I’m trying to learn Tarot right now as I’m in dire need of a practical, hands on hobby, and this is one that relies on memory and concentration, traits that I’m sure left me long ago so I should execerise whatever feeble leftovers there are floating around in my head.
So tonight I brought the cards out, gave them a sacred amount of shuffles I’m sure, set the deck and I turned the cards:
Tarot MA: You are at a crossroads.
Me: Well, aye. I am, but that’s life and, like, half of you guys innit.
Tarot1: Here’s some of the heavy shit that gets you down.
Me: Omg yes.
Tarot2: You worry about this a lot.
Me: OMG YES. YOU’RE DOING BRILLIANTLY SWEETY WHAT DO I DO.
Tarot3: *~*WELL I’LL TELL YOU WHAT I WANT WHAT I REALLY REALLY WANT!*~*
Me: OMG that doesn’t help me right now but that’s great.
One of the worst things about being a contender for World’s Greatest (or Worst?) Procrastinator is that the last couple of years I’ve gone through great changes and transmogrifications with little to look back and reflect on in bored and sentimental moments like this.
LiveJournal turned 20 the other day there, and my intention when I started this blog here was to move away from the online teenage diary I’ve kept there for a fair whack of those 20 years now. This was to be the more intimate and nuanced approach, a place for real rumination, expression and a reflection of me maturing in all the many ways and moving into adulthood, but the old habit is a difficult one to kill off, and for the most part I’ve kept the records of my life static and shallow, sitting in a place and a time I’m now very far removed from. A place with a lot of painful reminders I’m ready to put behind me.
Last year, I feel like I really won a very long war with my body and my brain. My hidradenitis continues to be very well behaved and with that I’ve managed to get control of my weight, losing 65lbs so far. My bones still ache a lot, my body still gets up to weird shit, and I still often feel a fatigue that reaches down into the murkiest depths of my soul but I’m learning balance and feeling better in myself more and more. I’ve been able to ask for help and admit when I’ve been overwhelmed by life. I’ve fallen back in love this last year; with clothes; poetry; music; plants and flowers; my work (believe it or not, if you will). I’ve fallen in love with early mornings. My quiet moments are contended now instead of feeling like I’m sitting in a black hole. Slowly, ever so slowly, I’m feel like I’m waking up again from a very long sleep. My energy is still pretty finite, but I’m starting to feel passionate about things again and I’m hoping as that comes, it’ll help ignite some old embers smouldering away in there and spur me into some kind of action on occasion.
I know I’ve vowed and vowed again that I’ll do more here and no great or wonderful substance has come from that. It never will. But here’s hoping that I can continue on this upward trend and who knows, I may have something to express eventually.
Here’s a quiz on books and reading I stole from someone on my LJ friends-list and decided to cross-post here.
Hardback or paperback:
Paperback mostly – hardbacks are for collector items or “coffee table” books.
Borrow or buy:
Buy – if I finish a book and decide I’m not going to keep it I tend to pass it on to charity.
Fantasy or Sci-Fi:
Both, though I think I tend to lean more towards sci-fi, my mum likes her fantasy novels.
Love-Triangle or love at first sight:
EHHH I dunno, love at first sight I think? That’s the right answer.
Wall shelves or bookcases:
I have had a bookcase.
Bad plot with good characters or good plot with bad characters:
Both seem like reasonable compromises.
Harry Potter or Percy Jackson:
Neither – I have bad experiences of some HP folk and I’ve only seen one of the Percy Jackson films fully and Pierce Brosnan put me off a bit.
Booklr or Bookstagram:
I don’t know her.
Contemporaries or Fantasy:
Either, as long as they’re good. (I’ll keep this answer).
English books or books in your native language:
Both! I will always have a deep love for Scots poetry. <3
Buy in a bookshop or buy online:
Both. I’d say it’s a fairly even split as well, depends on whether I was browsing online or walking past/loitering in a shop when I decide to purchase said book.
Amazon or Book Depository:
Amazon is the only one I’m familiar with tbh.
Buy because of the cover or because of the description:
Description, though sometimes I admit I’m fickle and torturous with wanting to have a specific version of a particular book because I liked the cover or other such reason, which is why the guy in Southside Bookshop hates me.
Alphabetical shelves or colour coordinated:
Mine are lumped into rough categories and then size (classics- big to small books, sci-fi – big to small, Spike Milligan – big to small et cetera).
Different sized books or matching sizes:
Unless it’s a set who cares?
Wait to marathon a series or read as they’re released:
Ehhhhhh. I don’t think this has ever been an issue with me. All my faves are dead.
Film or TV adaptations:
Either, if they’re good. Most aren’t, really. (Keeping this answer, too).
Reading indoors or outdoors:
Indoors. Outdoors has too many distractions and I feel like “one of those assholes” on the rare occasions I’ve attempted to read in the park.
Coffee or Tea:
Bookmarks or random objects to mark your page:
Most of my bookmarks are kind of random things I’ve fashioned into bookmarks.
Dog-earring or bookmarks:
Bookmarks – my poor books get abused enough since I’m good at falling asleep and rolling on top of them, or they somehow end up under the sofa or in my sock drawer for, yanno, reasons.
Be your favourite character or be their best friend:
My life’s lot has always been the sidekick to the more popular best friend. Might be fun to be the star. (This prevous answer makes me sad, but I share these sentiments).
Physical or e-book:
I read both, but mostly physical books. I read Tale of Two Cities and Frankenstein as free e-books, even though I have physical copies, because at the time the iPad was closer to me and once I got so far through them I just thought, meh, may as well.
Read in bed or on a chair:
I tend to read more in bed, but depends on where I am when I’m reading.
Audio book or e-book:
I do not like audio books at all. For one thing, I’m hearing impaired, so that’s no fun. Plus, I can read way faster than the narrator can. (Again, same answer! I’ve got a shallow depth of hearing so audiobooks are no good to me at all. The only exception to this is my love for Vincent Price reading Edgar Allan Poe, or T S Eliot reading T S Eliot, but it’s usually from texts I know inside-out and back-to-front so it doesn’t make a difference. T S Eliot has such a goddamn boring, monotonous tone to his voice, though, so it just kind of turns into a droning sound but that’s good for helping me sleep for some reason.)
Series or stand-alones:
I’ll only read a series if it’s a very good series. That’s a lot of commitment for a gal like me.
Reading in the winter or reading in the summer:
Reading is for all seasons! Though usually I will steer more towards reading shorter, more light-hearted texts in the warm months and I’ll save the biggies for the long winter months as I spend more time in bed so have more time to read them.
Posting this as a request – PC is b0rked so I’ll be keeping this incredibly short and sweet as typing is quite an arduous task thanks to a Windows update gone awry. What an absolute nightmare!
So anyways, here is what I would say are the top twelve most important albums to me growing up. It’s not the most comprehensive of lists – it’s missing a few firm favourites as it is impossible for me to whittle it down, so I’ve went with albums which introduced me to the bands and genres that made the largest impact during those formative teenage years.
Bauhaus – In The Flat Field
The Godfathers of Gawth – I had a devastating crush on Peter Murphy as a kid after sneaking down the stairs to watch The Hunger. The film was absolutely fucking awful, but that opening scene sealed my fate as a spooky kid forevermore. This was the first Bauhaus album I bought myself from Hog’s Head- it looked like a dodgy bootleg copy and cost me £4 and has since been lost to the sands of time, but the contents stuck with me since, especially this song, which I think is one of the only songs my mum ever requested I turn the volume up on when I blasted it from my CD player.
The Cure – Disintegration
To quote South Park – “Disintegration is the best album ever!”
The Cure – Head On The Door
I’m both thalassophobic and claustrophobic, so I don’t know why I have always loved this video so much but I have such a soft spot for it. I love all Cure videos – they’re always a delight! <3
The Jesus and Mary Chain – Psychocandy
One of those bands where I struggle to choose an album. I went with this album as it is what introduced me to the band, though Darklands and Munki find themselves frequently on my playlists. If I were to ever become a stripper I reckon this would be my song.
My Vitriol – Finelines
It was hard to get a decent copy of this song on YouTube – the whole album is sensational and was an absolute game-changer for 14 year old me. It was the first time seeing a band live where I was totally mesmerised. Looking forward to seeing them again very soon.
My Bloody Valentine – Isn’t Anything
When I discovered this album I basically discovered sex. Audible sex.
Joy Division – Closer
Joy Division only had two studio albums, and this was the second/last which released after Ian Curtis’ death. It’s pretty hard to choose when it comes to JD- so I went with this since it is an actual album and not a compilation of some sort and it told the tale of his internal struggle consummately.
New Order – Substance
Another album where I really struggled to choose a song – I went with this as it seemed fitting as it is about Ian Curtis’ suicide. Their version of Ceremony features on this album and is my preferred version as the Joy Division versions available are pretty bad quality and I don’t think it is as melodic. Temptation (known for featuring on the Trainspotting soundtrack) is another cracking song. This album also had that one New Order song I have came to despise over the years thanks to its constant feature in all the goth clubs; Blue Monday.
Nine Inch Nails – Downward Spiral
Pretty Hate Machine and The Fragile are also fucking masterpieces in my opinion but Downward Spiral played a very important part of my teenage years. Another one I purchased in Hog’s Head (actually, the first album I ever bought!). I struggle listening to a few of the tunes on this following Higgy’s death. A Warm Place still leaves me feeling totally empty and will forever serve as a reminder of a friend lost.
Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness
I thought about going with Tonight Tonight but I figured that may have been a bit cliché; so I went with this quintessential teenage angst anthem.
Idlewild – Hope is Important
The Remote Part was the Idlewild album that came out when I was fully in the throes of teenagedom and it definitely played a pivotal role in those years, but Idlewild’s first two albums absolutely held the key to my heart and made me so much more than just some angry Goth kid. It made me a wishy-washy Indie kid, too! Haha!
Idlewild – 100 Broken Windows
When I was 15/16 I had a jumper almost identical to Roddy’s in this, except it was a girls fit one that I had bought from Pie in The Sky on Cockburn Street. I wish for the life of me that I knew what became of that jumper – it was/is/was one of the very few non-black-items of clothing I have ever owned. Sigh.
I’ve been feeling quite fragile recently. I’ve had a few disappointments come my way in a short space of time and I will admit it has gotten on top of me a little bit, especially today, and I’ve been guilty of wallowing in self-pity and vague-booking about it. Ugh @ me.
Cue palfaces to the rescue with all the memes and top quality banter.
One of the more cringey moments I’ve had to endure with my in-laws took place during a recent visit when ‘ Stargate’ was on the television; I walked into the room and absently made a comment regarding my complex feelings of attraction for James Spader. I then got to bumble my way through explaining how that cute geek in the glasses went on to become the *ahem* original Mr Grey and, well, yanno… Yeah. Surely watching ‘Secretary’ was a rite of passage and a sexual awakening for every teenage girl of the noughties, right? Right?! Not a fun subject to talk about with your mother and step-father-in-law. Oh lawd.
So, with that in mind, I decided to give the other Mr Grey a chance when I noticed that ’50 Shades’ was on Netflix and I am a literal masochist with way too much time on her hands right now. Below is excerpts of the FB post which followed wherein I described the film as a “polished turd”, and the subsequent discussion with a friend:
Corbie: Here’s the lowdown – Anastasia Steele is a super smart, super capable young virgin and Christian Grey is a SUPER MEGA BILLIONAIRE with OODLES of psychological issues from his abusive early childhood, and the only way he can cope with it is by whipping pretty ladies and generally being an overbearing control-freak masquerading as a BDSM dom. Anastasia Steele is wooed by him/his money as he goes to great lengths to flex his monetary muscles to impress this random broke-ass English Lit (of course) student, who had somehow seduced him by peering through her fringe and biting her lip all the goddamn time. Anastasia Steele doesn’t like being whipped, though, and sees it as purely punishment but she goes along with it because HELLO HE BOUGHT HER, LIKE, A LAPTOP AND A CAR AND TOOK HER IN HIS HELICOPTER (not an euphemism) and she’s kinda scared of him as well because he’s got some amazing stalker skills and he uses a lot of coercion and intimidation to get what he wants. The film ends with her crying that she doesn’t like being whipped because it gives her a sore and he’s all like, “I AM 50 SHADES OF FUCKED UP!”. So she walks away.
I did enjoy how unbearably uncomfortable Jamie Dornan seems the entire movie. OH! And Christian Grey’s nice watch. I should also add the cinematography is quite good – lots of shiny surfaces, soft, shoegazey backgrounds and twinkly lights of eyes and cityscapes.
R.E.: Thaaaaat’s where the polish is, riiight.
Corbie: And the watch. Pretty sure it’s a Tag Heuer aquaracer.
R.E.: Ohmywhuuut, dat’s a sexy watch!
I honestly didn’t know where the polish would be since the excerpts of the book my ex read to me literally sounded like she’d eaten a fifth of a dictionary, it hadn’t agreed with her whatsoever, and she’d pebble-dashed an entire book with it.
Corbie: – That sounds like an astute observation (hence Anastasia Steele being an English Lit major).
R.E.:It was the same hackneyed tripe over and over again, I wanted to ram knitting needles in my ears when she read it to me
Corbie: Oh – it’s an Omega speedmaster. OAFT!!! 3 times the sexy!
From here it just turned into a stream of Patrick Bateman memes and I gotta say, given the choice I’d rather romp with that fictional rich bastard instead. At least you know there will be actual kink. Safe to say I will not waste my time with the rest in the series, it was a truly awful film. 0/5. I can’t imagine how bad the books are.
Sometimes it’s good to express yourself creatively. It can be a most effective catharsis and often it’s a much healthier way of expressing your emotions than say, stabbing people. With that in mind, quite often when I am out and about and find my patience is tried, I write a haiku about my annoyance instead of stabbing the offenders. I will admit it’s worked so far and I haven’t actually stabbed anyone to date. Sssstab. Sometimes, however, I write haikus just because they’re fun and silly. Here are some examples from the past and I promise there will be many more to come. Enjoy!
Standard age: Methuselah.
Oan the bus to Hell.
Oh, amorous neds,
crying out in the night;
skin flappin’ an’ aw’! God.
Young couple in love.
Your affection slurping
Over my tunes, ew.
inside of my face;
a build up of misery.
I cry tears of snot.
Garden is quiet.
Thunder rips through the silence.
Sorry! I farted.
Young bus stop boys
With your beer bottles clanking
Show me your ID.
Bus stop jakey fight:
So Tiffany Patterson
Stole the heroin.
My old LiveJournal became a tracker for my HS flares throughout the years I used it. Last entry about it was the 18th September 2014, detailing a trip to A&E for an incision and drainage, I remember it well as I started laughing hysterically when the scalpel pierced the skin, leaving the attending doctor somewhat bemused by my reaction. I still don’t know myself why I reacted that way; I reckon it must have been some kind of a danger response or maybe a fit of mania brought on by the relief from the release of pressure after weeks trying to quietly endure it. Much of that time passed me by in a haze, all 160 recorded weeks of it. That’s just over 3 years of near constant anguishing pain detailed on those pages of my old journal. Not that I’m melodramatic or anything! There was another trip to A&E following that, at the beginning of December that year, it was that day that would be the last time I spoke to Higgy, apologising that I could not come and see him due to the infection in my arm. He was gone 2 weeks later.
I’m grateful that I’ve had a couple of years of remission, it hasn’t quite beaten my record of 4 years symptom free but it’s still a decently long period of respite. I’m hoping this relapse doesn’t continue on as long as the last time. I’m miserable, I’m sore, I’m tired and I’m cranky as hell. Cannot be doing with this right now.
I’ve been very quiet, I know! At least I’ve had a good excuse!
Lenore was born 26th July 2016, weighing 9lbs 2.5oz and was delivered via emergency Caesarean a whopping 16 days after her due date and following two failed rounds of induction, which is a story in itself! I ended up stuck in the hospital for 8 excruciating days. She’s 9 weeks old today and it’s so crazy how long ago all of that now seems, but also how the time has really flown by. I can hardly remember life without her now, nor could I bare to imagine it; it’s such an odd and indescribable feeling.
That face! ♡ She is every bit a fiery little redhead! I’m in complete awe of her, I can’t wrap my head around the fact that I have made this tiny little person who is so gorgeous and perfect. Luckily she’s a contented little thing for the most part; I haven’t suffered too many sleepless nights so far and she rarely cries for anything except occasionally getting grumpy about me taking too long to sort myself out for feeding her. I’ve totally caught the baby-bug now, before I got pregnant I never really saw myself having kids but now I’m itching to have another ten of them! Whodathunkit huh?! I guess it helps when the first is so easy-going.
Now that she’s out and I’m getting used to life with her I’m hoping I will manage to start posting a bit more regularly.
I should get to bed just now but here’s another pic just for good measure.
I got to celebrate my 30th birthday catching an acoustic session of one of my favourite bands on Friday. Today I was aghast to find out that a dear friend of mine didn’t have the pleasure of being familiar with them, so this evening I took to YouTube on a quest to introduce her to some tracks which meant a great deal to me growing up; just imagine my delight when I stumbled across aforementioned band doing a cover of another one of my favourite bands!
I may have just turned 30, but this totally made me feel 16 again! *Squee!*
Here’s a breakdown of my life in numbers, currently.
2 days until I turn 30. 31 weeks and 3 days pregnant with 1st baby g. Just under 9 weeks to go. 5 weeks until maternity leave begins. 3 weeks of me actually being in work until maternity leave begins. Anxiety levels currently at about 8 out of 10 for about 101 different reasons. Absolutely zero clue what-the-hell I am doing with my life right now. Approximately one half of a modicum of sanity left.
I’ve managed to do absolutely nothing with this for a while now and with my impending tricennial I thought maybe I should try to get this ball rolling again. So, I figured let’s start this off with an easy exercise and a good getting-to-know-you tool. Who doesn’t love a good online survey or two!
It’s 10:30pm and I’m sitting in my garden soaking in the last of the day’s warmth. I wanted to write something really wistful and whimsical, because sitting here is making me feel quite lovely. That perfume of garden flora, a soft flutter of leathery wings, clouds lit up in shades of lavender and rose; the calm of a summer~ night brings gifts for all the senses so it does.
Even for my wee blackened heart I do find summer to be really quite grand, admittedly, and it saddens me that so far we’ve had very little of it here. I had high expectations of the summer sun at the weekend when I sauntered out the door for the Meadows festival in a short and billowy dress but the weather gods had other plans for my floaty outfit. Oops!
I’m looking forward to the coming days of sunshine, hopefully I’ll get to enjoy the outdoors with some actual warmth and without any more perverse gusts of wind! BD won some meat in a competition of some sort recently so he’s been itching for a good ol’ BBQ in the park. I’ve also recently acquired an obsession for gardening and filling my little space out-back with a mixture of poisonous and edible delights so I’ll be bringing the seasoning to the party should our Scottish Summer™ actually permit such a thing.
I’m afraid that whilst the last few weeks have been a bit manic for me, I’ve been unable to really stop for a second and soak it all in, so I’m sorely lacking in anything to do with anything right now. I’ll try harder, I promise. Until such a time please accept my measly offering of a handful of crappy pictures from my recent (non) adventures as penance.
It’s been a bit of a hectic time recently, I spent last weekend mostly drunk and the weekend before I was in Cambridge for some familial festivities. I’m also spending this weekend in London to celebrate my birthday.
So without further ado here are a handful of pictures from Cambridge.
Cambridge Uni Building
Cambridge Uni Statue
This weekend, London and the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition!
I feel the need to explain such a long absence from here. I’ve not really been able to find the words to articulate the loss I’ve been feeling in these past few months. I still can’t find the words, really, so this will be fairly short.
I hadn’t spoken to Higgy for a couple of years until October, I don’t even remember exactly how we had managed to fall out of touch for so long, or back into touch at the time. Sometimes life just gets in the way I guess and it’s easy to forget a constant. But – for some reason – we fell back in touch, we exchanged a couple of messages on Facebook idly catching up as old friends do and then he hit me with the news they had found a mass in his chest, his cancer might be back and he was going for an open biopsy in the coming days. On the 7th November he was told it was a recurrence of Osteosarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer Higgy had fought before when he was 18. The date sticks with me as I also witnessed a fatal car crash that day. I seldom truly believe in bad omens or curses but there has been a dark cloud hanging above my head since that day and I’m afraid it’s yet to be lifted. I managed to visit him only once in the hospital during this time, I’m glad that when I saw him he was still smiling and cracking jokes, quoting episodes of Archer and making light of a bad situation in true Higgy-style. It’s a memory I try and hold on to because it was the last time I would ever see his smile, I wish I had known that then. Sadly after that his health declined sharply and on the 28th December, around 11:40am, my dearest friend lost his second battle with cancer at only 29 years old. He was laid to rest on the 5th January, the only recollections I have of funeral are the concrete floor of the chapel and a few blurs of old and familiar faces of our many mutual friends.
I was 14 when I first met Higgy, he was 15. We were both wearing Nine Inch Nails t-shirts and when we clocked each other in the graveyard that was frequented by our group of miscreant friends, we made a beeline for each other and promptly started arguing over who was the biggest fan, and that became the basis of our friendship over the next 14 years. We fought and bickered constantly – not over our differences, but our similarities. The NIN debate went on for nearly 3 years! (I couldn’t possibly say how it was resolved on a public platform but Higgy definitely won that particular debate.) Most of the time our tiffs had that sense of sibling camaraderie, an air of tongue-in-cheek mixed with a strong desire to really wind the other up. On occasion we fought bitterly; but we always came back to each other in friendship, laughed off our squabbles and moved straight into the next one.
Since he left there has been a huge void inside of me. His absence cuts like a knife. His name still comes up on my phone and I find it hard to swallow that he is not on the other end of the line anymore. I pass places which invoke a memory, usually something small and insignificant like buying a ridiculous amount of cake or fighting over a video-game spotted in a shop window that neither of us were even planning on bothering to play. Whilst they are memories of such inconsequential moments the pain they bring is unbearable and I find myself often overwhelmed by the knowledge that I will no longer be able to share those little moments with him.
Higgy, I miss you like hell. You were a part of me, soul-bound, and you took that part of me away with you on your departure. You were one of my truest friends and one of my worst enemies. I thank you for all the memories you’ve given me, even if they hurt now. I thank you for your unique humour. I thank you for gracing me with such a bond of friendship that only you were able to give.
Missing you always, budd-ay.
Christopher “Higgy” Higginson
11th September 1985 – 28th December 2014
I would like to thank Higgy’s father, Hugh Anderson, for capturing so many wonderful memories of Higgy and for allowing me to share some of them here. Hugh is a professional photographer and runs Venture Photography in Michigan, USA.
Oh, hey! So there is this new “gallery” thingamiebob popping up on the dashboard and I figured it would be a good way to showcase some pictures I snapped in Greyfriars Kirkyard. I know I’m not the best of photographers, I’m still very much learning the ropes of this new technological gizmo of mine.
It’s very nearly Hallowe’en! Why not get yourself in the mood by curling up and reading a good horror story! Here is a list of 5 haunting tales from some of the greatest Scottish writers.
The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner- James Hogg
Not necessarily a “horror story” as such, it’s been described often as part Gothic novel, part satire, part psychological thriller. It’s a tale of the supernatural, murder, mystery and (possible) dealings with the Devil! The story is told in 3 parts, the first goes through the story from an outsider’s perspective, the last part discusses the strange acquisition of these memoirs by the editor and the main bulk of the novel is from the perspective of a young man named Robert – a Calvinist who is persuaded into murder by the strange Gil-Martin, a figure who uses Robert’s religious belief in predestination to justify their terrible actions. It has been cited as the main inspiration for the following.
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
One of the great classics from one of Scotland’s most celebrated authors. Another tale of murder, mystery and strange characters changing shape! This little novella from R L Stevenson is one of the most adapted stories ever told and it’s based on a true story! William Brodie (most commonly known by his title Deacon Brodie) was a highly respected man – a deacon of the trades guild, an Edinburgh city councillor and the head of the craft of cabinet-making (obviously a ‘thing’ back in his day). He was also a prolific thief. Using his day job to gain access to people’s homes, he would makes copies of the keys from wax impressions and come back later to break into his affluent customer’s homes. For all of his crimes he was hanged on the gallows he was said to have designed himself on the 1st October 1788. The tale of Deacon Brodie, as well as the influence of Hogg, inspired Stevenson’s famous tale. One of my favourite movie iterations of this story would be “I, Monster” starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. Naturally.
“The Tapestried Chamber” from The Keepsake Stories – Sir Walter Scott
A curious and odd tale from another one of our most, if not the-most, celebrated writers, Sir Walter Scott, about a man who does not seem to like his house guests all that much! You can read it here.
Tales of Terror – Arthur Conan Doyle
A collection of excellent short stories from Arthur Conan Doyle, best known for being the author of the Sherlock Holmes series. Less well known about Doyle was he was a keen spiritualist and occultist, and attended several séances in his time. Whilst these stories do not involve his most famous protagonist, they are still tales full of shocks and surprises. You can browse and read the collection here.
“The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?”
Today is the 165th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s death. Below is the obituary written by Rufus Wilmot Griswold – Poe’s main rival in life and probably even more-so in death, following this written piece:
Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it. The poet was well known personally or by reputation, in all this country. He had readers in England and in several states of Continental Europe. But he had few or no friends. The regrets for his death will be suggested principally by the consideration that in him literary art lost one of its most brilliant, but erratic stars.
The character of Mr. Poe we cannot attempt to describe in this very hastily written article. We can but allude to some of the more striking phases.
His conversation was at times almost supra-mortal in its eloquence. His voice was modulated with astonishing skill, and his large and variably expressive eyes looked repose or shot fiery tumult into theirs who listened, while his own face glowed or was changeless in pallor, as his imagination quickened his blood, or drew it back frozen to his heart. His imagery was from the worlds, which no mortal can see, but with the vision of genius.
He was at times a dreamer, dwelling in ideal realms, in heaven or hell, peopled with creations and the accidents of his brain. He walked the streets, in madness or melancholy, with lips moving in indistinct curses, or with eyes upturned in passionate prayers for the happiness of those who at that moment were objects of his idolatry, but never for himself, for he felt, or professed to feel, that he was already damned. He seemed, except when some fitful pursuit subjected his will and engrossed his faculties, always to bear the memory of some controlling sorrow.
He had made up his mind upon the numberless complexities of the social world and the whole system was with him an imposture. This conviction gave a direction to his shrewd and naturally unamiable character. Still though, he regarded society as composed of villains, the sharpness of his intellect was not of that kind which enabled him to cope with villainy, while it continually caused him overshots, to fail of the success of honesty.
Passion, in him, comprehended many of the worst emotions, which militate against human happiness. You could not contradict him, but you raised quick choler. You could not speak of wealth, but his cheek paled with gnawing envy. The astonishing natural advantage of this poor boy, his beauty, his readiness, the daring spirit that breathed around him like a fiery atmosphere, had raised his constitutional self-confidence into an arrogance that turned his very claims to admiration into prejudice against him. Irascible, envious, bad enough, but not the worst, for these salient angles were all varnished over with a cold repellant cynicism while his passions vented themselves in sneers. There seemed to him no moral susceptibility. And what was more remarkable in a proud nature, little or nothing of the true point of honor. He had, to a morbid excess, that desire to rise which is vulgarly called ambition, but no wish for the esteem or the love of his species, only the hard wish to succeed, not shine, not serve, but succeed, that he might have the right to despise a world which galled his self-conceit.
We must omit any particular criticism of Mr. Poe’s works. As a writer of tales it will be admitted generally, that he was scarcely surpassed in ingenuity of construction or effective painting.
As a critic, he was more remarkable as a dissector of sentences than as a commenter upon ideas. He was little better than a carping grammarian.
As a poet, he will retain a most honorable rank. Of his “Raven,” Mr. Willis observes that in his opinion, “it is the most effective single example of fugitive poetry ever published in this country, and is unsurpassed in English poetry for subtle conceptions, masterly ingenuity of versification, and consistent sustaining of imaginative lift.”
In poetry, as in prose, he was most successful in the metaphysical treatment of the passions. His poems are constructed with wonderful ingenuity, and finished with consummate art. They illustrate a morbid sensitiveness of feeling, a shadowy and gloomy imagination, and a taste almost faultless in the apprehension of that sort of beauty most agreeable to his temper.
We have not learned of the circumstance of his death. It was sudden, and from the fact that it occurred in Baltimore, it is presumed that he was on his return to New York.
“After life’s fitful fever, he sleeps well.”
And here’s a fitting poem by the man himself:
Spirits of the Dead
by Edgar Allan Poe
Thy soul shall find itself alone
‘Mid dark thoughts of the grey tomb-stone —
Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
Into thine hour of secrecy:
Be silent in that solitude
Which is not loneliness — for then
The spirits of the dead who stood
In life before thee are again
In death around thee — and their will
Shall then overshadow thee: be still.
For the night — tho’ clear — shall frown —
And the stars shall look not down,
From their high thrones in the Heaven,
With light like Hope to mortals given —
But their red orbs, without beam,
To thy weariness shall seem
As a burning and a fever
Which would cling to thee for ever :
Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish —
Now are visions ne’er to vanish —
From thy spirit shall they pass
No more — like dew-drop from the grass:
The breeze — the breath of God — is still —
And the mist upon the hill
Shadowy — shadowy — yet unbroken,
Is a symbol and a token —
How it hangs upon the trees,
A mystery of mysteries! —
I despair! These poor sable-hued creatures have suffered such terrible reputations over the years. As if being considered a bad omen isn’t enough, now they have to contend with being unstylish! I won’t even get into the outrage over the carelessness of shunning an animal based on their looks, instead I would prefer to set the record straight and celebrate my trés chic and stunningly handsome feline companion, Edgar Mistoffeelees von Fluffybum.
Behold his regal countenance! Capable of both great ferocity and the fluffiest of tendernesses; he is a lover of Dreamies, a fighter of string and the destroyer of carpets throughout the household. His thrones are many, his subjects loyal to a fault; he spreads carnage amongst his sworn enemies, The Moths and The Slippers, and he only eats the jelly in his wet food.
Perfectionism is something I’ve been accused of a few times. I don’t really regard myself as a perfectionist, my real issue would be that I agonise over the end result before I’ve even started and therefore I never really get around to doing anything. This blog is already an example of this. It’s not so much that I want things to be ‘perfect’, it’s more that I don’t want the finished result to reflect my any of inexperience. A fear of tracking my progress I suppose, incase it turns out to be none.
Maybe that is being a perfectionist? I have always considered ‘perfectionist’ to be a term that is steeped in vanity rather than fear. Maybe the reflection of my inexperience and the tracking of progress isn’t all that bad – I suppose it’s better than letting that fear stop you before you’ve even started. There is no point agonising over the end result if it makes you too preoccupied to start the journey.
So here I am, in all of my inexperience. I should embrace it and accept that it is the start of the journey. Progress is nothing to be ashamed of; I will set myself the challenges and accept that all journeys start with those first small, initial steps.