A Witchy Halloween Poem

This is my small contribution to the Halloween festival, in the form of a poem taken from a poetry book called The Story Witch and Other Rhymes that my sister gave to our daughter a few years ago. I like all of the poems in the collection as they are funny, imaginative and not at all tedious to read aloud over… and… over… and… over again. This one is short enough to reproduce in its entirety.

Witches and Wizards

The Story Witch

A Seething Cauldron

Witches and Wizards are born not made.
Their parents are witches and wizards too.
A different blood runs through their veins
And they will go to the greatest pains
To emphasise this point to you:
Witches and wizards are born not made!

So look very hard for your family tree –
You may find it somewhere on your shelf,
And examine it very carefully.
You may be a wizard or witch yourself.

The Story Witch and Other Rhymes written by Eileen Cross and illustrated by Helen Ricketts (2005). Printed by Anthony Phillips & Davis Print & Design.

Eileen Cross, a literacy volunteer was inspired to write this collection by the children at Quinton Church Primary School in Birmingham. A percentage of the proceeds from the sale of the first edition were donated to Acorns Children’s Hospice Trust. I’m not sure if it is still available to buy new but I did notice that a second-hand copy was advertised recently via Amazon.

Witch Family Tree

Where do you fit in?

Happy Halloween folks! And don’t forget to check your family tree for pointy-hat wearing ancestors…


Landing Eight Update: The Go-Between

Another Landing ‘quick post’: The Go-Between

The Go-Between

The winged messenger

For anyone who has been wondering whether I will ever finish reading the Landing Eight pile, I would like to announce that finally I read The Go-Between, during a Bank Holiday weekend break in Kilkenny.

I will return to the book in another post, but for now suffice to say that I enjoyed sweltering in the heat of summer in 1900 (though I doubt if I would have been socially elevated enough to be invited to play croquet had I really been around at the time). I rather think I would have been considered to be what Marcus so charmingly described as one of the ‘plebs’.

As it is now autumn, almost Halloween in fact, I will leave you with a muse upon the tendency of shops to confuse Halloween with Christmas. I wrote this for Paragraph Planet a couple of years ago and was reminded of it again last week while looking at pumpkins in Marks and Spencer and becoming distracted by a nearby aisle of Christmas decorations. It was all too much…

Christween. No sooner is Halloween cleared away than Christmas is upon us. Though actually for a while the two festivals were running mates. Witches’ coven one side of the shopping centre; Santa’s house taking shape on the other. They could have been neighbourly and exchanged tricks for mince pies. Now alas, there are only rotting pumpkins to rival the tinselly explosion. Jolly Christmas lights and cheer all the way; the spooky darkness has been routed.

And if you have never had a look at Paragraph Planet before, stop by and take a look at what can be done in just 75 words …

Zombies on the Landing…

Knit your Own Zombie

Be afraid…

I know that having two blog posts so close together might be cluttering up your in-boxes a little, but inspiration gave me a gentle poke while I was contemplating the Halloween stock at work today. Now, I wonder if anyone out there (of a creative bent) has ever thought of making a stuffed woollen zombie.

If the answer is yes (come on, a show of hands please) then I have discovered the very book for you to work from, Knit your own zombie by Fiona Goble (Ivy Press, 2012). I was especially delighted to read that the ‘dolls’ are made using Velcro and poppers so that you can use then as stress relievers. I wonder if volunteers have tested how much wear and tear your average knitted (in double knit wool) zombie can withstand before being consigned to the graveyard (sorry, the rag bag).

These characters are certainly very different from the stuffed woolly creatures that my mum used to make for us. Knitting has obviously moved in strange directions in recent years, as the above book is only one of several spooky knitting books that I have come across.

Knitmare on Elm Street

Another dodgy bunch…

I will just mention one more that tickled my fancy, Knitmare on Elm Street: Projects that go bump in the night by Hannah Simpson (Running Press, 2012). Apparently, you can find a pattern to make a voodoo doll in this book, though I guess you would have to be careful what you did with it afterwards. All kinds of mayhem could ensure if it suffered any kind of damage. It’s all a far cry from the cosy items that I learned to make as a child. Perhaps I had a too sheltered education?

All of this zombie inspired knitting reminded of a piece I wrote for The Pygmy Giant, (published 10th November 2009) a tweaked version of which appears below:

Musings on a literary zombie fest

Recently I read Pride and Prejudice with Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith (Quirk Books 2009) and have to confess to finding it an enjoyable (if rather gore splattered) read. That I have actually read this book puzzles me slightly. That I found it to be an entertaining read tells me that my literary taste has taken a strange turn with the passing of the years. There was a time when, rather snottily, I would have turned up my nose at this romp with the un-dead. Gasped in horror at the indignity done to a part of dear Jane’s oeuvre; shuddered at the mere sight of the illustration on the front cover.

So why have I now seen fit to read such a book? Can I claim it as a mid-life crisis? Am I trying to be cool and with it? As such perhaps it is the literary equivalent of joining Facebook. More seriously, is this a sign of mental degeneracy? Or could I perhaps claim it as part of my sophisticated post-modern condition? However, on second thoughts maybe not, since recently I was whizzing the hedge trimmer over the privet while entertaining myself with thoughts of lopping off the heads of people who has been annoying me (childish but, true). My one face-saving thought is that I did previously read Pride and Prejudice (and not only once) in its pristine unsullied and un-bloodied form. In fact, it is probably true to say that, the discerning reader of Zombies will only fully appreciate the subtleties of the novel if he/she has read dear Jane’s original text. In addition to considering the amended plot, the most devoted Janeite would have to admit that Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine de Burgh had it coming to them. And as for that bounder Wickham….

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

A New Classic?


But what will it be next? All right, I know what comes next. Apparently, there is to be a film version of the intrepid zombie slayers Elizabeth and Darcy. Actually, I am not sure I could watch all of that slaying in glorious Technicolor (complete with realistic sound effects). I mean it is one thing to imagine heads flying off and putrid limbs falling by the roadside; but to see it realized on-screen, no thank you. I would be hiding behind my popcorn carton (giant-sized). My tolerance threshold for blood and guts spilled on-screen is not great. Perhaps I had better get some practice in by watching Planet Terror or Shaun of the Dead first. However, on mature reflection, I will probably simply get stuck into the follow-up novel, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters (Jane Austen and Ben H Winters, Quirk Books, 2009) instead.

So, as we near that spooky time of year watch out for things that go bump in the night (and beware of sweet little old ladies knitting zombies). If you want more inspiration for literary mash-ups then take a look at this list on Wikipedia.