Nov
2015

From Heaven

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There were no fires that year. It was hot, sure, but something in the city conspired to keep the combustion only in the heads of the citizens. Minds burned up and burned out; it was a season of high fever and hi jinx. People danced on the telegraph poles, ran into traffic just to play chicken with motor cars, jumped from windows.

They weren’t trying to kill themselves. They weren’t depressed, they were full of life. Window jumpers would stand on the ledge and call down to the street. Ahoy! After a few incidents, the crowd knew the routine. SUMMON THE FIRE BRIGADE! the cry would go up, carried lustily along the street to the nearest hook-and-ladder station, and the firemen – no women then – would arrive tout suite and unpack the trampoline.

It was lucky there were no fires, we all felt blessed. The window jumpers gave the fire brigade something to do, when they weren’t rescuing cats from trees. The cats could climb down on their own but everyone agreed that the spectacle was the thing and the cats didn’t seem to mind.

It was a hot summer, and we were all touched by madness in the sunshine. Our minds boiled until the steam bloomed from our ears and the flames glowed in our eyeballs. We bounced when we jumped, and we climbed where we didn’t need to climb. When autumn came we lit the bonfires and the smoke of a real fire finally cleared our heads.

Sep
2015

The Reader’s Digest Book of Folklore Myths and Legends of Great Britain

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I’d like to think there were editorial clashes; Katharine Briggs, in her mid-seventies and a towering authority on British folklore, pushing for the inclusion of more fairy stories while Russell Ash, fresh off Fortean Times forerunner Man, Myth and Magic, arguing the case for quirkier tales of magic. Robin Gwyndaf Jones roaring “MORE WELSH!” Of course this is extremely unlikely. In reality, it was almost certainly compiled centrally, at the UK offices of that most unhip of institutions the Reader’s Digest, from the submissions of the impressive list of contributors. After all, who can argue what is more valid to be included in a book like this? What is the bar for entry?

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