Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Circle of Life is Broken – a review

My only complaint about this book is that the title suggests a far more depressing read than is actually the case. I should have known better – Brendan Myers isn’t the kind of philosopher to succumb to despair. It is of course a challenging and sometimes uncomfortable book, but there is also lyrical writing driven by a passion for life and existence, a book written to try and express possible ways forward.

For anyone looking for ways to think about the climate crisis, and to think about what they personally might be able to do, this is a good book to read. There are no glib answers here, there’s no sure fire quick fix and there is a lot of analysis of things that have already been tried and that failed. There’s also an enlightening history of ecological science which will help anyone not experienced in that field to better understand the ways in which we talk about the world and how that impacts on our responses to the crisis. Brendan also explores the kinds of psychological factors and human-created pressures acting on us to keep us where we are, with all the disastrous implications.

I particularly appreciated the way Brendan has tackled both the history and current manifestations of eco-fascism. Hate, as he points out, is not going to save anything or anyone. However, there is a lot of eco-fascism out there and like most kinds of fascism, it often seems persuasive to people at a surface level. The classist, racist, eugenics-oriented aspects don’t reveal themselves at first glance. Any argument that involves blaming poor people for existing will lead us into this territory and it is so important to be alert to where that thinking goes and how harmful it is.

For anyone into philosophy, and anyone who wants material to reflect on, this book has a great deal to offer. It is an invitation to engage, to contemplate, and ultimately, to act. Heartily recommended.

More on the publisher’s website

Messing about with leaves

I have a great love of colour intensity, in art and in life. One of the things I often struggle with in winter is how muted the colours are. However, autumn is rich with colour and I invariably have some adventures with leaves.

Hopeless Necessity

I have a new fiction project on the go – details on the other blog should anyone be curious. There’s also a fair amount of other new fiction from me over there, so if you like that sort of thing, have a poke about for new Mrs Beaten stories and the tale of Barry Lupin.

The Hopeless Vendetta

If you already have a copy of the Hopeless, Maine tarot set, you’ll probably recognise this image as The Wheel of Fate. It was always intended to be a multi-purpose image, drawn for the tarot set but also as the cover of a book that does not exist.

The book that does not exist doesn’t even have a proper title at this stage. The main character is one Necessity Jones, who is an inventor. There’s a mother of invention joke trying to happen here, but it hasn’t quite hatched yet.

The Necessity project started some time before lockdown and then just… stopped. There were lots of reasons. The problem wasn’t really the project, it had more to do with the author being burned out and depressed and having a hard time imagining there was even any point writing the thing. And so it languished in a notebook, unfinished.

It also…

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This sounds like a really lovely project and I look forward to seeing what comes of it as the wheel of the year turns…

The River Crow

Photo by George Becker on

I might try to write a poem for each of the Wheel of the Year festivals, just as a way of keeping in the habit of doing so and connecting to the Awen as part of my Pagan practice. This is my offering for Lughnasadh.

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The unspeakable thing in the night

This is a recent short story written for the Hopeless, Maine setting. By my standards, I haven’t written much fiction this year, but I’m getting back on top of that, I think.

The Hopeless Vendetta

You lie there awake, listening to the sounds on the roof. Something is on the roof, skidding over the slates. Back and forth it goes. They go. There is no sense in this scrabbling about around the chimneys, and yet you cannot be sure that there is nothing intelligent up there.

All you can do is hope that it is a donkey, again. There is no imaginable way that a donkey could be on your roof because there are no means by which it might ascend. You know this. You have checked extensively. But there has been a donkey on the roof before – you saw it with your own eyes in the uncanny half light of an early summer morning. The donkey looked at you and you expected it to speak, giving some pronouncement to justify its position or identity. It said nothing. How it descended remains as mysterious…

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This is the first full review for my new Pagan book (out next year). Profound gratitude.


Highly recommended. Beyond Sustainability – Authentic Living at a Time of Climate Crisis – offers an insightful exploration of the changes we need to make at the personal and collective levels. It is part of Moon Books’ Earth Spirit series, and will be released on 28 April 2023.

Author Nimue Brown says that, “as a Druid, I’ve spent my adult life trying to live lightly. There is a great deal to learn about what is possible, and what’s effective, and this is always a work in progress and never as good as I want it to be. I feel very strongly about the need for real change and quietly rage about greenwashing and the ridiculousness of ‘offsetting’. Harm cannot be offset”.

The book is economical with words and rich in content. Its introduction reflects that “humans are increasingly a miserable species, caught in ways of behaving that give us very…

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A Semblance of Hope

Please do saunter over and read the whole thing!

The Passing Place

This may be a familiar experience, it may not, but I often find myself intrigued by the idea of ‘another perspective’. Everything I write, everything I read, everything I watch, the world it self and every aspect of life in fact can always be viewed from another perspective.

This included my own past. Something I suspect we all feel at times. there are things I did in the past that had I done something even slightly differently would have changed everything about my life. Events I view now from a different perspective, because I am no longer the person to whom those things happened. I am not my teenage self… So my perspective on the events of my teenage years are not something I look back on now with the same thoughts and views as I had at the time.

As for those I interacted with, how they view those…

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Dystopian Forrest’s and the Merrily Method

A cheering review for an old book of mine. This review is also a very amusing read in its own right.

The Passing Place

I’m not a great believer in self-help books… I always find them a suspicious offering. I suspect the only selves ever really helped are the ones selling the books. Which is ultimately the point of them, to make money. It follows that if the point of the ‘self-help’ book is to make money then such books need a ready made audience of people who feel they need help, and that such help as they need can be found in a competitively priced paperback…

If your goal is to sell books to people who feel the answers to there problems can be found in a competitively priced paperback, then actually having the answers to their problems in said paperback would negate your audience for your next compactivity priced paperback.

So if your goal is actually to help people through useful advice and disbursed wisdom, the kind of publishers who make a…

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Being Aggressive

There have been a few people in my life who found me problematically aggressive. In all three cases, this came up around my being distressed, and that distress being read as an attack from which the person then had to defend themselves. My experience, in each case, was of being upset, and then having to deal with someone acting like I had attacked them. It’s not a helpful situation to be in.

One consequence for me was learning that expressing distress was likely to only make things worse. If something hurt or frightened me it was better to hide it rather than risk the escalation and further damage. That was my experience in my first marriage, where making me tolerate the intolerable was very much the name of the game. I was always the bad guy, always wrong, always to blame and was told explicitly that when I was upset I got very nasty and aggressive. I tried so hard not to do that, but never was gentle enough about how I cried if that was at all visible.

I’m not sure what was happening with the other two people who did this. Possibly they knew that anger would be a fair response to what they’d done and so inferred it where there was none. I don’t tend to get angry, I tend to get upset. Any anger I have normally goes inwards, which is problematic in different ways. 

I suspect I’m not an easy person to read, emotionally. I know I don’t express pain in ways that register with other people. I can describe pain or distress calmly even when in the thick of it – which when I was giving birth meant I got no pain relief! So, I’m not surprised if I confuse people around making sense of my emotions. I don’t throw things or break things, I don’t swear at people or verbally abuse them when I’m upset, and I’ve checked with Tom and he says I am not a shouty person. So it’s difficult to know where this impression of anger and aggression is coming from, because I’m fairly sure it isn’t me.

Tone policing is an issue that comes up all over the place. It’s the unsavoury trick of making the delivery of the message more important than the message. I see it used a lot to shut down ‘angry’ black women who are talking about racism. The classic response is white-woman tears and expressions of fear about the threatening tone of the person complaining. It’s a way of shutting down conversations and treating the person who has been wronged as though they are the aggressor. This protects the person who messed up from having to apologise or make any real changes. It can even serve to validate the harmful behaviour that started the whole process.

Have I been experiencing something similar? I honestly don’t know. I think all a person can do with this is look to their own behaviour. It’s useful to think about the situations in which we think other people are angry. It’s also good to ask how we deal with justified anger, and whether getting things right is more important than defending ourselves from criticism. We all make mistakes. Wanting a free pass to make mistakes and be exempt from consequences is a really toxic way to behave.

Illuminating observations of the perils of an indiscreet life…

Once upon a time I wrote a novel that involved Druids on a traction engine… I was utterly delighted by this recent review for it.

The Passing Place

For reasons, that have never been explained to me, at Pudsey (the small town between Leeds and Bradford and somewhat merged into both these days), in the large park behind the swimming pool, just up past the aviary, this is, and has been since my childhood and probably before, a old traction engine.

Not a working one, I should explain, it’s fire box has long been welded shut, the many levers disconnected from such interesting things as breaks and gear boxes. The wheel doesn’t turn the cumbersome front axil. The great steam whistle to warn people ahead that this great lumbering beast of the industrial revolution is ponderous heading towards them has long been detach. But then the great lumbering beast hasn’t moved for over fifty years or more.

Instead of its original intended purpose it has been a climbing frame, and well of possibilities the imagination of children can…

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