Friday, 26 February 2016


I distinctly remember the moment I fell in love. It was at the Glastonbury Festival, during the Summer after I had finished my degree, over 20 years ago now. I was wearing doctor martin boots, green combat trousers and a black vest top. I was standing in front and to the left of a stage when a Belly Dancer in a white costume glided on balancing a single candle on her head. I simultaneously felt my jaw drop in awe and my hips twitch of their own accord to the previously unheard and yet so familiar music. I felt at home. My desire to be onstage and be the belly dancer was so powerful I don't think the sensation has ever quite left me. In that moment I fell in love with belly dancing and the love affair has deepened and grown over the years. At times it has been all consuming and my desire to dance so overwhelming that like anyone deeply in love, I have taken senseless risks to experience the joy of surrender to my passion. I have danced through injury and physical pain and further damaged my body. I have danced when my heart and soul have been broken and found sanctuary. I have danced with love and joy and felt every fibre of my being to be alive and tingling with magic sparkles. Come what may, I have always danced and dance is the backdrop of my life st are my beloved Isis wings. I was one of the first dancers to import and perform with Isis wings in this country. The wow in the room of mesmerised baited breath was almost tangible!!!!!

The picture above shows my beloved Isis wings. I was one of the first dancers to import and perform with Isis wings in this country. The wow in the room of mesmerised baited breath was almost tangible!!!!!

This is a Balady style costume. Balady means 'my country', the music & dance is the unsophisticated style of the countryside. It became popular as people moved from the countryside to the city for work and is often tinged with a sad nostalgia at the beginning for the old life, which is soon forgotten and replaced with a let's party and live for today attitude. When I dance Balady, I feel whole. I think the key to it for me is it's like Abba music or the songs from your youth that take you right back to your carefree student days.

I was 5 months pregnant in this photo! This is a modern oriental style costume. The music is Orchestral. I feel graceful and beautiful when I dance Oriental. Kind of like radiating something from inside. People have told me I dance from my soul.

This is a Shamadan dance.Shams means candle or light. Here I am dancing at a wedding to bring light and blessings into the marriage. It is also the dancer's job to bring the spirit of the party into the room. I used to get booked for loads of weddings.

Possibly my favourite ever costume. I am 5 weeks pregnant in this photo and I didn't know yet! I look at this now and I see a woman glowing with beauty, allure, confidence and control. None of these things I knew I had at the time!!! I remember feeling a bit of an idiot laying on the bar, but I really wanted the photo.

From a recent photoshoot, I felt very glamorous and beautiful this day.

More Balady photos, these express the earthy, connectedness of the style.

Balady again! I like this one because it's dominant and matriarchal, a character Egyptians love to see portrayed onstage. I look like I am about to slam my foot on the floor, but actually I'm not. I'd seriously damaged my knee and could barely walk, but I was determine to dance so I did the whole piece on one leg. Stupid, gutsy & determine take your pick, but I had to dance that night, I had to overcome the obstacles and be me.
There have been many times in my life where the only place I have felt like myself and safe is onstage.

Dancing with Doug in my belly.

Reclaiming my dance and my belly after child birth. This I was the first time I performed without a body stocking and bared my stretch marks. Up until this point I would have felt too exposed, but I went for it and felt great!

This is my favourite dress, made for me in Egypt by the amazing designer Iman Zaki. I am dancing at the harbourside festival in Bristol, a real highlight of my dance career. I was fit, strong and my dance was amazing, I know because I can remember the feeling. It was like flying above the crowds and I was watching them rather than them watching me. An incredibly powerful moment and yet again I had no idea how special it was or how my dancing was referred and admired. At the time I thought my thighs were too fat to be a dancer, but I did it anyway. My God look at that leg how strong, slim and beautiful it is!!!! I wish I had the confidence I have now at 42 & 3/4s at 27, I would now have the world at my feet! I think that's why I've recently taken up Burlesque to celebrate finding me and my confidence.

I love this one because it's a moment in time. My drummer is waiting for me and is about to play the music we have worked out together. The audience are a garden party and they are cheering for me to start as they spot me coming. I feel so delighted to be about to dance. I think I look bronzed and beautiful, again I never noticed at the time, I just got on with it!

Arabella has been performing and teaching professional Belly Dance in Bristol and beyond since 2002. Her love affair with the dance has developed into a deep connection with the music to express the intricate layers of feeling, passion and quarter tone notes. A born entertainer, Arabella draws the uninitiated audience into the magical world of fantasy Arabian Nights and takes the discerning audience deeper on a mesmerising and uplifting journey through her experiences of dance in Cairo and across the Middle East. She has a particular affinity for the Golden era of Belly Dance in the 1940s & 50s and Balady. You can contact Arabella at Her weekly class is in the Swan in Thornbury on Tuesday evenings 8.00pm.

Friday, 19 February 2016


I’ve read Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita” a few times. I read it again quite recently. It’s still as disturbingly, quietly brilliant as ever. It will always be disturbing, it will always leave the reader shaken; it is meant to. But more than anything, it is a brave book. Nabokov doesn’t just tip-toe around this huge, very difficult subject. He hits you with it hard.

Paedophilia. It’s a word to make you shudder. What can you say about it, other than it is the horror of a nightmare?

Nabokov isn’t defending paedophilia and he’s not attempting to explain it. Through his unreliable narrator, Humbert Humbert, he explores the nature of the predatory, salacious psyche, and shows paedophilia up for the totally selfishly, depravity fuelled lifestyle that it is.

Some books, it has been seen, as with “Lady Chatterley’ Lover” public taste has finally embraced Indeed, it is now hard to believe that Penguin books were actually put on trial for publishing it. “Ulysses” was also considered depraved. People don’t think that way now. Yes, times change, we grow up, we mature. But public taste will never embrace “Lolita,” it will always be read with a shudder.

. "Oh, no, not again. Please, leave me alone, will you."

Lolita cries, as she sees Humbert sobbing lustfully, because he wants to fuck her, yet again. And this is a novel about a grown man fucking a twelve year old girl, let’s not be shy.

Humbert fucks Lolita relentlessly.

Humbert insists that he is not a monster. True, he may not look like one. I have the image of a tall, dark, intellectual. Distinguished; he’s an academic, a bit of a bumbler. A debonair European; Lolita’s mother, who is also Humbert’s landlady, falls for him and they marry. When she dies, Humbert, who is now Lolita’s stepfather, also has total control over her. It all worked out so well for him, didn’t it?

But Humbert Humbert is a monster. Although he is our narrator, he tells things only from his point of view. He dissembles and Nabokov makes it clear to the reader that in his planned seduction of Lolita, this is a pervert planning to fulfil his lascivious desires.

"So let us get started. I have a difficult job before me." Humbert addresses the reader.

He describes the process.

“She was musical and apple-sweet. Her legs twitched a little as they lay across my live lap; I stroked them; there she lolled on in the right-hand corner, almost asprawl, Lola, the bobbysoxer, devouring her immemorial fruit, singing through its juice, losing her slipper, rubbing the heel of her slipperless foot in its sloppy anklet, against the pile of old magazines heaped on my left on the sofa—and every movement she made, every shuffle and ripple, helped me to conceal and improve the secret system of tactile correspondence between beast and beauty—between my gagged, bursting beast and the beauty of her dimpled body in its innocent cotton frock …”

Nabokov guides the reader. No matter how much Humbert dresses it up, what he wants to do is ejaculate without Lolita knowing. Humbert shields himself from how repulsively he has acted.

“Her teeth rested on her glistening underlip as she half-turned away, and my moaning mouth, gentlemen of the jury, almost reached her bare neck, while I crushed out against her left buttock the last throb of the longest ecstasy man or monster had ever known.”

“With the deep hot sweetness thus established and well on its way to its ultimate convulsion I felt I could slow down in order to prolong the glow. …”

But the most perverse, shocking scene occurs later in the book. Humbert shows no contrition, just plain evil, salaciousness when he is confronted by Lolita’s school teacher. The teacher tells him that Lolita is; "antagonistic, dissatisfied, cagey" and "obsessed with sexual thoughts for which she finds no outlet."

Nabokov is using the schoolteacher as a mouthpiece to show the damage done to Lolita. Humbert sneers inwardly and goes to find Lolita at study. Here is the
passage. Humbert Humbert finds her:

“with a sepia print of Reynolds' 'The Age of Innocence' above the chalkboard, and several rows of clumsy-looking pupil desks. At one of these, my Lolita was reading … and there was another girl with a very naked, porcelain-white neck and wonderful platinum hair, who sat in front reading too, absolutely lost to the world and interminably winding a soft curl around one finger, and I sat beside Dolly [Lolita] just behind that neck and that hair, and unbuttoned my overcoat and for sixty-five cents plus the permission to participate in the school play, had Dolly put her inky, chalky, red-knuckled hand under the desk. Oh, stupid and reckless of me, no doubt, but after the torture I had been subjected to, I simply had to take advantage of a combination that I knew would never occur again.”

“Lolita” is a shocking book; it is also brilliant in Nabokov’s delineation of character, both of Humbert and Lolita. It is about 55 years since “Lolita” was published. But I’m glad that it was published. The book was rejected by five American publishers, who feared they'd be prosecuted on obscenity charges. It was first published in France by Olympia Press, which put out some serious books — and lots of pornography.

Nabokov didn't know that — he was just relieved that someone agreed to publish his book. And so Lolita was published in a plain green cover, in Paris, on Sept. 15, 1955. It was published in America three years later and was an immediate success.

A while ago I watched a television programme about paedophiles. They dragged out the usual brigade of psychologists, psychiatrists and criminologists. And a collection of paedophiles. They asked the usual questions: Can paedophilia be cured? Does one choose to be a paedophile? And they didn’t really come up with any answers. They interviewed a few self-confessed paedophiles, their responses were quite sickening.

But for one man. This guy knew that he was a paedophile, always had been, always would be.

But he chose not to act on it. I was impressed.

(My own ideas and sources from the Web have been used compiling this blog post.)

Previous comments.

Descartes29 April 2014 at 09:59

I've always found Lotita to be a brilliantly written book and one with many layers. True Humbert lies, but he leaves it up to us to decide which part is the lie and which is the truth. The idea that a twelve year old girl is a temptress is interesting and certainly young girls that dress like Katie Perry and Lady Gaga out there today seem to be overly sexualized. And aren't women always blamed? Watch Philomena and note how many fathers are punished for parenting children.

One of the things The Anti Saloon League of America did while they were fighting for Prohibition was to get the Age of Consent changed from 10 to 16, it was still 14 in many places in 1920. So think of Humbert, who is 42 when Lolita is 12 in 1955, a mere thirty years after a change to practices that were common the world over. This, of course, was one of many reasons so many 'women' died in childbirth, they were but children themselves.

Lolita is an amazing book and a disturbing one. I especially like the opening:

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.

Carol Hedges 25 May 2014 at 07:55

Sadly, I think, however much the narrative is dressed up as ''literature''' it boils down to a titillating and corrupt story aimed to shock its readers, but also to excite and plant thoughts in the minds of some.
Nabokov was quite well aware of what he was creating, if not, why should he write it in the first place. As a writer, one invests time and emotional energy in one's characters. He carefully steers and controls the reader through the narrative. He may not ''approve'' of his protagonist (who could?) but the mere act of creation suggests, surely, approval on some level.
You write well on the subject, and analyze the essence of the book's purpose, drawing in wider areas to discuss and throw light on the book.
However, for anybody who has a daughter, or who has worked with children damaged by predatory adults, as I have, the core theme of the book is still dangerous and depraved.
Lolita broke the ground and opened the door for other narratives,maybe not so well written, but dealing on a variety of salacious levels with the same topic. As such, I cannot condone it.
Publication gives it validation. You invited me to comment. This is my comment. I have no doubt I shall now be shot down in flames by many who see me as a ''prude'' and a ''Puritan''. Tough....
Like all such books, the cry ''it is a brave book'' does not fly. Writers have a moral responsibility for how they use words and an obligation not to use them for evil purposes.
I remember reading the book in my teens and being deeply shocked. It changed my perception of the adult world as a ''safe ' place and made me reassess both myself as an emerging sexual being, and the male authority figures around me.
A little gold flaked off my innocence. Thanks Vladimir.

Jean Roberta 28 May 2014 at 14:16

This raises the question of whether literary skill can give value to a work of fiction
that deals with shocking desires and activities. Some say there is no justification for "legitimizing" actions that cause long-term harm, while others say there should be no limits on what can be written about. I've thought a lot about censorship, and have had some first-hand experience with the decisions of censor boards, and my conclusion is that outlawing a thing (book, film, statue, painting, whatever) that already exists is doomed to fail. The publishers who refused to publish Lolita had every right to their decision, but once it was published, legally banning it would have turned it into hot contraband -- much like heroin, cocaine, crystal meth, etc., which flow across borders regardless of massive efforts to stop the dope trade. Discussing a book is different from trying to make it go away, and I think it makes a lot of sense to keep pointing out Humbert's selfishness, his pathological refusal or inability to imagine how his actions affect Lolita, and his unattractiveness as a role model. As far as I can see, a well-written book is a well-written book, but disturbing content is disturbing content -- these two aspects of the same novel don't cancel each other out.
Those in the caring professions who deal first-hand with the results of child sexual abuse can oppose defenders of men like Humbert every time they pop up in public places, including cyberspace. (Yes, I know this is exhausting. That's why many voices are needed!) I've been amazed at how often I have to explain to university students in an English class that: sexual assault or coercion or manipulation, by definition, is caused by the perpetrators. No one "causes" any of these things by being attractive, or "too innocent." (!) It seems as if each generation of young adults needs to hear this message all over again.

Friday, 12 February 2016

GOBLIN MARKET by Christina Rossetti

Goblin Market, is a poem by Christina Rossetti. It was published 1862. It is a fairy- tale which has been subjected to many interpretations, some seeing it as religious allegory, others see it as sexual symbolism; it tells the story of two sisters, tempted by goblins with forbidden fruit.

To me, the poem is sumptuous with erotic menace and it is the erotica that I shall be concentrating on! (No surprises there then!)

The story narrated in "Goblin Market" is simple. Two sisters, Laura and Lizzie, who apparently live together without parents, are taunted by goblin merchant men to buy luscious and tantalizing fruits. Lizzie is able to resist their coaxing and runs home, but Laura succumbs. She pays for the wares with a lock of her hair and gorges herself on the exotic fare, but her desire increases rather than being satisfied. She returns home and informs Lizzie that she will venture back into the glen and seek the goblins again. But Laura goes back to the glen, she can no longer hear the call of the goblins and grows increasingly apathetic. She refuses to eat and begins to age prematurely. Fearing for her sister's life, Lizzie decides to seek out the goblins in order to purchase an "antidote" for her sister. When the goblins learn that Lizzie does not intend to eat the fruit herself, they throw her money back at her and verbally and physically abuse her, pinching and kicking, tearing at her clothing, and smearing the juice and pulp of their fruit on her. Lizzie refuses to open her mouth and returns home with the penny in her purse. She invites her sister to suck the juices from her body, which Laura does. The juice of the goblin fruit now tastes bitter to Laura, and she writhes in pain from having consumed it. But the antidote works. Laura returns to her former self, and the epilogue of the poem describes Laura and Lizzie as wives and mothers. Laura now tells the story to their children, reminding them that "there is no friend like a sister."

Christina Rossetti sates the reader with glutinous words as she describes the fruit; already, in the first verse she introduces a sexual theme to the poem. “Plump unpecked cherries/ Melons and raspberries…Swart-headed mulberries, Wild free-born cranberries,” The passionate words, the sexual sounds are very intentional and though sex is never explicitly mentioned, it is constantly referred to. Language often suggests a sexual growth, or readiness, “All ripe together”. Goblins proffering plump unpecked cherries tempt the two blushing girls.

Sensible Lizzie warns feckless Laura.

"O! cried Lizzie, Laura, Laura,
You should not peep at goblin men."

It is an ad man's dream, the luscious language drawing on the senses; the reader’s mouth waters, just as Laura’s mouth does. Why resist the lure of the Goblin men? Why shouldn’t Laura drink and eat the delicious fruit that is so full of promise? I’m with Laura here; I would eat the fruit, but then I am never one for doing as I’m told. The lure of sensuous excess is overwhelming.

So the language and structure of "Goblin Market" identify the poem's themes. The argument for the poem's erotic and sexual nature is supported by the language of the poem. The nature of the goblins' fruit is extensively detailed and described as luscious and succulent. Laura consumes the fruit ravenously. "She sucked until her lips were sore", and physically pays for it with a lock of her hair. In one intense moment of orgasmic ecstasy, Laura is left in a state where she "knew not was it night or day".

The next day, Laura is shocked to find no goblins and no succulent fruit in the glen. Surprisingly, only Lizzie can hear the insistent cries of the goblins. Laura falls into depression and sickness when she realizes that she may not experience the fruits again.

Rossetti’s description of Laura’s ‘come down’, is akin to that of an addict, coming off heroin; going cold turkey. Opium was prevalent in Victorian England. Laudanum could be purchased over the counter. Perhaps Rossetti had experience of addiction within her circle. She describes Laura’s fall.

“Her hair grew thin and grey;
She dwindled, as the fair full moon doth turn
To swift decay, and burn
Her fire away.”

Lizzie watches anxiously as her sister's health deteriorates. Finally, she can no longer bear it. At this point she takes a coin and goes to the glen to buy fruit for her sister in hopes of reviving Laura's well being. In a moving passage, Rossetti illustrates brutally, the rude and invasive behaviour of the goblins as they try to force Lizzie to eat the fruit. Lizzie refuses, knowing to absolutely resist the fruit, but she lets the juices of the fruit stick to her body to bring home to her sister. Upon returning, Lizzie invites Laura to "hug me, kiss me, suck my juices" Lizzie feasts upon her sister's skin, taking in all the nectars. The juices spark a moment of both bliss and suffering.

Rossetti's word choice in "Goblin's Market" consistently gives rise to many sexual connotations. She describes sensual parts of the body such as lips, breasts and cheeks. She also utilizes verbs such as to hug, kiss, squeeze and suck. Sexual connotations heighten the relationship between the male goblins and female maidens. Laura's ecstatic experience with the goblin's fruit, is an indescribable orgasmic high. The goblins' over-invasive and aggressive advances towards Lizzie represent sexual invasion; a rape.

Lizzie uttered not a word;
Would not open lip from lip
Lest they should cram a mouthful in;

In addition to these sexual relations, there is an erotic undertone to the close relationship of the two sisters. Rossetti describes their sleeping positions to be intimate and connected. The climatic description of the physical interaction as Laura shares the goblins' juices with Lizzie has erotic implications. These sexual implications would have been apparent to the poem's Victorian English audience. As a female poet, Rossetti makes a bold statement about female sexuality in her time, perhaps addressing issues that would have been silenced; taboo.

The meter and rhyme scheme are irregular in "Goblin Market." The poem generally follows an ABAB rhyme scheme, but not always. In fact, sometimes there's a long gap between a word and its rhyme, and sometimes there are many lines in a row with the same rhyming syllable at the end. This technique will have different effects on different readers. For me, Rossetti strikes a chord of dissonance.

There is no first-person narrator in "Goblin Market". There's no "I." Instead, there's an omniscient third-person narrator such as you'd find in most novels or short stories. A third-person narrator usually gives the impression of being more distant from the story than a first-person narrator; a third-person narrator isn't a character and doesn't participate in the plot. The narrator of "Goblin Market" is no exception. She seems to describe the "Goblin Market" objectively, at least at first. She lists all the goblin fruits for sale and doesn't make any judgments about whether they're good or not. The speaker leaves it to Laura and Lizzie to judge for the reader.

Occasionally, as the poem goes on, the narrator will slip in an adjective that suggests that she's not as objective. For example, she describes Lizzie's advice to Laura as "wise" and Laura's silence as "sullen". And finally, the narrator actually breaks out and addresses Laura directly:

“Ah fool, to choose such part
Of soul-consuming care!”

The narrator calls Laura a "fool" for "choosing" to eat the goblin fruit, even though it meant giving in to "soul-consuming care." The narrator's objectivity seems to go out of the window in these lines, which mark the climax of the poem. It's as though the narrator just couldn't keep her mouth shut during the exciting part – she had to throw in her two pennies worth.

In the assault on Lizzie by the Goblin men, Rossetti uses imagery, similes and descriptive language to carry the theme of temptation, and sex throughout the poem. The assault on Lizzie has sexual allusions; they scream rape. “held her hands and squeezed their fruits.” The violent acts inflicted upon her are not kicks and punches, but far slower and more thought out. “Tore her gown and soiled her stockings/ Twitched her hair out by the roots.”

The Goblin men taunt Lizzie. Their taunts carry heavy sexual overtones as well. First they "Squeezed and caressed her" and then invite her to "Bob at our cherries / Bite at our peaches”, and to "Pluck them and suck them". When she refuses to eat, they "Held her hands and squeezed their fruits / Against her mouth to make her eat".

Finally, when Lizzie returns home, battered and bruised, she invites her sister's embrace: "Come and kiss me. / Never mind my bruises, / Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices / . . . Eat me, drink me, love me; / Laura, make much of me". Rossetti’s erotic use of language supports the reading of the poem as a sexual fantasy.

Although Rossetti was a frequent contributor to her brother Dante's Pre-Raphaelite journal “The Germ,” she achieved immediate and significant recognition as a skilled poet with the 1862 publication of “Goblin Market and Other Poems.” The publication of the volume was hailed as the first literary success of the Pre-Raphaelites, earned critical and popular acclaim, and paved the way for the publication of Rossetti's next volume of poetry, “The Prince's Progress and Other Poems”. (1866). Rossetti went on to publish religious poetry, devotional prose, and nursery rhymes for children. Due to the early success of "Goblin Market," Rossetti rarely fell out of favour with critics or her reading public and remains a focal point of critical study of nineteenth-century literary figures.

Here is Christina Rossetti’s poem.

Goblin Market

MORNING and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry:
"Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:
Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges,
Plump unpecked cherries-
Melons and raspberries,
Bloom-down-cheeked peaches,
Swart-headed mulberries,
Wild free-born cranberries,
Crab-apples, dewberries,
Pine-apples, blackberries,
Apricots, strawberries--
All ripe together
In summer weather--
Morns that pass by,
Fair eves that fly;
Come buy, come buy;
Our grapes fresh from the vine,
Pomegranates full and fine,
Dates and sharp bullaces,
Rare pears and greengages,
Damsons and bilberries,
Taste them and try:
Currants and gooseberries,
Bright-fire-like barberries,
Figs to fill your mouth,
Citrons from the South,
Sweet to tongue and sound to eye,
Come buy, come buy."
Evening by evening
Among the brookside rushes,
Laura bowed her head to hear,
Lizzie veiled her blushes:
Crouching close together
In the cooling weather,
With clasping arms and cautioning lips,
With tingling cheeks and finger-tips.
"Lie close," Laura said,
Pricking up her golden head:
We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots?"
"Come buy," call the goblins
Hobbling down the glen.
"O! cried Lizzie, Laura, Laura,
You should not peep at goblin men."
Lizzie covered up her eyes
Covered close lest they should look;
Laura reared her glossy head,
And whispered like the restless brook:
"Look, Lizzie, look, Lizzie,
Down the glen tramp little men.
One hauls a basket,
One bears a plate,
One lugs a golden dish
Of many pounds' weight.
How fair the vine must grow
Whose grapes are so luscious;
How warm the wind must blow
Through those fruit bushes."
"No," said Lizzie, "no, no, no;
Their offers should not charm us,
Their evil gifts would harm us."
She thrust a dimpled finger
In each ear, shut eyes and ran:
Curious Laura chose to linger
Wondering at each merchant man.
One had a cat's face,
One whisked a tail,
One tramped at a rat's pace,
One crawled like a snail,
One like a wombat prowled obtuse and furry,
One like a ratel tumbled hurry-scurry.
Lizzie heard a voice like voice of doves
Cooing all together:
They sounded kind and full of loves
In the pleasant weather.
Laura stretched her gleaming neck
Like a rush-imbedded swan,
Like a lily from the beck,
Like a moonlit poplar branch,
Like a vessel at the launch
When its last restraint is gone.
Backwards up the mossy glen
Turned and trooped the goblin men,
With their shrill repeated cry,
"Come buy, come buy."
When they reached where Laura was
They stood stock still upon the moss,
Leering at each other,
Brother with queer brother;
Signalling each other,
Brother with sly brother.
One set his basket down,
One reared his plate;
One began to weave a crown
Of tendrils, leaves, and rough nuts brown
(Men sell not such in any town);
One heaved the golden weight
Of dish and fruit to offer her:
"Come buy, come buy," was still their cry.
Laura stared but did not stir,
Longed but had no money:
The whisk-tailed merchant bade her taste
In tones as smooth as honey,
The cat-faced purr'd,
The rat-paced spoke a word
Of welcome, and the snail-paced even was heard;
One parrot-voiced and jolly
Cried "Pretty Goblin" still for "Pretty Polly";
One whistled like a bird.
But sweet-tooth Laura spoke in haste:
"Good folk, I have no coin;
To take were to purloin:
I have no copper in my purse,
I have no silver either,
And all my gold is on the furze
That shakes in windy weather
Above the rusty heather."
"You have much gold upon your head,"
They answered altogether:
"Buy from us with a golden curl."
She clipped a precious golden lock,
She dropped a tear more rare than pearl,
Then sucked their fruit globes fair or red:
Sweeter than honey from the rock,
Stronger than man-rejoicing wine,
Clearer than water flowed that juice;
She never tasted such before,
How should it cloy with length of use?
She sucked and sucked and sucked the more
Fruits which that unknown orchard bore,
She sucked until her lips were sore;
Then flung the emptied rinds away,
But gathered up one kernel stone,
And knew not was it night or day
As she turned home alone.
Lizzie met her at the gate
Full of wise upbraidings:
"Dear, you should not stay so late,
Twilight is not good for maidens;
Should not loiter in the glen
In the haunts of goblin men.
Do you not remember Jeanie,
How she met them in the moonlight,
Took their gifts both choice and many,
Ate their fruits and wore their flowers
Plucked from bowers
Where summer ripens at all hours?
But ever in the moonlight
She pined and pined away;
Sought them by night and day,
Found them no more, but dwindled and grew grey;
Then fell with the first snow,
While to this day no grass will grow
Where she lies low:
I planted daisies there a year ago
That never blow.
You should not loiter so."
"Nay hush," said Laura.
"Nay hush, my sister:
I ate and ate my fill,
Yet my mouth waters still;
To-morrow night I will
Buy more," and kissed her.
"Have done with sorrow;
I'll bring you plums to-morrow
Fresh on their mother twigs,
Cherries worth getting;
You cannot think what figs
My teeth have met in,
What melons, icy-cold
Piled on a dish of gold
Too huge for me to hold,
What peaches with a velvet nap,
Pellucid grapes without one seed:
Odorous indeed must be the mead
Whereon they grow, and pure the wave they drink,
With lilies at the brink,
And sugar-sweet their sap."
Golden head by golden head,
Like two pigeons in one nest
Folded in each other's wings,
They lay down, in their curtained bed:
Like two blossoms on one stem,
Like two flakes of new-fallen snow,
Like two wands of ivory
Tipped with gold for awful kings.
Moon and stars beamed in at them,
Wind sang to them lullaby,
Lumbering owls forbore to fly,
Not a bat flapped to and fro
Round their rest:
Cheek to cheek and breast to breast
Locked together in one nest.
Early in the morning
When the first cock crowed his warning,
Neat like bees, as sweet and busy,
Laura rose with Lizzie:
Fetched in honey, milked the cows,
Aired and set to rights the house,
Kneaded cakes of whitest wheat,
Cakes for dainty mouths to eat,
Next churned butter, whipped up cream,
Fed their poultry, sat and sewed;
Talked as modest maidens should
Lizzie with an open heart,
Laura in an absent dream,
One content, one sick in part;
One warbling for the mere bright day's delight,
One longing for the night.
At length slow evening came--
They went with pitchers to the reedy brook;
Lizzie most placid in her look,
Laura most like a leaping flame.
They drew the gurgling water from its deep
Lizzie plucked purple and rich golden flags,
Then turning homeward said: "The sunset flushes
Those furthest loftiest crags;
Come, Laura, not another maiden lags,
No wilful squirrel wags,
The beasts and birds are fast asleep."
But Laura loitered still among the rushes
And said the bank was steep.
And said the hour was early still,
The dew not fallen, the wind not chill:
Listening ever, but not catching
The customary cry,
"Come buy, come buy,"
With its iterated jingle
Of sugar-baited words:
Not for all her watching
Once discerning even one goblin
Racing, whisking, tumbling, hobbling;
Let alone the herds
That used to tramp along the glen,
In groups or single,
Of brisk fruit-merchant men.
Till Lizzie urged, "O Laura, come,
I hear the fruit-call, but I dare not look:
You should not loiter longer at this brook:
Come with me home.
The stars rise, the moon bends her arc,
Each glow-worm winks her spark,
Let us get home before the night grows dark;
For clouds may gather even
Though this is summer weather,
Put out the lights and drench us through;
Then if we lost our way what should we do?"
Laura turned cold as stone
To find her sister heard that cry alone,
That goblin cry,
"Come buy our fruits, come buy."
Must she then buy no more such dainty fruit?
Must she no more such succous pasture find,
Gone deaf and blind?
Her tree of life drooped from the root:
She said not one word in her heart's sore ache;
But peering thro' the dimness, naught discerning,
Trudged home, her pitcher dripping all the way;
So crept to bed, and lay
Silent 'til Lizzie slept;
Then sat up in a passionate yearning,
And gnashed her teeth for balked desire, and wept
As if her heart would break.
Day after day, night after night,
Laura kept watch in vain,
In sullen silence of exceeding pain.
She never caught again the goblin cry:
"Come buy, come buy,"
She never spied the goblin men
Hawking their fruits along the glen:
But when the noon waxed bright
Her hair grew thin and grey;
She dwindled, as the fair full moon doth turn
To swift decay, and burn
Her fire away.
One day remembering her kernel-stone
She set it by a wall that faced the south;
Dewed it with tears, hoped for a root,
Watched for a waxing shoot,
But there came none;
It never saw the sun,
It never felt the trickling moisture run:
While with sunk eyes and faded mouth
She dreamed of melons, as a traveller sees
False waves in desert drouth
With shade of leaf-crowned trees,
And burns the thirstier in the sandful breeze.
She no more swept the house,
Tended the fowls or cows,
Fetched honey, kneaded cakes of wheat,
Brought water from the brook:
But sat down listless in the chimney-nook
And would not eat.
Tender Lizzie could not bear
To watch her sister's cankerous care,
Yet not to share.
She night and morning
Caught the goblins' cry:
"Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy."
Beside the brook, along the glen
She heard the tramp of goblin men,
The voice and stir
Poor Laura could not hear;
Longed to buy fruit to comfort her,
But feared to pay too dear,
She thought of Jeanie in her grave,
Who should have been a bride;
But who for joys brides hope to have
Fell sick and died
In her gay prime,
In earliest winter-time,
With the first glazing rime,
With the first snow-fall of crisp winter-time.
Till Laura, dwindling,
Seemed knocking at Death's door:
Then Lizzie weighed no more
Better and worse,
But put a silver penny in her purse,
Kissed Laura, crossed the heath with clumps of furze
At twilight, halted by the brook,
And for the first time in her life
Began to listen and look.
Laughed every goblin
When they spied her peeping:
Came towards her hobbling,
Flying, running, leaping,
Puffing and blowing,
Chuckling, clapping, crowing,
Clucking and gobbling,
Mopping and mowing,
Full of airs and graces,
Pulling wry faces,
Demure grimaces,
Cat-like and rat-like,
Ratel and wombat-like,
Snail-paced in a hurry,
Parrot-voiced and whistler,
Helter-skelter, hurry-skurry,
Chattering like magpies,
Fluttering like pigeons,
Gliding like fishes, --
Hugged her and kissed her;
Squeezed and caressed her;
Stretched up their dishes,
Panniers and plates:
"Look at our apples
Russet and dun,
Bob at our cherries
Bite at our peaches,
Citrons and dates,
Grapes for the asking,
Pears red with basking
Out in the sun,
Plums on their twigs;
Pluck them and suck them,
Pomegranates, figs."
"Good folk," said Lizzie,
Mindful of Jeanie,
"Give me much and many"; --
Held out her apron,
Tossed them her penny.
"Nay, take a seat with us,
Honour and eat with us,"
They answered grinning;
"Our feast is but beginning.
Night yet is early,
Warm and dew-pearly,
Wakeful and starry:
Such fruits as these
No man can carry;
Half their bloom would fly,
Half their dew would dry,
Half their flavour would pass by.
Sit down and feast with us,
Be welcome guest with us,
Cheer you and rest with us."
"Thank you," said Lizzie; "but one waits
At home alone for me:
So, without further parleying,
If you will not sell me any
Of your fruits though much and many,
Give me back my silver penny
I tossed you for a fee."
They began to scratch their pates,
No longer wagging, purring,
But visibly demurring,
Grunting and snarling.
One called her proud,
Cross-grained, uncivil;
Their tones waxed loud,
Their looks were evil.
Lashing their tails
They trod and hustled her,
Elbowed and jostled her,
Clawed with their nails,
Barking, mewing, hissing, mocking,
Tore her gown and soiled her stocking,
Twitched her hair out by the roots,
Stamped upon her tender feet,
Held her hands and squeezed their fruits
Against her mouth to make her eat.
White and golden Lizzie stood,
Like a lily in a flood,
Like a rock of blue-veined stone
Lashed by tides obstreperously, --
Like a beacon left alone
In a hoary roaring sea,
Sending up a golden fire, --
Like a fruit-crowned orange-tree
White with blossoms honey-sweet
Sore beset by wasp and bee, --
Like a royal virgin town
Topped with gilded dome and spire
Close beleaguered by a fleet
Mad to tear her standard down.
One may lead a horse to water,
Twenty cannot make him drink.
Though the goblins cuffed and caught her,
Coaxed and fought her,
Bullied and besought her,
Scratched her, pinched her black as ink,
Kicked and knocked her,
Mauled and mocked her,
Lizzie uttered not a word;
Would not open lip from lip
Lest they should cram a mouthful in;
But laughed in heart to feel the drip
Of juice that syruped all her face,
And lodged in dimples of her chin,
And streaked her neck which quaked like curd.
At last the evil people,
Worn out by her resistance,
Flung back her penny, kicked their fruit
Along whichever road they took,
Not leaving root or stone or shoot.
Some writhed into the ground,
Some dived into the brook
With ring and ripple.
Some scudded on the gale without a sound,
Some vanished in the distance.
In a smart, ache, tingle,
Lizzie went her way;
Knew not was it night or day;
Sprang up the bank, tore through the furze,
Threaded copse and dingle,
And heard her penny jingle
Bouncing in her purse, --
Its bounce was music to her ear.
She ran and ran
As if she feared some goblin man
Dogged her with gibe or curse
Or something worse:
But not one goblin skurried after,
Nor was she pricked by fear;
The kind heart made her windy-paced
That urged her home quite out of breath with haste
And inward laughter.
She cried "Laura," up the garden,
"Did you miss me ?
Come and kiss me.
Never mind my bruises,
Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices
Squeezed from goblin fruits for you,
Goblin pulp and goblin dew.
Eat me, drink me, love me;
Laura, make much of me:
For your sake I have braved the glen
And had to do with goblin merchant men."
Laura started from her chair,
Flung her arms up in the air,
Clutched her hair:
"Lizzie, Lizzie, have you tasted
For my sake the fruit forbidden?
Must your light like mine be hidden,
Your young life like mine be wasted,
Undone in mine undoing,
And ruined in my ruin;
Thirsty, cankered, goblin-ridden?"
She clung about her sister,
Kissed and kissed and kissed her:
Tears once again
Refreshed her shrunken eyes,
Dropping like rain
After long sultry drouth;
Shaking with aguish fear, and pain,
She kissed and kissed her with a hungry mouth.
Her lips began to scorch,
That juice was wormwood to her tongue,
She loathed the feast:
Writhing as one possessed she leaped and sung,
Rent all her robe, and wrung
Her hands in lamentable haste,
And beat her breast.
Her locks streamed like the torch
Borne by a racer at full speed,
Or like the mane of horses in their flight,
Or like an eagle when she stems the light
Straight toward the sun,
Or like a caged thing freed,
Or like a flying flag when armies run.
Swift fire spread through her veins, knocked at her heart,
Met the fire smouldering there
And overbore its lesser flame,
She gorged on bitterness without a name:
Ah! fool, to choose such part
Of soul-consuming care!
Sense failed in the mortal strife:
Like the watch-tower of a town
Which an earthquake shatters down,
Like a lightning-stricken mast,
Like a wind-uprooted tree
Spun about,
Like a foam-topped water-spout
Cast down headlong in the sea,
She fell at last;
Pleasure past and anguish past,
Is it death or is it life ?
Life out of death.
That night long Lizzie watched by her,
Counted her pulse's flagging stir,
Felt for her breath,
Held water to her lips, and cooled her face
With tears and fanning leaves:
But when the first birds chirped about their eaves,
And early reapers plodded to the place
Of golden sheaves,
And dew-wet grass
Bowed in the morning winds so brisk to pass,
And new buds with new day
Opened of cup-like lilies on the stream,
Laura awoke as from a dream,
Laughed in the innocent old way,
Hugged Lizzie but not twice or thrice;
Her gleaming locks showed not one thread of grey,
Her breath was sweet as May,
And light danced in her eyes.
Days, weeks, months, years
Afterwards, when both were wives
With children of their own;
Their mother-hearts beset with fears,
Their lives bound up in tender lives;
Laura would call the little ones
And tell them of her early prime,
Those pleasant days long gone
Of not-returning time:
Would talk about the haunted glen,
The wicked, quaint fruit-merchant men,
Their fruits like honey to the throat,
But poison in the blood;
(Men sell not such in any town;)
Would tell them how her sister stood
In deadly peril to do her good,
And win the fiery antidote:
Then joining hands to little hands
Would bid them cling together,
"For there is no friend like a sister,
In calm or stormy weather,
To cheer one on the tedious way,
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down,
To strengthen whilst one stands."

Friday, 5 February 2016


BillieRosie talks to A. Aimee, author of "Good Pussy Bad Pussy – Rachel's Tale" and "Good Pussy Bad Pussy in Captvity", about sex, writing and her books.

Amy's popular Good Pussy Bad Pussy books are getting great 5 Star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. If you're looking for hot sexy reads that captivate, intrigue, challenge – and keep you turning the pages – you won't want to miss her books.

When I sat down with Amy to talk about her books, here's what she had to say:


What was the inspiration for your Good Pussy Bad Pussy books?

A. Aimee:

Besides writing page-turning erotic thrillers, I wanted to write about orgasm as a portal to ecstasy and the death of the ego. I wanted to write about how great sex is a portal into the flow state where we experience timeless awareness and the ecstatic feeling of being fully present in this now moment. I wanted to write about orgasm as the ultimate surrender which leads to the amazing blissfulness which each of us experience when we are finally, finally able to let go completely. And then I wanted to add to this an exploration of the conundrum that arises if we have reached this blissful state of complete surrender in and through situations (and/or with people) that we don’t particularly like or find acceptable. In other words, what happens when the body experiences one thing while the mind is screaming something else? And by this I mean – our bodies are designed so that when we are stimulated sexually, the sensations are pleasurable whether or not we like the person we’re with or the situation we’re in. And this is something many people experience (though they may not admit it or talk about it) and it leaves them confused, ashamed and/or upset when it happens. Because how can something (in this case orgasm) be both objectionable and pleasurable at the same time? It’s a real dilemma. So how do we live with this experience and deal with it? What does it do to us? And how can we live with this both on a personal and social level?

So this is what happens to Rachel, the main character in my books. In her attempt to escape an unhappy marriage, Rachel runs away and discovers and experiences great sexual release in ways that surprise and delight her but are not always socially acceptable. Hence the title of the book – Good Pussy Bad Pussy.

Then I also wanted all this to take place against the backdrop of our modern day society – with all its ideas about marriage, fidelity and monogamy which so often block or twist or pinch off our natural sexual drive/energy and our ability to experience our own Divinity through our sexuality. So to do this, I wrote about a woman who wasn’t so hung up as most women are today in terms of being jealous and possessive. Rachel, my heroine, isn't so concerned with the ownership of a partner – she is more free and open even if she is confused and insecure. So I wanted to see where this would take her and what would happen to her…. Especially because it seems to me that so many of the present generation of couples in their 30s (who are children of parents from the 1960s) have reverted back to a much more limited and conventional lifestyle in terms of couple relationships and sexuality than many of their own parents had. All of which has nothing to do with our ability to experience the ecstatic release we are all seeking…

So yes, I tried to mix all this together and from what readers and reviewers are saying, I can see I have managed to stir some of this up. Many readers/reviewers say they initially didn’t like the main character, Rachel, because of what she does, but then as they follow her through the story, they come to understand her and finally really love her and her journey.


How did you come up with the “Good pussy, bad pussy” theme?

A. Aimee:

It's kinda the story of my life so I didn't really have to come up with anything! As far as the Good Pussy Bad Pussy books are concerned – in addition to all the drama and sex – the books are, as I say above, all about sexual dilemmas. Questions arise like – is this love or abuse? Is this subjugation or liberation? In other words, what's going on here? And who knows what's good or bad when it comes to sex??!!.


When did you decide to become an erotic writer? Why?

A. Aimee:

I'm an international author with 15 books published in over 25 languages, so I've been writing all my life. As for being an "erotic" writer, well I don't think about it like that at all. I am just writing about life – and isn't sex a part of life? So as far as I'm concerned, the real question is – why do we label something as wonderful and normal as sex as "erotic" or "erotica" to begin with? It's as if there's something unusual or wrong about sex and our sex lives. But hasn't everyone noticed – we're all doing "it"! So how about we get real and embrace the wonders of our sexuality and just enjoy it a little more?


How do you get inspiration for your books?

A. Aimee:

I never go looking for books or stories. They just find me. Suddenly they are there. It's as if I'm a channel and every book I've ever written has just come flowing through me...


Is there any part of the Good Pussy Bad Pussy books that are based on your personal experiences?

A. Aimee:

The line between fact and fiction is always hard to define. The Good Pussy Bad Pussy books are both works of fiction but no author can write convincingly about something he or she knows nothing about!


Do your family read your books?

A. Aimee:



Whom do you like to read?

A. Aimee:

David Hawkins, Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie, Sri Nisargadatta...


What is the craziest thing you have done because of sex?

A. Aimee:

Marrying husbands 1, 2 and 3.


What’s the best thing about sex?

A. Aimee:

For my answer, see my blog: "Orgasm – orgasm – finally – FINALLY – we get a chance to lose our f*cking minds!" Click here to read it:


What would you suggest to people who want to improve their sex lives?

A. Aimee:

If you need sex advice, you're already off track... because.. when it comes to sex... we’ve got it all backwards! Backwards! Here's why – but first some statistics....

43% of women are unable to reach orgasm during sexual intercourse.
80% of women judge their body.
46% of women who judge their body are unable to reach orgasm.
The prefrontal cortex of your brain must shut down in order to reach orgasm - this part of your brain regulates control, fear, and anxiety.

So... in a brave attempt to deal with the sorry state of their sex lives, many people decide to try the advice of so-called sex experts or therapists. And these people say things like – if you want to have a good, fulfilling sex life, it’s important to make time to be together in your busy schedules, it’s important to slow down and look each other deep in the eyes. It's important to undress each other slowly and to touch each other all over slowly… and to cultivate intimacy… blah blah blah….

But it's all backwards! We’ve got it all backwards…backwards!

Because the truth of the matter is... this happens naturally when you’re turned on by someone. This happens naturally when you are in the flow and hot! But if you have to work on it, if you have to think about it and plan it and then decide in advance to do it – well it never works! You can look someone deep in the eyes until the cows come home and nothing will happen because you’re not in the flow to begin with. You’re not turned on – so all your thinking and planning amounts to nothing! Because there is so much "effort" involved, because you're trying too hard.

Which leads us to the real question, which is – why aren’t you in the flow to begin with? What’s preventing you from being in the flow right now when it comes to sex? And the answer is usually we aren't in the flow because of all our absolutely crazy, insane ideas about our bodies and sex. And by that I mean all our crazy ideas about how we think our bodies 'should' look and how we think our partners' bodies ‘should’ look. And all our ideas and worries about whether we are making the right moves and whether our partners are making the right moves. And there are all our ideas about how we think and believe this whole sexual experience ‘should’ proceed and what it ‘should’ look like. And well... you catch my drift. It’s enough to drive anyone crazy. Really. All this planning and thinking and worrying and trying to figure everything out. All of which is completely the opposite of being in flow. And if there’s anything that’s about flow – it’s sex!

Yes indeed! Sex is all about flow. Have you noticed?

So the truth is you can’t THINK your way to good sex, it’s just not possible. Because good sex is not a mental thing. Good sex is about surrendering to the flow. Good sex is truly a swooning, NO MIND, flow experience… that’s what it's all about.

So if you are having problems with your sex life, I suggest you try forgetting all about your problems and just go for the flow of life in general. Focus instead on all places in your life where you are in flow. Focus on all the things in your life that make your heart sing. Just be happy and cultivate the flow state and then see what happens to your sex life!

Because the secret is this: People who have a great sex life, don’t think about how to make it work.... They just go with the flow…

A. Aimee is a modern woman and international author who is writing in the great tradition of women authors who want the freedom to openly and honestly explore controversial issues concerning women, sex, women’s liberation, sexual freedom, women’s rights to their own bodies, relationships, and the changing role of women in the world today.

Her books include "Good Pussy Bad Pussy – Rachel's Tale" and "Good Pussy Bad Pussy in Captivity". For more see her Web site:

Buy Links for the Good Pussy Bad Pussy Books, Good Pussy Bad Pussy – Rachel's Tale by A. Aimee.

Amazon US Amazon UK Amazon AU Amazon CA Barnes & Noble All Romance (ARe) iBooks (iTunes)

Good Pussy Bad Pussy In Captivity by A. Aimee

Amazon US Amazon UK Amazon AU Amazon CA Barnes & Noble All Romance (ARe) iBooks (iTunes)

You can find A. Aimee on Twitter and Facebook too:
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