TOMBOY BOOKCLUB-The Daylight Gate!!!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN MY WITCHES AND BITCHES, MY GHOULS AND GIRLS!!!! Welcome to today’s Tomboy book club on this SPOOKY OOKY KOOKY SLAM DUKEY HALLOWEEN!!!

The book I’ve chosen today seems appropriate in its evil doings and filthy ways: its full of witches digging up graves and fucking Satan, but we’ll get to more of that later. I’d never heard of Jeanette Winterson’s ‘The Daylight Gate‘ before I was crouching down hurting my knees at the bottom shelf of a charity shop bookcase with grandma looming over me (rifling through the DVD’s trying to find more films with her fave actor she loves to gush over- sorry for spoiling the secret, Chrissy), when I saw the name of beloved Jeanette and instantly reached for the spine.

The book is based off the true history (don’t worry, it still has the magical flare and fictional spell that Jeanette has made perfection) of the Lancashire Pendle Witch Trials in 1612- the home county of Winterson, too. Using details from the first ever witch trial in England to be documented, a narrative grown around the bones cast aside by history- like a reincarnation of spells- to flesh out a deliciously sordid and luscious tale of love, hatred, superstition and injustice.

Alice Nutter is the main character in the novel (it is really easy and addictive to get through though, I managed to get through it in 2 days and it would be great for a long journey!), a suspiciously aloof woman who has the audacity to live and control her own wealth without the direction of a husband’s hand. This book is full of contradictions and paradoxes, and whilst sometimes it can be a bit confusing trying to balance all the time, I think the way Winterson has created her characters to be so multiple and contradictory just adds further to mystery of the plot and hexes murmured. Alice is at once old and young, a mature woman with the face of a younger self; she is rich and supposedly got there by learning to be a merchant cloth dye trader- but how, and who taught her? Then there’s Old Demdike, the pustule ridden hag locked away in Lancaster Castle facing death, seemingly devoid of all tenderness and romance, but who actually has a past much more wild than I thought could pan out.

The male characters in this book on the whole are dicks- they are the powers that be spreading the atmosphere of fear and hatred which sent so many to death for simply choosing to live a little wilder. This book is set during the reign of King James, who is famous for writing ‘Daemonologie‘- an extensive study of witchcraft, and the ‘Dark Prince’ for whom they sell their souls. And also famous for being the target of the failed gunpowder plot, when Guy Fawkes and his lot wanted to blow up Parliament- it’s a pity they failed. But the book makes very stark the simultaneous persecution of Catholics and alleged Witches espoused under King James, making one wonder if its really witches who were the targets, or if witchcraft was merely a scapegoat for Catholics to be pinned with (“Witchery Popery, Popery Witchery“) as a justification to make those in power feel less guilty?

Using the rich men in charge to harass and essentially bully old homeless women and their families puts starkly in the foreground how class and gender were a big role in why people were really executed. It sort of makes the book more scary, as it’s not the witches who are the monsters- desperately trying any vile thing they can concoct to try to save their grandmother. The true Satan-spawn are the emotionless, and money-minded authorities- not giving a toss who they kill or why, so long as it advances their careers. They do say the real monsters aren’t the ones hiding under your bed…

Though I will give a warning to the faint hearted, this is a gristly book. Within the first ten pages a woman is raped (the book also features paedophilia and incest- but that is way to horrifying to go into here), and Winterson does not stop these relentless punches against ones morality. There are beatings, grave-diggings, torturings and orgies. Some of my highlights include when a head is severed from its rotting corpse, has a tongue ripped out of a boys mouth stitched inside its toothless jaw, is boiled in a pot and left on the side to speak. Or there’s the time teeth fall from the sky into Alice’s lap, or the time there’s a party for Satan and he literally starts shagging someone in the middle of the room with everyone watching- or the time a door knocker turns into human flesh… this book is weird, but a good weird I think. Not that I endorse any of the above acts, but the gore and fantastical gruesomeness is  one of the reasons I love Winterson, she writes the most far-fetched things, but always manages to make it seem plausible in a way we dream of.

Winterson also always manages to put my favourite part of any story in amongst this bleakness: love. That may be the most devilishly strange thing after all, that love could survive in such a place. But it does, and whilst weird, the love stories conjured in this book are wild and soaring.

I won’t write anymore, most of you either want to go trick’o’treating or partying with one of those awful plastic clown masks- I hate those. But I hope you give this frightful tale a go, and it says that it was in production to be made a film so maybe there is a film too?!? Anyways, I hope you have a lovely Halloween and don’t piss off any ghosts or anything XOXOXO

“…’Do I believe in witches? He did not like that question. The question that followed he liked less: If Alice is a witch, how can I love her? He would love her if she were a wolf that tore out his heart. And he wondered what that said about love…”

 

Home Alone

My parents have gone away for a party down in Kent, which leaves me and my siblings, lil Neddy and Day-Z to look after our home. I have done the dishes, the washing, walked the dogs and need to make supper soon- I was afraid being in our house so quiet would freak me out, as I’m not altogether that great being left to look after myself with my own devices. I have this tendency to either fall apart into sobs over nothing/ contemplate the unstoppable and seemingly imminent collapse of our world/ get fucking drunk of my nut and wake up tipsy still the next morning.

BUT- I have been different today. I have managed to be responsible and not stress about that, which for me is truly something. I watched documentaries about Romanian witches who curse politicians and make love potions on the Pentecost. I found new music I LOVE by Princess Nokia and Lady Lykez- two amazing angels preaching to love yourself and not let life tear you up. I have been doing poetry things not abusing my body with all the alcohol freely standing in this house, waiting their bottle-caps out for someone to take the first sip and unwind. BE PROUD!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Here’s a lil’ pic of me being all cute and shit in this confusion of life and everything to celebrate small achievements like being able to transform into a deer on my phone!!!

Today’s poem is about self-love centering on body image, but self love is so various and necessary to practise  for people like me whose brains feel wasp nests a lot of the time. It is important for everyone to have a heart that breeds only love in whatever ways you can xoxoxoxoxoxoxox

My Body

Do you want to be loved?
Beloved from split ends to toes?
Honesty is the noisiest revelation,
so simple once eyes open-
Life should not taste of fucking rice cakes.
Remember? Bathroom mirrors are not morgues.
Pronounced blind, they thought we’d
flat-packed into ourselves with no query. Millions
of girls crushing their own spaced o u t hearts
between lungs static, holding breath in
rosary ribcages. Life is the last slice of toast:
smiles brewed from kaleidoscope mouth.
The game is rigged. Toast is the greatest treasure.
Golden, dazzling with warm butter,
slap and tickled pink jellied raspberries-
or smattered thick apricot. To feel is
the body’s demand- notice a lemon
sun’s peek-a-boo in the theatre curtains of eyes.
Blemishes swell like blossom-bud constellations.
Unlearn this abuse. I saw a stomach fatted up
on all the different ways there are to hate.
Light infests the flesh. I see undulations and pulse-
Green trees could sap on the lush curving domes of
my body

Make me a big tall tree

Today has been a day of mixed emotions for sure, like what Anais Nin said about the stars tugging at her hair- my blood has been casting a spell where memories spin with eye of newt and spiced shadows. When my body conjures these mists my mind knows not how to stir in its heavy skull cauldron, there are two decisions to make. Either burn with my lost sisters, those who crumbled and burnt under the bullshit gravity of those around them- toppling like Salem; or I live my life alive. I hop on my broomstick and fucking ride bitches- naked and singing and covered in mud and smiling so big the people below think the ‘O’ of my mouth is the moon.

In other words I go and walk with my blessed best friend Nelson in our heartline fields.

 

IMG_1119Here is the beautiful boy himself. You can’t see in this sleepy picture, but Nelson is missing one eye. We rescued him a few years a go after he was hit by a car and abandoned- we have both been hurt (though in extremely different ways) by those who were supposed to care.

BUT THERE IS MORE TO LIFE THAN SADNESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

FOR EXAMPLE- We both love to dance, have bootys that wobble, love long walks and cuddles with each other.

Today I walked with Nelson and we ran together as I was singing so lung-ingly that my mother would make me a big tall tree (I love you Florence)… we are at home where the wild things are, which is where the witches live (my heart is burnt but not buried this time…)

This posts poem is dedicated to my rescuer- Nelson, thank you for keeping my energies pure xoxoxoxoxoxoxox

Nelson

A chocolate cherry nose;
river wetness shimmering weed-green
catches like apple thuds.
Your chest like the underside of a
small boat in the playing of hugs,
little prayers of my insides.
Your whole weight hurled excited to my feet,
gasping with smiles big as cows
skimming clouds into letters of your
silent words. Yet,
barks don’t translate as desired-
nightmares glean in metal monsters
who just can’t speak dog.
Take my words instead. Chew down to marrow.
A bowl full of mud-kissing boot sounds and purple clover heart beats.
You woof human best- the lifted paw of consolation
in my lap, soft head nudged between knees
shining small spaces alive.
Sunsets call in uncharted fields, throwing
that huge glowing apricot or tennis ball
out amongst sky billows ready to chase after.