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A slightly revised seasonal sonnet

Easter Midnight Service

An ancient fire to conjure in the spring –

But this fire we have lit to conjure out

The winter chill of disbelief and doubt,

And welcome in the summer of the king.

Soon will the brazen bells of triumph ring,

And midnight dark be shaken by a shout

That death’s cold chain that gripped the world about

Is broken link from link, and the links sing.

And fire from fire our candles take the light,

As we take fire from the eternal flame.

And flame from flame we walk down the dark aisle,

Each flame a glory gold against the night,

That trembles at the whisper of the name

That burns through all the emptied halls of hell.

I wrote this in my teens. I’m 67 now. Still seems about right, barring a few minor details. The husband and children didn’t happen, but the same feeling of where did the time go?

Woman at Seventy

And she woke up one morning, and the room smelt of tea,

and talcum powder, and surgical spirit,

And the old man beside her was her husband;

And when, with painful fingers, she detached buttons from

flannelette, and looked at her own skin,

That too was soft and pale and folded and mottled with


She thought,

I was a lover, a mistress, a bride,

What have I done with the last fifty years?

And strangers’ faces smiled blankly at her from the

dressing table,

And she thought,

Who has borne these children?

Been wife to my husband?

Who has been living my life?

Because it was not I.

I was a lover, a dreamer, a girl,

And I am still I;

Where have I been for fifty years?

Or where have I gone?

If you happen to be having one. If not, happy more-or-less midwinter / midsummer. I’ve never really got the hang of time and space. Let’s hope each day is better than the previous one, and pray for the strength to cope with each one as it comes.

“I will go out,” said God.

“I will go out, not only from the place that is mine,

But I will go out from the place that is me.

I will go out from myself and forswear my own presence.

We are one, I am three,

But we, but I, will be severed, sundered, divided,

Because it is my nature to rend my nature

For love.”

Marion Pitman c. 1968

Not sure what this is doing here on its own. Maybe I started to write it and got distracted. It’s the title of a story of mine in one of the Alchemy Press anthologies. I got the idea from the late great Paul Jennings, who among other things wrote a column in the Observer under the title Oddly Enough. Some of his pieces are hysterically funny, or at least I find them so; some are profound; some almost mystical. Some are all three. His pieces on Resistentialism and on English language without the Normans are erudite and unsurpassable. Seek out his books, if you find yourself turning words backwards, pondering on the names on long-distance lorries (my personal favourite, that I drove behind for some time once, is Pratt & Co, independent banana ripeners of Hemel Hempstead), or wondering why les choses sont contre nous, and where that Belfast sink in the storage unit that you have never seen before came from…

Real loves and true loves

Cyril Tawney, in his songs, generally used the term “real love” where the traditional folk song usually uses “true love”.

I can’t say I blame him. The term true love in folk song is flexible, to say the least. My “true love” can be the person I love. Or the person who loves me. Or the person I don’t love any more. Or the person who doesn’t love me. It can be my manifestly untrue love, who is shagging someone else, or indeed has married someone else. It can be the person I am about to brutally murder, or the person who is in the very act of murdering me. Sometimes it simply means, someone I had a fling with once, a sort of, “I think I had a true love around here somewhere, a long time ago.”

Of course, it may mean the one person I have loved through many reincarnations, and the other half of my soul. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

Folk song is really not romantic.

New book from Jacey Bedford


My new book, The Amber Crown is released into the wild today, published by DAW, and available on both sides of the Atlantic as a trade paperback (large format) and also as an electronic book (Kindle, E-book etc.). I’m delighted that it’s available on Kindle in the UK. My previous six books were only available in various e-book formats in the USA and Canada because the publisher only had North American rights. For the Amber Crown they have world rights, so distribution is international.

“An elegantly told story of intrigue, steeped in detail and rich character.” – Adrian Tchaikovsky.

I’m excited to welcome The Amber Crown into the world. This book has been a long time in the making. At the time I sold my first books to DAW (2013) I already had a first draft of this, but once I had my first three book deal, and then my…

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One of my favourite stories too

Ceci N'est Pas Une Blog

It’s time for my favourite Christmas story!

Experienced readers will know this is not your standard Christmas story. In fact, it’s not an actual Christmas story at all. I first heard this story over twenty years ago, and when the holiday season rolled around, it was the first thing I thought of. So I’ve been posting it every year, and will do so until further notice:

One night, Confucius had a dream about chopsticks.

In the dream, he was transported to Hell, where he saw multitudes of people sitting at enormous tables set out with wonderful foods of all kinds. There was so much food that the tables groaned under the weight and the various delightful aromas made the mouth water.

But the people sitting at the tables hadn’t touched any of it.

They had been told they could eat as much as they liked but only if they ate…

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I do like this!

The Cheesesellers Wife

Luxurious man, to bring his vice in use,
Did after him the world seduce,
And from the fields the flowers and plants allure,
Where nature was most plain and pure.
He first enclosed within the garden’s square
A dead and standing pool of air,
And a more luscious earth for them did knead,
Which stupefied them while it fed.
The pink grew then as double as his mind:
The nutriment did change the kind.
With strange perfumes he did the roses taint,
And flowers themselves were taught to paint.
The tulip, white, did for complexion seek,
And learned to interline its cheek;
Its onion root they then so high did hold,
That one was for a meadow sold.
Another world was searched, through oceans new,
To find the marvel of Peru.
And yet these rarities might be allowed,
To man, that sovereign thing, and proud,
Had he not dealt between…

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interesting interview with a terrific writer


Tell us your biography in three sentences or fewer.
Born in the West of England where I now live. Have had a varied career, including witchcraft shop owner, SFF writer, college lecturer and international education administrator. Practising occultist.

Liz Williams

How and when did you begin writing, and what was your first published piece?
I started writing before the age of 10, with a plaigirism of Lloyd Alexander (I was an early adaptor of Prydain! – and I also loved the Welsh legends of the Mabinogion). I remember being uneasy about this at the time and thinking that I ought to come up with something more original. This has been happening ever since. My first published piece was, I think, actually in Pravda and related to the education system of Kazakhstan. I remember being impressed that it wasn’t censored. When it comes to science fiction, I had a short story…

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