14th September 1958 – 29th March 2021
14th September 1958 – 29th March 2021
“Well, my friends, for a time the road ends here.
I must away to dismantle Sue’s ‘temple home’.
If you are still craving her words of wisdom,
then we have been running a selective retrospective of her work
over on the France & Vincent website.
If you follow that blog then the updates will be delivered automatically.
Alternatively, you could check out some of Sue’s published works.
All the books listed below are available via Amazon
and most of them are available as Kindle Editions.
Books by Sue Vincent
The Osiriad: Myths of Ancient Egypt
Swords of Destiny
Petals of the Rose
Poetry and humour
Notes from a Small Dog: Four Legs on Two
Laughter Lines: Life from the Tail End
Doggerel: Life with the Small Dog
Pass the Turkey!: Christmas with the Small Dog
Life Lines: Poems from a Reflection
With Dr G. Michael Vasey
The Mystical Hexagram: The Seven Inner Stars of Power
Books by France and Vincent
Triad of Albion
The Initiate –
Heart of Albion –
The Doomsday Series
The Ætheling Thing –
Dark Sage –
Scions of Albion
Lands of Exile
But ‘n’ Ben –
Beck ‘n’ Call –
Kith ‘n’ Kin
Don & Wen
Finding Don and Wen
Joining Don and Wen
Mister Fox: The Legend
Mister Fox & the Demon Dogs
Mister Fox and the Green Man
Mister Fox: Winter’s Tail
An Imperious Impulse: Coyote Tales
Available via Amazon worldwide
Whiter than the swan on a lake
Whiter than the gull of the stream
Whiter than snow on the high-peak.
Like a wave of the sea from ebb to flood
Slender as the tall-birch, blowing…
Of a shape sweet as full-bodied clover, bobbing…
Of a colour fair as summer’s bright-morn, glowing…
Your presence, the dawning glory of the land.
Lovely the sun’s smile, rising…
Lovely the moon’s sheen, climbing…
Lovely the stars gleam, shining…
More lovely, the blush of your cheek.
Love, Don x
Images from Callanish, June 2019…
A Guided Visualisation by Sue Vincent…
Close your eyes, relax and prepare for an inner journey, breathing deeply and easily.
You stand on a green mound by a sunlit sea. Far below you is a pristine shore of white sand. You hear the echoes as the waves wash gently, rhythmically, against the base of the cliff. The soft, rushing sound of water in the shingle whispers in the clear air of morning.
The sky is a pure blue, the colour of the Lady’s robe. Forget-me-not blue, and at its heart, as in the flower, the golden circle of the sun. The cry of a distant gull touches your heart with an unfathomable yearning, yet you are here, now, in this time and in this place. There is no other thought in your mind, only here, only this moment.
You close your eyes and with sight absent, other senses seem to come to the fore. The salt tang of the air touches your lips and tongue, warm rays caress your face, the soft thrumming of the waves seems to reach through the very earth beneath your feet, finding its way within and dancing with your breath.
The air smells fresh and clean, like the first morning of the world. You stand, simply drinking in the moment, the world around you, feeling yourself at its heart, feeling it within your body.
In the distance you can hear music playing, the delicate tones of a harp, beautiful in its simplicity, as if played by a gifted child, a wise child, one who sees clearly beyond the veils of Light.
The purity of the simple song draws you.
You listen, silent, barely daring to move.
You are afraid to move and break the spell, yet almost against your will you are drawn to the music.
Like a sleepwalker, you move towards the edge of the cliff.
There is a path, narrow and steep, tufts of sea thrift grow beside it, nodding their bright pink heads in the breeze.
You begin to descend.
The way is steep. Small stones roll at your feet, bouncing down the cliff face as you walk. Tiny fragments of rock are dislodged with every step. Your shoes, black and shiny, are covered in the white dust of chalk. You stop and sit on the flower-covered bank. The perfume of crushed thyme fills the air and you notice the tiny, lilac flowers all around you. Removing your shoes, leaving them there, you stretch your bare feet, wiggle your toes… you feel like a child. You do not need them. You recline against the fragrant green and rest for a while, perfectly happy, as the sun warms your skin.
Still, the music haunts you. It is very soft, so soft you had almost forgotten it was there, calling you onwards. You rise and continue down the steep path. Looking up you can see the towering white cliffs, sparkling in the clear light. You think of the shores of Albion and wonder if that is where you are… or only where you think you might be? It doesn’t matter. You are here. It is all you need to know.
Beside a turn in the path, a stream bubbles crystal clear from the rock face, gathering in a small pool. In the bottom of the pool you can see many offerings, small gifts, coins, tablets etched with words. Beside the stream is an ancient cup. You fill it from the stream and drink from it. The water is cold and sweet, you can feel on your tongue, in your throat, rich and fragrant, a nourishing draught, quite unlike any water you have tasted before.
It is a draught of liquid Light. You feel it flowing through you, feel lit up from the inside as if you shine softly like a star.
You replace the cup. You feel you should leave a gift and feel in your pockets, not knowing what is there.
It must be something that holds meaning to you, something of value, not in payment, but in gratitude for what you have received.
Your fingers find an object, feeling its lines and edges. You draw it from your pocket and look at it as it rests in your hands. You had forgotten it was there… yet it has always been there. You always carry it. You smile, knowing what it represents; knowing what it means to you… then cast it in the pool. The ripples spread out across the surface, obscuring the bottom. Small streams of light wash over the edges of the pool, spilling onto the grassy bank and where they touch flowers spring up.
You continue down the path, following it to the beach following the song that seems to hold an echo of the music of the spring.
The dry sand is white and soft underfoot, sun-warmed and pleasant. A little way ahead the cliff reaches out towards the sea and you see the dark mouth of a small cave. You walk towards it, leaving footprints in the sand, following the song.
Outside the cave there seem to be large boulders, yet as you draw closer you see that they are piles of clothes. Whole suits and dresses, smocks and ball gowns, judges robes, uniforms… every imaginable type of clothing that bears the mark of position or office… like heaped skins divested by their owners.
The music takes on an insistent note and you feel you understand.
Stripping off your clothes you add them to the pile, feeling as if you have erased a deeper layer of your identity, you stand naked in the sunlight.
Once more you hear the cry of the gulls and look up.
From above a crown of petals, purest white is falling towards you, shed by the wings of the birds.
It settles about your brow, crowning you with beauty.
You walk forward towards the cave. A sheet of water veils the entrance, so clear it is almost invisible except for the captured fire of the sunlight. You stand in the shallow stream that cuts a channel like a pathway, your feet sinking slightly in the wet sand, as if you are part of the earth, the earth takes you into itself.
The music calls you onward and you walk, crowned and naked through the sparkling veil. As you do so, the water clothes you in a robe of the finest rainbow silk, the shifting hues almost impossible to follow with the eye.
The floor of the cave is strewn with polished stones, cool and smooth.
You feel light and free in the robes, unconstricted.
You move easily, noticing for the first time that with your clothing you seem to have left behind the stresses and strains of daily life, with your shoes you left the aches and pains, when you left the cliff top you left the cares and worries behind… you realise that with every step the descent into this cavern has been one of giving up the things you are so used to that you didn’t even know they were there.
You follow the music still, deeper into the darkness of the cavern, sure-footed even in the shadows.
You are at home here, in the heart of the earth.
Gradually a light fills the space, a shaft of Light that reaches through the whole height of the cliff… a straight path to the sky.
It is from this that the music emanates. Above the shaft the golden orb of the sun sits high in the heavens, a single ray directed and held within the narrow shaft, focussed so bright you can barely see.
Drawn still by the whispering song, you step into the Light. All fear seems to dissolve, all pain dissipates… the weight of worlds seems to lift from you and you are as a babe again, bathed in the purity of golden Light.
Stay… stay as long as you wish… feel the shadows gilded, and the hurts healed…
And know that this Light fills you always.
I am already missing her and she is not wholly gone. When I search for her presence, I find the soft emptiness of the liminal place. Holding. Waiting. I don’t want to think about grief, again. A prolonged letting go that takes me on a journey to uncomfortable landscapes. We grasp at the tangible only to discover that we will eventually reach the cliff of letting go, not knowing when we will arrive there.
And sometimes there is no liminal place to linger.
It is a test to step into the space of soft uncertainty and feel the soul cocooned between the life and death of the temporary vessel. I do not want to think about pain and heartache. Those sitting beside her, holding the space. Holding her hand. I do not want to think of the labored breath before it breaks free. Pain seems incredibly unfair for a life filled with such grace.
I want to think of what came before and what comes after. That vibrant spirit that touched so many lives with magic, including my own, finding joy once again. Yes, I want to think of joy. The unbound soul flying free…
Continue reading at The Light Behind the Story
We were talking today about how much is lost in translation. This was being discussed from an abstract, as well as a literal viewpoint.
It started with a conversation about books and moved on to language in general and thence to poetry and song. I mentioned Jacques Brel, a poet, singer and performer of, in my opinion, utter genius, who wrote almost exclusively in French. Many people know the songs for which he was best known, even though they are generally known best in English as cover versions.
To take one of the original songs and translate it into literal but literate English is fine.. it allows access to the meaning, but not the poetry. To take the original and make it into a song that has rhyme and rhythm is wonderful…
Continue reading at The Silent Eye
Running in, please pass?
I suppose that because we helped Maljie acquire her new sedan chair, we are all somewhat to blame. She had had a chair of her own but frankly it was getting old, tired and a little bent. Not only that she had trouble getting chair-men and it was often easier just to hire a chair with the bearers for the evening. But the mendicants put their heads together. It appeared that they came to the conclusion that Maljie, with a chair of her own, would
travel more and thus spend less time around the Shrine of Aea in her Aspect as the Personification of Tempered Enthusiasm, bothering them. They raised this issue with Laxey, and he pointed out to them that whilst the chair was important, so was the possession of a reliable team of bearers.
“Ah,” said one of the mendicants, “We can be the bearers.”
“Reliable team of bearers.” Laxey repeated.
The mendicants went away and there was another serious discussion. Then they came back and pointed out that if they formed three, four person teams, they would always have a team ‘on duty’ and ready for immediate deployment. Laxey agreed that this would work. The mendicants pointed out that obviously the team ‘on duty’ would have to be excused work so that they were available to fulfil Maljie’s slightest whims.
Shuddering slightly, Laxey asked dryly whether the team excused work would also miss meals? The mendicants suggested that the team eat their meal next to the chair. With this level of planning and dedication, Laxey decided that the mendicants should be given their heads in the matter. After all, he too was not entirely unaware of the advantages which could accrue if Maljie was kept suitably busy harassing somebody other than him. As he said to the mendicants, all they had to do was to raise the money for a chair.
Sedan chairs are not cheap, and two person chairs don’t often appear on the second-hand market. Yet, within two days of Laxey giving his permission, the mendicants appeared in the shrine with a chair. The fact that they arrived during the hours of darkness and with the chair shrouded with sheeting, would make anybody suspicious. As was their insistence that it ought to be repainted immediately.
It was at this point that the deacon put his foot down and gave them a long lecture. The Idiosyncratic Diaconate is well named. The deacon excoriated them. He pointed out the quality of the wood. He bewailed the poor quality of varnish and paint that already defaced a potentially fine chair. He showed them how to take a chair apart and then had them sanding down all the pieces. Then he inspected every piece of wood carefully, showed them how to look for signs of strain and splitting. Then where a piece was perhaps worn, he used it as a template and showed them how to make a new piece. The next problem was that there was a mixture of woods and so the chair would have to be stained. Various stains were tried on small test pieces, and then somebody had the bright idea of just staining the whole chair gunmetal. This had two advantages, as far as we knew, there wasn’t another gunmetal sedan chair in Port Naain. Also the mendicants had acquired a large pot of the stain very reasonable. So reasonable that when she heard about it the Incumbent insisted they take it back, but fortunately they produced a receipt to show they had genuinely purchased it. Or at least had been given money to carry it away.
To be fair, whilst our mendicants may have a somewhat nebulous grasp of property rights, the transaction costs inherent within the system, or even basic theology, quite a few of them are well on the way to becoming useful carpenters.
Eventually, the various parts of the chair were stained. It was then reassembled varnished and polished. As a final touch, I had Ingenious Trool, painter of chamber pots, paint to bucolic scenes on the door panels. Here I feel Trool had rather exceeded his brief. I’d asked for bucolic and to be fair, nymphs and shepherds are indeed bucolic. Still I felt matters were rather more down to earth than was perhaps called for.
Still, on Maljie’s birthday, when four well-scrubbed mendicants carried the chair to her front door, it was obvious Maljie was genuinely touched. She was obviously impressed with her new acquisition. She was forever using it to travel distances barely more than a stone-throw. Any number of friends were offered lifts over similar short distances. It was indeed a splendid chair.
Obviously, such things produce jealousy amongst those lesser lights who seek to substitute the excellence of their possessions for the natural good qualities they personally lack. Whilst the chair was unique and drew gasps of admiration, the bearers did not have the same response. The problem is that mendicants remain mendicants, no matter how much you scrub them. Laxey had even gone to the trouble of issuing each of the sixteen bearers with a new robe. But still, other ladies had professional bearers. These would be superbly muscled individuals with tight britches and silk stockings to show off fine legs and firm buttocks. The mendicants didn’t really shine in this regard, new robe or no new robe.
After an evening of disparaging comments from two ladies who prided themselves in their well balanced and exquisitely proportioned teams, Maljie had had enough. She challenged them to a race around the city. Eventually it was agreed that the race would start at the fane of Aea, Guardian of the Roads. It would proceed down Three Mills Prospect, then along Ropewalk, before following the road through the Merchant Quarter and the race would finish at the Shrine of Aea in her Aspect as the Personification of Tempered Enthusiasm. Personally I suspect her competitors agreed to finish there because they hoped to humiliate Maljie in front of those at the shrine. But Maljie had her own plans.
At the first mile, Maljie and her chair were lagging. This was only to be expected, mendicants, however loyal, are not as fit as professional chair-men. But at that point four fresh mendicants, identical in their robes, their faces obscured by the hoods, took over and the first four faded quietly out of sight. At the next way point, the two other chairs were in sight but were not exactly close. Still, as the gunmetal sedan chair passed between two loaded wains, four more indistinguishable, but fresh, mendicants took up the shafts and ran with renewed vigour. This team, perhaps Maljie’s strongest, overtook the two other chairs and built up a good lead. So when passing through Usurers’ Gill it was the work of a moment to make the last swap when nobody could observe what was happening. Finally the last team kept up a good steady pace. Here we must give credit where credit was due. The bearers of the other two chairs made truly gallant efforts to catch up, but Maljie’s lead remained unassailable. At the finishing line, Maljie had to wait a good five minutes for the other two chairs to finish. There, debts of honour were paid and Maljie, triumphant, bade her vanquished foes good day. She and her younger sister, Margarita, had an invitation to dine at the house of friends. It was no great distance, the evening was fine, and they decided they’d walk rather than summon the chair.
In the Shrine, there was what Laxey euphemistically described as a ‘choral evening’ in the mendicant’s quarters. Certainly, there was singing. It appears that somebody had bought them brandy.
And now a brief note from Jim Webster. It’s really just to inform you thatI’ve just published a full Tallis Steelyard novel. Yes, the rumours are true.
Tallis Steelyard, the man who considered jotting down a couple of anecdotes to be ridiculously hard work, and considered the novella form to be the very pinnacle of literary labour, has been cozened into producing a novel.
In this novel, recounted by Tallis Steelyard in his own inimitable manner, we discover what happens when the hierarchy plots to take control of the Shrine to Aea in her Aspect as the Personification of Tempered Enthusiasm.
Will the incumbent be exiled to a minor fane in the far north? Will Tallis end up having to do a proper job? Does ordination and elevation beckon for Maljie?
This story includes the Idiosyncratic Diaconate, night soil carts, Partannese bandit chieftains, a stylite, a large dog and some over-spiced food. On top of this, we have not one but two Autocephalous Patriarchs and a theologically sanctioned beggar.
Available both for kindle and in Paperback.
About the author
Someone once wrote this about him:
“Jim Webster is probably still fifty something, his tastes in music are eclectic, and his dress sense is rarely discussed in polite society. In spite of this ,he has a wife and three daughters.
He has managed to make a living from a mixture of agriculture, consultancy, and freelance writing. Previously he has restricted himself to writing about agricultural and rural issues but including enough Ancient Military history to maintain his own sanity. But seemingly he has felt it necessary to branch out into writing fantasy and Sci-Fi novels.”
Now with eight much-acclaimed fantasy works and two Sci-Fi to his credit it seems he may be getting into the swing of things.
Find and follow Tallis (and Jim)
For many more books by Jim Webster (and Tallis)…
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I see you my friend
In the green grass and the soft heather bloom
In the ancient stones and wild peaks
In the tumbling stream and the dark woods
I see you
In the scattered light upon the path
In the crouching hare in the long grass
In the turning wing of the hunting kite
I see you
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