quelle glorious solstice of poets and pagans.


it’s the summer solstice!

our pagan friends have rituals and delights listed here

and Poets dream of Last Summer here

this is the time of year when, if pausing in a cafe, we take up the (android) digital device, select the kindle “app” within and start to read our friend Frances….

All summer the sun strikes the Etruscan wall……directly at dawn…behind the pleasure and fresh beauty of sunrise, I detect an old and primitive response:  the day has come again, no dark god swallowed it during the night. A sun temple seems the most logical kind anyone ever would build.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwe took this picture the other day as the sun dipped behind the Pier and we started to share the first pages of The New Novel
and here’s a little more:

Livy Brennan did not surf. But she did love to sit at the water’s edge with her shoes in her hand, her jeans rolled up to mid calf and watch the sun slip behind the Ferris wheel on the pleasure Pier.

She was so transfixed by the beautiful evening that she did not notice Calliope emerging from the waves. When the sun had finally gone down, Livy picked up her bag and went home to do laundry. Calliope watched her walk up the beach and could not work out why she seemed so familiar. She looked down at her wrist and checked that the emerald bracelet was turned round. This meant she was visible to humans. Livy might not have noticed her, but the lifeguards did. They had been staring for the past half an hour, leaning over the side of the pale blue weathered wood steps that lead up to their lookout station.

One of them decided to walk over and talk to her. “Hey man, where did you spring from?” he said, with a complete lack of self-consciousness. The lifeguards at Donal Bay were gorgeous and used to women (and sometimes men, after dark) falling for them. Calliope raised an eyebrow at him.

“Man?” she said, smoothing her hands over her body to check she was still in female form. Yes, everything was there in perfectly taut lines with suggestive curves. The lifeguard felt faint. Women were rarely so self-possessed in his experience.

“It’s like you just appeared out of thin air,” he said, a bit taken aback. Calliope waved her hand dismissively at him and started walking up the beach.

“The air isn’t thin,” she muttered, “It is multi-dimensional.”

The lifeguard wasn’t going to let her get away. Not when the other more junior lifeguards were watching. He had his reputation to think of.  “Do you want to grab a beer later?”

Calliope kept walking. He could not work out how she covered so much distance in that long flowing gown. He had to walk fast to keep up with her. “Can I have your number?” he said, a bit desperately by now.

“My number?” she said, over her shoulder as she disappeared into the grove of palm trees. “First of the Nine.” And then she lay back against the tree and turned off the emerald bracelet to be invisible again. She had not been to earth for many, many years, and forgot how exhausting it was to interact with humans. Especially male ones who wore tiny white shorts and t-shirts and had the agility of sleek dolphins. Calliope had a very highly developed sense of intuition and she could feel how much the lifeguard desired her. It was overwhelming and quite disconcerting. She slept between the palm trees and tried to remember how to act among humans again. It was strange to be back. But she was also tremendously excited for some reason she could not quite put her finger on.

The next morning the lifeguard contingent had changed and the night shift stripped off their uniforms, carefully slipped into wet suits and hit the dawn waves. Calliope awoke refreshed and watched them for a while, covered in her cloak of invisibility. They had a pure uncontained joy, frolicking in and out of the waves and whooping as the sun came up. It was exhilarating to watch them. She smiled and remained hidden and wandered into town.

The life coach center was open already but only for a dawn break yoga class. Calliope watched them all stretch and OM and peel off shiny all-in-one suits and smile and head out into the day. The instructors gathered for Greek yoghurt and soy smoothies at the café next door and she listened to their conversation for a while.

“Everyone please take a number and wait your turn!” said the receptionist as the lobby filled up with new students for the life coach class.

hiding in plain sight.


we had the Most glorious conversation about Creativity yesterday.


we drove *looksvaguelytocamera* towards the Ocean (the Pacific, we were staying on this Coast) and met-in-a-cafe (as we like to do) and talked for a nice long while about why-people-create and when and how and what-happens-if-they-do-not-create (depression ensues in our experience).

there’s something so gloriously other-worldly talking to other writers who are writing books.

one cannot share another’s imaginary world but there’s magic in knowing they live in one too. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

like Mr. Laurie Lee (how we wish we could sit in a cafe with him – but we can – because we own several of his books which is as near as one can get to sitting-with-the-actual-person).

a day unremembered is like a soul unborn, worse than if it had never been. What indeed was that summer if it is not recalled? That journey? That act of love? To whom did it happen if it has left you with nothing? Certainly not to you. So any bits of warm life preserved by the pen are trophies snatched from the dark, are branches of leaves fished out of the flood, are tiny arrests of mortality.

the urge to write may also be the fear of death – particularly with autobiography – the need to leave messages for those who come after, saying, ‘I was here; I saw it too’. Then there are the other uses of autobiography, some less poignant than these assurances – exposure, confession, apologia, revenge, or even staking one’s claim to be a godhead. In writing my first volume of autobiography, Cider with Rosie (1959), I was moved by several of these needs, but the chief one was celebration: to praise the life I’d had and so preserve it, and to live again both the good and the bad.



we have other muses in silver frames. 


can you guess who?


we thought you might *smiles*OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and dreaming of Other Worlds sustains us. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

we’ve even started a collage wall (which is what we had back in University on our side of the room when we shared with SH who had her own original watercolo(u)rs on Her Side.

some of the pictures are ours – others bought at bookshops or newsstands – and the rest are Gifts –

can you see the one on the right of a seagull? that was sent to us from Brighton by the very talented Ailsa McWhinnie (we became friendly via the Interweb on the land-of-Instagram)

the small boy in a spanish street? that was sent from Barcelona by the glorious Miss Jules who was on holiday there a little while ago.

so we’ve procrastinated enough – here’s what we really wanted to write about……*sighs*

back to Mr. Laurie Lee for a moment in (almost) closing.

But perhaps the widest pitfall in autobiography is the writer’s censorship of self. Unconscious or deliberate, it often releases an image of one who could never have lived. Flat, shadowy, prim and bloodless, it is a leaf pressed dry on the page, the surrogate chosen for public office so that the author might survive in secret.


you see that’s why we’re here.

because who-we-are-in-RL is terribly conflicted about a lot of things and we Listen (a bit distractedly at times, we confess, because sometimes when she’s in-a-muddle we really just want to eat cake – one with jam filling – strawberry but only real not from a jar – and with a fine dusting of icing sugar on the top and a light sponge with a dollop of Cornish cream on the side) and try to be nice.

and we often have a Solution (apart from the cake-eating which is most definitely On Hiatus right now in favo(u)r of more healthful – as the americans call it – fare).

so today is gay pride in west hollywood which means traffic will be a Nightmare all weekend.

that’s not the (main) reason we’re skipping town and heading East.

you see who-we-are-in-RL used to go to Pride (as it was known in those days) in her much younger youth (you’ve probably guessed from our Torrid Tales that there was a deep experience in the more alt. worlds than previously written about before-we-got-a-green-card *coughs*) and in Those Days it was all Shocking (and not just the outfits) and Glam (70s style, sometimes 1920s – there was that Charleston Dress she wore in London, with gloves – long black satin ones) but now………now……..the love that dare not speak its name is now sold-to-by-credit-card-companies and well, exploited (can we be this bold?) and yet – and yet – when we drove past the Site last night we had to swallow hard and look away and admit that it’s all still behind fences with police present and cordoned off and costs money-to-enter (doesn’t everything?)

anyway – movingswiftlyon

we told who-we-are-in-RL that she Can write about that stuff when she’s ready.

but for now we have a Novel to write about goddesses in gowns from the Ancient World.

and so we begin again.

It was one of those really rainy nights in London where umbrellas are all but useless. It had been pouring down for hours and people ducked into doorways or crowded into bus shelters and generally looked damp and careworn.

Everyone that is apart from one glitteringly beautiful goddess who walked down the center of Charing Cross Road without an umbrella or a hat or even a coat. But nobody saw her because she was the leader of the Muses (and thus a real goddess).

Calliope did not feel at all goddess-like this evening. She was enraged by a headline on the evening newspaper. It said, “ARE LIFE COACHES THE NEW MUSES?”

She walked on further almost towards Trafalgar Square, which was now crammed bumper to bumper with cars, cabs and buses all stuck in the rush hour, horns blaring and took a sharp right, sweeping regally past the guards and into the National Portrait Gallery.

Rushing through the Victorian galleries (blowing a kiss to the young Queen’s portrait) she sped up to the next floor flying through the Tudors, Stuarts and through the late eighteenth century to the nineteenth galleries. She stopped as soon as she reached The Romantics room with Blake, Shelley and Keats.

“I’ve missed you,” she said, catching her breath. The portraits, of course, stayed silent. But she knew something of their spirits was contained in the paint. “Nobody believes in us anymore.” The portraits did not reply. “They have replaced us with humans they call Life Coaches.”

A young male student wandered into the gallery and sat down in front of the Keats painting. He opened up a slim volume of poetry and started to read, looking up at the portrait from time to time with tears in his eyes. Calliope watched him for a while in wonder. Then she drifted over to his chair and stood behind him, stroking his hair gently and kissing the back of his neck. The young man was astonished. He could feel something but there was no one there. Calliope put her hands on the book and turned the page out of interest, to see which poem was next. The young man dropped the book in fright and ran away.

Calliope sat on the chair and read from the book.

“Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art–
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching…….”

She looked up at Keats and smiled. “Now that one was glorious, I remember it so well.” Leaving the book carefully on the chair, she raised her arms towards the tips of the gold frames and said, “Find me a so-called Life Coach who could inspire such beauty, darlings.”

And with that she laughed and ran out of the gallery and caught the next celestial transporter to somewhere called Donal Bay, just outside of Los Angeles. According to the magazine articles, that was where they trained these new Life Coaches in their bid to become Muses.

so there you have it.

by our reckoning we have another few novels and screenplays to go before we get to writing-about-the-gritty-stuff – but we’ll have a Lot of Fun doing it and then, just maybe, who knows, we’ll have Sorted Some of that Out (no pun intended, or maybe there was, darlings) and we can Switch (again, oh hell, who are we kidding…..) to a more Naturalistic style (or – *gasps*) Cinéma vérité? but only if JPG supervises Wardrobe – we have our Limits – which are probably a lot further into space and time continuum than we had ever known before you-know-what.

the best line from yesterday (and it wasn’t even ours) was this:

there’s a lot to do before you die.

so we’d better get on with it………………

do you think like that too, darlings?

or is it just us?


do. tell.

coffee with Congreve.


the latest Requested Materials from the Los Angeles County Library have arrived!

(or, more correctly, we went to Pick them Up from the shelf and ran our fingers delicately across the tomes looking for the piece of paper sticking up with our original RL surname thereupon)

and so we spent many happy hours late (a bit too late, actually, tired eyes behind reading glasses, finally forced to capitulate and set aside) and a little this morning, with our dark embrace of caffeine…..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAhere are just two for your delight – – – – – –

From Hymn to Aphrodite:

Sing, Muse, the Force, and all-informing Fire
Of Cyprian Venus, Goddess of Desire:
Her Charms, th’Immortal Minds of Gods can move,
And tame the stubborn Race of Men to Love.
The wilder Herds and ravenous Beasts of Prey,
Her influence feel, and own her kindly Sway.
Thro’ pathless Air, and boundless Ocean’s Space,
She rules the feather’d Kind and finny Race;
Whole Nature on her sole Support depends,
And far as Life exists, her Care extends.

William Congreve, 1710

[Aphrodite and Anchises]

Bright as the Moon she shone, with silent Light.
And charm’d his Sense with Wonder and Delight.

William Congreve, 1710

According to our friends at the Oxford University Press*, these extracts are both from what are known as The Homeric Hymns – a collection of thirty-three poems in epic style composed between the eighth and sixth centuries BC and addressed to various divinities, falsely attributed to Homer.

*and may we say how Modern it is that the OUP (may we be so familiar?) are doing ‘Print-on-Demand’ (top right, of this catalogue page)- – gosh.

of course one does Wonder who these poets were that wrote the Original versions in the once-Ancient Greek and didn’t sign their name so they were passed over by the mists of time and Mr. Homer took the credit (or his Publishers did)?

having done a little ghost-writing-for-executives in our time *coughs* we know the feeling of our words being attributed to Others.


and back to Classical Greece.

you see we’ve decided to put the Hollywood Novel on hold for a moment and adapt the Goddess of Donal Bay (which, strictly speaking is Set in Los Angeles, and there are definite Hollywood Moments).

we wrote it as a screenplay a few years ago and feel ready to write at length to make it (or reveal it, depending on one’s opinion of how-books-are-written) a Novel.

such fun.

we LOVED writing the classical Muses.

the gowns alone…..

CLIO, another muse ENTERS. She flies off the top of the stacks.


Clio is as beautiful as Calliope. And mad as hell.

CLIO We’ve been watching you.

Calliope looks guilty. Clio grabs her arm and shows her a whole stack of self-help books.

CLIO (CONT’D) They call it self-help. Humans buy these books to make them feel better. But they don’t do the work.

CALLIOPE I was just trying to help. They invented these life coach people and said they were the new muses.

CLIO Why did you take on human form? It’s forbidden. You are confusing the human incarnations. You wrote a book with your picture on it, your image is displayed in permanent daylight on those billboards out there, you were on the machine!

CALLIOPE They call it television.

CLIO I don’t care what they call it.

CALLIOPE I’ve been kissed. Clio is stopped in her tracks. Her eyes fill with emotion.

CLIO What was it like?

CALLIOPE Like nothing I have ever experienced.

oh yes.

This is going to be a delicious distraction.

excuse us while we return to Bryon’s translation of Catullus and enjoy (is this possible?) our (small) bowl of Special K (the cereal, not the narcotic).