someone you love.

Also shocking were those gays of the 1930s who were so in the closet that Quentin's flamboyant queerness was too much for them; they did not see that he was the future, that he was fighting for the cause of gay liberation by being out, loud and proud. I am glad that he lived to see significant progress in the field of gay rights, and to be honoured for his achievements.

The weirdest bit is at the end, when we arrive at the "present" (1975), and I was so engrossed that I forgot that that was when it was made and therefore it must be the end of the film.

I am more full of admiration for Quentin Crisp than ever.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The moon is my mother. She is not sweet like Mary.

Ah, Sylvia Plath, who fed my adolescent dreams. Fed them with bleeding flowers and old moonlight, mad women and the fear of hospitals. What 1950s melancholy, like an endless Sunday afternoon.

And yet she produced some of the most perfectly Pagan poems...

Haunched like a faun, he hooed
From grove of moon-glint and fen-frost
Until all owls in the twigged forest
Flapped black to look and brood
On the call this man made.

No sound but a drunken coot
Lurching home along river bank.
Stars hung water-sunk, so a rank
Of double star-eyes lit
Boughs where those owls sat.

An arena of yellow eyes
Watched the changing shape he cut,
Saw hoof harden from foot, saw sprout
Goat-horns. Marked how god rose
And galloped woodward in that guise.

~ Sylvia Plath

The Moon and the Yew Tree

This is the light of the mind, cold and planetary
The trees of the mind are black. The light is blue.
The grasses unload their griefs on my feet as if I were God
Prickling my ankles and murmuring of their humility
Fumy, spiritous mists inhabit this place.
Separated from my house by a row of headstones.
I simply cannot see where there is to get to.

The moon is no door. It is a face in its own right,
White as a knuckle and terribly upset.
It drags the sea after it like a dark crime; it is quiet
With the O-gape of complete despair. I live here.
Twice on Sunday, the bells startle the sky --
Eight great tongues affirming the Resurrection
At the end, they soberly bong out their names.

The yew tree points up, it has a Gothic shape.
The eyes lift after it and find the moon.
The moon is my mother. She is not sweet like Mary.
Her blue garments unloose small bats and owls.
How I would like to believe in tenderness -
The face of the effigy, gentled by candles,
Bending, on me in particular, its mild eyes.

I have fallen a long way. Clouds are flowering
Blue and mystical over the face of the stars
Inside the church, the saints will all be blue,
Floating on their delicate feet over the cold pews,
Their hands and faces stiff with holiness.
The moon sees nothing of this. She is bald and wild.
And the message of the yew tree is blackness - blackness and silence.
I love these two poems; they are part of who I am. I love the colours in them - the dark blue and black of the night, the pale unearthly blue of the saints, the whiteness of the Moon. The arena of yellow eyes; the pale moon-glint and fen-frost in the darkness.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


I decided that I needed to plan meals, so that we wouldn't be eating junk food, and wasting food that we can't work out what to do with.

So I wrote a list of all the meals I would make over a week, using cookery books for inspiration. Then I made a list of all the ingredients we would need, and went to the supermarket (the Co-op) to buy them. I also decided to alternate between vegetarian and omnivore meals.
On the first day of the new regime, I made Moroccan chicken with lemon and olives from a recipe by Nigel Slater.

It's very easy - just fry garlic, turmeric and cumin in a pan, add strips of chicken, 100g of chopped green pitted olives, and the juice and zest of 2 lemons. I served it with pitta bread fried in butter, but you can also use pilau rice. The green salad on the side was lettuce, watercress, rocket, spinach, and fennel, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice. Delicious, and it tasted like the dish I had at a Moroccan restaurant recently.
day 1
On the second day, I made stir-fried vegetables. Stir-fry vegetables (ready chopped) from the Co-op, plus sliced chestnut mushrooms, sprouted mixed pulses, chopped root ginger, half a packet of mung-bean sprouts, sliced sugar-snap peas, fried in sesame oil, and glazed with some hoi-sin sauce I had left over from a Chinese takeaway.

I forgot to get any noodles, but it was quite filling without them. You definitely need some sort of sauce on it, though, otherwise it's a bit boring.
day 2
On the third day, I made Thai green curry. 2 pieces of haddock, plus 2 sliced courgettes, a packet of Sharwood's Thai Green Curry paste (I don't normally use mixes but this was a good one and you waste less that way), sliced sugar-snap peas (the other half of the packet from yesterday), some fennel, chopped root ginger, lemongrass paste, chopped Savoy cabbage (which might have been a mistake), and some spinach. Served with boiled wholegrain rice.
day 3

Definitely enjoying the new system so far. I get less bored of cooking and less frustrated by not having the right ingredients in the cupboard, or wondering what to do with a weird collection of leftovers, and we get a balanced diet.

I also discovered that it's quite difficult to compose photographs of food. However, considering that I took these photos on my mobile, I reckon they're not too bad.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

a little light reading

Four interesting projects....
Badger says:

So the Lord said, “I will destroy Man whom I have created from the face of the Earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry I have made them.” - Genesis 6:7

So, God gets pissed at Man and decides not only to kill every single person on the planet (even the newborn babies who are, one would think, blameless), but he also decides to off all the animals. Well, except fish, I would guess. They were probably quite pleased!

Anyhow, flood happens. God has a grand ole time going along undoing everything he did. Is it just me, or does he strike you as a frustrated gamer, always reloading Sims from a save point, after having done horrible things to his Sims?
Actually the Flood was caused by Ishtar when she was suffering from PMT. See Tablet 11 of The Epic of Gilgamesh. I am also mystified as to why anyone would worship a being who is described as sending plagues and floods on innocent people. Anyway, it’s all a metaphor…

Peter says:
The Bible was written by writers, and I’ve long felt that much of what those writers wanted to say has been lost, crushed, twisted, and sometimes outright perverted by later so-called “Bible based” traditions. All religious sentiments aside, as a fellow writer I feel it is my calling and my sacred duty to read through the text, not for comfort or for inspiration or for edification, but simply to hear what it is they were trying to say.
David says:
This is not a story they taught me at Temple Sinai's Hebrew School in 1980: The founding fathers of the 12 tribes of Israel lie, breach a contract, encourage pagans to convert to Judaism only in order to incapacitate them for slaughter, murder some innocents and enslave others, pillage and profiteer, and then justify it all with an appeal to their sister's defiled honor.
Bill says:
I am not against the Bible. I am just against the idea that this book – or any other book, including the Koran or the Book of Mormon or whatever – is a special revelation from God. It is probably the most irrational, dangerous and divisive idea that currently infects the human psyche. And, as Art Lester said to me last month, ‘The book-believers are the ones who will destroy the world.’ Sadly, Art might just be right. And it is our duty to challenge the book-believers, by fostering a new kind of religious consciousness with the contrary message that knowledge and wisdom are the result of human thought, human experience, reflection, reason, scientific endeavour. They do not drop down from heaven fully formed, nor are they are not the preserve of one nation or one religion or one period in history. And they are certainly not to be found in one book. To suggest that they are is to turn works of literature into loaded guns.
Bill is the author of The Gospel and the Zodiac, which puts forward the idea that the Jesus mythos was originally an initiatory mystery based on the symbolism of the Zodiac. Neat idea.

If I was going to do a Bible-blogging project, I'd start with something as near to the original as I could get: the Hebrew Tanakh in English. Alternatively, I would blog about a book that I might enjoy reading, like the Tao Te Ching or the T’ai Hsüan Ching.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Badgers saved!

Great news:
On 7 July the Secretary of State announced Defra’s policy will be not to issue any licences to farmers to cull badgers to prevent bovine TB. The Secretary of State has decided that we need to put our effort into strengthening our programme of research to develop cattle and badger vaccines and plan for their deployment. £20 million will be invested over the next three years in developing usable cattle and badger vaccines.
(response from the government to a Save the Badgers petition)

The full text of Mr Benn’s statement can be found on the Defra website at:

Yay!!! I am really pleased about this.

Friday, August 15, 2008

torch songs

A discussion about music over at The Expulsion of the Blatant Beast led me to think about my repertoire of songs that I like to sing, and what they might have in common. Usually they're in a minor key (as far as I can tell, since I don't really understand about keys and modes and stuff) and about something sad and yearning....
There are other songs that I want to learn, but since I so seldom attend eisteddfodau these days, it's difficult to find opportunities to perform in front of a sympathetic audience (since I can't sing if there are people sniffing and tutting about non-musicians, yada yada yada).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


According to the quiz at Am I, I am moderately annoying (hurrah! I wouldn't want to be completely bland)

You can also vote there for the annoyingness of celebrities. Alas, Trinny and Susannah (two of the most annoying celebrities on the planet) are not on there. They do have historical figures on there, though; for instance I just voted the Emperor Constantine as annoying for embracing Christianity and making it the state religion of the Roman Empire when it was much better as a rather subversive non-statist little cult. You can also find new people to get annoyed about that you'd never even heard of, like Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses. Just for balance, I also voted Richard Dawkins annoying. It's a pity it's just a straight choice between annoying, not and don't care, as for some people (like Constantine, and Henry VIII) I'd like to rate them as extra annoying. Humph, Henry VIII isn't on there, but both his daughters and his dad are. I'm annoyed with his brother as well, for dying young and letting Henry VIII get the throne. He caught a chill in Ludlow Castle, or something. I once had the satisfaction of going up to his tomb and telling him that I was annoyed with him for dying early.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Chicken Run

There's a lovely story on the BBC website about the Battery Hen Welfare Trust, which re-homes retired battery chickens:

Despite spending most of their life four to a cage, it does not take long to adapt - almost immediately they start stretching their wings and scratching at the soil.

Some take dust baths - something they have never been able to do. Nature kicks in and they fluff up feathers so the soil can cleanse and cool them.

It's cheaper for the farmers to give the hens to the trust than to send them off for slaughter, apparently.

But most farmers are not being deliberately cruel:
Setting up free range systems requires investment of tens of thousands of pounds. Farmers need to know we will support them and that we will not abandon them in favour of cheap foreign imports where regulations and constraints are often lighter, making the egg cheaper.
If you want to re-home some hens, visit the Battery Hen Welfare Trust website now.

If you can't adopt a hen, make sure you buy free-range eggs and products made from free-range eggs.


John Coulthart asks, where have all the mermen gone?

Apparently all mermen are Asian. Either that or they look like Clark Kent underwater.

This one is quite sweet in a faintly Pauline Baynes kind of way but he seems to have a bit of a problem finding his assets.

There’s a faintly Victorian one here, but it’s by David Delamare, 2001.

I guess there’s no Victorian ones because neither Simeon Solomon nor the women Pre-Raphaelites and Symbolists turned their hands to the subject.

There are some depictions of mermen in Wikimedia Commons. There's also a weird cryptozoological specimen (warning: disturbing photo of dead merman) but it looks as if it's made of papier-mâché to me, or perhaps photoshopped.