Folk Horror

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A small post about a book reading / signing I attended last night at Waterstones in Liverpool.  Lucie McKnight Hardy the author of the magnificent ‘Water Shall Refuse Them‘ was in conversation with Simon Savidge.

The evening threw up some interesting points for me. During the Q&A after the reading one attendee (Audience member? Punter? I never know the correct term! ) commented that he thought the book , ‘was a beautiful coming of age story, that contained some horrific elements.’ I totally agreed with him. That’s how I find ‘folk horror’. It’s how the protagonist acts in their environment. The surroundings, however dramatic or alluring, always come with a charm that has horrific elements. Their failures or intentions, wicked or otherwise are exposed by it.

I won’t go into the plot of the novel, because any spoilers will wreck it for you. It does involve, witchcraft (maybe??), teenagers and death. All set in a village in Wales during the awful heatwave of ’76. There you go. It’s great. Please buy, read and recommend. I look forward to her next novel.

Of course I couldn’t wander around without buying another book, Murial Spark, ‘Memento Mori’. It’s an addiction!

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Great books, great covers.

 

 

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Keith Haring

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New York Is Book Country 1985.

I went to see the Keith Haring exhibition at Tate Liverpool over the weekend. It is amazing. My partner is a huge fan of pop/modern art and was exited to see it, while I was a bit, ‘yeah o.k. whatever’. However, my mind was changed.

The paintings are gorgeous. Large tarpaulins crammed with hieroglyphic like images, that challenge those visitors who just glance and walk away. You can’t. You have to stop. They make you take notice.

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‘The flying saucer is able to awaken, and achieve a higher state of being’  *Tate

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Untitled ( Apartheid ) 1985

There is a curtained off section. Within, is a smaller exhibition space with flourescent lighting and great early 80’s disco and hip hop music being played. I could have happily stayed in there for a few hours. It felt like being in a nightclub – a proper one. Along the walls of another installation further into the exhibition, there are fly-posters covering it, that you would see in a club or band space – not so prevalent now as they seem to have been replaced with ‘social’ media, but they were interesting, an insight to a scene and a time I could identify with and remember. We stopped to read them. I miss fly posters. Home made ones.

There is an energy at this exhibition, something that is often missed at others. Keith Haring’s work is needed more now than ever with the narrow mindedness and right wing thoughts and theories being pushed about today. I mentioned I had been to this exhibition on Twi*ter and since then I have been pestered by a series of new ‘followers’, all family men, God fearing and wanting to set me on the right path … whatever that is.

I hope they’re just bots, but I fear they’re not.

Anyway, visit this exhibition. Please. It’s on until November 10th.

https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-liverpool/exhibition/keith-haring

 

Homeless Jesus

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‘Homeless Jesus’ The statue in the grounds of St Nicholas church, Liverpool.

I was driving past the Royal Liverpool hospital a few days ago. We stopped at the traffic lights. It was approaching lunchtime, the street was busy with people rushing to coffee shops and cafes. I waited for the lights to change, and absentmindedly looked around me.

In a side street, a man was laying on the ground. He was being treated by three paramedics. They were trying to save his life. A few people had stopped and were watching. The paramedics were working quickly, doing everything they could for him. I stared at his face. He seemed asleep. His tent and belongings were piled against a wall.

The lights changed, we had to move on. All day I thought about him. I hope he’s o.k.. I hope they got him into the hospital. I hope …

That night I thought I would look on the local newspaper site, just to see if anything was mentioned about him.  ‘Man saved in front of the hospital!’ ‘Miracle on Moira Street!’

But no, the man had died.

He had been found in his tent, unresponsive. People had walked past, going about their business, myself included. The article said that he was only forty, he was a dad – a good one- and as one of his friends said, ‘life had just got the better of him’.

A statue was unveiled in the grounds of  Liverpool Parish Church – St.Nicholas – this week. It’s called ‘Homeless Jesus’.  Casts of it have been seen around the world, Vatican City and New York included. The actual statue has come to rest here. I wanted to see it. I’m not religious at all, but it is very moving. There is space at the end of the bench for someone to sit. The question posed is, ‘Would you sit next to a homeless person? Would you sit next to a homeless Jesus?’

Some people wouldn’t even stop for a man dying on the street, and that is the saddest thing. We seem to have a forgot what compassion is. Life can get the better of any of us.

 

 

 

John Waters – Homotopia

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We went to see a hero of mine on Saturday ( 10/11/18) – John Waters. I’d been looking forward to it since we bought the tickets months ago. The Liverpool Philharmonic hall seemed full – downstairs anyway – and the atmosphere was relaxed and welcoming.

The show was a part of the ‘Homotopia- I Will Survive’ festival in Liverpool, which ‘champions fabulous art’ from the LGBTQ+ community.

Mr Waters spoke for nearly an hour and a half about his life, his work, friends, actors – the Dreamlanders- and politics. He let rip with a monologue that was very funny – still laughing about the woman with the noisy blender who got punched, ‘BAM!’ – poignant – ‘my friends children are now the age Divine was when he died’ and at times vitriolic         ( The Pope, the Catholic Church, Trump etc ) which I loved. His irreverence and lack of over political correctness was just what I expected.

The evening ended with a Q&A which he was happy to conduct, and then there was a book signing in the foyer.

I remembered going to see his early movies at a cinema that’s long gone now.  By day it showed ‘Adult Cinema’. The evening was for whatever was popular at the time or weird, and it was only 50p admission! I think Mr Waters would have liked that very much.

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An apt title.

 

Windfalls

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Sometimes you have to get outside to do some writing. Even if it’s just for twenty minutes, a change of scene does you good. I’ve been writing a lot at my allotment. It’s quiet, not too cold yet, although I do sit in the greenhouse with the heater on occasionally and sometimes inspirational.

I wanted to write an autumnal, Halloween inspired story. What could be more autumnal than apples, with all their ducking and bobbing? There is an orchard on the allotment, in the centre of which we devised a secret seating area. You won’t be seen or disturbed. It was the best place to write my gruesome little story called, ‘Windfalls’.  You can download it along with many other stories and great artwork in the Sirens Call ezine, ‘Halloween Screams and Other Dark Things’ below. Enjoy!

http://www.sirenscallpublications.com/ezine.htm

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Church Island

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We went on a research trip to Anglesey, Wales last week. It was perfect Autumn weather, cold and bright. I had wanted to visit St Tysilio’s church on Church Island by the Menai bridge for a while, and thought it would be difficult to find even with a satnav! Anglesey is crammed with small lanes and turnoffs, I thought we would be searching for a while. Not so. The island can be accessed from a causeway that leads from ‘The Belgian Promenade’, which runs around this part of the coast.

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We parked and walked through some beautiful woodland, to emerge next to the Menai Straits and the breathtaking view of the island. We were lucky that we had arrived early before anyone else, and for a short while had the island to ourselves. Once through the gates you are greeted by the huge Yew tree ( some say it’s not a yew at all but a Cypress or a pine ). It was huge and the trunk felt like old newspapers.

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Many of the grave stones looked like they had been replaced  with granite or slate, either way they had been kept in the original style. Being so open to the weather coming from the Straits must batter them, some of the older stones were difficult to read due to the erosion. Many were poignant, and heartbrakingly simple in design while surrounded by the ornate Victorian stones.

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At the highest point of the island is a Celtic cross war memorial. It overlooks the Britannia bridge and is surrounded by some of the oldest graves. The medieval church of St Tysilio – a Welsh saint – has been there since the 1400’s and replaced an earlier chapel. Unfortunately we could not go inside.

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No one knows exactly who built the chapel, a fitting mystery for the island. It is a place we will return to again, maybe in each season. Anglesey is a magical place, if you can get there, do.

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