Con the Saxe and Fey the Gael (part 4)

Nor had she given him fair warning, for the choice was not a gift.
In exchange she’d own his soul, he’d lose himself, but more:
whatever he selected would be charged against his people,
who would lack as long as he would live. And the hidden trick,
Fey’s risk, if he declined to choose, would open all her secrets.

Knowing none of this, he paused a second – and that saved him.
She held out the prizes she had summoned up, visible in air,
to tempt him further on – and they were taken from her!
The dark wind and chill that travelled with her master
whipped them away; then her, entire, with a single cry of dread.

The naive young sprite now faced her punishment thrice over,
having revealed herself and then consorted with a mortal,
she’d offered him a fatal choice, which was not hers to give.
Stripped of her gifts, her ragged wings, torn while barely dry,
she was driven into exile – but without mortality’s cold mercy.

Now the man was truly shaken. His homing instinct took him
to his village, quest unfulfilled, desire for it quenched;
his skin broken, open wounds infected by the Other,
dazed, confused, distracted, lacking will and energy
he stumbled into the gate-fire, that cauterised his flesh.

So Con the heedless lived on, in long prosperity, but mocked:
for the lameness in his right leg and his scar, his new mark,
a flaring livid crimson slash, all down his side, the sinister,
from ear and jaw down chest and arm to groin and thigh.
Rooted in the soil, the kelpie’s words forgotten, the haunted man remained.


Con the Saxe and Fey the Gael (part 3)

Released, her comely slender demi-curves entranced his eye,
her voice was sibilant and smooth, her accent strange
as, freed at last, implacable and beautiful and shivering,
she turned to him in spite and fear and wonder, asking:
Who are you? Who dares come here? On a full moon!

Con spoke his name, and lineage, insensible in pride;
And who are you? Who gives no gratitude for rescue?
I am Fey, a Gael,
she said – a truth, a lie, in the same breath,
which her magic neither knew nor cared, the morals
of mortal men as closed to her as their designs were open.

So she enticed him on, entrancingly engorged his pride,
seductively she took his life in hand and mouth
and kept herself inviolate, while she swallowed him:
the man, the foolish earthen man, who blindly sought
his pleasure and yet never knew the danger he embraced….

Until at last, satisfied relaxed and spent,
he saw – too late – her eyes unmasked: a clear
fierce shocking radiance brighter than the moon
and redolent of threat more imminent than
the longest sharpest tusks a boar has ever grown….

The spirits flared in her, through her their powers flowed,
but cat-like she played with him, offering a grateful choice of gift:
one dry – a polished silver apple – one wet – liquid crystal water –
unreckoning the game had risk for her as well as him,
for they were neither hers to give; nor did he have to choose;

Con the Saxe and Fey the Gael (part 2)

Though Tyrel the boar was far away that night (ravaging elsewhere),
Con’s luck and fate, his doom, were near: he sensed not saw:
movement flicker in the moonlight: he stared and saw: a horse:
a colt or filly, pure yearling, beautiful and white (or grey),
gazing rapt into a still dark pool, as if reflection lingered there.

He crept closer, struck by awe and dazed by fascination,  until
his farmer’s tread betrayed him and broke her concentration;
startled!  unawares!  she turned and ran from him
revealing her true nature in her surprise and haste:
…. a spirit or a kelpie, a familiar, a magical young changeling.

The solitary man, foolhardy man, forgetful of his purpose, followed her ….
lost her from his sight …. then heard a whinnied cry
echo in a weird and shaded grove, more ancient than he knew,
which chilled him all the same, but, heedlessly and wilfully
Con pushed ahead and grappled through the copse;

And blinked, and looked away, and looked again:
she was transformed:  changed to a faerie, thin and sallow pale,
trapped in a jagged bush that caught and tore her wings.
He pitied her.  He stepped forward.  With care,
Con freed her from the thorns, one by agonising one;

Careless of the cuts his body bore unnoticed,
scratched through living bleeding flesh to bone
by the bush he’d entered step by step, each thorn a barb
inflamed by mistletoe – the fatal plant of older myth –
Con was compassioned by her pain beyond his own.

Con the Saxe and Fey the Gael (part 1)

Once there was a man named Con, a fair-born Saxe,
the only son of Frowh, seventh son of Eorfr, a potent man;
born in easternland, come oversea, swept from the risen sun,
set now on a village edge, a commensal, forbye a market town,
far over on the marches of cold North, uneasy West.

One harvest moon, a full moon, hanging water,
by the light of that full moon, he went alone,
Con strode abroad when canny men were tight abed;
long of stride, far sighted, but not so full of wisdom,
he went at night in hope to track and win his fame.

Hefting his grandfather’s spear, stout and carefully refurbished,
girt with his father’s bright short-bladed sword,
clad in weft and woven cloak against the chill,
fitting to his stern and weathered eyes and field-strong arm,
he stalked abroad at night to prove his name.

He sought a boar, old Tyrel the boar,
wily and mean, stubborn, tusked and strong,
long in teeth and cunning ways,
bristled and grizzled and pungent and sore,
which gorged as if by right on the villagers’ spring crops.

Bold Con the Saxe stole quietly through the gathering trees,
distracted by his plans, until he lost his star ….
…. he paused a while to catch a breath,
protected by his dark-red cloak, he peered around, to realise
perhaps he’d come too far: there may be peril in this wood.

Famous Day!!

Performances of collective and individual vision and skill;

Living values of discipline, humility, workrate and teamwork;

Demonstrating outstanding defence and brilliant finishing;

Manifesting in public displays of dominance through excellence and victory through harmony.

Victory through harmony

5-0 to the Arsenal

A cloud lifted, or at least cracked open, this afternoon. I got out of my own head, a little, and rediscovered some joy.

Even before the match kicked off, standing high up on the upper concourse behind the North Bank, looking out, I felt some of the excitement of the city, of London, and of being excited to be part of it, again. At last. It’s been a long time. Hallelujah!!

And then the team, in a competitive top flight match against a big club – albeit one fallen on disappointing times – and yes, despite making hard work of it for a spell through the middle third; the team began and ended playing outstandingly brilliant football. ‘Sumptuous’ per Arseblog. Ridiculously good in parts. Large parts. And scored five really nice goals; four lovely goals imo. And kept a clean sheet (ok, ok, I know how paltry Villa’s goalscoring record is this season). And came very, perilously, close to humiliating Villa before the end. And, looked like they enjoyed it; enjoyed their work; enjoyed entertaining us; enjoyed expressing themselves.

The best I’ve seen them play for a long, long time. I won’t even whisper how long since! It must be two years, possibly three, since I realised I had stopped looking forward to games, even big matches, season-defining ones (Bayern, bloody hell). How fresh it feels, coming back to life after a long journey through a dark night.

Football as a metaphor for life, indeed. If you mean it, and see it that way, it can be; it is for me (one of several, one of the strong ones).

And I enjoyed it so much!! And being with the boys, my sons. It was a liberating afternoon. I loved it.

And now they – whisper that chant – face the future brightly: “Tottenham Hotspur, we’re coming for you….” But let’s keep it steady. Positive anticipation, no hubris.

While I —- I rejoice positively, in the gift of life. And hope. And look forward to what is to come next.

Understood, Misty

Once upon a time there was a girl named Misty [nee Drew, but that, dear reader, is not important in this story; that is, not directly to its point]. She was pretty and people found her very attractive. She was also bright and creative and imaginative. Unfortunately, she was also unhappy, because she had been neglected as a child by the people she wanted most of all to love her: her parents. She had known lots of other people too, many at boarding schools, some of whom had done good things for her and some who had done bad things to her. But what really made a difference to her, and to her narrative, was having been neglected by her parents. Whom she so, so wanted to love her.

Misty had a narrative. In it, she was special. Extra special. Maybe even – who knows – a bit divine? At times, mostly when she was alone (and she was alone quite a lot), she did seem to think so. And because Misty was such a gifted person, people were drawn to her, and listened to her narrative, and found her attractive. Although, being honest, dear reader, most of them also thought her kind of strange. But some of that attraction was sexual. Which Misty, in her way, found a bit strange of them because, given the parent thing, she still felt and acted a bit like a child. Which is kind of strange too, if you think about it, because she’s 25 now. But people are strange, dear reader, each in their own way.

Now the sex thing kind of fitted Misty’s narrative, because it made her feel special and attractive. Also, she liked pleasing people, she liked making them happy, and having sex with someone nearly always made them feel good, and happy. So it made Misty happy too. And she did (whisper it) enjoy it too. Usually, anyway. Except once, when she had gone with a homeless man in a stairwell. But it also didn’t entirely fit her narrative, because she wanted to be pure and, most of all, to be young again, so that her parents would love her after all and not neglect her any more. But, as every child knows, dear reader, but most adults have forgotten, parents are notoriously capricious.

And another thing about Misty, which was rather remarkable, was that she really didn’t care for herself very much. In fact, this was the thing that most people noticed first about Misty. And, if they didn’t look beneath the surface, it might have been all that they noticed, or remembered, about her. Now, as you may have noticed, dear reader, that comment says a number of things about Misty:
• She didn’t take very good care of herself physically. She often didn’t eat very well and, when she washed, or put on clean clothes, you knew it was for a special occasion;
• At times, although she was kind of ambivalent about admitting it, the way she behaved and the things she said seemed to show that she didn’t like or respect herself very much; and
• She often had a rather reckless disregard for her own safety, and took all sorts of naive risks and got into some very awkward situations as a result.
Who knew why, dear reader, who knew? Maybe Misty felt empowered by her self-neglect; treating herself so badly that even the most hardcore abusive or neglectful parents couldn’t treat her any worse than she could treat herself? But maybe it was something else entirely. Or, since people are rarely straightforward and, as you may have surmised, dear reader, Misty certainly wasn’t, most likely it was a combination of several different things.

Now, there had always been other people in Misty’s life. Although usually they didn’t last long, because – with Misty being kind of strange and all, most of those other people were pretty strange too. Or Misty managed to send them away for upsetting her. Or both. But there was one other person in Misty’s life who had stuck around for a bit. Except that they made a mistake. They treated Misty as an adult, which was how they saw her, and how they wanted her to be, and they expected her to behave like one and to be responsible for herself and things. A person who said Yes when she meant Yes. And No when she meant No. But Misty wasn’t there yet. She didn’t like being responsible. It didn’t fit her narrative either. In her narrative, she wasn’t grown up at all – even though she did lots of grown up things – so her narrative got a little bit twisted and confused and unreliable.

And so, somehow, a strange thing happened in Misty’s head. Which was, after all, no stranger to strange ideas and goings-on. She decided that sex was bad for her and that she couldn’t have agreed to it at all, and that she had therefore been raped. Even though actually she had positively consented to have sex, every single time. If the truth be told, dear reader – as it should be, in all the best stories – she had initiated it most times. And in her heart Misty knew this was how it had been, when she was honest with herself. But that was less and less often, as time passed, as the layers of contradiction in her narrative grew and grew, and as more and more things in her experience didn’t get resolved. And Misty was very, very stubborn once she had made up her mind about something. And as she would never, ever admit to being wrong, it got harder and harder for her to resolve things.

Because Misty had a voice, dear reader. A very good, strong voice, which she used a lot. (Although she didn’t always know when she had used it, or remember, or want to admit that she had been heard. But that was how life was, in the looking glass world where reality was malleable, and things that Misty did that were wrong always had to be someone else’s fault.) And when she used that voice to say No, dear reader, which she also did quite a lot – as there were lots and lots of things which she didn’t like, including almost anything which hadn’t been her idea – there wasn’t any sex. And that was all right. Except that Misty did kind of enjoy sex, so she didn’t really want it to stop. So she didn’t always say No. And when she said Yes, she liked it very much indeed. And most of all, she enjoyed the attention which was part of sex, dear reader; she liked the attention very much indeed! In fact, she enjoyed the attention even more than the money and the support which came with it, as they were part of the same relationships and all closely linked together; and she loved having those too! Because they made her feel that some other people – or at least one or two other people – thought she was special too. Which was true.

But one thing was, sadly, unfortunately, very clear. All the love and all the attention which had been given to her by that other person who had stuck around for a while – and all the other things that had come her way too in that relationship (or those relationships, dear reader, because there had also been others which had all ended sadly for Misty) – went away. So that, although Misty had somewhere new to live, and more and different money to buy herself the things she thought she wanted, she had once again lost the things she craved the most, which were love and attention. Which were always, and forever, love and attention. Except that this time, dear reader, it wasn’t her parents’ fault: Misty had fucked it up for herself.

And another thing was, strangely – or not, depending on how you see things, not clear at all. Misty knew a lot – an awful lot, dear reader – about music. And could play guitar ever so well. Although she didn’t really play much anymore. She was kind of busy making childlike art installations. And giving praise to someone else’s made up god. And feeling sorry for herself. And stuff. And when she was sometimes persuaded to perform and play a gig, she didn’t practice or anything. But the strange thing was that, no matter how much different music Misty listened to, all that she could hear in her head when she closed her eyes came down to “Tralala”. Every morning, every evening, five times a day, every hour, every moment in her head, if she wasn’t doing anything else, what she heard was “Play Tralala for me”….

And that, dear reader, is a little bit of the story of Misty (nee Drew). But she has gone her own way, and we can’t follow her forever.

Now, though, because this is a modern story, it won’t end, but will go on with a question:

Do you think that Misty will ever grow up? (And what will happen to her if she does?)