Wednesday update: very silly videos

Hello all! A quick update, as I am very busy at the moment and not sure when I’ll post next (tax returns urrrgghghhh)

Reading: I am currently reading Red Witch by Anna McKerrow, sequel to Crow Moon. It is fantastic so far, and I’m really interested to see where she goes with it.

Writing: Not a lot – this is due to the dreaded tax returns. Fingers crossed I can get the accounts out of the way this week and get back to writing!

Went to: Piranha Poetry night on Monday! Really fantastic evening, very high standard open mic. I read some things despite being absolutely terrified. I may make the poems that I read available on the blog at some point.

Reviews: I’m reading very slowly at the moment, but should have some reviews for you soon.  Mr Fox by Helen Oyeyemi, Akata Witch (published as What Sunny saw in the Flames in the UK and Nigeria)(I ended up with the US edition, but have just found out that the author prefers the UK edition) and Binti: the Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor.

Feeling grateful for: my local bookshop – one of the staff there has my taste completely pegged now, so whenever I go in she has something hidden under the counter to recommend to me. It’s terrible for my wallet but lovely for my bookshelves.

Listening to: PYNK by Janelle Monae. You should watch the video; it has vulva trousers!

Also watching this: I mean, how have I never come across it before? It is the most ridiculous thing to ever ridiculous and I love it.

That’s it for now – wish me luck with the tax returns, and hopefully I’ll emerge from beneath them next week. Take care!


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Tales From Tantamount: The Depths of April, Year of the Sad Plastic Bag

Tantamount continues to exist, despite the odds. And despite the odds, we continue to receive messages from the inside. They paint a picture that is almost incomprehensible to outsiders. How much is real? How much is the residents having a laugh at the expense of the outside world? Without visiting, we cannot know…

Poetry Summoning at the Subscription Rooms

Join us this Thursday for a poetry summoning. You will need a pen/cil, paper, a photograph of a childhood sweetheart, and a teaspoonful of bovril. We will gather together at the Twittering Hour, silently, in the lugubrious space of the blue room. The Elegiac Choir will be present to sing us into an appropriate mood. Mournfully, we shall draw the Three Circles of Threnodial Subjugation with blue chalk. Then, inside the gentle melancholy of the Circles’ embrace, Andreas Furbelow will lead us in a meditation calling upon the Spirit of Poetry to open in our hearts. Now ecstatic, our souls will spill out, inky, onto the page. We will continue until we are done.

Call Andreas Furbelow (Poet and Skald) for bookings: xxxxx721162

 

HERETICAL ORDER OF TROMBONISTS PRACTICE SESSION

GREEN ROOM, NR. BLUE ROOM

SUBSCRIPTION ROOMS

THURSDAY

BRING YOUR OWN TROMBONE

 

Weather report

Today the weather was a mixture of Motown beats and kulning. Cows were sighted dancing funkily all over the town.

 

Tantamount Grapevine (official)

So, the Pinprick Cafe has been closed for nearly two weeks now. Annette says it’s because the chef (Lara?) is on holiday and Thora decided she might as well have a holiday too. But Jacquelle says she saw the Woman in the Well hanging about near the cafe and dripping everywhere, and that she thinks it’s a bit odd, if you know what she means. Aaron swears he saw both Thora and Laura near Saltlick Book Cavern with supersoakers and pentagram jackets. He claims that Thora is a member of the Shadow Council, but that’s definitely nonsense. And Aethel and Aelfred had an enormous public row near the A Larksbjorn memorial. It was so vicious that a swarm of bees descended on them and they were forced to stand very still until the bees left. Also that Edith (the poet) has managed to evolve to have wings somehow: they have very lovely wings, quite fancy.

 

WARNING

PLEASE DO NOT DRIVE INTO THIS WALL!

WE MEAN IT!!!

 

Notice

The Serendipitous Squid has taken ill recently. We believe this is likely due to littering and aura pollution. As our wildlife expert has yet to return from negotiating with the Wild Boar, we have hired an anti-littering patrol consisting of five-year-olds equipped with cattle prods, and an auric cleansing expert to clean the mystic crystals which surround Llyn Dwfn Tywyll Lake. Thoughts and prayers for the Serendipitous Squid can be left in the donation box.

Tantamount District Council

 

FOUND: Spare room, unattached. Found near Pithy Way. Has yellow wallpaper. Lottie xxxxx 209 123
FOUND: Crate of air goldfish, badly contained. Anya xxxxx 776524
LOST: Extremely precious toenail clipping. Dom xxxxx 716 128
FOR SALE: Flamingoes, pink. Mostly housetrained, very good at protective hexes. Latisha xxxxx 085276

 

Police Notice

The police are looking for a person. We are not sure what they look like. Their aura was turquoise. They had a face. They are presumed dangerous. Do not approach. They lost us in the Carrion. We don’t remember. We don’t remember. The darkness descended. The police are looking for a person. Contact us. Use the bees. Their aura was green. They had a face. Their eyes were slices of laughter. They lost us in the Carrion. It is your duty, as a citizen of Tantamount, to help the police. They did something. We don’t know who they are.

 

Notice

Spring is late this year. We can only presume that she is still sleeping somewhere deep in the earth. A Spring awakening ceremony will be held on the Dumpsy Tump. We will begin gently, with soft singing and a rendition of the famous morning song Truly, it is time to get out of bed. Hot tea will be poured onto the earth to encourage Spring’s awakening. After an hour, we will move onto more rousing songs such as Hades is no fun anyway, We are all bloody cold, Oh Spring and When will the Daffodil Beast run free once more?. A mass fry up will be made, and devoured with many appreciative noises. Should all this fail, we will be forced to elect a Champion to travel into the Dumpsy Tump and hit the gong. Hopefully, it will not come to this.

Tantamount District Council

 

THE SHADOW COUNCIL LIVES

note found scrawled on pieces of green paper strewn across Tantamount


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Book Review: Weaver’s Lament by Emma Newman

Weaver's Lament by Emma Newman Industrial Magic book two

Charlotte was certain she was going to die.

Book two of the Industrial Magic series

review of Brother’s RuinBook one of the Industrial Magic Series.

The further adventures of Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Gunn, secret mage, secret illustrator, and possibly a burgeoning socialist. Charlotte finds herself working undercover at a cotton mill in this book, at first to assist her brother who believes his apprenticeship is being sabotaged, but increasingly with her own agenda. I enjoy Emma Newman’s writing. There are hints dropped throughout this book about directions the series might take, all of which are very exciting (I have so many theories about the process that the mage organisation puts mages through to stop them going “wild”).

I love that Emma Newman has taken this Victorian world, powered it with magic, and is using it not only to tell fantastic stories but also to comment on social injustice. There are some revelations about work at the mill which were nothing short of genius. Charlie Gunn remains a wonderful main character, by turns naive and stubborn. My only complaint is that there is not enough book at all!

Rating: read this book, be kind to the ghosts.


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Poem: Queen of Beyond by Meredith Debonnaire

This one nearly got accepted into a magazine once! It’s quite old, but I really like it. The style is very different from what I do now. I like how the imagery and the rhythm work here – now if only I could do this on purpose instead of accidentally at 2am….

Walk. Walk until your feet bleed.
Take heed, do not pause – the path will devour you.

Walk. Walk until your toes are flat,
Until your feet are fat and swollen.
Then keep walking.

You will eat dust, swallow soil,
Chew on bone if you must.
Go mad beneath the moon.
Walk until you can walk no more.
Then keep walking – My realm lies beyond.

You will arrive at noon, if you survive,
If you get here alive.
You can fall at my throne.
In my Chaos-Domain I remain among the ruins of Empires,
Among forgotten names.

My crown is forged from forgetfulness,
My sceptre is Achilles’ blade.
This is what I made, this bleached realm.
Walk. Walk to me.
I will whisper to you secrets that nations once died for,
Stroke your hair,
And you will gift me your breath in return for a glimpse of my madness.

Walk. Walk until your feet bleed.
Take heed, the Queen of Beyond
Is not kind, and you should beware of the things you might find.


Keep the author supplied with hot chocolate! Donate here! Or don’t – it’s really not mandatory, and if you can’t afford to or don’t want to then don’t worry about it 😀

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Historical Queer Spotting! Shibden Hall

Shibden Hall

So I am on holiday this week, up north, and one of the things I did was visit Shibden Hall. It’s a historical house-museum. It was inhabited for about 500 years, and became a museum in 1934 after the death of John Lister. It has a fascinating history over that period, which I will not recount because it’s not really what I went there for. I went there because Anne Lister lived there. Anne Lister, noted diarist (she wrote over 4million words of journal) and lover of woman. I’m not certain if I should say lesbian, as I don’t know if she would have described herself that way, but she was exclusively interested in women when it came to romance and sexuality so had she lived now that is almost certainly how she would have been labelled.

I previously read some of the book The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister by Helena Whitbread (I had to give it back to the library before I was done), so I knew a bit about her. But I know a lot more now! I struggle with history, so I am always excited to find history I can relate to. People who aren’t straight and cis tend to get written out of things, so it is always a relief to find any of us!

Anyway, in my queer-spotting today I learned that:

  • Anne Lister was also a businesswoman, and opened a colliery among other things.
  • She could be a bit of a snob in terms of class (my opinion).
  • Pretty much entirely self-educated.
  • Travelled a lot.
  • Had quite a lot of lovers. One of them, Marianna Lawton, was married. And her husband knew and appeared to be fine with this.
  • Her lover, Ann Walker, eventually moved in with her and they had a civil ceremony in York.
  • After Anne Lister died (1840), aged 49 of a fever contracted while travelling, Ann Walker’s family (? I think) got her put in an asylum! Because of course. I can’t find out much about her beyond this, except that she died at her family home in 1854 and before that spent several years in the care of a Dr Belcombe. If anyone has more details, I would be interested.
  • Was referred to as Gentleman Jack. Was renowned for wearing black (white was the proper colour for an unmarried woman).
  • Did a lot of renovation work on Shibden Hall.

Anyway, there’s a lot out there about her and she’s quite an interesting character. The museum is fantastic – very affordable at a fiver, well laid out, fantastic staff, well-written information sheets. It’s set in the estate, so on a day with better weather I imagine it’s lovely. I had a really great time, and accidentally bought a book…


I don’t think Historical Queer Spotting is something that will be regular on this blog, but who knows? Certainly I’m happy to hear about any others you can think of. I am using “queer” because it can be difficult to tell how a historical figure would have identified themself (unless they wrote it down and we have it now), so it’s a good general word. It is also increasingly what I use for myself.

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Tales From Tantamount: Maybe April of the Year of the Sad Plastic Bag

Further news from Tantamount, a town that continues to baffle small minds everywhere…

Headlines in Tantamount April 1stish
The Tantamount Herald
Carrion devours Faethm, vastly improves party p2
Clllr Dewdrop announces engagement p4
Tantribune
Day of Fools brings about bizarre instances of linear history p3
Tantamount Life
Big cat seen riding a flamingo – IS THE CAT A WITCH??? p2-5

Notice
We have finished testing the public marijuana fountain, and it will once again be open to the public. It works very well now. The usual warnings apply: do not use if you are under sixteen/pregnant/an expectant divinity/a little bit odd/have straight hair/allergic to cannabis/were involved in the chickenpox scandal of the Year of the Toasted Frog.
Tantamount District Council

WOMB YOGA

Are you tired of your womb cramping? Does your uterus cause you pain? WOMB YOGA may be your answer! WOMB YOGA is a relaxing and tension-releasing practice, and has been proven to have a deeply spiritual effect on  stressed wombs. Simply remove your uterus, label it with your name, and send it to WOMB YOGA. Your womb will be returned at the end of the course.
Please note that incorrectly labelled wombs may not be returned. Abandoned wombs will be taxed.
Call Emily xxxxx 214 775

Notice
This is a tree.

Weather report
Today the weather had a tantrum and little squalls of rage bounced around the valleys. There were also minor showers of fish. We all had early barbecues.

 

Notice

We appear to have misjudged this whole “Wild Boar deal with the maelid infestation” thing. The Wild Boar have taken Hope Park and Valevalleyinclineditch Park, leaving us with Junkie Park. Don’t ask how the Wild Boar have managed to build fortifications. We don’t know. A wildlife expert is being sent in to open negotiations.
Tantamount District Council

Waterworks
Waterworks to take place everywhere. Traffic chaos guaranteed. We recommend you evolve into something with wings if you want to get anywhere remotely on time.  The sylphs may take offence, but that’s not our problem.
Trevern Sent

 

REGISTER TO VOTE
The Town and District Councils are to be completely re-elected this May. You have three days left to register to vote. Please fill in the attached form, return it to the Electoral Services, and offer up a sacrifice to Eldred the Whale. Anyone who fails to vote will have their vote randomised. NO PIGEONS! All other sentient beings are eligible to vote so long as they can prove they are eligible. Seeing as we expect you have forgotten who your local councillors are, we have compiled a brief rundown of the incumbent members.

TANTAMOUNT TOWN COUNCIL
Cllr Dewdrop the Goat
A vastly popular councillor, Dewdrop recently announced her engagement to Jeff the Taxidermist. Congratulations! She has been an avid advocate of Tantamount’s new rubbish system (that is, feeding it to the Fire Spawn), and is infamous for her no-nonsense approach to vandalism.
Cllr Carl the Dryad
This lissom birch dryad has not been seen much recently. And we’re not actually sure what he stands for or what his opinions are. But he has gorgeous bark and a lovely singing voice, so who cares really?
Cllr Johnson Johnson
What a charming buffoon Cllr Johnson Johnson is! Why, only last year she spent T3million on an ornamental octopus lake and billed it as an expense. She can be seen riding a unicycle to work, and flinging dead fish at her opponents. How charming! What antics!
Tory Party councillors
have all disappeared. We didn’t notice at the time. We don’t know how this happened.

TANTAMOUNT DISTRICT COUNCIL
Would like to remind everyone that since the Year of the Abandoned Shopping Trolley, members of the District Council have been afforded total anonymity in order to protect them from the consequences of their bad decisions. Therefore, no profiles of District Councillors will be released. The elections and their results will be held in secret and overseen by Seren the Underbridge Troll, who we all agree is very fair.
Regards,
Tantamount District Council

So there you have it! Remember to vote!

Reminder to all Launderette Customers
The dragons do not like artificial fibres, as they can trigger allergies and inconvenient sneezing. Please only use the dryers for clothes made of natural fibre.  The management takes responsibility for nothing whatsoever.

Proverb of the Day: The sky has a limit. Found written on the back of a child’s hand. We know that things can seem hopeless, and that sometimes you may surface from day-to-day life and realise that you live in a town overseen by a terrifying beast that randomly devours minds; that your friends vanish sometimes and your house is flooded with elementals who eat all the crisps. At this point, it can be useful to remember that the sky too has to stop, because if it goes any further the giant scarab-beetle sun will set it on fire. We hope you find this comforting.
Tantamount District Council


If you enjoy Tantamount, consider buying the author a drink.
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Book Review: Crow Moon by Anna McKerrow

Crow moon by anna mckerrow cover shows silhouette of a face with crow in white wuperimposed

And then he said, ‘No-one should distract an ordained knight from his thoughts in a discourteous way, for perhaps he has either suffered a loss or he is thinking about the woman he loves best.’ From the Mabinogion.

The fire in the middle of the circle casts flickering shadows over our faces: we stand obediently in its fierce warmth, following the words of the monthly full-moon ritual.

At this point, it is relevant to mention that I went to a Steiner school because that hugely influenced the way I read this book. Crow Moon is set in a fascinating world sometime in the future, where Cornwall and Devon have cut themselves off and become an eco-pagan haven known as the Greenworld. As far as the people inside know, the rest of the world (the Redworld) is engaged in fuel wars. The Greenworld is completely self-sustained, with loads of gardening and recycling and agriculture, and also magic. Everyone wears knitted and homemade clothes and talks about the weather a lot. Steiner education puts a lot of emphasis on practical and integrated skills, so a lot of my school time was spent doing what was referred to as handwork (knitting, crocheting, weaving, sewing, gardening, woodwork, pottery, basketry, metalwork…), and the attitude to education overall was really different. And there were a lot of homemade jumpers, and theoretically I can build a compost loo (probably not well), and there was singing and music and a lot of effort put into making a community, which was nice, but it was a small community, which can be hard (something that’s explored very well in this book).

I say all this because what that meant was that I spent a lot of time reading this book recognising things, and going “Oh yeah, compost loos are really annoying” and “huh, yep, that journalling thing, I remember doing that” and also chuckling whenever characters particularly reminded me of people I knew (I remember a lot of people who kept crystals attached to their phones to offset the negative energy). Anyway, what all this means is that, much as I loved the world of Crow Moon, to me it felt familiar rather than like a strange potential future. The main character is Danny Prentice, an endearing idiot. I applaud Anna McKerrow’s skill in writing a first person character who was convincingly a 16-year-old boy, with behaviour daft enough to be believable for a boy of his age with no role-models but not so daft that the reader comes to resent him. He did stupid things, and I yelled at him a lot, but I wanted him to come through the book safely.

The story is about Danny Prentice figuring out who he is and where he wants to fit into the Greenworld, and as he is doing this there are far larger things stirring. Things that may threaten the entire Greenworld. His mother, Zia, is a witch. I enjoyed the delicate way that Crow Moon explored what her calling costs her, and how that ties into Danny’s reluctance to accept his own powers. I also loved the magic in Crow Moon. There was a sense of mystery to it, as well as a layer of mundanity. A lot of people were clearly just going through the motions because it was required of them. There were rituals and spells, and you had to have a gift to do it in the first place. But there were also goddesses and gods, who were vast and great and inscrutable. Even when they appeared fully on the page they retained a sense of mystery and might – they might help the characters, and they might not, and no-one human would be able to say why.

I enjoyed all the characters – even viewed through Danny’s eyes, the reader could get a sense that there was more going on for them than what Danny knew. Roach was a fantastic villain; he was genuinely scary, probably because he had a deranged kind of charisma. Saba, Danny’s love interest, did not feel real to me. I think this was because we were seeing her as Danny did, which was not necessarily as a whole person. And Melz, Saba’s sister, was a fascinating spiky enigma. The next book in this series is from her point-of-view, and I am extremely excited about that! And there was always a sense of things happening at the corner of one’s vision: there would be little snippets of information and story that, if properly paid attention to, hinted at contradictions of the accepted dogma of the world, of bigger things happening and a larger world beyond the Greenworld. Of secrets.

Overall, I recommend Crow Moon: it’s subtle and interesting, and the ending was genuinely surprising. A unique piece of fantasy.

Rating: read this. Remember that real post-apocalypse gear will probably all be knitted.


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