Godfathers (sort of)

I’ve tried a few times to write my son a poem, tried to wrestle my emotions into words that don’t do them justice. When I finally finished something it took three days and it came on the back of reading my son Neil Gaiman’s Blueberry Girl while simultaneously going on a Good Omens bender.

I’m still wrestling with it (and probably will be for a very long time) but here’s a snippet of how it stands right now;

Angel of courage, Demon so bright, each with your shoulder to guard,
First, please guide him when life is hard.
Help him to grow, be brave and stand tall,
Show him that it’s ok to fall.
With a heart that is open, a mind that is too.
Teach him the soft ways to fight.
How to ask questions, hearing the answers,
Learning about what is right (not Right).

My mum said it was good (I love my mum) then added, ‘Although it’s a bit strange to address it to fictional characters, isn’t it?’

Is it? I honestly hadn’t thought so, but then my Good Omens bender has included hanging out on the Aziraphale/Crowley tag on Archive or Our Own imbibing everything from fluff, to smut, to crackfics, to just friends, to a pure joyous celebrations of humanity. There is so much love and acceptance on that tag that it made perfect sense when the idea of the poem burned through me and I had to at least try it or implode.

Back in this version of reality I blinked and thought well is it strange to address a poem to fictional characters? Really?

This is not the first time I’ve gone on a bender following a story eating my soul. I think it’s because whatever I’m obsessed with fills a gap that I hadn’t realised was there (or been studiously ignoring because acknowledgement meant I should take action to do something about it).

In a world that I’m continually finding unsettled and angry I’d decided it would be comforting to have some supernatural beings on our side. Or for them to let all of us all be part of ‘Our Side’.

Especially if those supernatural beings know us and accept us for who we are, even if it is for the selfish (and very human) reasons that we invented cars and crepes.

The more I thought about it the more I realised that the things I wished for my son in this world were the things that I saw in the Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett story. I would like him to find the courage to be himself without apology, to be open to finding love in unexpected places and to nurture a healthy suspicion of authority. I want him to know that there are as many ways to be a human being as there are stars in the sky, and (cultural expectations on boys now being a particular worry of mine) that vulnerability is bravery. Choosing to give away your flaming sword does not make you less of a man (man shaped being or less of anything really).
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So, I think I’m sticking to my creative decision on this one.

 

 

P.S If you are also on a Good Omens bender and haven’t got hold of the DVD yet here’s some of my favourite fics of the moment.

Have to mention Slow Show by Mia Ugly.  Human AU were Aziraphale and Crowley are co-stars on a Game of Thrones style fantasy series called Warlock.  It’s a beautiful coming out story/accepting who you are story and is nearly complete.

Ill Begotten by Hel_in_Nil is set post cannon and has amazing characterization of everyone you’d expect and some of the minor characters too.  The real pleasure is the OC’s though. Especially Raphael.

Dearly Departed by aththeborder. Post Canon and Crowley ends up discorporated and trapped in Hell’s bureaucracy with only a lust demon to help him.  Mean while Aziraphale has to stop a Satanist stealing Crowley’s old body. It’s soooo funny. Honestly.

Stopping at one more. Time to Leave the Garden by IneffableAlien because who knew that Good Omens needed a gritty prison drama reboot.  It’s beautifully written and heartbreaking (and still has a couple of chapters to go). Highly recommended, but with this one especially remember to check the warnings.

 

Things I liked about Maleficient (the first one)

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Gorgeous image from Pixaby

Things I liked about Maleficent:

1. Angelina Jolie
2. The Wicked Queen can redeem herself in this one*

I noticed at a young age that Disney heroine’s very rarely had mothers. Fortunately I did notice this at a young age and it hadn’t quite registered that I would grow up and stop being the young, romantically available and childless heroine of my own story.

Now I am older and married with a child I’m feeling a bit adrift. I’m also very sensitive to maternal shame, and it feels like I am absorbing that from fairy tales now too. There are two choices for mothers in fairy tales.

• You can be unrealistically good, sweet, kind and selfless and die beautifully.
• You can be unrealistically evil, vengeful, bitter and mourning everything the heroine has that you have lost.

And as social expectations can often imply, just because these are unrealistic doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be trying to meet them and judged when you fail.

What I like about Maleficent is not so much that we get to see how she becomes evil, vengeful and bitter, but that she is given the power to change herself again. Maleficent is not so rigid that Aurora can’t make a connection to her fairy godmother when she reaches out. Maleficent has the maturity and awareness to realise that her curse was not the healthiest way to heal herself and spends part of the film trying to undo the harm she’s caused.

There is not a battle here between the older shadow-mother of fairy tales and the young girl, but a recognition that the two don’t have to be in conflict. Just because you feel you have lost something doesn’t mean that you have to destroy it in someone else, it doesn’t mean that you haven’t gained something as well,

And I don’t think I’d want to be 16 forever. Although part of me kind of does. I pushed the buggy past three identically dressed teenage girls on a bench today and I was terrified that they’d see me in only in terms of what I’d lost. Which is ridiculous because I know what I’ve gained, but they don’t, they can’t because it’s buried bone deep in the scars of me. You can’t tell them that stuff and expect them to understand.

So I kept pushing and I smiled just in case any if them were watching.

And if I am being truly evil, vengeful and bitter, what better way is there to get back at Stefan than having his daughter love you so much she comes to fairy land and helps you to build a better world?

*If you like the title it’s a homage to Amanda Lovelace’s ‘Women are Some Kind of Magic’ series. The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in this one has a poem called ‘Maleficent’ in it, but read all three books anyway. They are staggeringly beautiful. Find them here

R.I.P Blog Hop-NOS4R2 by Joe Hill

 

Like The Woman in Black this is a story about stolen children.

Charles Manx takes children away from parents he deems inadequate, and carries them off in his vintage Rolls Royce to Christmasland, a twisted never land of his own imagining.

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image from Pixaby

Only Victoria McQueen has the means to stop him, as she can also travel the unseen roads to Christmasland. When Manx takes her son, she has to get him back before the journey to Christmasland changes him forever.

This book has always appealed to me because of jolliness of Christmas being spliced with the terrible. Snowmen decapitate each other and the sleigh coaster does pretty much exactly what it says on the tin.

Manx too is both sinister and goofy. A benevolent ringmaster with the physical similarities between the 1930s film version of Nosferatu. (Get it?)

Reading this book also came at the same time I’d become obsessed with teaching Baby Pumpkin body safety, and found something repulsively wrong about Manx calling a boy’s penis a fiddlestick.  Not that there is any sexual assault on children in this book (Manx is asking the boy if he needs to pee).

The cruelty to children comes instead from Manx’s parenting style, which lacks empathy (the road to Christmasland takes away fear and sadness) and focuses on giving children exactly what they want, rather than what they need.

This makes Manx the parent of over 100 self-interested, undisciplined and violent brats who like to pull the legs of moths and gouge the eyes out of adults with scissors. Imagine sitting next to that family in a restaurant.

Manx is a true villain that believes that he is doing the best for his stolen children.

Then there is the parenting style of Vic McQueen, alcoholic and drug addict, who has been absent for most of her son’s early life. She struggles to do the right thing, and she is not always an easy character to like. She can, however, admit that she has messed up and needs to change.

She is an Imperfect parent doing the best she can with the resources she has. Aren’t we all?

This book is extra scary because the stealing of children gets under your skin, and I am particularly sensitive to other people judging my parenting skills at the moment.  As Christmas is on the way, I’d better watch out.

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Image from Pixaby

5 Geeky (and inappropriate?) Lullabies

I was excited about choosing a bedtime lullaby for Baby Pumpkin. No Twinkle Twinkles or Rock a Byes for me as everyone else would be singing those. I had my eye on something special that would be just between him and me.

Bearing in mind when I say sing, fantasy and reality are very different.

 

Both cat and girl from Pixaby

Plus, I soon worked out that any song I loved would be ground into shards through the sheer monotony of repetition with crying baby on accompaniment. I found myself swapping songs about to retain sanity.  Here are five of the geekiest, and possibly most inappropriate that I find singing in the early hours of the morning.

1.Gollum’s Song from The Two Towers.

Level of inappropriate: moody revenge song.

Level of difficulty: both verses are similar enough that they get mixed up in my head and I lose the narrative of it, but that means that I keep singing while I try and work out the place where I’m going wrong.

But, It has a perfect rhythm to rock too.

2. The Firefly Theme Tune

Level of inappropriate: not too bad, although does deal with the destruction of the singer’s world.

Level of difficulty: Easy peasy, and more upbeat than your average lullaby.

And it’s the Firefly Theme Tune. How cool will it be when my geeky son sits down to watch his first episode and is, ‘Wait…I know this!’

3. Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera.man-158329_1280

image from Pixaby

Level of inappropriate: sung by a creepy man in mask hiding behind a mirror in someone’s bedroom.

Level of difficulty: Impossible to get all the words straight in my head, and hit most of the notes.

But, it’s an awesome song to get lost in and keeps my brain occupied.

4. The Outlander Theme Tune

Level of inappropriate: I’m pretty sure that this is more standard lullaby territory as it’s based on the Skye Boat Song. However, the words ‘all that I was has gone’, resonated a bit too much with me in the early days of acclimatizing to motherhood. The whole thing became kind of self-indulgent.

Level of difficulty: moderate as it suffers from the same pit falls as Gollum’s Song, with the added danger of slipping into the original lyrics.

But, it’s so much fun to sing and has nostalgia value as it was one of the first things I could play on the recorder.

5. Trust in Me from The Jungle Book.

Level of inappropriate: fall asleep little boy so I can eat you. Plus, now Kaa is the token female in the movie adaptations there’s the whole destructive mother/Shelobesque subtext to go with it.

Level of difficulty: easy, if somewhat monotonous.

But, it’s fun doing the hissing.

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Image from Pixaby

I’d like to say that some of these work.  Honestly though I think my husband has the most luck with ‘Daisy, Daisy’.  Never the less, I have not resorted to ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’ as yet.

 

R.I.P Blog Hop – The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Arthur Kipps is set to look through the papers of deceased client Alic Drablow of Eel Marsh House. He encounters the ghostly woman in black, and eventually the curse that follows her appearance.

To read other scary reviews, or join the linky list follow the link

This is a book where the scenery and the the weather are on the side of the ghost.  An isolated location, accessible only at low tide, desolate marshes and sudden sea mists.  Names also push up the creep factor, Drablow, Nine Lives Causeway…Everything contributes to the slow burning terror of this short book.

The story is told by an older Kipps, looking back on his twenties. We know he is married to Esme, but was once engaged to a girl called Stella.  Repetition too is used to creepy effect, the ‘bump, bump, pause’ or a rocking chair; the refrain ‘I do not believe in ghosts’, and an invisible pony and trap.

My son is not riding in a pony and trap until he is at least 30.

In a book told by men, the history of the woman in black herself is a story of two sisters, a twice lost child. The ghost is a mother who’s hate and lust for revenge means that no one can run far enough, live long enough or be innocent enough to escape her.  She cannot forget, and so nor can you.

I read this book in a nursery, sat in a rocking chair nursing my son as evening fell.  Not the best bedtime decision I have ever made. I had to resort to a riddikulus spell, imaging the ghost traversing Eel Marsh House on a skateboard, or rocking so hard in her chair she flipped over backwards like a failed contestant in Graham Norton’s Red Chair.

Before, I have always found the woman in black’s curse justifiable as the mute frustration of a wronged woman without a voice, and no other way to express her grief.  Now I am rightly terrified by the depths or her inconsolable hate and lack of sympathy.

My son is never riding in a pony and trap. I have decided. Enough.

 

 

 

Image from Pixaby

Ghost Eve Approaches…

The year is turning, leaves are starting to fall and I have broken out the woolly jumpers.

The most wonderful time of the year is on the horizon. Halloween is less than two months away, and this year Readers Imbibing Peril (RIP) has it’s own website.

Join the fun and choose a peril to complete by reading and reviewing scary books, films and short stories. Share by signing up on the linky list.

So this year is a year of scary mothers for me, and I am being incredibly unambitious and revisiting some old favorites, including NOS4R2 by Joe Hill which I read last year and never reviewed!

  1. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill.  The ghost has always been the hero of this book for me, and I can feel sympathy for her without condoning what she does.
  2. NOS4R2 by Joe Hill. Another scary Christmas Story, this time with a flawed mother as the antagonist.
  3. Carrie by Stephen King, if I have time because it’s been a long time since I read anything by him and the mother sounds terrifying.

And for Peril of the Screen I have a copy of Byzantium (still in cellophane) about vampiric mother/daughter duo.

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Mwhaha.

An Unexpected Source of Motivation

Turns out there is nothing like having a child for motivating me to sort myself out.

I’m practically 37 and vaguely remember a time in my mid twenties when I was convinced I’d have everything worked out by 30. Ha!

Admittedly back then I was thinking about the big stuff like career, house and relationship. Now I find myself conscious of the small habits and attitudes I dislike about myself and have been working on and failing to break for years.

Passive aggressive snark can be fun, but is usually counter productive, but before baby (BB) it wasn’t hurting anyone but me.

Now I have someone watching me all the time, and I’m his template for healthy social interactions.

I’d run screaming from the room except that I’d be failing to demonstrate proper emotional regulation to him.

Things that I’d normally be annoyed about but not act on (being interrupted, for example) have suddenly started to make me stand up for myself. I’m decisively laying down the law on weaning, setting ultimatums about Christmas and vehemently disagreeing with anyone who dares to tell me ‘if you let him nap now he won’t sleep later.’

I’m accidentally modelling my parental style on a cross between Molly Weasley and Sarah Connor, if you can imagine that? 

But then I’m not really standing up for myself but what I think my son needs, and that makes it easier to speak out. Not always in the calm and authoritative I’d like, but still…

And honestly I have no idea what I’m doing. Still, if anyone is going to mess up my son (either emotionally or mentally) it’s going to be me, his mother. I’m the one that will end up dealing with the crying at bedtime after all.

My son is five months old

It feels like forever and yet no time at all. Finally though I have come up for air, or been brave enough to put my head above the parapet to see what wreckage of my former life is still standing.

“Don’t make any plans for the first six months,” a work colleague(mother of two girls) said.

I nodded. Didn’t believe her. All babies do is sleep, right?

Sort of true. He sleeps on me mostly. His cot is an offence to his delicate baby sensibilities.

“Mwhaha. You will never be early for anything again,” My brother (father of a boy and a girl) texts me when I tell him I will be ten minutes late. No, make that twenty.

And I thought I had no time to write before baby was born.

It’s a whole new world. Honestly, nothing prepared me for the complete mind bending wonder, and emotional and mental fuckery of it.  He is amazing and exhausting. Constantly.

And I’ve made it through. Am still making it through and rebuilding. Or reinventing rather because now nothing is ever static. I am reinventing my life because it just got more beautiful.

R.I.P Challenge: Seriously, what just happened? White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi.

Have you ever read a book that made you wish you were smarter? Or that you’d read it slower? You enjoyed it, but felt that there was something the writer was trying to do or say that you just didn’t get?

That’s how I felt about White is for Witching. It’s a gorgeous, tangled nightmare of a book.  There was a haunted house, matriarchal ghosts, a mad Gothic heroine and fascinating supporting characters.

The plot never really moved though.  Miranda Silver (the Gothic heroine) is mad. She stays mad until either;

  • She has a break down and runs away;
  • She is murdered;
  • She is absorbed by the house and joins her family ghosts.

Nothing about her really changes, and she never really tries to change.

It’s all very disturbing, but it remains only disturbing.  The overwhelming feeling of dread and claustrophobia that Oyeyemi conjures is absorbing (I couldn’t put the book down) but never really grows to become anything else.  The moments that should have been really frightening were more puzzling because I felt distanced from her characters and/or was never really sure what was going on (or in which reality it was happening.)

Has anyone else read this? Or read anything else by Oyeymi? I’d really like to know what you thought.

For more information on Readers Imbibing Peril (R.I.P) go to Estellas’ Revenge  or My Capricious Life

You can also follow the Twitter hashtag #RIPXII

 

 

 

 

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril (R.I.P)

The R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril Halloween blog hop is here again!  While the rest of the world is preparing to sleep, I have kicked off my coffin lid and have crawled through cobwebs to make it to my book shelf.

Last year I read some Gothic Horror, and this year my peril is fairy tales.  I want to remember how scary then can be.

NOS4R2 by Joe Hill – maybe stretching the theme already, but the big bad is a vampiric pied pipe/Santa Claus.  Plus his henchman gasses the victims with gingerbread flavoured smoke, so that has to be a fairy tale, right?

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi –  A Snow White Murder Mystery

Tinder by Sally Gardner – A retelling of the Tinderbox with a werewolf on the front cover.  Yay, werewolf!