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The Wacky World of Celtique Energie

Monday 21st July. In Brighton the heatwave continues, blue skies with a sultry overcast, heavy warm air, 29 degrees in our garden this afternoon. The most terrific thunderstorm I've witnessed for many years on the night of Thursday 17th, nothing similar since.

My Fracking Round Up

What a palavar! First we learn that senior planning officers have advised that Celtique Energie's exploratory drilling at Wisborough Green should be refused, owing to the huge HGV traffic/tiny country lanes issue. (and possibly also to the Celtique Energie persistently, and insultingly, lying about everything issue) Hurrah! Then we learn that Geoff Davies isn't going to let this happen. The planning decision must be deferred again, pending new information he needs the committee to consider. Otherwise, he threatens to withdraw his application and re-apply, thus plunging the people of Wisborough Green and Kirdford into further uncertainty. Hm. "Further uncertainty" for another year or so; or horrible devastation of the villages, the roads, the countryside etc, right now? Tough one! So the planning meeting is on, the planning meeting is off, and then, just now, the planning meeting is on again!

I'd like to think that WSCC planning officers viewed Mr Davies' new information, and found that it was rubbish, in about 30 seconds. The downright insulting language employed by Mr Davies helped to confirm their opinion, and the refusal will be delivered as planned. But who can tell, in this strange world we live in? Maybe the committee were told by Big Dave that local opinion and common sense and all that can go to hell. They either approved the fracking bonanza, or it's a short trip to the basement and a bullet in the back of the neck . . .

In short, Celtique Energie are fighting tooth and nail the precedent of a single successful NO! From their bewilderment, and their extremely coarse and heavy-handed tactics, they had no plan for how to deal with resistance. They thought they'd greased the right palms, and it was a done deal! (And they could still be right. There are palms, there has been liberal application of grease: this nobody can deny.

Meanwhile, bitter revolt against extreme energy extraction gathers strength in the USA. Claims of injury and damage are mounting up, and getting costly, and rumours that Climate Change is a real and present danger seem to be spreading, in the most unlikely quarters. But who can tell? Not me! I just know to keep on saying two and two make four, no matter how often I'm told the answer is five or three.


My Real Children
Jo Walton, of which more later. And Farthing; same. Which seems like a nice read, except it's a wren, not a robin. I expect Jo Walton has heard that from a lot of people, and I apologise, but there you go, one really can't help noticing! There's a character called Angela Thirkell. Woah, I hope she's dead! Also Waverley, Walter Scott. I don't know where, but I picked up a reference to Waverley from some site recently (maybe something to do with Bonnie Prince Alex's chances), and immediately wanted to read it again. I still love it. I still owe Sir Walter Scott so much. Along with Stevenson, my formative influence, and the reason why (along with the Brontes) many years ago I could not understand why my teachers savaged my use of the colon and semi-colon; and why I am since, enduringly, helpless on the subject. Like a generation brought up on Imperial and forced (without success) to change to Metric, the result is I just can't measure anything.

I read the end of Waverley this morning, before dawn. A weary wakening from a wild dream (that's from Redgauntlet, actually) that I've so often tried to capture and cherish; like the Old Master's technique of using real, obscure, minutia of historical incident, reportage and dialogue, to colour my fictional (future) history. But the savagery of what happened to the examplars, tried for High Treason after Culloden. That gives me pause, in a way I never dreamt of long ago. Walter Scott wrote as if he was a world, and an eternity, away from the hideous executions in Carlisle, 1746. To be hung, drawn, and quartered, in a world that had daily newspapers and (approaching) democratic government . . . Awful, unthinkable, but it happened. How far away are we now? Just a click away. Not even that. No, not even that.

Summer, summer. Always some kind of hell. There's only one thing to do with summer: run away until September, and after tomorrow's trip over the border, I'm about to do so. So long.

In Search Of The Mezentian Fiorinda (rainy day activities)

Friday 12th July, rain rain rain. Stuck indoors, for my errands are not the amphibious kind, I have spent half the day messing about, creating a glyph for a new ebook, my first actual new book in this medium (it is a Bold As Love world story, and couldn't possibly interest any mainstream publisher except myself*); by my own string-and-glue roundabout methods. I'm quite pleased with the result. The other half of the day so far has been wasted in trying to find an online and therefore shareable image of the original Fiorinda; Eddison's Fiorinda, the lady in the frontispiece of The Mezentian Gate 1958 edition (I don't own a copy, and it is now rare; apparently and some may say understandably!). Drawn by Keith Henderson, on Eddison's instructions, from a painting of a lady (unnamed) 1596, which currently belongs to the Hispanic Society of America.

It's an odd choice, if you ask me. El Greco, fine, dead right as to period: but if the Lady Fiorinda is an El Greco you might want her to look like this (the lady in a fur wrap, who may or may not be a portrait of El Greco's long time love Jeronima De Las Cuevas) But no, Eddison seems to have taken great pains to make sure we know she looks like this tough looking bird:who is very difficult to find online, although
I'm sure I saw her there just the other day. This detail from the Keith Henderson drawing I stole from the fan-ficcer "fiorinda_chancellor"'s archive of our own site. The Chancellor, btw, is Fiorinda's brother in the story. Make what you will.

Eddison. What a problem child! Hard to believe he went to the same school as the so sensible and normal Arthur Ransome. Never mind the undeniably fascist imagery (whatever he called his world view, I'm afraid the truth is obvious): those sentences! Sumptuous prose is one thing, but Lessingham, love, she's gone to sleep two paragraphs ago. I remember thinking, even when delighted with Mistress of Mistresses, many, many years ago, people don't talk like that. Not to each other. They don't even talk like that in Jacbean tragedy, except in soliloque; theatre's internal monologue feature. But I can't claim I'm not attracted, obviously. Eddison's Fiorinda is a case in point, she says everything about the dubious allure of it all for me. She's a goddess, the Demiurge of Eddison-world, the uber-avatar of Aphrodite, but all her powers are bestowed on her by her father (well, of course: name of Eric Eddison, but you know what I mean). She's the top sex-doll in the range, the ultimate uber sex-doll, but that's all she is, for all her smouldering Jacobean periods. And collusive too, as she doesn't even say anything sarcastic about being a puppet, not once, just sits there smugly saying ca, m'amuse; which for years I misremembered as Je m'amuse, subtly much more acceptable. . . Yet I wanted to ask Eddison, was he also thinking, surely, as I was when I borrowed her name, of Blodeuwedd (=Fiorinda, in Italian), the woman made of flowers by her "father" Gwydion the magician, in Welsh mythology. Who broke free, and became a person, kind of like Pinocchio; and got into terrible bother with her dad, over her cunning plan to escape from a forced marriage. All these stories about what men think women are (we can start with owned); images of sensuous fragility, fearful enchantment . . . Which can equally be read (re-visioned) as stories about how women get trapped by looking at themselves in that mirror . . .

Why am I looking up Fiorinda? Because I'm planning to ask Bryan Talbot if I can use the "Fiorinda" portrait he did for me, way back then, in my cover design. Interestingly, this portrait was another magic mirror. I was taken aback when I saw it for the first time, far more so than with eg "Aoxomoxoa"). Huh? Is that what she looks like? Admittedly I don't think I ever have a clear idea of what my characters look like, but I'm sure she was much younger, a lot less like a haughty super-model, and far more vulnerable. But you write them, and then somebody else sees them: I'm lucky to have had a glimpse, and I have long accepted that this is the face my character lives behind.

It's stopped raining, I'm going out. The keynote picture is a cheat, the most forward of my Lilium Regale (outside the front door in a tall pot, as they are poisonous to cats) looks like this.

*Still coming to terms with the idea that if there's a print edition (I mean, a print on demand edition and a few samples), it will have to be with Create Space An Amazon Company. But I've looked into it, and realistically there is no alternative. None that I can see.