Wild Witch of the East

This is how I feel today:

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ie: not like writing. However, as novelist Anne Tyler famously said: “If I waited till I felt like writing, I’d never write at all”. Writing’s like going for a walk – if you’re basically lazy and apathetic you never want to do it – but you feel a whole lot better when you have.

So, I thought I might explain all these witches. You may have noticed my little icon/gravatar thingy, which is a picture of a blue stuffed witch. I found her on Morguefile, along with the one in the red shawl and the one in the white blouse, on broomsticks. I’m guessing, from the tartan woolly socks a-dangle in the background that they must have been in some Ye Olde Crafty Gifte Shoppe deep in the highlands of Scotland, but who knows.

I felt I needed a disguise, really. I don’t like me in photos, especially now when the Me looking back in the mirror no longer looks anything like the Me looking out through my eyes. And I quite liked the symbolism. I’ve always thought of fiction, poetry especially, as a kind of wizardry – spell-casting.

When I was young I was pretty average to look at – I mean, not Elephant Woman or anything – but I was horribly tall, thanks to my 6’ 4” father, which denied me the invisibility I longed for. “Head in the clouds,” my father used to say, “in more ways than one.” On my first day at infants’ school they put me in a class with seven year-olds. It was only when the teacher asked me to read something off the board and I couldn’t oblige that they realised there had been an administrative error. I was relegated, in disgrace, or so I felt, to the babies’ class. By which time the babies had made instant friends with one another and regarded me as some sort of incoming weirdo-freak.

My immediate ancestors, according to the family tree, were nothing out of the ordinary – no marauding Barons or slyly philandering Dukes, just servant girls, washer-women, carpenters, gardeners and clerks. We were kind of rural, I suppose, and kind of poor, and we didn’t move about much just sort of stayed where we were, or moved a few villages away, to breed even more of us. The Vikings invaded us – well, kept on and on and on invading us – and a lot of us have Viking blood. I always suspected Vikings in my gene-pool, somewhere. I’d have made an excellent Viking.

In Viking times I would probably have been thought of as heroic – in strength and proportion, if not in valour, and might have found myself a good husband. I can’t help remembering a tale of a beauty contest at a ceilidh in the Hebrides, where a woman was considered utterly ravishing – synonymous with excellent breeding stock – if massive enough to run with a heifer under either arm.

I was never attractive to the opposite sex in a general way – never got a Valentine’s card, for instance; never got whistled at by builders; had to chase pretty hard for the few dates I actually got – the first one turned out to have been a dare – and by the time I got them I didn’t really want them. Circular logic, you see – the only man worth pursuing is the one who can never be caught.

But I did seem to be a hit with a few specialist segments of the population – chivalrous, lusty old men; frail, dependent old ladies; children with learning difficulties (I taught a class on teaching practice and was a big hit there, though heckled and pelted with elastic bands and screwed up balls of paper in other classes); terminal bores in pubs; the least popular three girls in any class; people everyone else laughs at behind their backs and strangers with scary psychological disturbances in need of someone to talk to.

I’ve also always seemed to attract what I now understand – didn’t at the time, since they hadn’t been invented – were spectrum or Asperger’s men; and an entire universe of stray and lonely cats, which homed in on me like heat-seeking missiles. So I married one of the former and became a serial adopter of the latter. Sensible, really.

Anyway, these witches. I actually had a story in mind about the two witches – the couple with the broomsticks, not my blue ‘gravatar’ witch, and how they came to be banished to a highland souvenir shop in the first place. But I see I have run out of space as usual, so that will have to wait for another post.

Ah, that feels better. Maybe I’ll go for that walk.