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Grey Phoenix Book I wanted a St Etienne sort of life, but the city shut its doors on me and the

dirt clung thick to the floor. The all-night net cafe stank and morning brought pictures of doubt, wasted galleries of fiscal doom. I wanted a neworder life, but singing clear in the low grey sky was clogged by work and worry. The simple suns set on money, as netted others many worries ate me and eat me still. I wanted a gummundsdottir life, a picaresque darling with a smiling friend stolen clothes, snowed with dates for other boho buddies' bidding projects, the single only diamond furrow, not fearing what they say on morrow. I may have just a cowell life, a stale copy from a safe singer. Some other bugger makes the money and soon the singer dries and finds another twenty years unuttered while other fellows' fees are fatter I need a new song. Various stories and cubi sections 1. Princess Claudia a cubi fairytale of yore about changelings 2. Woodcutter a tale about meeting the cloud queen one day and knowing how that's bad, or a meeting with the qof of the day. 3. Now-then atlas they'd love to get hold of it episodes on the bookshelf seem to appear at will. 3D isometric progressions done on tracing paper with complex coordinates. SB secretly likes RL's dark side. About as much as the fanficcers do. Does RL secretly like it? Probably not, cos of the horrible pain and returning inevitability of it. Inescapable. Could he be made to like it? Did his friends choosing something vaguely similar help?

J's trip to her first library the stained glass windows, the soaring galleries upon galleries of books, the faint pealing of the late-returns bell, the voice from the second gallery greeting her. Read Matthew Arnold or Ruskin, or whoever wrote that 'culture is religion' thing. Make the travel/quest gubbins more moominy; or they walk round in circles round the estate and through the woods, but it's only a very small journey. Really only a couple of nights under the stars, because strange things only need new circumstances of the tiniest order to happen. Welsh folk legends Hir yw'r dydd a hir yw'r nos, a hir yw aros Arawn (Long is the day and long is the night and Arawn tarries long). A mid-Cardigan folktale, suggestible of the Otherworld Lover... in a long-haunted room, a voice is heard dolefully crying it. A stranger, giving his name as Arawn, sleeps in the room one night. He is not seen again and the haunting ceases. People did, and still somewhat do solidly believe in ghosts. In Pelling, they are real but not spoken of. The worst thing of all, even to mention them or acknowledge such a word. Even worse than the ghost foxes, so much that they are referred to as the most-wrong thing. There are people who exorcise and counsel the haunted but they live on the outskirts of town and their adverts are seriously censored. And yet she has a dead lover in the end, the sort of crime no-one can recover from socially. Ghosts can be laid to rest by wizards. Fairies have nothing to do with them, partly because they have their own post-death culture and biology. Ghosts are connected with stiles, gates, certain trees, by-ways and paths; often representing more general warnings than specific ghost stories. The Mountain Hag might be the ghost of an old witch, who rode horses

all night until they were exhausted. Dafydd ap Gwilym calls the moon 'the sun of the ellyllon', and in describing his plight on a mountain at night mentions ellyllon. A ghost appears for a specific purpose to avenge a wrong, to fulfill a neglected duty (as in 'The Watcher On The Hills') or to do a kindness to a relative or friend. Such a ghost will not speak, but will deliver a message when spoken to in the right religious terms. Must not be interrupted. The ghost wore high-heeled shoes and a trailing gown. While she walked about the castle, the hounds continued to howl. A woman given to a loose life appeared to her brother and told him she was in 'a sore cold place with a sword over her head'. Even in the modern world, the ghosts of girls dead on their wedding-day still haunt the groom and promise a gravecloth wedding (btw, all this research was easier to write before I first knew a dead person. One who visited me a few weeks after vanishing, just as a wind on a corner off Brundretts Road about 7pm.)anyway. The gravecloth wedding can be very embarrassing for both parties. Modern girls have better things to do than moon about dead in white dresses, and the curses employed by their ex-fiances can sound terribly sexist these days. Tales of haunting without any apparent purpose are common - surely the worst sort. ('a series of mournful faces on the floorboards, which became longer and more piteous after scrubbing'). The 'Ladi Wen', white lady appeared without purpose all over Wales. She was a high-living lady, one night accompanied home on her horse by a nobleman, who disappeared in flame, taking her with him some time later. Or a shepherd's wife lost on the mountains, and angry that she died so foolishly on the dark brackeny hills. The patron demon of lost souls, she would guide them far away and into muddles with her bony finger. Another, seen on the road between Taliesin and Tre'r Dolol, ceased to appear after a certain mining level was closed.

An old lady sat in the room of a piano teacher during certain types of lesson. A thirteen-year-old girl once asked 'Who is that lady in oldfashioned clothes sitting in the corner?'. The sudden appearance and disappearance, even as late as 1894, of a man on horseback riding along a certain road near Lledrod, and wearing a red scarf, was a common occurrence. There was a frequent challenge to go into a graveyard and steal a skull. The challenger would dress up in a sheet etc, but would often be scared away himself. It is not a good idea to impersonate ghosts. One man, when challenged, said Now then, white one, beware of the black one behind thee!. The one in the white sheet pegged, and sharpish. The man wasn't scared because he was religious. The worst thing to see was one's own ghost. This was never good for the health. On the voyage of an Angelsey ship to the West, the mate told the captain there was a stranger in the cabin, writing. They went down to look. There was no-one there, but on a piece of paper was written a request that the captain should change his course. This was done. Soon, they discovered a vessel sinking. There were 300 souls on board and they were all saved. When the Angelsey mate saw the captain of the other vessel, he swore that this was the stranger he had seen. she frequently saw ghosts of the living. People troubled by poltergeistei found they wouldn't touch fire or salt. They appear at certain seasons, and a house needs to be prepared and purified before. Potatoes in a basket, ready for boiling, jumped out one after the other to the ceiling no more to be seen until they returned into the basket as you have seen maggots jump out of a cheese in hot weather. ...she disavowed belief in the appearance of ghosts of the dead, but added that

On the second occasion, the ghost snatched candles from people's hands, laughed and shouted, kissed women wanting to be kissed, rubbed against the master and mistress in the shape of a pig, but abstained from kissing the mistress and did not snatch candles from her.. There is such a thing as a familiar spirit, and 'Codi Cythreuliaid (the summoning of devils) is a matter of witchcraft, depending on certain formulae which even professed magicians sometimes failed to control. Often a fiery ball, a goose, a dog (esp. mastiff), a bull or a lady. The same writer mentioned a 'demon incubus' of Lower Gwent as loving a young woman. These seem to differ from the ordinary type of familiar spirit, in which the amorous element is not specified. People who had seen such demons often refused to describe the sights, and often died soon after the occurrence. The next time they met, the Devil rode as a gentleman, and Sion sold himself for ready money. He was to become the property of the Devil unless he could get hold of something. As he was too bad to go to Heaven and evaded Hell, he became a will o the wisp. Cwn Annwn are death omens. Ghost dogs are often an iffy sign. A headless dog was worse. ... the Hounds of Annwn hunted the souls of the dead in the air and sounded like curlews. Pigs were also unfortunate; giant spectral black sows, white boars etc. Tylwyth Teg (the Fair Tribe) are Welsh fairies. The fairies are comely, their habits resemble those of men, their females sometimes take human husbands and have children by them. (was Sreth ensnared by a human magician and then she refused to breed?). They are a community ruled by a 'King' Gwyn of Nudd (form of god 'Nudons'). He summoned St. Collen to meet him on the hill. His messenger is dressed in red and blue... the king sits on a throne of gold, surrounded by attendants in red or blue, but with the sprinkling of 'holy water' they all disappear, leaving only green mounds. The Dyfed fairies lived in islands out at sea. There are accounts of

trading between the invisible lands and the mainland (good for tax dodges). A person both reflective and reticent is 'dwfn'. The islands can be seen from a high building at the right time of year and weather. A person who fell asleep on silk bedsheets in fairyland often woke up on plain rushes, or comes home to find strangers and time has passed. Fairies are immortal and have no truck with the dead. They don't visit the land and they refuse to speak to the dead. Fairies are all sorts of sizes and often wear green (maybe the tiny and the normal-sized coexist quite casually). People who don't like fairies avoid travellers wearing green, just in case. Some legends say that they are all women. They are great singers, and they play harps. They come out on moonlit nights to dance in a ring, but why? If a bod got amongst this circle, bad things could happen but they could be dragged out by a rowan stick. Fairies hate dogs but like horses. Sometimes they have battles, all wearing hare-sized horses. There are generally thought to be two races of fairies the Helenas and Hermias. They hate untruth and uncleanliness, and revere truth and hospitality. Fairies reward with money, v. practical that way. ...a fairy servant in the Pennant Valley resents the present of a gown, which she leaves torn to shreds. Fairies resent cubi for dealing with the dead hence tainted? Hospitality very important and has spread to human yuletide traditions. [many notes taken from Welsh folklore and folk custom - T. Gwynn Jones (D.S. Brewer, Cambridge 1979)} Fairies have been recorded mowing hay and grazing cattle. They rarely seem to use magic for their daily tasks, but the fairy cattle always give good milk. They can sing and dance well dancing forms part of their official rituals. The owner of a farm married a lake fairy on the understanding that he was not to know her name and he was not to

strike her with iron (ordinary beatings were, it seems, fine). He overhears some other fairies gossiping about her, and so learns her name. She disappears the same night. One morning, his grandson found six black cows and a white-headed bull in a field. They milked well, but when the last one of the family line died, the cattle all vanished. Fairies fear iron and most use silver cutlery, scissors, even sewing needles. They are very reluctant to lend themselves out. In modern times, they have overcome their aversion physically but still feel a social disgust for the metal. The saddest stories of changelings come from wistful mothers

demanding to know why their perfectly sound child has deformed horribly since birth. Fairies don't do this, although fairy children are very ugly. The raising of babies in human cribs is an incubine practice. These days they use a more humane foetal extraction method, although some pockets of crib-snatching still seem to occur. Certainly, fairies are keen to raise human children and seek to 'steal them away' mentally or emotionally, but they can be repelled by vigilant parents leaving iron ore lumps in the crib, or by mistletoe branches. A child who has conversed with fairies at an early age is said to be 'fey' although this is almost unheard-of these days. Fey children grow up to be almost irresistibly drawn to the various cubi. However, some fairy children did turn up in cribs, often disguised royalty put there for safety. Fairy children sometimes returned to their 'birth parents' as strange adults. Changelings (if they live and aren't ruins) are smart and clever and afraid of nothing. It is said that the fairy monarchy is all human-born. Many fairies are childless and so hang round children with sweets. There is a saying that a witch will become great if shod in gold (Daw gwiddon yn fawr and ei bedoli ag aur). In the past, fairies had worked as servants, sometimes doing fine needlework or spinning, and sometimes

hobbled to a fine steel wire and made to tell fortunes. If a person worked at night or outdoors alone a lot, the fairies would entice them with dancing until they ran away to who knows what. There are also fairy mothers attended by mortal midwives. She would go to a meadow to spin by moonlight and the fairies came to her to sing and dance. The midwife puts ointment in her eyes and sees that it is not a palace but a plain cave. ...she handles something left behind by the fairies, rubs her eyes and afterwards sees Fairies stealing cakes at Llanrwst. Similar fairies were seen stealing potatoes at Pennant, the grasping little buggers. The fairy language is entirely unlearnable. Gripach grepach / Dal d'afael yn y wrach / Hi aeth yn rhowyr faglach / Mi es i i'r mwthlach (Gripach grepach / Keep hold on the hag / It was too late (the brat) / I got in the mud). Tiltegg. Tillith Arcade (only the fairy language speakers can enter the fey UN. The fairy language is a sort of Celt mixture with latinate roots (as they all have). Rather a Brythonic Kernow/Cymraeg mix, but declined rather than mutated. (Maybe it is unknowable as it changes with the weather and seasons). The phrase 'sili ffrit' means a proud little female of amorous disposition. There was a mermaid whose sheep were the waves and that the ninth wave was the ram. They are a form of fairy type. Giants are often associated with stone monuments. They often are monuments. The pagan xmas festival was very hard to stamp out in northern Europe. There are still many divinatory customs for NYE (none of them recorded in this book). It used to be the time for presents rather than Xmas. At that time, it was common for nobility to go to their country houses and entertain the locals, at some expense (or not do it and face criticism). In christian terms, new year = circumcision.

Caves, moons and stones Arthur is supposed to be sleeping in a Welsh cave, waiting for the signal to return to fight the Angles for the Brythons. The story goes: A bloke has cut a hazel stick on a hill and goes to the city fair with his stick. He meets a man who tells him the stick used to grow over the mouth of a treasure cave. Then the city man disappears after leaving a note to say that Arthur and his warriors sleep in the cave fully armed, but the stick man might be allowed to carry off some treasure, just as long as he doesn't ding the bell hanging over the entrance. He tries all this, but dings the bell anyway and a voice carries out from a dark figure: Is it day?. He has just the presence of mind to squeak No, sleep on but never more can find the cave again and soon another tree grows over it. Sometimes, the story goes, Arthur mutters He seeks gold, not deliverance; sleep on, men. Another time, a shepherd sheltering from a storm got himself behind a great stone and found the cave. As he brushed the bell, the cave became lit up as if by lightning, and scores of armed warriors all around sat up, spears in hand, crying Why have you woken us if there is no war?. He ran from the scene, all the way down the hill to his cottage and never touched a bell again. A man once saw Arthur's crown of gold on a table in a cave near Marchlyn Mawr, Llandegai. As he was attempting to take it, there was a terrific noise and darkness, and when he came out the lake was covered with foam. A coracle, carrying three beautiful ladies, but rowed by a person of frightful aspect, came into the mouth of the cave. He managed to reach home, but was never well afterwards and could never cross water. Treasure, usually coins or antique gold jewellery, is often overseen by caves, stones, cromlechs or mounds. It is often guarded by natural or supernatural traps. Thunder and lightning often help guard against casual uprooters. The tale often goes thus:

'A man had heard that there was hidden treasure in Moel Achles, in Montgomeryshire. He consulted a magician at Llanddervel. During the discussion, a furious storm of wind and rain came on. The magician said the treasure should be sought at full moon, and promised to send a guide. The man, along with a friend, started out one night towards Moel Achles. They had not gone 100 yards before they saw a hare sitting on the road. As they drew near, they saw they hare move slowly in front until it reached a certain spot. It then seemed to vanish. The men started digging, but rain drove them to shelter. The rain stopped and they resumed, but a thunderstorm drove them back almost straight away. Again they waited and tried later. This time, a huge black bull roaring terrifically, leapt into the pit and the men fled. (Others have been cursed by adders, eagles or mastiffs. The only way to placate the animals are kept as secrets by magicians). It is a bad idea to uproot cromlechs or stone circles. Workers can fall into fevers and suffer dangerous accidents. Sometimes a dream can lead someone to look for treasure, with terrible results. One man dreamed for three nights that if he put his hand under a stone covering a well he should find a gold chain. Instead he found a viper. However, the correct inheritor is often successfully guided by dreams. Certain types of divination are known for some places, but the techniques have not fully worked for some reason. Several cromlechs are named after a greyhound or wolfhound bitch. The 'bitch of Rymhi' is a lady in the form of a wolf, hunted and caught with her two cubs and 'put back in her form for Arthur'. Tradition says that she and the eleven hundred virgins who accompanied her from Brittany rid the country of the many wolves which devastated it. An attempt was made in Ffestiniog to build a church near a standing circle. It was no use. As much as they put up during the day was taken down at night, by whom or how no-one knew. At last, they went to a magician. He told them it was the wrong spot, and to hunt around with dogs until they killed a white stag and build the church there.

The word 'supernatural' , used among us is nonsense. There is nothing supernatural, for the degrees of all beings, from the vegetable life to the archangel are natural... and all their actions, motions and qualities are natural. Lakes and wells Cantre 'r Gwaelod was a nice strip of farmland extending from Terifi to Bardsey Island, forty long and twenty wide. It contained sixteen cities, defended from the sea by embankments and sluices. One useless caretaker lord left the sluices open one night. The sea broke through, and only a few people survived from all the cities. Bells rom churches can be heard under the water on a still day. Curse on a couple unto the fourth generation. One day wine was brought up from the cellar, half full of water with a small fish swimming about. The seas came and drowned the castle and lands. In 1864, geographical papers were presented on the submerged castle walls. As late as 1907, a man saw cultivated fields below a beach and many tree stumps out at sea. There used to be no sea between Wales and Ireland, just a causeway sided by two rivers; Lli and Archan. The whole area between Swansea and Ogmore was underwater three centuries ago. Cornwall is full of swallowed cities, one called in Cornish 'Lethowossow'. Llyn Tegiol (Bala Lake), is said to cover a town engulfed because of the owner's cruelty. The retribution occurs on the birth of their first child. At a feast, the harpist suddenly cries 'Vengeance!' and a little bird beckons to him to follow. In the morning, there is a lake where the palace had been, with the harp floating among the reeds. A famous magician has prophesised the drowning of Bala, Welshpool and Carmarthen. Water-sprites, or possibly fairy beavers, are called 'afanc'. A girl once enticed an afanc from a pool. While it slumbered with its head on her knees and one claw on her breast, it was bound with chains. Waking up,

the afanc ran to the pool, taking her breast in its claws (!). The chain was tied to oxen which dragged it back out, all the way up to the castle. One ox lost an eye on the journey. In mountains, black pools of water drag people in. A man comes out of a haunted pool near Dolgelly and drag people in. Water is a real demon attractant. Two people, on the way back from the fair, got lost and slept by the lake. They heard a misty fight in the dark and lost health forever after, sleeping no more than three hours and dreaming always of fighting. But it was so long ago, and I haven't felt like that since, she said, grating her coffee cup over the table. Sreth nodded to herself. It's entirely possible that you used it all up, she smiled lightly, but all the tales say these things are... more of a plague and that you're lucky to be free of them. Jenna rolled her eyes. I should enjoy being single until I'm fully integrated bla bla therapy talk. No, you don't have to enjoy any damn thing, being thin, your age, magical powers, the... What magical powers? Well, I meant my but anyway, what I meant is that people are doomed to suffer various ailments and thinking you're free from love is as true to the Perversity of Fate as thinking you're eternally free of the common cold. Something tiresome will come up and suck your brain dry for months, it's just damn awkward that way. You're not a big fan of relationships, are you? I found a cure. Not that it would work for you, unfortunately. You would have to be a... she gestured over herself vaguely. Oh. Yes. And I'm not likely to become a (same gesture) any time soon

without surgery. I could induce one for you, as a practice run if you like. Jenna narrowed her eyes. Can you pack it all away when I'm tired of it? No, she laughed,'s the hardest trick in the book, right on the last page, and it involves ingredients you should be grateful don't grow anywhere round here. Oh. Well, no. I'll just wait to become obsessed the old-fashioned way. I almost miss the creepy stalker I had when I was 20. She stared mistily into the air. He turned up under my bed one night and tried to charm his way into it. The bed. All very... unthreatening. I have this horrible feeling I let him go on so long because he was so pretty. I mean, unbelievable. He just, well, his hair was cut in exactly... Sreth was staring at her with a strange look, somewhere between horror, amusement, disgust, boredom and understanding. It involved a fair few facial muscles and probably wasn't humanly possible. She leaned forward and quietly said So you were twenty. An unfeasibly handsome man is found under your bed. He tries to flirt with you. He does surprisingly well and then runs away before you can call for help. Hah. I suppose you never wondered how he got there in the first place, or how someone dangerous enough to wait under a girl's bed would be so harmless once discovered? They never do., she said to herself almost admiringly, they never do. It's like a miracle. So you've heard of him then? I think his name was... Jenna paused, thinking. She hadn't asked for his name at all, really. I've not met that one, probably, but I don't need to. I've met the species. It explains a lot about you, you'll have the mark somewhere. She looked over Jenna's hair. Go on then, said Jenna boredly, tell me something else I don't know. I'll add it to the list. You met a... an incubus... I think you'd still call it, although they don't

like that term any more. They like the more casual 'cubi', singular and plural. Silly swine. I thought an incubus was a terrifying mediaevel demon that reaped innocent girls in their sleep and left them with embarrassing stories a few months later. They 'reformed', said Sreth archly, There was a massive Council some time in 1932 in America for some reason and they vowed to act like gentlemen, use their powers of persuasion and harvest the eggs before it got too socially awkward. I believe they grow them in fishtanks. There's something not clean about them still. I'm sorry I ever..., she muttered, ...still, could be useful down the line. So I had a supernatural creature under my bed, trying to talk me into laying an egg? Yes, horrible isn't it? And the worst thing is now you're marked for life. Haven't you encountered them since? Any relationships that last about three months and then end really abruptly? All of them. It gets quite predictable. Sreth groaned. And I suppose they were all really attractive and somewhat 'out of your league'? That's a matter of bloody opinion, Jenna squeaked. Sreth poked at her honey sandwich. Looks like you've been quite the cubi magnet, she sighed. Jenna looked sick. Does that mean I have four children in... fishtanks somewhere? Not really. The cubi eggs aren't anything to do with you; it's a whole peri-human supernatural genetics issue, but the Council of 32 decreed that cubi eggs were all cubi, not even a record kept of their donor. They're selfish that way. Anyway, a cubi is fully-grown after three years, so they could be walking past right now and you'd never know it. Jenna ran her hand through her hair. Thanks for the information. I do learn so much from you, all of it useful. Of all the... I feel used. Really used.

Oh well, as long as you enjoyed yourself, as they say. It's all experience, school of life and all that. I have a booklet at home on how to spot cubi that might save you the trouble next time. There won't be a next time. They change their appearance to exactly match their donor's needs, you know. So she had a dream about a not-very-recently dead alternative comedian that came across like he was trying to contact her from beyond the grave. First there was the rare pot-plant (sort of like a freesia) that was taken from a rare cutting of his. Much prized, but, said the dream, what was your contact with him? A central section where a conference in a wood-panelled lecture theatre led to more dispute, casually deciding that she'd met either him or his associates at her grandmother's place. This explanation more accepted. Then a walk along the gravel pits with blueprints for some kind of hidden slide that would finally prove it. The facts, as always, dissolve, but the impression that lingered was that he had actually been there in her head. Haunting her, almost. No practical explanation was possible, no link between them save for the documentary. But it had seemed much more than that, more like someone tapping on the window. And more creepy than pleasant. Courting customs were very important for both genders (as opposed to just being a woman's concern). This is because men needed wives to provide washing and hen-checking etc, and couldn't run a farm alone. You hear of two brothers setting up together, but rarely would they be clean. Hen ferched old maids, and hen lancian old lads. Toe rings and thumb rings and men with eyeliner and cotton sandals with wedge heels and tap shoes with ribbon laces and biscuits with chocolate sides and cold thin free persistent rain and queens dancing on bar-tops and butter curls in wedding banquets and packets of flower-feeding food

and smoothed-down wet cats and scraps of toilet roll stuck in corners and thin floral curtains letting in afternoon light and stars balanced on reflected clouds and hot waffles with soft cream and little sharp apples and black and earthquakes and torchlight and sixteen episodes in one sitting and silly unsuitable taffeta skirts in charity shops and humming in tune and orange lumps of lava lamp light and overcoloured hair and several stamps in a book and wire creatures from gift shops and fluffy photo frames ditto and hideously overpriced velvet cushions and gotan the magnificent and random china mugs with dancing girls on them and hard-faced men with long eyelashes and wearing scent to bed and peeling cold parsnips and trying on suits that fit and bushes full of cobwebs and natural blond boys and cinnamon sticks. (at least you turned up today at the pageface). Down she goes, down to the lowest level, a passive hero not to fight but to endure. And endure with dignity, to preserve the centre sacred and the head high, not enough otherwise. She climbs to the top of the mountain and they greet her: the only way she can save the world is to be pulled apart and remade as one of them and still this is the tricky part be herself and not complain. Her friends help. Her lover despairs; she will loathe him after, and her nearly lover and friend both ask her not to, they'll never accept her. She'll be lost to the winds. But it's simple, there isn't a choice, so why fuss? And anyway, she just always died to find out if she was hero material or not. So she says goodbye to her old self to become a better species or really not, very taxing the years and the endless and deserved exile. The hideous visions, the dreadful food. They come to her, a little eager like gossips. She closes her eyes and walks away quietly. First they chill her wetly. Then her skin comes off her meat and her meat comes off her bones. And where she's walked to, the stars rot in the fancied sky and the cotton melts. Then her soul comes off her bones and she's walked too far away.

Shopping arcades The new 'Triangle' arcade is chilling and empty. There is a depressed tile circle in the centre where the basement used to be. Three leather sofas lie equidistant from it, too far to talk to each other but near enough to mobile-chat from. It might be interesting to write from there, and from other local seating areas. A chair in Marks' sofa section, a seat in the window at Waterstones, these places could all provide interesting essaywriting chances. There seems to be no way into the guts of the Corn Exchange unless you are on official business. I might get in by pretending to have an interview there or something. It can't be impossible. The notepads at Muji and the monochrome t-shirt packs are excellent and obsessively grey-key, and the sofas are of an amusing design. Otherwise, there is no reason to walk round 'The Triangle'. There is no shop full of movie stills and old videos, no tie-dyed hats, no basement sausage smell. There is no stall of amethyst caves, no stall of Star Wars models, no badly-piled bookshop of old French grammars. There is no indoor caf with garden furniture spilling into the hall, no clairvoyants with rows of hopefuls sat on hard chairs outside. There is no green-tiled hallway with an old caged lift (the lift now is only glass). Upstairs all is secret, no vague hand can trail along the tiles towards a job agency. There are no lacquered wooden signs hanging into the hallway naming businesses, no ecclesiastical supplies, no export firms, no blank pebble-glassed doors for employee teas. There are plenty of clothes shops, though and chains and chains of wine bars and restaurants resembling bistros. There are mesh bras for the underfed and fake plants for the hessian hallway, and miles of white marble and overyellow gold handrails. Despite the marvellous refit, the 'Triangle' is halfempty and subdued, and the marble clearly visible beneath no feet. I have no idea what the floor of the Corn Exchange looked like. To look at the 'Shopping Arcade', you first have to ignore the primary mall, unless it is spectacularly well-designed. The classic and mythical

arcade has a greenhouse feel, always balconies and plants and a glass roof. Whether solidly 'ethnic' or overpriced posh, they all have eating sections open to the air of other shoppers. An arcade is also not an 'indoor market' unless that has real character. They tend to be overly concerned with raw meat. It's helpful to the atmosphere if it isn't too posh and has some reason to bring the slacking shopper. The Barton Arcade has no cafe, so no-one can stay long enough to linger. It helps if the cafe is open to the shoppers passing, so it looks like two speeds of life at once. Maybe the story should start in the middle, at a strong part, rather than with the piece by piece introduction of everyone (although it worked for JW). Perhaps start with the Institution and that first escape attempt. The Institute could be such a timeless, confusing hole it would take ages and lots of backstory to work out. Only thing is that there's something dishonest about flashbacks, and it seems an overly quirky way to start a story. It needs an equivalent of The trick is not to look back line, only in an earlier context. I've tried describing the arcade, starting with an unrelated character death, describing the first sub-littoral and starting with another lead's POV, but none of it seems to work somehow. It all seems somehow amateurish and contrived. Too many things are undefined what authority does the QoF have over cubi, whether it's a monarchy and if so, whether she's it, who's really the villain, the size of the supporting roles and how to make the heroine less annoying. It's also really necessary to de-william the cubi and ponder Brian's assertion that they wouldn't live together. And how mundane the details are fairy mushrooms, pubs etc. Maybe start with pagan rituals at birth and do it in that order. After a birth in this part of the world, mistletoe was cut with a silver knife and placed on the baby's cradle in order to protect the child from unwanted attentions of fairies. Everyone knew this, and usually hired the

local 'vicar' to do it for them best be safe, as fairies could ruin a child's entire life. Everyone knew this except Jenna's parents, who just sort of forgot. Or so they claimed later, when she went back and discussed the matter, loudly, with them. One of her first memories was of a pair of hungry green eyes staring into her pram and a low voice offering her something sweet if she agreed to come. She wasn't really old enough to remember. Her early childhood was full of small people offering her sweets and showing her puppies, and when she half-heartedly went to the grove at solsticetime, the ivy always withered. But she grew up fairly normal, bony and pale with straight yellow hair and a straight red nose. She left home and moved into a bedsit, watched too much science-fiction and had no discernable love-life. Her friend Lilah said she could see ghosts, but Jenna knew that being mildly special was nothing great. She'd met a few other 'touched' children on the internet, usually overdramatic Americans and they all impressed on her the importance of always carrying a solid lump of iron wherever she walked. She had hers turned into a keyring. One night, as she was getting ready for bed and trying to get the fish smell out of the room without freezing to death, she heard a faint sneeze. Looking frantically round the room, she asked What was that? There was no sound, except the faintest nasal implosion. She looked under the bed and found a young man there, trying to become invisible. Get out! What the hell are you doing?, she squeaked, still holding her coffee. Sorry. Dammit. I'm not supposed to sneeze. Shite. He crawled from under the bed, brushed off the dust and sat down. Get out! What are you... No, just 'get out' is best. Get out! He was wearing a thin shirt, thin trousers and a thick gold collar. His face was almost greenish and his nails were too long. But all this was ignorable due to his ludicrous radiant beauty. He listened to her, nodding and smoothing his hair.

Let me... let me... just say... a while... I'm here as your night visitor, your secret prince of dreams. Too long you have stalked the scenic path and comes soon the deep dark night when all fears will be resolved. His voice, as he recited this fell like a string section, and he made subtle complex movements of his hand as he spoke. Jenna stood mesmerised, holding up a broom. The dreams fly and the dreams bought reality awakens, as the dark wings enfold your dusted lie-down destiny. But you never sleep!, he said in a more normal tone of voice. I've been coming here for months and you walk around your room and you read, but you will not sleep deeply till it's too late. I can try while you sit awake but it takes more of my art than I currently possess, lady. He sounded sulky, as if the high language was alien to him, and finish his speech by knotting his fingers in impossible directions and looking pleadingly at Jenna. She was still stood still, holding her coffee and her broom, looking at his hair and the twisting fingers. You've been hiding under my bed for a month, waiting for no. You would have..., she frowned to herself. Why are you here?, she asked. I am not given to say, I merely inhabit the dreams and twist the nightjar's beak. For on a month ago through treeworn streets I... Can you tell me without the poetry? Not allowed to, he sulked. (The word 'fairy' is a generic term for any supernatural being not tied up in the whole heaven-hell good/evil thing and existing on the margins of human lives and behaviours. Of course, the word 'attracted' has several meanings too. This follows a sub-littoral report). She drove off with his ever-dampening head in her lap. It was fine for the world but there was no world left for him. (The nurses would stand on the streets crying openly before heading back in for a shift in ww1 nursing).

Hares, eels (breeding), goblin foxes (japanese), wish-granting, fortunetelling (practicals). Corn Exchange, esp photos, cubi (whatever's out there), frat-house, boys' shared house stories. Fish-keeping in tanks, door to door selling stories. Ecclesiastical supplies (the more practical the better). Flower food, gold collars of various designs. Office temp stories, alternative shopping centres worldwide. Alt cafes, mental hospitals (fictional). Escape dreams, paranoia dreams (They know). Home abortion kits (primitive, both surgical and medical). Park design, esp mosaic-tiled paths. Underground streams. Unearthly or impossible computer programs (infinite winamp etc). Cluttered interior dcor. Silent Hill antecedents. Corby and environs. Walking siamese cats on leads. The smell of burnt mud. Village life, esp networks of friends. Fairies have often a dodgy foot look up genuine medical foot problems, fused toes, twists etc. In Cornwall, they believe ants are fairies in their last stage of existence. Fairies went through many gradual transformations, always getting smaller and smaller until finally, after living some time as ants, they disappeared altogether from this world (see queen ant day). Ants' eggs were used in compounds to destroy love. Children still spit when they make a promise, and shake hands on it. An Oxfordshire tradition says it is unlucky to cross someone on the stairs and not to speak. To find one's future partner, count seven stars on seven nights and the first suitable person met on the eighth day will be the one. Falling stars announce either births or deaths. An old country name for the milky way was Watling Street. It was believed to be the road along which souls passed to heaven. In Lithuania, they travelled as birds. Many people cover mirrors and put away metal items during thunderstorms. Storms 'come for' great people and either take them away or choose not to. Bonfires were burnt at Beltane, Midsummer and

Samhain, first day summer, turn of the year and first of winter (Nov 5th basically same ritual). The rising sun dances on easter sunday and many have seen it. Deosil/widdershins is to do with the sun rising rather than clocks. Clocks were made in that image afterwards. Killing swallows is unlucky and cats observe this. It is unlucky to leave a white tablecloth on overnight. Swans can sing often, and sweetly. They like to wear silver necklaces when visiting folk. The tears of mourners renew earthly ties for ghosts. If the first person into a theatre has a no. 13 ticket, the night will go badly. Children who make faces exactly when the tide turns will stick that way. When a body is laid out for viewing, all who come must touch the corpse briefly. This is especially true for the murdered, as the wounds will bleed afresh at the touch of the murderer. It is unlucky to open an umbrella in the house, why is unknown, but may be related to oriental kings' parasols. If one stepped on the grave of an unbaptised child, one caught 'grave scab' and got a burning face and trembling limbs. It was cured by eating garden dirt from the child's family. A cure for 'delayed periods' was to wee on a molehill (you couldn't make it up). A true pregnancy test was to keep some on a dish for a week. If it grew mould, it was positive (extra sugars etc). Valerian smells like cat and was once used for perfumes. On certain days, you could go to the church porch and divine who would die that year by whether they came out after the ghostly service or stayed inside. However, this practice was addictive and would be kept up year after year until you saw your own death. Apparitions of ghost weasels really aren't lucky. Wedding dresses can be most colours except black or green, and should be finished last. People would send a jilted lover a willow garland or peeled hazel rod when their deserter married someone else. Yew is very long-lasting and used in many pagan ceremonies. Folk customs of Cheshire ('Traditions and customs of Cheshire' Christina Hole, SR Publishers Ltd,

Yorkshire 1970) A flight of 70 steps runs up the walls. Girls formed a wish at the bottom and ran up and then down again without drawing breath. A test of fitness to be a farmer's wife. Brides do not pass through the lych gate. Sometimes, a hard-working girl became idle and good-for-nothing after marriage, and then she was described as having 'broken her elbow at the church door'. A newborn must always be carried upstairs before down, or it will not rise in life. Even if this act involves climbing a chair.. A child should be given a book to chew in its first week, so it will acquire the taste later. Babies were greeted with fiddle music and cake. They were given an egg, salt and a box of matches. Salt protected from witches and the fire was to protect them from cubi. They like damp. There are many ways to cure warts, often involving knotted rushes and spring water. The incantations were far too powerful for wart-curing, but no-one knew this. The fear of witches was once very powerful. Horseshoes and rowan-trees kept them off. This fear didn't stop people using witch-learned tricks to curse their neighbours, e.g afflict him with headaches by obtaining a lock of his hair and winding it round a toad's leg. This doctrine of parts means that milk teeth need to be disposed of in fire, as well as nail-parings. A poacher's house would be especially surrounded by graven images of gamekeepers, so he could cripple them. If a band of people wanted to bind themselves to do or not do a thing, they would meet in the woods a fair way from their houses and would drive a nail into a tree. None could break the vow unless they all agreed together to draw out the nail. A bird tapping on the window was a bad sign, as were bats and frogs coming into the house. Trees should not blossom in autumn. When all hope had gone, the passing bell was rung to bespeak prayers for the dying, and still more to keep away evil spirits who sought to

molest the soul on its journey. Bells keep away demons, even library bells. The last gift to the dead was also salt. Burglars (and other night folk) used the Hand of Glory to keep people asleep while they stole their goods or went about their business. A funeral was sometimes referred to as a 'bringing home'. Coffins were often carried on foot, and needed to be brought to the grave clockwise. It was also contentiously considered that a right of way was established over any land the coffin rode over. This led to fights. Children were carried by women with white muslin scarves over their heads. It was believed that the dead resented their expulsion from the world and were jealous of those who still lived in it. This is why people fear to pass graveyards at night. Cheshire is a dairy county, full of cows, yo. Red cows made superior milk. Tapping-up of dairy farmers was bad luck for any named cows. Spitting at the new moon or to seal a bargain happens a lot. Bears breeding is unlucky for other animals. They only do it every 7 years. The nearer full-moon to midnight, the better the weather. When it 'fulls' at midday, it'll rain. People used to treat stone circles very casually. May-day was 12 days 'later' before the calendar was fiddled with, and hence was noticeably warmer. Servants left jobs on Boxing Day and started their new job on Jan 2 nd. People were re-hired or mentioned as being retained in October. A child in Wilmslow hid in a bell-tower and was swept up when they started ringing, only noticed when his blood fell down. Liminal spaces The accidental gardens that spring up when houses are knocked down or land isn't yet built on, are always important. We meet there, sitting in the fireweed perched on rusty bedsprings. Occasionally, people walk through but never at night. They are shockingly underlit and it's hard to follow the little trod path through the centre. The paths always scoot round

especially large chunks of rubbish or fallen trees and wind up spitting you out onto a perfectly-normal side street, slightly dazed. The entry is similarly furtive. You step off the path onto the liminal entrance, and it suddenly gets darker. Or lighter. In the summer day, the liminal always smells of flowers and dead fruit. The light shines through scraggy trees onto you. At night, the blackness is full. The only light is the faint paleness of the path, winding away. Everything else is invisible. The danger is in the cans on the path and the tree branches, the fringing nettles and the hidden springs. When felt wet, the liminal can be full of puddles, the path foolish to walk along and the fronds soggy. There are two liminals by me. The first is a largish patch of land outside Asda. Buried chunks of concrete with tyre-marks and a complete forest of fireweed. It is hard to use on the way to Asda, as the land is in a sort of pit and the final bank can be hard to climb out of. Returning, especially at night, you can drop into it with a step and drag your bags through the weeds at an angle to the new estate on both sides. The path is vaguely unsafe with its dodgy location and all, but sunken beneath the sky and in between tiny dotted houses it's quite a journey. There were two liminals off Withington Road, but one was fenced off. Time travel either instant, only going back one tenth of a second (of what use can then be extrapolated). Or unstoppable, a world eating machine that rewinds like the still point as the galaxy stops expanding. More fundamental than the RD ep etc, more like fighting a high wind as every synapse unwrites itself. Interesting account of LL walking tiptoe through a small corner of another dimension in order to simply escape. The infinitesimal step could be useful for redoubling thought power or averting prophecies. And hopping forward, one extra step at a time would accumulate massive energy (this is all fictional). The whole length of In the time of angels was fascinating, but a bit relationshippy. As is mine, dear dear. Oh well. Yonder a maid and her wight etc. Still important, adds cherries to the plot. Fs and even cubi can't be 'evil' sui

generis, they're a species. Cubi breeding habits make for ucky teatime viewing, though. (Need an alternate calendar of saints' days etc, maybe a purely pagan, but casual calendar). Old country tradition that anyone who climbed to a hilltop at sunrise on easter morning would see the Lamb and Flag in the centre of the sun.If an adult of normal temperament suddenly started laughing for no reason and continued for some time, they were said to be 'fey' and in grave peril of sudden death. A mean-spirited witch could infest someone with lice for ever after. Certain rivers are said to demand a certain number of lives per year, and will take them in freakish ways if necessary. Once it had eaten for the year, it would leave alone. Lilac and other 'drowsy-scented' flowers are widely associated with death and misfortune. Lilies could go either way either an omen or a great sign of purity. The flowers keep away ghosts if planted in a garden. In Ireland it was thought that if anyone licked a lizard all over, their tongue would ever after have healing properties. It is a bad omen for a wedding party to spot a lizard crossing its path. Certain stones balanced on others could be rocked without falling. These were places that witches met. One could become a witch by going to one at night and rocking it nine times. A magpie at the Flood stayed outside to jabber maliciously at the drowning world. I reached inside myself but found nothing there to ease the pressures of my ever-worrying mind. All my powers waste away, I fear the claims the lonely looks the mirror's sending me these days. Please don't ask me to defend the shameful love that keeps me drifting gloomily through time. I reached inside myself today, thinking that there's got to be some way to keep my troubles distant. An awful lot of seemingly pagan superstitions have christian stories behind them. There may be a genuine pagan reason further behind that.

The christian stories always sound trite and silly compared to the genuine dangers of the fairy world. Halcyon days traditionally the seven days before and after the solstice (14th Dec to 29th) when kingfishers bred (brood ppt) and hence there were no storms at sea. A knife was a very personal possession and as well as being sharp and pointy, the very steel preserved against fairies. Lady Day, or annunciation was very close to spring equinox on 25th March. Old first day of the year. If Good Friday or easter Sunday falls on it, some natural misfortune will occur in the twelvemonth. The white queen may be a trickster devil who roams the earth tempting people. A child born with a caul will be free from the power of sorcerers and fairies. However, the skin must be preserved for it to work. It has to be buried with the owner for them to rest quiet, and can be consulted in times of stress. New babies were first fed with honey on the father's sword-tip or sap from an ash branch mixed with sugar. This promoted strength and protected from fairies. 28th December, 'Childermass', not a day to start anything or expect much luck. After a birth, women were churched in a C of E ceremony. Before that time they were susceptible to attacks of demons, fairies, etc. Most recent person buried in a churchyard would be the 'watcher' and would have to wait till the next corpse came in to be relieved of duty and Move On. Sometimes caused punch-ups at the gate as two families tried not to be buried last. The job was to guard all the graves and to summon the ones about to die, in a dark coach. Three cigs off one light ...another example of the well-known power of folk belief to change in detail while remaining the same in essence. Blackthorn bushes considered powerful because they have dead white flowers on black branches. Fernseed (bracken spores) gathered between 11 and 12 on midsummer eve. The seeker went in silence to the chosen place and laid a white cloth or a pewter dish under the ferns... To touch the fern with bare hands was very dangerous; it had to be bent over with

a forked hazel rod, and the seeds allowed to fall out. Many superstitions about bread a long airhole looks like a coffin, bread should not be cut while one is baking. A loaf baked on xmas day is lucky and v. healthy. Bread given by a posthumous child or a wife with the same maiden name is lucky, but only if eaten without thanks. Unlucky to be the first person to cross a new bridge, various legends about devil's bridges luring people to the wrong place. Candles should only burn with a blue flame if a dead person is nearby; a red flame is worse. A long string of wax rising up on one side is a bad sign. Candles are burnt by the dead to protect them from evil spirits! Three lights bad luck, any other number permissible. Clover protects people and animals from the spells of magicians and the wiles of fairies. Four leaves enabled the wearer to see fairies or another of the same name. Recently dead people leave small flames above their mounds. Flames can be seen dancing minutely round the village on the eve of a death. Crickets friendly little insects are thought to be lucky, and make their home with people. If they leave a house suddenly, it isn't good. A crow is connected with certain terrible beings who were once goddesses. Cuckoo flowers or lady's smock os a fairies' plant and unlucky to bring into th house. However, it is used to purify the blood, strengthen the heart and prevent scurvy. Eaten in salads. Certain pagan goddesses had their carriages drawn by cats, who can see fairies and spirits. Black cats when met are only lucky if greeted politelya. The juice of elder bark, when applied to the eyes of a newly-christened person, allowed them to know what witches were doing anywhere. Fairy rings are circles of mushrooms etc left in the grass. They are said to spring up where fairies dance or above a subterranean fairy village. If anyone ran nine times round the ring on a full moon night, they could hear fairies laughing and talking below. This was only safe done deosil, if gone widdershins the person would be put under their spell. To sit inside

a ring on nights like May eve or halloween was an incredibly dangerous act, opening the victim to enchantment or being carted away to fairyland. Destroying the ring was really bad luck, although the ring would spring up again soon afterwards. Pre-industrial science guys use more technical phrases than 'alchemy'. Sidereal calendars. Pre-industrial sidereal rituals. ...basically, it's alchemy. Gamefowl eggs for cockfights were put to hatch in magpies' nests so their combative nature could be passed on. The funeral of a pure maid was preceded by a maiden's garland of white paper or flowers. After the funeral, it was left to hang over her seat for a certain time until it was sure no challenges to her purity could be made. Then it was hung permanently in a corner of the church. Thessalian magicians in antiquity held up a mirror to the moon before reading the future in it. Bad dream bad dream four of us lured into it, a public-private show, a seemingly normal life run entirely on slaves. No escape, we walked back and forth by metaphorical filing stacks. No escape, no hope until I escaped. I found the gap and stepped sideways and raced to theose who knew. But no joy just endless weeping. The accusation as I saw them, rescuing the others no stop then I found a rescue christmas party and went for the second lot of drinks. One old singer, very fussy for a litre of white wine and something fancier. Parked bike with someone not invited (he had a large hall) and down to the village shops, where four low brows waited. Don't cover your top half in furs, they'll think it's a wild beast. Found the wine, they did, under the man's old prescriptions and in locked tin boxes. Needed descriptions made oddly The neanderthals are cute but they do talk funny. A simple five-pointed star priestesses on the beach gather at the stone temple to watch the stars

through a hole in their roof a child puts her hand to the sky, leaning out of the window too late one night four travellers and a guide cross a desert of pink sand before a tattered sunset, leaving long shadows on the land before them something under the sea rolls over in its sleep and a thousand corals lose their home the train crosses the cornfields steadily as the passengers eat a fruitbased lunch. Another mirror trick is to light candles either side of one on halloween and sit before it silently combing the hair and eating an apple (somehow). Someone would be seen looking over her shoulder. Loki could kill the Sun God with mistletoe because it grew neither in heaven or earth but in the branches of trees, somewhere in between. The English used to be known throughout Europe for their casual kissing, and are the only people to have that particular mistletoe ritual. A sprig cut with a new knife and laid on a baby's cradle prevented it from being stolen by fairies. It is considered unlucky to point at the moon. In some areas it is said that anyone who does this nine times will not go to heaven. When the new moon is seen for the first time, it should be respectfully greeted by bowing or curtseying, especially the first moon of the year. Wishing on the new moon involved going outside, turning round the apron and wishing secretly. The new moon should be first seen in open air, not behind glass or through trees. The whole farming world of planting crops and setting hens etc was timed to moon phases. This may have some basis in fact. People are scared to speak of fairies by their true names but refer to them as 'the gentle folk' or 'the good neighbours' or something. Belladonna is a very serious poison, and grows wild everywhere. Ergot is harder to find. '13' had been an unlucky number since before Roman times. If a group of people went gathering nuts on 'holy rood' day (14th September), the devil might join them as a terrifying

extra to the party. Which would suck. ...she ran down the road to the coast end of book one. Book two is all about the seaside, the motorway service stations and the glassy feeling of complete isolation. Jenna has showers because she's scared of the philosophical pull of baths. She lights candles and floats in the dark staring at the flames until parts of her are lost that don't come back. Sreth has morningly semi-practical baths. Clearish water scented with real dead flowers leaving faintly scummy trails. She cleans her toes and plans policy. Zirin bathes with the other cubi, who sit four to a tub and wash each others' backs, inspecting the bodies for their usefulness. They are constantly grooming each other. Hary doesn't bath at all, he rubs himself with a sponge in front of the sink with a textbook propped under the taps. He cleans and trims and brushes everything this way good time to learn an obscure language and no-one's complained so far. He usually smells too much of sulphur and burnt mud. Sreth has a place in the country where she invites people to plan policy. The farm is entirely surrounded by long grass, but the village is nearby and the people seem normal. Strange and momentous mental events take place there in the space of mere weekends, returning like beached travellers who can't believe it's only the same Sunday evening and not five hundred years later. Perhaps the real big bad should be the guy behind the guy. Not the cackling villain but their creator. Currently trying to download 'Smallville' 308, where Lionel goes a long way towards dismantling Lex. Made me think of Lucius M and how he'd be a strong choice for real villain (what a predictable bore the last two books turned out to be). Or how the Mayor helped twist Faith, or Angel's guilt about turning William from a simple vamp into a 'talented' one. I wish I had actors to work with; it seems to focus best with certain iconic characters. Also horrid thought that straight chick writers like writing boys cos they secretly glom them and males

write males cos they're the only people that exist. Only lesbians seem keen on female leads. Where does that leave me? Writing chick lit that nobody will read? Sreth sells mushrooms from fairyland. People want them. The pub sells coffee and is one of those pebble-dashed estate pubs. There is also a small bar in the Arcade (ia) basement. There is no real theatre except the one in town, but plays are sometimes staged in one of the more gothic libraries. Despite all this, people are sometimes sick of being in a cultural backwater and often leave town for mainland Coketown. Sort of dream follow-on from 'Holidays in Hell' lizards with silver muzzles so they can't speak (they used to have their lips sewn shut and this is a concession). A silver wire ran all up the fairy's leg in a spiral so she could be hobbled and tied to a stake in the garden to be used for prophecies. Never let them sing, for they will partially enchant the listeners. This is why it was a scandal when Ced went on Pop Idol. The wires in their hair and constricting their bodies to odd shapes are in memory of Bell'Claudia, the first really powerful queen; the one who broke fairies free of slavery and instituted the Other World Laws. In the Isle of Man, there is a belief in fairy pigs. One wears a red hat and is harmless. There is, however, a large white boar that haunts a bridge and occasionally carries people upstream to its underground cave. At Andover, a spectral pig can be seen on new year's eve. The parish church in Burnley was selected by a demon pig. Pins in a bottle preserved from witchcraft. A pair of scissors opened and stuck in a door frame prevented witches from entering. If a friend were suspected of being a witch, a pair could be left open behind a cushion or under a chair and the witch would be twitching and uneasy the whole visit. Some people say that seaanemones turn into herring after a while for no particular reason. People associated shadows with the soul and didn't want anyone to hurt or disturb them. At certain times, the 'ragged stone' on top of the malvern

hills cast a shadow over the valley, which was v. unlucky. It appeared rarely and at random. If anyone shivers suddenly without reason, it is a bad omen. 'Some spirit is passing close to him'. In antiquity, the sieve was a sacred instrument, representing the clouds through which rain fell. Witches used them to sail over water, if improperly caulked. A bridegroom could avoid being liable for the bride's debts if she married in just her shift. A baby was said to be under the fairies' power until it first sneezed. Defective children were believed to be changelings. Many folktales are about abandoned children, people who became transformed after leaving known culture for a while. Raised by peasants until it comes home to give what-for. Darkness of tale depends on whether real or step-folk. This fate can also befall wives. Amulets could work in such a society, worn round the neck with things in them. After nine days, the charm is disposed over the shoulder into an eastwards-flowing stream before sunrise and all that. The acheri lives in the mountains and then descends to roam through human settlements spreading sickness among children. Acorns when carried delay ageing. Fairies like to kidnap princes for some reason. An ahuizotl lives in ponds and strips travellers of their eyes, nails and teeth but since it is a servant of the rain god, the people always go to heaven (although they can't see anything when they're there). If you can survive the sight of an airi on the mountain, it will show you caves full of treasure. It is amazingly ugly though. ...he was given a magic watch which he dropped in the sea, but it was rescued by a friendly fish. Scottish sailors don't like Swan Vestas because the packet picture looks like an albatross. A cargo ship in 1959, the 'Calpean Star' transported an albatross that died and half the crew demanded to leave immediately. (the many men so beautiful and all around did die and a thousand thousand slimy things lived on and so did I). Roman auguries involving birds are very accurate.

Boars used to be hunted despite being especially fierce. The wound from a boar takes a long time to heal. Their heads were much eaten at xmas. Spectral boars race across the winter sky in the 'wild hunt'. The hounds could be the souls of unbaptised children or the ghosts of favourite fairy hounds. In Wales, the hunt is led by Gwyn Ap Nudd, the greatly-feared lord of the dead. Sometimes called the Ratchets. It was a bad omen to see this hunt, and the blowings of horns was enough warning to hide from them. The Isle of Man is where you want to go for fairy pigs. Foxes can transform themselves into people in order to entrap the gullible. If you keep the skin shed between states, you have mastery of the fox but only until it finds the skin and destroys it. The classic 22-episode arc 1. Either clean-up from last season or mini-adventure. 2. Includes expository dialogue and a 'typical' part for all. 3. Real repercussions from 1 and 2 or new-character intro. 4. Comedy episode or clean-up of character story. 5. Sweeps 1 setup, first hint of arcage. 6. Another character 'done', end with sweep start. 7. Sweeps ep. Poo hits fan, expensive flashbacks etc. 8. More of the same, usually present-day. 9. End of sweep-arc with 'new ball game' semi-resolution. 10. Comedy episode, or after-effects of ball-game situation. 11. Tidying up loose ends, preparing for next sweeps. 12. Entirely pointless ep with lame gags. 13. Start of sweeps 2, someone gets killed. 14. The cast awake to a more serious world. 15. Interlude, setting up mini-character change arc. 16. In the best seasons, these all bleed together... 17. as the big bad (revealed in 13) makes clear how... 18. high stakes are. Often involves group... 19. splitting up or mistrusting each other. 20. Mysterious stupid interlude involving underused character or

fishmen. 21. Often two-parter, people gather weapons and bond. 22. Finale. Either shock ending for new '1' or attempt to resolve everything for summer. A pagan-ridden culture would have limits set on 'not swimming' times. There are five days a month in a row when one could work at home, although these freedoms have now been extended to men too. Solstice festivals tend to take place after the 21st in order to preserve the sun etc, or hasten it. Herds were driven through the fires to cleanse them. The best time for magic is the solstice-approach. Demons met under walnut trees or in liminal spaces at this time. Snakes also gather together in huge writhing masses. In order to envision one's future lover, one should prepare a meal of bread, cheese and wine on midsummer's eve and leave the door open. Time passes differently in fairyland, even in a fairy's rented flat. Sometimes it isn't enough to be noticeable but the possibility is always there. Best keep off the elderflower wine. Looking directly at a lightning flash can drive you mad, and directing others' attention to it is problematic too. Finnish cubi are called 'sukusendal'. Pointing at the sun is not good. The sun always shines on Saturdays, even if only for a few seconds. The Mayans believed that jaguars were responsible for eclipses. It was possible to marry a jaguar in human form. Eels may be disguised dragons and cock's eggs do bring forth serpents. Waiting for a word from Mr P's housing association (a little fox-fed). She spent all day and the next week waiting by the window, a long rectangular block of plaster with stiff beige curtains that shimmered to her. There was the fishtank and the hot air moving into the room. The fishtank was real, with fish in it and not the more unusual pink skulls. The ceiling bore a crack in the shape of a lady of the 50s carrying her oversize bag, over the hill past her shops with secret pomegranates for silent rituals. She could smell the fruit. She could see the bag and her

smooth overlipsticked expression in the crack away in the ceiling. The toilet-roll dispenser and the sly shameful bag of sanitary business left over from last decade, when they all wore nappies and sucked like babies, hearing the squeaks of sucking. The view outside was of a halfused park with slow walkers, fast joggers and vast woolly dogs. The soap in the bathroom dispenser smelt of pineforest death, skidding the car down a mountain pass with tyres you can't rely on, despite the afternoon's woolly carpet and slow-cooked drink. She waited and watched in that room, gathering long-eared shadows and rolling in the nutty leafbrown carpet, attaching more meaning and analogy to every thought until each thought was studded with subthoughts like a fluffy lemon drop bought in a bag. She wrote small lumps of bad poetry on the backs of adverts, filling in chipped doorframes with ink and checking the corridor every now and then for a shuffling on the edge of hearing. The water dispenser ran dry and there was no more conversation about last night and its mutual fictions carrying people on the road to separate midnights. She got an eczematous patch on her hand from the toilet soap (and nearly a broken leg in a mountain-side snowdrift) and the floor was eight paces wide. The chair was beige and itchy like dead ants under the fingernails. A poster on the wall advertised sofas stuck in magic corridors and lost in heavenly fields. There was no sofa here. The poem-abused other advert had been for a car boot sale (but no trunks) last Sunday, when she was quieter. She cramped her handwriting for another poetic effort to describe the shapes the sunlit leaves made in her head when she was silently humming about swansdown. A boat came for otherher and carried her away on a soaked evening sea for some important work. Here there was only one now, for a breath as the water ran out, but there would be new associations in a minute. She finished her fuzzy mints. She cleaned her nails with a doorframe

splinter. She stared at the floor in a complex fantasy about office politics and love that was less real than the whispers she dripped about the way it reminded her of another thing, not one breath taken alone. While making a paper biplane from the sofa advert, she was called whole and incomplete to the inner office. She walked her feet over the carpet and past the leaves and the pines and the sofas dead and poems and dry water bubbling in a pipe and walked in alive. I am friends with the cafetiere because it hasn't screwed me over like earlier ones. They have a habit of smashing against tap-heads or in washing-up bowls. I had a yellow one that cost thirteen quid and matched the kettle. The kettle had to be returned once, just within its warranty period. I had kept the receipt by the miracle of laminating it and displaying it on the mufs office wall. Walters said that if they asked, I could reply What? Don't you laminate all your receipts?. I'm still rather wary of the toaster. To be honest, it's too narrow for muffins and has a generous four slots. Also it was a rather surprising gift I still haven't returned of. I don't make all that much toast. Most of my bread ends up trapped in the freezer and there's the whole complex butter issue. I might go back to that spreadable butteresque stuff. The computer is just a screaming beast that takes up all the time and the two vcrs have separate and complementary flaws. The orange lamp works surprisingly well; glad I didn't get it in blue for once. The lava lamp is exceedingly cute, and saves the need for all those candles. Also the fairy lights have lasted well. I need to get another lot this year in case the poor little things wear out. I am tempted to buy ornaments for the windowsill but it seems a slippery slope. Maybe I'll find some special things. Not little statues but frozen crystals and odd dolls. Scary dolls might work. My wardrobe is not a friend, but a big hole of failure, where laundry doesn't happen and nothing looks interesting enough. All those dark

clothes to 'set off' the pale skin, but how to cover the unsuitable body parts and red is always wrong. I need a bike but I fucked up another lot of money, where did it go? What did it do? Will I ever see the like again? The pens are good, but maybe I should type things up (helloooo!). Not much point with such little work. The fridge needs defrosting. I like the bath, it does all a bath should and it's a decadent thrill to have a private toilet. And the bookcase is a lucky thing to find outside the door. Shame there are more bills than books in it. I need yet another cardboard chest of drawers or similar. Damn this place's lack of cupboards. Look up temple prostitution, further into river and graveside

superstitions and fairy feet. The 'sky burial' stuff and ossuaries are aces. Especially those dark towers on the edge of town with bodies lain on top. Things to do later Sudden The corpse, the candle and Sukie Layabouts Line-readings the house A stitch in lime Corn-fed But we did! Closure. Southern skies The scar Yesterday it made sense I never have any in World-ism Faron Faran Seme Busch Lie detector Never take it on trust Leftovers Gods of the garden In summer, it never happens

So who is the villain? Not sure, like an overall greyness. Betrayal and not being believed. Is it dark enough? Plenty, with the paranoia and despair and fear of being too late. Are there any conflicts? Both mild romantic struggles, terrible self-doubt, being pursued and caught and not even being sure if the other side isn't worse. Are there characters? Really true six or seven people who have particular views on baths, literature and morality. Is there dialogue? It seems deeply silent at present, possibly due to thinking too art-filmly, but conversation practice classes can be arranged. Is it derivative? Wildly so, almost choking from its sources and

echoes, but some only visible to me and most things mere plot mechanisms and not important. And how tight is the plot? Woolly start, vague middle, great end of part one. Flapping about like a sock in the wind. So vague it hurts. Is it worth doing? It has to be these people would die without me. Has it overrotted? Not while it's still evolving. But enough pieces have solidified to make it worth digging out pretty sharpish. Isn't it a dull and solitary job? Unfortunately yes, but it's what I asked for just giving something back. Pleasant. Was in some college bar or canteen using their apples to read something when this alerted some chaps. Blah and talk till one said 'Not till I've had a chance to crack onto her'. Made vague plans to meet, but I wasn't sure they had my address. Came round to my (other) home and went back to the bar. The whole college was sort of involved, like it was a webcam or a prank but friendly. One was very nice but I thought it was odd that he noticed me. 'I'm the wrong gender', I thought. Went to a performance of some old film like Ck, only done in 3d, so I was sitting on a balcony only inches from a giant b/w actress' shoulders. The chap next to me said wasn't it exciting and this was a new way to watch films. So I flew to NY for free, on a whim. Like I'd got on the plane by accident. The flight was very short. When I got off at the airport, I went straight to the tube station. I made faces about the horrible shabbiness of the station. Some nice man sat on a bench asked why I was being so mean, and I said they were faces of admiration. The station was now done in pale blue tiles and very nice. He cheered up. I asked him which tube to get and he suggested the one for the ferry or for the bank building. I got on (very spacious but little seating, like a metrolink) and it went slowly overground... a great way to see 'real' scenery. People started to look uncomfortable as it came up to the disaster site, and one woman muttered to herself that the view was just awful.

There were small, fenced-off squares of gravel, each with a housewife in a floral pinny etc and a wooden sunlounger in the middle. I wondered about that for a while. Eventually, it reached the end of the line and I got off still without ticket. About now I started to realise that I was here on a whim and a return ticket might not be cheap. But I remembered the reserve 500 and felt better. I went through some imposing Victorian gateway with brown-glazed statues and a fruit garland arch onto the street, which had just stopped raining. I thought I should sort out the return ticket first, and stepped back in, avoiding the military recruiting booth. I noticed a clear plastic booth in the foyer with a black leather seat and a sign saying it was a promotion from BA about their comfy chairs. Too expensive, I thought, but they might have a surprising 3am deal. I went up to the counter there and was given a 3d origami cardboard survey to fill in; which is your destination 'Manchester' and some irrelevant questions and neatly-made boxes-within-boxes. Another man came up, who I recognised from Goldings. 'S. Kitchener', who had a white beard and looked about 50. I interrupted to say I knew him (feeling like 'wacky adventuress') and he was vague about it. Some coincidence, I thought. Both of them seemed used to my situation, though vaguely peeved. At least I was doing better than the film star who had gone mad and was wandering the foyer. Could I look after him and get him a flight too? The books started to seem like tampon ads. Plot notes Jenna looking round Pelling at the crazy shops. Sreth, and why she's in exile (obliquely). Jenna does a door-to-door job and meets an absolute forest of gold necklaces. Jenna walks round the arcade with the booklet and spots about 50 cubi. Meeting of alchemical society. Mr Pelling; why rent out those particular shops? Jenna visits Sreth at home for official oracular advice. The Iron Filings come for a few gigs.

Only Mr P. could persuade them to play here. Zirin swears he's no ordinary cubi. He's double reformed, and anyway might be gay. Lucy has a hard day or 300 in the Institute. Jenna cycles the 15 miles to visit L, who never leaves her bloody house. L knew all about cubi since forever of course. The alchemists break up for the term, to continue burning mud in secret. G rents out a shed in the arcade's back grounds and gets worryingly advanced. He is quite scared by the behaviour of the base mixture. Jenna goes to a Pelling doctor and is sent for treatment for her funny boil. It all goes slowly and horribly Institute-wards. Who the hell is the leader of the Filings? L gets a job with the Pelling job agency and finds out some things she shouldn't. Jenna meets G and has a crush on him. He's too busy with mud and secretly likes S anyway. She knows about this and tries to push him towards Jenna, just as she gives up and starts to admit she likes cubi, and especially Zirin. Sreth and Mr Pelling have a huge argument about whether she's allowed to practice freelance without the responsibilities of office. G's work has poisoned him into another dimension (dammit, that's a good one). He poisons Jenna and they wander through a clean arcade, chased by a nonspecific monster.they find S's back door. She is annoyingly calm about it. The white queen has been sending goblin foxes down from the mountains to mess with heads. She wants to QoF job, the KoF job and to rule the periworld alone. Bad news for cubi. Bad news for Fs, suxis, jinns and all the other creatures hanging round the arcade (seriously, that photo stills guy was a jinn or something). Bad news for people, as it all percolates downwards. Blood for all, lattes de crap all round and then the fog. Jenna has to save the day. She has to brave the cloud elements, risk exposure as a blessed one and kill the queen or trap her in the other

dimension.Sreth has to face up to it, go back to her ma, the last queen D the divine over the road, back in 1928. She also has to be very careful to keep the cubi council having-happened. If she goes there, she can't come back. Mr Pelling has to shut the arcade and let anorexic bra makers in, G has to stop the dangerous and flukily accurate alchemics and Zirin has to, well, just stop. And hand back the J-harvest currently wafting round the fishtank. Or is any of this change necessary? Are the goblin foxes speaking through Sreth? Can she be trusted? Jenna confronts the white queen in a haze of cold and tiredness and wakes up in the institute without knowing whether she won or not. Zirin , G and L go back to find Sreth (who isn't in 1928 at all but trying to induce the blessed disease in a young Jenna somewhere in 1978). fashioned spangles. The Alchemical Society met in an abandoned scout-hut, made like a school mobile and heated by a tiny electric thing that made the room smell of slow-roasting paint. The Convenor, Green Level Four Addis addressed the trainee alchemists from the top of a chair. It was, he said, a tradition. When you sign up for the Great Work, you abandon all else. No books off-topic do you read, no programmes, no radio, no 'fun party records'. For recreation, you may contact other alchemists, play suitably thoughtful albums and spend one day a fortnight in normal social behaviour not flirting, I shouldn't need to add. Your every thought, your every bite of food and twitch of muscle tissue should be dedicated to the great work. Neither snow nor sun nor threatening birds should stray you from the bench. On days when there is waiting, you wait. On days when there is mixing, you mix. In the purifying stages, you must abjure all contact, both relevant and other. You will at these times sleep by the work, never leave, never change robes and drink only water, eat only They have to stay there undercover for some weeks, but at least get to see the premiere of 'Grease' and eat old

bread. Once the year cycle has run to summer, the midsummer meeting is upon, and you can take a month off. Send us a postcard and don't go too wild. Is anyone still interested? The trainee alchemists looked sideways at each other. None of them looked like leaving. One of them, G, raised his hand. What kind of music counts as relevant? The others looked attentive at this question. Whatever works for you. It's supposed to put you in a philosophical frame of mind, so I'm hardly likely to give you a printed list of outdated records to snigger at. You know what sends you or whatever the current phrase and it becomes part of your novitiate to remove the trivial. What about serious and transcendent films, books, you know, paintings and stuff? Visual media, although useful at my stage, he smiled widely, are not good training material. The inner eye should always be gazing on the Material Structure, awaiting insight. Too many external images could ruin the delicate helical structure. Feed your inner eye on darkness! Can I get that on a t-shirt?, one muttered. The others looked appalled by the whole thing and the Convenor's intensity, but not one of them was willing to back down. Shige did experimental performance art, but died because the goblin foxes got to her. Zirin appeared at her funeral, apologetically. She even made a performance piece of her last end, entitled Tar On My Feet, where her art-gallery house was opened for the last time, only instead of seeing her make tea or play imaginary computer games, she bled slowly to death over a well-chosen old sofa. The gallery brochure gave instructions on how to view the work, including the absolute injunction that the chief exhibit must not be touched until the showing ended two days hence. The tv showed a video of the making of 'Tar', including wellshot digital handheld work of all the cutting. The song playing in the background was available for sale in the foyer, along with a pile of bills

and rejected love letters. Both the video and the gallery notes were broken up with goblin fox talk. The viewers walked round the white line on the floor, pausing at the viewless window, the half-burnt meal, the long phone bill itemised to the last therapist pinned on the corkboard, and in a wide circle past the fast-drying main exhibit. They were too welltrained to disturb the exhibit until it was over. Medical blessed disease going up the fire-escape to be tried for the institute & choosing doctors. Library steeples instead of churches in pellworld. From a high tramstop, all the steeples of the learning temples could be seen, ringing last call for dvds in the sunday mist. But what do the ecclesiastical supplies people sell? Arcade at solseve, very pagan & fairy lights with harmony-singing elves helping with the shopping. A stall selling every single kind of cushion it was possible to imagine. The true meaning of solseve is the hospitality. No house should be without piles of food and spare beds, but no-one actually exchanges gifts. The commercialism extends to shops pimping ever-larger hampers and home-made kareoke kits. The amount of put-up beds and put-up spare bedrooms sold in December is vast. The trains are all heaving (but it is illegal to do maintenance over the season and the trains run on solseve itself). In face, the train companies are socially obliged to provide free munchies. One of Sreth's odder offices was the dark corner of the H stand during a county match. This was one of the only roofed stands, covered in mouldy corrugated plastic and smelling of waspy bins. She sat there on Fridays as the rain fell deafeningly on the roof and onto the defenceless wicket out in the middle. If it fell at the wrong angle there'd be broken noses after tea. The ball could skip off the crust onto a puddle and through the topsoil into a sticky patch. Then it could go anywhere. There was a theory that she used the path of the ball for prophesying, but surely that would depend on the bowler. Some people couldn't turn on a wet dog.

Occasionally a player would slope off during lunch and consult her, but mostly it was outsiders, people coming to the ground for the first time (you could tell from the lack of umbrellas and low beer stocks). She would only work her trade in these places, never at home. If someone came with a complaint, she had a back door she could escape through. She always said it led to another dimension, and not a very pleasant one. However, saying this, she seemed to get some fantastic birthday presents. One year, everyone on the A list had got soap soap that never wore out and smelled different every week. It tended to need cleaning and plucking with tweezers after a while, but it was well worth having. As a tribute to the last flight of concorde, I had a dream that I saw it from an office window flying into a cut-away black cloud and tried to take a digital picture of it, only was too slow. It was a beneficial dream. Fairies didn't like the word and thought it was a rather degrading name (not surprising after what the Victorians did). They preferred more Pratchettian names, but I can't, so maybe these days they're less fussy. The mini-fe are no more than laser pointers. Their actual given names weren't popular either. Maybe Mr P keeps Sreth as a slave by having her name everywhere on calling-cards. They are said to roam about a lot, causing trouble. The Tylwyth Teg only appear to natural blondes ... supposed to possess magical powers and to have great influence for good or bad over the affairs of men, also ... in close relationship with men. They are small creatures, often dressed in green living underground or in stone heaps, usually exercising his magic for benevolent ends. They are also a tiny mischevious hearth creature or an ageless winged woman dressed in flimsy white clothing, living in f-land but sometimes intervening in personal human affairs.The miniaturisation is mostly from Shakespeare because people feared them

less. In proper folklore they are full-sized. Wings are right out. They come from the classical notion of a genius loci.