Issue #15 January January 24th - 30th 2003

Spiders & Happines
She said "I don't think models ever look quite that messy Belle". I went off the idea of becoming a model very quickly after that because rolling around in the mud had been great fun.
By Belle

Sister Janice Saves The Universe
Write to Sister Janice Slejj care of Friends of the Heroes. She will answer your problems and questions with the insight unique to a disco-loving alternative-gardening defrocked clergy member and cosmic adventurer.
By Sister Janice Slejj

I am not the moon's only lover
I was delighted. I knew the wind could sing. I knew that the trees could hold an amazing harmony. But never had I known that my precious moon had such a voice.
By Emily Ann Potter

A guide to training your person
I'm quite sure that if I wasn't with her she would have got completely lost!
By Belle

Guilty as charged
I want to ask a kind policeman in Glasgow for directions to the train station and to not understand a single word of what is said to me. These are the things that make Britain what it is, great or otherwise.
By Paul Williamson

Why the Aislers Set are great (reprise)
I couldn't tell them why I was right, but I knew. There were moments in these songs that could change the world, if given a chance.
By Dimitra Daisy


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A little while ago the girl said:
"you are almost two Belle it is time you started to earn your keep?"
I suggested I could be a model. She seemed to think that this wasn't a bad idea until I came in from the garden one day after rolling around in the mud.
She said "I don't think models ever look quite that messy Belle" I went off the idea of becoming a model very quickly after that because rolling around in the mud had been great fun.

Then she suggested that I become a writer. She told me a bout a thing called a web-site that she was going to help to make. She told me I could help with that.

When I first heard about the web-site I assumed it would have something to do with spiders and I could why the girl was so excited. Spiders can be a little bit scary but they are also amazing the way the walk up walls.
"Maybe," I thought," the girl and I will learn how to climb up walls when we make a web-site!"

I imagined myself scaling the kitchen cupboards to the magical lands where the girl puts her food. I thought about how "that cat" would feel the next time it tried to run away from me over the fence in the garden only to find I was climbing after it.

Then I found out that the web-site would have nothing whatsoever to do with spiders and I was disapointed until the girl said that we might not learn to walk up walls, but we might learn a few other things which are just as useful. She said that different people know about different things that make them happy. She said she was going to start telling lots of other people about things that made her happy and hope that it might other people smile. Not only that, but some other people were going to be telling her about things that made them happy and that would make her smile! I have to admit that being able to make people smile is a useful trick. It usealy means you get given some toast or at least a pat on the head.

I thought about things long and hard. And decided I would help the girl with the web-site. She smiled gave me a pat on the head and then a crust of toast! I wagged my tail to show I was happy too, then went off to find a spider and see if it felt like telling me how to walk up walls.



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Sister Janice Saves the universe

Sister Janice is our new agony aunt. She used to be a nun, but after becoming involved in an accident at her convent involving a papal emissary; the mother superior; the convent dog and a bottle of 'citrus fresh' bleach, she decided it was time to find herself a new career. These days she travels through the galaxies in a converted garden shed.
Write to Sister Janice Slejj care of Friends of the Heroes. She will answer your problems and questions with the insight unique to a disco-loving alternative-gardening defrocked clergy member and cosmic adventurer.

Hello my little rays of cosmic joy,

Space can be very quiet, at times.
Of course, there's the odd bang and crash of a distant exploding planet; the odd flash of a sun burst.

I'm told that hearing squelching sound that accompanies the onset of a supernovae is akin to seeing the face of Our Blessed Lord himself.
People say that as if it is something good. I've never understood that. After all, the bugger made us in his own image, didn't he? And most people aren't anything to write home about. There's every chance he looks like a 75-year-old man named Alfred with an unfortunate line in facial warts.
If that's what the start of a supernova compares to, I'll pass, thanks. Hearing something like that would not be even worth removing the needle from my twelve-inch copy of 'Do You Wanna Funk?' for.
All twelve inches, praise the Holy Power of Jesus, were delivered to me by the miracle that is mail order. It was meant to go to a gentleman named Vernon in Colchester, but the universe will have its way.

Anyway, my little shinings of starlight, I digress.
It has been a slow week, out in the cosmos. I am glad that the editors of this website wrote to me and begged me to be their agony aunt. Life can get slow, with only 'the Complete Diaries of Adrian Mole' and an old Sylvester record to keep you company. Sometimes, I wish I hadn't elected to leave the convent in such haste. One day, when they have cancelled my arrest warrant when I'm feeling in the mood... I may return and pick up my Donna Summer Collection. If it is still there. I wouldn't be surprised if some sanctimonious Mary Margaret Mary Goodwill Sister Worshipfull Bitch isn't using the extended orgasm mix of 'I Feel Love' to prop-up her wardrobe as we speak. They never understood the glory of fast music and flashing lights, while I lived with them. I tried hard, my little planets of revolution, I even took them to 'Ritzy Stars', once, for a ladies only night. Did they thank me?

Did they buggery.

Anyway, my little twinkles of up-above-the-word-so-highness, I digress again.

I have had one letter this week:

'Dear Sister Janice,

Being in direct contact with the higher echelons of life in space, I could not help but notice your presence - adrift in the endless infinity that is Creation.
Consulting your deliberations of the previous week, I became aware of an aura of great sadness and disillusionment. My dear, I bring marvellous news. Life on Earth is not the result of random evolution, nor the work of a supernatural 'God'. It is a deliberate creation, using DNA, by a scientifically advanced people who made human beings literally in their image - what one can call "scientific creationism".
I would love to tell you more about this, to ease the pain you feel in an apparently Godless Universe.
Perhaps over a coffee some time.

of the Raelians'

Or it looks like a squiggle.

My dears... is there some problem with the concept of an agony aunt? You write to me, I solve your problems. I am NOT disillusioned. I AM AN INTELLIGENT, EXPERIENCED, AWARE BEING! I can only share my light with you, and hope that its luminescence will shine on your souls.
I do NOT need this sort of crap, from some loser who wants my dignity, my attention, and 3 per cent of my annual net income in a Swiss bank account!

If anybody has anything serious to send me, you know the address.
Not that I'm bored. I'm quite happy here, in Space. It just seems like a shame, to know all this, to have lived through all this, and not to be able to help somebody less fortunate. I'm really fine, up here. On my own. With my record, and my book.

I just want to help.

For this reason, and for this reason only, I have written to Squiggle and asked if he wants to come and see 'One Horned Babes From Venus' at the Showcase Cinema on the Red Spot of Jupiter next Friday.

3 per cent of nothing shouldn't cost me very much.

Until next week, my angels of the morning.
May God shine upon your souls

Sister Janice Slejj

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I've seen so many dimmed nights, with only the hunger of a slivered glow to greet me, that it seemed quite natural to just look up one day and see him there. He didn't say much, but I loved his mystery. I found myself intrigued enough to sneak out of my window at nights to see him. He knowingly waited for me. I designated a place for the two of us to meet. I hugged my knees sitting in my moon chair, set strategically in the backyard. I adore that by early dawn it looked like any other kind of chair.

Only the two of us knew the truth about what silver-misted webs we created all night long. I willed him to grow bigger in me, into a perfected sphere and a discrete air of completion, and he did. I asked him to comfort me on lonely nights. He did. On alive nights I sang to him.

One summer evening on a beach far away from home I walked alone, bare-foot and carefree. I held a flower in my hand and it raced in my swirlings with the tide. By then I had grown taller, my hair grew longer, my spirit grew freer. I had been busy with all the noises of living. I had forgotten to bring my moon with me on my journeying. As I drifted along the sand, I felt a familiar touch upon my shoulder. I turned around and awed at the dramatic rise of a very full, very handsome moon. He asked me to dance with him. With all the importance assigned to such ceremonies we bowed to each other, and danced. With every move he loved me like a lover.

He pressed his signet ring and sealing wax upon every one of my memory's most valuable envelopes, dutifully recording every important event of my life. I understood his gift of being absolute and full. We grew very close. So close that one peaceful, lazy night I heard him play a melody on the wind. "I didn't know you could sing," I whispered to him with the most-shocked look I own,
"I've never heard you before!"
"You never listened before." He said it with all the pompous air that a heavenly light can give and still be humble.

I was delighted. I knew the wind could sing. I knew that the trees could hold an amazing harmony. But never had I known that my precious moon had such a voice. The night I heard him sing, he gave me authorization to write a poem about him. I was young, and my words stumbled out like a junior high band. However awkward, it pleased him.

I was brought to a state of shock just yesterday as to the truth. I am not the moon's only lover. I was pleased with how well I took the news. Instead of puffing into a state of egotistical pride, I only found myself up a wall as high as my heels could take me with the breath knocked out of me, and a pleading question on my brow.
"Is that really what she said?" I asked.

It seems that a folk singer has been spending nights with him as well. She in fact, had also heard the moon sing, and she even had the lyrics patented. I couldn't say if I was more impressed or disappointed. I listened to her song and recognized every note.

"Yes, that's what he said to me too."
What a two-timer! What a jerk. So how many other young girls is he seducing every night after I kiss him goodbye??!!

The moon is a regular Don Juan. He's seen eons of moon dancers. He's the master at creating that spellbinding, romantic atmosphere. He understands the influence of mood music. He's got the whole "Let's turn down the lights, baby, except" thing going on. I realize now many moons later that it's all in his job description. His contract must read something like, "Give light during nights, follow all natural laws, and create magic for mortals' dancing souls." I am not the moon's only lover. Well, fine. Perhaps he's seen a thousand moon chairs. But for how stunning those nights have been, for how sincerely he has stroked my face, for how reverent I feel when I listen to his song, I'm honored he chose to dance with me.

Emily Ann Potter

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A guide to training your person

Part 2

(A guide to: trains   the beach   the kitchen   food   christmas)

I hope that since last week you have been practising the person-to- fridge manoeuvre and are now feeling comfortable with it. If your person can't quite manage the manoeuvre don't give up hope just yet. As I said last week: training your person takes patience!

All of you with people of your own will know the importance of being able to take them out for a walk safely. If you are able to trust your person whilst out of the house it will bring you a lot of enjoyment not to mention much needed exercise. However, reaching this trust will not happen overnight. It took me at least 18 months to be able to trust my girl!

I began by taking my girl for short walks. I made sure that she attached that lead to my neck and that she had got tight hold of the other end so as not to get lost. At first I was wary of taking her too far from the house. I didn't know how she would react in alien environments and I certainly did not want her to get lost. I pulled in the direction of the house, whilst the girl who was eager to go on her first walk pulled in the opposite direction. My initial worries subsided and I concluded that the girl was sensible enough to be trusted, so agreed to go in the direction that she wanted. I must say though, that my heart was in my mouth for the whole of that walk.

One thing that I noticed on that walk though: the girl did not smell where she was going! In fact she walked along with her head in the air and her nose nowhere the ground. I'm quite sure that if I wasn't with her she would have got completely lost! When we turned around to go home I was quite anxious. It was up to me to get us safely back. The girl didn't seem to realise the urgency and kept saying things like:
"don't pull belle, we'll be home soon!"

Luckily my nose didn't let us down and we were home soon. A few walks later and I was fairly confident that me and the girl could go to the park and get home safely. So one day I thought it was time to let her have a little bit of independence. When I saw a big group of pigeons I thought it was the perfect opportunity. The girl was no longer holding onto the lead for dear life. I quickly pulled the lead from her hand and ran around after my favourite birds hoping that my girl would do the same.

She did not do the same. Instead she panicked and shouted for me to return. The poor thing looked white, and I realised I had rushed the training.

After a few more failed attempts of giving my girl some independence, the day finally came when she felt confident to walk without holding onto my lead. One day we had gone to the beach and for a reason best known to herself, she took the lead off my collar and walked all on her own! At first she appeared to be a bit nervous and kept calling me back every few steps. She was so relieved when I did return to her that she gave me a bit of her own food without me even asking! Later on, the number of steps increased to 10 and then 20 and then 30... In the end I had to go back to her before she even called just to check she was ok, and just to check whether she had anymore food that she wanted to give me.

The girl doesn't always feel confident enough without me. She holds onto the lead most of the times that we go on walks, but I'm sure you will agree that me and my girl have come along way together. When you are with your own people, remember to have patience, and remember to feel confident, but most of all remember that you will need to sniff the ground wherever you go, because you can bet any money that your person won't!


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Guilty As Charged

I'm sat on the bus to work. Hungover, half-dressed, and half-asleep. Two students get on the bus and sit behind me. Don't ask me how I know they are students, they just ARE. They have that entirely nondescript accent that I have noticed is prevalent around English University campuses. These people could be from anywhere, any suburban ubiquity in Blair's Britain. I catch some of their conversation. It's goes something like this:

'...and I was, like, "why are you going there man?" And he was, like, "I dunno, I just want to" and stuff?'

So, seeing as I have nothing better to do whilst being held at her majesty's pleasure for the manslaughter of these two miscreants of the english language, I thought I'd get a few things off my chest, as it were.

Language. It is a funny thing, and indeed, for those two students, a fatal one. Wrong place, right time, right time, wrong place, it doesn't really matter. Let's get one thing straight, though: I have no objection to slang, or to the quaint idioms and colloquialisms that pepper this sceptred isle. As much as I'm aware of their penchant for white shellsuits and thievery, and the genetic deficiency that makes them unable and unwilling to partake in regular, full-time employment, I have nothing against the use of language employed by those good folk of Liverpool. Likewise, if a person from Newcastle, all mullet and moustache, informs me that a person of the opposite sex is "a canny lass alreettt" I have little to object to (apart, that is, from the spittle on my face from said lingusitic outburst). You see, these are all part of our proud culture, our history, local dialects as distinct from each other as New Labour is from justice, as Burger King is from hygeine, as beards are from style.

What I object to is that ubiquitous nasal drone that threatens the very dialects that make every city, every town, every community in the land different from one another. I want to travel to the secluded Welsh valleys and be referred to as "boyo" or "facken english cunt" as the legendary Welsh famer adjusts the drawstring on his trousers and lets the sheep go. I want to sit in a Yorkshire alehouse that has 'Rats Piss' on draught at 20p a pint surrounded by ex-miners and men still awaiting Hitler's invasion telling me "tha doort know thee's born". I want to ask a kind policeman in Glasgow for directions to the train station and to not understand a single word of what is said to me. These are the things that make Britain what it is, great or otherwise.

So the next time that you are in the queue at Tesco's, and you happen to overhear the person in the adjacent queue babbling on into their brand new nokia 80-million-whatever about "how, like, stressed out I am?", feel free to calmly remove yourself from your place in your queue, grab the back of the offenders neck, and ram thir face into the nearest metal pole. Stainless steel preferably, because the blood cleans off easier. Tell the police, when they come to arrest you, that you were only doing your duty in the name of all that is holy in the english language. Better still, tell them I sent you.

After all, I've got nothing to lose...

Paul Williamson

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Why the Aislers Set are great (reprise)

One, two -
Some day, I will find a way, to make you know it's me

I've thought about this a lot. At first, I started from the understanding that all sorts of music are equally good. A nice, grown up, civilised thing to say. But ask any serious music fan - anyone who spends more money on records they can't really afford, everyone who's had their day made by a song - and they'll tell you that um, well, the sort of music they like is better... even if the rest of the world can't understand it.

And when I do/the clouds will clear

So I thought about it again. I allowed myself to say I think that (indie) pop is the best sort of music. People laughed at me. I didn't mind - what did they know anyway? I couldn't tell them why I was right, but I knew. There were moments in these songs that could change the world, if given a chance. I didn't fool myself, they'd never get that chance - but the moments where there.

I went through my records. If I couldn't describe it, I would at least point my finger at it. I made a list of perfect pop songs. I changed it. I changed it again. I lost it. I made it again. I lost it again. I got bored.

And when I do/ I'll hold you near

I tried to describe it instead. (The feeling, not the list.) The words simple and colourful came up a lot. Upliftingly infectious, too. Some people call it catchy. It didn't quite work.

Until I wrote the lyrics of this song down, and it made me see. (It could have been any other song but it happened to be this one: Clouds Will Clear by the Aislers Set.) It's not that things are simple, so they should be treated simply. And it's not only that colourful things cheer you up.

And when I do/the sun will shine

It is the faith it takes to talk about small and simple things as if they were important. It is the sort of magical belief that's involved in talking about the clouds when you are really talking about a lover and thinking it will make a difference.

It is a small, strange bit of faith, but it makes a change, believe me.

Cause you'll be mine.

Dimitra Daisy