Forgotten Flowers

Sifting through my emails, I find one from 5 years ago, addressed to myself… The subject line reads FPO… I’m puzzled as to what that could be. No doubt at the time it made perfect sense to me… I wonder why I’m such an idiot when it comes to filing my own things. When I file things for other people, I am meticulous and logical and thorough and I can recall every detail and instantly put my hand on anything asked for… Why don’t I work for myself with such precision? I don’t know… I do know it’s on the top of the list of things I want to change and kick into shape…

So, I’m still at a loss as to what FPO initially stood for… I can hazard a guess, though 5 years on, I’m not keen on the title… Though 5 years ago, I didn’t much care for the images I stashed away for/from myself… Today, now that I’ve forgotten that I drew them, they draw me in and I feel much warmer towards them…

Note to self – wax paint more flowers! And store them properly!

Busting the Myth

Foraging through photos, this morning, I stumbled across the first hedgehog visitor that I managed to snap in my garden…

A week prior to this Mr S had been boo hoo hooing about the total annihilation of all his new plants by the resident slugs. I was more than ready to go to war with the ever exploding population… I’m not a fan at the best of times but when the slimely little fuckers cross the line and make their way into my kitchen… I’m prepared to kill. This horrifies my daughter who will sob and scream “How dare you call yourself a vegetarian?” Apparently “I’m not going to fucking eat them!” is a response that plunges my terrible ethics into even lower levels of depravity, meriting yet more scorn… I don’t care if I’m vegetarian, I like to walk around bare foot and accidentally stepping on slugs makes my soul shudder and causes me to leap skywards in ways I’m just not designed to move… Nope, thresholds have been crossed… There are consequences…

I tell Mr S that the slugs must die… I know full well that he’s going to go full blown Buddha Boy on me… At this stage in the game, I’m not really caring about my karma… I’m not caring about how I may reincarnate… I’m caring about reclaiming my territory… Lying through my teeth, I tell Buddha Boy that I will not enjoy killing them but needs must and if I kill them then that’s my karma and his slate remains clean… He’s not buying into that… I’m getting to my wit’s end… We’ve done all the friendly ways, the eggshells… broken sea shells… copper tape… All those things that are supposed to act as deterrents… I did the not so friendly thing of hoiking them over the fence into the garden of the neighbour that I don’t like…but they soon found their way back… I guess they don’t like slabs and dog ends but I’m not turning my garden into a paved ashtray to solve a slug problem… Mr S had a lengthy chat with them… I don’t know what he was thinking. OK, he’s had success in the past, in educating our feline freeloaders into not eating the birds that visit… But, talking to slugs? Nope… Doesn’t work, it falls on deaf ears… Oh wait… They don’t have ears… That would explain a lot… Hmmm what to do… I find myself at a standoff with Mr S… His Buddha Boy going nose to nose with my Functional Psychopath… I remember another chat he had with Woody, explaining that this mouse is a house mouse, you can eat those, this mouse is a field mouse, he’s wondered in here lost, you don’t eat those, we let those loose… Hmm… Mr S won’t let me kill but he green lights animals to do in house pest control…

Hey! How about I summon up a Hedgehog? That’ll sort the slugs out… He thinks it’s a ludicrous idea as in 25+years, we’ve never seen one in the garden. I tell him me and the cosmos go back a long way and we’re pretty tight and I only have to click my fingers…

I’ve obviously wore him down now and he’s wanting to return to a quiet life so he tells me to do it… (Though I do hear him mumble away to himself… Yeah..like that’s going to work…)

A week later and manifested murderer materialises… Two weeks later, I’m inundated with hogs (I do have a habit of accidentally over ordering… I’m a bit of a Mickey Mouse Magician) and not a slug to be seen…

Now I’ve told this story a few times to people and some find it a quaint tale, others say my life sounds like Disney on acid, and others say “Oh! I’d love a Hedgehog!” Now to this last group, I always say “Really?” If they confirm then I snap my fingers, make a finger gun to fire off a POOF! into the ether, then I laugh and tell them the deed is done and delivery will be within the week…

To date, I’ve done this 7 times and each time, a week later, I get the news… A hog has appeared…

So… I’ve built a reputation as a hog whisperer and weaver of magic… And usually, I’ll embrace any lie that fuels me having a good yarn to tell… And usually, I’d adhere to the magician’s code and not reveal the trick, but seriously, this is one myth that needs busting… I didn’t magic up these prickly critters… They were there all along. All I did was tell you that you’d see them, in a way that I suckered you into believing and wow! You reset your brain to clock them.

Brains are tricky fuckers… Huge peacock tail feather type creations… What are they up to? Mostly, I think they’re up to filtering out the majority of what we see and hear… Buffering us against sensory overload… Deciding for us, what’s important for us to respond to… Selecting what we see/hear based on what the brain guesses will be useful to our needs to not die today… Think about how in a crowded noisy room, filled with people talking, how your ears prick at the mention of your name… Your brain has decided to prioritise that sound… BUT, you’re not a slave to your brain, you get to reset the parameters… You get it in mind that Hedgehogs are on the top of your list of priorities and you’re going see them turning up pretty soon… So, no, I didn’t magic up hogs, I got you to tune your sensors to seek out the target…

I think about seeing and then I think about how funny it is that we visually document more and more yet people seem to be actually observing less. I think about the Heron I saw last night. I love Herons, and I always shout out in glee when I see them even though I see them very frequently, yet whenever I’m with someone, they are invariably surprised and will look around everywhere except for in the air! That puzzles me… With 2 exceptions, the Herons I’ve seen have been on the wing in the air… Once I saw one sat aloft a tree, another time I was walking at dusk along the canal. I turned a bend to find a huge shape looming out of the gloom, blocking my way… So, why are people surprised to see them? Why don’t they look skyward? Why scan the gutters?

I guess, people just don’t expect to see them… They see the city and the traffic and expect to see townish things and forget that we’re a stone’s throw away from the canal and the river…

My mind goes back to my teens and studying old school photography… I absolutely loved photography back then, I do now, but modern photography lacks a lot of what I fell in love with… The dark room, the fumble grope turned with practise into deft finger moves loading film into canister… The slosh of chemicals, the image emerging… The seemingly endless anticipation wait between click of shutter, and final image, wondering if you’d captured what you wanted…I loved the framing of an image, the imagining of how it would speak in black and white. My photography teacher placed great emphasis on looking beyond the subject and visually checking everything that fell within the scope of the view finder… He instilled the idea that time spent in careful composition yielded easier results and less time trying to edit out errors… Not that there was much editing beyond careful cropping and playing with exposure lengths… But I guess as well, one of the reasons I took this advice on board was that photography at that point in time was an expensive game… I had very limited funds and if I’d scrapped together money for 36 frames then I needed to make sure my final project was clear in mind before I committed to the finger press on button… Usually projects set required 5 pieces so that left a little room for experimentation but it didn’t leave a lot of room for mistakes. Occasionally, there’s that lucky instinctive photo, where you don’t have time to play around, just shoot quick and hope for the best and that you caught the light just right before it moved… Or you get to candid shoot a portrait whilst someone is just so perfectly there and oblivious to your lens…

Photography now… For most people, it’s done by phone… Not a lot of skill required as hey if you shoot enough times, odds on you’ll get at least one good snap and you only show the good ones… I don’t know… It kind of rattles me… There’s something that feels very off about having a resource that’s seemingly infinite in supply… Snap snap snapping away dross and drivel for the sake of having pictures… Documenting everything rather than experiencing anything…

Old school photography… Resources were precious and in short supply… Deliberation and decisions… Images never taken lightly… Forensic examination of mistakes so they weren’t repeated… Memorising what works well… I guess there was a respect there that feels somewhat lacking now… I guess also I’m a grumpy bitch and I find it hard not to gnash my teeth when suddenly everyone’s a photographer and posting bad compositions with great big glaring things in the background that shouldn’t be there as they wreck the picture and the subject smiles oblivious… I guess this is also why I love to do walk by photo bombings… People miss me when they’re shooting… From what I see, a lot of people also lack editing skills and still don’t see me in the background… It amuses me to think that maybe in a few years time, strangers will spot me and false memories will unfurl about what a great night that was… What’s her name? I’ve not seen her for ages… Yeah, ain’t I a stinker… 😈

Tarot Gigging Diaries… Missing deflections, diversions, and detours…

It shouldn’t happen to a tarot reader but it does… This evening, I go in search of an old video of me reading and eventually I find it, but not before I come across 3 little tales from one gig a couple of years ago in the Cotswolds where I was booked to read dressed as a fairy… Just bear that last part in mind ‘dressed as a fairy’ and that I drove to the gig wearing full glitter and glamour… Hold that image in mind when you get to tale 3 and my encounter with ‘Moses’.

Oh how I miss live bait…

1. A guy came over to my table introducing himself as a mind reader and saying that basically we both do the same trick. I say, do we? What’s that? He says that we are both cold readers. I say oh…really…
He says yes and says he can tell me my star sign… he starts by saying there is an R in it… I’m thinking gee whizz… that’s 9/12 signs… he goes on and misdiagnoses me as a Taurus, then says I’m not Leo or Gemini (well d’oh… obviously as I’ve already confirmed no R in there…) eventually he lands on Virgo…
Then he says he’s never had a tarot reading and so I get him to shuffle… I read his cards and he’s pretty taken aback and very puzzled… he says ok, how the hell are you doing that? You’re not cold reading, what’s the trick?
I say no trick…I just read the cards…
He spends several minutes trying to get me to reveal the secret. I stick by my guns… he’s increasingly frustrated and says oh you should add cold reading to your act, for example if you say you’ve recently moved job or house or you are considering it, then 80% of people will take that as a hit and believe you are psychic but there’s no such thing as psychics, it’s all tricks…
I say no… I don’t want to add cold reading to my work, when people come for a tarot reading they have no time for that nonsense… here, let me cold read you now… I see some pain in your past, you’re still holding on to an old love…
He squirms in his chair and says get your phone out… he says he specialises in finding people’s lucky numbers… he tells me to put my year of birth into calculator and then waffles on asking me to add various numbers then he mind reads my number and then smugly says that he’ll do my pin number next…
I say to him no you won’t because that’s not mind reading, it’s basic maths!
His jaw drops… oh my god!! I’ve done that trick on literally thousands of people and you are the only person ever to not buy into it and say that’s maths!
I laugh at him and say well that’s my trick, to say what I see…
He proceeds to inform me that the maths is not the trick but it’s the perfection of his script that carries the illusion…
I laugh and tell him I’m a tarot reading Virgo with a maths degree… what are the odds of that? Better luck next time with your cold reading…
He harrumphs and spins on his heel muttering about how he needs to get back as there’ll be crowds waiting for him… then he turns back and says I’m being offered a TV CONTRACT!
I say, yes, I know, I saw it in your cards and I also know you’ve been experiencing a lot of snags and delays with it…
He says look just stop it! Stop it! How are you doing that?!!!
I say… a mathmagician never tells…

2. I had another guy later come over with his trousers at half mast saying how excited he was to be getting a reading… I said easy tiger, it’s not exciting enough to merit taking your pants off… He swiftly apologised and said oh no… I’m not taking them off, I’m putting them back on, I’ve just had my bum glittered 🤣

3. An eventful night made even more interesting thanks to my wayward satnav app…
On the way, I was pondering on this relentless heat and wondering if Summer will ever end… Waze decided to reroute me down a road that was little more than a dirt track… I saw the 90degree bend ahead and slowed right down… it’s not the first time my satnav has taken me into a brake sharp situation, the last time there was a deer in the middle of the road. Today, I turn the corner into a big crowd of people. To my right I see a surly looking woman, there’s something odd going on and my brain is trying to work out why in this heat she has winter clothes on… then I realise I’ve just driven right into the middle of a film shoot and there is artificial snow everywhere… The director seems somewhat amused by my wtf face and even more amused when he clocks my outfit… He parts the crowd for me, gives me a big wink and waves me on.
On the way home, Waze decided to throw another random route change even though it’s clearly signposted that home lies straight ahead, Waze says go left… I go left as I quite enjoy these jaunts and wonder what I’ll see… I start to laugh as it takes me past the venue where I had my first big corporate booking… I was laughing as for some reason I had mentioned that gig earlier in the evening and told somebody about how I’d said something wildly inappropriate to the boss… tried my hardest to stop talking but words just kept spewing out… When I realised who she was, I was mortified… Turns out she was highly amused and gave me a ginormous tip…
I think I need to be careful what I’m thinking about when I use my satnav…. or check the settings to see if it’s set to go via things that make Karen laugh…

Triptych turn up

A photo reappeared from 8 years ago… It pauses me with how grainy and slightly out of focus it looks… It’s funny how the eye adjusts and forgets… At the time, it looked pristine and sharp and I marveled at the tech on my phone… I wonder how long until the crisp images on my present phone start to also look like antique relics… How odd that the eye does that…. or it the brain? Does the brain compensate to fill in details which you know are there but the camera and so the eye fail to capture? I remember as a child watching old black and white films and being thoroughly certain of the colours of dresses that characters wore… Red was always the easiset to see…

I smile as it feels like I’ve just landed a free 3 card reading… I have a little time on my hands and I decide to go cross reference with ImaginAction

I read the questions and I smile a little more as they feel en pointe resonant…

I decide a triptych deserves 3 viewings and so I toss down the D.O. and again, I smile more…

Snippet from D.O.

(c) Karen Sealey 2015

Dear Heart

Songstress soulful sonic sorceress

Lyre plucking plundering histories

Mysteries of wars of Heroes of

Sorrows bittersweet

Occupying men’s minds

Mesmerising…Reminding

Strive hard

Confess

Bestow

Soft tenderness

Lady’s migrating canon calling

Emanating bardic beacon pulsing

Home

Is where

Dear

Heart sings

Text (c) Karen Sealey 2020

#Mockdown

As the rest of the country readies itself in preparation to ease into the new normal, Leicester goes back to square one and full lockdown begins again… It’s hardly a fucking surprise… The only thing that does surprise me is why Sir Peter Soulsby is being given air time…

Oh… He understands the need for firm action…

Hmmm… OK… Yup carrying on like your life is a remake of Confessions of a Window Cleaner… Yep, that definitely qualifies you to lead the way in telling people how and why they need to lockdown again…

At the outset, the daily bulletins were lead by Scientists… Politicians deferred to the experts… Somewhere along the line, the Science has been sidelined and despite Scientists murmuring that coming back out is a very bad idea, good old Boris urges us to do our civic duty and shop until we drop… To queue outside Primark because #BLM black leggings matter… Oh and don’t even get me started on the statistics… What a load of bollox! But hey the British education system has made it acceptable to be innumerate and so it’s super easy to spout charts and figures and not be questioned by the general populace because the vast majority have no idea whatsoever as to how to read data… Ffs! When are people going to realise #numeracycounts… Or at least remember the old quote :

“There are three kinds of lieslies, damned lies, and statistics.”

I remember well my old Statistics teacher, who taught us to be cynical about how numbers are presented, taught us how numbers can be easily manipulated to ‘prove’ pretty much anything… Just for fun, she played with numbers and demonstrated to us that if you applied a 2 year time lag, then you could claim a positive and causal correlation between the cases of dysentery in Scotland and frequency of telephone usage in the Lake District…

Call me cynical but I find it curious that this return to lockdown has been timed to coincide with the spike that was being predicted as a result of BLM demos… (That’s Lives not leggings!). Don’t go out and protest or you’ll all be sorry in 2-3 weeks time… Yet, when you look at the figures, the spikes have been there for weeks, they’ve been high enough to whack-a-mole Leicester for a good couple of weeks… Oh, but then that may have suggested that the whole shit show was down to clueless politicians… Locking down now… Well that’s obviously the people’s fault because we told them to stay in and they ignored us…

Then there’s the figures being released, listing the top 10 areas of Leicester with the highest infection rates…

If you know Leicester then it sticks out like a sore thumb, what’s particular to those areas… Yet the news seems to actively avoid saying Asian communities are being hardest hit… Wtf is that about? Why are facts being buried and fudged rather than addressing issues?

Then there’s all these fairy tale promises of new vaccines that will be found… Really? I dunno, I’m not an immunologist nor a virologist but I guess my first question would be – Hmmm HIV? Around since mid-80’s? No vaccine for that but you’re gonna find one for this in a matter of months?

Looking at all the lists and numbers… Watching the comings and goings as I’ve been driving around as a key worker… I think, I may have found the solution, that everyone is seeking…

I work in the middle of Clarendon Park… Since lockdown, especially in the evenings, that area has been the busiest I’ve ever known it… Most days, I weave through thinking – What lockdown? Is it over? Did I not get the memo? Yet, miraculously they’re not making the lists… Somehow, they’re remarkably plague free… Hmmm… What are they doing differently…

Fuck me! Eureka!

Sourdough culture! Yup! Swapping and sharing sour dough across the community obviously confers some kind of immunity… Back that up with glugging Prosecco and mashing avocados… Toss in constant whining about #firstworldproblems #seekingcourgette… Add a pinch of whining about students, dog shit, and fireworks… A spoonful of bashing Karens and hey fucking ho, you’ve got a golden bullet to take down covid-19…

But what do I know? After all… I’m not a politician…