…When I’m Sixty (and Four)?

In two weeks time today, 2 February at 1100GMT, I will be sixty years old.

24 days after that, it will have been 4 years since I caught the Covid infection which reduced me to a chronically ill mess, housebound both because of lack of spoons to go anywhere and a genuine existential terror that I’ll catch it again in the wild and things will get even worse.

So, how exactly can I celebrate what should be a major turning point in my life?

As you no doubt noticed, I was born on Groundhog Day. We adore that film. Once upon a time, I thought I might be spending this date in Pawxatauny, as I missed the chance on my 50th… but that’s not happening, obviously. (And, to be blunt, the odds of me making it another ten years and/or the Covid mess being fixed enough for immunocompromised people to be safe in public are slim.)

Thinking about this, I noticed I’d recently done a small run of Groundhog Day inspired films…

I found the Happy Death Day series enchanting and funny as well as proper horror. I followed this with one of the Black-made SF films that protest against the mass murder of people of colour by police, Two Distant Strangers.

Both, oddly, start with a walk of shame from bed scene!

However, the deep seriousness of Two Distant Strangers was a little nudged off-base for me by the unsubtle aerial shot of Joey Bada$$ dying (again) in a blood pool, this time one the exact shape of Africa.

We recently did The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things as a date night movie (warm and delightful, based on a Lev Grossman story).

So, I acquired a bunch to watch in the run-up.

Also seen so far:

ARQ; with the lesser Amiel (bad future, resets jump from one to another so it never ends – which nearly happens in Happy Death Day 1. Not bad at all.)

And Then Came Lola is Lola Rennt as a very light lesbian San Francisco romcom (they even steal the use of animation for certain scenes!), which made no sense to me in terms of plot motivation: a woman running all around the city in 3 variations to deliver some photo prints to her boss/lover so she can clinch an ad production deal with her hot European ex… all the while fantasising about shagging every single woman she encounters.

Got a couple more tucked away – no, I’m not doing all the TV episodes!!

Here’s the TV Tropes page: don’t get lost in there…

Anyway: thinking about all this brought back yet another wave of loneliness and isolation-related despair.

At this point, my social life outside of post-Twitter is my wife, my cat, the couple of friends locally we trust to take precautions enough to come visit and my online tabletop RPG groups.

I miss seeing people, being with people.

I miss a lot of things.

But this one, some of you could maybe help with.

What I would like for my sixtieth birthday, if any of you feel so inclined, is a little birthday video. Just to see faces and hear voices I sorely miss (and meet new ones from folk I only know from online text media).

If you want to do that, I’d be really grateful… but I would ask you shoot them indoors and not get all your mates round to your house to shoot a big one together without masks, because both of those would just make me even sadder. (If you’re living together anyway, that’s cool of course!)

Contact info for my various socials is in my Linktree: I tend not to use Instagram much, but I will certainly pay attention to it on the day if that’s your preferred medium! https://linktr.ee/catvincent

As for how I’ll deal with the 4 year thing… we shall see, I guess.

Immense thanks to those so inclined; no bad vibes to those who don’t.


I got Long Covid, badly. Mostly hit me neurologically; Parkinsons’s and ME type symptoms.
Then my wife got anal cancer. She’s been in remission for 2 years now, thank fuck… and we’re rebuilding our lives from that, slowly.

Meanwhile, we watched, isolated and housebound, as pretty much everyone else in the world who wasn’t a crip just decided to say Fuck Masks. Genocide as convenience. While literal fascism roams the land.

As a result of this, my magic has become more… militant. I say no more.

Yeah, so not had many spoons, as they say.

But as the year is ending – and also my infrequent newsletter is having to shut down because Mailchimp are cunts – I’m making a resolution.

To write shit down. Keep broadcasting when I can. Here, mostly.

I’m on as many of the non-Twitters as are reasonable (I hate Instagram the most, Bluesky, fucking Facebook or dear Tumblr probably easiest for me to actually see it.) But if it’s longer than a not-tweet, I’ll say it here.

I maintain a list of other contact points here: https://linktr.ee/catvincent

Like John Wick, I’m thinking I’m back.

Because I am angry, scared and so very disappointed in my fellow humans for the most part and am disinclined to take any shit from them, ever again. And I will keep talking, keep writing, while I still can.
I have the hardware and nous to keep going if my neurology worsens.

I will therefore remain to remind you that this bitter old cunning-man, somehow about to turn 60 years old, is far from done.

After all these years of pain, fear, illness, rising literal fucking fascism and the worst of cyberpunk futures without hardly any of the good bits, I have come to a realisation. Well, a working model for me that fits the data.

This is Hell.

Once I realised and accepted that, the symbolism of that path kicked in hard.

It mostly stemmed from the continual use of it as a process and metaphor in Nick Harkaway’s Gnomon, which as I mention below has become to me what The Invisibles is for most chaotes – it combined so well with my stuff.

The process is called Catabasis. And you know how I love those cat puns.

At least while I walk through Hell (symbolically – only places I walk outdoors these days is to and fro doctors), life itself is not awful here. We’re both as well as possible considering, our son’s here for the holidays, I’m on a good drug regime for the symptoms.


Been on patches since the spine started some nine years ago – only thing that controlled the level 10 shooting arm pain – and was just left on them after the 2017 cyborg operation until my GP realised they could possibly be adding to my chronic fatigue and so we agreed to wean me off that shit.

I have to say my mood – which has ranged from black humour to black horror to black depression (to thankfully occasionally loving horniness with the missus which keeps us both stable, frankly) – immediately improved. But then again, they put me on that ol’fashioned morphine to wean me off the fentanyl and I also have weed so I am currently feeling pretty fucking good, to be honest. At least, the constant roar of pain is a murmur for now, so I can rub two brain cells together for once.

I had lost my optimism completely, in my catabasis. But now I remember the old battle-words…

We do not fight Nazis because we think we will win.
We fight them because they are fucking Nazis.

Solidarity with the fighters for freedom under fascism.
Yes, that includes Palestine, and oppressed Jews.
It especially includes trans, non-binary and queer people.
I think you may have gathered, crip people especially.

It includes any victim of those beliefs which Iain Banks condemned – any cause that makes children die.

Fuck them. The Useless Eaters will outlast your neglect and contempt out of pure fucking spite, one by one, until we go.

But that’s the thing about disabled people… life just keeps making more and more of us.

Anyway, on to more cheery stuff to see the new year out.

I read a lot of fiction. Because of my spinal injury, I have to read books solely as ebooks, on a tablet strapped above my head in bed, and that posture’s good for the cyborg spine bits so I read a couple of hours every night. Only fiction, or there’s a higher chance of bingeing-until-dawn/taking extensive notes like I’m on the fucking Rocinante on the float. (I stop on good cliffhanger chapters.)

Honestly, half of what I read this year was fairly generic genre material off Kindle Unlimited… but of the good stuff, I’d recommend…

A Half-Built Garden by Ruthanna Emrys – a very queer and trans friendly cozy post-apocalypse first contact story. Rich, deep, reads like silk. Just wonderful.

Conquest by Nina Allan – another banger by one of the most underrated women in Brit SF, this one a quietly told tale of a possible alien invasion only detected by a small group of late C20 conspiracy theorists (who, synchronistically enough, all seem to have lived in my various ends in Kent and South East London!).

The Exoskeleton Quartet by Shane Stadler – This is an extraordinary set of books exploring the human condition, always the core goal of SF, but it comes with a huge content warning because the first book is roughly 80% body horror about using a medically connected exoskeleton on condemned prisoners to automate causing severe agony in order to force out-of-body experiences… the detail on this is described very precisely. But if you can bear such, it goes to some amazing places, and a fuckload of Nazis die horribly.

I’m a big fan of Gareth Powell, but I hadn’t read his earlier work so his breakthrough Ack-Ack Macaque series was quite something. Crafty and vicious dissection of war, VR and politics through its titular Spitfire Ace and all-around bad-ass macaque.

Kirsty’s reading has tilted heavily towards queer romance as comfort food, and occasionally points me to some. I’m glad to see the biggest genre in the world open up and be accepted more these days, as there’s some excellent writing to be found.
My favourites were The Unholy Trifecta series by AJ Sherwood (mostly gay but occasionally bi pairings of assassins, mercs and thieves with both civilians and their mutual battlefield adoption of a young girl who’s at least as smart as they are) and Colleen Cowley’s Clandestine Magic trilogy, a retelling of the early days of American Women’s Suffrage but in a universe where magic

A. works and

B. supposedly only men have it… and the woman who discovers that B. is a lie.

Another discovery was the work of qntm, a male Brit writer who debuted in the SCP Foundation forums with his short pieces, later fixed up into the book There Is No Antimemetics Division. Intensely clever but always readable, he delves into the impact on our world of anti-memes; ideas that do not want to be remembered or passed on, and take active measures to ensure this. All 4 of his novels are wonderful and I’d say Ed is the easiest entry point.

I liked Grant Morrison’s debut novel Luda well enough right up until the ending. Which was meh.

This was the year I discovered a sadly deceased woman SF writer had penned one of the all-time great time travel series.
Kage Baker’s The Company runs to some 12 novels and 5 novellas, the last story published some 3 years after her death in 2009.
These are just so damn clever. A megacorp discovers 2 world-changing pieces of kit: time travel (with limits) and immortality (with limits). In order to mazimise the profit from these, they recruit kids at the point of their deaths throughout time and send them back (often further back than their birth time) as immortal cyborg operatives to basically steal historical artefacts… and what happens when several groups of them rebel.(That time-travel-for-profit trick also pops up in our beloved St. Mary’s Priory series by Jodi Taylor, which continues to delight and, as usual, had a novel and a Xmas novella this year.)
It smartly keeps the focus throughout the series on a handful of characters – one of whom, The Botanist Mendoza, becomes one of the all great heroines and so much more. A wonderful discovery, and a sad loss.

And, as I have every year since publication, I reread Gnomon by Nick Harkaway, which has become for me what The Invisibles was for practically every chaos magician in the Nineties, except not deliberately. (Although Nick is certainly smart enough to note that writing a book about alchemy and synchronicity is likely to be conducive to both.) I learn more about myself and my times on every read.
I also read his latest, Titanium Noir: much shorter and less obviously complex, it’s a lean noir tale of a world where the rich (known as Titans) are, due to a side-effect of the immortality drugs only they get, physically huge. Guts capitalism with a stiletto.

Lots of telly – I praise the saints that someone got to make Slow Horses properly and that it’s a hit – and the usual constant FPS as my wellness sim.

Finished first Starfield run after wife let me get new XBox as early 60th/Xmas present. It was pretty fun, but buggy as fuck. Like life really – ooh, deep!

I really enjoyed Dead Island 2: found the Londoner character Jacob convincing and it’s a joy to play, like a less finicky Dying Light 2 – and funnier.

And a special shoutout to my online tabletop RPG groups. They’re the majority of my social life and I am so damn grateful for them. Extra big love to Tom and Matt, our GM’s.

So, you know, it’s not like Hell is that bad for me… but that constant hint of sulphur in every news item or development in automated callousness in the service of the TESCREAL fuckwits pervades everything.

Fuck them all.

Happy New Year.

May it bring you at least what you need, and only what you can bear.

Towards A Cyborg Spirituality

Photo of a diorama of action figures, lit by two small LED lights: The Shrine of the Useless Eaters. They stand against a brick patterned background, covered in photos of other cyborg, disabled or other Nazi-targeted peoples. Anti-fascist grafitti is on the walls; at the back is a faux-metal plaque with the German phrase “Unnütze Esser”.

First off… thanks for those who wrote back about One Thousand Days. Glad it struck a spark with folk, both crip and abled.

One of the things I mentioned there was my increasing involvement with other cyborgs and various disabled communities (god that sounds like some awful care home doesn’t it? I’m sticking with ‘crip groups’ thanks).

As a follow-up, here’s a piece I wrote for r/cyborgs_only: I’d been talking a bit about the Shrine of the Useless Eaters with Cy and she asked for my thoughts.

As I wrote this during the process of doing 1k Days, there’s come overlap; hope it’s still of some interest nonetheless.

I figured the easiest way in to a spirituality which didn’t require a religious adherence and was thus available to atheist/agnostic people was ancestor veneration in a kind of chaoc magic approach; and, as my old pal Ru Callender (who has a book out about his work as an alternative undertaker) taught me, we can choose our ancestors just as much as we choose our family-of-choice, creating ancestral lines of kith instead of kin.


I became a cyborg on 11 December 2017ce.

The procedure was a double discectomy with fusion of the C5 to C7 vertebrae, as a result of burst discs and the need to remove bone spurs from inside those vertebrae which were growing into my spinal nerves. This neurological damage was causing both severe shooting pain in both arms and a massive loss of sensation in my hands. (And also, a complete lack of humour re. Donald Trump jokes about his bone spurs.)

The operation was as successful as possible. The awful pain stopped, and most of the sensory loss in my hands was regained. Plus, I got a really sexy scar on my neck, and could give as answer when asked why it was there, that ‘I had my throat cut by professionals’.

I could and can still feel the place where the titanium was bolted to my skeleton, where the double helix latticework surrounding it was fusing with my bones. Last week, while thinking about the Borg Diem project, I came up with the term ‘Interfascia’ for that place ‘where the metal meets the meat’.

The other word I offered was ‘Borgods’. They are the subject of this piece.

Before I was a cyborg, I was a crip. Was never a healthy child (actually blinded by hay fever conjunctivitis at the age of 9 for a couple of days, always prone to flu and such, then diagnosed as Type II diabetic at 40 by developing gangrene in my foot after a martial arts injury). Diabetes leaves one prone to other ailments: in my case, Dupuytren’s Contracture (‘trigger finger’) and early onset arthritis in my knees.

I was also, I regret to say, involved with what Cy would now call Tryborg culture. I was one of the people involved in a web-based side project from the comic book Doktor Sleepless by Warren Ellis and Ivan Rodriguez. The book is set in a near-future where DIY transhumanists – known as Grinders – attempt to upgrade their bodies with whatever they have to hand. The book became a major influence on the biohacker movement.

Sorry about that.

(And even sorrier that Ellis was later outed as a serial sexual predator, using his fame and power to manipulate literally hundreds of women.)

But before all this, I was a nerd and a practicing magician.

My interest in what I usually just call ‘weird shit’ began at the age of seven, and persisted throughout a life which has had some quite odd moments. Because this began in the early Seventies and I was a working-poor kid, my resources were scarce. The local library was kind and gave me adult book access very early (Aleister Crowley before you’re ten is… educational). But British TV and other media at the time was rife with supernatural oddness, with shows like Children Of The Stones, Ace Of Wands, The Changes, Sky and others firing my imagination, alongside books by the likes of both Colin and Robert Anton Wilson, various fringe materials such as Chariots of the Gods? and Bermuda Triangle conspiracy theories, and the rise of paranormal celebrities such as Uri Geller.

A huge SF and horror nerd already, my paranormal experiences and love of low culture media combined into something I later discovered was being paralleled by magicians in Leeds and London; a form which eventually became known as chaos magic.

A key aspect of chaos magic, for those who don’t know, is that belief is treated as a tool: something which can be adopted and maintained fiercely for the duration of a magical working and then simply dropped and swapped for something else. As the system drew heavily from SF and fantasy (its eight pointed Chaosphere symbol from Michael Moorcock, the colours of magic associated with each point from Terry Pratchett), the use of pop culture characters as entities to be invoked or even worshipped was common.

My first exposure to the idea that we could create and work with new gods came from a Jewish atheist SF writer, Harlan Ellison. In the introduction to his 1975 collection Deathbird Stories, he wrote:

“As the time passes for men and women, so does it pass for gods, for they are made viable and substantial only through the massed beliefs of masses of men and women. And when puny mortals no longer worship at their altars, the gods die. To be replaced by newer, more relevant gods. Perhaps one day soon the time will pass for Jehovah and Buddha and Zoroaster and Brahma. Then the Earth will know other gods. Already we begin to worship these other, newer gods. Already the Church fights to hold its own. The young grow away from the old religions, the world seems to swing between the old and the new; more and more each day, interest in the occult, in the magical, in the phantasmagorical surges to the fore, leaving priests and rabbis and ministers concerned where their next god will come from. This group of stories deals with the new gods, with the new devils, with the modern incarnations of the little people and the wood sprites and the demons.

The grimoires and NECRONOMICONs of the gods of the freeway, of the ghetto blacks, of the coaxial cable; the paingod and the rock god and the god of neon; the god of legal tender, the god of business-as-usual and the gods that live in city streets and slot machines. The God of Smog and the God of Freudian Guilt. The Machine God. They are a strange, unpredictable lot, these new, vital, muscular gods. How we will come to worship them, what boons they may bestow, their moods and their limitations; these are the subjects of these stories. A New Testament of deities for the computerized age of confrontation and relevance. A grimoire and a guide. A pantheon of the holiest of holies for modern man. Know them now – they rule the nights through which we move.”

They certainly ruled mine.

Eventually, this would lead to a career as a Fortean journalist (I was the first to write longform on the Slenderman phenomenon and later covered the Waukesha tragedy caused by belief in that hyperreal entity for Fortean Times), involvement in political action (first in queer politics then opposition to Dominionist Christianity, the parent of the current Q and Proud Boy movements) and involvement with a series of public magical workings with a political leaning, such as various ceremonies connected to the British Discordian revival of interest in the work of Robert Anton Wilson (a lifelong crip due to childhood polio and a huge Star Trek fan) and several workings to curse the fascist Brexit project alongside the art-rock band The Indelicates.

With this as background, I would like to share some of my approach to working with gods – both known to be fictional and alleged to be historical – as a way of engaging with disability and cyborg existence.

When I fell ill in February of 2020 after giving a talk on magic and authenticity in London, I figured the flu-like symptoms would pass. When they did not, I thought I could handle the feeling of constant illness for a few months – I had dealt with the spinal problem and my cyborg transformation, I could handle this…

That was two and a half years ago. My condition, a form of Long Covid with neurological symptoms, got worse. And, in the midst of the strange times that awful disease has wrought, alongside the rise of blatant fascism worldwide, I fell into a deep depression.

Through lockdown and ever since, me and my wife (who has had ME/CFS for all of our nearly thirty years together and saw much that was painfully familiar in my condition) have had a tradition of making Sunday nights Date Night. We would make a nice meal and take turns choosing a movie to watch together. Often, these would be documentaries (not some folks’ idea of date material, but we both love learning new things – Neophiles, in Bob Wilson’s term). One that hit us both especially hard was Crip Camp (2020), about the early days of disability activism. This birthed in me a need to be more active in crip political agitation, but in our condition, there wasn’t much we could actually do aside from be grouchy on Twitter.

Then I picked out a Date Night film I had been interested in for some time: Marwencol (2010).

The film is a biography of the artist Mark Hogancamp, and his singular creation which gave the film its name. After a brutal mugging led to severe brain damage, Mark (like so many crips) had to develop a set of highly personal mental and physical approaches to his new existence. In his case, his toolkit was to build in his garden a hugely detailed model town in 1/12th scale, populated by customised figures of the GI Joe/Action Man variety.

This was partly a physical therapy, a way of redeveloping his hand/eye coordination using readily available hobby materials, but in developing the deep history of Marwencol (his conception of a small Belgian town occupied by the Nazis and then freed by a combination of American GIs and local resistance fighters), he was able to confront the trauma of his attack… by envisaging the various brutally killed Nazi figures as his abusers.

Whether he knew it consciously or not, that’s as direct a piece of sympathetic magic as I have ever heard of.

Back when I had the gangrenous foot, I was under enforced bedrest for about two months while the foot healed from the debridement of the rotting meat there. (Debridement – such a delicate term for such an agonising procedure to wake up from.)

While I lay in bed with this Cronenbergian vaginal opening granulating slowly, I acquired an XBox. I soon found that first person shooters were, for me at least, a kind of wellness sim. I could be someone who could walk! Run! JUMP! And gun down countless enemies while doing so. It kept me calm while I healed, and my love for FPS continues.

In the midst of my Long Covid depression, I had watched helplessly as the far right wing’s grip on the modern world tightened. The path from the Sad/Angry Puppies furore at the Hugo awards, the GamerGate ructions and their sequels, QAnon, Brexit mania and Trumpism seemed a clear line, and one with no good end.

I took again to my gaming habit, deciding an apt replay would be the modern reimagining of the Wolfenstein series. The modern incarnation is a far cry (yes, I also like Far Cry) from its 8-bit origin; the hero B.J. Blazkowicz now a philosophical warrior-poet fighting in a resistance in an alternate universe where the Nazis won and dominate the world.

Luckily – or perhaps fatedly – I found the limited edition of the game with the 1/12 scale figure of ‘Terror Billy’ was still available. And once I had my hands on this plastic incarnation of a character who, in the game New Colossus, becomes a cyborg from the neck down, I had an idea.

There seem to be an awful lot of cyborg protagonists in first person shooters. John-117, the Master Chief in the HALO series; the variously shaped and gendered incarnations of V in Cyberpunk 2077 – the synchronicity of the male version of V in the game sharing my name was not lost on me. And Adam Jensen of the Deus Ex prequels; whose often-memed line in the first game is for me a fundamental difference between us and the tryborgs…

“I never asked for this”.

Although I lacked both the money and the space to build an entire village of 1/12 scale cyborg heroes fighting the fash, I could at least make a small shrine to these new cyborg gods. My own private Marwencol.

As there was a space on my bookshelf opposite my bed where my Warren Ellis comics used to live, I felt that was the perfect area for something… righteous. Something I could see when I woke up every day, to help me get out of bed and get on with my life.

I gave up the idea of relative scale, but I did want one more 1/12 figure to balance BJ, so I went old school and acquired a vintage Steve Austin figure.

(The original Martin Caidin novels that The Six Million Dollar Man drew from were a lot stranger than the show, its Bigfoot encounter notwithstanding. For example, in Cyborg IV  – published the same year as Deathbird Stories – Austin has his bionic limbs and sense organs  removed and the interfaces used to join him with an armed space shuttle, making him a living spaceship.)

I picked up an Adam Jensen figure and one of Vic Stone aka Cyborg from Justice League and Doom Patrol; Luke Skywalker and Seven Of Nine joined them. And then I realised the shrine could also be not only an altar of sorts, as well as a visual symbol of resilience I sorely needed… it would connect to the long line of anti-fascist resistance fighters, and a memorial for all those lost to the Holocaust. So I expanded the remit to include other disabled heroes (Charles Xavier, Deadpool) as well as Jewish, Romani and trans exemplars. If I couldn’t find a figure that I could afford or fit in the space, I stuck a picture of them on the fake brick wall backing. I also included pictures of Hephaestos and of ‘actual’ cyborg heroes – Douglas Bader, Viktoria Modesta.

Upon that wall, I put the awful Nazi term for those they considered disposable, the ones that Niemöller forgot, the ones they truly first came for, a phrase I wanted to reclaim in the same way as we have the word ‘queer’…

“Unnütze Esser”

Useless Eaters.

The idea of ancestor worship is perhaps one of the oldest of human religious impulses. Many cultures would elevate their Beloved Dead to a form of higher spiritual significance, even to full godhood. In the various African Diaspora religions and magical systems such as voudon, this kind of elevation is still common.

From my experience with the Shrine of the Useless Eaters and half a century of working with spirit-like-entities ranging from classical gods and demons to the likes of John Constantine – while never quite believing in them, treating them as an interface to the unknowable Wyrd – I would suggest that honouring our cyborg ancestors of all stripes would be a good place to begin building a spiritual practice for cyborgs.

One advantage of this approach is that step backwards from full belief that chaos magic encourages. Allowing for the most atheist of us to play with these concepts, the ’psychological model’ of magic where the weird shit us mages do is just a set of tools to trick our brains into different kinds of functionality. As chaos magic’s unknowing godfather, Austin Osman Spare, used to say:

“Treat all such phenomena as if they are real, not as real”.

And as Alan Moore, who not only created my magical colleague John Constantine but also had a couple of odd occasions where he met him in the real world, once said:

‘The one place Gods inarguably exist is in our minds where they are real beyond refute, in all their grandeur and monstrosity.’

We can draw on our borgods for strength in times of crisis; we can invoke their characteristics into ourselves as needed. And we don’t have to ‘believe’ they are ‘real’: it’s a false dichotomy, as false as the one that separates our prosthetic parts from our meat and bone parts.

They are all Us.

(Much of my thinking around disability, cyborgs and magic comes from three friends and colleagues: Craig Slee aka Mr. VI, writing in Cold Albion, AI ethicist Dr. Damien Williams and my sensei David Southwell, creator of Hookland and founder of Folklore Against Fascism. I remain in their debt.

Written to Michael McCann’s score for Deus Ex: Human Revolution.)

For reasons I hope are self-evident, in this list, I draw no distinction between heroes and villains, ‘people’ and monsters. I do (mostly) draw a distinction between traumatic and elective cyborgs, leaving out the majority of the latter: a list of elective cyborgs would include pretty much all the secondary cast of Cyberpunk 2077, Deus Ex, Ghost In The Shell, half of Doktor Sleepless… and could be considered as try-and-succeed-borgs?


Nuada Airgetlám (‘the Silver Arm’);  first king of the Tuatha Dé Danann. Silver arm was built by Dian Cécht.

Osiris; after his murder and dismemberment into 14 pieces by his brother Set, his wife Isis recovered his parts, except for his penis, which had been eaten by fish. Isis made him a strap-on.

Pelops: Greek hero, lost shoulder blade replaced with ivory construct by Hephaestos.

Icarus, kinda?

Freyja, Norse goddess of beauty, fertility, sex and war:  wife of Odin; often described as weeping red-gold tears – her acclamation as a cyborg appears in the paper ‘The End Of The Human? The Cyborg Past And Present’ by Carole M. Cusack, as a post-Haraway riff.

-a version of her appears in the anime Cyborg 009 as a villain.

Vishpala, warrior-queen mentioned in the Rigvela: she lost a leg in battle and got an iron replacement The princess Vadhrimati lost a hands; gold replacement made – in both cases ‘by the gods’ (though my Hindu mythology is scant, there may be more on both these…)

Tezcatlipoca: his lost right foot replaced with obsidian.




Steve Austin/Jamie Summers/Barney Miller et al, The Six Million Dollar Man and its spin-offs


-Half man. Half Machine. yadda yadda. A new FPS game with Peter Weller back in the role is coming soon. ) I note the not-great remake had Alex Murphy played by Joel Kinnaman, who also played Takeshi Kovacs in the first season of Altered Carbon – see below.)

The Terminators.

-For my money, the best being Cameron Baum, played by Summer Glau in The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Sorry, Arnie. (Though I must also mention Catherine Weaver, a T-1000 played by Shirley Manson.)

The Daleks and Cybermen and various other villains in Doctor Who

Root, from Person Of Interest.

-The first acolyte of the first artificial intelligence/god known only as The Machine, she integrated with The Machine first through data received via Bluetooth headsets, then by an updated cochlear implant installed after being tortured by the US intelligence officer known only as Control. If you haven’t seen Person Of Interest, I highly recommend it; not only is Amy Acker’s performance amazing, so is her eventual fate. And it’s much better than Westworld.

Adam Jensen: Deus Ex . He never asked for this.

V and Johnny Silverhand: Cyberpunk 2077.

Vic Stone aka Cyborg: member of both The Justice League and Doom Patrol at various points.

Seven Of Nine, Geordi Laforge, Airiam, Keyla Detmer, Sam Rutherford et al, Star Trek

Anakin and Luke Skywalker, General Grevious etc. You know where.

Master Chief and the early generations of Spartans in the HALO games.

Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road

Camina Drummer in The Expanse. Beltalowda!

Bucky Barnes, The Winter Soldier

Deathlok, Cable, no doubt several other Marvel characters, including Tony Stark post-Extremis. (I don’t keep up with the Big Two at this point.)

Frankenstein’s Monster!! Because of the electrodes (not bolts) in his neck.

Cliff Steele aka Robot-Man in Doom Patrol

BJ Blazkowicz, Wolfenstein: The New Colossus.

Molly Millions, Johnny Mnemonic and others in William Gibson’s Sprawl stories.

(Funny how Keanu’s played two cyborgs named Johnny… woah.)

Jane #57821 in Janelle Monáe’s Dirty Computer

Battle Angel Alita

Motoko Kusanagi in various versions of Ghost In The Shell

–SO many in anime!

The Tin Woodman in Oz

Helva, The Ship Who Sang: protagonist of the Anne McCaffrey series. One of several ‘brainships’ constructed from deformed babies whose growth was further restricted, and then grafted into titanium shells to be fused with spaceships. (NB how Steve Austin also became a spaceship for a time.)

The Shrike, aka the Lord of Pain, Angel of Final Atonement, Angel of Retribution from Beyond Time, in Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos: a six-armed metal beast of ferocious killing ability, including the use of time travel in combat. Based on the DNA of human officer Fedmahn Kassad.

Takeshi Kovacs, and many other characters in Altered Carbon. (Sadly, the author Richard K. Morgan is a huge transphobe – ironic in a series where consciousness is commonly downloaded into different constructed body ‘sleeves’ of all genders…)

Murderbot. Seriously, you need to read Martha Wells’ Murderbot Chronicles.

We3: cybernetically enhanced military project turning a cat, a dog and a rabbit into killing machines, who escape and seek freedom. One of Grant Morrison’s (they/them) most heartbreaking comics.

The Company in Kage Baker’s time travel series: orphans kidnapped by a Time Police organisation, turned into immortal cyborgs.

The Peripherals in The Peripheral (both William Gibson’s book and the TV show, especially triple amputee Connor Penske) and the Marine Haptic soldiers therein.

Many characters in Shadowrun (I have to note here the truly unpleasant trope in that universe that the more cyberware one has, the less ‘soul’ one has. Originally a game-balancing mechanic to stop players making vastly overpowered cybermages, the implicit ableism was somewhat corrected in later editions.)

Mad-Eye Moody in Those Books By That TERF Woman.

John Probe aka M.A.C.H. 1 in the early issues of the classic  2000 AD comic. Probe, (Man Activated By Computopuncture Hyperpower) was a Steve Austin rip-off with more violence and moral ambiguity.


5th century B.C.E.  (via Herodotus) Hegesistratus, a Greek soldier, lost a foot to torture; wooden prosthesis

-fought for the Persians against the Spartans who mutilated him

M. Sergius Silus (via Pliny), a Roman veteran of the Second Punic War against Carthage, wore an iron hand.

Ivar The Boneless: Viking warlord, famed for his many successful attacks on Britain. Appears to have at least worn metal splints for walking (does so in the TV show Vikings). The subject of a new novel by actor and disabled activist Nabil Shaban.

Gotz von Berlichingen. In 1508, he lost his right arm in the Battle of Landhut. He could afford to buy two technologically advanced iron arms with locking hand positions. He used his good hand to set a series of springs and releases so he could manipulate the artificial hand.

Tycho Brahe and his metal nose

James Edward Hanger: US Civil War veteran and engineer who upgraded his prosthetic leg and passed on the tech.

Douglas Bader: English WWII pilot who lost both legs in a plane crash. Captured by the Germans, escaped, was recaptured and sent to Colditz Castle, the infamous prison for escapee POW’s. He insisted to the commandant that not only should he keep his aluminium legs, but he should be permitted exercise walks in the countryside… during which, he stuffed the legs with Red Cross aid package chocolate and passed it around the local German civilians to subvert the population.


Viktoria Modesta: if you’ve not seen her Prototype video, treat yourself. Played a fine villain in the show Killjoys.

David Aguilar aka “Hand Solo”, The Lego prosthesis guy

Oscar Pistorius: perhaps the most problematic fave on the list, what with being a murderer and all.

Ruby Rose (she/they): the John Wick star suffered an injury while playing Batwoman on TV and had the same spinal operation that I did… and had to return to work a week later. She left the show after one season, citing this and other issues with the production.

One Thousand Days

Been quite a while since I wrote anything here. This is why.

My last public performance was at a Discordian-related event in London, Journey To Nutopia, on 23 Feb 2020ce. The subject was ‘Magic Is Real’.

In my talk, called ‘Tales From The Interface’ (which you can read below), I explored ideas around authenticity and the use of fiction in magic, referring to certain related work of the comics author Warren Ellis. The last part of the talk was a slide which read:





Three days after returning home from the gig, I fell ill. Like flu, but with more sweating and shaking. And it just would not go away.

(Four months after that, as I also note below, Ellis was outed as a serial sexual predator, having used his fame and influence to manipulate literally hundreds of young women in his profession for years. I could say much more about this, but I note it here because taking great care in who you listen to and why is a factor in how we got into this mess.)

Although I didn’t lose my sense of smell, a couple of weeks in I decided my other symptoms were close enough to this weird new disease known as SARS-COVID-19 to justify spending a delightful day playing NHS phone-chess, being passed from 111 to the COVID hotline to my surgery and back, only to be told that a diabetic with a chronic inflammatory disorder in his fifties wasn’t considered high risk enough to test for the disease because I hadn’t knowingly had contact with anyone who’d been out of the country recently. 

Though I was getting sicker, I wasn’t in major respiratory distress. Rather than burden the NHS further, I stayed home. I’d handled twenty years of diabetes and arthritis: I’d had my throat cut by professionals and titanium bolted into my neck bones. I figured that I could tough this out for maybe three or four more months before completely losing my shit. 

It has now been one thousand days since my illness began.

Just run that number around your head for a moment. 

A thousand days. Twenty-four thousand hours.

One comparison would be that it was the length of the presidency of John F. Kennedy. Another would be, three-fifths the length of World War I and half the length of World War II.

In that time, I have become far more sick and disabled than I already was. I’ve lost most of my energy and resilience, in a manner extremely reminiscent of ME/CFS (my wife having suffered from this for 30 years, its effects are all too familiar). 

I now only have the ability to leave the house for necessary medical or household reasons (always masked), and when I do, I usually fall prey to PEM – post-exertion malaise, where my chronic fatigue symptoms worsen and my body simply refuses to do anything but the basics for days after. 

(I once had to spend 3 days doing nothing but shake after taking out a heavy bin bag.) 

If I forget to put my N95 mask on when I answer the door for the post, I catch colds and flu at the drop of a hat.

I spent most of this time literally trembling at the cellular level, trying to sleep while drenched in sweat every night and soaking for half the day. As the condition worsened, I developed spasms in my arms, hands and sometimes my face. And my brain just… stopped working as well as it used to. We call it ‘brain fog’ but that doesn’t begin to cover how scary losing your cognition, your mind, actually is.

(I also have bouts of hiccups every single day, several times a day. Hiccups are hilarious, right? One of those basically funny bodily functions, like farting. Trust me, they stop being at all funny after the first few months.)

The process of traveling through various parts of the NHS with this ailment, while it was simultaneously being bombarded with Covid cases and strangled by Tory budget cuts has been… educational. In the second year, I was finally put onto what is delightfully termed the Vague Symptoms Path (also known as, somewhat ironically considering how long it took to reach it, the Rapid Diagnostic Services). This is a process of wide-scale tests to try and work out the cause of illnesses which are non-trivial to diagnose. It’s mostly a process of elimination. 

At this point, they’re pretty sure I don’t have one of the major forms of cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Lyme Disease, a variety of heart, liver and kidney diseases, brucellosis or thyroid nodules. 

And, it’s not lupus.

After another year of waiting, I’m getting to see a neurologist really soon now…

In the last few months, a kindly GP decided that, if I couldn’t be diagnosed then they could at least try and treat the symptoms. 

I was given some drugs to control the shaking and spasms – a combination of beta blockers (which have to be taken every six hours) and a muscle relaxant usually reserved for MS patients. For a month or two, I felt immensely better. The shaking and sweats pretty much stopped and the brain fog finally cleared. But they are becoming less effective. I once again have returned to trembling most of the time and the chronic fatigue symptoms never left me. Thankfully, most of my mind is still here.

Although I have never received an official diagnosis, the symptoms are a close fit what is now called Long Covid. Current estimates (which I suspect are on the low side) suggest over 1.2 million people suffer from Long Covid in the UK alone. It appears to cause damage to the entire circulatory system, possibly because of microscopic blood clots which the immune system cannot break down; the brain and heart are the two organs most severely affected. And, because of my not getting that early testing to confirm I’ve actually had Covid, they won’t admit me to the Long Covid clinic. 

I have oddly fond memories of lockdown, especially compared to what followed. Weirdly, being chronically ill already, our lifestyle didn’t change very much, and my wife and I are always very content in each others’ company.

There was a sense of “we’re all in this together”. So many folk were revealed to be kind, generous and thoughtful of others in those days (like when my street, already fiercely resilient after three floods in eight years, set up doorstep disco parties every Saturday afternoon and they made me cry in the best way by playing ‘What’s Up’ by 4 Non Blondes – Sense8 fans will get why).

Meanwhile, most of the rest of the world – and the majority of the British Discordian tribe who had previously declared me as their shaman – grumbled their way through the entire lockdown. A notable event was certain members breaking lockdown to drive across national borders to enact a magical working which required no specific geographical location in which to be performed.

And, as soon as the least trustworthy and most blatantly corrupt government in British history told them they could, most of the country, and all too many of my friends, simply stopped wearing masks, went back out into the world and acted like it was all over.

As I watched all this, isolated in my house, with increasing horror, one phrase kept coming into mind…

Kobayashi Maru.

The Kobayashi Maru test first appears in Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (1982). It’s a key event in Starfleet training: an exercise where a cadet crew have to try to save the ship of that name and its’ crew, which is stranded in enemy territory.

It is deliberately a no win scenario. You cannot rescue them at all, and you’ll almost certainly kill your crew trying.

The Kobayashi Mari is a test of character – an examination of how future Starfleet officers deal with something they cannot beat, can only try to ameliorate. How many people they try to save, how hard they try to do so and how they cope with failing.

(Famously, the only person to beat the test is James T. Kirk… who cheated. He got a commendation for that, but he later regretted never having actually faced that awful choice fully.)

COVID-19 was a Kobayashi Maru test for the entire world. A test of character in the face of unstoppable harm. And most of you failed it, badly.

In the thousand days that I’ve been stuck here, getting sicker and sicker, losing my ability to function in a world that increasingly excludes me and mine, I have watched people who swore they would strive for a better, more inclusive and kinder world completely abandon people like me. Running off to and organising every no-mask-mandate super-spreader event they could as soon as possible, partying in the middle of a plague. Almost completely abandoning all the creative ways and possibilities we found during lockdown to make the world a better, safer, more inclusive place for disabled and immunocompromised people.

I understand how hard it was, trust me on that. It must have been marvelous to feel free again, hug your friends, return to something like a normal life. But a fuckload of us couldn’t, and can’t, and may never be able to do so again.

For obvious reasons, I did not attend the funeral of beloved 23 tribe member Claudia Bolton. I also couldn’t bear to watch the live video of it… because from what I could see, not a single fucking one of those attending wore a mask to it. There were at least fifteen Covid cases afterward as a result. I don’t know how many of those converted to Long Covid, but I have sympathy for those for whom it did. But not much pity.

Before the brain fog symptoms caught me up, I did manage to do some writing. I was proud to have a piece in Paul Watson’s Rituals And Declarations volumes of folklore and resistance, called ‘Plastic Altars, Titanium Bones’, which talked about my cyborg transformation and the altar I created to keep me going through both that part of my Chapel Perilous and my Long Whatever, ‘The Shrine of the Useless Eaters’. 

(‘Useless Eaters’ – ‘Unnütze Esser’ in German – was the Nazi term for the disabled people they rounded up, put in concentration camps and slaughtered. I intend to reclaim this term in much the same way we queers have reclaimed that one.)

Among the figures on the Shrine is Adam Jensen, protagonist of the Deus Ex prequel games, whose often-memed phrase was one I said to myself a lot during these thousand days…

“I never asked for this”.

The other thing I wrote was one of a collection of new essays for the Hilaritas edition of Robert Anton Wilson’s Sex Drugs and The Occult – A Journey Beyond Limits. It’s called ‘Spiral Architect’, and it was an honour to be among the creators who contributed, including Grant Morrison. (I even recorded a video of me reading it for a related Nutopia event.)

But after that, I was pretty much a zombie for over a year.

Last year, my wife, the artist Kirsty Hall, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Anal cancer, of all things – and believe me, we did all the black humour arse jokes possible. But the humour got pretty thin when I had to listen to my beloved scream in agony every time she took a shit, for a year.

When I told the 23 community this, I received a lot of well-wishing and kind messages… and then a bunch of them immediately posted anti-vaxx and anti-mask propaganda. 

One of them, when I gently suggested gaining an understanding of such crip/chronically ill terms as ‘spoon theory’, just called me a cunt and told me to fuck off. Another told me, when I refused to continue an argument about a mutual acquaintance because I didn’t have the spoons (physical and mental energy) to do so, accused me of “hiding behind my disability”.

Failing the Kobayashi Maru while laughing your arses off.

Kirsty, thanks to the excellent work of St. James’ Hospital in Leeds, is now in full remission, but that year of fear and agony took its toll on both of us.

Kirsty underwent 6 weeks of radio/chemotherapy at St. Jimmy’s (the staff were fantastic… but we were aghast at how many visitors to this specialist cancer hospital did not wear masks). We spent weekdays there, staying in the hospital’s hotel wing for patients and carers – the closest thing to a holiday we have had in a long time – and coming home at weekends.

I was too ill to stay with Kirsty at the hospital for the last week, so I had to come home. 

The second day I was home alone, 2 years to the day after I fell ill after that Nutopia event, our beloved cat Chiana dropped dead. 

I found her cold, stiff corpse at the top of the stairs… then had to phone Kirsty at the cancer hospital to tell her, and then make arrangements for Chiana’s remains… all while being barely able to stand and walk.

So, here I am, nearing three years of this. My body spends most of its time acting as though I’m terrified – over-reaction of the sympathetic nervous system is my main symptom. And honestly, I am scared. Horrified, constantly, on top of this neurochemical tempest. And so very, very angry.

I have watched the world pretend this never happened, some saying it was a conspiracy caused by 5G and transexuals.Treating it as a mere blip in the steady march of late capitalism – as our new Prime Minister said, “Eat out to help out”. Behaving like the disease isn’t still out there, killing and maiming people daily. 

I witnessed a community that pledged itself to the cause of making the world a better place, of pulling the Cosmic Trigger and sharing love and strength and harmony, mostly just rolling over and abandoning its most vulnerable people, conforming with the worst instincts of increasingly fascist capitalism and acting like everything will be Just Fine. Ignoring, or even agreeing with, the blatant culling of us Useless Eaters. Acting as though my life, Kirsty’s life and the countless others still at risk just don’t matter as much as their fun. Holding biting parties during a zombie apocalypse.

Some of them, though, have been marvelous throughout this. I am especially grateful to Chris Manley, who spent a lot of time driving us to and from the cancer hospital, picking up meds for us – he truly went above and beyond for us both. Tom Baker and Dan Sumption and their players have helped keep me somewhat sane with their online tabletop role play game sessions – pretty much the only social activity I have left. (I tried to run a game of my own – an occult riff on Mick Herron’s Slow Horses books, now a fine TV show – but after a few sessions, I found that I lacked the spoons to continue… my thanks to the patient players there.) 

My new Hebden neighbour James Burt has been a great friend throughout, and respectful of our needs regarding possible further contagion. Some of the tribe have continued to maintain masking and other safety measures at their events, and to make those events available online where possible – Andrew O’Neill (whose BBC radio show Damned Andrew is superb) puts many of their comedy shows on Zoom and has done several Zoom-only shows.

I am also immensely grateful that, after mourning Chiana for six months, we adopted a new cat from a local rescue centre. Her name is Luna Ferocity Shadow: she was rescued from a home where the other cats bullied her. A Child of the Secret, just like me and Kirsty. And we adore her.

But honestly? Most of the people who called me friend, comrade or their shaman now fill me with nothing but a terrible sense of disappointment, abandonment and betrayal.

Some years ago, when I could still go to large scale events, I was involved in the accidental creation of a new religion: Wonderism. It drew from the Cosmic Trigger play and surrounding events, primarily inspired by a talk by John Higgs and the resulting poem by Salena Godden which gave Wonderism its rallying cry…

“Pessimism is for lightweights”.

(My part was the closing ceremony on the last night of the play, a magic ritual with a couple of hundred participants including Alan Moore, Adam Curtis and Jimmy Cauty. In that ritual, I talked about how the root of the word ‘conspiracy’ means ‘to breathe together’.

The bitter irony of that in times where I cannot risk breathing together with others without a N95 grade mask is not lost on me.)

I have so little optimism left in me now. Maybe that means I have finally become a lightweight… or perhaps, optimism is a function of one’s carrying capacity. Mine has been somewhat reduced as of late.

(And, frankly, my idea of a lightweight these days are the people who bitched so loudly about the mental stress of having to endure six months of lockdown, from the perspective of someone who has been housebound except for necessary medical excursions for five times as long.)

What little energy and magic I have left in my undoubtedly shortened lifespan will be spent on two linked causes: anti-fascism and disability activism. I shall be working with people who have shown actual solidarity through these times and communities who have proven they can actually be trusted, such as the Hookland and Folklore Against Fascism groups, and the growing community of cyborgs inspired by the work of people like The Cyborg Jillian Weise and performance artist Viktoria Modesta.

In those thousand days, we have lost so many people. Millions of unnecessary deaths; from Covid, from the war in Ukraine, from the murders of queer and trans people as a result of the fascist propaganda against them. Some of those losses hit me very hard indeed. As I started writing this, I heard that the great SF writer Greg Bear had died. The day after that, a fascist with an AR-15 assault rifle murdered 5 queer and trans people and maimed a dozen more at a drag event in the gay venue Club Q in Colorado Springs, the day before the Transgender Day Of Rememberance.

A week before that, we lost the comics artist Kevin O’Neill and (especially tragic for me, as his voice had carried me through some of the darkest points of my life) Kevin Conroy, the gay man who was the true voice of the Batman.

The loss which hurt me the most was Andrew Vachss, who died about a year ago. Andrew – who I knew slightly online and considered a personal hero for decades – was a lawyer and novelist who devoted his life and career to the protection of abused children and helping to understand and ameliorate the impact such abuse has upon society. He coined terms like ‘circle of trust’ to describe the places where these predators hunt, and ‘Children of the Secret’ for those of us who have suffered their attentions. 

(He also sent Warren Ellis – an admirer of his work – a scathing tweet when Ellis was outed as a predator.)

 With the destruction of Twitter under the command of its new owner and fash sympathiser Elon Musk, who has sided with people openly posting about disposing of the Useless Eaters (using that very term), another vital part of the disabled community’s fragile network is being destroyed. Meanwhile, the predators and their enablers – the likes of Jordan Peterson and even fucking Donald Trump – are being reinstated and given free rein.

Andrew Vachss wrote a Batman novel once, called The Ultimate Evil. It contains a haiku I think about often in these days of open fascist violence and manipulation, which Bruce Wayne’s mother Martha wrote for him when she learned that she had been targeted for assassination by a network of powerful pedophiles (because she too was a crime fighter with a secret identity… that of a rich socialite wife and mother). It was left in the care of Alfred to give to her son should he ever follow in her footsteps, on the day he became the embodiment of vengeance against them.

“Warrior, heed this

When you battle with demons

Aim not at their hearts”

The other line of Andrew’s I think about nearly every day is this…

“Behaviour is truth. You are what you DO.”

I have watched what most of you have done.

Do better.

If for no other reason than for enlightened self-interest, the logical next step from the selfishness I have seen on constant display from so damn many during these thousand days.

Wear masks. N95 grade. Insist on it at your events. Stream your events: those of us who can’t go would happily pay to watch them.

Think about access to your events if you insist on holding them. By which I mean; think about who they are inaccessible to and what to do about it. Don’t just mull it over amongst yourselves – talk with disabled people about this. As the saying goes:

‘Nothing about us without us.’

Get vaccinated unless you have an actual medical reason not to, and keep getting boosters. Stay informed: I understand it’s difficult to sort the actual truth about this disease and its continued presence from the conspiracy bullshit, but you have to try. 

(A good start would be science journalist Ed Yong, who won a Pulitzer for his Covid coverage.)

Stop supporting people who say it’s all over or that it doesn’t matter because it only affects the old and already sick. That’s literally the fascist extermination agenda, the Useless Eater Cull. Shun their fuckwit mouthpieces like Jordan Peterson and the never-ending parade of transphobes from JK Rowling to Joe Rogan, even (maybe especially) if you share them ‘ironically’.

And, to be clear: Disabled rights, trans rights, queer rights, non-binary rights… are human rights.

There’s a saying in the crip/chronic community: “disability is the one ‘minority’ anyone can join at any time”.

Or, as I put it; unless you’re lucky enough to die very suddenly, you will become disabled as you age, if not before. 

Those of us with Long Covid and other immunocompromising illnesses, the crips and the chronics, are the crew of the Kobayashi Maru; stranded alone in enemy territory. 

The difference is that, instead of having to risk your lives in trying to help us, you are protecting us all. If you don’t, you will end up stranded here with us.

Love matters. Punch Nazis.

On Warren Ellis

I have been a reader of the work of writer Warren Ellis for a long time. His work has been instrumental to a lot of my thinking about magic and the future. Online groups he formed led directly to my professional career and to many lasting friendships. He was personally kind to me online a couple of times. I’ve quoted him extensively over the years, including in the last talk I gave and posted here.

It has become clear in the last week that Ellis has been using his power and privilege to manipulate younger women into providing sexual favours. From dozens of women. For decades.

I have heard many of their stories. I believe them all. And much of his work, and public conduct, has hinted at this. His recent attempt at an apology is an insufficient piece of corporate-speak obfuscation which covers his arse career-wise and does nothing whatsoever for the women he took advantage of.

The facts remain. He was a sexual predator, of a type especially prone to recidivism – they rarely stop, but only pause then relapse. He had a type, practiced prey selection, honed his technique and pressured the women not only to be sexual with him, but to not discuss it with others. Then he dropped them from his life if they tried to expand out of his immediate control, often with severe implications for their careers; certainly, on their lives.

Most (I am told, in confidence, not all) of what he did may have been legal, but that is not the point. 

It was dishonourable. Reprehensible.

It replaced a duty of care to vulnerable young professionals and fans in his field with the attitude of a greedy child in a sweetshop.

He chose to do this. He knew better, and did it anyway.

Over and over again. Just because he could.

And now, everyone knows this. Reactions have… differed.

I am leaving my references to his work on the blog, but I have to note the context in which his words should now be regarded. And to say this…

Men need to do better. 

Yes, all men. 

Even if you’ve never dreamed of harming or exploiting a woman or anyone, the male-dominated cultures which permit and even exalt such behaviours have to be challenged, opposed, destroyed. 

And it is men who should, need to, do the work here.

Magic Is Real: Tales From The Interface

Because Jake Stratton-Kent asked me nicely… here’s the text of my talk given at the Cockpit Theatre, London, on 23 February 2020ce, between performances by Andrew O’Neill and Daisy Campbell. I’ve added a few links for context.


After Andrew’s stand up comedy, here’s some sit down thaumaturgy.

The last time I played this room, I helped start a new religion.

On the last night of the Cosmic Trigger play, following John Higgs’s inspiring ‘Pessimism Is For Lightweights’ on the first night of the 2017 London run, I had the honour to perform the closing ritual, where I riffed around a concept from the science fiction writers Spider and Jeanne Robinson

…suggesting that we should become the opposite of terrorists: plotting in public to make people’s lives better. The Robinsons called this Rapturism: Higgs, noting how Google treats the word Rapture, changed it to Wonderism… and that led to the first Journey to Nutopia and brings us back here today.

And today is the sixth anniversary of the first public magical ritual I did for Cosmic Trigger, in Liverpool’s Mathew Street, teaming with John and Daisy and about fifty other people to summon the synchronicity-enhancing powers of C.G. Jung and one of Alan Moore’s greatest creations, John Constantine.

It has been, to put it mildly, an interesting six years. We all know the political and actual heavy weather we are facing… but on a night like this one, I think it’s important to underline something else.

We are living in a truly unprecedented renaissance of magic.

The sheer amount, range and availability of magical information today would shock our ancestors. For a start, we are benefitting from a resurgence of interest in magic and the occult in historical and archaeological academia. The recovery and restoration of ancient documents, such as the Graeco-Egyptian Magical Papyri, one of the oldest spellbook we have, has led to the rise of many highly detailed explorations and modern recontextualisings of these old magicks: for example, there is a resurgence of interest in working with old school grimoires such as the Grimorium Verum, led by writer-practitioners like Jake Stratton-Kent, who balance the texts with a modern, post-chaos-magic sensibility. For those who seek a specific path, from reconstructions of lost religions such as the Kemetic revival of Ancient Egyptian magic to living traditions from the African diaspora such as vodou, you can find detailed instructions, working groups and initiators.

If you’re more inclined to find your own path, chaos magic has never been healthier: the IOT is still going strong, and we have experienced and talented authors drawing on that first wave of chaos magic, such as Gordon White, old hands like Phil Hine and one of my new favourites, Aidan Wachter.

If I was to recommend just one book on magic from the past few years as both an entry to finding your own magic or for resharpening your existing practices, it would be his Six Ways. A term he coins in it, which I have become fond of, is The Field, which he defines as

‘The totality of manifest and unmanifest reality’

…which means both the Tao and the fine array of strangeness and powers that I usually just call Weird Shit.

Western mainstream culture has also become friendlier to the possibilities of magic, partly through the rise of popular fantasy fictions.

From Terry Pratchett to Harry Potter – who doesn’t get a slide because Rowling is a fucking TERF – to the often practitioner-written urban fantasy subgenre, this permits imagining a weirder, wider world that anyone can explore, outside of religious or national hierarchies. As a result, the level of what Genesis P. Orridge called Occulture has been rising since the Sixties and has exploded in the last twenty years or so.

Much of this, of course, is due to modern media and the internet. Not only are these materials available, and usually quite cheaply or even for free, there are countless places where they can be discussed in depth. Magic is becoming simply easier to find… and more people are doing so.

This is, it has to be said, something of a mixed blessing.

More materials, and a sizeable industry to sell them, means that these grains of magical nutrition are usually found somewhere among an awful lot of shite.

Similarly, for every smart, experienced and capable magician talking about what they do, comparing notes with others as equally as they can manage, there’s dozens of far less experienced, half-trained, half-arsed dogmatic people who will happily jump into these conversations with their own agendas, bad research and worse opinions. This ends as well as it usually does.

For example: the Tumblr social media platform has developed a lively community of witches. They draw on a wide range of personal experience and research – and of course personal biases and leftover habits from the beliefs of their families and cultures – striving for ways to make magic work for them in a modern context. A lot of these witches are young women living with their usually very Christian families in American flyover states: they have developed a clever and subtle set of practices which allow them to speak with the gods and powers they feel connected to without tipping off their folks, and they have much to recommend them.

But, of course, they argue. We always do. That’s an inevitability in working with The Field… because magic is, I think, the most subjective pursuit humans have found to date.
This subjectivity makes defining hard and fast rules about How To Do Magic tricksy at best, especially when it comes up against the human need for stability, structure and coherence.

So many gods and spirits, models and metaphors.
So many paths you can explore.
So damn many contradictions.

I’ve been chewing on my own set of these for getting on fifty years, now. The more I do so, the more I try to reconcile all these different approaches, their striking similarities and their warring contradictions, the less inclined I am to say there are any universal Rules Of Magic. Anything I come up with ends up as

“more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules”.

So, that’s what I’m bringing you tonight. A handful of guidelines that have served me well over the years, and one basic, minimalist model to underline them, which tries to navigate a path between and through the possibilities of doing magic in 2020.

The model isn’t very original: it’s basically the result of a working class English lad meeting some no-doubt iffily translated Taoism in his youth and messing about with it ever since. But, for me, it’s one that allows for the widest spread of possible magical paths and realms while avoiding becoming locked into dogma.

I’ve taken to calling it Interface Theory, and it goes like this…

Whenever we encounter something weird in The Field, there is one common factor in all such encounters, which is our minds. Our upbringing, our culture, the things we’ve read and seen and done, create a series of patterns, arrangements of symbols and ideas. Our ‘connectome’…

“a complete description of the neural wiring of an organism”.

Every pattern we have ever seen, hard wired into our neurology.

The structure of our reality tunnels is made from our connectome… and it is the interface by which we try to comprehend the universe. In the physical world, when we encounter events, phenomena, other people, the subjectivity of this gets corrected somewhat. Like the old saying goes: no matter how hard you’re tripping balls, assume that all cars continue to be real.

This does not apply so well when our Interface meets The Field, because we cannot really know what the other side of that Interface is. There’s no possibility of solid, objective confirmation of what we find there… and we can only describe it through the impact it makes upon our connectome.

The Tao of which we can speak is not the Eternal Tao: the Field described is not The Field… because as soon as we open our gobs, we’re at least a little bit wrong, due to the limits of symbol and language. We can try to find common threads between all the different recorded encounters we have of other people describing what happened when their interface met The Field, attempt to triangulate on what the other side of the interface is up to… but we can’t confirm it objectively, and I think it’s a mug’s game to try.

The history of magic is basically a fairly random compilation of the research notes of various people whose interfaces bumped into The Field, by accident or design, filtered through either just their connectome or that of everyone else who’s worked similarly. Observations become habits; habits become dogma. And, there is no way to verify if any of it is true or useful, other than by comparing notes and running the experiments.

This idea of verification is a key one. There’s a phrase in modern occultism some of you may have heard:

‘Unverified personal gnosis’.

First mentioned in print in Kaatryn MacMorgan’s book Wicca 333 but originating in the Norse Asatru communities in the 70s, it means, roughly, an experience with The Field you’ve had that doesn’t precisely match up with an existing system or mythology, or contradicts them. The term is used a lot in pagan circles… usually as a negative. The implication is that somebody has the authority to verify, to approve, what your Interface told you about The Field.

Now, the term has some precautionary value; for example, just because you had a personal gnosis in which, say, Papa Legba told you he really likes muffins doesn’t give you the authority to stroll into a group of initiated Vodou practitioners and insist on buns at the crossroads. That’s both rude and missing the point. But, it does mean that leaving a bun at the crossroads could become part of how you venerate Legba… and maybe, some day, if enough people do it too and find it fits, it could become part of a ‘verified’ personal gnosis.

I found a better pair of terms for me than verified versus unverified personal gnosis in fandom: the idea of Canon and Head-canon.

Canon is, basically, the existing texts. Head-canon is what you think the texts imply or something which you can make a case for from them.

Canon is all the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle: Head-canon is believing Holmes and Watson were lovers.

You can ‘ship Holmes and Watson all you like… it doesn’t change a word of the text, but it’s a valid and popular interpretation of it.

Taking this back to that point of gnosis, of connection via the Interface to The Field: on a personal magical level, your head-canon actually comes first. Something Happens: your connectome tries to interpret the event using its existing kit and you then try to use the result to make similar connections, or try to describe your connection to others.

That’s when the fun starts… because people tend to assume their gnosis-plus-connectome Is Truth, rather than the Interface being partly a mirror, reflecting our own reality tunnels back at us… so they will usually start arguing about which interface is True. Real.


Something I’ve come to believe over the years is that Truth and Authenticity are basically irrelevant to actually doing magic.

A huge chunk of my connectome was taken from being a nerd. I was a science fiction fan before I knew I was a magician, and that stuck. As a result, a shocking amount of my utterly unverified magical gnosis has come from reading or watching fiction rather than grimoires or histories… and one specific insight came to me from a comic book: the sadly unfinished science fiction collaboration between writer Warren Ellis and artist Ivan Rodriguez, DOKTOR SLEEPLESS, in which the protagonist delivers a stirring radio rant whose punchline is…

“Authenticity is bullshit. Never more so than today.”.

Instead, he speaks of being authentic to your own evolving inner self and calls on his listeners to experiment upon themselves, to…

“…become mad scientists. Here, at the end of the world, it’s the only thing worth doing.”

That insight rewrote my connectome. And it soon occurred to me that, though it might be debatable in some areas of life, it seems to be spot on for magic.

Because, frankly, it really looks like magic doesn’t give a fuck if it’s authentic or not.

Magic doesn’t care if you get your Four Corners in a formal ritual round the wrong way, or if you swap out archangels for Star Trek characters, if you use a bone-handled athame or a Swiss Army knife. If it speaks to you and gets your Interface positioned well enough, you’ll get results. Likely a bit different from the purists… but you’ll get something.

Those Laws of Similarity and Contagion some magicians and scholars talk about? Again, more sort of guidelines than rules. Any set of correspondences you make for yourself will always carry more weight for you, and maybe someone else will like the feel, too. But until then, shop bought is of course fine. Magic is always about relationships: the ones that arrive into your life and the ones you choose to nurture.

Here’s a small, silly and yet tenacious example of making a correspondence from my own work:

A few years ago, before I realised quite how buggered my bones were with arthritis, I was at a gig: the Tuareg blues band Tinariwen. Standing room only, my back and knees were killing me and I had no painkillers with me.

What I had was a packet of Polos…

…and an idea from another of my science fiction favourites. In John Varley’s novel The Golden Globe, the protagonist has to quickly stow away on a spaceship with little oxygen. The only way they can survive the trip is if they sleep through it… and they have no sleeping pills. Just a packet of aspirin. So, they settle themselves into the cargo hold, and meditate on the idea that those aspirin were Very Powerful Sedatives. So powerful that they would knock them out for the journey. They took an aspirin – just one, because two would be Too Powerful, and settled in… and fell asleep for the whole journey.

So, I took my packet of Polos and meditated on them as being Very Powerful Analgesics.

I cast a spell that said Polos Are Painkillers, and carefully took one. Just one, because two would be Too Powerful. And the pain eased off.

Ever since then, for me, Polos are a magical painkiller. Pretty sure that’s not on the packet: it’s certainly not a Verified Gnosis.

Magic is one of the few activities where Doing It Wrong works pretty much as well as anything else. After all, who truly has the authority to say what counts as Wrong here?

Tradition, as the saying goes, is just peer pressure from dead people.

Which is not to say you shouldn’t pay some heed to either tradition or what appears to be the dead: both have much to offer. But, simply put – they were then. This is now.

That brings me to consider this: a great deal of what crosses the Interface from The Field seems to act like some kind of sentience: call then gods or demons, angels or aliens. You can split magical theories about this into roughly 3 types:

…the Energy Model (it’s all Ch’i, The Force, in various forms), Spirit Model (there’s spirits, they do stuff, lots of different types – basically, pantheism) or Psychological (it’s all just my Interface talking to different bits of itself, yer basic atheist position).

My own beliefs tend to a combo of Energy and Spirit, with the Psychological staying entirely within my end of the Interface. The reason I stay away from the hard-atheist variant of the Psychological model is based on a lot of experiences where it seemed like something that really isn’t me, or in many cases isn’t even remotely human, has communicated with me in various ways. And, most importantly, treating these encounters as if they are with actual intelligences works really well… and treating them with disdain can go very badly indeed.

Think of it as good manners, if nothing else. Never a smart move to say to a possible friend and ally “I don’t believe you’re real, I think I’m just talking to myself”… especially if said being could cheerfully fuck up your life completely. Even if, perhaps especially if, they are supposed to be a fiction.

Truth be told: one of the longest and most valuable relationships I have had with an intelligence from the Field has been with John Constantine. To me, Conjob is at least as real as any historical or mythological being: always a valued colleague, but never, ever, a friend.

But how those seeming intelligences behave is often clearly influenced by our connectomes, our idea of what such beings should or could be, and there are so many pantheons, some of which overlap but most of which clash. The idea that the Interface mediates comms between us and Them, provides a lingua franca between our minds and The Field, helps me deal with this multiplicity without getting into arguments about which is more Authentic. As Alan Moore notes, ‘the one place we know that gods and spirits certainly exist is in our imaginations‘.

The question is; how much of their nature is imaginal and how much… something else, something reaching across the Interface?

Think of the Interface as a meniscus…

…that thin and paradoxically strong threshold layer between air and water. The meniscus is host to its own separate ecosystem of plants and animals, partaking of both layers, both worlds: but, seen from above, it’s hard to tell which beasties live in the meniscus, which live below it, and which can move between those realms… until they move.

This is a good time to emphasise that what happens across the Interface can never simply be an assemblage of our experiences and biases. The other side can, will and should surprise us… which I am sure Daisy will testify to later.

Here’s an example. One of the best magicians I read on a regular basis is Craig Slee, also known as Mister VI, creator of the blog Cold Albion. Craig started out in chaos magic in the Eighties, like so many of us, and among his workings, he tried, as well as an uninitiated Cornishman can, to go to the crossroads and speak with Papa Legba. He did the work, he waited… and Legba spoke to him.

What Legba said was basically this:

“Hi. Thanks for dropping by, but you’re not one of mine. See that bloke over there…

…floppy hat, one eye, two ravens? You’re one of His.”

Craig became, without planning to do so at all, an Odinsman: a relationship which transformed his life and magic.

I have always liked rephrasing the idea of Order and Chaos as a balance between Structure and Surprise. The Interface is our structure to be with Tao, The Field: we should be ever open to the possibility of Surprise.

Aiden Wachter’s book Six Ways has a couple of different definitions of magic: the one which particularly struck me is this…

After all, what is more surprising than falling in love?

For me, it’s never been about doing magic because I sought power or felt drawn to a specific pantheon, or to be cool – because where and when I started out, it was not cool at all…. It’s far more I just fell head over heels in love with magic as an intrinsic part of my life. Something to be wooed, rather than conquered. To build a relationship with.

I was, in a word, enchanted.

My Interface picked up the habit at a very early age of seeking out strangeness, looking for magic in all the ‘wrong’ places. And, to my delight, I found the wrong places – back alleys, science fiction conventions, cinemas or car parks or sex clubs or bus stops – could be as magical and enriching as any ancient monument. As a result, much of my life has been spent in an act of re-enchantment: of sharing the delightful possibilities of The Field, showing that you don’t need special tools, expensive robes or a precisely constructed magical space… though all those things are nice and can certainly add to your magic.

All you really need for magic is to be open to the possibility of falling in love with the Field. And then, the stories and patterns and symbols you associate with that love become part of your power. A method or ritual you’ve worked with, something that truly calls to your deepest Self and across the Interface to its denizens, becomes as intimate and utterly all-encompassing as singing the song you fell in love to. And, the more you and the Field talk, the more your connectome and Interface shape themselves to fit; like an old married couple who know each other intimately and deeply, that dialogue can be damn near telepathic.

Some places, to be sure, seem to carry more possibility of this than others. That horrible old Victorian term, trotted out every Halloween of ‘a thinning between the Worlds’, does have some truth to it… some times and places just seem thinner, both straddling and encompassing that meniscus. Magic itself can be seen as a threshold state, a quintessential liminality: some thresholds you find, and some you carry with you.

As a result, there is no better advice to a magician than to really get to know your own patch. You have to be fully within your environment, be open to its possibilities, wherever you want to do magic. Start with your immediate neighbourhood: find those odd little corners that feel a little thinner; talk to the local plants and animals and other inhabitants, and perhaps leave them small offerings. Find somewhere that ‘sparks joy’, and make it sacred to you and to anything else that may pass by. Those threshold points are as vital to an ongoing magical practice as breathing, grounding, raising and banishing.

Love them: protect them.

It is that love, that intense passion for something that fits into your soul like a missing jigsaw piece, that I think is the core of doing magic. Rather than the borderline fascist idea of the Pure True Will so beloved of Crowley and his lesser imitators, I think it’s loving the act of magic itself, and all that you connect with it, that provides the impetus for magic to, for want of a better word, work. Empty ritual does nothing, regardless of origin, especially if it doesn’t connect to you other than superficially. The rites and symbols that stir you… they’re the ones the Field takes interest in and responds to. Like any good relationship, it’s about reciprocity.

Typically for me, I only really understood this by falling in love with, and becoming a citizen of, a place that does not physically exist.

Hookland was born from the mind of writer and cunning man David Southwell (shout out if in the house). One time, he was at the BBC and managed to blag a taxi ride home with J.G. Ballard. They talked a lot about writing and Ballard said to Southwell something which changed his life.

“You need to write about place: nothing else is worth a damn.”

A couple of years later Southwell had what can only be described as a download – over a few days, the history, folklore and magic of a lost English county poured from the Field through his Interface and onto the page, and he called it Hookland.

The mythology of the county, rich with a deep retelling of Albion’s folklore, has grown hugely, many folk finding its weird darkness oddly friendly and welcoming, contributing to this open-source mythos – among other things, it’s birthed art, several horror stories, a film plot and even a pair of orchestral suites. Hookland summons a remarkable act of magic: creating a spirit of place for a place with no physical form. A simulacrum of authenticity… but one real enough for people to fall in love with. And I did. Through my relationship with Hookland, I found a personal path into the English Cunning which awoke in me a connection to place I’d never known before. The Ghost Soil – David’s term for the ancestral memory of Albion, under our feet and available to any who sweated or bled into it, no matter where they were once from – opened to me.

As I said: we are living in a great magical renaissance, beyond even that of the 1970s weirdness which helped to birth Hookland. Unfortunately, not everyone involved in it plays well with others.

The 21st Century could, frankly, do without a return of fascism: but, for whatever reason, we are stuck right in the middle of a rise in xenophobic popularism supported by entrenched political and financial might. They take attention; they take money and power. And, they are definitely trying to take magic for themselves, too. Blood and soil for them, instead of a ghost soil for all.

Hookland has taken a very loud stance against this, especially the attempt by various Volkish movements to try and claim British folklore as both intrinsically isolationist and entirely white: a terrible lie to set upon our Mongrel Nation, a theft which lessens us all.

Magic, as I said, doesn’t give a fuck. So it is up to us to do so.
As we like to say in Hookland… Re-Enchantment Is Resistance.

A resistance which builds inclusive and loving communities who can share their Interfaces and compare notes about the Field, which refuses all claims for an absolute Truth, especially one which only takes and burns and never shares.

We can be Wonderists, for more than a day. We can journey to Nutopia, and we can live in Hookland.

About five years ago, I got a message across my Interface from the Field, which seemed to come from the ancient Celtic war-goddess Brigantia. She said to me:

“A cold, harsh wind is coming. Look to the borders.”

This prophecy is the reason I got the White Horse of Uffington tattooed on my arm on Referendum Day…

…a piece of Old Albion in my flesh and blood. And it’s why much of my last few years, when I’ve not been doing Discordian magic with this lot, has been spent on a series of anti-fascist, specifically anti-Brexit curses working with the band The Indelicates, based around their Juniverbrecher album, which reveals Mister Punch, Jimmy Savile and Boris Johnson as avatars of Albion’s dark heart. We tried to banish Mister Punch as best we could, in 3 rituals culminating in our Hexit working of last Halloween.

We could not stop Brexit. But, I think you’ll agree, it’s cursed to shit.

That cold harsh wind is blowing now, literally and otherwise. And rather than making our borders harder and more exclusive, we need to open them – across nations and between ourselves and across the Interface deep into the Field.

To make all of our borders semi-permeable membranes like the wall of a cell, allowing nutrition and information to pass through as it needs to.

For a cell which shuts off its borders completely is destined to die, and I’ll be fucked if I’ll let that happen to my home.

That’s my time done, so let me just quickly sum up.

Boris Johnson is, and remains, cursed

Last Halloween, in a virtual gig before COVID-19 made it cool, The Indelicates and I teamed with a range of pro-EU artists for our third pass at cursing Brexit.

We couldn’t stop it. But we cursed the SHIT out of it.

Today, in the face of Johnson’s cowardice and idiocy in the face of these awful times, for reasons we can only guess… it’s time to re-up the Working.

Here’s my original script. Sing along with the tune at the bottom.

let’s get him gone by the 31st: Seven months to the day after I told him “you will wish you had died in a ditch”.

I speak here tonight as a cunning-man of Albion; bound by oath and mark to walk the borderlands and protect my tribe from the dark. And we of the cunning have ever known that borders are not walls.That crossing them is the point. That without people from everywhere else crossing the shores of Albion, there would be no Albion.
That crossing a border changes you. And that some people fear change, and hate difference, so much that they would wall up every border there is, no matter who that harms… even themselves.
Those borders which the cunning protect are porous and open to all but that which means harm… but harm comes all too often from within.
The cunning is about relationships.
Only a fool burns their relationships for no good reason.
Only a dangerous and selfish fool burns other people’s relationships for profit or ideology.
I took my Oath and Mark on Referendum Day, 23rd of June in the year of Their Lord 2016: the Mark of the White Horse, to have Albion in my flesh and blood because I could see the dark was rising. Twice now, my kith and I have stood to oppose the vicious poison of Brexit Hate, and twice have I cursed that enterprise of blaming Europe and using that to wrap fascism in the Union Flag. And now, twice I can say, despite the lies, the bribes, the corruption and the death… We’re Still Fucking Here.
We stand again on the threshold. We have cursed them, we have opposed them, but still they push on. Still they claim The Will of the People they deceived, the authority of a Democracy they undermined.
We stand for all peoples of Albion: a Mongrel Nation, because all the first natives of these islands drowned ages past in Doggerland. The ghost soil of Albion grows richer for every new person who walks it, and we reject none who call it home. And the ghost soil knows that all who have walked here, sweated and bled here, are part of its story. Nobody gets to rewrite that; to lie about our shared past and make it whiter than white, spin a false tale of purity and sovereignty. Nobody gets to use the myths and legends of Albion to destroy its people, to banish them from walking the ghost soil.
Not without cost.
It is time to pay up.
So once again, by the power of the cunning and in Albion’s name, I call the forces we have raised against the predators, thieves and crushers of hope.
I first call Elen of the Ways, she who makes the paths free and clear.
I call all the ancestors, gods and Fair Folk, wherever they first came from, who are part of Albion’s mixed and complex soul.
I call Brigantia, warrior goddess of Boudicca.
I call Arthur and Merlin and Robin Hood.
I call The Wild Hunt and Black Shuck.
I call the warriors of these isles from the lost past and history known; from Wat Tyler and Jack Cade – he who first called Black Shuck to aid the poor, women and children – to the Suffragettes and those who fought at Cable Street and the Battle of Britain and the Poll Tax riots.
I call Saint George, Turkish mercenary, and I call the Dragon entwined with him.
I call William Blake and Austin Osman Spare and all the artists and poets who saw Albion most clear and told its rudest and most honest truths.
I call John Constantine, The Laughing Magician, patron saint of back alley magic and master of synchronicity.
I call all the nameless ones, the forgotten dead who ever stood between hope and fear, compassion and rejection.
I call upon all these powers and principalities once again to defend the oppressed and to oppress the indefensible.
And I call upon all listening at this time to reject the dark heart of Brexit hate, the wicked song of Mister Punch, and to stand with those who refuse fascism and bigotry.
May the cunning aid and keep you all.
And now I call on other forces to aid us at this threshold point.
The politicians who lied about Brexit, who misled the folk of these lands, have broken their oaths. They swore to “do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of this realm, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will”, and they broke this oath.
The ones who chose to treat leaving Europe as a war have broken their essential oaths by treaty to the people of those nations also.
The Queen, to whom they swore fealty, likewise swore on her coronation to “cause Law and Justice, in Mercy, to be executed in all her judgements”. By supporting her Prime Minister, in full knowledge of his malfeasance, she also broke her oath. The Monarch and her government are out of balance with the Land: the Land stands above and beyond them all.
And so, I call forth Horkos, son of Eris, he who brings full consequence to oathbreakers, to have his way with them. They refuse us justice? Then we will take our own.
I call all the spirits of the wronged dead of austerity, racism, homophobia, transphobia and violence against those of us who do not fit their pale and narrow ideals of Normal, to claim the vengeance which they are owed.
I call all the powers of Albion and beyond, from fact and fiction, myth and legend, named and unnameable, on behalf of all the good folk of these isles and lands to three tasks:
To heal and protect all in these isles from the worst deprivations of this unnecessary strife: may those who saw the dark rise be given the light they need, and may those fooled by the liars and thieves have the scales fall from their eyes… but knowing that before forgiveness, they must make restoration to gain our protection.
To unite all the peoples of these tiny islands, no matter their origin, against the darkness and hate of these times, to stand against fascism.
To render those who willingly supported these cruel actions against the land and its people as Thrice Without: May they all be left without money, friends or luck.
They are scented as prey to every beast and demon that ever walked these isles: may their souls be torn open and left to be fed upon.
Thrice now we have stood to bind and banish the darkness we have named as Mister Punch.
To the current host of that dark spirit, Alexander Boris De Pfeiffel Bloody Stupid Johnson, I also gift this…
You think yourself cut from the same cloth as Winston Churchill?
Very Well: May the Black Dog haunt your steps evermore.
You will wish you died in a ditch.
We see you all. We see you very well.
We know who has been doing it, and We Will Send Them Back.

Perfect (2018)

PERFECT (2018)

A brilliant, visually and sonically dazzling science-fiction-themed ultra-black comedy about the pretensions of ‘philosophical’ male cinematic auteurs, portrayed through the lens (and, entirely, male-gaze) of a po-faced ultra-luxurious veneer of  future-rich spa-dwelling supermodels in lingerie as fridgable objects for the heroic male protagonist’s moral struggle with being MALE AND POWERFUL AND PURE, combined with achingly shallow ‘deep’ voice-over monologues, ending with the last bitter joke of said protagonist (named Vessel 17, for his and our sins) running in slo-mo along the seashore hand in hand with his previously murdered girlfriend after being involuntarily committed to this ‘care facility ( a lovely bit of architecture) by his mum, played by Abbie Cornish… though it’s all a simulation in his dying mutated mind.

It was that final sick gag that clinches it for me as the first great science-fiction postmodern parody.

The first truly great SF comedy of the 21st Century , I will explore how the way the film uses male gaze to dissect itself and its preferred conditions of women in peril as both muse and human sacrifice *to* the male…

*reads interviews with co-writer and writer/director*

Oh, they meant it seriously.

They seriously meant it?

Oh, dear.

Even the monochrome raping and baby-eating slo-mo scenes, all that Iron John Hunted The Mammoth shite??


The writers and director somehow chose this film, and that seashore finale particularly, put this film out there in full seriousness, and not to make the blackest comedy about modern HOLLYWOOD? 

Nah, must be a joke. I will spend my life finding the truth of this!

Overdue update

Blimey, it’s been a long time since I updated this blog! There are all sorts of reasons: quickest way to sum these up and give you a clue as to what I’m doing next is to reproduce my latest newsletter

CATERWAULING 17 June 2016ce

In which your narrator reboots after a crash

I am truly sorry about the gap between the last newsletter and now.

Basically, I did a lot of things, was too busy to write about them during them, and then fell over hard afterwards.

It’s something that never used to be talked about much concerning the effects of chronic illness (in my case, over a decade of Type II diabetes) – your body simply has less ‘energy’ to go round. Doing things, especially things involving a lot of travel, becomes incrementally difficult. Activists on these ‘invisible illnesses’ have come to use the metaphor of ‘spoons’ to describe this effect. I did a load of stuff, then I had no more spoons.

Here’s the things I did…

2nd of April was the marvellous Spirits Of Place event: hosted and envisioned by John Reppion. I was on the bill with some remarkable people, talking about the power of landscape, especially that of Liverpool and its environs. My talk, ‘Where The Buddleia Grows’ was on liminal spaces in urban magic, and seemed to go down well. You can read the text version over at Medium. Was an honour to be in that crew: meeting old acquaintances such as the great Ramsey Campbell and making many new friends. I also took advantage of the chance for a serious night of drinking with my partner-in-crime, David Southwell of Hookland fame.

On the 23rd of April, headed to That There London. I was called in to assist with a public magical working for Daisy Campbell and the Cosmic Trigger troupe: the immediate reason was that the gang were about to submit their bid for Arts Council funding for a second wave of the play next year. As a token of public interest in support of this, a Indiegogo was set up for that day to sell 123 tickets to the last London night of the show (which will happen, with or without the funding… but obviously it’ll be a lot easier with), and of course the first thing Daisy wanted was a ritual to nudge this result. In the middle of Hampstead Heath. The spirit of Eris was fully manifested (in the sense that a shitload of things almost went too wrong but not quite) and the Mischief was Managed. By the time we’d got a couple of rounds in at a nearby hostelry, those tickets had all sold. Took a little under three hours.

(I also got to crash at Daisy’s mum’s flat: which had that specifically odd sensation of sleeping in the home of a former Bond Girl.)

The last weekend of April, brought the extraordinarily fun and gorgeous Hebden Bridge Burlesque Festival. This 4 day event brought the cream of international performers to our little town & its environs. (This event is so inspiring that I wore four different outfits, none of which was in black!)

So many amazing acts; including our town’s first Naked Girls Reading event, where our own Heidi Bang Tidy read one of my wife’s blog posts about working with the Hebden flood food relief, which had all of us, including Kirsty, in tears.

The peak was the glorious Perle Noire: seeing her perform was like watching the child of Josephine Baker and Eartha Kitt dance her exquisite arse off. A gracious woman, both on stage and off (had the chance to pay our respects in the pub after). Yet another triumph for our local community, and further proof that not even a flood can keep this town down.

The week after that, I went back down to the Smoke, to see one of the last performances of KEN: Terry Johnson’s play about his friendship and working with the late, great Ken Campbell, with Jeremy Stockwell in the title role. As Ken was a big influence on me in many ways (from seeing his staging of The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy at the Rainbow in 1980 to being the officiant at Daisy’s impromptu wedding at the Find The Others festival in 2014), I had to go. Not only were the play and the performances splendid, but I met two long-lost friends from the HHGG fan club ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha that I was an early member of! (And there was this whole part after the show involving naked people and psychedelic UV body paint. You had to be there.)

The next day was the pleasant change of going to a Treadwells event that I wasn’t actually speaking at: a one-day conference for the launch of the book The Secret Lore Of London. Christina and her gang always put on a good show, and this was no exception: the highlight for me was meeting John Constable aka John Crow, whose extraordinary shamanic and poetic work in, around and for the spirit of London’s lost was inspiring.

A couple of days back home, then down to Brighton for three days. The event I was going to was the Odditorium’s ‘Adventures On The Edge Of Culture’ for the Brighton Fringe. This featured my dear Daisy again, along with John Higgs, Melinda Gebbe and Alan Moore. This was as fascinating as you’d imagine… and then Higgs was kind enough to introduce me to Alan as a colleague.

Alan was utterly lovely. Listened to my somewhat burbling words, shook my hand 3 or 4 times… and then, when I said “there’s so much I’d love to talk to you about” said, “oh, we must go out for a drink next time I’m round your way”. Which, as it turns out, is fairly often. So, that happened.

The rest of the evening was spent nattering with Daisy & the crew (Alan had to make an early exit), which gave me the chance to natter with parts of that tribe I’d not spent as much time with as I’d liked before – people like Greg Wilson and Kermit Leveridge.

Day after was spent with my dear friends from that area that I’d not been in the same room as in years; my ex Lucy (one of the folk Neil Gaiman based Delirium in Sandman on) and her husband, the writer Adrian Bott. A fine reminder that time and circumstance don’t always triumph over love and friendship.

And then I got home and basically collapsed for a couple of weeks.

I have some spoons now. Here’s where they are being used…

Spent today doing final proof-reading of my next Darklore article, for the upcoming ninth volume of that ongoing Fortean compilation: an adaptation of my Treadwells talk on SF & fantasy’s influence on paganism and modern magic. And I just found out it’s right in front of a piece by Alan Moore… (Mine mentions him and Grant Morrison in the same breath – what could possibly go wrong?)

Tomorrow, back down to London to meet up with more of those old ZZ9 people. Folk there I’ve not set eyes on in a quarter of a century or more, so that’ll be interesting.

On the 23rd of the month, I will be getting a new tattoo: the White Horse of Uffington, inside of my right forearm. The timing of this upon the referendum date is not coincidental: seems the perfect time for an old cunning man like me to reaffirm his bond to Albion at a time when fascist and xenophobic forces are trying to make my land into a place of fear, suspicion and hatred. (RIP Jo Cox: she was MP for a nearby community and someone who clearly had no time for fear and hatred. May she be remembered for that, and not the manner of her death.)

Next week, Hebden Bridge is having an extra Christmas because the flood buggered up the last one. Following that, back Darn Sarf: I’m giving a talk on the 27th at the first Art Arcana event, BORDERLANDS, organised by the immersive theatre/ritual troupe Foolish People: tickets are free if you want to pop along, but do book first. My talk is called “Betwixt And Between”.

Following this is Festival 23 on the 23rd (natch) of July and surrounding days. It’s going to be an incredible weekend, and the latest culmination of the 23 Current I’m honoured to be a part of. I’ll be doing a reading of selected works and teaching a workshop in Defence Against The Dark Arts 101. Say hi if you come along!

Thank you reading, and for your patience in my absence! (Now over 500 subscribers.) You can leave any time you want, of course… but hopefully I’ll have more to tell you, and more spoons to jingle.



New Newsletter News

Been getting a bunch of nudges from folk I respect that the weekly email newsletter is a thing I should be doing. And, when one of those nudges consists of Warren Ellis stright-out telling me “you should be doing this”, even I can take the sodding hint.

So, here it is: it’s called CATERWAULING, it’s free to subscribe to (and easy to unsubscribe): I plan to be quite chatty/ranty in these…

A lot of folk are moving to this format in place of blogging or social media – I’m finding the ones I read have a personality and immediacy to them which is well worth running the experiment, both as reader and writer.