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  • Writer's pictureMike Gould

A very old kind of magic

I've been away, and thus immediately broke my own rule: the first rule of Blog Club is....keep blogging! But, I'm back now and will try to be more attentive.

So, here's the thing - if you're a fantasy fan, you'll probably know the difference between 'hard' and 'soft' magic, right? My nephew, who is bright and an expert on such things explained it to me at a family party at the weekend. Hard magic seems to be magic with clearly defined rules - only wands can make spells, for example, whereas soft magic seems to be more mysterious - to be about powers that can't be explained, or are not entirely rational within the fantasy world. I've probably got this wrong, but actually this isn't really a blog about fantasy at all. My own fantasy novel - currently undergoing its first proper edit by me - has no magic, so it's not an issue as far as my writing work goes.

But magic is always an issue one way or another. This summer has been all about clearly-defined rules being broken - or perhaps not? Perhaps the weird weather and nature events can all be entirely explained by science - if we understood all the rules of our world - which we don't, and perhaps can't.

So, the actual magic I encountered while away in France this summer was as unexpected as it was ordinary and everyday - and expressed best by that animal of the most magical of all stories by Lewis Carroll. - the hare. Yes, we were graced by a solitary fellow (or lass) that turned up every evening in our garden, racing across the lane to sit under the apple tree on its haunches or lie flat by the hedge. I have hardly ever seen a hare before - now here was one up close and personal. A kind of magic had brought him or her there.

And then on either side of the very straight road which leads to the sea, as if sentinels, two herons, standing statue-like in the fields. No stream or rivers nearby. Perhaps the parched grass had allowed them to see mice more easily. Who knows? And again, on the final morning,as I lifted the stone over the water mains tap, - as if it were an engraved seal on the lid, a tiny brown frog or toad (what do I know?) sat motionless, like a little bronze offering from this crazy God of Summer.

I have yet to write about any of these everyday, yet also magical, apparitions. And there is so much more - the angry hornets who surrounded our lamps at night; the swallows and house-martins that swooped around our feet on walks or bike-rides; the buzzards - so many buzzards - almost at touching distance as we drove past telegraph poles or fence posts.; the bats which flew over the fire pit, shadows against the embers.

I don't know if it's hard or soft magic, or what the rules are, but magic it certainly is.

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