Feb 282016

I’m a storyteller, and a doctor of fairy tales, and this is my blog about making home and telling stories. What is the connection between home and stories? And why am I writing a blog about them both?

I’m not a particularly domestic person. The only dessert I can make is a crumble, everything else comes out like unprepossessing mattress foam. Cleaning is fine, when I’m in the mood, when I’m not, dust is also fine. Ironing is a waste of time and energy; cooking is enjoyable, as long as it excludes any pretensions to puff, blanche, broil or flambe.

I’ve just been thinking a lot about time, ecology, and the way we live our lives. I’ve been thinking about the bizarre paradox that we feel hopeless as the world slides towards environmental disaster, when every single day, we alter the world by consuming it. Consuming’s not bad.  It’s what we’re here to do. I wish there was a way in which we weren’t trapped by the illusive necessity of speed, efficiency and efficacy to keep space for our ingestion of the world as sacred, and, in doing so, realize the incredible ecological power that simply eating, building, loving and surviving involves.

In June, I’m going to be a mum for the first time in my life. That’s going to involve a lot of homemaking. As a woman with a fairly single-minded ambition to teach, write, and change the world through stories, I’m immersed in another paradox. How can ambition and the slow space for home-making speak to each other? Where is the connection, the marriage, between the cyclical acts of domestic care, which have no transformative permanence – i.e. washing nappies, washing dishes, washing – er – windows and other things  –  and the mattering acts of creation and coordination that we do in our workaday lives to make a difference and to change the world?

Let me get this straight. I’m not writing a blog about women and domesticity.  What I’m writing, what I’m asking about is, how we can separate domesticity from any tired, historically-bleached question of gender binary, and explore it as a way of being here that has the power, by reinvigorating our attention to the slow materiality of unfolding existence, to re-empower our being in and with the Earth.

I’m doing this via stories, because stories is what I do. Welcome to my blog.


 Blog  Comments Off on An Introduction
Mar 312016

Howbaba-yaga many times will you come to me
asking questions?
My chickens have more eyes than you,
my hands much deeper bones.

In the thorn bushes,
beyond the golden light,
it may be that you could find yourself.
But would you want to?
My oven is a simpler option.

Listen, my child, for when midnight
comes, there will be no more time.
I am not as fearsome as the
horses that travel faster than
their own souls.

I have asked you to separate poppy seeds
from chaff. Be grateful.
For this task is forgiving to the ornaments
of your mind,
in the way that other things are not.

And if you wish –
I know children, nowadays, want it all –
if you wish to meet yourself in
a cold clearing
and still separate the
seeds from the chaff on the
advice of a wooden poppet,
then I cannot help you
only to give you a glimpse of my
which are the colour of rain
and yet markedly fire.

If this is your choice
remember that the skulls
around my house are also illuminated
and within the bathhouse
is a warmth that cannot be
dreamt of among courts and gods.

Trust yourself. For even snake
bites can be cured with the right potion
and a little good humour.
I have not forgotten the
way and so it is remembered.

A corpse is only a corpse,
and the market will be fine
when you return.

Feb 122016

On 31st October 2015 I joined Dr Steven O’ Brien of the University of Portsmouth and distinguished folklorist Jacqueline Simpson to celebrate the production of a new interactive map of Sussex Folklore produced by the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy at the University of Chichester.

My task was to create a story inspired by some of the legends on the map. I chose the dragon of St Leonards Forest and the witch of Ditchling – an unlikely combination, but a bewitching adventure it certainly was to tell their story.

You can watch the storytelling session here.

 Storytelling  Comments Off on Celebration of Folklore Map at the University of Chichester
Dec 272015

 Poetry  Comments Off on Bees