Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Cinder's sister

I don't know about you.
But I never got to play the Cinderellas or fairy princesses when it came to school pantos.
So here is the view from the much maligned side- the view from one of the ugly sisters.


   Frankly I think me and the sister get a raw deal.
 I mean to say, if it had been me, I wouldn’t have made such a skivvy out of myself.

   She could have left home anyway. The Fairy Godmother would have bailed her out anytime. All she ever had to do was whip up a storm and the Good Fairy would have arrived pronto. 

But no. She had to string it out. Snivel and moan and lick the ashes. Get the crowd real sorry for her. Ready to lambaste us to any pole.

    Did you ever wonder where you’d be without us to act out the shadow side? And all before Jung even got a whiff of it. I mean to say, if she’s not going to act downright mean, then she’s going to attract it to her. Right?

   But there she is on her knees in the scullery owning all her goodness.
 Instead of learning fast, she acts stupid, eats as much ash as she can stomach, wallows in the stuff. 

Me and the sister had a terrible time getting her to the point of spiritual crisis. The girl’s capacity for insult and injury was awesome. Another day of it and I’d have wept with her in the ashes myself. But, thank God, she turned to a little creative visualisation and manifested herself a Godmother.

   I was quite enjoying that ball until she turned up doe-eyed, dimple flashing, lid-lowering and whipped PC out from under my nose.
   And then the dramatic exit!
   As if the universe isn’t bountiful!

   I mean do you really believe the fairy would have put a time limit on it? 
No, I reckon she got one of her self doubt bouts. Lost confidence, lost face and don’t forget the shoe! Very convenient that.

   As for that slipper fitting scene!

   Do you really think I wanted to squeeze my G size into that skimpy little excuse for a shoe that had done the rounds of the kingdom. And risk verruca, corns and God knows what?

    And then to watch her creep out of the cinders and slip her pygmy footsie into the golden slipper. And then, jack rabbit, out with the other one from beneath her pinnie!!! 

It’s all gush and pink flush forever and ever now. As if!

   She’ll make a doormat out of herself no matter what. There’ll be a few more shadows to play out. A few more spiritual crises to be had. She hasn’t learnt the lesson yet.

 But as for me, I’ve done with them. Make me the fairest of them all next time and let herself do a little shadow acting.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

The Butcher's Hook

This novel is not for the faint- hearted.

I thought it was another account of another powerless, young woman living within the confines of a patriarchal society, in love with her social inferior and forced to betroth an elderly rich man
And it is
Up to a point
But more concerned with…. beyond that point
Jealousy, revenge, obsessive love….
Think Jacobean Tragedies or Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, who pales in comparison to our 19 year old anti heroine.

When I discovered that Anne Jaccob kept dead mice, dead spiders and finger nails… “a morbid tableau,” I should have known.

But in this first person narrative you are inside her head, making allowances, constantly adjusting, caught in a struggle with your own conscience.
She has you, the reader, caught on that butcher’s hook.

Some of her characters are caricatures like Titus Levener, the master butcher, “Great slabs of flesh swell beneath his shoulders…his neck circles hugely around to his back and balloons in front where it joins his many chins..”
And, with names like Fub and Onions, they belong in the pages of a Dicken’s novel.
But this novel is set a century earlier, Georgian London, the summer of 1763.

I have already given enough spoilers … 
suffice to say 
you won’t put it down till you finish it…
you may well skip to the last page to see if she gets a way with it…
you will rush back to the library with it, just to get rid of it…
but it will haunt you.

A very skilful, edgy, sophisticated piece of work.

The Butcher's Hook by Janet Ellis, published by Two Roads 2016

Friday, 23 September 2016

Things to do when trying not to listen to a phone conversation

The poem: Things to do around a Look-Out by Gary Snyder was suggested to me as a good read.
I haven't managed to access it yet but I was inspired by his title to write

Things to do when trying not to listen to a phone conversation

Keep doing what you're supposed
To be doing.

Even if the inflections of her voice
Change from chirp to flat.

Don't hold your breath
At her pause.

Keep breathing, even though
The pause stretches beyond hopeful.

Don't look at the clock;
Time may mean nothing

And you will have to wait

To hear her news
Good, bad or ambivalent.

And keep praying
Or finger crossing

Or bead counting.
For that is probably

The only thing
You can do.

Monday, 19 September 2016


With your oiled petals
still seductive
and your season's hues
still bold

I am reluctant
to lay you flat
or roll you up
or fold you away

And place you
in a dark closet
paper lined 
and cedar scented.

But darker skies
and cooler days
make urgent
the imperative

To let you go.

Friday, 16 September 2016

This is just to say

 William Carlos Williams, This is just to say, (see link)  which reads like a note found on the kitchen table, triggered a couple of pieces for me.

This is just to say

I have eaten
the raspberries
that you had
so carefully
the iceberg
They were
and berry,berry


This is just to say

I have entered
your facebook
that you had
so carelessly
and have posted

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Mrs Engels

That feeling of dread as you near the end of your library book…because you just want it to go on and on………
Enter Mrs Engels by Gavin McCrea published by Scribe 2015

Now I have zilch interest in Marx and Engels, though some of my dwindling brain cells urge me to recant that statement.

But when I read the opening line of Mrs Engels I was jolted.
“No one understands men better than the women they don’t marry.”

The narrator is Lizzie Burns, of Irish descent and a textile factory worker in Manchester who becomes Engel’s lover.

And when she declares that “love is a bygone idea; centuries worn.”
I know she’s about to debunk all the romantic ideology that has been my daily fodder…
And, frankly, I just can’t wait to read it.

I am not disappointed.

If you asked me, "What is this novel is about???
I’m not sure I could tell you.
Not a lot happens. 
But I got a factionalised insight into the characters of Frederick Engels and Karl Marx that will lodge with me…dwindling brain cells or no.

Set in 1870, political and social changes rumble throughout Europe in the back-story,
But to the fore
And larger than the international canvas
Is the riveting character of Lizzie Burns.

She has been compared with Molly Bloom in Ulysses… (I can’t confess to having read past the first page of Joyce's masterpiece, put off as I am by a book’s bulk.)

But Lizzie is a maelstrom, swirling through Georgian London, leaving disarray and confusion in her wake.

Her advice to a woman in search of a partner might well be that of the famous Mrs Bennett in Pride and Prejudice, but put with a bit more verve.

“Odds are the handsome fellow you go spooney on will turn out to be a bad bargain”

And she warns against “fine wits, lookers, rare minds and fancy poets…..”

What matters to Lizzie is “A man with means, a man who knows the value of brass and is easy with it.”

Enter Frederick Engels.

After returning my library book I went out and bought a copy of it.

A must-keep!!

Tuesday, 13 September 2016


An exercise in my on-line poetry course is to write a poem based on a picture.
The pic features an old trick- conjurer's assistant suspended, apparently, in mid air.
Fine, invisible rope? Not so- hence the presence of a hoop.
The decor was mock-Eygptian so
I did a bit of research on this type of visual trickery.
I won't be trying it out any time soon.
See links below.



Meanwhile here is the poem.

The Egyptian Hall

They loved to watch women
Sawn in half.
Or suspended perilously
On a conjurer’s breath.

You cannot see the metal bar
Behind his legs.
Or the control buttons
At his feet.
Just a moustached man
Tail-coated and Bow-tied

Holding a clipped-
Winged woman
On a metal hoop;
Her breasts hieroglyph-
Bound, her hips
Silk –Tied.

The ideal woman
At his behest.
Silent, rigid.
Out of her coffin
In mummified

Copyright with Cathy Leonard 2016