Saturday, 15 July 2017



from the 55th Flower and Garden Festival
Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th June 2017

The Old Bakery


Sunday 7th May 2017
Guilsborough House
Dripwell House and Garden



Saturday, 1 July 2017

The Chaunderlay Faunus



Charles Chaunderlay and his friend Robert Beauleigh who is staying as a guest and arrived late last night are having breakfast in the dining room at Chaunderlay Hall in Oxfordshire.
‘How’s your devilled kidneys?’ enquired Charles.
‘They’re really not so bad once one gets past the satanic connotations’ replied Robert, adding that ‘perhaps they are a little over-cooked, don’t you think?’
‘Yes, very much so but it would break dear Mrs Snipe’s heart to tell her or to even suggest the merest hint of criticism towards her culinary expertise; she’s a temperamental old thing you know and gets into the most awful hysterics and besides, cooks are very much in demand at the moment and have the upper-hand over their employers in that they can command an enormous salary! Best to keep quiet about it old chap!’ And so the two gentlemen continued with their breakfast in silence, until Robert said: ‘You know Charles, you never did tell me about that awful affair concerning that minor scandal at Rugby you were involved in!’
‘No, it broke dear mother’s heart!’ replied Charles, after sipping his tea. ‘The thing is, I rather made a bit of a fool of myself with a boy named Carmichael, most compromising but all perfectly innocent. We exchanged certain letters which could have been viewed in an extremely bad light and frowned upon if you get my meaning? He was an angelic creature, the sort of boy who could exit church appearing more pure and holy than the clerics, and my heart fell for him and I simply kissed him that is all. Of course all hell broke loose and I was hauled before the Head and father, to whom I was a disgrace and a disappointment had to quell the storm saying it was all a terrible mistake and it was put down to the natural exuberance of youth and that I was confused after suffering an illness etc. but the truth of the matter was that I was in love with Carmichael and refused to let him go and we would clandestinely see each other whenever possible.’
‘What happened?’ said Robert, drawing nearer.
‘I was treated in the most God awful manner possible and no one spoke to me for a whole term, I was to all intents and purposes persona non grata, sent to Coventry so to speak. Well my health really did break down under such barbaric abuse and I had to come home to recuperate. Father, damn his cold heart was furious…’
A shocked expression crossed Robert’s face, ‘you don’t mean that Charles!’
‘Oh but I most certainly do! The best thing he ever did for me was to have the consideration and good fortune to go hunting that day and be thrown from his horse! I hated him so much Robert! He really put me through hell!’ Robert put his hand against Charles’ arm and Charles continued, ‘mother was most considerate of the situation. On my return I was sent to the Headmaster, a vulgar swine by the way who wanted a sworn statement as to my unwholesome behaviour saying that I had corrupted poor Carmichael; he was hoping for an expulsion! He really did make something which was very beautiful seem like something depraved and sordid! I could have thrust a knife into his callous heart!’
‘Were you obliging, with the statement I mean?’ Robert asked.
‘Certainly not! Rugby as you well know is a hot-bed of forbidden repression particularly among the Masters but there were a select few who tormented the boys with their affectations so to speak; I knew that several Masters were far more corrupting than I was imagined to be and I did what any self-respecting young gentleman would do – I kept my mouth shut! Do you know he even had the audacity to strike me six times across each hand and call me a filthy debauched blackguard! The next day Carmichael slighted me and passed me coming out of his dorm and never spoke to me again – the bloods had a field day ragging me in the ruins of my romance! I won’t take much away from my prep school Robert except that perfect vision of love that I was privileged to be given at an important time of my life and a special gift which was the most exquisite gift any young boy can own – I am of course talking of masturbation, for it is the beginning of a life-long, beautiful friendship!’
‘You are a hopeless romantic after all Charles! Did you ever see him again, this Carmichael lad?’
‘No’ said Charles, brushing his blonde hair from his eyes, ‘he was killed at the Somme I believe! He was my eggs and bacon…’
‘Sorry to hear that! Really, you are strange Charles!’ said Robert, once again tackling the remains of his devilled kidney that refused to yield so easily. ‘When I was a young boy’ Robert continued, ‘I fell in love with father’s stable boy, a perfect Narcissus he was but it was nothing serious of course, except that to me, in my head, I sanctified his very being and found constant infernal excuses to visit the stables!’
‘Many are the sweet blushes that adorn the innocent in their frantic search for love and passionate encounters which flourish and terminate at the stable door dear boy! When I was a small boy’ Charles continued, ‘I didn’t associate with other boys, in fact I found them rather drab little fellows with absolutely nothing in common with me whatsoever. I was forever in the company of little girls who interested me immensely. Now that I have grown into my skin and am able to appreciate my own sex for what they are, I seldom if ever associate with the fairer sex, in fact, I can’t abide them. Now what does that say about me, eh?’ Charles looked fervently into Robert’s eyes as if searching for an answer, but all that Robert uttered was ‘most perplexing!’
‘You know I’m a firm believer in the Ancient Greek system of education when an older man or “erastes”, the adorer or the lover, takes a young adolescent, the “eromenos” or the beloved under his wing and introduces him to the ways of the world and his wife; gives him a sense of moral perfection and well-being; puts steel into the flesh and generally draws the boy into adulthood with a thirst for knowledge! Have you read Plato’s Symposium? You should you know, all about the freeing of the mind from the natural distractions of the mortal body through Eros, a non-physical love which mirrors…’
‘I forgot to mention’ interrupted Robert, yawning, ‘I distinctly heard footsteps outside my room last night which went on until the early hours – is Chaunderlay Hall haunted?’
‘No, that will be my brother Cedric, he’s not slept since Passchendaele and easily mistaken for a ghost if you should ever see him, which of course you won’t as he keeps to his room on the pretence of writing his memoirs and only comes out after lights out! The war took a terrible toll on him and he came home awfully disfigured, you know!’
‘Poor devil!’ remarked Robert, ‘it must be awfully infuriating for you having a war hero in the family?’
‘Not really’ said Charles, ‘he despises me and we haven’t spoken in many days after he called me an “effeminate coward”!’
‘That’s too bad! I’m very sorry to hear that. I hope I do make his acquaintance all the same and have the opportunity of thanking him for his hospitality, after all he is your brother and he is Lord Chaunderlay!’
‘Lord Chaunderlay be damned! I have had to take on his duties since he is incapable of rising to the occasion following father’s death last year and mother’s passing recently which was a great blow to us all here at the Hall! You’re here as my guest and I must ask you not to disturb him for he won’t thank you for it!’
 ‘As you wish Charles!’
‘You heard all about the engagement being called off I suppose? She dropped him like a hot potato when what was left of him returned from the Front! You know he spent twenty-eight years worshipping women as Goddesses and since Evelyn called it off he’s been tearing down that foolish illusion and smashing the pedestal he built for her; twenty-eight years to realise that women, beneath the surface are just as cruel and deceptive as men – that they too expel liquids, solids and gases – that was a real shock to him I can tell you! I learnt a long time ago that all women are like the Mona Lisa, if you scrape away the beautiful paint on top all you are left with is a dirty canvas!’
‘You don’t have a very high opinion of women do you Charles?’
‘I find them insufferable! They repulse me!’ he said, and looked away.
After a short silence, Robert broke it with ‘you know it strikes me as rather odd that you never served King and country yourself; I have an excuse as I was not old enough at the time but you were of age!’
‘Bees don’t keep themselves you know!’ replied Charles haughtily.
‘No seriously, it’s a perfectly reasonable question to ask.’
‘It is indeed and if you must know I objected to the war on religious grounds and I was told not to apply to the Officer’s Training Corps for reasons to which my “affliction” was the prime cause yet it was never mentioned per se; they just didn’t want my sort I’m afraid.’
‘I wasn’t aware that you were a religious person Charles for you seem always to be blaspheming Christ and the Church!’ Robert said with a puzzled expression.
‘True Christians should question everything and not accept things blindly; in the end I came to the sorrowful conclusion that there is no God! So a career in the Church was out of the question! I did have thoughts of following in father’s footsteps and joining the army when I was younger but concluded that it would be no good for my feet!’
‘Your feet Charles! I thought an army marches on its stomach?’ Robert jested.
‘Only gastropods march on their stomachs dear boy, and I am told with absolute conviction and sincerity that so does the German army who have a distinct resemblance to the fore-mentioned slimy devils! The Kaiser keeps one under his nose don’t you know!’ Robert laughed and said tenderly ‘were you terribly hurt by that boy Carmichael?’ Charles said nothing but his eyes were almost tearful and answered for him; ‘am I your eggs and bacon now?’ Robert whispered, to which Charles put his hand on Robert’s hand and said softly and passionately, ‘indubitably!’
Robert stood up and walked over to the window as the morning sun poured its glorious rays upon the expanse of garden before him.
‘I must say when you spoke about the gardens at Chaunderlay being so lovely I thought perhaps you were exaggerating, but you didn’t, not a word of it!’ Robert said, turning and looking into Robert’s eyes with complete faith in him and everything about him.
‘Come into the garden Maud!’ Charles sang in his best comical operatic voice.
And so following breakfast the two gentlemen went through the doors onto the terrace for a stroll, arm in arm in the garden.
‘The garden is beautiful isn’t it Robert, I just love the haunting sound of the peacocks, like food to a starving man!’
‘I’ve noticed that about you Charles, you seem to associate all things of beauty with food, in fact, hardly a conversation goes by without some mention or reference to things edible!’
‘Perhaps it’s a metaphor for sex! God knows what Freud would make of it! But really, I can’t help my epicurean foibles you know!’
‘That sounds like a Greek dish!’
‘It probably is!’ laughed Charles. ‘Tell me, how do you like Oxford?’ Robert shielded his eyes from the sun and said, ‘for the first time I feel almost complete, as if my life until now was only play-acting; academia suits my temperament very well and I have fallen in with a good crowd – I laughed the other day when my friend Forbes asked Stilby-Jones what one has if one takes three away from two, after much deliberation Stilby-Jones says “you’re straying into the realms of the invisible!” He tried to illustrate the case by using the salt and pepper pots, saying “there’s you’re two objects, now how can I take three away when there is only two for there must be a third in hiding somewhere!” and he pretended to look for it under the table! He’s a real chump but a good hearted chump! And Forbes is an absolute menace when it comes to debauched behaviour and that sort of thing; he enjoys every opportunity of college obscenity and is constantly to be found among the “Oxford Lilies”!’
‘Ah, I remember those lilies well! Those adorable little college hyacinths… strange, I always found myself in the cauliflower and cabbage patch striving for love, beauty and perfection amongst the penny brassicas! This chap Forbes, is he studying divinity?’
‘No, ancient languages!’
‘Pity, I hear the Church is crying out for decent young men like Forbes nowadays, especially after the terrible consequences in Europe! You know, it is wise to cultivate the freak and those of a weird disposition which I believe Oxford is famous for and has in abundance for it gives them an enormous sense of achievement to be in the orbit of gifted undergraduates and it gives the intellectual a heightened sense of superiority and self-importance which prepares them for the outside world! I’m glad you’re enjoying it up at Oxford; make the most of it for it goes so quickly and before you know it you’re turned out like cattle into the cruel world with the terrible prospect of finding a job and earning a living!’ said Charles wincing.
‘Is that why you love me Charles, because of my disposition?’ Robert said putting both his hands on Charles’s shoulders.
‘On the contrary dear Robert, I love you for your perfect innocence, an innocence I hasten to add I abandoned a very long time ago!’ Robert smiled and they continued walking.
‘Do you believe in an after life Charles?’ Robert suddenly said.
‘I’m not altogether sure I believe in a present life!’ Charles retorted, presenting his silver cigarette case to Robert for him to take one of his exquisite Mediterranean cigarettes which he has imported specially.
‘I only ask because mother has taken to spiritualism to father’s deep consternation; she regularly attends séances given by the mysterious Madame Fiori!’
‘I should say the only mysterious thing about this so-called “Madame Fiori” is that she encourages the fool-hardy and gullible into parting with large sums of money and tilting the table a little and swearing blind that she is in direct communication with Great Aunt Mabel who wants to know what happened to her porcelain tea service and the fact that she is not in prison for it is beyond belief – that’s the mystery!’
‘Mother gets some sense of relief from it; you remember I told you about cousin George who took the King’s shilling and decided to scatter his body over the battlefield at Ypres, well she says he’s come through and wants to know how his best gelding is doing, not a word about poor Aunt Mary!’
‘Bloody typical! He has the perfect opportunity, to whit the majestic and somewhat celebrated ear of the renowned and I might add distinguished Madame Fiori and all he can think to say is “’ow’s me ‘orse?” not a word about God and “oh by the way what they are telling you in Church is absolute tosh and don’t believe a word of it and if I were you I’d put five guineas on ”Stumbling Joe” in the two-forty-five at Epsom on Friday!” He sounds an absolute bore!’
‘He was, tremendously!’
‘I think it was Keats who said “the way of life is uncertain, and the soul is in a ferment!”’
‘Dear Keats! Only he could say such a thing! I must lend you my Percy Osborn, quite delightful! By the way, thanks for your book of poems Charles – it’s not a bit like Swinburne, perhaps a little Baudelaire in places!’
‘Hmmm’, Charles sighed.
They stood for a while in silence beside the rose garden, seeming a little awkward.
‘I must congratulate Stevens; the roses are looking first rate!’ Charles said to break the silence, and then followed with ‘you do know I’m rather fond of you Robert, don’t you?’
‘Of course Charles!’ answered Robert, ‘passion really isn’t your forte is it? You can kiss me you know; we are quite alone and out of sight of the house!’ and Robert leaned closer towards Charles.
‘We have to be circumspect in these things – I’ll come to you later!’ Charles said somewhat mournfully, before kissing Robert tenderly and saying ‘my love for you is phantasmagorical!’ and he departed back to the Hall to tend to his correspondence, letters addressed to the ‘Lord Chaunderlay’, a task which had fallen upon the younger Chaunderlay. Meanwhile Robert returned back to the terrace where he wasted numerous hours losing himself in some romantic novel by a chap named Bloxam, sipping countless cups of coffee and smoking endless cigarettes.

That evening after dinner Charles took Robert into the drawing room.
‘And here is the famous Chaunderlay Faunus!’ Charles declared pouring himself and Robert a glass of port.
‘It looks rather ugly to me Charles!’ Robert said scrunching his face and accepting his glass.
‘I should expect nothing less from a Brasenose man like yourself studying history! It was discovered in the garden you know, behind the stables during the archaeological excavation my father instigated and took part in along with many fragments of pottery and some coins which he presented to the Ashmolean!’
‘Strange, Oxford isn’t considered a major Roman site, in fact, it’s rather dull from historical perspectives!’ said Robert.
‘Indeed, but there were many villas throughout the region and we believe we have the foundations of a Temple of Minerva, according to the remains of the floor mosaic which was discovered; it was filled in again to protect it but I like to think it was to protect the maiden virgins of Oxfordshire who might glimpse the shameless acts of depravity depicted in the tiling!’
‘Are there any maiden virgins left in Oxfordshire?’
‘One lives in hope, Robert, one lives in hope!’
Robert stepped closer to the Faunus ‘I must say it is very curious, the Faunus I mean, almost devilish don’t you think?’ he said examining the work of art.
‘Probably a stylised sculpture of Pan – now there was a deity to believe in! You know there is nothing finer than stripping modern man of all his false veneers and convictions and reducing him to his base pagan emotions; running naked through ancient woodland to the sound of the pan pipe! To dance naked in the moonlight like a wild animal and swim without shame in the river as the water ripples across the naked beauty of man!’
‘I am sensing a theme with this discourse Charles!’ Robert quipped, smiling.
‘You must excuse me Robert for I am an inveterate enthusiast of the male nude and its aesthetic lineaments send me into raptures of exquisite joy!’
‘I quite understand there’s something spiritually uplifting about the naked male form! One can almost see the image of Christ in every glorious muscular curve! But really Charles you do astound me at times: only a true poet could condemn the whole of the modern world as you do Charles!’
‘Why thank you Robert! I say don’t you think the Faunus would look better in the Hallway, it would make a terrific centrepiece?’
‘But this is the grandest room in the house Charles,’ said Robert rather puzzled by the suggestion, ‘and it seems only fitting amongst the family portraits!’
Charles gazed at Robert intensely and said ‘it’s an absolutely dreadful room, dull and imposing; I rarely come into this room, I’m damned if I’ll have twelve generations of Chaunderlays looking down on me! It’s bad enough having the so-called Lord of the Manor breathing down my neck without several centuries of disgust and disapproval!’
‘I must say they’re an austere bunch!’ said Robert looking round the room at the ancestral portraits which adorned the walls.
‘Tyrants, misfits and heretics, the lot of them! Take this unfortunate looking brute…’ and Charles began to give a blood-thirsty account of several of his more notorious ancestors.
The night drifted on towards its own conclusion and before long Robert retired to bed. Not long afterwards Charles knocked and entered the room, disrobed and got into bed with Robert where they spent the long hours in each others arms, their warm naked bodies locked in passionate waves of wild abandoned love as they listened to the sound of footsteps walking up and down the corridor outside the door and dreamed that a time would come in the not too distant future when they would no longer have to hide their love for each other in shadows!

‘And this, Ladies and Gentlemen’ said the tour guide, ‘is the Blue Room, reputedly haunted by the ghost of Captain Sir Cedric Chaunderlay who is also said to walk the corridor outside the room; having been wounded at Passchendaele, he suffered great mental distress and sadly took his own life in this very room on 19th November 1919, placing his service revolver against his head – bang!’ The small crowd of visitors gave a discernable shudder as the guide chuckled to himself; he’d given the same speech a hundred times and startled many a nervous onlooker and never failed to find death amusing. One of the inquisitive members of the group suddenly grunted ‘have you ever seen a ghost and do you think it’s really haunted?’ to which the tour guide answered ‘well, I’ve not personally seen anything ghostly so to speak but put it this way, I’d rather go home of an evening to my dear wife rather than spend a night alone here and if you’ve ever met my wife you would understand that one is only slightly more terrifying than the other!’ There was a gentle ripple of titters amongst the small crowd who sniffed and coughed and looked up from their phones; like a shepherd herding sheep he led the group back into the hallway saying ‘may I draw your attention to this elegant Georgian staircase – it was at the bottom of this beautiful stair one fateful day in 1922 that the then Lord Charles Chaunderlay discovered the twisted dead body of his friend and lover Robert Beauleigh. His Lordship was devastated and after a brief sojourn in the United States he travelled to Europe and lived extensively abroad until he returned to Chaunderlay Hall in 1931. Just five years later he was found dead in suspicious circumstances in a London park and there was talk of blackmail and scandal! Was he murdered? We do not know for sure but if you will now accompany me into the drawing room I will show you where his ghost has been seen by staff and guests alike on more than one occasion!’ The sheep bleated and shuffled towards the drawing room eager to see an apparition, clicking their camera phones in the general direction of anything and everything as the guide blew his nose, adding ‘those of you who are interested in the life of Charles Chaunderlay will find his two-volume autobiography “Can’t run, can hide!” and “The Last of the Chaunderlays”  available in the shop on your way out along with his two published volumes of poetry “A Factor of Strangeness” from 1918 and “Sonnets to my Milk-White Spartan” from 1923 dedicated to his good friend Robert Beauleigh!’ and the assembled spectators pushed and nosed their way into the drawing room.
‘We are standing in close proximity to one of the greatest treasures here at Chaunderlay – the Chaunderlay Faunus! This little statue was found in the grounds of Chaunderlay Hall during excavations in 1915; in fact, many Roman artefacts were discovered such as coins and shards of pottery and they can be viewed in the Ashmolean Museum. Some say that all the misfortune that occurred following its discovery essentially points towards it being cursed! I must mention the first tragedy which occurred two years after its discovery; it was in the winter of 1917 when Major Sir Montague Chaunderlay died in a terrible hunting accident. His wife Lady Violet Chaunderlay passed away the following year of natural causes we believe, leaving the two boys Cedric and Charles. And now the Chaunderlays reside in the family vault in the parish church! Is it cursed? Knowing the fate of the Chaunderlays, very probably but you must decide for yourselves!’

Monday, 29 May 2017




                  What I know of the divine sciences and Holy Scriptures, I learned
                        in woods and fields. I have no other master than the beeches and
                        the oaks.

(Saint Bernard of Clairvaux)



There was no stain upon the old man; there was neither bitter envy nor petty jealousy to corrupt the natural wrinkles of his aged flesh; each deep line upon his jovial face told a tale of many years spent out of doors toiling beneath the heat of the sun and the cold of the winter months, battered by all the elements. He was a pious man without sin who tended devotedly and lovingly the garden of the Benedictine monastery as he had done for sixty-two summers. Each morning Brother Beatali inspected the lush gardens of the Monastero di Santo Benedetto which nestled in a sun-soaked valley beneath steep vineyards in a province of Southern Italy, to see which new buds had opened and which of his cherished children needed special attention. He would pick the soft ripe fruit for his fellow brothers to enjoy with their meal and take an armful of cut flowers from the rose garden into the monastery to bring God’s ‘wonderful glory indoors to saviour and to reflect upon nature’s beauty and bounty!’ Brother Beatali was a simple man of faith with simple needs, as all the brothers were and he delighted in his day’s work and never felt it was a hindrance to his spiritual progress for he fully believed that the work aided him and that a day in the garden was more spiritually uplifting and rewarding than a month of devotional prayers! Although he was old and quite frail physically Brother Beatali had the sharp mind still of a young man on the cusp of great learning and a life spent beneath the warm rays of the sun had hardened not only his skin which was tanned like some ancient exotic fruit but his acceptance that true evil inhabits the world of man which is reflected in nature; it also strengthened his natural capacity to love all God’s wonderful creatures! Rarely was he disturbed in his gardening duties unless he called for assistance from a fellow brother to help with some heavy or tiresome work which his withered muscles could not accomplish any more. Amongst the flowers and the shrubs, he was utterly selfless and each kind act towards the tender plants rewarded him with sore limbs and aching muscles for his devotion and he praised God for it! He would go on until his last breath summoned his soul away from his precious garden to God where he would tend the celestial gardens!
One day, after he had been harvesting vegetables in the garden with Brother Excelsis with whom he had been talking of ‘Il Martirio di San Sebastian’ and who carried the heavy load to the kitchens, the old man sat down upon the bench in the garden, as he often did when he felt a little tired and watched the bees busy themselves amongst the loveliest of fragrant blooms and saw how the birds hopped between the newly dug soil, picking at the supply of worms and other things that crept and crawled and wriggled and slithered and squirmed upon the earth; he looked along a narrow avenue of the garden and could see the glorious marigold borders and the peonies and the lupines in the shade of the garden; beneath a statue of Saint Benedict was a stone basin overflowing with cool water which was during the warmest part of the day inhabited by small birds cleansing their feathers from the dust; further still beyond the herb beds and medicinal plants were the orchards and the bee hives filled with thick golden honey for the Brothers to gather and spread upon warm cut loaves; his eye was directed down a short vista which led to the gnarled and knotted trunk of the walnut tree and drawn to a small wooden carving of Christ on the cross of suffering – he  looked upon all this as a gift from God and sighed knowing that one day he must leave the garden but while he rested and remained on earth he felt complete contentment as the songbirds trilled before him.
He supposed that he must have fallen asleep on the bench beneath the cherry blossom tree for he felt as if time had no passage and there was a feeling of great apprehension in the air which seemed to ring with the strange sound of a bell being struck which note seemed to stretch out into the distance, rising in tone before falling away. Suddenly he heard a voice from behind him call his name and he looked round to see a figure of a man come to greet him –
‘Brother Beatali, be assured that I am not here to direct you from your labours, for I am here to instruct you upon your sinful ways!’
Brother Beatali was shocked at what the stranger said and demanded to know with whom he was speaking and how he came by the garden which was strictly for use by the brotherhood.
‘I am to you an Angel of the Good Lord Almighty God, as you know me and I am everywhere for there are no boundaries; I would expect a more intelligent and higher evolved being to bow down before such a messenger of God, but I have no expectations of you Brother Beatali!’
‘Why should I believe who you are and what you say? You may be an evil spirit sent by the Devil to torment and tempt me from my faith in the Lord!’ said the old man. Then, the Good Angel of God came close to the old man and whispered in his ear – ‘Now do you understand?’ said the Angel.
The old man sat open-mouthed for what had been said was never disclosed to any living soul and the fact that the Angel knew such personal details proved undoubtedly to the Brother that indeed he was an Angel of the Good Lord!
Then the Angel continued: ‘There is no devil! Mankind’s ignorance in such matters proves that they are of a primitive mind and not worthy to worship God Almighty!’
‘My life has been one of devotion and prayer yet you call me a sinner!’ the old man said with a look of surprise and helplessness.
‘Yes, for you have sinned greatly and mankind for thousands of years has been guilty of such sins which must be cleansed!’
‘I do not understand!’ said the old man who had now fallen to his knees in supplication.
‘Do you really believe that humanity is the singular most intelligent species upon the earth? How absurd! Humanity was created to serve the major species and to assist it to flourish but mankind has persistently desecrated the higher life forms of this world!’
‘To what are you referring as the “higher life form”, for we are unaware of any greater intelligence than ourselves on this world or any other for that fact!’ 
‘You have devoted your whole life to the nurturing and destruction of that life form; your hands have wrung life from God’s children on earth and you say you don’t know! It is the plant kingdom of course, the kingdom that you have systematically and ruthlessly plundered and murdered!’
Brother Beatali was mortified and stammered: ‘But the plants are incapable of movement and speech, how can they be more intelligent than mankind?’ the old man asked.
‘Speech is the solidified excreta of thought, it is base and primal and not intellectual for those of a higher intelligence communicate by thought without the need for words of sound and it is common throughout the universe and all the universes that movement hinders intelligence and is unnecessary for the sedate body grows in a more refined emotional and intellectual capacity. So you must see that you humans are merely there to aid and serve the master species, the master species that you remove from the earth, that you twist and contort into shapes of obscene fancy in the name of “horticultural”, and interfere with in the name of “Botany”; life forms that you cut down and torture by putting them into glass vessels and watching them slowly die!’
‘My love has been a perfect blessing of love for the flowers and all the things that grow in the wild and you say that all this time I have been torturing and murdering my children!’ The old man said with tears in his eyes.
‘Since the time of Eden of which parable was given to you as a warning to end your wickedness when the great and splendorous garden of the world was created specifically for the plant kingdom to enjoy and flourish it was decided that they would need a species to care for them and to serve them dutifully and so was created the lesser-brained and physically unrefined inferior body of man! There have been many Adams through the millennia and all have accumulated to the desecration of the garden from the first taste of the forbidden fruit to the wearing of the vine leaves upon the obscene genitals, humiliating the king of all the climbing plants! Man has become a loathsome egotistical parasite upon the earth cutting down the forests and exploiting the earth’s resources and in my world we refer to you as savages! It is true you have accumulated certain basic knowledge but you have not the capacity to use it wisely for wisdom is a very rare thing upon the earth!’ and with that the Angel left the old man to his thoughts and feelings of utter bewilderment and despair!
The old man looked decidedly miserable when Brother Excelsis returned to him in the garden but Beatali said nothing to him and remained silent; there was an indescribable rage of hatred and anger rising in the good Brother which had never risen in him before and he spoke to no-one all evening and all night.

The brothers rose early the next day as they always did expecting their basket of fruit from the garden but when none was forthcoming they decided to look for Brother Beatali. And so Brothers Sylvanus, Excelsis and Abbot Peter Magdaveda, left the monastery in search of their loyal and devoted brother Beatali! Upon entering the walled garden the despondent scene of disruption and malevolent disarray of the beautiful garden struck them speechless. As they stood there looking round they could see smoke rising from a bonfire which had the remains of the shrubs and the cherry trees upon it; further they could see the stumps of the apple trees that had been savagely hacked down and heaps of cut roses and other flowers pulled out by the roots thrown unceremoniously onto a hill of dying and dead blooms, in fact, nothing was living in the garden whatsoever, everything had been destroyed. The brothers could only assume that Brother Beatali had gone completely mad to inflict such injury upon his beloved garden and was undoubtedly influenced by some evil spirit which had possessed him and during the night he tore down the whole garden in some sort of insane rage. After further investigation Brother Beatali was found lying amidst a heap of lilies and dahlias, cold and undeniably dead! It seemed his heart had given out following the utter destruction of the garden and so the brothers went away to pray and ask God’s forgiveness for what their brother had done before the task of clearing the garden and re-growing the fruits and the vegetables and the lovely roses began in earnest once more!


Saturday, 20 May 2017




By the figurative mystery of this holy vestment, I will clothe me with
the armour of salvation in the strength of the Most High, ANCOR,
AMICAR, AMIDES, THEODONIAS, ANITOR, that so the end which
I desire may be affected, O ADONAI, through Thy strength, to Whom
be praise and glory for ever and ever.

[Prayer at Vesting. Lesser Key of Solomon.]


I have given more than enough of my time to the progress of mankind; to the little insignificancies that occupy the brain and the sorrows of the flesh and the false fluidity of mind. Perhaps out of some fool’s errand I imagined I had come to the end of my time on this planet dwelling amongst small things and appeasing my soul to the relentless thought that life expires with little care to what remains of us. Humanity had shown me nothing but cruelty and hatred and I tired desperately of it and wanted solitude and peace and beauty. And so, with little more than a snap of my fingers I disconnected from it, or at least did my utmost in trying to. I had worked hard for a hungry and tiresome manager in a small establishment in the city devoted to the corruption of society through the means of acquiring information on certain individuals who diligently broke the law. Like some caged animal with electrodes attached to my head, day in and day out answering to imbeciles who worshipped nothing except the Lord God Almighty and the Bank of England! (1) I escaped with my life and what’s left of my sanity and what money I had put aside. Fortunately some distant yet ‘much loved’ and now ‘dearly missed’ Uncle had sought the good sense and decency to expire and leave his inheritance to me!  I had never known him but you can bet that I made the appropriate emotional gestures before collecting the magnanimous sum of money! I bought an old narrow boat that was moored on a quiet stretch of the canal and feverishly made it ‘sea-worthy’ so to speak. I could have easily bought a new boat or had one made to my own speculations but it takes a long time for new things to acquire character and this old boat had it in spadefuls! There was a profusion of dark wood inside which gave it the appearance of a sombre and thoughtful space; there’s just something magical about dark wood with the grain clearly showing like some ancient fossil, for it was a living being absorbing energy and it still contains that energy… as a child I could sit for hours just peering into the dark history of the wood as if it were a book open before me and it would often induce some sort of trance state, but I digress, to complement the dark wood I added colourful curtains and furnishings and framed pictures on the walls that also burst with colour but there were a few prints and illustrations I was fond of too, and along each side of the boat, in every available space actually, I had made bookshelves, again with wood stained with a deep, dark varnish to be in keeping with the rest, which contained all the authors I had read and wanted to read, such as Lawrence and Chaucer and Dickens, and Dante, amongst others. They were with me and so I did not feel alone in the long hours after dark, where a log fire kept me warm and candles burned in glass lamps. Not that I ever really felt alone for I was such a being who as a child delighted in my own company and was never bored and never idle for my mind was easily turned to occupations of an artistic nature and reading had been my greatest love and still is! I felt as if I was on the precipice of some great adventure and I would live a simple life upon the water. Of course I had many interests to fill my time, such as watercolour painting and writing poetry, if it could be called such and academic interests such as Greek mythology and studying the esoteric arts. In fact, it was through my interest in Greek mythology that I came to name my boat ‘Prometheus’. Yes, my life afloat would be a perfect idyll.
I was a man of routine, each morning rising at eight and breakfasting before taking a walk and returning to continue some artistic venture I was pursuing such as painting or writing that I had begun. I kept a journal and in it I would write my thoughts and activities and all the secret little intricate eruptions of the mind that flower throughout the day; it was my companion and my confessor! Yes, it was a glorious life and little by little I grew more in my spiritual mind. Since very young I had been inquisitive about nature and religion and God and throughout my youth I made an examination of various systems and philosophies and after much deliberation and inner torment I came to the realisation that magick with its complete responsibility upon the practitioner was where my heart had drawn me! I had devoted much of my time to a strange and curious little book about the Goetic Art of Solomon and I came to study its forbidden lore, in fact it became somewhat of an obsession! (2)
Some months passed and my days were an endless rapture to me. During the day I would go on adventures and make sketches and studies of interesting things I found and during the evening and night I would write and study further my esoteric interests, beneath the boundless beauty of the moon and the stars.
Love had always been anathema to me, oh don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t some hideous monster without the capacity to love for my young mind was simply flooded by images of love and romance and it gave me the appearance of a bit of a dreamer I guess! There were a few occasions when I thought perhaps this would be the one and maybe this time I shall feel something more than just desire and actually behold something substantial but I was painfully wrong every time. There was one special person who entered my life and touched the outer limits of my soul and flourished dearly in my heart many years ago when I was just escaping the flush of my youth and I felt for the first time that magic which envelopes all life and gives meanings to dreams – she was everything to me! To think of her now is to trespass upon some sacred and beautiful vision for my heart will not relinquish her delicate wonder and my brain will not break free from the spell she cast over me!
As I said before I had made a long study of occult practices over the years and for many days I had immersed myself in Goetic Theurgy with the intention of performing a ritual and so I prepared the instruments of art according to the Lesser Key (3).

‘I invoke and conjure thee, O Spirit Gomory, (4) and, fortified with the power of the Supreme Majesty, I strongly command thee by BARALAMENSIS, BALDACHIENSIS, PAUMACHIE, APOLORESEDES and the most potent princes’ etc. (5)

The ceremony went accordingly and there was no need to resort to further conjurations and constraints as the spirit came obediently and willingly and communication was brief. To say anything more beyond these few suggestions would not be appropriate for ceremonial magic is of the High Art and should be treated accordingly just as any priest would refrain from diluting the magnificence of the mass.

‘O Spirit Gomory, because thou hast diligently answered my demands, I do hereby license thee to depart, without injury to man or beast. Depart, I say, and be thou willing and ready to come, whensoever duly exorcised and conjured by the Sacred Rites of Magic. I conjure thee to withdraw peaceably and quietly, and may the peace of God continue for ever between me and thee. Amen.’ (6)

Many weeks passed after the ritual was performed and I quite simply forgot all about it, and immersed myself in other occupations and interests which is the correct attitude to assume as any thoughts in that direction may hinder the work and the natural flow of the magical current. And so, with no more thoughts concerning the operation, life passed by like some dream, a dream in which I saw no-one and no-one saw me, for I was completely, to all intents and purposes, adrift from the world of humanity!
Late, one evening, I had just finished a painting of a little church I found in my wanderings when I heard a strange sound outside, on the side of the bank beneath the trees. Usually I would not concern myself with such trifles but something made me desire to know what was occurring outside and I felt a deep compulsion to investigate; I went to the stern and as I opened the door to look out I could see the lonely figure of a young woman of not more than twenty or so years in appearance, standing there in the rain, looking into the water.
‘Are you alright?’ I shouted to her but she did not appear to hear me.
I could see then that she was in some distress and was unable to answer. I went out onto the bank. Although it was quite dark beneath the trees I could see she was slight of build with a pale face and golden hair which seemed a little dirty and dishevelled. She wore a long coat which was tattered and strangely she had no shoes upon her feet.
‘Are you alright?’ I repeated, to which she replied, ‘I should not be here!’ and she let her head fall forwards and began to become unsteady upon her feet before she suddenly shook all over and seemed to regain her composure.
It was a cold night and so still having the remnants of the Samaritan in me I gestured her towards my boat and assisted her from the bank and onto the stern. Inside the fire was aglow and I offered her something to eat and drink. She seemed quite dazed by something but for all my questionings on the subject of who she was and why she was standing beside the waterside she would not or refused to speak of it. Eventually, when she began to get warm and drank some hot tea she began to speak a little:
‘Sorry to impose upon you’, she said, in almost a whisper, by the warm glow of the fire and she told me that her name was Lucinda, that she was nineteen years of age and that her father had thrown her out of his home for some reason or other that she would not disclose. I did not press her for an answer and told her she was welcome to take a hot shower if she wished and that she could stay for tonight as it was so cold outside, against my better judgement, but even I would not see some poor soul thrown to the elements when I could offer assistance. Ordinarily I would refrain from getting involved and giving assistance for many times the actions of the innocent are confused and looked upon as evil deeds which in some instances genuinely are evil, but for the most, there are fragments of compassion for one’s fellow human being, even if in small doses which do not appear too often! (7) And so Lucinda slept on the little pull-out bed which ordinarily was my sofa.
The next morning, I rose at my normal time to see the bed empty and Lucinda standing in the doorway.
‘It’s a beautiful day. Thank you for letting me stay, I appreciate your help’ she said quite despondently. There was a look about her which troubled me greatly, an indescribable loneliness, but I did not refer to it.
‘It was nothing! I did what anyone would do! Stay and have something to eat if you haven’t already?’
‘I haven’t eaten’ she said shyly, looking from my eyes, ‘you’re very kind!’ And over breakfast Lucinda slowly told me more about her life and the circumstances which led her here. Her eyes were large and sad and not once did a smile cross her face as she told me about her father who drank and didn’t understand her and never had any affection for her. Lucinda’s mother had passed away when she was a small child and so she never really knew much about her. It wasn’t long before a huge wave of emotion overcame Lucinda and she could speak no more through her tears. I said that I understood her predicament as I had also lost my mother when young but fortunately I did get to know her. I asked her what she intended to do now and she was at a loss for an answer. I said that she may stay a while, a few days or so until she feels stronger and is ready to go and sort her life out. The gratitude on her face almost resembled a smile mingled with tears and sadness, like some image of the young Christ, so much so that I felt an overwhelming strain of compassion upon me and was near the point of tears myself and so had to turn away. Seeing this, she put her hand in mine and looked long into my eyes without a word, there was nothing to say, it had been said by her eyes!

Over the next couple of days Lucinda took a great delight and interest in my painting which was very flattering and she professed some proficiency with a pencil too, sketching my likeness from time to time like some child shielding her work lest it be seen by a horrible adult! But she overcame her initial shyness and a semblance of trust was established and she redolently showed me her doodles and sketches, some of which were quite humorous and made me roar with laughter. It was in these moments that I saw her smile for the first time and seem happy; her eyes would be filled with a wondrous light and her gold shock of hair would fall to meet them in an attempt to hide her unmistakeable beauty from the world! I came to know her more and more and delighted in her company and any mention of her leaving I would sweep aside with my hand and say ‘maybe tomorrow’, but I knew ‘tomorrow’ would never come, or if it did I should feel very unhappy and lonely. Strange, I had never thought myself to be lonely until Lucinda entered my life that night, nine days ago, and to not be in her presence was to me insufferable and it seems time had no meaning for I did not want it to end. What was happening to me? A mature man of two and forty years whose every thought turned to Lucinda and her happiness and my happiness like some eager schoolgirl wanting to please the young man of her dreams! I knew full well what was happening to me but just did not want to admit it – I was falling in love with Lucinda!

As I said before, there was something strange about Lucinda, something that I could not put my finger on for try as I might to see beyond the beautiful radiance that she cast like some star, some new thought would suggest that I was being silly to suppose there was anything unusual about her. The only thing I did know for sure was that the simple pleasure of being around her, her youthful vibrancy and magnetic energy that pulled me closer and closer towards her sparked a new philosophy born within me, a philosophy of beauty, compassion and forgiveness for the human race, something that had died many, many years ago!
I suppose I must have always had these feelings, deep inside me but dismissed any idle fancy in that direction as mere unwanted fantasy; I know now that I have always buried the truth within and failed to come to terms with my own personal crises, until now!
I could not tell her how I felt and my only confidant was my journal to which I poured sonnets and songs to her name like some love-struck schoolboy or third-rate romantic poet (8).  What a fool! But love is a strange beast! I felt myself catching glimpses of her doing mundane things such as drinking her tea or brushing her teeth and thinking what a wonderful and sensuous young woman she was and I longed to feel her skin next to me and taste her sweet passionate lips on mine. Was it wrong to have such thoughts?

One day, I think it was the fourteenth day of knowing her, in fact, I know it was the fourteenth day of knowing her for I could relate everything to that time and could count the minutes I had known her for every day was like a year in her presence and I marked it well, anyway, on this day I came back from my walk in which I had taken a few photographs in the churchyard and I found Lucinda sitting at the table with my journal open in front of her and she was reading a poem I had composed about my feelings for her:


Lines to Lucinda


Deep in lustful wonderment
That echoed to my prayer;
I marvelled at the sacrament
And Lucinda was there!
Nights devoured by love… you came,
And days a fragrant joy –
Like a mad moth to the flame
Of Lucinda, was I!
And we rejoiced to the surrender
Of lips, a tremble to the kiss;
To delight in love so tender
And the heights of earthly bliss!
But the touch of your caress
Is God’s kiss from afar!
Lost in your sweet youthfulness –
I surrender to thee - Lucinda!

My world fell from under me and I raged at the sense of betrayal and that a great trust had been broken and that she should not have gone behind my back and… but Lucinda, remained calm and with her heavy-lidded eyes just looked at me and said ‘I feel the same way about you too but I was afraid to tell you as you have been so kind and I did not want to ruin our friendship’. At that moment my inner rage quelled and we both looked bashful at each other and smiled like silly children as she flung her slender arms around me and kissed me passionately. I was in a whirl of confusion, one minute I was angry, the next I was in ecstasy with this pale and beautiful young woman holding me tight and drowning me in a wave of kisses, locked in sensual surrender to each other. I knew nothing of time and I felt her hands stroking my hair as she kissed my face with tears of joy in her eyes. We embraced for what seemed an eternity and before long we were slowly and tenderly undressing each other and I felt no shame as I caressed her eager young body, pale and smooth…. And we stood together, naked in each other’s arms, our flesh tingling as one. She rained kiss after kiss upon me and I felt her hand slide down the arch of my back and caress me gently. Those beautiful red lips were ceaseless and my brain went whither I know not where, as if a curtain of white silk were gently wrapped around it. She pulled away from me and kissed me on the lips. Lucinda sat over me and she lowered her lips once more to mine, and we kissed long and deep. I didn’t want it to ever end as I brushed the hair from her eyes to see her beautiful young face. She showered me in kisses each more passionate than the last. ‘Lucinda!’ I whispered, again and again, as she leant back and I felt myself fall deeper and deeper into her soul. The rhythm of the boat gently swaying added to the magical delight we were weaving and our bodies pressed tightly in mounting waves of joy and ecstasy. We were bathed in each other’s passion as I pulsed all over with ecstasy.
There was hardly time for pausing as the boat rocked to and fro in waves of delicious ecstasy. We continued throughout the night in each other’s arms for there was no time for sleep and the next day we were late up and we rejoiced in our thoughts together as we kissed and ascended once more to the height of passion! She was my girl, my lovely girl and the love between us was immense!
We made love at every opportunity and not a night went by in which we did not worship at the altar of our lust. We became more daring and made love in the churchyard one night beneath the moon and it did not matter that it was cold for we were hot with indescribable passion. And soon after we were even bolder and entered the church one afternoon, closing the door behind us as we sought a quiet corner to be together. We kissed furiously as we worked some magic spell within the sanctity of ‘God’s House’. I put my lips to her and felt a sensual wave sweep over me. We shrieked with pain and pleasure, there in that little church! I gazed up and my attention was caught by a little silver crucifix depicting Christ’s torment and sorrow yet I felt nothing and mocked his abstinence for the lure of earthly flesh and the delight it gives. We crept from the scene of our love-making like two drained vampires. I often imagined the vicar giving his sermon, oblivious to the pagan magic evoked within his place of worship like some unholy baptism!
Sometimes we would wander through the woods at midnight and I recall dancing by moonlight, naked and unafraid like a god and goddess of old in some ‘other-worldly’ enchantment; a furious dance of death between the trees in an open clearing that ended in our surrender to passion’s sacrament as we kissed and explored every inch of our bodies, anointed by moonlight. It was at this time that she really opened up to me and told me about that night on the bank of the canal where I first glimpsed this young Beatrice, this beautiful Artemis, like some fabled water nymph. In fact, her father was neither a drunkard nor a heartless man for it appeared he was a clergyman and his young daughter, a great disappointment to him of whom he disapproved of her ways and fancies, did not fit into his life with the church, and so brow-beaten by Christian doctrine and torn between the love for her father and for her pagan beliefs and earthly delights, she chose the latter (as if it is a choice, but the hand of fate) and she walked away from that life seeking another, but in desperation, she had come to the end of her rope and was between life and death the moment I caught sight of her; on some vast precipice from which she was about to fall. But my hands reached out to her and faith in humanity was restored (on both sides I might add)! And so we lived life aboard the Prometheus in a perfect whirl of love and devotion and nothing disturbed our world. We painted and composed long dreadful poems together and laughed and loved and cried. I did not realise at the time what an absolute fool I must have seemed but I did not care and she was young and she made me feel young again and the spirit was strong within me to withstand any abuse that came my way, but we lived the secret life for who but ourselves could understand such a strange relationship and the world of age between us!  Not that we cared what people thought; what the rest of the dreadful world thought in fact for we had risen beyond such concepts as condemnation, but the secrecy was a form of our own device, a self-created deception in the magical sense which added to the supreme magical quality of our love much as catholic priests had to hide themselves away following the sacred mass which was forbidden, this ‘secrecy’ intensified our actions and our feelings!
Weeks were a whirl and nights were an endless dream… We savoured every moment together as if it would be the last and the lust between us increased in intensity and passion!
Lucinda was drawn to pagan practices and theory and she took a keen interest in the esoteric subjects I had been studying and wanted to learn more about it. She devoured my books like some hungry soul thirsting after knowledge and she seemed to grow in stature, lean and immense. She was the Priestess and Goddess that I worshipped –


‘In the moon of the woods, on the marble mount,
The dimpled dawn of the amber fount!’ (9)

Time passed as in some idyllic dream until life seemed to hold no meaning for me for she held me in complete fascination and suddenly there was a tangible darkness about her where there was only a radiant light, a darkness which was indescribable, yet fatally irresistible!
Subtle changes had occurred yet I closed my mind to them and instead of confronting these I changed along with them and by gradual steps I descended into greater darkness, a darkness we both shared.
We had been performing some rituals together and we had no notion or care of consequences all of a sudden and we drifted further and further into terrible horrors of the imagination.
There was a ritual we had devised to summon some awful deity to sight. I don’t know what possessed us but we were being directed and manipulated like pawn pieces in a deadly game of chess. Perhaps my judgement was clouded, in fact I know it was but I was dealing in devilish things I should not have dabbled with! Looking into her eyes became like looking into the pit of Hell and our sexual excess became more and more outrageous and we loved with abandonment known only to those of the darkness who prey upon the living. In fact, I cannot speak of all the things we did for fear even now of reprisals; you could say we had exhausted every sin and were inventing new ones to break! I hungered for her; I ached for her but I could not hold myself from falling, the temptation was too great and Lucinda was the greatest temptation and the greatest sin of all! She had eaten into my soul and my every thought and action was centred on her alone! Hard as I tried, I could not stop this tornado I was riding! She had corrupted every fibre of my being with her lust like a vengeful demon and I could not help but think that my dealings with the Goetia were behind it all and that Lucinda was possessed of some being I had awoken!
I searched through my books and came upon an exorcism which seemed appropriate and I made some preparations while Lucinda slept. With an eager heart I began to repeat the words of the exorcism:

‘O most merciful God, Whose power hath no limit, Whose dominion is supreme over all beings, so that nothing can possibly be estreated from Thy rule by apostasy; behold we have sinned against Thee, we have provoked Thy most just wrath’ etc. (10)

The next morning I awoke early to find Lucinda not in bed and not on board the boat. I wondered where she had gone and went outside to look for her but could see no-one. I became very fearful for all her belongings were gone and there was nothing to even show she had ever been there at all! Days passed and still I did not hear from her and I sank into the depths of despair! My world had fallen from a great height of love and devotion and over time I realised the full consequence of my actions! I never saw her again for she had disappeared as quickly as she entered my life and to this day I do not know what happened to her! I sold the Prometheus and cast my lonely figure into the world again!         


Si vous cherchez la morale à cette histoire, il n'y en a pas un!





1. One is said to destroy one’s soul and the other encourages financial ruin!
2. The Lesser Key of Solomon the King or ‘Lemegeton’ which gives instructions for the evocation of the seventy-two spirits who were confined in a brass vessel and cast into a deep lake by the King of Israel.
3. see The Key of Solomon the King (Clavicula Solomonis) translated and edited by S. Liddell MacGregor Mathers. 1889.
4. Gomory is a powerful duke that appears as a beautiful woman, wearing a ducal crown. He discovers past, present and future, as also the whereabouts of hidden treasures; he procures the love of women and especially of girls.
5. The First Conjuration.
6. The License to Depart.
7. ‘Honi soit qui mal y pense’.
8. When one mentions ‘third rate poets’ one is never far from thinking about William Wordsworth!
9. The Hymn to Pan by Aleister Crowley.
10. see the Manual of Exorcisms by the Abbe Eynatton. 1678.